With apologies to JGC
The Exeter Pipe Band

The Piper

Lympstone, Devon January 26, 2006 Even way down in Devon, as indeed around the world, Burns Night is celebrated in honour of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. We decided to take the train from Topsham to Lympstone to enjoy this annual food-and-poetry occasion at The Globe, where we were to understand the piping would be good and the haggis genuine. A well known piper from the MacCustard clan was apparently travelling down from the Highlands especially for the evening.

The pub was crowded and the anticipation great when the piper made his grand entrance, accompanied by his attractive common-law wife. He looked a dour man, as craggy as Ben Nevis, with a jaw of granite and honest working man's hands. A man of few words, his conversation was mainly carried out in guttural grunts and ayes. But he had a twinkle in his eye and a jolly evening was assured.

Piper arrives with common-law wife

The Globe is a fine pub, a real traditional local serving excellent beer (particularly good Bass) and homecooked foods. The piper was there to pipe in the haggis, which was truly the centre-piece of the evening:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 
Painch, tripe, or thairm: 
Weel are ye wordy of a grace worthy
As lang's my arm.

Ode to a haggis

Following the Selkirk Grace, the haggis was piped in ceremoniously:

Piping in the haggis

The music grew ever more frantic. The efforts to keep that sheep's bladder full of air were considerable, and some guests were concerned for the welfare of the piper. But he manfully took no heed, piping louder, faster until his fingers and swaying body became a whirling dervish of arms, legs, all at one with the pipes.

The piper in full flow

Afterwards, his not inconsiderable efforts were rewarded with a mountainous plate of haggis which he proceeded to despatch with frightening alacrity...

Piper and haggis

...before playing again:

Mull of Kintyre

It was a grand night and afterwards the piper was very content.

The happy piper

And so were we.

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