This piece was given to me by someone in Hawick and I cannot remember who. However I think it is worth reading for its history alone.
t’s hard ti believe it’s yon time again, the time when chapman billies leave the street and sit doon ti platefihs o haggis, neeps,and champeet tattihs wi droothy neebors. There’s now a six week season celebratin the birthday o oor National Bard and Hawick ‘ll hev it’s fair share o what hev come ti be ca’d Burns Suppers. Teries hev commemorated the poet since as fer back as 1815 which wasni that long efter his untimely daith at the age o only 37 but it wisni until 1878 that HAWICK Burns club was formed. Local poet James Thomson bein yin o the Clubs founding fithers. The author o “Up Wi the Banner” and the “Border Queen”, hei’s famed fer ayont his adopted toon for the song which ‘ll be sung this month a owre the globe.
THE STAR O ROBBIE BURNS
“On fame’s emblazoned page enshrined
His name is foremost now
And mony a costly wreath’s been twined
Ti grace his honest brow
Auld Scotland’s hert expands wi joy
Whene’er the day returns
That gave the world her peasant boy
Immortal Robbie Burns”
In 1928 the Burns Club moved frae their former premises, which ir now the hame o the Ex-Servicemens’ Club, ti their present location which yaised ti be the auld gasworks as mentioned be Wullie Easton (no C.J.’s faither) in
THE ANVIL CREW
“Our bills were paid and our anchor weighed
As we sailed from the famed Pate’s Plum
And the distant thunder rolled afar
Like the beat of a muffled drum
The lightning with it’s vivid flash
Illuminated near and far
And a gale began to blow
E’er we had crossed the Gas Hoose bar”
Hence the twae dates, 1878 and 1928 abune the door o the Burns Club. How the bust o the poet comes ti be there’s a mair complicated story. Oo hev ti gaun back first ti 1873 when a gentleman ca’d Archibald Aitkin built umsel a lincensed grocer’s shop wi a hoose abune 13 Wulten Peth. Now it’s said there’s threi kinds o mens’ hairstyles – pairted, unpairted and depairted! – and Archibald was follicly challenged and the third syllable o his Christian name came inti play and they cried um Baldy Aitkin.
Now this was aboot the time o the unification o Italy and the fame o the Italian patriot Guiseppe Garibaldi had reached fer off Hawick – in fact there was a movement ti get the Freedom o the Burgh conferred upon um which never came ti owt although the Hungarian Louis Kossuth hed been made Honorary Burgess in !856 – and Baldy spreed the word around that frae now on hei was elongatin his nickname inti Garibaldi Aitkin! For good measure hei commissioned a local stonemason ca’d Eric Pirnie ti make a cement-cast bust o Garibaldi and hei erected this on the ruif at the back o his property. Hei got um ti make busts o Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott while hei wasat eet and they lookeet doon on the Peth frae the front o the building, Robbie on the sooth gable and Sir Walter on the north. This was quite a considerate arrangement wi garibaldi roond the back for hei wadni hev hed vera muckle in common wi Burns and Scott and wad likely hev gey brooned off hevin ti listen ti their literary conversations! Eric Pirnie was a tremendous guid craftsman and the busts were a verra fair likenesses. When Wulton Peth was demolished in the late 1960’s Burns and Scott were rescued. Garibaldi had disappeared by this stage, hei’d maybe upped and offed back ti Italy - and came inti the possession o John Aitkin, Archibalds great grandson. Oo now come forrit ti the back end o 1986 when A showed a slide ti ma History Night Cless which hed been ta’en be the late lamented Dick Scott o Burns and Scott hevin a crack thegither juist afore their removal at the time o the demolition and A said that as fer as A kent they were still in good condition. In ma cless that year was yon weel-kent Common Riding stalwart and man o the cloth – Hei’s a wundi cleaner - Jim Matthews and when A said the busts were still in guid nick, Jim, normally o shy retiring disposition overcame his natural reticence and shouted oot “ They’re no! They’re lyin rood the back o Welch’s and yin o thums lost his heid!” On investigation this proved to be the case, Sir Walter bein the heidless yin. Burns bein still intact A wondered if the Burns Club wad be inter ested and efter hevin a word wi John Aitkin whae was verra happy that something was gaun ti be dune ti preserve thum for posterity A approached the then President o Hawick Burns club, now Cooncillor Alex Martin whae was delighted ti get Robbie ti hev um cleaned and ensconced in a wee niche tailor made for um abune the entrance ti the Club. In 1787 Robert Burns made his famous tour o the Borders. Hei never veesited Hawick, hei was awfih vexed eferwards, in fact it was yin o his lifetime regrets. Ti merk the bi-centenary o the tour Border television pit oot a series wi David Bean “The Hopeful Traveller” caud “Bean, Burns and a Bicycle” for the makin o which they came ti film the Hawick Burns Club Supper o January 1987. Havin heard aboot the Clubs recent acquisition o the bust they came and interviwed mei for Border News and lookaround while they were here.
There were twae sequels ti this; firstly Fiona Armstrong made sic a good job o interviwin iz that ITN decided ti make her a newcaster; saicondly the interview hevin feenished wi the quaistion “Hez onybody seen Sir Walter Scott’s heid?” or rather “Has any body seen Sir Walter Scott’s head?” . The night efter the the broadcast went oot A got an anonymous phonecall and it wasni juist anonymous the wuman wadni gie her name! She tellt iz if A wis gaun up to the Hawick News close A wad find something of interest in a broon paper poke. So ti boldly go. Off A set wi a torch for it derk and boogly up yon close. Onything might hev happened ti us, A might hev banged inti Bobby McNairn! And suire enough there was, Sir Walters heid wi a note sayin that the wuman wushed ti remain anonymous but if yhe heid fitted A wis ti pit the follhin message in the next weeks paper “Alas poor Yorick I knew you well”. It did and av’e never to this day discovered whae the wuman was so if ee’re still oot there and felin like brikin eer aeight year silence A’m stillonnthe same number only it’s now got a threi at the front! Border TV returned ti update the story. This time their quaistion was “Hez onybody seen Garibaldis heid? – if so this’ll really take the biscuit! “. Yin or twae folk got in touch and A hed a look at their “Heids” but nane o thum matched. Ooh ed the technology ti pit Sir Walter thegither again and the museum were pleased ti gie um a ruif owre his refitted heid.
Final postscript – afore the busts went ti their new hames, just like they dae for a the best weddins, oo went up the Park ti get oor photihs ta’en – fowre guid men and true Burns, Scott, Matthews and mei!
So next time ee’re gaun ti the market or hatterin owre ti Shoptite hev a keek up abune the burns Club door and now that een ken the story deh be a bit surprised if Robbie gi’es ee a wink!
I am a member of Lodge St. Clair, No. 362, Glasgow and have an invitation from the Lodge to the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Italy, Brother Garibaldi, date 1864. I thought it appropriate to include it here
LODGE ST. CLAIR No. 362
1 Buchanan Street
13th April, 1864
Dear Sir and Brother
The R.W. Master, Wardens and Office- Bearers of the Lodge ST. Clair solicit a Deputation from the Loge over which you have the honour to preside, to assist in paying tribute to Brother Garibaldi, as the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Italy. As the arrangements are not yet completed, information will be supplied daily, by advertisement, in the North British Daily Mail.
meanwhile subjoin the following for guidance of yourself and Brethern of your Lodge.
Yours truly and Fraternally,
Donald Campbell, Hon. Sec.
1.The meeting will be confined solely to Masons and their Lady friends.
2.The Masters and Wardens of the several Lodges in a Masonic capacity an hour before the General Meeting.
3.Tickets to be obtained from Brother James Wallace, 269 George Street; Donald Campbell, 1 Buchanan Street; James Thomson, 16 Holmhead Street; N. B. Dalveen, !43 Argyle Street; and William Dobbie, 24 Clyde Place
Gentlemen 1/6d Ladies 1s
N.B. All tickets must be paid for on delivery, and on the day of admission ONE HALF more will be charged.
FULL MASONIC COSTUME.
NOTA bene --- It is intended to present M.W. Brother Garibaldi with an Illuminated Address, wreathed with the Arms and Badges of the Lodges in the West of Scotland. If desirous of your Lodge represented have the kindness to supply me by Friday morning with a Copy of the Arms, with 2 shillings and sixpence to defray the expense. This is my family Lodge going as far back as my Great Grandfather, father, brothers, uncles, cousins, my son and son in law.