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Sydney-based Menzies still buzzing after September 2006 Ceilidh

By Richard Alan Menzies Hogge and Margaret Hogge

The neighbourhood of Curl near Sydney was alive with the sound of bagpipes on a balmy, barmy Saturday evening in early September.

We went the whole hog and hosted a ceilidh complete with haggis, singing, dancing, and mock Highland Games. Thirty adults and five children attended.

We started with some simple little dances for the children.

Then the Piper led the procession for the Haggis. All the men, led by our neighbour Craig Burns, (originally from Glasgow), joined in for a “mass” three-verse address to the haggis, followed by a dram of Chivas Regal for the Piper, for Craig and all.

All the ladies then joined voices to sing the lovely Skye Boat song before we sat down to our delicious meal of haggis and neeps (prepared by neighbour Kathlyn), roast dinner, then Whim Wham for dessert.

After clearing the tables out of the way, everyone joined in to sing some favourites - Loch Lomond , Comin’ through the Rye , Bananas in Pyjamas and We’re Bound for Botany Bay (that colonial stuff just happens to creep in!).

Then it was time for some real action, with nearly everyone joining in the dancing – Kingston Flyer, and an increasingly sprightly Strip the Willow . Our Piper, David proved a fine dance teacher.

Finally, our Mock Highland Games started with the children having a wonderfully wet time catching magnetic coloured fish in the wading-pond “lake”, just as our ancestors had done near Glen Lyon in the past.

Next was the one and only semi-Final of the Guinness World Wolf-Whistling Championship –Max Menzies was the winner, but he wouldn’t have beaten the world record, set the following weekend in Miles , Queensland , at over 100 Db., by a lassie no less! Better luck next time, Max.

The third test was for the Ladies only – “Tossing the Chief” - somehow the Aberfeldy Highland Games “Tossing the Chief” must have lost something in translation from the “Olde Country” to Down Under. Each fair contestant would toss a faithful effigy of the Menzies of Menzies up into the air and catch “him” after clapping her hands. She who clapped the most (and caught the hapless Chief of course) was the winner. Well done, Kate Menzies.

Lastly, as was fitting – the Carrying of the Menzies Stone – a monstrous thing, looking suspiciously like a grey gym-exercise ball, was to be heroically lifted and carried by anyone man enough to make an attempt, but only if he wore a kilt! The “borrowed kilt” was bright pink and flouncy and added gross majesty to the manly airs expressed by all with much grunting, groaning and grimacing. Alan Stasiukynas , a fine Sassenach brother-in-law won bottoms down.

At 10pm everyone held hands to form a circle of kin and friendship for a warm and stirring Auld Lang Syne. This was, as planned, early enough for the children to join in and enjoy another taste of Scottish tradition. Some guests went home, some stayed for coffee and shortbread and a dram and to enjoy the warm evening air out on the deck.

We next plan to meet on the second Saturday in August 2007 at 6pm at the Menzies Hotel (Reception), central Sydney where we may attempt a phone/video linkup with the Clan Gathering in Scotland and may plan another ceilidh. Who’s game?
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