A TALENTED MANITOBANIan Mackay Ross
Ian and Jacquie made a grand pair of volunteer newsletter editors (1993-1005) and Ian took on the additional role of president of CRA-Canada (1994-1997). When I constructed the posters for our history collection, I remarked that the posters would have to be a mile high in order to do justice to Ian's talents.
Ian was not satisfied to merely provide us with a Recipe for Atholl Brose on page 7 of the newsletter for December, 2006, he was inspired to write poems about this savoury beverage. His first one was composed with apologies to Robert Service and his "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" in November, 2007, and published on page 8 of his newsletter for February, 2008.
THE DRINKING OF ATHOLL BROSE
The Murray clan was whooping it up in their Atholl Castle keep;
The piper was playing a rant so long and loud it would make you weep;
At the back of the hall sat Atholl's Earl, quietly getting "fou",
And helping him suck the whisky back was the Lady of Atholl, too.
When out of the night, and into the din and the glare from the ramparts high,
There stumbled a Highlander out of the north, with a develish mob by his side.
With his hairy face, and his dagger brace, and his kilt all covered with dirt,
He banged on the door with his great claidhmor (as moat water dripped from his shirt),
There was none who could place the stranger's face, they were certainly at a loss.
Just what did he want? .... but he set them straight, crying "I an the Earl of Ross!"
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, for he looked ... you see ... like a man who had been through hell.
"I've burnt the castle at Inverness, and Urquhart castle, I think,
And after I've stormed Blair Atholl, here, I'll bloody well need a drink!"
The Murrays moaned as to their fate, just what could they possibly do?
But the last to speak was Atholl's Earl, and the Lady of Atholl too.
"Just whisper, my dear," The Murray said, "so that savage Ross can't tell
What you and I are going to do with our precious booze ... and our well.
We'll chuck it all in so that hound of hell can't drink it up, the noo."
But what of our honey, our cream and our oats?" ... His Lady said, "Chuck them in too!"
The Ross and his mob hurled themselves at the walls, like the ocean's pent-up flood.
Screaming for whisky and women and more, till their eyes were most blinded with blood.
The lust awoke to kill, to kill ... as they battered the gates with a crash.
But the ramparts held ... though the siege was long, The Ross and his men couldn't pass.
"Fall back to the glen", he said to his men, "to rethink our soldiering.
And while in this spot, since the day is hot, I'll first take a drink from this spring."
Now the valley sloped, straight down from the moat, so this spring was fed from the well.
Geological fault produced single malt, oatwater, cream, honey ... how swell!
The Ross guzzled deep, then fell as in sleep, while high overhead, pulsing bright,
The Northern Lights swept, while Earl Murray crept, to capture The Ross in the night.
As the Lights faded out, I ducked down my head, as two swords clashed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, a torch flared up ... the scene before us was stark.
Now these are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that The Ross was dazed by this "hooch", and I'm not denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between me and you ...
The Ross got the whisky, oats, honey and cream ... and the Lady of Atholl too!
Now 'tis time to gather 'round and sample Ian's performance of the Address to the Haggis at the reception of the 2012 Clan Ross Canada AGM:
Ah, the tale is not yet finished. On page 11 of the November, 2008, newsletter, Ian wrote, "The following was sung (blared? gargled?) at the recent Clan Ross-Manitoba Burns Dinner by Ian Ross, Keeper of the Brose ... accompanied by Jacquie (one-note) Ross on the pianoforte. (The "ham" referred to in Stanza III is the same Ian Ross.) Please remain seated, and hold onto your hats and applause until the song is completed.
The "MODERN KEEPER OF THE BROSE" Song
To the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Modern Major-General" song from The Pirates of Penzance)
After retiring from running their small Scottish import shop in 2006, Jacquie expressed a secret interest in learning how to become a drummer. By coincidence, the ANAVETS Unit #303 Pipes and Drums of Winnipeg needed a replacement for their bass drummer, and the band agreed to take both Ian and his wife. Here is a medley of Scottish tunes played at the CRA Canada AGM of 2012 by the "Ross" Pipe Band of Manitoba.
Watch and listen as our Ross Pipe Band of Manitoba plays Amazing Grace.
To truly appreciate Robert Burns, you must first understand the character of the Scots. Surely we learned much about Ian's character in his Immortal Memory address of January 20, 2007.