Hootlander - Part 12

 The Farewell Ceilidh

Then Morag announced, “As this is gaun tae be yer last nicht in Scotland we hiv organised a special Ceilidh in the hall the nicht tae send yees aff. Be here at eicht and bring yer dauncin shaes. Yer in fir a rare treat. We'll gie ye a big supper tae.”


As eight o'clock approached the ladies of the village were busy preparing a buffet supper and the local musicians were setting up their amplifiers, speakers and microphones. There was Jimmy Anderson with his Highland and Lowland bagpipes, Shona Mooney – Scotland's champion fiddle player, Craig Maunaigh with bodhran, Andy Hunter ballad singer and caller, Joe on Melodeon, Morag with her penny whistle, Chairlie with guitar and the Shetland piano player Harris Playfair. Ceilidhs at Slamannan were legendary and word had gone out to the area. Kilted men and lassies with tartan sashes began to arrive and soon the hall was bubbling with anticipation. The Ootlanders were at the top table as honoured guests wearing their authentic 18th Century Scottish garb. The bar was opened and the folks bought their drinks and sat around the edge of the hall at the tables facing into the centre of the room.

Big Chairlie picked up the microphone on the stage and made a short speech.

“Welcome everyone. We are pittin on this Ceilidh as a fareweel tae oo American freends here”, as he pointed to the Ootlander group. Lets show them how we enjoy oorsells up here in Slamannan. Take yer pairtners fir a Gay Gordons,”

The folks took to the floor and the band struck up the march tune “Scotland the Brave. Kilts twirled and sashes flew as the music made everyone's feet tap and dance.

Then a 'Dashing White Sergeant', then a Virginia Reel, Canadian Barn Dance, St Bernards Waltz...a Schottishe, and to end the first part of the night a slowish “Strip the Willow”.In between dances there were instrumental interludes and traditional songs.

At 9.30 the ladies brought out the buffet food – a big bowl of Stovies, heaps of sausage rolls, scotch pies, bridies, crowdie, Islay cheddar cheese, oatcakes, shortbread, taiblet, crannachan, bilberry pie, apple pie and a very special cloudberry pie for the American guests. Nips of various Malt whiskies were being poured and passed around and the jollity and gaiety amplified.

The band struck up “The Barren Rocks' and off the Gay Gordons went again but this time with more energy and panache as the alcohol took effect. Skye and Gladys tried their hand at this dance and really enjoyed themselves but they were fair out of puff at the end.

“I think I'll save my energy to have a try at the 'Strip the Willow' dance later.” Skye said wheezing breathlessly as he sat down and drank some whisky.

The dancers birled around and around, and the music seemed to get faster and wilder. The Ootlanders were having the time of their lives, joining in the dances when they could. All too soon it was midnight and Chairlie had to call a halt to the fun.

“Every yin on the flair,” he ordered, “and join hands fir Auld Lang Syne. Music please!”

The band played that old familiar Scottish tune and the folks joined hands and those that could sang the words.. The Ootlander ladies were all crying with happiness and sadness tears. Skye and Angus were trying not to weep but not succeeding.

The party ended, the local folks went home, and the Ootlanders went back to spend their last night at the homes of their guests.

It was an bleary and hung over group that assembled at the community hall next morning with their bags which they loaded onto the minibus.

“Joe will drive ye tae the airport”, said Chairlie, “I hae a Cooncil meetin the morn. It's bin awfie nice meetin ye all. Safe hame an dinnae be strangers.”

“Goodbye Chairlie, thanks for all your help and God Bless,” said Ethel.

He trip to the airport was uneventful and the group checked in their bags and prepared to go through security.

“I hae tae leave ye here as I cannae gang thru security.” said Joe. “I almost forgot tae gie ye the photos that were taken at the magic stane circle.”

Joe handed over the package with the photos and bade the Ootlanders farewell.

“Thanks a million Joe. You have my address. If you are ever in Duscreachen come and stay with me,” said Skye.

“It was wonderful to meet you all in Slamannan. You saved us. My thoughts and prayers will be with you all...always” eulogised Priscilla.

With tears in her eyes Ethel held Joe's hand and sobbing slightly said “ Thanks a million for everything Joe and your kindness. I have to tell you that at the film shoot “The Outlandish Baker” lady told me that she organises an “Outlandish Convention” each year in Edinburgh and we all agreed that we will be back for that next year in July. See you all again!'