Hootlander - Part 12

 The Farewell Ceilidh

To remain in Scotland forever, in some kind of Celtic Outlander dream time warp, it cannot be for these time-travelled members of the Scottish American Society of Tampa, Florida. Morag announces, “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 approaches the ladies of the village are busy preparing a buffet supper, and the local musicians are setting up their amplifiers, speakers and microphones. There is Jimmy Anderson with his Highland and Lowland bagpipes, Shona Mooney – Scotland's champion fiddle player, Craig Maunaigh with his belligerent bodhran, Andy the renowned ballad singer and caller, Joe on Melodeon, Morag with her penny whistle, Chairlie with guitar and the Shetland piano player known as H. P. Ceilidhs at Slamannan are legendary and word had gone out to the area. Kilted men and lassies with tartan sashes begin arriving and soon the hall is bubbling with anticipation. The Ootlanders are at the top table as honoured guests wearing their authentic 18th Century Scottish garb. The bar is opened and the folks buy their drinks and sit around the edge of the hall at the tables facing into the centre of the room.

Big Chairlie picks up the microphone on the stage and makes a short speech.

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

The folks take to the floor and the band strikes up the march tune Scotland the Brave. Kilts twirl and sashes fly as the music makes 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 rollicking Strip the Willow.

At 9.30 the ladies bring 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 are poured and passed around and the jollity and gaiety explode.

The band strikes up The Barren Rocks and off the Gay Gordons goes again but this time with more energy and panache as the alcohol takes effect. Skye and Gladys try stepping this dance and really enjoy themselves but are fair out of puff at the end.

“I'll save my energy for that Strip the Willow marathon later.” Skye says wheezing as he sits down with another whisky.

The dancers birl ‘round and ‘round, and the music gets faster and wilder. The Ootlanders are having the time of their lives, joining in the dances when they can. All too soon the clock strikes midnight and Chairlie has to call a halt to the fun.

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

The band plays that old familiar Scottish tune and the folks join hands, and those that can sing the words.. The Ootlander ladies are all sniffles. Skye and Angus are weepy too.

The party ends. The local folks trundle home. And the Ootlanders go back to the homes of their hosts.

It’s a bleary hung-over group that assembles with their peaty bags at the community hall next morning.

“Joe will drive ye tae the airport,” says 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,” says Ethel.

The trip to the airport is uneventful and the group checks in their bags and prepares to go through security.

“I hae tae leave ye here as I cannae gang thru security,” says Joe. “I almost forgot tae gie ye the photos that were taken at the magic stane circle. Wheniver ye pine fer Scotland, jist look at yer photos and click yer heels tagither like, and we might find ye back here. ”

Joe hands over the package with the photos and bids the Ootlanders farewell.

“Thanks a million Joe. If you are ever in Dunscreachen, come and stay with me,” says Skye.

“It was wonderful meeting you all in Slamannan. Your kindness and hospitality saved us. My thoughts and prayers will be with you all...always” eulogises Priscilla.

Ethel grabs Joe's hand and coos “Thanks a million for everything Joe. I have something exciting to tell you. At the film shoot, “The Outlandish Baker” lady told me that she organises an “Outlandish Convention” every year in Edinburgh. So we’ll see you all again next July!!!



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