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A Fond Farewell to Irene

In July, we waived goodbye to our very good friends, Irene and Andrew Mackenzie, who have moved to New Zealand to be with their Son and his family.

Basildon Caledonian Society will sorely miss Irene, a member for over 30 years, our chief dancing instructor, RSCDS trained, a frequent entertainer at our Ceilidhs and most of all her Address to the Haggis, which must surely be the best at any Burns supper, and which we were so privileged to have. Elected as President on many occasions and stood as Treasurer more often than we can remember, Irene was always a regular figure amongst us.

Our presentation to Irene from members of the Society was an engraved pewter trinket box from the Quaich Company.

Our love and best wishes from us all go with them for an enjoyable retirement.


Basildon Caledonian Society always has a traditional format for celebrating the memory of Robert Burns. Every Member participates in some way for the preparation of the evening and the content.
Our 2016 celebration was, as always, most enjoyable. Eddie paraded the Haggis in; Irene gave the most theatrical Address to the Haggis and we then consume the most marvellous traditional meal and desserts not to forget the wine and a wee dram.
Then followed the Immortal Memory given by Andrew (with no notes!!!). The toast to the Lassies and the reply was this year presented so well by our newest Members, Stuart and Maxine Henderson. Congratulations to you both. We follow with entertainment from Marilyn, Irene and Andrea which bring to the end an excellent evening. It disappears as quickly as it arrives.


Céilidh in Aid of St Lukes Hospice - June 2015
Our Ceilidh is a light-hearted and fun evening to raise funds for the St. Lukes Hospice.    The Scottish dances are generally easy ones which may well be walked through and some very familiar dances are included, Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, etc.

The most important and enjoyable reasons for holding a Ceilidh is for the guests to take part in performances of singing, playing musical instruments, reading poems etc.,
They are not meant to be Royal Opera standard or performances but just plain fun.
However, we are lucky to get some good performers every year and this year was no exception.

Sisters, Claire and Susan Morley, played several pieces beautifully on the clarinet and viola, one of their own composition.   They were also music teachers.  Roger Barnes played interval music on his accordion and our own in-house singers, Irene, Andrea and Marilyn entertained us in their usual melodious way.

A great Ceilidh and a donation to St Lukes Hospice of approximately £170


Address to the Lassies © Don Babbage 1997

God first made the Universe, the Earth, the stars, the Sun,

And then he made the human race, the population – one !

Next God created Eden and Adam settled there

Free full board and lodging – he didn’t have a care.

There was just one restriction; it caused him no disquiet,

It was a total ban – on apples – in his diet.


But God still wasn’t happy, “Poor Adam’s all alone,

I’ll take a bit of DNA and generate a clone”

So he took a rib from Adam – who was sleeping I believe –

And conjured up a woman and he called the woman – Eve.

So the population doubled, it had shot right up to two,

And Eve, and her mate Adam, found lots of things to do.


Then one day Eve said “I’ve got bored” – she really had the hump –

“Let’s go to the orchard, I want to go and scrump”

“We can’t do that”, said Adam, “It wouldn’t be quite right”

“Oh, just for me”, breathed Eve, “and you’ll be all right tonight”

“Get in there”, said the Serpent, “Go on mate, have a go –

I’m not telling anyone, well there’s no one else to know”


But as Eve grasped that apple, there came a great celestial shout,

“Hands off my Cox’s Pippins, go you two, get out”

So all those many years ago, upon that fateful day,

The wiles of wicked women led we poor men astray.


We could have lived in leafy bowers; with vines they would be thatched.

Now it has to have four bedrooms and it has to be detached.

We could have plucked our dinner right from off the nearest tree,

But ‘cos madam fancied apples it’s off to Supersave for me.


At first Eve just wore a fig leaf; it did the job just fine,

Then the second woman got one and Eve screamed “That’s just like mine”

So fashion was invented, I don’t know what it’s for,

I know we never get to pass a dress shop door


We spend our lives commuting in those rotten cars and trains,

Working all those hours, oh the stresses and the strains

And when the day is over, and we climb into our beds,

Do we get our just reward lads? No – “I’ve such an aching head”

*  *  *  * 

Reply to the Toast to the Lassies © Don Babbage 1997

Lassies, do you want a man who’s tim’rous like a mouse?

Or do you want a he-man who’s built just like a house?

Do you want a man who’s short?

Do you want a man who’s tall?

Face it – do you really want a man at all?


Do you find that when you cuddle up to him for warmth in bed

That life comes back to bits of him you thought – and hoped – were dead?

Does that peaceful night become some sort of riot?

Electric blankets warm you up – and  - thank God – they lay there quiet!


When men have had their bit of fun, and peace can reign once more,

The little darlings go to sleep and then they start to snore.

They sound just like a Jumbo Jet revving up to reach full power

And once they’re up to speed go on for hour after hour.


There’s a weepy on the telly that you really want to see.

You settle down with Kleenex and a nice hot cup of tea

And just when it gets sad and you’re ready for a cry

In comes macho man – he wants to watch the match on Sky!


So find the dear a hobby, but then he gets the bug,

You finish up with motor bikes spread out across the rug

Or else he buys a yacht and says he’ll stand his watch

Just to smoke his foul cigars and drink a flask of Scotch.


He invests in a computer – which can be useful in its way

But not if he sits at it playing silly games all day.

Or he says he’ll do the cooking, like those TV chefs we see –

Guess who gets the washing up? You’ve got it girls – it’s me!


Of course we need them if we want children – even then they think they’re clever

Though their bit takes two minutes – ours goes on for ever.

Let’s face it – men are useless. I’d shoot the blooming lot.

Well no,  I’d just shoot most of them – but I’ll keep the one I’ve got!

 *  *  *  *


An exceptionally enjoyable evening was held on Saturday, 9th November,  and yet was sad for their Members and friends, who were dancing their last as the Rayleigh Caledonian Society.  
The programme was good with live music by the Music Makers and Piper, Bob Dobney and marvellous catering by Jean's Catering plus a good attendance to support them made for a memorable evening.
Thank you Rayleigh for an excellent dance.


Last year our Ceilidh was enjoyable as always, made so by our entertainers.
 They were:-
The Sutherland Pipes & Drums, from Corringham (who always perform for charity);  Doreen Potter and her very amusing monologues;  Ian Armstrong, who sang so well;  Valerie Helliar reading her own poetry with husband Ray, who read his variation on Shakespeare's Hamlet, To Be Or Not To Be.
The  Donation made to St Lukes Hospice from the profits made was £260.
Our 2014 Ceilidh is on Saturday 31st May.  Come and enjoy.


This year Basildon Caledonian Society was the organiser and it is hoped the Committee managed to put on a good show.  
Grateful thanks go to Keith Leedham as the photographer and MC's, Keith Leedham and Don Babbage.   The excellent music was provided by Craigievar Scottish Dance Band and wonderful Jean's Catering provided sustenance.
In particular, Andrea and Norman Bennett  managed the evening successfully.
Our aim was to continue the Essex Ball tradition of providing an enjoyable evening for the County, which, by the end of the evening we felt we did due to the energy and hard work of the Committee.
We send our best wishes to Witham & District as they prepare for 2014 and  look forward to next year.


 A well supported St Andrews dance had a good programme that got most dancers on the floor, as usual.
 There was a particularly entertaining opening performance from John that missed the cameras but was thoroughly enjoyed by those nearby.    We look forward to a repeat performance perhaps at our Ceilidh in July for all to enjoy.  


Basildon always celebrates the birth of Rabbie Burns in its traditional format with the Supper, the tributes and toasts and entertainment.   The supper had some slight amendments this year as the snow and ice postponed the event until the following week.   As we all contribute to the supply of the food this revised date caught a few with extra supplies of cream or vegetables to consume rapidly!

The  best change to the evening was the failure of the lights but we were prepared with candles to make the evening so authentic to resemble the day of 25th January 1759.

Keith  Leedham gave an AudioVisual presentaion to the Immortal Memory, Marilyn sang Burns delightfully and the speeches by candlelight were enjoyed by all.

A thoroughly good evening.


Our Hogmanay Dance
This evening was as enjoyable as always with very friendly company and we welcomed in the New Year in the traditional manner.
Some new music gave some food for thought; dancing the Glengarry Homestead to a carol (unable to sing Waltzing Matilda) and a Waltz to Away in a Manger!!!
A Happy New Year to all our Friends we meet within Scottish Country Dancing.
St Andrew's Dance
A very successful evening  this year with a high number of guests from across Essex.   The weather was not in our favour but the dance programme was popular, with a just a musical hiccup or two, and the floor was crowded showing an enthusiastic company.

The Society held a very successful Ceilidh on 16th June, the profits from which for this annual event go to  St. Luke’s Hospice, Basildon.

It was described as 'more Scottish than Scotland'                                       The entertainers:- Janet Hewitt on a range of recorders accompanied by Michael Hewitt played short Scottish melodies and described their origins; Our own Marilyn Leedham singing beautifully, always unaccompanied; 

Three Epping Forest Pipers,  Pipe Major Simon Breden & wife and Linda, who accompanied several dances and played the usual finale;                      and throughout the evening Roger Barnes played the accordion.


"I know I wasn't the only one burning the Midnight Oil and trying to memorise the dances.

It came to a head when I felt I had a confession to make and arranged to meet Father Connelly at the Iona Cross.        It was all because I took Angus MacLeod to bed with me, trying to memorise the dance and trying not to disturb my Dancing Partner,  Recumbent beside me.     He wasn't Stoned though;  no, John, of his Accord had only had a few Drops of Brandy.

When the Dream Catcher finally caught up with me, I dreamt that Mrs.Milne of Kinneff had gone to the Land of the Heather Hills with the Glenalmond Gamekeeper.  Unfortunately, while they were there she was badly stung by the Bees at Maggieknockater and she'll never Gang the same Gate again.      She took the owner to court of course - Foxhill Court.   In fact, she was so distressed, they were waving the Bratach Bana to get help and, fortunately, the Duke of Perth was passing by to go to his Plantation.  Reel friends are wonderful.

                                                                Composer: Rachel Stenhouse


Scottish dancing 'good for fitness'

Source : Press Association
Published on 09 August 2010 09:00 AM


A leading university has said that as long as you don't tread on a sword, Scottish dancing could be key to keeping fit in old age.

People who take part in the famous and energetic style of dancing north of the border were found to have better levels of fitness than people who did other forms of

exercises, a study concluded.

The research was led by an expert in drama and dance at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, called Dr Paul Dougall.

He said: "It's generally assumed that dancing is good exercise but we wanted to measure whether Scottish country dancing has specific health benefits."

The study focused on older women and had 70 participants - 35 women aged between 60 and 85 who practised Scottish country dancing and 35 in the same age range who took part in other forms of exercise.

The comparison between two groups who were active in different types of exercise suggests that country dancing is particularly effective at keeping people fit.

Dr Susan Dewhurst, an exercise physiologist from the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, led assessments of the participants' fitness.

She said: "We used state-of-the-art equipment to give very precise measurements of muscle quality and function.

"By studying participants of various ages, we were able to build a comprehensive picture of the considerable health benefits of Scottish country dancing."

Dr Dougall believes the benefits are not just physical, and that the dances exercise the mind as well.

(Editor's note:  Scottish Country Dancing does not involve swords which are used in some Highland dancing)

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