I have one of the best jobs in the world. Working in the community newspaper business, I’ve always felt, gives one the opportunity to see life in a different way, to become, at least on some level, familiar with a wide variety of people from a host of different backgrounds.
Over the years my job as editor of The Mount Airy News, and as regional editor with some responsibility over a number of other papers in the area, has evolved to include much more administrative duties than editors of times past. I spend more time managing staffers, completing reports, administrating budgets, making sure copy is coming in and flowing out at the proper time and two dozen other tasks that tend to keep me at a desk a little more than the job once did.
Every once in a while, though not as often as I like, I still manage to sneak out of the office and become engaged in some of the events we’re covering.
Saturday night was one of those times, when I managed to slip into Trio Restaurant downtown to take a few pictures of the annual Robert Burns Dinner.
I met a delightful couple — Sandy and Teri Gerli, who just moved to Mount Airy from Durham in July. Mr. Gerli told me they had never been to a Robert Burns event prior to Saturday, but decided to visit Mount Airy’s celebration. He said his mother’s side of the family is Scottish, and he enjoys Scottish events, and even wears one of his kilts to many of them, as an homage to his mother and her ancestors.
Another interesting part of the evening was hearing some wonderfully entertaining stories from Mike Lowe about Scottish history — I now know the origins of the phrase “raining cats and dogs” and have a much greater appreciation for many Scots who served in various wars over the years. Mr. Lowe also offered one of the more creative — and scarily accurate — toasts “to the lassies,” followed by a toast “to the laddies” by Allison Parsons, who shared a bit of Burns poetry in her homage to the menfolk.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dulcet tones offered up on the Scottish Fiddle by Chris Wishart. I could have sat and listened to his playing all evening.
Of course, the highlight of such an evening is probably the opportunity to eat the world-famous, and much-maligned, haggis and the chance to partake in those aforementioned toasts.
As a teetotaler I managed a pass on the Scotch, and quite frankly had no intentions of trying the haggis, either. Because of scheduling conflicts during a busy evening, dinner was over and the entertainment was about to begin when I walked in.
However, thanks to a young waitress named Amanda who asked, and then good-naturedly asked a second and third time if I wouldn’t have some of the haggis — along with some admonishment from Mrs. Girli that as editor of the paper surely I couldn’t attend a local Robert Burns event without at least trying the haggis — I relented.
Haggis, of course, is a pudding-like dish containing sheep’s pluck. If you don’t know what pluck is, neither did I. I think it’s a made-up word so when someone asks a Scot what is haggis they don’t have to respond “It’s sheep’s heart, liver and lungs.”
So, Amanda brought out a little plate with some haggis, spicy mustard, crackers, cheese and fruit for me to sample. The result?
Well, I don’t know if it’s because of some talented machinations of the chef at Trio, or it’s always like this, but I found I enjoyed the haggis. Fact is, if you had seen my little plate when I was done, there were still a couple pieces of fruit left, a cracker or two and a bit of the cheese.
But the haggis was all gone.
Maybe next year I’ll see about taking in the entire Robert Burns event. Until then, I just might be on the lookout for a source of more haggis.