Sunday, 25 October 2009

A Big Pie and A New Car......

Hullo there ma wee blog,

Jings, where does time go. It seems like no time since my last post and yet its been four days or so.

So what have I been up to?

Well my weekend was filled with A Big Pie and A New Car......

I was invited by my older brother Gordon - Happy Birthday for today by the way, big brother - down to Irvine for a night out. He has invited me before to nights out with associates or to functions but I have never gone. I don't like the idea of sporting nights where you get suited and booted to go and watch a couple of guys beat seven bells out of each other in a boxing ring. And I'm not a golfer. Not that I'm one of those who see it as a good walk spoiled or anything like that but I'm a fisherman and to be honest both of those sports are pretty time consuming, and expensive, if you are going to do them properly. I'm not into round table socialising and fundraising and all that schmoozing and self congratulating stuff either.

Shield of the Hammermens guild

But, I do enjoy my brothers company and he invited me out to go to a night out with the Irvine Incorporated Trades Association which he is part of. I was a guest of his guild, which is The Hammermen. Now, as you know, I do like my history and being born in Irvine and brought up nearby, I thought I would go along and see what it was all about.

Shield of the Cordiners Guild

So there I was dressed in the advised appropriate dark suit, collar and tie, nice shiny shoes and all ma buttons polished. I was glad that it wasn't evening dress as my suit has been in the wardrobe for about 6 or 7 years and I doubt that it would accomodate my now even more well proportioned self any more. I had left home and travelled the 125 miles back to Ayrshire early enough to get through the Glasgow rush hour and arrive in time for a wash and change and to be out of the house by the appointed 6.30 with my dapper brother in tow. We had been dropped off at the rooms where the trades association have had their annual get togethers since time immemorial by his wife with a small reminder to me not to let my brother get too out of hand or create havoc on return from the do.

'Hahaha....Course not, what do you take us for. We're both responsible adults after all.'

And anyway I'm really not much of a drinker.

Shield of The Skinners Guild

I was struck by the finery on show. A couple of hundred of the local worthies done up in evening dress, dress kilts etc. and assorted dark suits. As we made our way to our table I noticed that there were no women that I could see. On mentioning this to Gordon he told me that there were a couple, and he did mean only two, here for the dinner but they were both guests from outside. There were long tables laid out down almost the full length of either side of the hall for the high heid yins and guests and about twenty or thirty round tables of eight apiece down the middle in a couple of staggered rows. We were greeted by various bods, none of whom I knew of course, and I was introduced and shook hands with about ten or fifteen folk before we found our slots marked with rather posh name cards at one of the tables marked for the Hammermens guild.

Shield of the Tailors Guild

Gordon headed off for the bar to sort out some refreshments and left me with his three friends, all of whom I knew slightly, and returned laden with three bottles of red wine and a bottle of malt whisky. The table was already stocked with several cans of various beers and soft drinks but what the heck I thought, lets go with the flow. Gordon advised that once things started it could get a bit boring with all the speeches but it wasn't the done thing to be getting up and going to the bar in the middle of it all so better to be prepared for the long haul.

I looked at the booze laden table and,

'Jings, How long' I said.

'Oh, dont worry we should be finished by about midnight' came the reply. 'If the speeches go quite smartly anyway'.

'Oh........erm, Good'

The night is called 'The Big Pie' because it was tradition for the guild to provide a good meal for all at the meeting. This was traditionally in the form of a big pie surprisingly enough. When there was a meeting of just one of the guilds the meal that was provided was also a pie so these smaller affairs became known over time as 'Wee Pies'

Friday was the 363rd anniversary 'Big Pie'.

A short history of the guilds.
The Irvine Seal of Cause

On the 3rd July 1646 The Royal Burgh of Irvine Granted the Seal of Cause to the Incorporated Trades of Irvine.

The Crafts were listed in the following order:-

Smiths Hammermen guild,- these were blacksmiths,goldsmiths, silversmiths,pewterers,lorimers (clockmakers), saddlers,cutlers, bucklers, armorours
Websters guild - Weavers
Tailors - Tailors
Cordiners - Shoemakers and leatherworkers
Skinners - Dealers in skins, pelts or hides, also glovers and makers of skin breeches
Wrights Joiners, - carpenters and squaremen, builders and makers of fine furniture
Coopers - Makers and repairers of barrels, wooden vessels, casks, buckets and tubs

Each CRAFT was allowed to elect a head official annually who was termed Deacon. The Incorporation was granted the right of having a common box or Common Good. As there were no banks, money and valuables belonging to the Crafts were lodged in a stout box. The Boxmaster was the Treasurer and the keys were held by two members of the Craft, known as the Keymasters.

In Irvine in 1646 there were approximately 100 mastercraftsmen. With their apprentices, journeymen and families this accounted for about a third of the Burgh's population of 1,500. The members of the Incorporation welded themselves into a powerful group in the town.

The original document was written with a quill pen on vellum and is still preserved in the Scottish Record Office.

With the charter came the right and privilege to manufacture and sell goods within the town boundaries. The incorporation had the right to try all made work by journeymen from within the town and those who came to work from outside the town. No one could, without permission of the Incorporation, manufacture and sell goods in the town.

With the rights and privileges "granted" to the seven crafts, the Smiths, the Weavers, the Tailors, Cordiners, Skinners, Wright craft and the Coopers, also came obligations to help and assist widows, bairns, waifs and strays, the auld, aged, the decrepit (I qualify in at least two counts then!) and those craftsmen less fortunate who fell on hard times.

Shield of The Weavers Guild.

Its this last element which remains today and the guilds are predominantly a means for fund raising for the local community.

The night was all very formal and linked back to the traditions of the guilds. No gentlemen is allowed to remove his jacket or tie. Formal speeches and reply speeches are given and there are numerous toasts throughout the evening. The guests were MPs MSPs, Council Provosts, Clergy of both Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches, and various Guilds representatives of other Towns and cities as far apart as Aberdeen and York

There was a meal in which a small individual steak pie was the starter, apparently a pie is always in there somewhere, then on to fish or chicken - I had the salmon which was pretty good, then dessert and coffee.

There were toasts to; The Queen, The Royal Family, and to Her Majesties Forces.

There were speeches followed by toasts and then replying speeches to;

The Royal Burgh Of Irvine
The Deacon Convener and Conveners Court
The Clerks report
Our Guests
The Clergy
Irvine Carters Society
THe Chairman, The Croupier,and The Clerk Of The Conveners Court

In amongst all this there was also a ceremonial 'walking' of the Big Pie where everyone clapped as it was paraded solemnly around the room, {these days a Big Pie is made and donated to the local old folks home} and two halts for 'refreshments' - what ARE these guys on - where there were pipers laid on for entertainment. I honestly can't remember if we toasted the pie and the pipers but it's very likely.

Everything else was getting bloomin toasted!

Shield of the Wrights Guild

Some of the speeches were very witty and clever, some were ponderous and some were mercifully short. But the toasts were frequent and the glasses well charged at every turn and during the speeches the wine and the whisky flowed richt weel. By the end of the night I was quite puggled but cosy in ma cups and not too far gone. {Oh really Alistair?} I thought I did particularly well in managing to sing Auld Lang Syne right strongly while standing squarely on both legs although holding hands with the others did help a bit. Lovely singers the others were too....

Shield of the Coopers Guild.

Some of the speechifying was a bit too smug and self stroking for my liking but the company at the table was good and boy did we drink. Did I mention that before?

Next morning I had alkaseltser and did vomiting for breakfast and then Gordon and I spent a restful couple of hours painting guttering at Dads old house in the wind and the rain. That helped a lot.

No, really, it helped a lot!

I met the lovely G from work back in Edinburgh later and we had a look round some garages and arranged a test drive in a nice 2nd hand Ford Focus. By the time I got home I was tired and fractious and only had time for a bit of mind numbing telly before heading to bed leaving G on her own.

So she made me buy her a new car on Sunday. That'll teach me. I may never drink again.

No seriously, what really happened was we were back out on Sunday looking for a replacement for her old but much loved wee banger and after we had the test drive in the Focus I was really unimpressed. We decided against it but I noticed that Ford have seriously upped their game from the offers we were seeing in garages even a few weeks ago and I saw a nice new Fiesta with a good deal linked to what I still call their options deal - pay small deposit and low monthly payments and have a bulk sum left after two years to deal with if you want to keep the car or move on to another model. We have used the scheme before when it suited us and with the current situation I felt that it was better to get her a new car - even with the defferred lump sum, than to spend almost the same for a good low mileage 2nd hand job.

The biggest decider for me though was that the interest rate the garage we were looking at charged was exactly 1/3rd of what another Ford garage had quoted me a few weeks before. {That poor salesman had the cheek to look surprised when I laughed at him and suggested the lovely G should pick up her coat.}

So with a good deposit and government scrappage money of £2000 it means that it's less of a hit on redundancy money we may need in the short term, and we have both reduced the monthly payments and the deferred payment. I am happy with that.

And so is G, as she gets to drive away with this....

And in her favourite colour like in the picture too.

Brownie Points?


You betcha!!!!!

As for 'The Guild'? Well, it was suggested that perhaps I would like to come back for ' a wee pie' with the Hammermen and I could be inducted into the guild.

While I am wee bit flattered, there's also a larger part of me that is with the late Groucho Marx, who I think, said " I wouldn't want to join any club that would have me as a member" so I think perhaps I will pass on that.

I think my liver would agree.......

see you later..........

Listening to Sia 'You Have Been Loved'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your Big Pie night seems very similar to our Golfing Prizegiving night ,, ( just past last Wed in fact at which the Captain gave a fairly short speech .,., me that is ! ),, or our Burns Supper ,, or any one of a miriad of drunken social nights ! And I have an older friend too,like your brother, who obviously leads us into tempation !! The Burns nights of course ( with the Walking o' the Haggis ! )as I'm sure you know, tend to have the longer speeches ,,and the worst hang-overs ,,,and I also know about the Law Faculty dinners through my son's escapades ,,, our Seniors nights are fast catching up, but thankfully no swimming pools near by !.,.,every table has at least 3-bottles of Whisky ,, and that's after the wine with dinner and the beer before sitting down ! I myself apparently went missing, it was presumed for a long walk round the course after one memorable Burns night ,, however I had actually gone into the car park to phone Ann to come & collect me ,, but had then fallen after walking into the car park gate and rolling down the hill in my good suit ! Woke up in bed some hours later with blood on the pillow from the head wound, but never felt a thing ! You know the kinda nights I mean ?
Anyway, glad you enjoyed it .,., Tell G I hope she enjoys her new car ,, she obviously knows the right time to work on you !
El Scud !

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