Ninety guests were welcomed by Chairman, Jim Brown, to the 17th Annual Grassic Gibbon Dinner in the Arbuthnott Hall.
They were all to be part of a memorable night to toast the local author, who spent his formative years on the croft at Bloomfield.
Local artist and former English teacher, David Johnston, was in superb form in the main toast. Like James Mitchell, David has been brought up in the Mearns and schooled in the Mearns but, unlike the author, he had chosen to stay, work and paint in the Mearns.
The Mearns, however, had been the inspiration for both. He wandered round the Mearns, with the eye of an artist drawing comparisons with his and Mitchell’s thoughts, with his and Mitchell’s views of the Mearn’s landscape and ultimately how the Mearns had shaped them both .
He drew many knowing nods as he humorously described his own childhood working on local farms in his holidays at Kilnhill, Thornton and Dykelands and many cringing smiles as he evoked memories of tattie picking on frosted drills on the Garvock at West Balhagerty.
David had pitched his address just right, with much insight to why Gibbon had chosen to write his main works about the Mearns, how he had rejected nationalism and why the Mearns offered so much to David, himself, as an artist. His toast was certainly loyal to his chosen title – James Leslie Mitchell, the Mearns and Me . The audience were then treated to some amazing musical entertainment from husband and wife team, Gordon Cree and Cheryl Forbes, who had travelled up from Darvel in Ayrshire. Both are highly qualified musicians and have appeared on many of the grandest national and international stages.
True to their professional class, they gave the audience a programme ranging from the high to the light brow, and riotously funny.
Gordon finally mesmerised the delighted audience by playing the post horn and the saw. During the meal the guests were bewildered by the table magic of the veteran magician, Peter Nicol, from Aboyne. We look forward to the 18th dinner on March 26, 2016.