With reference to your letter dated 16th inst regarding the age old custom of haggis hunting in the Highlands of Scotland, I am pleased to forward the following information.
Contrary to your statement that the hunt causes unnecessary suffering to these small creatures and can therefore be termed as a blood sport, I would stand by my affirmation that no haggis is subjected to any pain whatsoever and in fact one could go as far as to say they actually enjoy the hunt. The best way to kill a haggis, although many would disagree with me here, is to drown it with whisky.
From the contents of your letter, I would surmise that you have no concept at all of how the hunt is conducted. As haggii by nature are very shy creatures and seldom seen with the naked eye, a variety of web cams are set up in different locations of Scotland. Once the haggis has been spotted, the hunter, wearing a pair of rubber gloves, races to the scene, sets out an open bottle of best malt whisky, and conceals himself in a nearby location. Chances are, however, that before the intended prey gets a chance to come forward, the bottle will be picked up by a torch branding chav, one of Scotland’s less desirable species. However, if the hunter manages to fight off the chavs and the vagrants, the haggis will eventually be unable to resist the luring aroma of our national nectar . Once he is legless, this not taking long as his legs are different lengths to begin with, he is easily picked up and simply falls into a deep dreamless sleep not even stirring when he is dropped into a pan of boiling water.
Before cooking, the size of the haggis is recorded using a tape measure approved by the National trust For Scottish measurements.
Also from your communication, it would appear that you are in fact unaware of the true nature of the haggis. Perhaps you and your claim to be God’s eyes, may be less ready to interfere with our national customs if you understood more about the wee beastie.
I will therefore endeavor to give you information in the many areas in which you appear to be ignorant.
The original haggis was formed in Frankensteinian fashion from the belly and organs of the sheep. The heart, liver and lungs were chopped up and mixed liberally with copious amounts of oatmeal, thus creating an entirely new strain. Once the swarthy Highlanders, their bellies rumbling after a prolonged and bloody battle during which they had no sustenance whatsoever, discovered this tasty delicacy, it quickly became Scotland’s national dish, greatly enjoyed for at least four hundred years.
Where it actually originated is still very much in speculation. In early Roman times, a comic cook was claimed to have brandished a haggis-like creature on a stick while performing in the theatre. But even earlier than that there are written clues from ancient Greece. In Aristophanes’ play 'The Clouds' there is a comic kitchen scene where a sheep’s bladder is filled with organs and oats thus creating a creature remarkably similar to a haggis. There is a mouth watering account of the dish as it cooks and a mention of the golden beads of fat which is also referred to by our own national poet, Robert Burns two thousand years later when, penicil in hand, he immortalised the dish in the poem, ’Ode to a Haggis’ and claims it to be ‘the great chieftain o’ the pudding race’ . This was when the noble wee beastie gained it’s greatest fame and we claimed it as our own.
Also to reply to your further concerns that breeding animals with the legs on the right side of their body shorter than on the left just so that they will remain indigenous to Scotland is entirely misinformed. The wee crature evolved that way with no interference from man at all. It is all due to the terrain in the Highlands and the habit the haggii have of running around the base of the hills. Neither is it true that we have forced them to fly backwards so as to keep an eye on whoever may have a gun trained on them. Haggii fly backwards over the moor, simply to protect their eyes from the biting winds. No haggis has ever been able to survive in captivity, thus making the domesticating or farming of them impossible. Anything you may have heard to the contrary is propaganda spouted by the Sassenachs who would wish to claim these tasty wee morsels for themselves.
The hunting season begins in the month of January so that fresh haggii can be brought to the table as Scotsmen and women everywhere celebrate the birth of their national poet on the 25th.
Originally it was reported that after the newly cooked haggis was brought to the table to the accompaniment of a piper, the assembled kilted clan members would leap onto their chairs, set one foot upon the table, swallow their dram of whisky and toss the glass over their shoulders. Then the Clan chief would recite the above poem, briefly apologize to the haggis for having killed it and plunge a dirk - a short sharp knife worn inside a highlanders sock - into it’s steaming belly. It’s entrails was then eaten with relish by the assembled company. After their hunger was sated, the Highlanders would spend the night sampling the many different brands of Scots whisky
Nowadays there is seldom any jumping on tables or breaking of glass, but the drams are still liberally served. The night is enjoyed by locals and incomers alike. At our last supper, we were even joined by a Dutchman, complete with national costume and bargee’s hat.
However, there is one point in your letter with which I totally agree. I, too, object to the noble haggis being sometimes subjected to the indignation of being dressed in kilt and tam. And once, horror of horrors, some well-meaning English lady photographed the wee beasty wearing heather sprouting earrings and eltered in lip balm.
In conclusion, I would ask that now, having a better understanding of the haggis and his ways, you would refrain from taking the matter up with the Scottish parliament as I’m sure they have much more important issues concerning them than the plight of the simple Scottish haggis.