Tonight is Burn’s Night in Scotland and up and down the land people will be tucking into haggis, drinking whisky and reciting poems by the national Bard. We do like to re-enforce our national stereotypes, although not many deep fried Mars Bars will be consumed as this is more of a myth. I know that they are available in certain chippies in the Capital.
This year’s celebration has been high jacked for political reasons by the SNP the excuse being the 25oth anniversary of the former exciseman’s birth. It has been decreed by our sonsie (cheerful) faced, not sure about the honest though, First Minister to be the Year of Homecoming when those ex pat Scots are supposed to make their way home and spend their money here. We have already had an advert with luminaries such as Sir Sean Connery telling us what a great country it is. I know it is a great country and wouldn’t live anywhere else but I object to a fucking old tax exile who hasn’t lived here for thirty or more years telling me so and getting paid for the privilege or maybe waving his fee as the ad is by the Scottish Executive, the governing party of which just happens to be the SNP who he has expressed very vocal support for in the past.
You may get the feeling that I am opposed to the concept of Burns Night, nothing could be further from the truth, I think that the life of our national Bard should be celebrated, I love some of his poetry and songs, a Man’s A Man For A’ That, My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose, On Seeing a Wounded Hare Limp By etc. What I can’t stand are male only Burn’s Supper’s. I had the misfortune to go to one of these not once but 2 years in succession. I have no idea why these things are men only, as Burns being a bit of a philanderer loved the company of women. These things are lengthy affairs the one i attended kicked off at 7 pm and finished around half twelve and was taken very seriously, even more seriously as the amount of drink consumed increased. During the readings you were not allowed to speak or leave the table even to go to the toilet. Now this would be okay apart from the length of a couple of Burns poems. Take Tam o’ Shanter, all 3000 odd words of it, which in the hands of a septuagenarian took some time to recite and after consuming 5 or six pints was more than a little discomforting. Not all Burns Suppers are single sex affairs and I have been to some great nights where the company has been mixed and it has not been taken too seriously.
The first track here I Love My Jean performed by Camera Obscura. The lyrics to this are by Robert Burns and the music by the band. I think I’m right that the first time this was heard was when they performed it live at Peel Acres for the great man’s Burn’s Night special on 22/01/2004.
The second track has nothing what so ever to do with Burns, although i like to think that Burns would approve of the sentiment of the lyric. It is by Dick Gaughan, a Scottish folk singer much loved by Billy Bragg amongst many others.
Dick Gaughan – No Gods and Precious Few Heroes
I will be having haggis this week sometime, not because it is Burns night but because I love it. If you haven’t tried it and you can get your hands on one I thoroughly recommend it.