Monday, 25 January 2010

It really IS 'Poet's Day'

Visiting the hospital, I stopped by a bed and asked the woman how she was feeling.

'It's a braw bricht moonlit nicht the noo,' she said.

I nodded sagely and moved on. The chap in the next bed smiled . I enquired after his health.

'Wee slickit tim'rous cowerin' beastie,' he said. 'A man's a man for aw that.'

Hmm, I thought.

Then I realised. It was the Burns Unit.

The Scots have some dire things to answer for - the Crankees, the word 'Hootenanny' and obviously Rab C Nesbitt (I don't include the deep-fried Mars Bar here, as they're rather good) - but they've brought us good things too: I've no complaints about whiskey or haggis, I like the accent and I'm a fan of Annie Lennox.

But the best thing the Scots ever did was to have a national holiday celebrating a poet!!

Not been to a Burns Night? You imagine a mysterious event shrouded in the skirl of the pipes, the swirl of tartan, the swill of 'the water of life'. It is all of this - but more. It's all about Burns. A poet. OK we're easily frighted by the daelect. But he's worth pursuing. And anyway that's not the point. He's a poet. And he isn't shut up in the back room of a pub, missed off arts listing pages, considered an embarrassement, of no value. No - he's a Poet! His words are celebrated. Even at the moment you bring out the steaming pile of offal that is the 'Great Chieftan o' the puddin-race' there is a pause for 'To a Haggis' (the poem the line 'Devil take the hindmost' is from). Fantastic.

Hurrah for the Scots! and hurrah for Haggis! and hurrah for my hurdies* which really are like a distant hill now.

Happy Burns Night everyone!



  1. The only line of Burns I know, to my shame, is 'the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agly'. I teach the poem when I do 'Of Mice and Men' at school as it inspired the novel's title. The kids laugh a lot at my Scots accent - with very good reason. Do you really like Haggis? Ugh.

  2. Haggis is fab! Peppery. Mmmm. And I've come round to Burns' poetry (but you need a version with translations). Often passionate and/or profound.
    I get abuse from Scottish friends for my accent but I still tell my 'Scottish' jokes. e.g. What's the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney? Bing sings and Walt dis nae.
    How we laugh. Well, I do anyway.

  3. I did laugh at that one! I'll use it when I'm teaching accent and dialect.

  4. Or you can describe an overweight Scot dressed in kilt, sporran, bunnet, dirrrrrk and carrying bagpipes etc . . following the example set by Rabbie Burns as:- "Great Puddin' o' the Chieftain Race"