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!