The Blagger's Guide To...Burns Night
Haggis, whisky, poetry – what's not to like?
Sunday 23 January 2011
*Burns Night, which celebrates the birth in 1759 of Scotland's favourite poet, is celebrated on Tuesday.
Technically, it should involve more than just drinking whisky. Try reciting at least the first verse of "Address to a Haggis" before plunging in the skean dhu. Into the haggis, not yourself; it's not that bad.
*"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o' a grace As lang's my arm ..."
*Robert Burns was voted the Greatest Ever Scot by TV viewers in a 2009 poll. His song "Is there for Honest Poverty" was chosen as the anthem to open the new Scottish Parliament.
*"Mair nonsense has been uttered in his name/ Than in ony's barrin liberty and Christ", wrote the Scottish nationalist Communist poet Hugh MacDiarmid in his 1926 poem "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle", a diatribe against the cult of Burns.
*Burns' songs have been recorded by, among others: Eddie Reader; Andy Stewart; Ewan MacColl; Jean Redpath; and Anne Lorne Gillies. This last singer is also a broadcaster, academic, writer and SNP member, who wrote the script for the drama Aig an taigh, for Scottish Television's Speaking our Language programme for learners of Gaelic. Gillies' version of Burns's "Ae Fond Kiss" was chosen as his first song by the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on last week's Desert Island Discs.
*Scotland's national bard was born in Ayrshire in an "auld clay biggin" that is now known as Burns Cottage. An official Burns museum opens on the site this weekend. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is in the village of Alloway on the outskirts of the town of Ayr. Entry is via Burns Cottage (Greenfield Avenue) and at the main museum building (in Murdoch's Lone).
*The museum traces the life of the Ayrshire ploughman from his birthplace via Brig o' Doon to Burns Monument. Among the exhibits is Burns's writing set, containing goose-quill nibs, a sharpening knife and a tiny inkwell. Burns carried this writing set with him as he travelled around the countryside, believing, in the words of the writer Thomas Gray, that "a word fix'd on the spot is worth a cart-load of recollection".
*The new Scottish Makar, or national poet, was announced on Wednesday as Liz Lochhead (below). She replaces Edwin Morgan, who died last August. Lochhead's first official engagement was to open the Burns museum on Friday. "I accept [the position] on behalf of poetry itself," she said, "in grateful recognition of the truth that poetry... matters deeply to ordinary Scottish people."
*From the age of 30 until his death seven years later, Robert Burns was an exciseman. Taking taxes on goods such as malted grain, alcohol, paper, and soap was unpopular, so the job was a risky business. For this reason Burns carried a pair of pistols, personalised with his initials, which are also displayed at the museum.
*Robert Burns had a notoriously bad singing voice. Which was prescient, because so do most of the people who launch into the first verse of "Auld Lang Syne" each Hogmanay, usually giving into drunken shouting at about the line: "And never brought to mind".
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer unveiled at Comic-Con
How did our legends really begin?
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
- < Previous
- Next >