Here's tae Rabbie

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    Some hae meat and cannot eat.
    Some cannot eat that want it:
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    Sae let the Lord be thankit.
    1

Tonight we feasted on haggis, neaps and tatties in homage to the beloved scoundrel of Scotland George Galloway Robert Burns. It’s been a long time since I attend a Burns Supper, with all it’s traditions, songs and laughter they are great fun, so if you ever get an invite to you really should accept. These days they even allow the wummin to attend – previously they were men only affairs – although it’s fair to say that’s nothing to do Rabbie as he loved the ladies, fathering a few illegitimate children in his time, even whilst he was married (told you he was a scoundrel) – in fact his eldest child was greeted with the poem ‘Welcome to a Bastard Wean’.

    “Welcome! lily bonie, sweet, wee dochter,
    Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,
    And tho’ your comin’ I hae fought for,
    Baith kirk and queir;
    Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for
    That I shall swear!…
    Lord grant that thou may ay inherit
    Thy rnither’s person, grace, an’ merit,
    An’ thy poor, worthless daddie’s spirit,
    Without his failins,”
    2

For those of you who’ve never tried haggis, I can confirm that it is delicious. The traditional ingredients are often said to compromise sheeps heart and liver, mixed with oatmeal and spices and cooked in a sheep’s stomach. These days the offal is usually replaced by a combination of lamb, beef and onion, and the casing is similar to that used in everyday sausages. Get one from a local butcher if you can.

    “His knife see rustic Labour dight,
    An cut you up wi ready slight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
    Like onie ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
    Warm-reekin, rich!”
    3

If you are Scottish then you’ll know of Robert Burns as he was, at least in my day, part of the national curriculum. Who didn’t study Tam O’Shanter, the poem from which the Cutty Sark takes her name (and which was built and launched in my home town)?

    Her cutty sark, o Paisley harn,
    That while a lassie she had worn,
    In longitude tho sorely scanty,
    It was her best, and she was vauntie…
    Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie,
    That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
    Wi twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches),
    Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!
    4

My Dad is an active member of the Burns circuit in Scotland – recently retired president of the Dumbarton Burns Club no less – and tonight is attending the Dumfries Society dinner in the wonderfully named Howff Club where, I presume, he’ll be having a gander at the recently acquired second page of Holy Willie’s Prayer. Now I like haggis, but you have to admire my father’s devotion. He’ll be attending around 6 or 7 Burns Suppers over the next two weeks, literally singing for his supper at some of them.

    “O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi Meg –
    Thy pardon I sincerely beg –
    O, may’t ne’er be a livin plague
    To my dishonour!
    An I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
    Again upon her.”
    5

So here’s to everyone celebrating tonight, may your past go before you and stand you in good stead. Slainte!

    “And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
    And gie’s a hand o thine,
    And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
    For auld lang syne.”
    6
~

Notes:
With the exception of the extract from ‘Love-begotten Daughter’ the post follows the traditional Burns Supper speechs and songs. No, that was not by accident. For your further consumption:

  1. The Selkirk Grace
  2. Extract from Love-begotten Daughter
  3. Extract from “To a Haggis” (includes translation)
  4. Extract from Tam O’ Shanter (includes translation)
  5. Extract from Holy Willie’s Prayer
  6. Extract from Auld Lang Syne