Sunday, 25 January 2009

Celebrating Robert Burns

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. He was a bit of a lad in his day but he left Scotland and the world a powerful legacy of poetry and song that 250 years later is sung and recited all over the world. At New Year I always think of all the people around the world joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne. 

At the new house the acoustics are amazing (something to do with it being empty and as yet uncluttered) and I found myself belting out 'My love is like a red, red rose' and 'Auld Lang Syne' and other songs and doing half-baked recitations of poems.

After waiting a long time for The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns to come in stock at Amazon (and giving up), I found the book I had been longing for during a grocery shop at Lidl and on sale for £2.99. Shopping at Lidl often throws up little surprises but this was totally unexpected. Anyway, the book came in to its own today as I recited Address to a Haggis on placing a haggis, 'Great Chieftain o' the pudding-race!', on the dinner table.

'And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!'

 My husband listened politely,  my son tucked in and my daughter hadn't even arrived at the table yet as she "hates" haggis. 

Then after dinner we sang and recited 'Such a parcel of rogues in a nation' amongst others. England didn't take Scotland by force and make us join them in the Act of Union. No, Scotland was given away by a few  Lowland Scots concerned with gaining access to the Commonwealth. The people of Scotland didn't get a choice in the matter. 

'We're bought and sold for English gold - 
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!'

The older I get the more I appreciate Burns' work. His language, his ability to get to the heart of the matter, his choice of subjects such as a mouse, a louse and the Holy Willies of the world. I'm off now to make a cup of tea in time to watch a TV programme of Burns poetry and song.

I've decided to celebrate Burns night every year with a haggis, music, song and recitations. My challenge for next year will be to be able to recite some Burns without reading from my book!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Country comes to town

We went to Dublin for Christmas to visit the in-laws.  After months in the dark, wintry countryside we just love getting in to the city. Especially my daughter who is only 4 but possesses all the confidence and poise of a grown woman. She lives in a tiny village in the highlands but the minute she hits the city streets you'd think she'd always lived in the city. She wasn't always like this. She used to act like she had been held in captivity, shouting from the top of escalators, "Hello people." Standing arms outstretched, eyes filled with wonderment, exclaiming, "look at all my people." She thought they were all there for her, well toddlers are like that, they think the world is all about them. Her little brother is at that stage now. He is 18 months old and walking down the busy shopping street holding his daddy's hand he did a little dance and shouted "Hiya, hiya, hiya," to everyone that passed. In our little country village everyone says hello, but not in the city. 
My daughter loves the hustle bustle, the buzz, the shops, cafes, lights, people and all the things there are to do like visit zoos, theatres, the beach and the parks. Especially the parks. There is a beautiful park near her grandparents. Everything is made of wood and there are lots of wooden animals including a herd of cows. The park is very popular and was full of children as usual. My child, of course, was the only child playing at milking the wooden cow. She pulled on its wooden udders for a good few minutes before offering me a go. No thanks, not today. I should have said yes but I was thinking about what the other mums would think. I have never seen any city kids try to milk that cow. Country comes to town indeed.