25 January 2010


Happy Burns Night/Day!

Address To A Haggis 

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!

Aboon them a' ye tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

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

Then, horn for horn, 
they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit!" 'hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!


  1. Ahhh! Robert Burns. Did I ever tell you all that I had a crush on Robert Burns when I was a teenager? Still sorta do. Look at that sweet, lovely face -- what girl wouldn't swoon?

  2. Most girls did, it appears, Montana; eight illegitimate children by five women in a decade before his marriage, and then - if I've kept count correctly - seven more children after that...

  3. Montana,

    lovely face, as filthy a mind as Prince as his ode to 18th Century female sexuality Nine inches will please a lady will testify.

  4. The Hunt.

    The hunt began, with dogs and horses,
    The haggis cowered under a hedge
    To avoid becoming the most main of courses
    Served with chips and a medley of veg

    The cry went up, "o'er there! o'er there!"
    At the sound of the horn, the dogs ran free,
    Their barking rent the morning air,
    The haggis took shelter in a tree

    Clinging to a branch, above the crowd
    Awaiting death by tooth and claw
    "why o why", cried the haggis out loud
    "am I not protected by Hunting Act 2004?"

    "Fear not" said the squirrel, on a nearby twig
    "I will signal the fox, to distract the pack,
    And we can make a banner, clear and big,
    Saying 'stop the bypass', which should attract

    The police and blanket media attention,
    and maybe a green pressure group,
    And in the ensuing growth in tension
    We can scarper before being turned into soup"

    "Good idea!" said the haggis, feeling much fitter
    And writing fast on a cardboard box
    While the squirrel got on twitter
    Which soon was retweeted by the fox

    In less than an hour they were trendly strongly
    And Charlie Brooker had took up the cause
    And the cops had turned up, thinking wrongly
    That the facebook campaign broke numerous laws

    "But we're still in the tree and can't get down!"
    Said the haggis with a tearful wail
    "Don't worry, we can bring out the big guns now"
    Said the squirrel, calling the Daily Mail

    Indigenous haggis threatened by immigrants!
    The headline was the final straw
    The polis pinched all the attendants
    And handcuffed the dogs, paw to paw

    As the cops put everyone under arrest
    The haggis and squirrel embraced
    Then he sprang from his branch for the forest
    And for his sweet freedom raced.

    The squirrel stayed in the tree for a while
    To watch the hunters put in the cage
    And mused, as the police vans left in file,
    On the wonders of the modern media age.

    True democracy, he thought, is a construct,
    Representation is really a mess,
    If you can't raise a mob then you're well fucked
    But if you can, you can count on the press.

    PcB 2010.

  5. Caledonia's bard, British tax collector.. We're all a mass o contradictions...

    The Unco poster...

    My childe, these maxims make a rule,
    An' lump them aye thegither;
    The Rigid, MAM he is a fool,
    That Bidisha is anither:
    The cleanest corn that ere was dight
    May hae some pyles o' shite in;
    So ne'er a fellow creature slight
    For random fits o' ciffin.

    O ye wha are sae guid yoursel',
    Sae pious and sae holy,
    Ye've nought to do but post and tell
    Your ain & others' folly!
    Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
    Supplied wi' store o' water;
    The heapèd inbox wi spam is fill'd,
    An' still yer keyboards clatter.

    Hear me, ye venerable core,
    As counsel for poor mortals
    That frequent pass douce Brooker's door
    For glaikit Folly's portals:
    I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
    Would here propone defences--
    Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
    th radge, Bitey/Auxensis.

    Ye see your state wi' theirs compared,
    And shudder at the niffer;
    But cast a moment's fair regard,
    What makes the mighty ciffer?
    Discount what scant pretension gave,
    That purity ye pride in;
    Yer givin them content fer free
    and then their ads betidin'

    So gently scan your brother man,
    Still gentler sister woman;
    Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
    To recommend is human;
    One point must still be greatly dark,--
    The moving Why they do it;
    And just as lamely can ye mark,
    How far perhaps they rue it.

    Who made the post, 'tis them alone
    Decidedly can tell us;
    They knows each nark, its various tone,
    Each Troll, its various bias:
    Then at the balance let's be mute,
    What's done, we may have said it,
    An' it will for ever staun,
    fer lack o a fuckin edit.

  6. A* and gold star Miss B.


    Fantastic! I award you the order of the platinum Haggis. It also means you get an 'H' beside your name every time you post.

    Did a bit of research on Burns statuesacross the world. I've counted 56:

    19 in Scotland
    1 in England
    8 in Australia
    3 in New Zealand
    9 in Canada
    16 in the USA.

    Obviously they are all constructs of the Scots diaspora but does anyone know if there is another poet/novelist who comes anywhere near (or indeed exceeds) this amount of stone/iron commemoration?

  7. Sorry to be crabbit, but as Turminder says Burns is a bit more complex than the 'friend of all humanity' shtick. The only reason he didn't become a slave overseer in the Scottish-owned West Indies was because of the financial success of the Kilmarnock edition. In his own words, he would otherwise have become a 'poor negro-driver' (ie, the overseer is 'poor' not the 'negro').

    This silence over Burns and slavery is part of a general silence that has prevailed in Scotland over our profit from West Indian slavery - Stephen Mullen's fine book 'It Wisnae Us' is a very good introduction.

  8. Have we English only got one Burns statue? How mean of us.

    “Auld nature swears, the lovely dears
    Her noblest work she classes O;
    Her prentice han' she tried on man,
    An' then she made the lasses O.”

  9. Happy Burns day and well done Philippa/Turminder!

    Duke, you've just made me attract some funny looks at work due to giggling - I'm catching up on Waddya and have just read your Giyus lightbulb post.

  10. There's a wonderful page hereon BBC Scotland where you can find practically every Scottish actor that ever trod the boards reading Burns poems

  11. Tae a Troll (on turning up on CiF, without any evidence to back up their shite)

    Wee, sleekit owerbearin, right-wing beastie,
    O, whit’s the panic in thy breastie?
    Thou need na type awa sae hasty,
    Wi bickering ignorant brattle,
    Ahm no gonnae argue wae ye, it's a pointless battle.

    I’m, truly sorry neo-liberal’s dominion
    Has broken Man’s social union,
    But it disnae justify your ill opinion
    Which makes me startle
    Dinna forget, we’re all earth born companions
    An’ fellow mortals!!

    Wi rage, you type your ignorant words,
    O’ the poor, the sick, the ‘workshy turds’
    You project your experiences as God’s truth
    Hate, hate, hate makes ye dry in the mooth,
    But dinna forget, God made us aw different,
    An’ Understandin’ is more powerful than ragin’ judgement.

    Ye see society left bare and waste,
    30 year o’ neo-liberalism has left us aw debased,
    But you think the solution is michty easy,
    More neo-liberalism! Ye type sae bleakly.
    Blind, ye clearly dinna realise,
    It’s the policies ye champion
    that have brought us tae this sorry pass.

    But Trolly, hear me will ye deign?
    My foresight sees we will be cryin’ in vain,
    The best laid plans o’ trolls and Right wing Governments
    Gang always agley for aw ae us
    And lea us nought but grief an pain
    For promised joy

    Whit I’m sayin Trolly, weird bloke,
    Is yer posts ur enough to gie me the dry boak,
    Come back when ye’ve learnt compassion an virtue
    An the ability to see yourself as ithers see you.

  12. Turminder / Yr Grace

    You're on a roll guys...


    A bit crabbit perhaps being as its his only night in the year. The Beeb did a series of progs last year and the 'slavery' thing came up. Did you see them? They were rather good.

    Aren't we all a bit coy about the more despicable aspects of our history.

  13. Thauma,

    cheers, the GIYUS rip offs just write themselves.


    You're right. Personally I think this is what makes Burns so interesting, he is such a flawed character.

    When he considered a job in the plantations in 1786, he was at hi lowest financial and personal ebb- his father had died leaving nothing and the farm was failing.

    On top of that, Jean Armour was pregnant, Burns had fled and her father had started court proceedings against him. To top it off 'Highland Mary' had died. It was only the first successful publishing of his poems that stopped him going off to the West Indies.

    It's difficult to cast moral judgements in hindsight on actions which were deemed (or at least accepted) as normal in 18th Century Scotland and he did write an anti-slavery poem ''The Slaves Lament'' in 1792.

    But you're right, it has been swept under the carpet.

  14. Apropos of something else entirely (well he was a writer), there was a really interesting discussion on Montaigne on R4 this morning (Start the Week) - and it has propelled me out of bed and off to Waterstones to see what I can find.


    according to Montaigne

    “In nine lifetimes, you'll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.”

    You should bear this in mind

  15. I think it might of been from Montaigne that Saki pinched the idea for his story, Tobermory

  16. Fab pastiche your Grace - in fact a fab poem, wonderful.

    What irritates me about the Burns thing is the wider aspect, the fact that the Homecoming marketing was pitched solely at the white world - US, Canada etc. There are actually thousands of people with Scots names in Jamaica, virtually all descended from slaves who had been raped by overseers. A couple of historians actually resigned from the prep committee - as they said, the committee was not at all interested in welcoming the descendants of slaves back - not enough moolah to spend over here.

    There are other issues with Burns: James MacMillan, our greatest composer, won't go to Burns Suppers at all, which he regards as a parody of the mass - he goes to the increasingly popular Tommy Burns suppers instead.

    Sheff Montaigne is brilliant on cats - especially on them playing with you!

  17. Apart from a Museum of Tolerance suggesting that 'tolerance' is now defunct and only its bones are being preserved being a depressing notion- you could hardly make this up

    The Graveyard Shift

    Perhaps they should institute a Museum for Irony

  18. Sheff,

    file that one in the ''you couldn't make it up'' cabinet, would you?


    Tommy Burns suppers. First I'd heard about that. I'm not surprised MacMillan goes to those. He's been banging on about catholic discrimination in Scotland for years. And whilst I was brought up a catholic myself and have a certain sympathy, methinks he does protest a bit too much.

    Mind you I see he was brought up in Kilwinning and Cumnock, which for a Catholic would be as trying an area as anywhere to be of the Roman faith...

  19. Wonderful! Yer Dukitude. A Platinum Haggis, wi Diamond cluster, right back at cha!

    Hospital Porter: Toast or Cornflakes?

    Bed 1: Toast please..

    Hospital Porter: Toast or Cornflakes?

    Bed 2: Cornflakes please..

    Hospital Porter: Toast or Cornflakes?

    Bed 3: Gies Haggis neeps n tatties..

    HP: Ye cannae have Haggis neeps n tatties! Toast or Cornflakes?

    Bed 3: Gies toast then..


    HP: Egg n chips, or veg curry?

    Bed1: Egg n chips please.

    HP: Egg n chips, or veg curry?

    Bed2: Veg curry please.

    HP: Egg n chips, or veg curry?

    Bed 3: Gies Haggis neeps n tatties..

    HP: Ye cannae have Haggis neeps n tatties! Egg n chips, or veg curry?

    Bed 3: Gies Veg curry then..

    L8r still...

    HP: Toast n cheese or a wee biscuit?

    Bed 1: Toasn n Cheese please.

    HP: Toast n cheese or a wee biscuit?

    Bed 2: Ach, just a wee biscuit, ta.

    HP: Toast n cheese or a wee biscuit?

    Bed 3: Gies Haggis neeps n tatties! Ya bas!

    HP: Dinnae fash man! Why ya keep ganin oan over Haggis! Neeps! n flamin TATTIES!

    Bed 3: Well, this is the Burns ward!

  20. Sheff - well, I do like her dress...

  21. Turminder - *groan*!

    Sheff - currently wading through the comments....

  22. The Graun are producing another of their periodic booklets with the paper. This week the Romantic Poets. Don Paterson has done an interesting intro to Burns in today's.

  23. eep! Beyond Belief discussing mortification - some opus dei chap being very careful to stress 'no pain, no blood', but frankly it's all still rather icky.

    if this is all about 'giving a sacrifice to God', i'd venture that him/her upstairs might be more impressed with somebody giving up some leisure time to help the needy, rather than getting all s&m with a garter...

  24. plus - and the ladies will get this - have just been shopping to catch the end of the sales and have purchased a fetching skirt from gap that is a size fourteen. haven't been able to fit into one of those for a good decade or so.

    so am having a little glass of the pink stuff to celebrate. god i'm shallow. but i have good legs.

  25. Philippa, I find the assumption the gentlemen on the UT don't wear skirts (I guess that's implied by your "and the ladies will get this") rather assuming.

    However, here's to skirts, shallowness and good legs, cheers!

  26. Fer Krist's sakes, the kilt! on burns night, of all nights, : o,

    And the haggis'll do wonders fer yer figure..

  27. heh heh, apologies boys, should have been more sensitive, today of all days!

    at the wedding i went to before Christmas, a mate's scottish husband was there in a kilt. this was much admired by all present, and i was embroiled in a lengthy translation effort as one of the relatives of the (french) groom asked about the meaning, the history, the pride, etc etc.

    ended up having to translate the repsonse: "i've no idea what clan it is, actually, i wanted to wear a suit, but the groom thought it would be funny to see me in a skirt, my knees are fucking freezing"

  28. Phillipa

    I was lounging in the bath listening to that. Father whatshisname did wriggle rather over mortification of the flesh I thought, maybe his cilice was giving him some gyp. The Muslim bloke and the Rabbi sounded much less weird.

    I love a man in a kilt - but has to be with big boots, not those daft little slipper things. This one's not bad

  29. elementary

    i challenge you to post a pic of your good self, preferably in a kilt, but a skirt will do. :-))

    In fact I think we ought to see our whole Scottish UT contingent in Kilts - particularly tonight. You can always blur your heads, or even cut them off if you prefer to remain anonymous.

    Come on fellas - you know where the photo gallery is.

  30. Ooh, look, they've gone all quiet....

  31. thauma - nah, they've just run off to change...

  32. They're taking an awfully long time about it. Must be the difficulty of getting just the right sporran adjustment.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Turminder - you need the username and password. If you have anyone's e-mail, then send one ... if not, e-mail Montana and no doubt she'll send it to you!

  35. ... Or, if you've got an e-mail address that you don't mind posting publicly I'll send it.

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Just had this drop into my inbox for anyone who's interested:

    A new weekly presentation of international labour news is being organized on the Internet.

    The audiocast - called Solidarity News - will be available on RadioLabour.net every Monday morning.

    RadioLabour is the brainchild of Marc Belanger -- the founder of SoliNet, which was the first trade union online network back in the 1980s.

    Solidarity News will focus on union and workers' activities and issues from around the world with special emphasis on emerging market and developing countries.

    RadioLabour reporters will provide regular weekly presentations, but a special feature of the audiocast will be reports from unionists who want to report on particular events or publicize an activity of their organization.

    Scripts of the audiocasts will be available as aids for unionists who want to learn the use of English as an additional language in the international labour movement.

    For more information about RadioLabour, listen to the audiocasts, or provide reports, visit the RadioLabour site. Or write directly to Marc at m.belanger@radiolabour.org

  38. Interesting, Sheff - it's been a very long time since I've heard 'workers of the world unite!' or any hints at international cooperation.

  39. thauma

    The Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) do still exist but are a sadly depleted force

  40. have to admit, while the red flag is all very well, for sheer goosebump factor, this always gets me...

  41. Hi All

    Sheff--Have a kilt that I last wore when 14. Just tried it on. Not a picture for display. My wife is literally howling with laughter. Humiliated on Burns Day. Oh well, a dram of the malt will make it better.

  42. I'm pretty much against national anthems because a) they promote nationalism, and b) most of them are fucking awful. That was a good performance, though.

    Come the revolution, all national anthems will be replaced by hakas.

  43. Ah c'mon, Boudican, you have to post a pic now!

  44. thauma - added downside, I have now been so moved as to locate Rocky 4 on youtube...

    song still rocks though.

  45. too late - james brown's singing!

    living in america...

  46. The first kilt wearing gent has gone up. Am guessing its Turminder.

  47. boudican

    In that case you are exempted - unnecessary humiliation is not required.

  48. monbiot has put up an arrest blair article and website,,very loud article,,

  49. I liked this...strangely...couple on paragraphs reviewing Gary Bushell's book on the death of Eastenders

    The demise of EastEnders reflects more than the changing nature of television. It is itself a kind of real-life soap opera, a struggle, in the early days at least, between writers and actors who wanted to put some real-feeling characters on the small screen and other writers and producers who forced those characters to have some higher educational purpose beyond mere grubby entertainment, and who in the process turned them into vessels for the cultural elite’s own fears and prejudices. EastEnders started as a sort-of (and that’s an important qualification) genuine working-class drama but has become a middle-class morality play. The sweeping changes on the soap reflect real-world changes in the standing of working-class communities. When the soap started in the mid-1980s, the working classes still had a public presence and some public clout; they were not so easily demonised or scapegoated for social problems; they had to be taken seriously, even by those who feared or pitied them. Today, as a result of numerous political quakes and developments, the working classes are more isolated and less politically important, and thus they can be written off as problematic and in need of re-education. And so the cocky, aspirational, complex characters of early EastEnders have given way to the vulnerable, miserable, dangerous creatures that people Albert Square today.

    Bushell has done a very good and entertaining job of tracing the demise of EastEnders. I don’t buy his argument that only working-class writers like Tony Holland can create believable working-class characters (the history of literature proves that isn’t true), and at times he tends to hark back to the ‘bulldog spirit’ and the poverty-enduring, happy-go-lucky nature of the old EastEnd, which was as much a fictional creation of earlier cultural bigwigs as miserable Albert Square is today. But he has shone a light on the politics of soap, and any book that contains lines like this on Dr Legg – ‘he always talked softly so as not to wake up the squirrels kipping above his eyes’ – is fine by me.

  50. Mr Fish

    What demise of Eastenders? I hadn't heard it was being axed. I'm very surprised as i thought it was incredibly popular.

  51. Great poems, guys! :o)

    Was supposed to be having haggis and neeps and tatties the night, but hubby is poorly, I was late in and couldn't be arsed. Ah well. I'll have it the morn instead.

  52. Looks like Granny's rug, tbh, but I like the attitude with which it is being worn!

  53. After reading Charlie Brooker's thread today, I can't stop eating chocolate.

  54. If anyone in the London area is interested in going to the following event I can email more details:


    Weekend Conference

    27-28 February 2010, School of Oriental and African Studies, London Brunei Gallery

    Organized by SOAS Palestine Society
    and hosted by the London Middle East Institute

    Please note SEATS ARE LIMITED – book in advance
    Price: £30 (£20 concessions, and £40 organisations)
    All tickets include lunch and refreshments
    To buy your tickets:
    Online - www.soaspalsoc.org

    By cheque
    Send cheque payable to SOAS Palestine Society with attached note of email address to
    SOAS Palestine Society
    Thornhaugh Street
    London , WC1H 0XG

  55. blimey, how many medleys are there in this thing?

  56. Ach I can mostly agree about James MacMillan, Your Grace. he does bang on a bit. He is a great composer though and Burns is still our greatest poet, indeed one of the world's greatest poets - we are a fractious bunch are we not!

  57. Agreed Shef...
    The lovely Emily Smith.

    Day oot ta glasgae th morn, so nite all..

  58. Hi All--Very quiet here, what's up? Scots gone all introspective? Hardly, probably all at the pub. I have my MACALLAN to hand, so Slainte to you all.

    turminderxuss--Credit to you for the kilt, mine won't fit. It looks like a mini skirt and the sporran won't go low enough.(-: