It’s Burns Night! Even down here in Deepest Sussex, the local butcher is selling haggis.
If my dear Mum were alive
(oh, I wish, I wish!) she would be quoting at length from her dear Rabbie’s poems, reminding us that love is like a “red, red rose” and reciting that well-known poem about the “wee, sleekit, cowerin’, tim’rous beastie”,
all panicky because her nest has been turned over by a plough. I am not absolutely sure what my mum would have done had she actually come face to face with the wee beastie - I suspect it wouldn’t be only the mouse that experienced a panic in its “breastie.”
My mum was quite certain that she had Scottish blood flowing through her veins. She sprinkled her conversation with Scottish words and phrases; every girl was a “lassie”
and every boy a “laddie”. Her favourite saying, when any one of us became a little heated, was: “Dinna fash yersel” which (very) roughly translated means “Calm Down!” Sadly all my research into our family history has not
unearthed a direct link to the Land of Rabbie though I will continue to dig and delve into the archives for my mum’s sake. How pleased and proud she would be, today, to know that she has Scottish grandchildren and great grandchildren! She may not have
Scottish roots but she certainly has Scottish branches, including two very tiny, very precious twiglets. She would have adored them.
At our Singing for Pleasure
choir this morning, our Scots pianist Morag had brought along a medley of Scottish songs to set our weekly session off on the right footing. She also introduced us to the origin of whisky - from the Gaelic uisce, or water. Not for nothing is whisky called
the “water of life.”
The second song on the sheet Morag handed round was “I love a lassie / a bonnie, bonnie lassie”. Now this song reminds
me of my childhood like no other because it is recorded in Family Folklore that when I was born, my parents’ third child after two sons, my mother cried: “At last I have my lassie!”
So far, so very, very sweet, you are doubtless thinking - except that for the first several years of my life I was known within the family as “Lassie”. This would not have been so bad were it not for the fact that
Lassie was also the name of the Most Famous Dog of the Age, appearing in a number of films over the 1940s in which she demonstrated qualities of heroism, courage and (dogged) persistence. Interestingly, all the collies which played Lassie in the films were
actually well disguised males. Don’t you love it when the Daily Blog comes over all educational? Whatever, I did not take kindly to being named after a dog, however brave and persistent she / he might be.
We also sang about belonging to Glasgow, we roamed through the gloaming with a lassie by our side and we took a boat with Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea to Skye. After which, in the interests of inclusivity, we sang “London
Pride” and “All Through the Night” but for some reason we failed to sing an Irish song. Perhaps we were worried about Brexit and the back-stop?
readers may recall that Mr B, when a member of our Singing for Pleasure choir, took a quite unwarranted dislike to Scottish songs, on account of not being able to pronounce the words. He reserved his greatest opprobrium for “There’s Nae Luck Aboot
the Hoose.” What he would say if faced with reciting Rabbie Burns’ “The Mouse”, I cannot begin to imagine.
He was, however, well up for celebrating Burns Night this evening. “Water of life?” I asked him, as he settled down to watch Arsenal play Manchester United in the FA Cup on TV. He responded by giving me a double thumbs up.
Which I took to mean “Och aye!”