Sunday, January 25, 2004

". . .made rapid progress in reading and was just tolerable at writing. . ."

That was tutor John Murdoch's report on his pupil, Robert Burns whose 245th birthday it is today. He eventually improved on the writing and became Scotland's national poet.

The last two or three weekends in January, and especially tonight, will be taken up with Burns Suppers throughout the world. The Los Angeles Branch of the RSCDS had one last night. The Orange County Branch held theirs two weeks ago. The local United Scottish Society had one last night also.

This site will give you a typical Burns Nicht programme. But the carry-on will vary considerably depending upon the group. The U.S.S. event is guaranteed to be fairly staid and traditional. The RSCDS events will be heavy on the dancing portion. Some dinners will be fairly scholarly and other clubs will hold events more in the tradition of Burns himself, i.e., ribald.

Every event will serve a haggis accompanied by a recitation of "To a Haggis". You can find the text here. There's a link on that page to allow you to listen to a recitation.

What you won't find on the net - so far as I know - is To A Wee Indian Takeaway by Willie MacCallum, one of finest pipers of the 20th or any other century:


fair fa the smell o Puna lamb, -
better for ye than biled ham
even better than a piece in jam
a meal complete
more tasty than a tin o spam
a special treat

this wonderous dish most oriental
has rendered haggis incidental
but Rabbie it wid drive ye mental
an fu o worry
tae see how folk wance tempremental
have taen tae curry

like money lenders frae Bombay
their dressed up in a different way
tae eat in pubs called Old Cathay
an smack their lips
when they know the dinner of the day
is curry sauce wi chips

ye see them ower their spiced japaties
they now prefer tae mince an tatties
or a nice we korma wi a bit pakora's
a fair delight
their gaun tae regret it all the morra
or maybe through the night

for alas this pungent grub frae Puna's
a cert tae gi them montezuma
these hottest spices frae Punjabi
that they desire
will hiv them locked inside the lavvy
their guts on fire

they yell and scream and shout for more
an then their clutchin belly sore
for ye ken that these Punjabi dinners
are deadly stuff tae Scottish innards
but they mob the curry shops, quite happy!
stuffin doon the tiki
nae wonder Gandhi wore a nappy

ah Rabbie man it gars me greet
tae see the way the Scots now eat
tatties, neeps and haggis are out'n gone
and had their day
for now the whole o Scotland's shoutin!
Gie's an Indian take-away!