The very first Burn’s Supper I was dragged to, kicking and screaming and generally being a little brat. Who is this Rabbie? funny words an a’ that.
It took another decade and a dreich Friday when nobody wanted to go out on the town that my dear old Dad said ‘you could come down to the Legion with me. There’s a burns night ‘
i don’t know if it’s possible to sneer, scorn and snort at the same time but I gave it one hell of a go. Me go to the British Legion? On a Friday? With the old man and his cronies? Aye OK I went. It changed my life!
I guess I should now write about the wonderful poetry and verse from the national bard or even compare the rebel poet to the rebellious punk music of the day. All that would be fine and dandy but also disingenuous. No, what struck me about that night was that I became an adult. I saw auld men unco fu and awfy happy. I heard amazing tales of water and witches. I heard songs of love and poetry hammered out like a farrier beating out a horseshoe. Oh yes I liked Burns. I liked the noise from the parcel of rogues at the next table. The full bellies from all the delicious Coburn’s haggis. The amber beads of malt being squeezed from the near empty bottle. oh yes for a’ that and a’ that.
Again I don’t want to deceive you. That’s not what changed my life, no. What changed my life was my relationship with father. I became an adult because I was with my Dad both of us men together both part of something together. Together.
When I think back to that night. I knew why people instinctively liked and respected my father. Extraordinary at putting people at ease. amazing at engaging in conversation. And simply a joy to be with. Suddenly I saw the man. A mans a man for a that.
tonight is Burns Night and I’ll be there with friends. maybe addressing the haggis maybe not. Maybe eating too much or maybe not. Maybe drinking too much. One other thing is certain that when it comes to thankng The Lord , I will be raising a glass of the best whisky I can find and say one more thank you I the friend I made on my second Burns night.
A toast. Be upstanding. ‘The Old Man’