Burns’ Night


It’s Burns’ night .

My father was born in Scotland. Although he lived longer here than there he retained his accent and was often called on to address the haggis – which he was able to do from memory.



4/6 in the Burns night quiz.

Quote of the day


“Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel’s as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion” – Robert Burns.

Chosen in honour of his birthday which will be honoured by Scots and others partial to a wee dram with or without haggis at Burns night celebrations.

Some hae meat


It’s Robbie Burns’ birthday.

My father, who came from Dundee, was often called on to address the haggis on Burns night, a task he did with great relish.

While enjoying the words and music, I didn’t share his enthusiasm for the feast. In spite of my tartan genes I’ve never acquired a taste for haggis or whisky but if you’ve a mind to celebrate the BBC has instructions for a Burns Night Supper which will include the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.

For something a little lighter but still in the spirit of the day:

 An MP was being shown around a hospital. At the end of his visit, she was shown into a ward with a number of patients who show no obvious signs of injury.

She went to speak to the first patient and the man proclaimed, ‘Fair fa’ yer honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race!’

The MP, somewhat taken aback, went to the next patient, and immediately the patient launched into, ‘Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it.’

That continued with the next patient, ‘Wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie, O what a panic’s in thy breastie!’

‘Well,’ the MP said to the manger accompanying her, I see you’ve saved the psychiatric ward to the end.’

‘Och no,’ the manager corrected her, ‘this is the serious Burns unit.’

Haggis Rap


In spite of my tartan genes I haven’t learned to like haggis.

But since it’s Burns’ night, here’s a rap Address To The Haggis from which Robbie was mercifully spared by a couple of hundred years.

English Roast Beef for Burns night


Haggis is the usual star on the menu for Burns’ night but for those, who like me – in spite of tartan genes – haven’t acquired a taste for it here’s a recipe which might be more to your liking.

It’s from the Elliot clan and I found it in Clans Cook Book, favourite family recipes of Scotland’s clan chiefs  compiled by Wendy Jones, published Macdonald Publishers, Edinburgh 1981.

English Roast Beef

On a braw, bricht moonlit nicht, send several clansmen on hourseback over the border into Cumberland to select a suitable beast. It is more economical and saves wear and tear on both horses and clansmen if several beasts are collected on the same sortie.

Prepare as usual and invite to dinner any neighbouring Chief with whom you are not currently having a feud.

Celebrating the Scottish bard’s 250th birthday


Burns night this year has special significance because today is the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birthday.

The BBC has a website  dedicated to the man and his works, including readings of some of his poems.

My father was a Scot and although he immigrated to New Zealand as a young man and lived here for nearly 60 years he never lost his accent so was often called on to address the haggis.

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o’ the pudding-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 like 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 make her spew

Wi’ perfect sconner ,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view

On sic a dinner?


Poor devil! see him owre his trash,

As feckless as 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 !


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