My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose


In honour of Robert Burn’s birthday, My Love is Like A Red Red Rose, sung by Eddi Reader.

January 25 in history


On January 25:

41 Claudius was accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.

1327 Edward III becomes King of England.

1494 Alfonso II becomes King of Naples.

1533 Henry VIII secretly married his second wife Anne Boleyn.

1554  Founding of São Paulo city, Brazil.


1627  Robert Boyle, Irish chemist, was born.

1755 Moscow University established on Tatiana Day.

1759 Robert Burns, Scottish poet, was born.


1791 The British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act of 1791 and splits the old province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada.

1792 The London Corresponding Society  was founded.

1796 William MacGillivray, Scottish naturalist and ornithologist, was born.

1841 Jackie Fisher, British First Sea Lord, was born.


1858 The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn became a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia.

1874  W. Somerset Maugham, English writer, was born.

1879  The Bulgarian National Bank was founded.

Coat of Arms of the Bulgarian National Bank

1881Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company.

1882 Virginia Woolf, English writer, was born.

1890  Nellie Bly completed her round-the-world journey in 72 days.

1909 Richard Strauss‘ opera Elektra receive its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.


1915  Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

1918 The Ukrainian people declare independence from Bolshevik Russia.





1919 The League of Nations was founded.

1924 The first Winter Olympics opened in Chamonix.

I Olympic Winter Games

1942 : Thailand declared war on the United States and United Kingdom.

1945 World War II: Battle of the Bulge ended.

Battle of the Bulge.jpgAmerican soldiers of the 75th Division photographed in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge.

1949  The first Emmy Awards were presented.

1954 Richard Finch, American bass player (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1955 Terry Chimes, English musician (The Clash), was born.

1960 The National Association of Broadcasters reacted to the Payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys who accepted money for playing particular records.

1961 John F. Kennedy delivered the first live presidential television news conference.

1971 – Idi Amin led a coup deposing Milton Obote and became Uganda‘s president.

1974 Dick Taylor won the 10,000 metre race on the first day of competitions at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games.

First day of competition at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games

 1981 Jiang Qing, the widow of Mao Zedong, was sentenced to death.

1986 The National Resistance Movement toppled the government of Tito Okello in Uganda.

1990 The Burns’ Day storm hits northwestern Europe.

1994 The Clementine space probe launched.


1995 The Norwegian Rocket Incident: Russia almost launched a nuclear attack after it mistook Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, for a US Trident missile.

1996 Billy Bailey became the last person to be hanged in the United States of America.

1999 A 6.0 Richter scale earthquake hit western Colombia killing at least 1,000.

2004 Opportunity rover (MER-B) landed on surface of Mars.

NASA Mars Rover.jpg

2005 A stampede at the Mandher Devi temple in Mandhradevi in India kills at least 258.

2006 Three independent observing campaigns announced the discovery of OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb through gravitational microlensing, the first cool rocky/icy extrasolar planet around a main-sequence star.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Hoots mon, haggis is nae Scottish


If Australian attempts to claim the first pavlova was cooked on their side of the Tasman not ours causes heated discussions, what will the news that haggis comes from south of the border do to Anglo-Scot relationships?

English historian Catherine Brown uncovered a references to haggis in a book from 1615 – at least 171 years before Robert Burns ode brought fame to what some regard as a delicacy.

But world champion haggis maker Robert Patrick said:

. . .the idea haggis originated in England was akin to claims by the Dutch and Chinese to have invented golf.

He added: “Anything that’s to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of.  “

. . . James Macsween, whose Edinburgh-based company makes haggis, said it would remain a Scottish icon whatever its origin.

He said even if the haggis was eaten in England long before Burns made it famous, Scotland had done a better job of looking after it.

And he added: “I didn’t hear of Shakespeare writing a poem about it.”

In spite of my tartan genes I have to confess I haven’t acquired a taste for the dish but I support the defence of its Scottishness.



It’s a little difficult to comprehend cold when it’s at least 30 degrees outside, but in sympathy with those of you at home, this Friday’s poem is Robert Burns’ dirge on Winter.


The wintry west extends his blast,
  And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
  The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
  And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
  And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
  The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
  Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
  My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
  Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
  These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
  Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want—O do Thou grant
  This one request of mine!—
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
  Assist me to resign.

    – Robert Burns

Piper bagged by noise control officer


Dunedin’s reputation as the Edinburgh of the south is under threat after a busking bagpiper  was silenced by a noise control officer.

There’s something wrong when people can disrupt the peace with noisy vehciles which endanger themselves and others night after night untroubled by the law, yet a lone piper with a busking licence and the permission of the shop outside which he stands is banished with the threat of the consfication of his $2500 pipes.

Robert Burns who sits in the Octagon not far from the street from which Simon McLean was banished might have said: the best played schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley. . .

Jim Mora  has just finished interviewing Simon about the ban – but he didn’t invite him to give us a tune.

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 !


Saturday’s smiles


 In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s poem:

A new MP was on a tour of the local hospital when her entourage came to a ward full of patients with no obvious signs of injury or illness.

She greeted one patient who replied: “Fair fa your honest sonsie face, great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race.”

She was a little confused, but smiled pleasantly and moved on to the next patient who responded: “Some hae meat and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it,”

Even more confused, but still unfailingly polite, she moved on to the next patient, who immediately began to chant: “Wee sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beastie, thou needna start awa sae hastie.”

Now more than a little confused, the MP turned to her escort and said, “I didn’t realise your hospital had a psychiatric ward.

The doctor replied, “Och, this is nooo a psychiatric ward, lassie, it’s the serious Burns unit”.

To a Louse


Scots and others who appreciate things tartan, including Robert Burns, will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Scottish bard’s birthday on Sunday.

That prompted this choice for Friday’s poem.

It’s To a Louse and the last verse is oft quoted, for very good reason.

I found it in The Illustrated Family Burns,  published by William Mackenzie. It’s an old book which my father gave me.


 To A Louse                



Ha! whaur ye gaun , ye crowlin ferlie ?

Your impudence protects you sairly ;

I canna say but ye strunt rarely,

Owre gauze and lace;

Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely

On sic a place.


Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner ,

Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,

How daur ye set your fit upon her —

Sae fine a lady?

Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner

On some poor body .


Swith ! in some beggar’s haffet squattle ;

There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle ,

Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,

In shoals and nations;

Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle

Your thick plantations.


Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,

Below the fatt’rels , snug and tight ;

Na , faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,

Till ye’ve got on it —

The verra tapmost , tow’rin height

O’ Miss’ bonnet.


 My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,

As plump an’ grey as ony groset:

O for some rank, mercurial rozet ,

Or fell , red smeddum ,

I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t ,

Wad dress your droddum .


I wad na been surpris’d to spy

You on an auld wife’s flainen toy ;

Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,

On’s wyliecoat ;

But Miss’ fine Lunardi ! fye!

How daur ye do’t?


O Jenny, dinna toss your head,

An’ set your beauties a’ abread !

Ye little ken what cursed speed

The blastie’s makin:

Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,

Are notice takin.


O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An’ foolish notion:

What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,

An’ ev’n devotion!

 – Robert Burns –

Is nothing sacred?


Michael Jackson  is going from bad to verse – he’s set the works of Robert Burns to music.

I wonder if while doing so he pondered on: O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!

%d bloggers like this: