Gail's Gab: raise a glass to Rabbie

I'm blowing the diet on Saturday and will be getting stuck into a big dawd of haggis, neeps and tatties.

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Yes the tartan is being looked out and Tommy's kilt brushed down. The immortal Robert Burns will be remembered again all over the world this weekend. Who would have thought a Scottish writer and poet from Alloway in Ayrshire would still be so revered and celebrated 255 years after he was born? Yet the legacy and words of our National Bard live on and inspire millions.

On Saturday night, my local Parish hall is hosting a Burns Supper and Tommy is toasting the lassies. He's never done it before and the address is supposed to be funny, so I fear there will be many disappointed punters as Tommy and humour were separated at birth. Don't get me wrong he tries hard but his talents lie elsewhere. For a start he is far too serious and boring to be funny. While most concentrate on the magic and longevity of Burn's poems and songs, he never misses the chance to remind people of the Radical Burns, the Republican Burns, the Burns who was a supporter of the French Revolution of 1789. Conservatives and establishment figures claim Burns as one of their own and highlight his membership of the masons and job as a tax collector as proof of his commitment to Queen and country. But the truth is more complex.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of listening to the Burns tributes delivered by prolific Burns historians like Patrick-Scott Hogg and Scottish Republican activists like Donald Anderson. They have taught me that Burns was indeed a Radical in his day and certainly no Monarchist. How anyone can read 'Is There For Honest Poverty' and not be convinced of that is beyond me. Commonly referred to as 'A Man's A Man For A' That' it is a scathing indictment of pomp, royalty and unearned privilege. When it was performed so passionately by Sheena Wellington at the re-opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1st July 1999 the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention. I could have heard it live but had to make do with the live TV feed as Tommy refused to attend in protest at the presence of the Queen. His principles can be a real pain when it comes to me missing out on big shin-digs.

So this Saturday, January 25, I would urge every Scot to raise a glass in honour of one of the finest writers ever to grace our small country. Born in 1759 his poems and songs over his short life of only 37 years stand as an everlasting tribute to his talent and leave us with a treasure trove to be proud of. And of course gives us an excuse for a right good wee party. Thanks Rabbie.

Who is the Dark Tan Yin?

I am now non-contactable on a Sunday night between the hours of 8pm and 11pm. Call the Midwife followed by Mr Selfridge are old favourites and I decided to give The Musketeers a shot thinking I wouldn't fancy it much. Turns out it was more than the show I fancied. All those handsome young swash-buckling bucks prancing around. I'll certainly be tuning in next week!

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