Tag Archives: Robert Burns

Confusion over why Burns Night is celebrated in Scotland and worldwide

History is whatever people in the future are led to believe happened in the past.

History is what you are told it is in the People’s Paradise…

In North Korea, they are taught that the Korean War started when, unprovoked, the South Korean allies of the US invaded the North. The valiant forces of the North then pushed the US invaders back into the south where, with their backs to the sea, the defeated Americans pleaded for peace.

This does not explain why the current border is halfway up the peninsula nor why people alive at the time would have seen US and allied troops in the north of North Korea and Chinese troops pushing them back south. (In North Korean history, as taught in schools, the Chinese were never involved.)

So history is fluid. It is whatever you believe happened.

When I wrote an obituary of comedian Malcolm Hardee for the Independent newspaper in 2005, I started it by saying he “was arguably the greatest influence on British comedy over the last 25 years”. I did this partly because I thought it was arguably true but also because I figured that, in future, it would be picked up by other people writing about him and stated as fact rather than opinion.

And, occasionally, it has been. It was, after all, printed in a respected national newspaper.

History is whatever people in the future are led to believe happened in the past.

A couple of days ago, comedy icon Janey Godley hosted her Big Burns Supper on Facebook and YouTube, attracting a live digital audience of over 327,000 with viewers tuning in from Scotland and 50 countries across the world…

Janey Godley’s Big Burns Night line-up

Performers on the show included KT Tunstall, Donovan, Skerryvore, Camille O’Sullivan, Dougie MacLean, Tidelines, Manran, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Robert Softly Gale, Amy Conachan, Grant Dinwoodie, Ray Bradshaw and LOKA.

Yesterday, someone I know – an intelligent and well educated Englishman – told me he had seen Janey Godley’s Big Burns Supper and it had been a revelation to him. 

He had never realised Robert Burns was a poet. 

He had thought Robert Burns was the Scottish king who had seen the spider in the cave when he was hiding from the English and who had burned the cakes

He thought Burns Night was a celebration of the burning of the cakes.

For my reader in Guatemala…

The legendary cakes were allegedly burned by Alfred, a Saxon king in southern England, around 900 years before Robert Burns’ time. The legendary spider was encountered by Robert the Bruce around 500 years before Robert Burns’ time.

Life is but a dream.

And it is probable that neither event actually happened.

However, Janey Godley’s Big Burns Supper did happen and did get those verified viewing figures.

For educational reasons, a recording is, at the time of writing, still available on YouTube:

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Filed under History, North Korea

Robert Burns money but chicken-sexing is the thing that brings home the bacon

Spot the cock

For those who have read my blog in the last couple of days… Stuart McKenzie made $132,000 for the Lions Club charities with his Burns Night Supper in Kiev.

He tells me the reason it is held late (Burns Night is actually on 25th January) is simply that the later date will generate more money for the charities – 25th January being too near the Christmas/New Year holidays.

Interesting people are everywhere.

At Kiev airport this morning, on the way back to London, I got chatting to an Ulsterman who travels the world as a dairy consultant; he is currently working in Saudi Arabia for eight years (after which he can retire). Where he is based with his cows in Saudi, they have to pipe the water up from 3.5 miles underground. He tells me the Chinese are importing the crème de la crème of cows and bulls to build up gigantic top-of-the-range herds ten or so years hence.

“I suppose cows are recession-proof,” I said. “People always want beef and milk…”

“You’re on the nail there,” he replied. “Nail on the head.”

He says he was pursued for three years before agreeing to work for his current employer. When he met his current employer, the man pushed a piece of paper across the desk with a salary offer written on it.

Yer man the Ulsterman pushed it back without looking at it and said: “It’s not enough.”

His prospective employer, surprised, said, “No-one’s ever done that before,” turned the paper over, wrote a much higher figure and shoved the piece of paper back again.

Which is how yer man is now working in Saudi Arabia with a weekend break in Kiev and regular flights to literally anywhere in the world he wants to go for breaks.

Perhaps I should have gone into cows in my youth.

Though I remember reading a few years ago that chicken-sexers (apparently a very highly skilled job and who am I to doubt it) are always in great demand and can attract very large salaries.

I imagine chicken-sexing may also be recession-proof. And interesting.

We live in an interesting world.

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Filed under Charity, China, Farming, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Ukraine