As tonight is Burns Night, a celebration of Scotland’s national bard (Robert Burns: the man responsible for, amongst others, ‘Auld Lang Syne’*) and good excuse to eat, drink and be merry, here’s a chance to commemorate a nation of modest size and the myriad life-changing contributions its sparse population has made to the arts and sciences, and all that falls somewhere in-between, through the ages.
Scots can be proud that their land nurtured, for example, the discoverer of penicillin (Alexander Fleming); the inventor of the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell) and the television (John Logie Baird); the writers of ‘Treasure Island’ (Robert Louis Stevenson) and ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (Kenneth Grahame). Not forgetting one of the greatest sportsmen: the King, Kenny Dalglish. (And could he play!)
In music, there’s Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart (you have by now heard ‘In a Broken Dream’ with David on guitar, haven’t you?) and the late John Martyn.
You might care to browse Scotland’s 100 best rock and pop albums, as compiled by The Scotsman in 2003. Thoughts?
The following are my most highly-regarded Scottish inspirations, anyway:
– Rory Bremner (comedian, impressionist and political satirist)
– James Keir Hardie (pacifist founder of the British Labour Party)
– John Muir (environmental activist and conservationist)
– Bill Shankly (irrepressible footballing icon)
– Samuel Smiles (writer and social reformer)
So, anything that is in some way Scottish and makes you feel good today, please; a theme that will continue into the chatroom when it opens on Wednesday for a cyber-supper of the Burnsian variety. Haggis optional.
*One of Robert Burns’ most well-known and -loved poems is ‘To a Mouse’, written in 1785. In it he apologises for the destructive and careless behaviour of mankind, which may resonate with some of you. Here’s a verse or listen to it all here:
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow mortal.