For Burns Night, here’s another work of art from my Uncle John. This etching of Burns is addressed to my parents and may have been a wedding present. My dad was a great admirer of Burns and could recite many of his poems by heart, with great gusto, even the long ones. When we studied Tam O’Shanter for “O”level English (English?!) I proudly took in a cassette tape of Dad’s recital so my London classmates could hear it spoken properly. I don’t think they were bothered, but we still have the tape somewhere.
Burns Night was always an event in our house, one of the very few occasions (along with Hogmanay and the odd birthday) when I saw Dad drink enough whisky to get slightly merry. He would always address the haggis with real passion. As I turned vegetarian at 12, however, I usually had my own offal-free offering.
Dad was also, as I have mentioned, something of a poet in his own right. My birthday, as it happens, is on St Andrew’s Day, and one year my partner and I invited my parents over to our flat for a dinner of vegan haggis. Dad addressed it with this special verse he had composed for the occasion:
On St. Andrew’s Eve did [daughter] nag us
To come and taste a vegan haggis;
From sic a sin would Rabbie drag us
And rant and scorn
That belly pains wid dunt and jag us
The mornin’s morn.
I miss him.