Friday, 26 September 2014

A Job's a Job For A' That

It's Friday morning - and Rabbie, despite his lack of success trying to find employment as a ploughman,  has returned to Reed employment to see if Willie Getwirk can find him any other kind  of  job

Willie - Apart from working on a farm, have you any other employment experience?
Rabbie -Aye I worked as an exciseman in Dumfries - you know - collecting taxes from folk
Willie - Now that's a bit more promising - though collecting taxes is not normally a very popular job.
Rabbie - Wis nae very popular with me - in fact ah wrote a poem aboot it - the deil's awa' wi the Exciseman
Willie - Really Mr Burns! You can't afford to impact your productivity at work by continually, writing poems. A bit of Facebook or Twitter is acceptable,, but writing poems is just not on.
Rabbie - But ah like writin' poetry. I'd like to be a poet
Willie - There's not much money to be made out of poetry nowadays - unless you're the poet laureate.
Rabbie - Aye right
Willie - You're not bad looking - can you sing and dance? Maybe we can get you into a boy band
Rabbie - Ah cannae dance, an' I'm no much of a singer
Willie - Perfect - I can think of a number of bands you could fit into right away
Rabbie - I had some success writin' songs
Willie -  You'd stand a better chance of success  in a boy band if you can't write songs but think you can. There's no end of these bands. On second thoughts it's probably best if we deliberate a bit more. Don't call us - we'll call you.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Rabbie Goes Job Huntin'

Okay. If he were alive today what type of work employment would Rabbie seek - for surely a job seekers allowance would not be enough to support his women, children and drinking!

Can you imagine the conversation if he popped into his local Reed employment agency, to meet up with the advisor there - Willie Getwirk. It might go along these lines.

Willie - Good afternoon Mr Burns
Rabbie - Call me Rabbie
Willie - All right Rabbie, can we start with your qualifications, GCSEs or A Levels?
Rabbie - Nae qualifications. A wee bit o' Latin and Greek.
Willie - Oh dear that's a pity. Tell me a little about your first job. You were a...
Rabbie - Plou'man
Willie - Plou'man? Ah yes a ploughman - well then, what make of tractors have you worked on
Rabbie - Tractors? Whit's a tractor?
Willie - This might be more difficult than I anticipated. I'm looking at your early references from the farm. The say "Mr Burns works very hard when he's not writing poems about mice and daisies. But these poems tend to have an impact on his productivity as a ploughman." Would that be right Rabbie?
Rabbie - Aye, that's right
Willie - The reference also goes on to say that "after a hard night at the bothy, Mr Burns was often unable to plough in a straight line the next day" Would that be right?
Rabbie - Aye
Willie - I'm afraid this is going to take a bit more effort than I expected. Could you come back tomorrow and we'll see what we can do. And one more thing, Rabbie
Rabbie - Aye
Willie - The next time you fill in an application form - it doesn't all need to be written in verse!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Robert Burns and Online Dating

It is generally accepted that in his short life, Robert Burns managed to father at least thirteen children, by four separate women.

Can you imaging what he could have done today, with the possibilities of better transport, better communication and more worryingly, online dating? Certainly logging on to a computer would have been ideal for Robert. Even at a very early age, he was writing poems to make the girls fall for him. Just imagine if he were using the same method today. No need to painstakingly write poems by hand - he could even use the same poem and send it to dozens of potential admirers.

And another thing. One of the problems he had with his first crush, Alison Begbie, was her name, which let's face it, wasn't very poetical. Seemingly, he referred to her as Peggy Alison (I can't see how that helped all that much). But nowadays, using online dating, he could then pick girls who had poetic names, like June (to rhyme with June) or Alice (to rhyme with palace)  and of course he would ignore girls with names like Natasha, which is much harder to rhyme. I was going to say that Natasha is not to be sneezed at - but that would be a very bad joke - so please forget I mentioned it.

And another thing - he could use the internet rhyme web sites to speed up the process of writing his poems and love songs, to allow more time to be with the lassies.

Which would invariably led to far more than thirteen children- and unlucky for some!!

Friday, 19 September 2014

More Lines Written on a Banknote

In 1780, Robert Burns wrote a clever, though sad little poem "Lines Written on a Banknote" where he bemoans the fact that for lack of a banknote, he has lost his girlfriend, he can't afford to drink, and he may have to leave Scotland forever.

I hope he, (and you) will forgive me if I imagine what he would write this morning, if he were alive today.....

More Lines Written on a Banknote

Oh banknote, if ye only knew
The battle that's been waged for you
The fights which ha'e on this occasion
Almost tore apart a nation
But mornin's here, oot comes the sun
The fight is o'er, the votin' done
And banknote, tho' sae scarce an' small
You have a lesson for us all
First of all you ye are the token
O' promise, that must ne'er be broken
Sae may each promise made today
Be aye fulfilled, noo, come what may
And banknote ye can surely claim
Tho' both your sides are no the same
Whenever these two sides unite
You've got more strength to face each fight
And for you, one last thing I long
May ye aye be guid and strong!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Scottish Referendum Part 2

Today is the big day! - the day when the votes are cast for Scotland, staying with the United Kingdom, or breaking away for ever - so tomorrow, as I live in England, I may suddenly find that I'm an alien! On the positive side, that would  probably be a source of pleasure for my Grandson, Dylan, who would almost certainly be more impressed, if his grandfather was an alien.

Of course, if Scotland does vote "yes", would it be safe for me to return to the country, of my birth Or am I likely to be seen in Scotland as as a heretic. Would the fact that I've produced poetry(?) like "Tae a Curry", "Tae a Password" and "Tae a Meerkat", be seen as a travesty of the great poet's name, rather than the act of a  Burns fan with a modicum of humour.

Even worse, would the fact that I've dared to create new modern, music for some of Burns' lesser well known songs and poems, be seen as the final nail in the coffin - resulting in a warrant for my arrest as soon as I attempted to cross the border into Scotland. Would I finish up in prison along with the haggis smugglers, caught red handed - by the way, I must admit that my post about merchandising should have at least recognised the fact, that no-one, in the history of Scotland, has ever made such a huge single-minded contribution to the sales of any product, as Robert Burns has to promote the haggis, with "Tae a Haggis"

Just imagine, if he had actually created "Tae a Curry" and that became the dish served up at every Burns Supper - the impact on Scottish butchers could have been immense, not to mention the impact on the Scottish economy.

On such small decisions does the destiny of nations sometimes revolve

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tae a Meerkat

One of the fascinating features of reciting or singing Robert Burns' poetry or songs, is the look of confusion on the faces of the (normally English) audiences when faced with Burns' language. Since we often do recitals/talks on Burns in order to promote our CD of love songs,  Burns, Banks and Braes,  we are used to the bemused looks, even if, as in "Tae a Mouse" there are large sections of standard English. 

For this reason, before I relate "Tae a Meerkat", it is probably best if I outline a little about the background, for the benefit of those outside the UK who don't have  our TV adverts over here. There is a long standing advertising campaign, here where Meerkats, wearing clothes, and speaking in Russian accents, are confused about the differences between and If you go on to Youtube and enter "compare" and "Meerkat" you'll see lots of examples.

Anyway, if Burns were alive today, he would probably be annoyed at the injustice of having these Meerkats having to move from Africa to central Europe to advertise a web site. And his poem would probably go like this

Tae a Meerkat

Oh Meerkat are you nae aware noo
Wi' what they TV folks compare you?
And does it never ever scare you,
How you are seen?
A furry Russian creature
On the screen

Oh meerkat you would never roam
Sae many miles away from home
A' dressed up like a garden gnome,
It's just no joke
So sair abused - enough tae
Make you boke

But meerkat hear noo whit I say
They TV men will rue this day
I've called the R.S.P.C.A,
Wi' all their sources
Wait till they feel the weight
O'  meerkat forces!

Hardly worth waiting for, was it?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


On the 21st July 1796, Robert Burns, at the age of 37, died in Dumfries, Scotland, in abject poverty. In fact, his friends had to club together, to pay the funeral costs. Yet today, it is believed that his legacy contributes £200 million, each year to the Scottish economy. For a man, so opposed to injustice, that is certainly, the final injustice.

Now, if he were around today, his life could  probably be turned around by one four letter word - merchandising. Yeah I know it's a four syllable word, rather than a four letter word, but readers pay more attention when you tell them that you're going to use a four letter word. And certainly, a good merchandising manager would probably make a huge difference to the prosperity of Robert Burns. He would be a bit confused by the fact that his poems and songs were unlikely to make much money, but the merchandising of Robert Burns could make him a fortune, but once he saw the potential he would be convinced.

Holy Willie Prayer Mats, together with Mountain Daisy perfume and after shave would make a good start. "I love Rabbie" T-shirts could generate a fortune, even if they were only purchased by the women in his life. Little Robert Burns models, speaking the lines of "Tae a Mouse" while a little mouse scurries around his legs, could compete with the best dolls and action men.

Furthermore, with a good merchandising manager, it could have gone much further than that. "Tae a Mouse" is rather anonymous (if you'll excuse the play on words). If he had been given a name like Monty the Mouse, and the name got patented think of the profits from Monty the Mouse cuddly toys, action dolls and computer games - Save Monty the Mouse's house  before it gets destroyed by the evil ploughman. Even Monty the Mouse Ploughman's lunches.

Come to think of it, it could have been even better than that! If  the mouse had been called, wait for it, Mickey,  just think of the ramifications for entertainment in the western world . Makes you think doesn't it? I can just imagine the newspaper headlines.

Robert Burns Has Mickey Mouse and Walt Dis nae

Monday, 15 September 2014

Tae a Password

It's strange, isn't it how sometimes, fate intervenes. I was about to add a post about "Tae a Meerkat", knowing how many of you, are so keen to hear it - but couldn't sign on  to the blog site - trouble with my login password. I'm sure most of you have faced the same problem - and sadly, it gets much worse as you grow older.

So, just like Robert Burns wrote "Tae  a Mouse" when he disturbed its little nest , as he was working in the field, in 1785, I was inspired by these circumstance, to write "Tae a Password".

Tae a Password

My heart is fu' o' deep forbode
Wee password, you, yestreen, I know'd
But noo forgotten, oh my Goad,
Withoot a doot
If I should get you rang once mair,
I'll be locked oot

On helpline, to some Indian brother
I'll try tae tak' the problem futher
But we'll nae understand each other,
Wi' accents strong
And password-less, I'll start to write,
One mair sad song

Oh wid that God, some day could hand us
Translatin' phones, that some day land  us
A way, so helplines understand us,
God make it soon!
But till that day arrives, ma password,
 I'll write doon

It doesn't quite have the pathos of the original "Tae a Mouse", but you can't have everything - unless you're Simon Cowell

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Scottish Referendum

Well here we are again - I expect that you're full of admiration for the poetic brilliance of "Tae a Curry" and have been quoting it non-stop for the past twenty four hours!

Anyway, rather than go straight to "Tae a Meerkat", I just thought I should talk about the Scottish Referendum. It has always been stated that the two greatest Scottish poets, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott would be at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to nationalism - with Burns calling for freedom and Scott defending the union. However, I'm not so sure, and I'll tell you why.

A number of years I was on a business outing to the  Middlesex Rugby Sevens  at Twickenham, and since there was quite a big number of us, we decided to have a sweepstake determined by the winning team. We drew out the names of all the teams, and based on the law of averages I drew an English team (I think there was only one Scottish team) Anyway, to cut a long story short, the final was to be determined between the Scottish team and the English team I had drawn out for the sweepstake.

What a quandary! My heart said that I should support the Scottish team, but my head said otherwise. So, I cheered on my English team - they won and I won the sweepstake. It was definitely a case of pocket over passion!

Now, if Burns were alive today, he would probably face the same quandary. He might be a passionate nationalist - but he would also, as a farmer,  be receiving large amounts of money in subsidies from the EEC. If Scotland goes independent and therefore leaves the EEC, he probably would lose these subsidies.

What a quandary - however, as a true Scot, I'm inclined to believe that the financial case would be more compelling than the excitement of breaking away from the rest of Britain. I think he would probably vote no - to stay together. But what do you think?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tae a Curry

You're back, are you? Or maybe this is your  first visit, and you just wanted to start at the second post. - a bit weird eh? Anyway, since yesterday, I've spent some time thinking about what Burns would make of the world we currently live in, and have been inspired (?) to produce a version of the poem I mentioned yesterday. (If you've started at post 2 you won't have a clue what I'm talking about - so it would be better to read yesterday's post and come back)

Anyway without any further ado hear is my guess at how Robert Burns would now write "Tae a Curry"

Tae a Curry (by Ian Rae under the influence of Robert Burns)

Oh great big plate o' spicy curry
I'll no forget you in a hurry
Tho' in the loo, I might just worry at whit I've done
There'e no anither dish compares noo', 'neath the sun

You may be rich and awfu' fatty
But served up wi' some nice Basmati
Or even wi a wee chipatti, I crave each bite
And tho' I'm bound to get the skitters that's  a' right

And when to wife back hame I stagger
Wi' doggie bag and cans o' lager
And curry breath enough to gag her, withoot a doot
She yells "you're drunk" and slams the door and locks me oot

Is that enough to make me famous 250 years from now - I doubt it - and by the way, spell check doesn't seem to be very impressed with my prowess either - however, I bet you can't wait for "Tae a Meerkat"- but you'll just have to

Friday, 12 September 2014

First Thoughts

Ok then, just tell me why you're reading this? Could you be an avid follower of Robert Burns' poetry and songs, and  hoping to increase your knowledge? If so tough - you won't learn much here! Maybe it's just that the TV is so boring (with back to back soaps and reality shows) that in desperation you've arrived here. Well perhaps my idea for a new show "Strictly Come Try Brain Surgery" would appeal -  the loser always finishes up having a lobotomy administered by the winning contestant - though perhaps not.

The bottom line is that this blog is not so much about thoughts about Robert Burns, as about me imagining how Robert Burns would deal with modern life in 2014. Would, instead of writing "Tae a Haggis" would he be agonising over "Tae a Curry"; Instead of "Tae a Moose" would he be influenced by TV advertising and write "Tae a Meerkat" -they seem far more amusing than mice (Mickey and Minnie excluded) Or would he be so busy chatting to girls on his Aye Phone that he doesn't have enough time to write anything....?

So that's it. If you're still reading this, please return to for the next fascinating instalment. If you're not reading this I might as well stop now......

Oh, by the way if you are an avid follower of Robert Burns you might as well visit my web site It's got to be more interesting than "Strictly Come Try Brain Surgery"

Though maybe not......