Blog Archive

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A good lesson.

When I was a wee boy, probably around eight years old, I asked my dad to help me with my homework.  I was to draw a picture of a cow and I wasn't very good at drawing cows (I suppose we must've been doing a project on farming or dairy produce.)  My dad took the pencil and paper and quickly drew an outline of a cow with the idea that I should finish it off.  I noticed right away the cow was missing an udder, so with great enthusiasm, I quickly scribbled in an eight year old boy's idea of what a cow's udder looked like.  My dad smiled, shook his head,
    "Whit's that? A bunch o' bananas?  That's no whit it looks like."

We needed a picture of a cow.  I found one in a nursery rhyme book - it was jumping over the moon.  My dad took a fresh sheet of paper and the pencil and began the drawing lesson.  He showed me how to look at the outline of a shape, told me about proportions, how to compare the length of the leg to the width of the body, the angle of the neck to the back,  how to hold the pencil very lightly and draw over and over again till I got the lines right, and not to be afraid of making a mistake.  He taught me that most important lesson of all - that drawing was all about looking, looking harder than you ever looked before.  The result was, for the first ever, I'd drawn something that looked like the thing I was drawing; for an eight year old, that was terribly exciting.  It was like I'd been given a key that unlocked one of the great mysteries of life.

That was a very important lesson for me, not only because all these years later, I still remember it, but because it was the start of a journey.  That drawing lesson made me best in my class at art, and that felt good; I'd not been best at anything before.  That in turn, led to me being the best in my year at art when I went to secondary school, where I got into the habit carrying a sketch book everywhere, and every morning on the school bus, other pupils wanted to see what I'd drawn, and my ego didn't mind the attention.   By the time I was seventeen and getting ready to leave school to go to art school, I was selling drawings and paintings of local views and saved up a tidy college fund.  Art school opened up a whole new world of possibilities which in turn led me to many new experiences and adventures.

My dad died last week after a period of illness and I came to realise that when you lose your dad (or anyone close) they leave stuff behind.  You know, the usual things - and I'm being general here - signet ring, wrist watch, fishing rods, books, tools and in my case, some snazzy shirts and a dazzling array of geraniums.  All lovely and sentimental stuff to hang onto, but these are not so important.  The things that matter are not the material things, but the memories of the times you shared, and the inspiration they've given you to look at the world in your own unique way;  that's the real inheritance which you will carry with you always.  I'm very grateful for that.

In memory of James Prott McGinn.  1937 - 2013

Thursday, 14 March 2013

My Dad

My dad is ill.  Fit, strong and healthy all his days then in the weeks leading up to his 76th birthday, he lands himself in hospital with pneumonia, suspected pulmonary fibrosis and possibly cancer.  (Maybe the 35 years in a coal mine are catching up) They can’t confirm the latter two until the pneumonia is dealt with but something is showing up on these CT scans, making it a worrying time for us all.  He’s now home by his fireside on a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics, trying to build his strength back up; he’s lost a frightening amount of weight.

Having healthy parents lasting happily into their seventies is a blessing not everyone gets to enjoy and one I am ever more grateful for.  No matter how you consider the possibilities, nothing prepares you for the sudden realisation that they are not invincible;  that they, and in fact, all of us are fragile and only here for a fleeting time in the grand scale of things.  We shall all one day return to the dust from whence we came to be scattered and forgotten.

Back in 1989 when my grandfather (on my father’s side) was falling into that slow, insidious failing health of old age, both mentally and physically, I remember going with my dad to visit him in hospital.  We walked into the ward and there on the first bed on the right hand side of a big old Victorian room, he was lying perfectly still, mouth open, face sunken and eyes half shut and for one horrible instant we both thought we were looking at a corpse.  What has stuck with me all those years wasn’t how my papa was but that look on my dad’s face, a frozen moment, quickly dispelled when my papa woke up.  I’ll never forget that, and I was reminded of it when I went up to Scotland last week to see my dad in hospital.  My once fit-as-a-butcher’s-dog dad shuffled through, skeletal, breathless and vulnerable and at once I knew what that look on his face all these years ago truly meant; when someone close to you is facing their own mortality, it’s also your own mortality that stares back at you.

He’s always been a good dad, and at the age of seventy six, he can still teach this forty five year old boy a valuable lesson or two.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


I seem to be getting bombarded with spam comments on my blog.  Rather than publish, I save and edit them into equally pointless and slightly surreal poetry.  I'm calling this exciting new genre "Spamoetry".


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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Stick Your Spoon In And Have A Taste.

Last year, on holiday in Northern France with Fiona and our good friends Keith and Kate, as always I had sketchbooks and notebooks to record, sketch and doodle as is my want.  It became clear that a trip to France described as a mere chronological list of events seemed to say little of what should be better expressed as a menu; as a travel-log of our ponderous journey of gastronomic ecstasy.  Food, after all, is what France is really all about.

The various purveyors of breads, cakes, pastries, fish, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruit pull you in by the nostrils, seduced by aroma and left helpless and salivating.  Displays of flavour and colour whisper sweet nothings to star-struck taste buds and induce lustful pangs of hunger.

Le Touquet; elegant seaside town on an endless stretch of beach between Calais and The Somme.  Stick your spoon in and have a taste.
“It has to be fish,” I’m thinking.  We were having Soupe de Poisson for lunch while I ponder on dinner.  It’s my turn to cook.  Like a painter staring at a blank canvas and too many colours to choose from, where do I begin?

Soupe de Oignon.  I’ve made this before and it’s a simple recipe.  Lots of onions chopped and sautéed in butter with a generous scattering of black pepper and salt to taste.  Add water and simmer for ages.  It really is that easy.

So first on the shopping list is onions and black peppercorns.  That powdered dry black pepper is rubbish.  It blows around like stale household dust and is an insult to the flavoursome peppercorn.  Also with Soupe de Oignon is bread and cheese.  In France, bread is easy and always good.  No Mother’s Pride white sliced here.  I admire the way good food in France is considered an act of patriotism; we Brits should learn from them in that respect.

I’ll need olive oil and of course Haricot Vert - is anything more French than that?  I enter the vegetable shop like a wide eyed child in a sweet factory.  First, the Haricot Vert,
“Une kilo dimi,” and the pretty dark haired girl is smiling at my heroic and slightly rubbish attempt at speaking her native tongue but I am undaunted in my quest.  New potatoes and beans were all I came in for, but soon I was smelling handfuls of radishes and eyeing up the big flamboyant green lettuces.  The tomatoes and courgette were too good to resist and suddenly ratatouille was added to the menu.  I chose the biggest green pepper in the shop which carried that strong fruity scent which a quality pepper should have, and a fist sized bunch of wet parsley - always good with fish, and some small round shallots.

To the Poissonerie.  A fish shop in Le Touquet is an adventure in itself; and art gallery of the sea.  Fresh oysters piled high and apparently to be avoided if there is no ‘R’ in the month.  I had oysters and enjoyed them, but also seen the results of someone eating a bad one; it’s not pretty.  After much browsing I settled for some plump sea-bass fillets.  My challenge was to make a meal from local ingredients for four with a budget of 25 euros.  I was already way over my limit, but what the hell; you don’t go to France to skimp on the food.  You can do that at home any day of the week.

To get things going, the chef and his kitchen assistant (myself and Kate respectively) began with a glass of chilled Listel Rosé - a light fragrant wine full of the flavours of summertime - and started on the vegetables.  I chop a kilo of eye watering onions while Kate tops and tails the green beans.  I melt a generous dod of butter in the biggest pan in the kitchen and grind in lots and lots of black pepper.  A low heat melts the butter slowly so as not to burn and add the onions.  Just let them gently sauté away for ages.  When they’re soft and beginning to golden, add water, salt and leave to simmer away to their wee hearts’ content.  I’m sure there are many ways to make an onion soup, but this is how I’m doing it.

Now finished our glasses of rosé and feel a red would be too heavy at this juncture, and anyway, it hasn’t breathed yet; we decant two bottles of Leffe Blonde into tall and perfectly formed glasses.  With trusty beers in hand, Kate washes the vegetables while I chop garlic then big fat tomatoes - the shape and size of the biggest British supermarket ones, but with flavour, an impressive courgette and that mother of all green peppers.  We are now flowing like a well oiled machine.

The finely chopped garlic bubbling in the olive oil with green pepper, courgette and a few herbs, and the obligatory black pepper.  The ratatouille is under way and the kitchen is filling with delicious smells; the red wine breathes.  Fiona is drafted in for her salad dressing skills; she was taught the art of the classic French dressing under the strict supervision of her pen-friend’s mother many moons ago.  Olive oil, Dijon mustard, White wine vinegar and secrets I cannot divulge, for I am not party to.

Our Leffe Blondes are nearing the bottoms of their glasses so it seems only fitting we taste the white wine I got to accompany the fish course.  Crisp, dry, chilled to perfection with a fresh zesty citrus hint.  I take a shallow oven dish and butter the bottom.  I lay the sea-bass fillets out and throw a good glug of wine over them, along with whole garlic cloves, coarsely chopped parsley and shallots.  A few more lumps of butter here and there, black pepper and pinch of sea salt and into the pre-heated oven.  I slice the remains of the morning’s bread, sprinkle with Emmental cheese and they’re ready for the grill.  Another dod of butter melts in a pan, add plain four for a roux to make the sauce; the fish is almost ready so I pour some of the juices into the roux, add milk and more white wine (good job I got two bottles) and some of the Emmental.  Once ready, the sauce is poured over the fish and returned to the oven.

The table is set with cold sausage, little soft cheeses, peanuts and a bowl of radishes served as an aperitif with more chilled  rosé and dinner begins.  At the given time, the cheese toasted breads are placed in soup bowls and the Soupe de Oignon is ladled over with many “Hmmmmms” from my hungry diners. Success.

I quickly add a splash of red to the ratatouille which has simmered to just the right consistency.  We eat our soup to many “oohs” and “aaahs”  and I have to say I’m pleased with the result.  Sweet and light, an exercise in simplicity itself.  Just quality raw materials and that magic ingredient which in this case is lots of time to tease out all that great flavour.

There is one thing left for the main course; the Haricot Vert and again, time is the essence but in this case very little.  I plunge them into boiling water for three to four minutes to just blanch them and no more.  They are sweet, soft and mouth-watering.  A perfect accompaniment to the fish in their sauce, new potatoes and ratatouille.  White wine poured and main course is served and is met with resounding approval.

Next course is the bowl of elegantly dressed lettuce served with fresh bread and much mopping ensues.  What a meal.  And dessert?  An imposing lump of oozing mature Camembert, which has been allowed to breathe,  is presented at the table and  glasses are charged with the red wine.  The combination is sensual and rich - a knockout blow.  The cheese course is the part of a meal to linger on where wine and conversation flow at their best.  Our palettes have been led through the culinary rabbit hole and appetites thoroughly sated.  What could possibly follow this?

Well, as it happened, an few days earlier we were in Belgium, so naturally we had the finest chocolate in the world.   I put the coffee on.  Vive la France.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Believe it or not.

People claim to believe stuff.  They go to church, synagogue, mosque, or temple and indulge in ritual and doctrine as an expression of what they believe; but I’ve come to suspect that it’s possible confuse believing with just not questioning.  Those old ideas taught by people who where in turn taught the same and the lessons have just been passed down through generations.  Unchallenged, rather than perhaps truly believed.

That is the whole point of blasphemy; to challenge accepted belief means to be cast out by a society, to be criminalised and at the extremes, to be killed for the heinous crime of questioning, of not believing.    Ours not to reason why. Why question anyway?  The Bible or the Qa’ran or whatever other translation of some medieval or bronze-age text you’ve had drummed into you already has all the answers you need.  Natural disaster? God’s plan. Cancer? Pray and you’ll either live or die, it’s God’s plan.  Lose a war or win a war, it was God’s plan.  House flooded because it was allowed to be built by an unscrupulous planner on a flood plane? God’s plan.  Dinosaur bones dated to 65 million years old? Planted by God to test your faith, or created at the time of Noah’s Ark and the great flood, depending on which fanatic you’re talking to.  All those stars up there?  Put there by God because he moves in mysterious ways etc… it goes on.   Everything is God’s plan; every incident of genocide, rape, starvation, torture, murder; from the slaughter of the Canaanites to the Jewish holocaust.

The overwhelming evidence that these hallowed texts are in fact nothing more than old fables, is in fact a conspiracy by Satan and his league of communist scientists to corrupt us into questioning.  Eating from the tree of knowledge is the original sin which we are all apparently guilty of.  Well frankly, I like a good apple.  And that brings me to the paradox.  If God created everything, he created Satan, he created the serpent, he created the tree of knowledge and he created the temptation.  He created tasty apples.

So should we continue to go to church, synagogue, mosque, temple and merely pretend to believe for fear of being accused of being an unbeliever?  Should we keep quiet and not question the ridiculous claims of religions?  Well personally I’d consider that a dishonest thing to do, and dishonesty, we’re told, is a sin.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cheap Food

There has been much debate, argument and opinion of late on the subject of cheap food.  People are expressing shock that their value burgers or factory made lasagne-in-a-box costing less than the price of a half pint of watery lager doesn’t contain prime cuts of quality beef, but the sweepings of a knackers yard floor.  That’s because unless some horrible food scandal is hitting the front page of a tabloid, people will generally choose to be blissfully ignorant of what’s pinging out of their microwave as long as it’s tasty and cheap.  The art of buying fresh ingredients and cooking a meal from scratch is what most people watch someone else do on the TV, while they tuck into yet another factory made meal of animal and vegetable product bulked out with sawdust, wallpaper paste and the contents of a chemistry set.  Passively watching shit on a box while passively eating shit from a box, all the time believing the lie that they’re getting convenience and value for money.  Be aware that the companies who manufacture this stuff are doing it to make a profit, not to feed you; they're not interested in whether or not you eat all your dinner and grow up big and strong; they just want your cash.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh here.  I was lucky enough to be brought up on good home cooked food and as a result I’d learned to cook by the time I left school.  As a student, my first digs were in a hovel in Carlise with a dysfunctional family with absent father, chain smoking mum and noisy teenagers.  The food was as terrible as the digs so after a couple of terms, my room-mate and I did a moonlight to a better place with our own kitchen and I’ve made my own dinners ever since.

There is still a foolish notion among some men that cooking is women’s work; that is bollocks.  That’s just an excuse for laziness; that means you never really leave your mum - you just find a new mum replacement to continue feeding you.  I can’t see there being anything macho about being utterly dependent on a woman for that most basic of requirements as a decent dinner.

However,  the thing that surprises me most is people don’t realise just how easy (and cheap) it is to rustle up a good meal.  Yesterday ham hocks (gammon shank if you’re English) were on special offer; two quid for a good one with plenty meat.  Straight into the pressure cooker when I got home, with a couple of pints of water and boil for a good 45 minutes.  A pan of potatoes on and some carrots steaming on top and there, with slices of boiled ham, a great meal.  With the remaining ham and stock left in the pot, I made enough risotto for a couple of helpings and then a huge pot of lentil and ham soup.  Apart from the ham, other ingredients were lentils, rice, basic vegetables and a dod of parmesan  - three day’s food for a few quid and with the money I saved, a bottle of wine to go with the risotto.   You can keep your beaks & cheeks burgers and your scabby horse lasagne.

Cook your own dinner.  It’s a statement of independence.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Immortal Memory

I recently gave the Immortal Memory at The Durham Caledonian Society Burns Supper.  I’ve attended quite a few Burns Suppers, some of which I’ve recited poetry or given the Toast To The Lassies, but this was my first Immortal Memory.  Poetry you can read, a toast to the lassies you make up, but this, you have to do a bit of homework.  That’s not a problem - I love a Burns Supper and to be invited as a guest speaker is a huge honour for a lad from Ayr (wham ne’er a toon surpasses, for honest men and bonny lassies.) 

I did a fair bit of reading and researching, looking for an angle.  The Burns supper had been rescheduled due to heavy snow so “Best laid schemes o’ mice an men” had to get a mention.  I quickly realised that Burns was literally everywhere, and that was is immortal memory.  I began with some history: 

“In 1801, a group of friends of the late Robert Burns gathered in Alloway on the 5th anniversary of his death to celebrate the life, the work and the immortal memory of the bard and this established the tradition of the Burns Supper.

Of course Burns in his own lifetime had a a fair degree of fame and reputation for his literary works, the catalyst being a review of Burns’ first published works which coincided with his arrival in Edinburgh.  This was by the writer and novelist, Hendry MacKenzie who wrote of Burns,  

“Though I am far from meaning to compare our rustic bard to Shakespeare, yet whoever will read his lighter and more humorous poems, will percive with what uncommon penetration and sagacity this Heaven-taught ploughman, from his humble and unlettered station, has looked upon men and manners.”

Although the idea of Burns being an unlettered ploughman was more a myth than reality (he was a farmer, and his father had insisted on him getting a good education as a boy)  However it established his presence within the literati of Scotland’s capital.

Before that, poverty and responsibility for at least three children had taken him to a low point in his life and even considered leaving Scotland forever to become a slave driver in Jamaica - a somewhat contradictory notion for a man who wrote passionately about the common man, justice and equality, however he had a change of heart and decided to publish a volume of his works under the title “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect” 

And so his fame spread and continues to this day…

Since his death in 1796 an average of four books a year as Burns life and work as their subject have been published.  He’s been described variously as our greatest poet, greatest songwriter and wisest sage.  His appeal was his tremendous insight into the human condition. He wrote with great wisdom, some say beyond his years - let’s remember he penned these lines at the tender age of fifteen.

“Once I lov’d a bonie lass,
Ay, and I love her still
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
I’ll love my handsome Nell”

 For me, his appeal was summed up wonderfully by a gentleman called Henry Vollam Morton, a Lancastrian journalist and travel writer wrote of him in 1929,  “a warm living force; he is part of the daily life. I think of him whenever I see a kettle steaming gently against a Scottish fireside;  he has sung his way into all the lovely common things of life.”

We get a measure of just how far into the public conscience Burns is etched with the numerous quotes that have become everyday usage.  From To A louse we get “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as ithers see us”

From Man Was Made To Mourn we have “Man’s inhumanity to man make countless thousands mourn.”

How many times, the world over have been sung the words “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind” 

“Oh best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley” From To A Mouse; the poem which gave Steinbeck the title for that great American classic Of Mice And Men

And from what is arguably his most ambitious work,  the epic Tam O Shanter we get “No man can tether time nor tide” 

Now there’s a great poem.  That’s a poem that I’ve on many occasions tried to learn off by heart.  What a great party piece that would be. I’ve recited poems at Burns suppers but never been asked do that one - I’ve even been asked not to do it as it’s so long, and an English audience would struggle to follow the language.  I once knew a gentleman who drank in my local who claimed he could do it at one time, but probably not any more and I had no reason to doubt. He advised me just to have the book in front of me and learn one verse at a time while the tatties were boiling, maybe I didn’t eat enough tatties for I never learned it. 

Coming from Ayr, it’s a story that’s hard to avoid;  the landmarks of that famous journey are still there - Inn where the poem begins is now aptly named the Tam O Shanter, the haunting ruin of the Auld Kirk at Alloway in now lit up in an eerie blue and green glow and finally, the Brig O’ Doon which will have been backdrop to countless thousands of wedding photos over the years and even has its own Hollywood fame with Gene Kelly 

And of course, in Scotland in the weeks preceding Burns Night , and many of you who went to school in Scotland will remember that at this time of year,  children are rehearsing their lines for the annual Burns competition where you would recite a poem or sing a song.  I entered the poetry recital every year.  One year I took my chances with the singing and had followed my dad’s advice; I went up to the teacher at the piano and sang Rantin Rovin Robin with as much gusto as I could muster.  I didn’t get to the end of the first verse when the teacher stopped me, saying,
“Well, you’ve got the words right. I’m not sure what Robert Burns would think of you making up your own tune though.” and there, in that classroom, at the age of ten, my singing career began and ended.

When I was looking for ideas of what to talk about tonight, I had a look on Twitter to see what was being said about Burns.  It became apparent that all over the world, people of all colours and creeds were preparing for their own Burns Suppers.

Many questions were being asked;

“What should I wear?”
“What poem should I read?”
“I don’t know what all the words mean?”
“Should I attempt it in a Scottish accent?
“What is haggis made of?”  (There’s a cue for a horse meat joke for anyone who wants to heckle)

Many differing styles of Burns Nights were being planned, from the traditional, to the multicultural.

A Mexican themed bar in Edinburgh was advertising Chilli Haggis Nachos;  A Thai Restaurant in London boasted Green Haggis Thai Curry. 

Another measure of Burns’ enduring popularity is all the merchandise now available to the discerning consumer; We’ve all seen the Burns shortbread, the Burns oatcakes, the Burns tablecloths and the Burns tea towels. Burns aprons, Burns Pillows.  Burns car stickers, mugs, Fridge magnets, Mouse mats.  

In time for this years Burns celebrations, The Arran distillery are re-releasing their Burns Single Malt;  The Bellhaven Brewery are releasing a Robert Burns Ale.

You can also get  Man’s Inhumanity Tee Shirts,   Burns Gifie Gie Us Onsies,   Robert Burns Pet food bowls for erudite dogs and cats.  

For the gentlemen, Burns Morality Boxer-shorts, and for the ladies,  Burns Critic’s Classic Thongs. (who knows, maybe some are being worn this very evening.)

Smartphone users have a variety of Robert Burns Apps available to download - There‘s one titled  “An app’s an app for a’ that.”  With its handy guide on how to plan your Burns Supper, it boasts;
“This app uses the very latest technology to bring Burns firmly into the 21st century, with his enduring messages of human equality and international brotherhood now available to iPhone users the world over.”

iPipes; hear any Burns tune played on the bagpipes, get haggis recipes and my favourite; The Burns Compass,  a compass needle that always points at Alloway and gives you the distance from anywhere in the world.  Indispensable. 

Robert Burns still makes news headlines these days.  A couple of recent stories which caught my attention;

There has been much excitement recently about the lost manuscripts - found in 2010 are now in the news as the research finding have reached their conclusion and will be discussed at a conference in Glasgow.  There are 7 manuscripts including one letter from Burns' 'Clarinda' to his friend and physician, Dr William Maxwell.

Clarinda was in fact a pen name used by Agnes Nancy McLehose with whom he conducted a passionate love affair and gave rise to a famous series of letters.

This is the subject of Clarinda The Musical which had its North American debut at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre, courtesy of St Andrews Society of Jacksonville, Florida.

As Fiona (my girlfriend) says, we bloody Scots get everywhere.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is now in possession of the last album of songs recorded by Michael Jackson, who collaborated with David Gest to record an album containing around 10 Burns poems and put them to contemporary music, including, apparently A Red Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and Tam O’ Shanter… that’s bound to be a Thriller and I’d love to hear it. I’ve read the museum is hoping to release a CD of the recordings as a fundraiser. If they do, I’ll be adding it to my collection. How could you resist?

So with that, I would like to conclude that the enduring immortal memory of Robert Burns and his  works is alive and well the world over.

And on a footnote;

For my birthday last years, I received from my parents a book of Tam O Shanter with the incredible illustrations by the celebrated Scottish painter,  Alexander Goudie.  This renewed my interest in the poem. A week later, Fiona and I were at Witton Castle at a motorbike rally and as with any occasion involving beer and music and large gathering of people I ended up cracking on with a fellow Scot, coincidentally named Rob, and the conversation inevitably got to Burns. I mentioned the wonderful book I’d received the week earlier and my failed attempts at Tam O Shanter.

“ Do ye want Tam O Shanter?” he asked, and there, in a beer tent surrounded by motorbikes, beer and rock’n’roll music, Rob entertained Fiona, myself and the company to the best recital of Tam O Shanter I’d heard. Rousing,  animated and word perfect.  I bought Rob a pint.  We last saw Rob heading north on his immaculate Harley Davidson and like to I imagine that over the last weeks, Rob will be plying his talents at a Burns Supper as good as this.”

And with that, happy (relieved actually) that the audience didn’t fall asleep and even laughed in the right places, I invited them to join me in a toast, “To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.” 

After all that talking, I had quite a thirst, and as good whisky was flowing freely, I felt it would be rude not to.  It was a wonderful night.

About Me

My photo
up in the hills, Co Durham
tree climber, painter, stilt walker, musician. After 20 years of city life and all the late nights and fun, returned to my country-boy roots. Open fires, tranquility and muddy boots.