Happy Burns Night everyone!
For anyone not in the UK, or anyone with no more than a passing knowledge of Scottish history, its Robert Burn’s birthday today. And as such, is the night where Scots get together for a dinner involving sheep offal cooked in its own stomach along with root vegetables, followed by some very weirdly named dances. Accompanied by as much scotch as one can drink.
I sadly, despite being a full blooded Scottish lassie, have never been to a Burns Supper (although ironically, my Italian roommate is through his work), so I celebrated in ‘Poor-Scot’ style. Going to a chipper for a version dipped in batter. Tried the one nearest my flat for the first time. Found the chips were a little too greasy, and the haggis wasn’t as nice as the one I can get closer to town, but it was passable.
Have to admit, when I was little I would always dread this time of year, because it meant we’d have to learn a Rabbie Burns poem and recite it out loud to the class. Memorising anything was hard for me, and memorising old Scottish prose was agony. Oddly enough though, my strongest memory of this time is not my own, but of my little brother once again.
When he was very little, around the age of 5-7, his class was expected to memorise the Burns Homage ‘To A Crocodile’ by J.K. Annand.
When doukin in the River Nile
I met a muckle crocodile.
He flicked his tail, he blinked his ee,
Syne bared his ugsome teeth at me.
Says I, “I never saw the like.
Cleaning your teeth maun be a fyke!
What sort of besom do ye hae
To brush a set o teeth like thae?”
The crocodile said, “Nane ava.
I never brush my teeth at aa!
A wee bird redds them up, ye see,
And saves me monie a dentist’s fee.”
Now, around this time, my brother, much like myself at that age, was losing a lot of his baby teeth. Which meant every time he recited the 4th and 5th lines, he was showing off his gap toothed smile and making anything with double X chromosomes swoon. My mother thought it was the sweetest thing ever.
Sadly, he never actually got to show off his skill in front of his class, and the reason, ironically enough, was because of a tooth. Just not his.
See, the day before they all had to get up and recite their poems, there was an…altercation in the playground. Not entirely sure what happened, but believe it was probably due to a game of British Bulldog (I’ve yet to meet anyone who played that game who doesn’t have a trophy of war or two). Little brother was in the playground, as was a girl from my class, who was something of a team leader and just a bit of a bully to me – although that’s meaningless to this actual story. Her teeth were loose too.
Long story short, there was an incident that involved the two of them crashing into a wall, and when the girl peeled herself of my brother, she found herself missing a tooth…
That’s right. My brother ended up going to the hospital with the local bullies tooth imbedded in his forehead. I would have given anything to have heard the explanation for that one. He ended up with stitches, and a warning not to go to school the next day. He was delighted, I was peeved, and mum was just sad such an adorable sight would never be seen.
Oh, and that year, I had to do ‘To A Mouse’. Astonished I got through it all in one piece frankly.