AS EVER the life and work of Robert Burns was marked in the Scottish Parliament last week with poetic quotations in the chamber and haggis on offer in the canteen.
Most MSPs had several Burns Suppers to attend. Some, like the Conservative Alex Fergusson, were in demand for guitar-playing and singing Burns songs. While the SNP’s Stuart McMillan’s musical skills saw him pipe in the haggis to A Man’s A Man For A’ That.
As a model of self-deprecation, Fergusson played down his musical talent during a debate marking the Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfriesshire. Quite wrongly, according to his Labour counterpart Elaine Murray who revealed that the Tory was “being modest about his singing and guitar-playing abilities, as any of us who have heard him can testify”.
One set of children glad not to keep it in the family
THE Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was last week asked to deliver a 45-minute lecture on her vision of Scotland’s future for the David Hume Institute and the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland.
Her children, apparently, were horrified at the thought of people having to listen to their mother speak for three-quarters of an hour.
“My family can’t believe that anybody would have to sit and listen to me for 45 minutes,” she told the audience.
“But they reckon that your suffering liberates them a little.”
Barred: minister rules out move to pub trade role
DURING the Robert Burns debate, the culture secretary Fiona Hyslop (below) raised the possibility of one of her ancestors being a close friend of the national bard.
“I am not sure whether members are aware of this but, at the time of Burns, the landlady in the Globe Inn was a certain Mrs Hyslop,” she said.
Running the bar in Burns’s favourite howff must have meant that Mrs Hyslop was on very familiar terms with the drouthy ploughman poet.
Despite such a distinguished ancestry, the culture secretary has no plans to enter the bar trade herself. “Although I recently visited the Rovers Return, I have no desire for a career change at this point,” she added.
It seems an appendix can take the Place of Fear
THE veteran nationalist Jim Sillars showed he has lost none of his leftist politics when he published his new book – In Place Of Fear II – A Socialist Programme For An Independent Scotland.
In his foreword, Sillars took aim at a traditional enemy – the media – with a dig at journalists and their reading habits.
He writes rather pointedly: “For those, mostly in the media, who have no interest in the ideology of socialism, the appendix sets out the main proposals”.