Yesterday was Robbie Burns day and a goodly number of haggis were addressed and drams drained to honour the man and his work. The only time I attended a Burns Night was in Warsaw in 1998 and it was great fun. I might that the one and only St Patrick’s Day parade I was ever in was also in Warsaw that same year – during a snow storm. Don’t ask!
But I digress. As we listened to the radio last evening – yes there are people that still do that – the Radio Canada classic programme ended with a lovely set of variations on the traditional Scottish air that we know as My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose. It sent me off to YouTube looking for this lovely ballad.
There are so many versions available but my search led me to two that seemed to me to display the utter simplicity of the piece. Unable to choose between them I am posting both for your – and my – pleasure.
The late Ian Charleson recorded this as part of a TV celebration of Burns Night in 1986.
Charleson, a Scot from Edinburgh, was one of the most brilliant lights of the British theatre in the last quarter of the 20th century. He had appeared in movies, TV drama, musicals, comedies, drama and Shakespeare and won praise from critics, peers and audiences. In 1989 he capped his already brilliant career with a Hamlet that is talked about to this day. Ten days after the final performance he died on January 9th 1990 at the age of 40 from AIDS. He requested that his AIDS status be revealed. This was the first celebrity death in the United Kingdom openly attributed to AIDS, and the announcement helped to promote awareness and acceptance of the disease.
The classical world seems awash with countertenors these days however my favourite has always been Andreas Scholl. He hasn’t restricted himself to the baroque but has branched out into lieder and folk music. His voice has a sweetness and strength that, despite the over-orchestration on this recording, again brings out the simplicity of what is surely one of the great declarations of love in literature.
The word for January 26th is:
Haggis /ˈhaɡəs/: [noun]
A Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach.
Late Middle English: probably from earlier hag ‘hack, hew’, from Old Norse hǫggva.
The Economist started a bit of a kerfuffle back in 2021 by stating that the origin of Scotland’s national dish was actually of English origin. But then we believes The Economist?