January 25th, 2010


Burns Night

Reading bellakara 's lovely post (bellakara.livejournal.com/13318.html) on Tam Lin, I was reminded of a hilarious Burns night maybe six years ago, at the apartment of a Scots friend of mine, who happens to live in Paris, near the Canal St. Martin.  Ellen and I brought wine, I believe, but mostly what we drank was single-malt Scotch (a Highland Malt, it would have been).  There was a haggis (did you know you could buy a haggis in Paris.  Me neither) and oat cakes and I forget what else (it was six years ago, after all).  But I do remember Linda reading Burns in a rich Scots burr (she has a beautiful reading voice, and by heaven knows how to pronounce everything right) and I'm pretty sure I made a stab at it, too, because I like reading poetry aloud, and I do know what all the words mean even if I can't pronounce them properly.  And we talked about hearing Jean Redpath and Robert J. Lurtsema (host of Morning Pro Musica at WGBH for many and many a year in the last century) do their Burns night thing at Memorial Theatre in Cambridge, with Robert J. in a massive kilt with all the trimmings, and Jean in a caftan even brighter than his plaid.  Robert J. always read "Ode to a Haggis," to tremendous laughter and applause, and Jean sang 19th century settings of Burns poems in her pure, unmistakable soprano, and a good time was had by all.

In memory of years past, I read Tam Lin aloud to myself and raised a very small glass of Bunnahabhain (my stomach is not what it was).  Maybe next year, we'll find a more festive venue to haunt.  You can find anything in NYC if you look hard enough.