Hey Readers As you know if you are regular readers of tartan tights I have a very active social life of much of which revolves round poetry and politics. Bearing this in mind I thought I would share my memories of a very enjoyable evening at the recent Shettleston SNP Burns Supper which was held in the function suite of the Fullerton Park Hotel. I have included a couple of pictures which were taken on the night to give you a flavour of the event. It is I think safe to say that this was a night where we celebrated in true Shettleston style the work of our national bard and enjoyed the company and comradeship of friends.
As you can see from the photograph above I really know how to celebrate Burns and I did so with the traditional menu of Haggis,Neeps, and Tatties which was served with a whisky sauce. I have to say it was delicious and I washed it down not with whisky, but with Scotland’s other national drink Irn Bru. Of course tempting though it was we couldn’t start our feast before the haggis was piped in and addressed and we had said the traditional prayer known as the Selkirk Grace which must be said before the main meal and can be served.
After the meal we had a wee break during which time I and several others went to place bids for items, in our secret auction before settling down to enjoy the formal part of the evening and as always the toasts were of the high quality we’ve come to expect from our speakers over the years. I placed a bid for Lesley Riddoch’s book though to be honest I didn’t think I’d stand a hope of winning it.
Personally, though I enjoyed all the speeches I thought the toast to absent friends which was which was delivered by our former convener Lachie McNeil was a particularly good moving reminder that the SNP are so much more than a political party and that we are in many ways a family and that Humza Yousaf delivered one of the best immortal memories I’ve heard at any Burns Supper.
In a speech which was well paced and sprinkled with humour, Humza started by cracking a joke about building a wall between North and South Glasgow and making Edinburgh pay for it. I think we can safely say that this was at the expense of President Trump It was however also a gateway to remind us of the bard’s compassion for all living creatures and the internationalism which showed Burns to be a true global citizen who cared deeply for humanity and had appeal way beyond Scotland.Indeed Humza pointed out that there Burns Suppers as far away as Bali and joked that as a former Minister for External Affairs he has a duty to attend it on a fact finding mission. This had what was I’m sure was the desired effect of raising more than a few giggles amongst the gathering though on a more serious note he did say that when it came to women the bold Robert had more positions on women than the Labour Party do on Europe or for that matter anything else. Needless to say this was very well received by those in attendance. This was a speech which though it highlighted the many good points of the ploughman poet didn’t ignore his faults as we need to know them to appreciate him and gain a deeper understanding of the man and his work
Being a poet myself one of the questions I am most often asked is what do I think of Burns as it often assumed by the less cultured nembers of our society who are at least in my experience almost always older or poorly educated unionists that every poet like Burns unconditionally and without question. Personally I don’t think this comes as a great surprise to anyone as that particular demographic tend to accept a lot of things unconditionally and without question. I however, know that one of the roles of a poet is to question what’s happening in the world and try to make sense of the times in which we live just as Burns made sense of his.
This to me makes my relationship with Burns a complex one. On the one hand I love his internationalism, his belief in Scottish Independence, and his concern for our environment. On the other I have strong reservations about his attitudes towards women whom he seemed to view as no more than sex objects to be conquered rather than lovers too be wooed, courted, and cherished.
Talking of women to be cherished, this picture shows Shettleston’s very own dynamic duo namely me and the star of the branch Laura Doherty. Believe me Scotland is a very lucky country to have not only Laura, with whom I was proud to be photographed but many outstanding women in every branch of our party and other parties contributing greatly our to country’s political life and we are all the better for it. Trust me politics is far too important just to be left to the men and it’s women like those in the Shettleston SNP such as Alexis Deans , Alison Thewliss, Elaine Ballantyne, Jennifer Fairgrieve, Jennifer Layden, Linda Pike, and Lauren Toner as well as myself and Laura who will make sure it doesn’t happen. Well as Burns himself said ‘The rights of Women merit some attention’ and we intend to make sure they are given the attention they deserve.
As the evening drew to a close those who had won prizes in the secret auction were given due notice to collect their prizes and I was more than slightly gobsmacked to find that I had won the copy of Blossom which had been donated by Lesley Riddoch. This will I am sure provide illuminating reading in the weeks to come as Scotland enters an even more challenging time in its already difficult relationship with a United Kingdom Government which promised to treat our country with respect in the aftermath of our independence referendum and has so far spectacularly failed to do so on every single occasion. However let this message be stated loudly and clearly if you keep failing Scotland you will be punished beyond your wildest nightmares and believe me when Burns spoke of a parcel of rogues it was you and only you he was talking about.
As we made our way home at the end of a fantastic night (Thanks To Alex Kerr for allowing me to share his taxi) I paused to reflect on a top quality evening brilliantly organised by Maureen Fairgrieve to whom the branch owes a tremendous debt and as I did so I came to the conclusion that a very political poet left a treasure trove of thoughts as we dined with good companions and made memories with friends.
Love And Best Wishes