CONTENT: Aiming to be humorous but underpinned
by a scholarly theme for the benefit of a largely English audience,
this Reply draws in part on content found at www.worldburnsclub.com,
and one particular Immortal Memory which is an exposé of the
contrasts and contradictions of Robert Burns. Supporting evidence was
garnered from the notes by Dr James A. Mackay in his "The Complete
Works of Robert Burns" and "The Complete Letters of Robert
Burns" (Alloway Publishing 1986).
FORMAT: The Reply is shown below in the
format favoured by Winston Churchill in his own hand-written notes and
typed speeches, using line breaks and capitals to reflect the cadence
and pauses and emphases of real speech, creating a sort of blank verse.
The capitals indicate that the stress of a phrase should rest on that
word, not that it should be shouted or given exaggerated emphasis: it
is the key word the listeners should retain in their minds. This technique
makes public speaking much easier than reading from a conventionally
laid-out text and is particularly recommended for nervous or inexperienced
speakers - or indeed those of the calibre of Churchill.
TO THE TOAST TO THE LASSIES
by Miss Williamina Dickson
at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, London, 24 January 2002
See yon Burns?
Now don't you boys go getting any ideas
from him in your WHISKY FUMED brains!
Just because he ran around drinking with
his DAFT WEE PALS
Disnae mean you laddies can all get up to your usual tricks too:
... Don't you forget it was the DEATH
sitting DRUNK in a puddle and dying of RHEUMATIC FEVER
NATIONAL BARD? NATIONAL BAWD, MORE LIKE.
What's a lassie to make of a man like
At times he was a LOVER
others a LECHER and PHILANDERER
At times a havering ROMANTIC ,
at others a harsh REALIST
He was a braw SCOTTISH NATIONALIST
sometimes a REVOLUTIONARY INTERNATIONALIST
and at times a stout BRITISH PATRIOT ... when provoked by the French,
He was at times a RADICAL
others a REACTIONARY
He wrote the SOFTEST SWEETEST BALLADS
and the BASEST BAWDIEST DOGGEREL
He wrote BEAUTIFUL VERSE
and pretty often he churned out the kind
that you could only find today
in THE BEANO and THE DANDY
... two FINE SCOTTISH PUBLICATIONS by the way!
He wrote reams of PRAISE TO WHISKY yet
he became an EXCISE MAN... a contradiction in terms if ever there was
Listen to what he says of WHISKY:
O! Whisky! soul o' play an' pranks!
Accept a Bardie's gratefu' thanks!
When wanting thee, what TUNELESS CRANKS
ARE MY POOR VERSES!
Aye, well he certainly had a point there!
And then of the Excise men:
Thae CURST HORSE-LEECHES o' th'Excise
Wha mak the Whisky stills their prize!
His excuse for becoming an Excise man
was to provide a steady income for his family
... the LEGITIMATE WAN that is...
but he later admitted
that what he really wanted
was to reach the rank of COLLECTOR,
"They have, besides a handsome income,
a life of compleat leisure...
...A life of literary leisure, with a decent competence,
is the SUMMIT OF MY WISHES."
And I'm sure we all know plenty of laddies
But one thing ye've gotty say for the
boy, he was honest... in his way.
wild / loving,
high-minded / crude,
lecherous / romantic,
drunken or sober,
ALWAYS passionate about the subject of the hour.
Indeed, the one CONSISTENT QUALITY in
the outpourings of Burns's verse
and the confessions of his Letters
is his HONESTY...
the spontaneous honesty of his thoughts,
BURSTING OUT ON TO PAPER as they occurred to him...
...a bit like McGonnagall later on .... well no quite sae bad
And let's face it lassies, [look around]
our men have many faults, (... many, many faults ...)
many faces and many contradictions
if we can find an HONEST one
THEN WE'VE DONE VERY WELL INDEED
Raise your glasses [raise glass]
in the TRADITIONAL TOAST TO THE LADDIES ... [ pause, wag finger]
SEE YOU, WAIT TIL AH GET YE HAME!