28 Jan 2009

Scotland the Brave 2009 - With a Canadian Banjo in honour of the Bard


27 Jan 2009

Ma' Own Burns Day, 25th January, 2009

It was a great one -

Dollar, Alloway, Glasgow , Chicago, and Rostov-on-Don wi' some bonnie lassies!

I'll start with the best bit, and by quite some way. Indeed, I'd hazard to say that this was the best Burns anniversary event on the globe on 25th January, 2009 - and not a homecoming haddie in sight. The venue? - Glasgow Cathedral. The event? - The Glasgow and District Burns Association Memorial Service.

I arrived a little late and was immediately overwhelmed by its scale, its breadth, and its vision. Rabbie could not have scripted it better. Indeed, he could not have even imagined it, nor could any of us only a few years back.

Ably presided over by the Rev Dr Whitley , whose own father had conducted an equivalent service 50 years previous, this service had everything: The inspiring chorus of the Merchants Voices Choir; the equally uplifting sound of Eastbank Primary School; a spine tingling rendition of A Man's a Man by Leona Logan of St Mungo's Primary School , the angelic voice of harpist Carisa Bovill, the galas swagger of Stonelaw High School's 4th form choir, the passion of Holyrood Secondary's Mary Dougherty , the be-stilling magic of Joanna Gilmartin; and all topped off by a pasionate appreciation of why we were here by George Anderson, a past President of the World Burns Federation - and we could all hear why.

And all live on the Internet, courtesy of the students and staff of the city's John Wheatley College.

But they were all blown away by a, still to me, nameless young woman from the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Through the magic of technology she, and around a dozen fellow literature students from a place I had only heard off through its brave struggle against fascism in WW2, joined in through a video link to read us one of her favorite Burns poems. And also tell us , all watching in awe and amazement, what our Bard meant to her, her classmates, and her country all those thousand of miles away.

The St Andrew's Society of Chicago Illinois ( home of Obama and proud of it) joined in through similar technology, as did the Burns societies of Virginia, and of Indianapolis-St Paul ( from an Irish Pub!)

And I had the cheek to be late for this international spectacular!

But for good reason. I'd been at Alloway on business - to help launch the Scottish Federation of Housing Association's ( who I work for) Year of the Home Coming initiative at Burns Cottage, on the very day of his 250th. The aim of this campaign is to provide rented homes for those in need. and work for those without it. And so overwhelmed was I by the warm welcome I received from the primarily Ayrshire crowd that I was late for Rabbie's own memorial service 50 miles up the Kilmarnock Road in Glasgow.

And too late to put on the seats of the cathedral - arranged in advance with the Glasgow and District Burns Association - the very same Year of the Home Coming flyers I'd just distributed to half of Ayrshire.

"But how can cope?" I pondered as the amazing service drew to a close? "500 plus people all leaving together through three exits, and just one distributor - me!"

Step forward to my rescue the official ushers of Glasgow's Cathedral , who on their own initiative sussed my dilemma and offered to help.

And the reaction of the audience , young, old, rich poor, Jocks and from further afield, including a joyous young Japanese woman , to our plans to build 10,000 affordable Burns Homes for those in need in 2009? Well, what do you think!

Then, having stopped off to leave my remaining flyers at the Jamaican Burns Night just about to kick off in Glasgow's Old Fruitmarket. up the road to my home in Dollar, a Clackmananshore village where Rabbir had a pint and romance or two

And finally, to my YouTube account. And awaiting me were Burns Day greetings from previously anonymous folks - an Obamaman in California, a Scots piper in Holland, Bonnie Kiltie from Dundee, and an Irishman in Glasgow who didnae like the Rangers too much!, All of them were responding to the A Man's a Man film - Sheena Wellington at the parly on 1st July 1999 - I'd posted earlier to help celebrate Burns day. Plus - and I kid you not - one from a guy in Moscow who used to live in Dollar and was just going out to Burns Supper in the city.

A great one I am sure. But I think I would rather have been going to the one in Rostov-on-Don - where I could have charmed those bonnie lassies wi' some of Rabbie's more memporable lines:

При всем при том, при всем при том
Могу вам предсказать я
Что будет день, когда кругом

Все люди будут братья.

For a' that, an' a' that
It's comin' yet for a' that
That man to man, the world o'er
Shall brothers be for a' that.

The Glasgow and District Burns Association came close on 25th January, 2009


25 Jan 2009

Rabbie's Greatest Hit - On YouTube for the First Time Ever - To Help Celebrate His 250th Birthday


About 1st July, 1999

Scotland's Day of Days when Rabbie Burns, beautifully assisted by Fife's Sheena Wellington, stole the entire show with his international and libertarian anthem A Man's a Man for 'a That .

We were not meant to sing along, and were were just meant to politely applaud - "what would the Queen or the Duke think?" thought Sir David, big Donald and the powers that be. But we could not give a dam. This was Scotland's day and it took Rabbie to lift the roof, set the tone and give our new parliament its immortal memory

Eat your heart out Willie Shakespeare! Match that Oliver Cromwell! And an "irrelevant 18th century poet"?


And how Rabbie would have sang it - better audience, cooler city!


20 Jan 2009

The First, Last and Only Word on this Fantastic day


4 Jan 2009

Obama is Scottish ! (1 min 14 secs in...)



Obama is Scottish

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me, I hear you say
But Barack's as Irish, as was JFK
His granddaddy's daddy came from Moneygall
A small Irish village, well known to you all

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

He's as Irish as bacon and cabbage and stew
He's Hawaiian, he's Kenyan, American too
He’s in the white house, cause he took his chance
Now let’s see Barack - Riverdance

Sorry to but in to oor Irish friends
though they ’ve started a story, it doesnae quite end.
Yes Barack had a grandad, but a grandmama too,
and her folks came from Scotland, I’m telling you true.

A man called FitzRandolf to Boston he came,
His great grandaugter Prudence, she then lost his name.
But she’s a great, great, great grandma of Barack’s own mum.
Yes he’s Kenyan, he’s Irish, but we’re claiming a son.

Descended from Scotland’s King William the Lion
I’m telling you Paddy this Jock he ain’t lying
Like Jonny Cash and James Connolly, he’s from a mixed clan
Part Irish, part Scottish, a real tartan man

Fitzrandold, McGregor, Ann Dunham, O’Hara
There’s nae one as Scottish as Barack Obama
In Stirling, Dunfermline at the heart of the Barras
The new king of Scotland is Barack Obama

He was born in Hawaii one glorious day
His ma came from Kansas, his dad far away
He’s Keynan, He’s Irish, even big in Havana
and made in Chicago, that Barack Obama

Ohio, Virginia and Florida too
Let’s raise up three cheers for the red, white and blue
add in green and orange, and some African too
Those bigots and rednecks won’t know what to do

Cause we’re Catholics, we’re Muslims, we’re Protestants too
We’re gay and we’re straight, and some come from Peru
Hanoi, Alabama, and Kalamazoo
Those right wing evangelists, they don’t have a clue

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
The new king of Scotland is Barack Obama
He’s at the top of the mountain, so let freedom ring
And let’s see oor Barack - highland fling!

Scotland the Brave interlude

In Derry, the Falls and the Shankill Road too
Barack is Irish - he’s black, green and blue
And if those Yankees can vote for that colourful man
There’s hope for us a’ yet, oh Aye “ Yes We Can!”

The O'Learys, the Paisleys, McDonalds, O'Haras
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama
Mick Collins, John Hume and Bob Geldoff’s Mama
The dreams of our fathers was Barack Obama (Snr)

The O'Learys, the Paisleys, McDonalds, O'Haras
There's nae one as Scottish as Barack Obama
Rosa Parks, Dr Arthur, and Jomo Kenyatta
The dreams of our fathers was Barack Obama

Guitarists note: I play this in the key of D, but in C with a capo on. It is just a starightforwrd three chord melody, ( C F and G&) you can play in any key that suits your voice. ( ie D G A7, etc)


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