Mention….

Seem’s I was mentioned on one of my favourite podcasts, American Freethought, by the co-host John Snider. John is travelling to my home city soon so I thought it might be an idea to show him and his wife the delights of Edinburgh when they visit. Dauntingly, they’ve agreed for me to show them around but I promise not to follow in the footsteps of Renton and take them to the worst toilet in Scotland.

Warning – definitely not suitable for work….

I’ll put some photos and details of the tour so you too can follow it if you wish. Of course this depends on the weather and given that last week we had lovely spring warmth and last night we had snow, sleet and arctic winds, who knows what we can expect!

Train Journey

I am currently travelling by train, speeding towards the Scottish Borders and the town of Berwick Upon Tweed. Berwick has a fascinating history, it changed hands many times between the two countries in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. It was sacked and the scene of a massacre by Edward I in the 1290s which led to the infamous Ragmans Role being signed by Scottish nobles and giving Edward authority over Scotland.

The Battle of Homildon Hill was another disaster for a Scots army just a few years after Bruce’s death. The loss set back the Scots nation building after all the gains by Wallace and Bruce.

Although today a fairly quiet town bypassed by road and rail, its worth visiting even if it is in England!

The local football team, Berwick Rangers, although in England, play their football in the Scottish Leagues.

One other claim to fame; in the past, UK international treaties were done in the name of “The United Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Berwick Upon Tweed” This was the form of the declaration of war between us an Russia in the 18th century. however the subsequent peace omitted the Berwick part and so the town remained technically at war with Russia.

In a ceremony in the 1960s the town hosted the Soviet ambassador for a “peace treaty” and the then Mayor announced, “…the Russians can now sleep soundly in their beds”.

20120225-121713.jpg

Happy Burns’ Day

Today, 25th Jan, is the day that Scots the world over will be celebrating our national bard, Robert Burns.

There are ample descriptions of Burns’ Suppers being held all around the world and there will be much drunken revelry, haggis quaffing and poetry reciting tonight.

The traditional Burns poems are the famous ones such as Tam O’Shanter and Address Tae A Haggis, but I wanted to quote my favourite poem; A Man’s A Man For A’ That.

Written in 1795, the poem is an appeal to common humanity but even in Burns’ day it had to be published anonymously for fear of promoting radical ideals. Burns was clearly influenced by Thomas Paine and the American Founders and it was their ideas of liberty, Equality and universal rights that shine through in this song.

It was performed at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.

There are some fantastic renditions of the poem here.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

 

Religion Part 2

In this edition of the podcast we pick up from were we left off with part 1 look at the reformation of the 1560’s and the legacy of Knox, Mary Queen of Scots and her son James VI.

We also cover the two Books of Discipline which set out the theological and religious behaviours expected of all Scots.

You can listen or download the Religion Part 2 podcast from here.

The house on the right Is John Knox’s house in Edinburgh.