A mans a man for aw 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.
You see that fancy dressed poser called a lord
Who struts and stares and all that
Although hundreds worship at his word
He is but a fool for all that
For all that and all that
His fancy style and all that
The man of independent mind
He looks and laughs at all that
A Mans A Man – Robert Burns
What do you think of the poetry of Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s national Bard?
At times in the past, I hated it. Sitting at school being forced to learn it by wrote and how to pronounce these old Scots words and to understand their meaning.
It was pretty dull and dry and certainly not a labour of love, when you’re 12.
Back then I resented being forced to learn this crap, it meant nothing to me.
The only entertainment was listening to Mr Linus in P7 at Saint Constantine’s Primary School Govan, getting excited as he enacted every line from Tam O’Shanter.
My old dad would often and still does quote the wisdom of Bums.
E.g. A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.
My brothers and I would look at each other as if to say .. What the F**k is he talking about?
In our house, you dare not curse in my father’s presence, even today, he’s old and frail but a stern look quickly lets you know what he thinks of any industrial language.
But the years change us, experience gives us wisdom and a perspective to look at life differently from our younger selves.
“What a gift the lord to gie us, tae see ourselves as others see us.”
Do you ever look back at yourself and think, look at the state of my clothes or my hair, which were the height of fashion at the time and think what a plonker.
Here’s a lesson .. make sure you aren’t looking stupid right now!
These days when I occasional hear the odd piece of Burn’s, I smile at the memory and the lessons learned in understanding the meaning behind the words.
Although part of me would still prefer that they updated it into English rather than Old Scot’s. But it wouldn’t be quite the same.
Anyhoo, last week, 25th of January was the anniversary of Burn’s birth, a much celebrated event in these parts and throughout the world were the influence of the Scots and the Bard himself have reached.
Like the Irish, us Scots went everywhere, partly with the British Empire to India, Africa and the colonies or escaping from it to the USA, Canada or Australia.
The Scots diaspora is out there and has brought Burns and his wisdom with them. Auld Lang Syne is known throughout the world even if people don’t know the words, they get the message and that’s what is most important.
A few years ago, I got back in touch with a few of my childhood friends, guys I grew up with, played football with, would back up in fights against any local gangs or bullies.
Back then Glasgow wasn’t as diverse or mixed as it is today, there were distinct social boundaries and my closest friend Jim would go one way to school and I would go the other.
Jim was brought up as a Protestant and I was brought up Catholic. He went to Govan High and I went to Saint Gerard’s.
How stupid is it that we still operate separate schools which create a division between people and a perception that there is an “us” and a “them” at such an early age.
Fortunately, although Jim supports Rangers and I support Celtic, we weren’t brought up like that.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that although people are born into a religion and notionally assume it as part of their identity, in today’s world, in relative terms, there aren’t that many actual practising Catholics or Protestants.
Other religions? Let’s not go there. You’re an idiot if you believe all that religious shit.
I can’t help but think John Lennon was right that the world would be a better place with no religion, or if we could at least remove the religious zealots and their need to believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
Anyway tonight, it’s Burns Night for yours truly, a bit of a piss up full of stories and a catch up with my old friends and new friends that I met through them. Guys that I go camping with sitting round a camp-fire drinking, telling stories and singing songs.
As it happens, out of the 12-15 who normally come along, I’m the only Celtic supporter and the rest are all Rangers fans.
Although it’s not always this simple, but generally that would indicate they are Protestant, because although there are many different religions who support Celtic, there is no right thinking Catholic would ever support that poisonous institution who revel in singing songs about “Fenian Blood”.
With our group, the banter is usually good, I like to remind them about their club being in liquidation and love how they try and tell me that it’s the company and not the club that went out of business.
Tonight’s venue is a local Masonic Lodge, 4 of the guys are already members of various lodges and a couple of the guys are wannabe’s going through the pre-installation process.
Last year was good fun, the banter was good with my pals, the speakers were hilarious and I expect tonight to be the same.
The Freemasons refer to each other as brothers. A brotherhood of man.
But are all men not brothers?
Of course not.
It’s an altruistic ideal, but you would only be fooling yourself if you thought that people didn’t look after their own first.
There is nothing wrong with that.
We are brothers with whom we choose to have strong allegiances with and that is earned through time and trials spent together.
Me, Duncan, John, Mark and Stuart are brothers, we were brought up close even if there is a 19 year gap between myself as eldest and Stuart the youngest. We are always there for each other.
Me and Jim and Tommy are brothers from different mothers. We haven’t always been there for each other, we were when we are younger and we are again now, but there was a gap where life and marriage got in the way.
My other my pals tonight are more like cousins from different sisters. I see them occasionally, enjoy their company but don’t miss them when I don’t see them.
The rest, possibly friends I haven’t met yet ..
My thoughts are this Brotherhood Of Man are that I prefer to judge a person on their individual merits and not by their associations, the clothes they wear or their chains of office.
Tonight will be fun, but this independent mind isn’t fooled by pomp and ceremony particularly where self-interest is right at the heart of it.
Thanks for reading, hope you have a great weekend whomever and wherever you are.