All over the planet at this time of the year, people meet together to celebrate the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns. The event is called the Burn’s Supper, and is typically held on the anniversary of his birth, January 25th. Here in Saskatchewan, a Burn’s night was held in the small town (1500 population) of Carlyle last night. The date might have been off, but the spirits were high as almost 100 people gathered in the town theatre. There was piping, Celtic music, plenty of Haggis, Scottish beer and whiskey, and of course featured readings of poems by Burns.
I was honoured by the opportunity to serve as the featured speaker, giving the address known as “The Immortal Memory” and making the toast to Scotland’s most famous literary figure. Of course, for me it was an opportunity to wear my beloved highland outfit again, despite the -20c temperatures! The outfit is actually more than 35 years old now, it belonged to my late father, who was also a great Burns aficionado. In fact, in the inside pocket of the jacket, there still remains a program for a Burn’s Supper in Fort Augustus in 2002, at which my dad spoke, wearing this very outfit.
And so, the outfit was worn in honour of my Dad, as was his wedding ring and golden watch, a present from my late mum on their Golden Anniversary in 2001. And in my pocket was one of my grandfather’s world war one medals, to remember the Cunningham side of my heritage as well as the Kerr. And, that was fitting too, for it is through the Cunningham side that family tradition says I am related to Rabbie Burns… And like him, I too am now an author.