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John Beaton 01-27-2010 01:30 AM

Address to the Haggis

Michael Cantor 01-27-2010 01:30 PM

Well intoned, John, and I suggest you bring the outfit and piper to West Chester with you. Was it something special for the occasion, or do you go about like that back in BC all the time, always preceded by a man blowing into a sheep's bladder?

My understanding of charitable events of this nature is that for about a $100 per person donation you get the meal and entertainment, including a nice portion of haggis; but the real key to the fund raising is that for $250 you are given a note from a doctor and permitted to skip the haggis. (If that is not how it works, you might consider it for the future.)

John (J.D.) Smith 01-27-2010 03:29 PM

First, congratulations. Bagpipes and that which goes with them are underrated.

Second, if anyone needs a so-far-unpublished Toast to the Lassies, do let me know. I have one that's been gathering dust.

Allen Tice 01-27-2010 09:55 PM

Your cumulonimbic (and very enjoyable) blaasts and brreezes at West Chester were much, much easier to understand, and an equally hard act to follow! Good fun.

Martin Elster 01-27-2010 11:55 PM

I didn't understand the words, but it was fun to watch and it appeared that you had a lot of fun, too. I also liked the bagpipes.

David Anthony 01-28-2010 02:41 PM

Nice recitation, John.
The blonde on your left didn't seem too impressed. Is she your Missus?
Best regards,

Tim Murphy 01-28-2010 09:38 PM

Beaton, you don't need me to tell you cut a fine figure of a man. I'm sure you've heard that from your female admirers. Ah doo thenk ye luick guid in a kilt, ond whet a perfermance. Bonny doun.

John Beaton 01-31-2010 05:02 AM

Well, it’s a bit of a ridiculous poem, but it has some sort of crowd-appeal.

Michael, for going about, I wear my casual kilt outfit, complete with navy polo-neck and wellies. Only in moments of great fluidity am I piped in.

From your remarks about value received for the additional $150, it seems you think the haggis is unappetizing and unhealthy. The Scottish Tourist Board has asked me to ask you to keep these opinions to yourself. If you do, they may send you a complimentary oatcake. It is, after all, the Scottish Tourist Board.

John, in the wrong hands, the bagpipes can be WMD’s. Why don’t you post your Toast to the Lassies on the appropriate board here? I’ll look in on it if it’s not on TDE. At Burns season, people look for good templates. I’ve written a Reply to the Toast to the Lassies and an Immortal Memory, but not a Toast to the Lassies. If you don’t want to post it on the Board, send it to me in a PM.

Allen, I’m glad you enjoyed it and both pleased and surprised that you remembered the West Chester piece.

Martin, yes, I quite enjoy performing, even when it isn’t exactly right. (This one had a few mistakes for which I have excuses.)

David, no she’s not my Missus. She’s probably just one of those haggis-realists who sees little grandeur in chopped organs.

Tim, it’s a wavelength I though you would be on. Thanks.


Tim Murphy 01-31-2010 06:53 AM

Well, the important thing is the sheep's bladder, which is, after all, lamb bacon. I'm personally opposed to eating oats, which are only food for the ponies, I mean, let's get real and eat wheat, but I'll shut up for fear of the Scottish Tourist Board.

David Mason 01-31-2010 12:45 PM

I've never seen a man go at a haggis with such gusto.
Well done, lad.

John Beaton 02-01-2010 01:34 AM

Thanks, David. As I've written elsewhere, I'm attached to Burns mainly because of his songs. Here's something I came across on YouTube, a friend and fine musician playing, if you click on the right track, a version of "Coming Through the Rye" for singer Eddie Reader, but also showing where his heart lies by, despite all the background noise, getting lost in "Of A' the Airts" in a corner of my favorite pub in Scotland.


David Anthony 02-01-2010 01:54 AM

Prince Charles is visiting an Edinburgh hospital. He enters a ward full of patients with no obvious sign of injury or illness and greets one.

The patient replies:

"Fair fa your honest sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin race,
Aboon them a ye take yer place,
Painch, tripe or thairm,
As langs my airm."

Charles is confused, so he just grins and moves on to the next patient.
The patient responds:

"Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat an we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit."

Even more confused, and his grin now rictus-like, the Prince moves on to the next patient, who immediately begins to chant:

"Wee sleekit, cowerin, timrous beasty,
O the panic in thy breasty,
Thou needna start awa sae hastie,
Wi bickering brattle."

Now seriously troubled, Charles turns to the accompanying doctor and asks "Is this a psychiatric ward?"

"No," replies the doctor, "this is the serious Burns unit."

John Whitworth 02-01-2010 01:46 PM

'Ah, Bertie. You know your Shelley.'
'Oh, am I?'

Rick Mullin 02-01-2010 04:07 PM

Looks like liver, tastes like toothpaste! That's the stuff!

Tremendous performance, John. And I found out by accident that it is also really good with the YouTube sound all the way down and Wagner playing in the basement.


Tim Murphy 02-01-2010 05:32 PM

I actually felled a phaisant in an oaten feelde this fa', and damned if Fenian dinna track him doun. Good job, Jonno.

FOsen 02-01-2010 11:13 PM

John -

That was no haggis, that was a ham!

Much enjoyed.


ChrisGeorge 02-02-2010 10:15 AM

Photographs on Flickr:

Robert Burns's Address to a Haggis



Tim Murphy 02-04-2010 01:04 PM

I just watched it again. This morning I was coaching Alfred Nichol, who has to read Tae a Mouse to the Newburyport Litfest. My grandmother was a Chisholm and a Buckley, so she taught me Scots. I don't do it as well as John does, but I'm 220 years removed from my homeland. How tall are you John? You appear to tower a good head higher than either your haggis bearer or the piper. My favorite definition of a gentleman: a man who knows how to play the pipes but chooses not to.

Alex Pepple 01-14-2011 11:55 AM

Haggis Thread: The Sequel
Burns Day is tomorrow, January 29. Today I am teaching Burns to 1200 kids in a great Catholic high school. And all of the kiddies will be seeing this remarkable YouTube of our John Beaton performing Address to the Haggis at a Burns Supper in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, where John ended up settling down after he was uprooted from the Highlands. The Scottish burr is so thick, the performance so grand and exaggerated, that it will be helpful to you to have text in hand. Here it is with a translation:
This amazing performance was linked at Accomplished members last year, and the responses are a riot. Now gae bow yer froisty pows in memorie o' Rabbie Burns. Tim

:) That was me, impersonating Tim! ...Alex
& I moved this thread from the Accomplished forum to launch this year's Burns Day.

Tim Murphy 01-14-2011 09:13 PM

I'm all screwed up, here. Burns Day is Jan 25 (It was originally celebrated Jan 29). Doesn't matter for Shanley High School. We chose Friday, Jan 28, when I teach (i.e. sing! cringe) Rabbie Burns to six high school classes. Then Monday Jan 31 I teach six units on the basics of iambic pentameter. Then judge the annual Poetry Out Loud competition in the school auditorium. Poor kids. It will be good to have John riding wing, and I hope you'll all enjoy visiting or revisiting his Burns Dinner at Qualicum Beach, BC.

Mary Meriam 01-14-2011 10:02 PM

Loved your hacking and hewing, John!

FOsen 01-18-2011 11:13 PM

I wish I could adapt this to the annual lutfisk dinner at the Sons of Norway Lodge in Northridge - unfortunately, Norwegians are far too taciturn to put up with such frippery - and they prefer brighter lights at dinner - but, John, you were wonderful.


John Whitworth 01-19-2011 06:43 AM

If you want a 20th century Burns then it's not MacDiarmid, the old Stalinist windbag, but Robert Garioch. I'm sure I've said this before, but Google the feller. I would have been at school with him if i had been twenty years older.

John Beaton 01-19-2011 12:46 PM

Hello, folks. Sorry I haven't been participating here more. I'm just back from a fishing trip to Panama and my internet access has been very limited for the last while. Anyway, I'm back now and in a bit of a flurry getting ready for this year's round of Burns Suppers.

Thanks for repostng this, Alex. All the best with your teaching and judging, Tim. Thanks for the compliments, Mary and Frank. John, my vote would go to Sorley MacLean, who wrote in Gaelic, but whose works stand out even in translation.


David Mason 01-26-2011 07:42 AM

My wife's an Ayrshire lass, and I just played this at breakfast in her sister's home. It went over very well. Bravo, John.

John Beaton 01-26-2011 10:56 PM

I'm glad it went over well, David. We've just finished a repeat of that Burns Supper, which we organize as a charity fundraiser, and two others, where I do the the haggis addresses and an immortal memory. (After some humour and extracts from Burns, I finish with my own Immortal Memory poem.) After the Suppers, the tables are cleared and Joyce's band, Celtic Chaos, supplies music while her mother calls Scottish country dances.


Tim Murphy 01-24-2012 12:14 PM

Happy Burns Day, dear colleagues. I'm teaching Burns tomorrow to my high school kids, and we're starting out with the Immortal YouTube.

ChrisGeorge 04-14-2012 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by John Beaton (Post 140116)

Good work, John. I have attended a number of the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore events and wrote their Bicentennial history. I have never given the Address to the Haggis though and admire the passion and emotion you put into it, with the helpful hand gestures that enable a modern audience to better understand what is being said in the Scottish dialect. Enjoyed the video! Incidentally, the scene in the video could as easily be here in Baltimore and even some of the faces look the same but that must be sheer coincidence, I think!

John Beaton 04-16-2012 02:58 AM

Thanks, Chris. It sounds as though you are quite involved in these events too.

We completed our 10th annual fundraiser this year, again selling out the 160 tickets well in advance. We also participated in several other Burns Suppers, with some fearsome press coverage.


ChrisGeorge 04-23-2012 10:48 AM

Hi John

That's a ferocious look on your face in that newspaper photograph and it's good to see you treating the puddin' in the proper way!

All the best


ChrisGeorge 05-08-2012 02:32 AM


Originally Posted by John Beaton (Post 140549)
Well, itís a bit of a ridiculous poem, but it has some sort of crowd-appeal.

Hi John

Yes it's a ridiculous poem but the point is that it is written by Robert Burns with relish, and equally delivered with relish by your good self. A rollicking bollocking good time. ;)

Well done once more, John!



John Beaton 01-17-2016 03:42 AM

I've added an "Immortal Memory", a poem workshopped on TDE during its heyday. There's the old haggis-stabbing too.


Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge (Post 244685)
Hi John

Yes it's a ridiculous poem but the point is that it is written by Robert Burns with relish, and equally delivered with relish by your good self. A rollicking bollocking good time. ;)

Well done once more, John!



Nigel Mace 01-17-2016 04:01 AM

A very bold endeavour to laud Burns in his ain verse, brawly and bravely done - and a Happy New Year, John. Lest further contributions to this thread lead to objections about 'bumping up' old threads, I shall create a new, but connected, one, where I hope we can prolong our meeting.

Gail White 04-27-2016 01:20 PM

Are we ever going to get a new distinguished performance?

Julie Steiner 08-30-2016 01:18 PM

Apparently not. Unless you're volunteering. Hint, hint.

David Anthony 08-30-2016 02:12 PM

Watching the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, it seems to me that Scotland will never leave the Union, whatever the Scots Nats say: too much shared history and aspiration.

John Whitworth 10-30-2016 07:41 AM

Should anyone ask me I will give a rousing rendition of any Burns poem you care to name. If it is Tam O'Shanter, then lock your bairns away lest they have bad dreams.

Five tomahawks wi' bluid red usted.;
Five scymitars wi' murder crusted,
A garter hich a babe had strangled;
A knife a father's throat had mangled -
Whom his ain son o' life bereft-
The grey-hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi' mair of horrible and awefu',
Which even to name would be unlawfu' ...

Re those rebellious Scots. They will not leave the UK because they can't afford to. We have subsdised them generously since 1707.

Bu Alas,there is no celtic word for 'Thank you!'

Ann Drysdale 10-30-2016 12:17 PM

Diolch yn fawr iawn, John.

Mark McDonnell 10-30-2016 03:16 PM

John, thank you, that was spectacular. Honestly. Don't tell my uncle Jim but I've never seen it done better...

'O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:'

Never will a truer word etc...

Jim Hayes 05-16-2019 08:03 AM

The Gaelic for thank you is Maith aguit, pronounced ma (short vowel) agut.

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