Misinformed, angry, coffee-addled ranting.
Tonight brings what for many people is the most important cultural event of the year. No, I’m not referring to the Royal Rumble, though questionable clothing and out-of-control violence are certainly present. In fact, I am talking about Burns’ Night.
For the uninitiated, Burns’ Night (or a Burns Supper) is celebration of the life and poetry of Scottish literary icon Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns. Whilst responsible for some of the most iconic and well respected literature ever produced in Britain, one has to question the linguistic prowess of a man who didn’t realise there’s no ‘a’ in Robert. Nonetheless, Burns Nicht is celebrated all over Scotland (and indeed in many other places worldwide) and the celebration typically features more outlandishly Scottish stereotypes than a heroin-fueled Caber-Toss between Groundskeeper Willie and Ewan McGregor.
Tonight, millions of people will be downing copious amounts of whiskey, scoffing Haggis and somehow pretending they genuinely enjoy the sound of bagpipes. Although, thinking about it, that may explain the whiskey. Whilst previously confined to Scotland and to traditional Burns Appreciation Societies, Burns’ Night has in recent years enjoyed a surge in popularity in much the same way as St. Patrick’s Day, most likely due to the ripe opportunity for excessive drinking and casual racism.
My girlfriend is half Scottish, and so this year for the first time I’ve been thrust into this terrifying Tartan cult ritual. She told me that to celebrate the occasion, she would be making Scottish Tablet. I said something about an ‘Och Aye Pad’ and, long story short, she’s moving out.
In an attempt to win her back, I went through my record collection to compile a playlist of Scottish music. After digging out Sunshine on Leith (and discovering that it is physically impossible to be unhappy whilst listening to 500 Miles), I found myself with a healthy mixture of indecipherable Dundee-ramblings by The View, as well as countless other offerings from England’s drunken neighbour.
Until I did this, I genuinely believed that the most overtly Scottish song in my collection was a song from the 1950s called Hoots Mon by Lord Rockingham’s XI. Based on the old Scottish folk song, ‘Wi a Hundred Pipers, Hoots Mon is largely instrumental with the occasional interjection of ‘Och Aye!’ or ‘Hoots Mon!’ thrust in. The only thing that could make this more stereotypical would be someone shouting “MON THEN YA CUNT!” at the end, and then headbutting the microphone.
However, it turns out, I’d overlooked something. Nuzzled safely in the bosom of my iTunes library was the record holder for The Most Glaswegian Song Ever Made, Go Square Go by Glasvegas. If you haven’t heard this song, do yourself a favour and check out the lyrics. There’s a certain aggressive beauty to “Here we, here we, here we fuckin’ go!” that can’t be matched by anything this side of the border. Indeed, Billy Connolly has spoken on several occasions about how the English language lacks the necessary gravitas and certainty of a good Scottish “FUCK OFF!”. They just do swearing so much better.
This whole thing got me thinking. Rabbie Burns is great and all (who doesn’t love murmering their way through Auld Lang Syne with their arms contorted into an uncomfortable pretzel with drunken buffoons every year?), but the man’s been dead for over 200 years. Perhaps it’s time to nominate a new hero of the Scottish language. There’s plenty of well respected writers, poets and wordsmiths around, but my vote would go for someone somewhat left-field. I believe the new Poet of the People should be not some namby-pamby pen pusher, but rather professional wrestler Grado.
Dubbed “The Chubby Wee Chancer Fae the Tap End of Stevenson”, Grado combines the acid-tongued verbal obliteration of Frankie Boyle with the non-threatening whimsy of Archie from Balamory. Because, despite all the lyrical beauty of Burns’ works, and all the impressive achievements of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, nothing sums up modern-day Scotland more than a somewhat overweight man in a bum-bag incoherently jabbering away in a foul-mouthed yet adorable tirade of nonsensical aggression.