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Great Britain - Robert Burns

A personal reflection by Mike Shepley

Burns Night (January 25th) celebrates the birthday of Scotland's greatest national poet, whose words, verse and song are celebrated worldwide.

He is Rabbie Burns and Scotland's favourite son, sometimes referred to as the Ploughman Poet, Robden of the Solway Firth or the Bard of Ayrshire. All things to all men … and with affection most often simply known as The Bard.

January 25th sees global celebrations of Robert Burns (born January 25, 1759 died July 21, 1796) at traditional Burns Suppers from Alloway (Burns’ birthplace in Scotland) to the far corners of the earth - if such places exist.

The downfall of Tam in Burns' wonderful poem ‘Tam O'Shanter’ was ale and Scotch whisky, or perhaps a combination of them both! Later, in the same poem after Tam has incurred the wrath of a coven of witches at Alloway Kirk which then give chase, he is only saved from certain doom and disaster by the bonny banks of the River Doon. Once across the bridge, the witches cannot follow.

In one of my paintings, that hangs in my dining room, the face of Tam was replaced by that of a younger, bearded Shepley.

While I have been on the back of a horse and oft supped good ale, fine wines and an occasional dram, I have never to my knowledge been chased by a witch!

Tonight, for I write this on January 25, 2012, thousands of haggis will be shared at Burns Suppers not just in Scotland but throughout the world such is the magic of the man.

It is inevitable that many will recite Tam O'Shanter but at every celebration without fail there will be an ‘address’ to our noble haggis. The powers that be have interfered often enough with our fisheries, politics and well-being, but never will they be able to replace the unique haggis which reigns supreme as one of the world's greatest ‘sausages’.


(Above left) Mike Shepley (2nd from right) in traditional attire with his wife Cheryl and chefs at the J W Marriott Dubai; (Above right) Mike Shepley at his home in Scotland
         

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