The Columnist
  National Poetry Day
Motorway Ballad
  La Monolog Victorienne
  Marmaduke, the White Knight
  Elegie Composee dans un Rural Churchyard
  Clive James
A Salute to Rabbie Burns
  Oedipus & his mum
  The Ballad of the Middle Laner
  Railway Ballad
  Roman Road
  Ballad of Belmarsh Gaol
  The Bishop of Bath & Wells






I sing a song of Scotland
The bit in the far south-west
- I like all bits of Scotland
But that bit I like the best -
For there it was a year ago
My wife and I went away
To take a little breather,
In Dumfries and Galloway.
And as we drove through Dumfriesshire
We saw a wayside hall
Which had the following data
Painted on the wall:-
“Oh here lived Robert Burns Esq
The famous Scottish bard;
You can take a look inside;
We take cash or credit card”.
‘So that is where the great man lived!’
I said, unto my wife.
‘It isn’t much of a place to live,’
She said: ‘It wasn’t much of a life.’
We drove along a mile or two
And came to a wayside farm
Which had the following notice
Dangling from an arm:-
‘Oh, this is the ancient homestead
Where Robert Burns once dwelt!
Come inside and buy his books
Or a sporran, or a kilt!
‘So that is where the great man lived,’
I said unto my spouse.
She said: ‘It’s probably where he lived
When not at the other house!’
But as we drove around that week
We spotted many a place
With very similar claims to fame
Painted on their face.

We saw a sign in Dumfries town
Which said, defiantly:
‘Here Robert Burns had a quick drink
While moving to Kirkcudbright.’
Oh, Robert Burns wrote many a verse
And many a famous rhyme,
And it beats me how he managed it
While moving all the time.
And as one day we visited
Burns’s birthplace - the third we’d seen -
The other two were at Stranraer
And this one at Gretna Green
I asked my wife beside me
If she could possibly see
How Burns spent all his life moving
And still wrote poetry.
She said: ‘The man was a genius.
He very cleverly laid
The basic infrastructure
For his future tourist trade.
So many different premises
From Dumfries to Stranraer -
I don’t think much of his poetry
But I love his gift for P R!’
So everyone raise your glasses
I think a toast is in order
For a man who moved so often
But never south of the border!

Doggerel for Burns Night Jan 24th 1998


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