All over this past weekend, Burns Suppers have been taking place all over Scotland to honour our national bard. Sometimes I wonder why, though. For all the atmospheric rama of Tam O'Shanter and the poignancy of Ae Fond Kiss, he was not above spouting some misogynist bile.
Not that I'm one to hold grudges, but I do nurse my wrath to keep it warm on this one, The Henpecked Husband:
Curs'd be the man, the poorest wretch in life,
The crouching vassal to a tyrant wife!
Who has no will but by her high permission,
Who has not sixpence but in her possession;
Who must to her, his dear friend's secrets tell,
Who dreads a curtain lecture worse than hell.
Were such the wife had fallen to my part,
I'd break her spirit or I'd break her heart;
I'd charm her with the magic of a switch,
I'd kiss her maids, and kick the perverse bitch.
For sure, the picture he paints of this woman is not a pleasant one, but, frankly, if a man is capable of the last 3 lines, then he deserves everything he gets.
Having said that, the haggis, neeps and tatties are cooking away as I write. Weirdly, it's vegetarian haggis. I'm pretty much a hardcore carnivore (although there are a few rules about whatever meat I eat having had a nice life), and Bob would not be bothered if he never ate meat again. However, his preference is for the real McCoy when it comes to haggis, which I won't touch, cos I think it's disgusting. It's the only time I'll ever knowingly choose a vegetarian option. And before you all start omparing me to the woman in the poem, I'd make a proper one for him if he wanted - although when I say make, I more appropriately mean picking one off the shelf in Morrison's. I mean, there's no way I'm handlling any sheep's stomach.
So, if you're celebrating tonight, have fun - but remember that there are bits of what he wrote that have no place in 21st century Scotland.