Robbed Burns

I’d been editing all morning, half listening to CBC Radio 2’s Julie Nesrallah in the background. I was about to turn the music off, when she announced a special one-hour tribute to Robbie Burns on this, his celebratory day. I have visited Burns Cottage in Alloway, Scotland, where they have assembled every button and bauble ever touched by the 18th Century poet, so I put on my kilt and sat down to listen. I was ready to keen about my heritage, drink some single malt, and cry my eyes out.

None of that occurred. The musical tribute could have been to Sibelius for all the connection with Burns: there were works by Mendelssohn and Bruch, two clans beyond my ken, mixed in with Beethoven – but at least it was his take on a Burns poem, Behold My Love How Green The Groves.

Finally, at 12:48, the hour almost over, Julie played something more directly connected to her theme, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose. But just just to stick in the sgian-dubh, the dagger a Scot tucks in his stocking, this rendition of one of Burns’s best-known poems was sung by a Welshman, Bryn Terfel. Oh, the ignominy.

That serenade was followed by the theme from Schindler’s List by American composer, John Williams. I got a brain cramp trying to figure out how that possibly related to Robbie Burns. There might have been another tune before 1 p.m., I don’t know, I turned the radio off.

There was no Ode to the Haggis, no Auld Lang Syne, not even a bagpipe solo. As I put my kilt back in mothballs for another more auspicious occasion, I thought, praise be, at least there was nothing from Brigadoon.

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