Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy Saint Andrew's Day




Patron saint of Scotland, depiste never actually having been in Caledonia in his lifetime. Home-grown talent from these islands, such as Columba, must have thought they were a shoe-in for the top job but lost out to Andy - today politicians looking for easy popularity with the unthinking masses would no doubt make a song and dance about bloody immigrants taking our jobs...

Saint Andrew's Day is now marked by the First Minister of the Scottish parliament who rides a giant haggis down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, throwing greasy Scotch pies and bottles of Irn Bru to the crowds. Tradition has it that if you are fortunate enough to catch some of this largesse you should take it home and, in the ancient Scottish manner, deep fry them and eat them. You should then experience a vision of Saint Coronary, another important Scots saint. The former head of the Scottish Conservatives was supposed to follow on another haggis, but he was forced to resign after attempting to claim travel by haggis as parliamentary expenses when using it for his own purposes (sorry, that won't mean a thing to anyone who hasn't been following Scottish politics).

And to mark Saint Andrew's Day I visited the very nifty Poetry Archive and had a listen to my favourite living Scottish poet, the wonderful Edwin Morgan (the first National Makar - that's Poet Laureate to non Scots). It's a lovely site with a very good range of wordspinners on it. I like good poetry; I love prose but there are some ideas, feelings and events which poetry can suggest in a way prose cannot (although sometimes very moving prose becomes almost like poetry). Poetry is to literature as jazz is to music; it can be fast or slow, playful or mournful, reflective or full of light but always different. And the best way to hear it is from the lips of the bard - as you can do on the Poetry Archive.

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