Quoting Burns

Way back in the 1950s I was a freelance reporter for a BBC Radio Scotland programme called “Scope” presented by, interestingly, an architect called Michael Laird. My job was to go off somewhere and ask people in the street some daft questions. The programme then edited the answers into an amusing collage and I banked a cheque for four guineas, (£4.20 in today’s debased coinage).

Around this time there was a move to have a plaque put up in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey but some doubted that the character of the poet was elevated enough to merit the honour. We were gey toffe-nosed in those days. I roamed the streets of Selkirk asking innocent citizens if they thought it was a good idea. In the main, they did, despite some reservations.

Then I asked if they liked Burns’s poetry. Everybody everybody said they did. Some even said they were very, very fond of it. So I asked them all if they could quote some of the man’s work.

Of those who could, everyone, yes absolutely everyone said, “My love is like a red, red rose ….” and came to a halt. It must all mean something but, to this day, I’m not sure what.

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