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Burns Night

As a claims investigator and process server I spend much of my time out of the office and “out” can cover quite an area.  I’ve probably been to most of our County Courts  and there are few major towns and cities I have not visited in the course of my work.

A year or two back I ended up across the Border in a part of Southern Scotland called Dumfries.  It was whilst travelling around Dumfries and Ayrshire that I came to learn a little about one of, if not the, most famous Scotsman of all time, the poet Robert Burns.

As today is Burns Night I thought it might be helpful to tell some of my fellow Sassenach friends and colleagues what it is all about.  I’m sure you know it involves haggis and scotch but there is a little more to it you know!

Robert or Rabbie Burns was born on 25th January 1759 to a farming family in Alloway in South Ayrshire.  He spent many years in poverty and had to work hard as a child which left him with a stoop and poor constitution.  He was lucky enough to receive a good education however and tried his hand at poetry when about 15 years old.

The family’s situation would not permit Robert to take up poetry full-time so he worked in various manual jobs whilst writing his earlier works.  His timetable must have been a busy one as, apart from his work and his literary pursuits, he was also taking a keen interest in the local ladies.  By 1785 his mother’s maid was pregnant and in March the following year an old flame by the name of Jean Armour had twins by him.  Later in 1786 Mary Campbell died of typhus whilst carrying his child.

The pattern continues and one can only assume that Burns’ romantic poetry was remarkably effective.  By 1788 he was back with Jean and they married that year.  Despite his tangled love life he had written a book (Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect) and was intending to emigrate to Jamaica on the proceeds but the work’s success convinced him to stay and he was on the road to fame.  Literary fame notwithstanding, he also took employment as a customs official and moved to Dumfries.

His life was a busy one to say the least and his poor health eventually took its toll and he died on 21st July 1796.  He was just 37 but had already created a huge volume of work, poems and songs, which endure to this day.  He was buried in St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries where his last resting place is marked by the Burns Mausoleum.  Jean Armour is also buried in the same tomb.

There is much more I could tell you about Burns but I will leave you to do a bit of work for yourself if you are interested –why not find out why he became “The people’s poet” in Russia, it’s true!

So all of us at GH Consultants would like to wish all of our Scottish friends and clients a very enjoyable Burns Night – I am sure you will not overdo it with the whisky and haggis, it’s not as if Burns would have approved of excess…….


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