There's no Burn’s night in Beijing, and no haggis. But we have whisky.
Oddly enough, many Chinese seem to believe that ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is a traditional Chinese song (they have no new year’s songs of their own, in spite of the importance of the event). Odd that they should accept a song from a man of Ayrshire who wrote it just a few years before another man whose family originally came from Ayrshire, Lord McCartney, initiated the “century of humiliation” with his notorious visit to the imperial court. Scots were always in the forefront of imperialism.
My mother was Glaswegian by birth, and like many Scottish families we had a plate hanging on the kitchen wall with the Selkirk Grace, adapted and improved on an old Galloway grace which he recited at a dinner with the 4th Earl of Selkirk:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
The plate was kitsch, the words perhaps corny, but compared to many others it is a sincere grace.
It makes me think of the wonderful eighteenth century poet Christopher Smart, confined to a lunatic asylum, who always wanted people to pray with him. The great critic and his friend Samuel Johnson asserted that "I'd as lief pray with Kit Smart as any one else." That's my feeling about the Selkirk Grace. If I have to say grace, that's the one.
So no haggis tonight. Just a glass of Ardbeg and a silent grace.