Some tribunes, however, are pre-empting the Scottish public's verdicts and have already decided to scuttle on their merry ways, to institutions and pastimes new. Just this week, former First Minister Jack McConnell has confirmed that he too is leaving us. The departures of a few choice individuals merit memorialisation in heroic verse. We've already said our farewells to Baillie Bill Aitken. With the intercession of Calliope, I was able to coax the wraith of Robert Burns into composing this piece in honour of every cybernat's favourite Labour representative in Holyrood, Lord George Foulkes. Inspiration is cruelly lacking in the afterlife - something to do with all of the white, white clouds, I imagine - so our national poet sneakily ripped off his own earlier work without telling me, disappearing in a puff of ectoplasm before I could lodge my bitter complaints about this scofflaw, sharp poetical practice. It could be worse, I suppose. Burns selected his existentially reflective account of a gambolling, mischief-making intruder blighting a lady's otherwise fetching hat in To A Louse as the model for his Foulksian encomium. Heaven knows what could have warranted the comparison...
To a Foulkes
So ye're gaun at last, ye Lairdly ferlie?Your impudence protect you sairly!'Tis time again for struttin' rarelyIn whitrat cape ~Geordie, ha' no fears o' dinin' sparelyIn sic a place!
Ye bumptious, waddlin', blastit scunner,Bletherskite, neep-heid, cloun an' sinner,Holyrood, ye set your rump upon Her ~Sae fine a Parlie!Gae somewhere else and seek your dinnerFrom some o'er Body!
Swith! To the Lunnon Parlie throttle:There ye may slurp, then sprawl, then sprattle,Wi' ither kindred Barons prattle;O'er laws and nations;Where votes nor proles ne'er dare unsettleYour scarlet plantations.
Pray haud you there! Ye're out o' sight,Wrapped in your ermines, snug an tight -Fie! Gob ye yet? Ye'll not be right,Till ye don it ~The vera tapmost, tow'rin KnightO' Thistle's bonnet!
Mebbe we'll mind your nose (absentee),As plump an' red as onie bramble;Or yearn for your most rascally o' rambles:We'll melancholically whoopee ~"O' for Eckbane, lost Clatterbag o' scandal!O' for flyter Foulksie!"
"O for a soul wha's bletheration reigns!"
Ye mind they Saltire paintit trains?
You owned your constipaitit pains
Agin 'em, in crabbit coonsel!
Yer eediocy boasts as many grains
As the desert, ye wabbit scoondrel!
Laird Jambo, dinna play the louseNor haste ye back tae our Parlie House;Tak' time your gizzard flames tae douse"Slàinte mhath" on baronial expensesWi' medicinal drams or ten o' Grouse ~Think o' political life in past tenses.
O wad some Power the gift tae gie youTo see yoursel' as ithers see you!It wad frae mony a blunder free you,An foolish notion:What gobshite airs an traits might leave you -Even Union devotion!
~ Robert Burns, on hearing that Labour MSP Lord George Foulkes would leave Holyrood in 2011 for the warmer climes of the Hoose o' Lords...