29 August 2010

"To a Foulkes..."

Soon, Holyrood will be entering its four-year moment of flux. The people will cast their ballots, old faces will be politely but firmly shown the door. New sprightly souls will whizz through the  Parliament's portals, all green sap. 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' rarely
In whitrat cape ~
Geordie, ha' no fears o' dinin' sparely
In 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 dinner
From 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 unsettle
Your 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 Knight
O' 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 louse
Nor haste ye back tae our Parlie House;
Tak' time your gizzard flames tae douse
"Slàinte mhath" on baronial expenses
Wi' medicinal drams or ten o' Grouse ~
Think o' political life in past tenses.

O wad some Power the gift tae gie you
To 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...


  1. “What signifies the life o' Lairds, An' 'twere na for the glasses O"

    Forgive us Rab...

  2. Empty grow the glasses, o';
    Empty grow the glasses o'
    The sweetest hours that e'er I spend
    Are spend among the glasses, O'

  3. My Laird, he has a red red nose

    That often runs in June

    My Laird, he is a malady

    Thank fuck he's goin soon

  4. The Lairdie, discumnockerated at last!

  5. I'm sure His Lordship is grateful for my memorialisation of his life. I'll earnestly await my thank you card on House of Lords stationary...

  6. The Dey of Auld Reeks, when afraid of his cheeks,
    A messenger sent to our Court, sir,
    As he knew in our State that the women had weight,
    He chose one well hung for the sport, sir;
    He searched the Divan, till he found out a man,
    Whose b--l--ks were heavy and hairy,
    And he lately came o'er, from auld Caledons shore,
    As the great Plenipotentiary.

    When to England he came, with his p-----k in a flame,
    He shewed it his hostess on landing,
    Who spread its renown thro' all parts of the town,
    As a pintle past all understanding;
    So much there was said of its snout and its head,
    That they called it the great Janissary,
    Not a lady could sleep, till she got a sly peep,
    At the great Plenipotentiary,

    As he rode in the coach, how the whores did approach,
    And stared, as if stretched on a tenter,
    He drew every eye of the dames that pass by,
    Like the sun to its wonderful centre;
    As he passed thro' the town not a window was down,
    And the maids hurried out to the area,
    The children cried, "Look, there's the man with the cock,
    That's the great Plenipotentiary."

  7. A rousing lyric, Mark. If that's the phrase...

  8. I toyed with nine inches doth please a laddie, but felt it might be misinterpreted...