Monday 25th January is Burns Night, celebrating Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Traditionally, Scots and others celebrate with a Burns Supper and many will have already taken place, over the weekend. I believe Sophie (Englishwoman of this parish) may even have been seen at one of them.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was not only a poet, he was also an exciseman, operating on the borders with England. Hardy smugglers used to cross from England to Scotland via the Solway Firth, because the excisemen would be waiting on the land route to levy their duties. If you could nip across the Firth – by the ford – you could probably avoid duty altogether.
Of course, if you were caught in the Solway quicksands, you might not see Scotland again. Ever.
England is that grey strip across the sands & quicksands of the Solway Firth
Writers, like witches, seem to get on with cats. And not just slinky, sexy writers like Colette, of whom you might expect it, but grumpy old war-reportin’, game-fishin’, hard-drinkin’ Hemingway, of whom you certainly wouldn’t.
I’ve lived with several cats over the years. I can see that it’s not for everyone. But I find it fun. Basically, it takes negotiation.
My present feline companion, TK, arrived with a bad case of nerves and the hump. He hid behind the books in the bookcase, only emerging to throw up. Hid again. When I left the room in search of cleaning materials, he made a dive for some high ground and set up camp, prepared to repel all comers.
His little face sprouted whiskers roughly comparable to five o’ clock shadow. He looked like a bottle brush. A fierce bottle brush.