The Bard’s Oration 2016
The New P.A. System
I recall Jim Tait, one-time Bard elsewhere,
Talking of what was required,
Some humour, some rhyme, some topical thought,
And with a bit of luck you’ll be heard.
So thinking of what I should speak on tonight,
I casted back o’er the past year,
What was the big story during that time,
About which I should talk to you here?
Refugees, Wars, Austerity, Squabbles,
Nothing much has changed in my time,
Inability of Men, to get along,
All covered by Burns in rhyme.
Try as I might I couldn’t decide,
The most topical News of the Day,
Then notice came through, that shook to the core,
‘Let it Blaws’ got a new P. A.
Oh Jim, can I justify making my topic,
A new bag of plugs and adaptors,
Wee microphones so we don’t have to shout,
And for those who’ve gone deaf, muckle speakers.
Perhaps some history might be the answer,
Or maybe the latest mass-murder,
On the streets of America, a place that I love,
Where guns threaten laws and disorder.
So let’s cover it all in the course of my Rhyme,
I hope it’s of interest, my cronies,
I’ve decided to start, by picking a year,
Then enlighten you all with its stories.
So in my year of our Lord, the Boer War ended,
That’s the first one, not the one later,
Ian Falconer will tell you tales of the fight,
Before he became a school teacher.
Became partners in the Telephone Business,
What would they make of the wee phones now?
Emails, Texting and Pictures.
In this year of our Lord Picasso was born,
Folk like to think Pablo a Painter,
With lines going hear and blobs over there,
Like a wall that was painted by Buckner.
And in that same year, in Florence was born,
Gucci , whose boots became famous,
Cecil B. DeMille came along at that time,
To direct and produce moving pictures.
Anna Pavlova was born in this year,
Better known for her Puddin’s than Ballet,
Dying Swans, Nutcrackers, Romeo & Juliet,
Her meringues they always looked perky.
In Ayrshire one of our Greats was born,
Alexander Fleming the scientist,
The good that he did with his Penicillin pills,
Sorted many an ailment and illness.
But many this year, had little grounds for cheer,
As death from the heavens came down,
Tsar Alex the Second was blown up tae bits,
By a bomb in St Petersburg town.
Far nearer to home in this year of our Lord,
Almost two hundred fishermen sailed,
From Eyemouth to Hell in the face of a storm,
Only one boat ever returned.
The Eyemouth Disaster is one of those things,
In Scotland will ne’er be forgotten,
A hundred and Eighty-nine fishermen lost,
Countless families their loved ones were taken.
In this year of our Lord one Thomas Carlyle,
Philosopher, Satirist, Historian,
At Westminster Abbey was offered internment,
Chose a grave in old Ecclefechan .
I have to assume he preferred local tarts,
To those you can find down in London,
For there’s nothing like a guid ‘Fechan tart,
While you swally a healthy libation.
But some things don’t change, and in the USA,
In this year of our Lord long ago,
Folk were being shot at left and right,
As the bullets they pinged to and fro.
None worse than James Garfield, the President no less,
Shot in the back at Washington Station,
It wasn’t the bullets that killed the top man,
But infection caused by his Surgeon.
He’d been poking about looking into holes,
To see where the shot penetrated,
Even called Alexander Graham Bell to assist,
With a metal finding thing he’d invented.
Bell couldn’t find the bullet, try as he might,
And hope for recovery faded,
It seems that some bugs got into his blood,
And his condition deteriorated.
Meanwhile the Indian chief Sitting Bull,
Leader of the Great Sioux Nation,
Surrendered on behalf of his People.
He was put into jail and starved for his crime,
Of defending ‘First Nation’ traditions,
And wiping out Custer and the Cavalry too,
Who came tooled up with heavy munitions.
But back to the President on his death bed lying,
Told to eat porridge and cream,
From a coo brought into the White House grounds,
The mess on the lawn was obscene.
Garfield hated the oat meal and milk,
But disliked old Sitting Bull greater,
On hearing the chief was starving in jail,
Sent his porridge to make him feel “better.”
If only Alex Fleming had come a bit sooner,
His cure might have sorted the President,
But alas Garfield died, in October that year,
Just six months after the election.
It wasn’t just the President that died of his wounds,
In this Year of our Lord I’m recalling,
Henry McCarty springs to mind,
Sometimes called William H. Bonney.
But it’s not McCarty or Bonney he’s known,
But as gunman, ‘Billy the Kid’,
Sheriff Pat Garner walked into a bar,
At Fort Sumner, and shot him down dead.
In Tombstone, Arizona, in this year of our Lord,
Fought the ranchers defeating them all.
But, what was going down in Balerno town,
In this age of Pavlova’s Nutcrackers?
What happened here when the President was shot?
And when Sitting Bull hung up his feathers?
What struck Balerno in this year of our Lord,
When Tsar Alex was blown up tae pieces?
Or when Pablo Picasso became Arty Farty,
And Gucci made boots for the Lasses?
What happened here in this year of our Lord,
When the seamen of Eyemouth went down?
Or when ‘Billy the Kid’ was shot by the Law;
And Wyatt Earp ran Tombstone Town.
Well; …….. on the ever memorable 25th January,
In this year of our Lord ’81,
Some Twenty-three Gentlemen sat down thegether,
And proposed the Memory of Burns.
And so was born our beloved ‘Let it Blaw’
In an age of great violence and loss,
But ‘our’ first record talks of Dignity and Charm,
Joviality, Hilarity and Songs.
In January ‘82 in the Minutes of our Club,
At the Supper, George Robertson the Chairman,
Expressed the Club’s sympathy for poor Mrs Garfield,
Wife of the now deid President.
In this year of our Lord, goings-on in America,
Must have seemed a lifetime away,
Here in Balerno, the mills and the crops,
Were the vital issues of the Day.
Has anything changed since 1881,
In America and here at our Suppers?
Has anything changed to make our lives better,
Or are some just destined to suffer?
Has anything changed over all those years,
In the Land where Garfield was felled?
Millions of guns still litter his streets,
And they wonder why kin-folk get killed.
They wonder when countless mass murders take place,
Yet most kids can access a weapon,
It’s called education by gun-totting parents,
Who’ve rejected our Civilisation.
Now Donald Trump with pathetic vile comment,
Seeks Republican nomination,
A terrible threat to world wide peace,
In a Presidential Election.
And look, who’s that? standing there ny his side ?
Alaska’s own ‘Eskimo Nell’
Stands squealing with glee and warmongering drivvel,
Sarah Palin; the idiot from hell.
We would laugh, if it wasn’t so serious,
The thought of Donald Trump rule,
A hairy, dishevelled, modern day Cowboy,
Lacks the dignity of old Sitting Bull.
No, things haven’t changed, since James Garfield died,
In the ‘Land of the Free’ as they call it,
It’ll only get worse, and one day implode,
With their Racism, Gunfire and Violence.
Unlike ‘Let it Blaw’; we’ve raced ahead with the times,
Where we’ve made our ‘greatest’ decision,
After 135 years, of civilised chat,
We’ve now got a P. A. System.