Fiona Duff: Burning with Unbroken enthusiasm

Calum Colvin portrait of Robertrt Burns after Archibald Skirving(
Calum Colvin portrait of Robertrt Burns after Archibald Skirving(
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So, I’m on haggis countdown. Next Thursday is, of course, Burns Night and while we are not attending any formal celebrations, we will sit down to the full enchilada. Although that sounds more Mexican than Scottish, I’m sure you know what I mean.

I do like a proper Burns Supper with speeches and all that malarkey – last year I went to one and I still quote some of the jokes told in the Toast to the Lassies, as it really was very funny indeed.

However, having said that, it’s great to see a new festival starting next week inspired by all things Burns but bringing it into the 21st century. Burns Unbroken will be running at Summerhall for six weeks and brings together amazing artists, interesting performers, talks and, as you would expect, some whisky tasting sessions courtesy of Isle of Arran whisky.

If you do make your way to this amazing building by the Meadows don’t expect anything too traditional. The art on the walls is all created by some of the best contemporary artists around from the Chapman Brothers, Douglas Gordon, Calum Colvin and even Holly Johnson. Yes, him from Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and why no one has come up with a pun about Holyrood is beyond my ken.

Next Saturday will see an Alternative Burns Night performed by some of the Neu! Reekie! Crowd – I believe that once you see their Tam O’Shanter it will never seem the same again.

It’s all such an important part not only of our history but also of our future.

Somewhere I read Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for International Development and Europe, saying “Haggis, whisky and tartan are just part of the story but the boost that Burns and his works give to Scotland’s export economy is very welcome and set to continue for many generations to come.”

So go to Summerhall and spend the day looking at art and listening to talks. There’s a café in case you need to sit down for a bit, but I am not sure if they do haggis paninis.