Mearns Probus Club

The president welcomed Iain Rae from Edzell to speak to club members on the subject of Robert Burns’ poems, especially Tam o’ Shanter.

Iain resides in Edzell, having retired after many years in the administration at Sunnyside Hospital and some 10 years with Visit Scotland.

He has recently completed an Honours Course with the Open University as well as two other degrees since retirement.

Not bad for someone who is now an octogenarian?

He began by reciting the whole poem or tale of Tam o’ Shanter – word perfect too – then went in to the background of how and where it was written.

After spending an afternoon with Jean Armour on the banks of the River Doon, Burns compiled the poem while Jean rested and he strutted about.

He then went home and wrote out the words, a remarkable feat for one day’s work.

The characters were reputedly based on real life friends and colleagues, who gave their approval for their inclusion.

One other point that Iain made was that the farmer (Tam o’ Shanter) had indeed been to Ayr and sold cattle that day then imbibed rather too much.

On returning to Ayr to retrieve his famous hat, it was found at the scene with the money for his cattle still intact inside the hat.

The speaker then recited a few more of Burns’ work showing the humanity and observations within and still relevant today.

Alex Finlayson thanked Iain on behalf of the club members, for an entertaining and enlightening talk.