Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Burns Night? There's an app for that

It's hard to imagine anything more steeped in tradition (even if much of it is rather artificial tradition) than Burns Night. Yet those nice people in the Scottish government have managed to put a few of their Scottish pounds aside to drag Burns Night into the 21st century by producing a Robert Burns iPhone app.

If you've ever been to a Burns Night celebration (and I hope all photographs of my improvised kilt have, by now, been destroyed) you will know that as well as consuming haggis, neeps, tatties and whisky (never, ever, whiskey) it is traditional to recite from the works of the great Robert. Download this free little app and you will have 558 of hisself's poems to hand, enough to last more than an evening.

I do find it quite amusing that the press release describing the app makes a big thing of Auld Lang Syne. We are told: ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as being one of the top three most popular songs in the English language.  The other two are ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’. It seems they didn't watch the episode of QI where it was pointed out that Burns didn't write Auld Lang Syne - he said himself he only wrote down a well-known verse and there is evidence of it well before his birth.

But after all we are dealing with the stuff of legend here, and Rabbie (as apparently he never, ever referred to himself) is certainly worth celebrating. So lift your iPhones and recite with me...

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