Friday, January 24, 2020

Burns Night In The Divided Nation

Things are getting tense north of the border.

It was announced on 21st January that Scotland has tumbled in the ‘wellbeing index' for developed countries.

Oh dear. We fell five places by being more hopeless than we were in areas of inclusivity, income, longevity, education.  We are now behind counties like Estonia and the Czech Republic.

The promised improvements in health and education are just not coming through.

Here’s a quote from the Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Scotland is a great place to live but our government has failed to get to grips with fundamental challenges facing our economy and our society.

“Rather than spend more years distracted by the prospect of an independence referendum, the Scottish Government should be focusing on tackling serial failings in health and education. Unless there is a change of approach we will continue to fall further behind our international compatriots."


And Nicola has just announced she wants another final push towards independence. Although the last general election saw more SNP MPs being returned, their % vote is still very much in the minority so times are interesting. And there is the big question as to what effect the trial of the ex-leader Alex Salmond for sexual offences will have on Sturgeon’s leadership. There will be questions, I'm sure about how much she knew.

                                           Stuffed Haggis rather than haggis stuffing
                                                                      from the internet

Meanwhile, this time of the year bring up another controversy that is growing in the media. Burns Night is two days away and  haggis is as traditional at Burns Night as turkey is at Christmas, (actually turkey is not traditional at Christmas, Goose in but we nicked the turkey idea from across the pond).  


This year videos have been posted online of illegal haggis hunting, almost ’how to' instructional videos for something that is technically classed as an A1 felony.

                                     A still from the video, again from the internet

To be clear, the lowland haggis, from the borders, is up for grabs. They are usually farmed, (most of them now free range as they don't do well in factory farming conditions– they don’t put on enough weight to make them marketable as ‘meat yield.’)    And living close together seems to breed infection.

                                                 Not a haggis, not my own pic!

 Being a veggie, I haven’t eaten  haggis for over 40 years but people who do eat it say that farmed haggis does not taste the same as wild or free range.  The taste is slightly tainted and diluted by the restricted diet and the anti biotics. And the lack of exercise, I suppose as steak is basically muscle. I've heard the same thing said about farmed salmon.


                                            Wild haggis, in fact you can tell its furious!
                                                       Again, not my picture

 So while it is legal to hunt the wild low land haggis, not many people do... until that video was posted on YouTube. It was, under the guise that haggis do carry TB to domestic livestock which is  a total untruth according to most vets. I presume somebody saw this written about a badger and translated that to haggis. Some haggis do have a Mallen streak  but they are smaller than badgers and live in a totally different type of habitat.
                                              Not a haggis.... but as close as  can get.

The highland haggis remains  protected by law. I think the queen can hunt them when there is an 'r' in the month but never does as she would find herself ‘unqueened’ very quickly.  They remain  good for tourism, good for  postcards, people are fascinated by them running around the hills- always round the contour lines, always the same way round the hill as they have shorter legs on one side than they  do on the other. It’s not obvious until they are captured and the leg length compared but the DNA analysis is proving interesting  as it's a familial genotype that dictates what 'herd' goes what way round the ben. And that suggests they might be more sociable than has been ever thought. they remain very shy though. they keep out the way of humans, they are very few sightings apart from by those under the influence of alcohol as it's thought the haggis can be drawn out by the smell of  a good malt. And this fact has been exploited to horrific effect in the 'how to catch them ' video.

                                 The central belt acts as a barrier between the two species, and there has been no cross breeding them outside research laboratories.

                                              Young Haggling..... ( from the internet)

The video in question is on line if you want to find it. It involves a bucket, a bottle of whisky and a shovel.    The larger haggis can escape the bucket with the whisky which means the trapped haggis tends to be weaker, less robust and therefore less profitable.

A bit like the entire country.

So a blog of two halves.  I'll let you decide which bit is fictional, politics being what they are.

Caro Ramsay
24 January 2020


  1. As I sit boozing' I' the nappy, blah blah blah.

    Did you know that there once was an African haggis? They were found only at the mouth of the Niger. In January 1798, a boat from Bristol was shipwrecked thereabouts. Most of the crew were from Glasgow, and on the 24th January, they went into the jungle and killed the last four haggises (haggi?) for the pot. There is no record of whether they were tasty, and no record of what they used for bagpipes. The only record is that a third of the sailors died on the 26th of January.

    1. I believe it's scientific fact that the more one drinks alcohol the more haggis one sees. Interesting re the African link. DNA links are showing common sequential strands with the pangolin, platypus and Boris animals that make you think 'how did that even happen ?'

  2. I don't know about the Haggis, but between the Scottish Salmond and Sturgeon in government, I'd say something's fishy o'r yur way.

  3. It's very fishy that our government are very koi on such matters....