Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

January 2021 (Vol. 44, Number 07)

Gracing our front cover: A dawning of a new year at Covesea Lighthouse, Moray Coast Trail. Photo: VisitScotland.

The Banner Says…

That’s my Uncle!

For nearly twenty years I spent each January in Scotland. It may not have been the warmest month and I certainly missed out on the long evenings of light but it for me was always a special time to see the country.

I visited many parts of Scotland on its coldest and darkest days and loved it. The nation may have been quieter in terms of tourists and some attractions are not open but sharing Scotland with locals was always enjoyable. I do however have a memory of taking a cruise on Loch Ness and wondering if I would lose extremities to the cold coming off the beautiful waters.

John Cairney

Of course, part of being there in January was celebrating Burns Night. I have managed to attend several Burns Nights around the world and realise how lucky the Scottish community is to have this opportunity to celebrate not only Burns, but Scottish culture and tradition in the midst (for many) of winter. There are many great aspects people enjoy of a Burns Night from hearing poetry, music and connecting with friends. However, for me Burns Night and suppers will always bring back memories of family. The obvious for me is my Uncle, John Cairney, who has been so well known to audiences around both in Scotland and the world through his one man shows about Burns and has been considered one of the leading interpreters of the works of the Bard for many years.

Uncle John came often to Canada where he would perform to audiences at sell out nights hosted by our family. From a young age I helped at these events, it could be clearing plates or setting up chairs and at times, much to my great embarrassment, being dragged up on stage by my Uncle to hold the haggis as he recited an Address To A Haggis. When I was much younger I did blur the lines of Burns and my Uncle. I remember being asked by a lady at a Highland Games if I knew who Robert Burns was. I quite quickly and surely answered: “That’s my Uncle!”

Of course, Uncle John was not Robert Burns, he in fact is a celebrated actor who in addition to connecting many to the works of Burns appeared in feature films such as Cleopatra and Jason and the Argonauts. Uncle John also became an author of several books and has exhibited his artwork as a painter. For me though he remains my Uncle and someone I look forward to seeing, regardless of the month of visit, on my next trip to Scotland.

In this issue

This year many Burns Night’s are not going ahead sadly. However, this month we are still highlighting one of Scotland’s great sons. 1796 was a long time ago, however since the death of Robert Burns he has inspired many people across the globe. From writers to politicians and musicians- Robert Burns legacy has left a global footprint. That footprint was even left on
money, as Burns wrote a poem on a Bank of Scotland guinea note. Amazingly nearly 40 years after his death the skull of Robert Burns was taken from his crypt by phrenologists (those who believe the bumps on your head can explain your personality and character).

This month is Greyfriars Bobby Day. The story of the loyal dog has been woven into Edinburgh folklore for years and the Skye Terrier’s statue is one of the most popular in the city. The statue sits just outside Greyfriars Kirkyard, a place that has been called ‘the world’s most haunted graveyard’-surely that is saying something! The burial ground has quite an illustrious history and is well worth a visit, if you dare.

The pipe band movement has no doubt had a tough year. With band practices and competitions not possible for many. The fraternity of the pipe band movement is without question one of many members with bands all coming together in both competition and friendship. It is good to see new ways bands across the world are both innovating and looking forward to 2021.


As we ring in 2021, I hope the year ahead will be much kinder to the world. I also hope our events can get back on track for 2021 and most importantly we all keep safe. I will of course not be visiting Scotland this month and I look forward to the next time I can look out the airplane window to catch the first glimpses of either Glasgow or Edinburgh and know- I am back.

One thing that this year will bring (in July) is the 45th anniversary of the Scottish Banner, a huge milestone for sure and one that was never expected. So, thank you to our amazing readers, advertisers and supporters and I wish you and yours the very best for the year ahead.

How will celebrate Burns Night or what would you normally do for it? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

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