"Toast to the Lasses"

Mr Chairman, Gentlemen

O wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us !
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, an' foolish notion :
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, an' ev'n devotion !

Perhaps if I had thought of this I would not have accepted Angus's invitation to come here tonight.

I've just been told that there are no neeps in Vienna - I thought that Vienna was fu' o' neeps!!

I thought I wid not make it here tonight. I hurt my back this morning. You see:

My wife is ill - she's not that well
In fact she's quite unsteady
I had to carry her down the stairs this morning
To get my breakfast ready.

I would like to start by apologising for my lack of linguistic skills. I was born and brought up in Buchan, North East Scotland. Bottle fed wi' usquebah instead of milk and taught to speak pure Doric, not Scots. I've lived in Austria now for 20 months and perhaps should be speaking in a language that you understand, but, even 'though I tried tape learning courses and an intensive language course, I am only just beginning to be able to speak... English!!! Ich spreche kein Deutsch!!!

The Lasses. How can anyone understand how their minds work?

It was difficult over two hundred years ago and is no different today. Burns compared it with the ever changing winds :

Tho' women's minds, like winter winds,
May shift, and turn, an' a' that,
The noblest breast adores them maist,
A cons
equence I draw that.

It's no different here in Austria, in Scotland or even across that big puddle, the Atlantic Ocean. How can these wicked women harass that poor, innocent, defenceless man? What are Monica, Paula, Linda thinking about?

In my search for material for this, I've had access to two huge institutions that did not exist in Burns day, the Internet and the UN. Both these sources are full of very, very useful, essential information. For example,

I was in the UN building yesterday and read from a secret file, results of a survey of American women

When asked if any would sleep with President Clinton, 86% said "Not again!"

The UN has many people working very hard to clarify definitions of words and phrases, work essential for peace keeping in the worlds sensitive trouble spots, for example :

Robert Burns knew a little about marriage and mistresses.
He wrote about marriage:

That hackney'd judge of human life,
The Preacher and the King,
Observes: 'The man that gets a wife
He gets a noble thing.'

But how capricious are mankind,
Now loathing, now desirous!
We married men, how oft we find
The best of things will tire us!

It beats me why people get married now a days, and to do it twice must indicate some major psychiatric problem.

My first wife was very like Kate, Tam o'Shanters wife. She thought that if I was going to the pub for "five minutes" to "have a pint", that I would return in five minutes having had one pint!!!

But, while I was at the pub I was not thinking about home and "her indoors"

Cutty sarks, tippenny and usquabae made me forget that across:

As soon as I arrived in Austria I knew that I would be better off. I'd save 20p a day by not buying the Sun - Palmers and others have kindly provided page three posters on almost every corner here ! And, of course, I don't need the paper for the news; I can get it on the wonderful local radio ...... BBC World Service on short wave!!

Which brings me on to beauty

Burns wrote many songs and poems about beauty:

My love is like a red red rose
Thats newly sprung in June.
My love is like a melody
Thats sweetly played in tune.

I have a question. Has anyone here fallen into a rose bush recently ? The thorns can be like a womens toung, and do as much damage.

Burns also realised that beauty is not everything:

A bonnie lass, I will confess
Is pleasant to the e'e;
But without some better qualities
She's no a lass for me.

I read an article recently about women and work and was interested to see that, in the future, women will do most jobs that involve stooping, lifting, getting wet and dirty and most unskilled industrial work. When I re read it I found, unfortunatly, it was speaking about the past.

I always share 50:50 with my wife. e.g. I drove here tonight and she will drive home. That must be fair.

I'm just about throu in case anyone needs to go to the toilet. This raises a question:

Why do the lasses go to the toilet in two's or three's ? If we men did that, everyone would speak about us?

Burns had at least 7 kids to three different women. The making of these children must have been hard work. While I was studying at Aberdeen Medical school I learnt of a North African tribe who really have the right idea. As soon as the woman gives birth, she goes straight back to the fields to work and the man has a week in his bed, to rest!

The lasses may have a few faults but it would be a gye dull world without them I agree with Burns when he writes :

Their tricks an' craft hae put me daft,
They've ta'en me in, an' a' that;
But clear your decks, an' here's the Sex!
I like the jads for a' that.

Would the men please rise, raise your glasses and drink:

" to the Lasses! "


Toast given by Alan M Laing at Burns Supper in Vienna on 30th January, 1998

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