Recently I went on a Food Hygiene course and the instructor showed us this … not nice, is it? I asked if it was a computer mock-up but apparently not. Some poor soul actually bought this loaf of bread, with hidden extras.
And then it’s been Burns’ day recently and I’ve just come back from a weekend away with a group of friends, celebrating the bard’s anniversary in a small-scale but vigorously authentic (sangs an clatter) event. One of Burns’ most famous poems is of course ‘To a Mouse’ – it seems that he was out in the field ploughing one day, and inadvertently turned up a mouse’s nest. ‘Thy wee bit hoosie, noo in ruin / Its silly wa’s the winds are strewin / An naething noo tae bigg a new ane …’ etc. It’s probably the best known poem in Scotland because we were all made to learn it at primary school! In fact I think I won a prize in Primary 5 for reciting it at the annual Burns Federation competition.
I recently found a poem written in reply, by Liz Lochhead, entitled ‘From a Mouse’. She explains that she comes home one day to her ‘slattern’s kitchen’ and finds a cheeky wee mouse sitting up in her wok, washing its whiskers and boasting about its fame:
Plockton to Peebles, Dumfries to Dundee,
If a wean kens ony poem aff by hert, it’s Me!
Will greet ower ma plough-torn nest, no see
The bit o’ a gap
Atween the fause Warld o’ Poetry
An baited trap.
Lochhead is right. Sentimentality about mice? No thank you, Rabbie.