“The Belfast Chronicles” Operation Demetrius: Part I – “In Grannie’s Kitchen”

In Grannie’s Kitchen

(Belfast, 8 August 1971)

I like it here in Grannie’s Kitchen

Grannie’s made a cake

It’s really nice and squishy

Can’t wait to have a taste

Grannie's Kitchen for Blog

Unlike Grannie, I don’t like tea

I’ll have orange juice instead

And if there is no orange juice

I’ll have some Lemonade

 

I like being here in Grannie’s kitchen

It’s smells are very nice

It’s always nice and clean in here

It’s floors are smooth as ice

 

I can keep my socks on here

And skid and skate and skyte

I’d like to live in Grannies house

And if I’m good I might

 

I like it here at Grannie’s table

There’s always nice things on

Like Fairy cakes

And Apple Pies

And tatties

And some scones

Apple Pie in Grannie's Kitchen

And sometimes we get porridge too

But only in the morning

And other kind of other things

It’s never ever boring

 

We also play on Grannie’s table

Tiddlywinks

And snap


And Snakes and Ladders

And One Man Out

And The Minister’s Old Cat

 

Tiddly Winks

Grannie tells us stories

Of days that have gone by

Like about The Queen

Of Engaland (sic)

Who lately had just died

 

She ran off to the Proddy Church

To see the fine parade

She thought she’d see her coffin there

And thought she’d gone too late

Queen Elizabeth's Coffin

Silly her; of course that’s daft

The Queen’s not really here

But in her innocence, she said herself

She’d only just turned eight

 

Another story Grannie tells

Is the one about her brother

Working down The Belfast Docks

In the middle of the Summer

 

The boys worked hard

And played a lot

It really was such fun

Until his pal

A Proddy Man

Tipped him off about The Gun

Belfast Dockers on Boat

It was there he’d heard a rumour

In his old Big Blue Boys Club

That Peter Doyle

The Catholic Boy

That one from off The Falls

Was marked that day

They all did say

His number’s near damn up

 

He’ll have to go

And go today!

No time to tell his Mother

He must go now. On this fine day.

Or never see another

 

On The Boat to Liverpool

Then across the Atlantic Sea

Arriving to America

With no one else but He

On he went to lackys work

And soon eventually

He got a job

Down with the Mob

In the Auto Industry

General Motors 1918

She cried for him

Great Uncle Peter

Grannie’s only brother

Not knowing of his whereabouts

Was torturing his Mother

And finally, a letter!

A good waged job had he

Please tell my Ma’

I’ve kept The Faith

And now finally I’m free

 

Many long years passed

As Grannie reared her young

And one day in mid-winter

He asked her would she come

She got herself a ticket

And sailed the choppy seas

And finally arrived

In America!

And, for Liberty,

She cried

 

A month she spent there with him

Four weeks to reminisce

She met his wife

And daughter

And saw his happy bliss

 

But all too soon, she had to go

The old home horns were burning

And waving from the middle deck

Her stomach was a-churning

 

Her brother; and her only kin

Her blessed lovely soul

Good luck; Godspeed

And keep The Faith

But never come back home

Boat On A Postcard

Then Grannie wipes away tear

And turns to lemonade

She makes it all herself, you see

And all of it’s homemade

 

She squeezes in real lemons now

I watch, and stand up tall

She pours it through a strainer

And it trickles down the wall

 

She says we’ll have it later

As she opens up the pantry

I’ll put it in the fridge for now

And keep it where it’s handy

 

Now on you go, go out to play

Some skipping and tag-tig

And running in the garden

But watch out for the twigs

Homemade Lemonade

 

 

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Going To Waste

Going To Waste
By Keara Murphy
Published
8 March 2019
International Women’s Day

My sleazy boss
Metaphorically
Tossing off
Under his desk
As he quizzes me
On the actions of
The Concierge
Harassing me
Silently
Sleekitly
Sexually

hutchiec_demolition1993

Now my body is in the frame
Policed by the Man
Who’d recently discovered
The term “Sexual Harassment”
At a conference
Involving wine
And networking
And flirting
Promoting himself
Returning to his desk
On Monday morning
With new vigour
To root this practice
Out!
Out. Out.
Out! Out! Out!
He might get a promotion

Twisting his moustache
Around in his fingers
Smirking
Tossing his ginger tresses
Head back
Nose up
Hands wringing
Slowly caressing
His own fingers
As I sat before him
Summoned!
To tell him the tale
The whole tail
And nothing but the tail
Of what the Concierge
Did or did not do to me
In the foyer
Of Queen Elizabeth Square

Out with it!
Out with it!

They must have done something
They must have done something
They. Must. Have. Done. Something!

My breasts
My stomach
My legs
my lips
My face
My Mound of Venus
Belongs to him
On this Monday morning
Across his leather
Polished desk
His eyes fixed on
My breasts
My breasts
Ah!
My breasts
Then penetrates my
Baby Blues
And suggests coffee
Buzzing his receptionist
To fetch it for us
Without breaking
Eye contact
It might loosen my tongue
My tongue
My tongue
Ah!
My tongue

My eyes fixed on his face
As he tosses his
Greasy tresses
Neck stretched
Shoulders back
Nose up
Runs his hand
Down his shirt
Half smiling;
Half smirking
Lingeringly
Leering
And quizzes me
On the “Sexual Harassment”
That I had not reported
Nor want to report
As it was mild
Barely something
Barely anything
Nothing to report

But my female middle-manager
Did have something to report
Her promotion
So she reported it
In writing
So now it is official
I am being Sexually Harassed
By The Concierge
She had been at the same conference
She also drank wine
And networked
And flirted
With her seniour bosses
Promoting herself
She might get a promotion
She must get that promotion
She’s getting that promotion!

The report:
Overheard by someone
Who overheard it
From someone else
Who told it
To Someone else
Who told it to her
And she reported it:
A comment
Addressed to me
From one of
My Men
About me
Leaving for the weekend
The Long Weekend
Me alone in my flat
Going to waste
Such a creature
Such a fine body
Those curves
Uncarressed
Unattended
Unused
Unseen
All alone
On the weekend
Such a waist
Such a thigh
Such a hip
Such lips
Oh! – Such a lalalabia
Going to waste

We must have it out!

She said.

I let it go
One single comment
Spoken in jest
I was undisturbed
I was used to it
Working alongside
16 male security guards
On 24 hour shifts
Over a five-day week
I laughed it off
What are they like!
Men!
A bit of banter.
I know my ‘boys’
No biggie
And they are my friends

His Lordship
In his office
Is now running his eyes
across my 23 year-old body
In fitted skirt;
knitted jumper
Corporation anorak
Hard hat and wellies
A walky-talky in one hand
A portfolio in the other
A pretty face
A strong body
Single white female
A predator’s dream
A Marvel
The power
She wants me
I know
She wants me

Tell me what happened!

Just doing my job
Just doing my job
Tending the 400 flats
On The Estate
No mean task
Ordering repairs
Removing graffiti
Inspecting common areas
Attending viewings
Upkeep
General maintenance
Attending meetings
With the Concierge
The Tenants Association
The Drug Squad
The Social Workers
Development
Taking minutes
Drinking tea
With my team
Mostly male
Nothing happened

He cannot let it go
He needs the facts
What happened that evening
In the foyer
Something must have happened
It’s not in the minutes
Why is it not in the minutes
The unwritten truth
What did they say
What did they do
To you
He needs something
He needs something
He needs something
To put in a report
To send to Head Office
To secure his rise
His Big Promotion

He needs something
Sex!
To gratify himself –
Sex!
Hungover
Sex!
On this
Dreary Monday Morning
Sex!
Let’s get to the bottom
Of it all
Sex!
Let’s get to the bottom
Of it all
Sex!
Let’s get to the bottom
Of it all
Sex!
Let’s get to the bottom of it
Sex!

I’m squirming
Denying
Brushing it off
He’s teasing me
Smirking
Smiling
Leering
I’m straight
Unmoving
Nothing happened

My boss disagrees
Let’s get it out
Let’s get it out
Let’s get it out
Get it out
Get it out
Get it out
NOW!
Come on
Give it to me
Come on
Give it to me
Come on
Give it to me
Come on
Give it to me

What did they do to you!
The Concierge
What did they do to you
On the back stairs
What did they do to you
In the lift
What did they do to you
In The Fire Resistant Shaft
With the Dry Riser
What did they do to you in
The Pump Store
What did they do to you
In The Refuse Block
With the Sprinkler
What did they do to you
In the courtyard
Under the arches
What did they do to you
In the basement
What did they do to you
In The Engine Room
What did they do to you
In the Tea Room
Involving biscuits

They must have done something
They must have done Something
They must have done something

As he looks lustfully
Up and down
My fully clothed
23 year-old
Body
He sees an entry point
In the gap where my anorak
Zip
Is unzipped
My belly
My breasts
My waist
My hips
My arms
At arms length
His hands
Under my jumper

What did they do to you
They must have done something
He can only imagine
Taking off my anorak
He can only imagine
Removing my jumper
He can only imagine
Fondling my breasts
He can only imagine
Slipping off my tights
He can only imagine
Running his hands down my legs
He can only imagine
His hand on my skin
He can only imagine
Kissing my neck
He can only imagine
His lips on mine
He can only imagine
Caressing my arse
He can only imagine
Pressing himself against me
He can only imagine
He and I and the Dry Riser
In The Boiler Room
At midnight
Alone – with noone to hear
My Screams
He can only imagine
I would be submissive
He can only imagine
Me stealing away
Like a wolf in the night
Silent
Invisible

He can only imagine
He can only imagine
He can only imagine

He demanded the CCTV
To be brought to him
To examine it
To have access
All areas
To watch over
Me
To watch over
Me
And over
Me
And over
Me
And over
Me
AGAIN
And oh! Oh! OH!
Oh-oh-oh-ver!
AGAIN

But he could only imagine

He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine
He could only imagine

By Keara Murphy
Published
8 March 2019

Censorship Sleeps and The Mouth Speaks

In the theatre there is no censorship which makes the performers free to express themselves in any way they choose. On television, the performers are not free, they are restricted to a list of rules, so you only see the bits that ‘The Powers That Be’ choose for you to see. Ed Fest Street Theatre Top O The Mile

In theatre you can see the entire scene. You, and you alone, can direct your eye to any part of what is going within the space you inhabit, all around you, at any given moment. It is your eye, not the eye of the camera, that fixes the scene for you.

You can choose to watch the audience – which, in my opinion, is often more interesting: an older woman struggling to open the cap of a tub of Pringles; a child dripping his ice cream all over his new shirt then abandons the cone and starts licking his shirt; a young couple practically having sex in the front row which annoys you a bit and makes you jealous a bit too; the staff at the doors whispering to each other; the vendors trying to keep a happy smile whilst their eyes are dim; the ushers leaning on the back walls and watching the show so intently that they have not noticed you asking them for a program.

burns-the-city-today-different-in-burns-time

You can spend your entire evening staring at the ceiling, the chandelier, the architecture, the fine gilded boxes and being dazzled with moods and intensity and patterns of the the lighting displays.

On screen, we can only imagine the smells of the scene we are given; the scent of the flowers; the roast cooking on a stove; the freshly-baked bread in the oven; the urine soaked-lanes.

And we can only imagine what the velvet, silk and rough hessian that we are looking at feels like under our skin. In order to feel these rich textures, one has to go to the hotel, the stately home, the cafe, the bar, the retail outlet and run these materials through our fingers. Only then can we fully experience its magnificence.

In the theatre, we can smell the polish, the popcorn, the coke, the hot dogs, the ice cream and the wine and the toilet smells (WARNING: this is not a healthy eating blog). And, ironically, these things are the very things that would make one wished that they had stayed at home in a darkened room.

Ed Fest Fringe with Hladkys

My point is, that on television, you are being fed; in the theatre, you are feasting.

Before I go on, let me define ‘theatre’: a space, a performer and an audience. That is all.

Theatre is a social experience. You collectively watch the spectacle and each of you have a unique view – the one you can only have, which is that from your own perspective. No-one in the audience has the same view as you. Your view is unique to you and you alone.

But you share the space. You share the spectacle. You share the audience. You share the noises, smells and textures within and without of the piece and you share the reverberations and euphoria of a collective laugh, sigh, gasp or clap. And at the end of it all you can critique it and discuss it with your friends and some strangers. You were all there. Only those who attended have witnessed what happened. Perhaps only a few of you. Maybe twenty or fifty or one hundred or three hundred.
Ed Fest At Dusk NO THIS IS NOT A PAINTING
Three hundred people sounds like a lot of people – but its not really a very lot compared with those who have watched the same film or TV show – they are usually in the millions and thousands. And they were not actually watching it with you. Nor were they necessarily watching it at the same time, day and hour of you.

They may have watched the same thing that you watched at different times across days, months, decades.

So, in that vein, you have had a unique experience and you have shared it with relatively very few people. You are in a unique club.

Even when the show goes up the next night, only you and those who attended on the night you went, have had the same experiences as you. No live performance is ever the same night after night. Firstly, the audience is different, some performers may have changed, the weather will be different, the actors have changed since the previous evening. And, above all, the audience has drastically changed.

In any act of theatre, you are free in a way that watching a screen does not. There is a place for screen, of course, and 3-D is also interesting – and all that, but with live theatre, you are immersed in a collective experience that is happening at that very place and time. It is LIVE and REAL – even if they are only pretending. And it only involves those who have witnessed it on that day, that hour, that moment. It is unique.

BlueEyedLassie Keara with Camera Cover Shot

And, in the theatre, you can heckle the performer and the artiste will hear you, unlike when you are shouting at the telly – no-one has heard you scream.

In theatre, the performer – especially if it is a comedian – will respond and at this point you will know very quickly what the difference is between the screen and the live event and that is because you will be sweating in your pants, about to piss yourself  – and not in a good way – and then you will finally and definitely know that you are alive.

So, come out of your box and into the street, the tent, the garden, the crumbling facade of that once grande building, the tent, the cave and the underground city passageways – and dance with us, sing with us, free your soul with us, create creative anarchy with us and enter some dens of iniquity with us and get drunk with us Itinerant Minstrels this August whilst ‘Censorship sleeps and the mouth speaks’*

Keara’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe Show 2018 -FREE  

* Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, New Edition, 2000, Pluto Press.

guy-lombardo

 

KEARA’S GREATEST TIPS FOR ATTENDING THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE 2018

Read the entire program before you attend. You could do it in about 2 weeks if you leave out sleeping.

Fringe Brochure 2018

Circle everything that sounds and looks good to you. Then discuss with your peers on stuff they can recommend. Then whittle it down, book a few tickets, diarise a few recommended shows, FREE and PAID.

Google these guys to see what others are saying about them. But make up your own mind.

Book travel and accomm. EARLY! Consider camping. Flat shares etc.


DO NOT ASK TO CRASH ON THE FLOOR OF A FRIEND WHO IS DOING A SHOW AT THE FRINGE. 
JUST NO!

Unless, of course, you are actually sleeping with them at their request.

Bring comfortable shoes; sunglasses; factor 30-50+; light clothing; a jumper; tights; socks; plasters; a raincoat; strong medicine; an umbrella and some AntiFreeze.

Update your Emergency Contact Details; inform a Next of Kin; take all your money out of the bank NOW and keep it inside your pants or bra, as you will have no chance at the large queues at the ATM later – and even if you do get to one with no queue, there will be no money in that one. So you will basically miss everything.

Try not to make eye-contact with every Street Marketeer who smiles at you – it’s a trap.
Only take flyers from agents who properly engage you in a fun, funny and informative way. And those who look like they are about to cry. Take a leaflet from them, and give them some money for lunch and a coke. They may be working for free. I know! It happens! I know it’s wrong. I pay all my staff the going rate. I also feed them.

Keara at Edinburgh Royal Mile

Go to shows that you will never see on telly. See comedians who will never get on telly because they are too ‘radical’ for telly and there is a big queue around the block for them. Get in that queue even if you don’t know their name. The People know. The People always know!

Tip the Free Fringers at least £5 if you liked the show, £8/10 if you really liked it, £15 if you loved it and want the artist to rise up in their career. – Or if you want to sleep with them. If you really want to sleep them give them £20 and buy them a cocktail. It’s a whore’s profession, after all. And we love a cocktail. All kinds of cocktails.

Keara Page on Fringe Brochure

Don’t believe the hype. Go with your instincts. BIG POSTERS are only BIG because some BIG FAT CAT is making money from them. Some of these shows will be great. Some will be good. Some are just bland. And some are bloody dreadful. The artiste won’t make much anyway. Around 10% is the going rate for these paid show. Just saying. (The Stand Comedy Club is an exception.)

In terms of quality, it’s not so different for the FREE shows either – and often better.

Firstly, you only pay if you liked the show. Secondly, the performer is not losing loads of money to be there as they are not giving a huge cut to their agent/venue/promoter etc. The venues of the Free Fringe shows do not take any money for the hire of the room. Which is amazing. But they relish the crowds coming in and spending at the bar. That is the deal. Win/Win! Kerching!

But there are expenses for the performers at the non-paying shows such as travel, accommodation, food, marketing materials, props, fees of the main program, printing costs for scripts, hiring Street Marketeers, technical staff, door staff etc. and, of course, time writing and promoting their shows in the months before the Fringe even begins.

Oh, that was a rant. But I think it needed to be said, as I always think that FREE is a wee bit of a misdemeanor.  Okay, back to the funnies.

The Fringe is an amazing place to be in August. Enjoy every moment!

And, yes, celebrities do LOVE to take Selfies with you. Ask for one, and they will love it. Ask for two, they will hate you.

They are all Narcissists and they need their ‘supply’. You are doing them a favour. Snap snappity! Snap! But do not expect them to linger, they have stuff to do, after all. Far more important stuff that you are doing, of course! Always remember that when engaging with ‘The Talent’.  They are more important than you, according to them and themselves. And, always remember that you are having far more fun than they are. Always.

Ed Fest Street Theatre Top O The Mile

BUT, if you are a fairly new artiste in a VIP bar – leave them the fuck alone. They are chilling in there for a reason. You will look like a prick if you ask for a ‘Selfie’ in there. And everyone will know you are a novice.

Just say, “Hi Sarah, Dara, Ruby, Katherine, Kathy, Margaret, Frankie, Keara (I wish!)… can’t stop I’ve got a meeting on the balcony.” And they’ll say, “Who was that?”

Win/Win.

See lots of street theatre and tip them too (esp if you have enjoyed it up to now but had to go for your train/show/Parole Officer before The End).

Get some sleep. Drink some water. Eat healthily. Don’t be a hero. Too many drugs and too much booze does not make a show better. It ruins it for you, the audience and the hard-working artiste. And someone might punch you or vice-versa and either way you will wake up in the jail.

Be cool.

And, above all, come to MY BLOODY SHOW!!!  It’s FREE! And it’s THE BEST SHOW ON THE FRINGE in a nice hotel with a lovely COCKTAIL BAR and BEER GARDEN for milling and DRINKING with me after the show.

AND IT’S IN THE NEW TOWN SO IT’S ALSO A LOT LESS CROWDED. BOOM!

Keara Reduced Image for Fringe

 

Tax on Love

How could a woman who claims to be a feminist and a “U.N. Women advocate and an ambassador for World Vision” accept her future life as Princess Harry instead of her own perfectly good name, Princess Meghan?

Meghan-Markle-966248

Is is because she has no ‘Royal Blood’? – Whatever that is?

Is it because she is a woman? – Whatever that is?

Or is it because she is black? – Whatever that is?

Firstly, according to Wikipedia (Which means it is 100% true) she DOES have ‘ROYAL BLOOD’ as she is a descendant of King John, who was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death in 1216. So, it’s not that. And, anyway, we are all royal.

King John

I come from The Diarmait MacMurchada line of Murphys – The Vikings who invaded Ireland, killed a lot of people, and then declared themselves Kings and Queens. So, I am basically The Pirate Queen of Leinster. No need to bow. But I do want my castle back. More on that story in my show, Dark One – now touring! See ‘Welcome’ page kearamurphy.com

Dermait Mac Murchadha

Secondly, is it because she is black? Well, no, because Kate Middleton claimed she was not black (even though we all come from Africa) and she is also not allowed to have her own name and has to put up with her official title as Princess William!

Finally, is it just because she is a woman? Not really. A male partner of a ‘royal’ woman would be addressed as the same.

Princess Diana was so called but this was not her official title. Her family stated that their umpteenth grandad, or something like that, had once been royalty, or whatever but this was never proved so Diana, Princess of Wales, was not considered of ‘Royal Blood’ and was not officially Princess Diana, but everybody called her that.

What this stuffy nonsense IS, is that The Royal Family is an outdated institution that largely benefits men – despite Her Maj being a women and the longest reigning monarch of all time. This, along with the fact that all Royal marriages (and indeed all marriages) are about power, property and control and basically a TAX on LOVE.

I-love-tax

They appear to be in love, these two, “Whatever love means” as Prince Charles once famously said, and that is nice. Love is nice. But it is just such a shame that the love these two human beings have for each other now means that Meghan needs to reshape her life in such a drastic and stifling way. “Giving up acting to focus on humanitarian causes” hmmm? That is what Grace Kelly did and spent her life half depressed because of it.

Marriage should not mean that you give up part of yourself. It should mean that you love and celebrate each other for who each of you already are and respect and support each other’s choices.

Nice ring. I wonder how much we paid for it?

Meghan's Ring

That said, I wish them both all the best of LUCK. They will certainly need it.

Arise, Princess Meghan.

Valentine is like Santa… He doesn’t exist!

Updated. Still good.

KEARA MURPHY

It’s a sweet tradition and a nice bit of history and folklore that has been hijacked by commerce.

The myth of Saint Valentine is hard to trace, he was like Santa in as much as he was drawn from folklore and legend and there were loads of him. Quite how he became linked to romantic love is not reasonably clear. There were a few guys called Valentine knocking about in Ancient Rome, there are eleven Saint Valentine’s in the Christian callendar, most of them martyrs with no love in their lives apart from a range of deities and possibly the odd donkey. Yes, some of them made sacrifices, but not for love, maybe for pies. Nobody knows.Pope Gelasius I declared a Feast Day for Saint Valentine in 496 AD, without really knowing who the guy was, just that he had done “something good known only to God”. However, it…

View original post 881 more words

Auld Lang Syne

For Auld Lang Syne (English translation: For The Olden Times)

kickin-out-150x150Artist: Janet McCrorie

On New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight and we turn from one year to the next, everyone across the Globe gathers to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

But what does it all mean? Who wrote it? And what is it we are supposed to be doing with our hands?

So, here goes…

“Auld Lang Syne” is much older than any other popular song we sing during the festive season. It actually dates back to 1788, when it was published by Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who lived in Scotland from 1759 to 1796. Over 220 years later, we’re still using the familiar poem to say goodbye to the past year.

Here’s a look at the meaning of “Auld Lang Syne.”

The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” appears in other poems that predate Burns’ more famous work. Allan Ramsey, for example, (1686-1758) wrote a similar poem and James Watson published similar poems in 1711. In fact, the first verse in the poem Watson published begins almost the same way as Burns.

“Auld Lang Syne” itself can be translated to “old long since” so it’s similar to the “Once upon a time” phrase used to open fairy tales. Since Burns wrote “for auld lang syne” the way the phrase is used in the poem is translated to “for (the sake of) old times.”

Here’s the first verse of the Watson 1711 poem:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

Here’s Burns’ first verse:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

tartan-embrace-150x150Artist: Janet McCrorie

Burns sent “Auld Lang Syne” to two publishers. The first, James Johnson, published it in 1796 with a Scottish melody Burns was not a fan of. Three years after Burns died, George Thompson published it and set it to the turn of “Sir Alexander Don’s Strathspey” (a type of dance.) This is the same melody used to this day.

The song became so popular in Scotland that Scottish immigrants sang it wherever they went, spreading the song around the world. For example, during the famous 1914 Christmas truce during World War I, both British and German soldiers sang “Auld Lang Syne.” In 1925, Charlie Chaplin had characters sing “Auld Lang Syne” in The Gold Rush, even though it was a silent film.

image-charlie-chaps-gold-rush-new-years-party

The song also became popular in Southeast Asia and Japanese department stores use it to let customers know they are closing for the day. In Japan, the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” is set to the folk song “Hotaru no Hikari.”

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The Japanese lyrics are about students using a firefly’s light to keep studying in the dark. However, it is soon time to leave studying behind. The song is also often performed at graduations.

Long before Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest helped millions of Americans ring in the New Year, there was bandleader, Guy Lombardo. In 1928, Lombardo and his band, the Royal Canadians, played their first New Year’s Eve broadcast. The following year, they performed the first ever nationwide broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel and performed live from the hotel every year until 1954. They switched to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and continued performing ever year until 1976. Lombardo, who died in November 1977, became known as “Mr. New Year’s Eve.” After his death, his band rang in the New Year with broadcasts for two more years.

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In 1929, Lombardo and his orchestra played “Auld Lang Syne” just as the clock was striking midnight. Lombardo was inspired to play the song after hearing it from Scottish immigrants in Ontario. (Lombardo was born in London, Ontario.) He performed the song as a segue between one broadcast and the next.

Sadly, Lombardo’s role in helping millions of Americans celebrate a new year with “Auld Lang Syne” is mostly forgotten today.

In Scotland, the Song is Sung as Part of Hogmanay Celebrations.

584727-7Artist Gail Wendorf; Painting, Old New Year Ceilidh

In Scotland, where Burns is the National Poet, singing “Auld Lang Syne” is party of Hogmanay celebrations. Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year. The celebration in Edinburgh has become world famous and features a Concert in the Garden that is sold out this year.

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It’s tradition in Scotland to sing “Auld Lang Syne” while in a circle, holding hands. When the crowd reaches the last verse, which begins with “And there’s a hand my trusty friend,” everyone crosses their arms so the right hand reaches out to their neighbor’s left hand. At the end of the song, you rush into the center and turn, so that when everyone leaves the center they are now facing outwards – looking towards the new year.

Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally…, which was written by Nora Ephron, reaches a climax on New Year’s Eve. As “Auld Lang Syne” plays at the party, Billy Crystal’s Harry wonders what the song is all about.

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means,” Harry asks Sally. “I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?”

“Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends,” Sally (Meg Ryan) tells Harry. She was right.

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Burns didn’t really mean that we should forget old acquaintances. The song is really meant to be about “preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.” So, if you do forget about old acquaintances, you can look back on the year and remember them.

Here are the complete “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics by Robert Burns:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowan fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

The third part of my Robert Burns documentary trilogy, The Secret Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Robert Burns, will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Burns Day 2017.

Meantime, Happy New Year to you all – for Auld Lang Syne.

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