…Well okay, maybe hero’s a bit on the strong side. He hasn’t dived into a raging river to save me, or run into a burning building to rescue a trapped kitten (though he would…) but when credit’s due – I’m more than happy to pay up.
So what has he done exactly? He gave a speech at a function I was attending. I know – doesn’t sound like much. After all, he’s a musician and has played with his own band Lemon Grass for more years than he’d care to admit, so he’s obviously accustomed to audiences, right? Absolutely right – but that’s his world, that’s what he’s good at and accustomed to and comfortable with. Public speaking – standing up to address a room full of strangers, hell, that’s a whole n’other ballgame.
As to the function itself – it was that most Scottish of Scottish things – a Burns Supper. Furthermore, the speech in question, was The Immortal Memory. The main speech of the whole night – the keynote – the one that sets the tone – the one that has to interest, possibly educate, hopefully amuse and definitely engage the listeners. No pressure there then. Except – and you’ve probably seen this coming – my husband’s English.
Now normally this is not an issue in our household – except of course when there’s an England-Scotland football match, or when I bamboozle him with some choice bit of dialect. But while we’re very happy to do our bit for cross-border relationships – we do recognise certain bits of territory into which we will not stray. I won’t have anything to do with Cumberland Sausage – and he won’t touch Haggis with a ten-foot bargepole. Normally.
So – when I was asked to find someone to do The Immortal Memory at the Burns Supper being held at Yarrowford near Selkirk this year, I know he won’t be at all offended if I say Malcolm wasn’t just the last person on my list – frankly he wasn’t on the list at all! He was all set for a cosy night at home in front of the fire, watching Sky Sports with a cat on his lap. Until the speaker I had organised – dropped out. At the very last minute. And I do mean – the last minute. Effectively dropping me in the doo-dah – from a very great height.
After taking that phone-call, I turned to Malcolm and said, really just in jest, ‘How’s your Scottish accent?’ I fully expected him to scoff at the very notion. Instead – and even though he turned an interesting shade of greeny-white, he took several deep breaths – and to my everlasting astonishment, said ‘Looks like I’d better start writing a script.’
I’m happy to tell you he did a grand job. I could tell he was nervous, but I don’t think too many people could hear his knees knocking! The audience was warm and hospitable and friendly – just as a good Scottish audience should be – and they gave him their full attention and heartfelt response.
My husband is not what you’d call a romantic man. He’s not the sort to buy flowers or impromptu presents – and I’m never likely to get whisked away to Paris on a whim. But there are many forms of romance – and when, for my sake, he stood up before that crowded room to talk about Scotland’s beloved bard and to toast his Immortal Memory, I discovered a new one. And I doubt even Robert Burns himself could have topped it!