On Robbie Burns Night 2003, I was at King’s Cross Station platform 9-3/4 (possibly platform 9) waiting to take the train back to Cambridge.
Snow had been officially a thing of the past in England since March 20, 2000 – but it was snowing hard that evening and the train had to wait for an hour outside Cambridge while the crews cleaned off the tracks. Eventually I made it to the Flying Pig Pub to enjoy a pint or six, where an English gentleman walked in in shorts and a T-shirt which read “Longmont, Colorado.”
This caught my attention, largely because I lived in Longmont, Colorado at the time – and also because it was -6C outside. We drank a few pints as he told me stories about how much he loved Longmont.
About 10,000 less fortunate people spent that evening parked on the M11, because the government listened to the geniuses at the Met Office, and didn’t stock up on grit.
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld.
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!