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A poem for our times - ‘Tae a virus’

Responding to the current situation we all find ourselves in given the impact of the Coronavirus on all our lives. I am minded of the famous quote from the Charles Dickens novel 'A Tale of Two Cities'. The novel opens with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. This I would suggest captures the mood of the country at this time.

Keeping to the literary theme and returning once more to social care I was heartened to learn about Maggie Burns, 77, who has filmed a poem for social media called 'Tae a Virus' in a strong Scots accent, in the care home where she lives. Heatherfield Care Home in Armadale, West Lothian.

The poem, written by Willie Sinclair, was inspired by the Rabbie Burns poem, To a Mouse.

Maggie, who has no children, said: “We’ve survived world wars, we will survive this.”

Maggie corrected some of the pronunciations of the poem - so staff at the home asked to read it herself.

The poem made reference to past pandemics including ebola, and made jokes about 'Corona used tae be a beer', and 'Nae shakin hawns, or peckin lips'.

Roz Smith, activity coordinator at the care home, gave the poem to Maggie to read.

She said: “Maggie loved the poem, she laughed and said it was ‘very witty’.”

I thought it might cheer readers up if I shared it with you. It certainly had that effect on me.

‘Tae a virus’ written by Willie Sinclair read by Maggie Burns

"Twa months ago, we didna ken, yer name or ocht aboot ye, But lots of things have changed since then, I really must salute ye.

"Yer spreading rate is quite intense, yer feeding like a gannet, Disruption caused, is so immense, ye’ve shaken oor wee planet.

"Corona used tae be a beer, they garnished it wae limes, But noo it’s filled us awe wae fear, These days, are scary times.

"Nae shakin hawns, or peckin lips, it’s whit they awe advise, But scrub them weel, richt tae the tips, that’s how we’ll awe survive.

"Just stay inside, the hoose, ye bide, Nae sneakin oot for strolls, Just check the lavvy every hoor, And stock-take, your, loo rolls.

"Our holidays have been pit aff, Noo that’s the Jet2 patter, Pit oan yer thermals, have a laugh, And paddle 'doon the waater'.

"Canary isles, no for a while, Nae need for suntan cream, And awe because o this wee bug, We ken tae be... 19.

"The boredom surely will set in, But have a read, or doodle, Or plan yer menu for the month, Wi 95 pot noodles.

"When these run oot, just look aboot, A change, it would be nice, We’ve beans and pasta By the ton, and twenty stane o rice.

"So dinny think yell wipe us oot, Aye true, a few have died, Bubonic, bird flu, and Tb, They came, they left, they tried.

"Ye might be gallus noo ma freen, As ye jump fae cup tae cup, But when we get oor vaccine made, Yer number will be up.”


I don’t think there is much more to add. I found the poem both humorous and witty and kept me in touch about what older people think about what is happening at the moment. It captures the mood of our time. It is designed to give us all a laugh at a time when social activity is being restricted and we are all being asked to stay at home.

Many thanks to Willie Sinclair, Maggie Burns and staff at the Heatherfield Care Home in Armadale, West Lothian for the poem of our times.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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