Burns Night 2020

By Thomas Hoolaghan, Trainee Patent Attorney

Burns Night is a Scottish institution, a time to remember the life and works of the man widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns.

This year, over 200 years after his death, the 25th of January seen many Scots come together to celebrate the patriotic poems and songs which have gained Robert Burns the esteemed position in Scottish culture that he holds to this day. And what better way to commemorate than with a Burns Supper, a dinner time party in which lashings of traditional Scottish culture are proudly put on show in admiration of the overwhelming nationalism instilled by Rabbie himself.

Of course, for the uninitiated, the full pomp and circumstance associated with a classic Burns supper can be somewhat daunting, so in light of this here are some cultural inventions to help you get into the Scottish swing.

Any Burns supper should exhibit at least a few shades of tartan decorating the easily recognisable kilts of the guests. But before you consider travelling to Ayrshire, to celebrate in the birthplace of the national bard, you would be well placed to consider UK patent GB 2450714 which claims a hanger device for a complete Scottish outfit.  Arrive in style with this hanger which provides neat, all-in-one storage for a sporran, bow tie, socks and of course, an extended hanging surface utilising spring fixed fasteners to ensure your kilt pleats remain uncrushed on the journey.

1Even with a pristine outfit, you can be assured that there will be debate over whether those in kilts can claim to be a “true Scotsman”. If this fills you with trepidation, don’t worry, Canadian patent CA2420320 goes some way to easing these concerns by providing a combined kilt and shorts garment.  Enjoy the elegance of the traditional Scottish dress while comforted by the extra warmth from your undershorts.  Note that this Canadian garment patent hasn’t made it to the UK yet, and I wouldn’t expect many here to admit to wearing one, but in fairness it is a lot colder over there.

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No Burns supper would be complete without the customary “piping” in of the haggis.  Although the bagpipes may be one of the most familiar of national instruments, it is safe to say that it doesn’t do so well in a popularity contest.  UK patent GB 2344923 serves to mitigate the potential for sore ears before dinner by describing a practice bagpipe chanter.  This invention provides a way to practice the pipes without the notoriously difficult-to-master reservoir air bag, so that both experienced and beginner players can hone their sound with ease.

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Fortunately, it would be remiss to have a Burns supper without a wee whisky or two, and it is often customary to douse the haggis with a splash of “whisky sauce”.  Burns was not shy about his love for the drink, and last year the Scotch Whisky Association found that exports from Scotland grew to £4.7bn.  This next patent from Diageo ltd ensures that there is enough of the gold stuff to meet the high demand.  EP 2558374 describes a method for stacking straight-walled, whisky casks.  The clever stacking of hexagonal or triangular prism shaped casks allows for greater ease and use of space and, crucially, promotes natural compression of the casks to reduce loss of spirit through the cask walls!

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Now that you’re all clued up, all that’s left is to link arms and join in a chorus of “auld lang syne”. a chorus of “auld lang syne”.