And so to the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in Glasgow for a Burns supper to celebrate Italy's self-appointed national bard, Tino Ferri. The Italian Scot balances his poetic year by teaching English at St Margaret's High, Airdrie, acting as Scottish rep on the union's UK executive and spouting eloquently in English, Scots or Italian on virtually anything.
Befitting a UK union, the evening's programme was printed down south, which presumably explains the slips (last count 10). Chief literal was on the Bill o' Fare. The cock-a-leekie was followed by "Chieftan o' the rice pudding".
Humbled by the programme but undaunted, Ferri delivered the Immortal Memory via a grand piano on the stage of the Central Hotel in a style only matched by Liberace. Snatches of Burns's 100 greatest hits were interspersed with references to other poetic gems and to the Italian greats. Ferri managed 19 separate references in Italian.
The balding maestro sat behind the piano in majestic fashion. Former union activist and cynic Kenny Fee thought he saw a resemblance: "He even looks like Mussolini."