EVERYONE goes daft about Robert Burns this week. His image gets brandished about everywhere. The rock star of his day. We'll all have haggis for our dinner and that would be fine if you didn't have to tolerate yon orange stuff that goes along with it. Golf Clubs and Bowling Clubs get to fill their premises for an evening of conviviality and decent bar takings, and the usual suspects are wheeled out to utter mair of their nonsense, as Hugh McDiarmid once suggested.

We also have the Burns' Clubs. Much more serious. Much more revered. Nae nonsense. Burns is no' just for January with this lot. This mob don't just play the Greatest Hits, they know all the album tracks. Some of their members get to wear really big chains, that would put any provosts to shame, and get to troop around the world singing the praises of our Bard!

Aye, the Burns world is quite a size. Rab the Rhymer is worth a lot of money. He's well endorsed and his bandwagon is well jumped on. He sells food and whisky. He sells books. He fills function suites and local halls. Caterers love him. His season lasts for more than a month.

It's been calculated that he's worth a few hundred million to the Scottish economy, which is not to be frowned at. Elvis brings about the same into Memphis. Mozart's miles ahead in Vienna though, with hundreds of retail products from food to toiletries bearing his coupon. There's a fair bit we could learn from the Austrians.

Here in Inverclyde, we are better placed than most to wangle a share of the spoils. We've got a few connections that are worth shouting about. We've got the Mother Club, the oldest Burns Club in the world! They have a really interesting club room just inside the door of the Custom House. We've got Highland Mary up the cemetery. We have Richard Brown up the Port and we have Finlaystone House, out at Langbank, where he seemingly chibbed a windae.

Best of all though, we have a new cruise terminal - the nearest cruise terminal to the land of Burns - with a multitude of tourists passing through its doors. We will shortly have the Wyllieum part of it in operation, a wing of the terminal that will showcase the work of that thought-provoking local artist, the late George Wyllie. A Robert Burns offering in the retail section has got to be a must. This trick must not be missed. The most recognisable image of Scotland.

The profile of Robert Burns really is Scotland the Brand. It represents Scottish culture and is symbolic of that hard to package medium, the Scottish Psyche.

Locally, the Mother Club deserves our thanks for the preservation and the advancement of the works of Burns. Their work within our schools is extensive and brings a new audience to his work. The music departments in our schools encourage interpretations of his songs and many platforms exist locally for public performances from our students. Robert Burns can open many doors.   

If you get the chance this week to have a quiet evening, pour yourself a dram, sink into a comfy chair with a book of his work. Some of it you will find impenetrable but from every corner of that book will jump lines, expressions, words and phrases that will excite your mind and invigorate your soul!

Drink a toast to his legacy and another to his memory!