You’ll have had your haggis

Last night was Burns Night when haggises were ritually slaughtered throughout the globe, distilleries were drained and the lassies were toasted, in their absence of course, because they weren’t allowed into the bacchanalia until recently, and now only under sufferance.

A whole industry has grown up around the Bard, most of which he would assuredly have deplored. It seems that just about anyone can cash in on his name and legacy.

There’s a Burns Mall in Kilmarnock almost on the spot where his first book of poems, the Kilmarnock Edition, was published in 1786. There are only 84 of the original 612 copies left, the majority of which are in libraries in the United States. A few paces away is the Robert Burns World Federation HQ, a charity with an income of about £100,000 a year.

There are pubs and clubs named after him, gee-gaws, mostly naff, with his image or imprint, tea towels, a festival, even several tartans. In Glasgow, at the university, there’s a Centre for Robert Burns Studies which, a few days ago, received a gift of $225,000 (around £170k, depending on how fast the pound is depreciating) from an American couple. Frank Shaw, from Atlanta, owns a healthcare company – and runs a website called Robert Burns Lives! – while his wife Susan is a former corporate secretary at Coca-Cola.

So Burns’s legacy is thriving. Except for one of the few remaining memorials, the place where he was born, the cottage in Alloway which isn’t so much is need of repair but requiring urgent action to stop it falling apart. I wrote about this disgrace a year or more back when I was driving past and had to pull up to look at the state of it, badly discoloured, mildew and moss over the thatch, what appeared to be significant cracks in the structure.

It was closed, as it was a few days ago when I visited again. There are now tears in the thatch, a major crack in a gable which is letting in wind and rain, as well as the green moss and algae taking over.

Burns Cottage is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, income £60 million, which seems to care more for the piles, castles, follies and the wild acres of belted earls than the "humble" – their words – home of the poet. There is now a belated £100,000 for essential repairs. Nearby, at Culzean Castle, the NTS has spent around £3m in the last three or four years, putting in trails, play parks and landscaping.

Pretty much sums up priorities.

Got it taped

The sight of Celtic's Leigh Griffiths chucking his sock tapes at a Kilmarnock supporter abusing him on Wednesday brought to mind an escape by his boss, Neil Lennon, at the same venue, Rugby Park, when he was a player for the club. Lenny had been mercilessly shirricked throughout by a punter and at the final whistle the enraged player could take it no more, he vaulted into the crowd, ran up the steps and had to be restrained from revenge-taking, although his vocabulary was pretty ripe.

The only problem was Lenny had mistaken the perpetrator and was actually abusing the head of Scotland's anti-terrorism police.

Pass the bucket (list)

I hadn’t heard about something called an ayahuasca retreat until recently, and no, it isn’t one of those terpsichorean moves from Strictly. Apparently it’s one of the bucket stops on the Peru hippie trail, where you get off your face in the jungle on some foul-tasting brew, you see visions and then you purge, by throwing up or through diarrhoea, or both. Coatbridge and a bottle of Buckie is considerably cheaper.

Made-up facts

Apparently there are more Avon ladies in Brazil than members of the armed forces. And the average woman spends nine days of her entire life applying makeup. Almost certainly neither of the two previous facts is true, or at least provable. I throw them in because it’s that time of the year once more when another cosmetic-related whopper is trotted out.

That women who regularly use lipstick and reapply it during the day will swallow four and a half kilos of it during their adult life. Which may be a lame excuse for a glossy spare tyre, but if it was true that would amount to about 1,000 tubes. Eaten.

Unquestionably some of the components are potentially harmful if ingested in huge quantities, but so is almost everything. I’ll be sticking with my Rimmel London Lasting Finish.

Age of consent

There can’t be many more successful campaigns than the trans one. It has become impossible to even query whether people can self-declare their gender without suffering a pile-on, buried under a slew of accusations of bigotry and homophobia.

Last week Oran Mor, a popular Glasgow venue, became the target – and cravenly apologised – for hosting the launch of the LGB Alliance, a gay campaign formed to oppose Scottish Government reforms that would make it easier for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates. So much for free speech then. The nub of the proposed legislation is that people should be able to self-identify and change their gender after three months, rather than two years. You are born with your gender and, in my view, whether through drugs and the knife you alter your appearance, you retain it throughout your life.

As it happens I met a group of sixth-formers from a school I won’t mention who brought up the subject and told me their concern over what I have now checked out. Four 12-year-old boys in their school are transitioning to female and are on puberty blockers. They use the female changing rooms and if a girl objects she, not the boy, has to go to another changing place. For all I know this could be common in Scottish schools.

We’ve gone through the looking glass. I have no problem with grown-ups altering whatever they want about themselves, however they want to do it, but it cannot be right that a pre-pubescent child can decide to change sex, and that parents (who could be criminalised for smacking a kid of the same age) collude in it without penalty.

Not just parents, but doctors, too, if they are prescribing these drugs, which would have to be with the approval of the parents. There should be child protection orders placed on these kids, if necessary, because they aren’t mature enough to decide.