BURNS Night is with us. And for many this represents a chance to splash tartan-wellyed in the deep puddles of the Bard’s cultural legacy, to rejoice in the outpourings of this literary colossus, part ploughman poet, part socialist superman.

But it’s total bolleks. (Word courtesy of a Scots language dictionary). I’m a Burns victim, and I suspect there are thousands out there who believe Burns Nights to be phoney. They don’t open up the man’s work to discussion. They are about opening up bottles of 25 year-old single malt and force-feeding guests incomprehensible writing and haggis, (followed later by Gaviscon.) They are about making statements without consideration of what Burns may truly have felt about nationalism or identity.

Burns Nights are largely a middle-class pursuit, which is ironic given Rabbie was a working class warrior. Yet, also a poster boy for nationalism; academics’ opinions are so varied it suggests the upper lower-class farmer/tax collector lacked absolute conviction. But here he is being lionised in golf clubs throughout the land by Waitrose-fed blokes in kilts regaling Burns units with feats of memory and blustering, coronary-threatening, shirt button-poppin', performances of Tam O’Shanter. (A tale of witches who can’t cross water which defies logic, given they must have had broomsticks back in the day.)

These show-offy Suppers are not about understanding Burns’ cleverness or sentiment, they are about excess and bluster, the toast to the lassies a chance for men to kiss up to partners they’ve abandoned for the golf club all year long, for those same partners in their reply to reveal the results of the Creative Writing course they attended for three weeks last September. In the 1930s, poet Hugh MacDiarmid condemned Burns clubs for their “canting humbug” that “preserved his furniture and repelled his message”. And he wasn’t wrong.

Now, just because I don’t know what either skellum or blellum (from T O’S) actually means, this doesn’t deny there are those who rate the man’s work (although many people think Gerard Butler is a good actor and Kylie can sing). But yes, Eddi Reader can make Burns’ songs sound wonderful and Luke Kelly offered a very good Raglan Road. Bob Dylan, a decent wordsmith himself, was a big fan. (Although Dylan did take a lot of drugs in the Sixties.)

And while it’s hard to kick against two great writers such as Salinger and Steinbeck, who nicked Burns’ lines for book titles (Catcher In The Rye and Of Mice and Men) it’s harder to see past Jeremy Paxman’s description of Burns; “No more than a king of sentimental doggerel.” Paxo would, no doubt, reckon

“My love is like a red, red rose . . . ,” could have been written by a 10- year-old with a red crayon.

Some have argued Burns was in fact being metaphorical here, and much of his writing was indeed wry, disguised 18th century sex talk. But even if his newly sprung rose actually referred to his wanger, it doesn’t make the poem any more Burns Night poignant.

Yes, you could argue works such as Address To the Deil poked satirical fun at the fire and brimstone oratory of the Presbyterian ministers of the day, but Burns Night readings don’t ask you to search your soul. They ask you to check your pantry for mice, even if his Ode was cleverly self-referencing.

What Burns Night makes me think about is how valid the writer is today. Were his 200 poems about 150 too many? And if politicians and cultural leaders reckon Burns so important, why isn’t his canon fired into the ears of every school child? Could it be 230 years of scrutiny suggest it doesn’t hold a candle to Shakespeare?

Then there is the “hero” himself, a man who was once headed (it’s claimed) to slave-trade work in the West Indies. This week, poet Liz Lochhead re-opened the can of worms she took her tin-opener to back in 2009, updating and downgrading her perception of the man, from misogynist to rapist, now the “Weinstein” of his day. (A risky strategy, given Lochhead had declared Burns should be celebrated for his work, not lifestyle; try saying the film producer should be remembered for his best movies, Liz, and await those headlines.)

To be honest, it’s hard to tell if Burns deserves to be Harveyed, given the ‘evidence’ is his own letter, and the language may – or may not – suggest he violated his wife. But given the body count of his conquests, fathering at least 13 weans it appears Burns wasn’t so much a lover of women but a lover of sex with women. Yet, Burns Nighters won’t dwell on this, nor consider why no one has ever made a major film of Burns’ life. (Recent computer imagery indicates he didn’t look John Cairney handsome like his portrait.)

Burns Nights, as you can tell, leave me thrawn. So sure, have an offal dinner and drink ‘till you’re ill if you like. Just don’t sell these Brigadoon nights as a cultural celebration.

At least Brigadoon only appears for one day every hundred years and then vanishes. Burns Nights keep on coming.