THERE will be haggis, and neeps, and tatties. There will be songs and merriment, and it will all last a fair bit longer than Boris’s birthday bash.

Yet all of us involved in staging Cove’s first Burns Supper for many a year – to be held in Cove Burgh Hall this Saturday – are acutely aware that folks are still inherently cautious.

The restrictions on indoor events may have been formally lifted, but what is still in place is a certain consumer psychology, and we know our celebrants will respond positively to the fact that we’re still expecting masks to be worn when not sitting or eating, that we still have sanitisers to hand, and that we’re being super careful about how the food is served up.

If two years before the pandemic mast have taught us anything, it’s that we’ve got to where we are through a mixture of careful behaviour and vaccination, and absolutely nobody is in the market for throwing away these hard-won gains.

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A friend and neighbour of mine went to the north of England and came back with Covid having been at a couple of events involving fairly large gatherings, one indoors, one at a football stadium. He doesn’t know where he caught it; he does know that it meant long and weary days isolating and ensuring his family was kept safe.

The moral of his story is that the highly transmissible Omicron variant hasn’t gone away, and it’s all too easy to find yourself its victim, even now.

So we will party at the weekend – how could you not with the ever amiable Jamie MacDougall hosting the proceedings? Since he shares a birthday with the bard, Jamie is perfectly cast for the job.

Tin helmets as well as free masks may also be available as the toast to the lassies is coming from the SNP’s Mike Russell – formerly MSP for Argyll and Bute, now the party’s president – and the response from Labour’s Jackie Baillie. They will, of course, be studiously polite about each other throughout. Aye, right!

What’s clear to the organisers is that there is a pent-up appetite for a bit of a good night out. Hopefully, they’ll get one.