John Gibson: The Tattoo boss always on the trot

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What is half an hour out of a man’s life when he travels 11 cities in 22 days? A mere blink of an eye and yes, in those precious 30 minutes the globetrotting producer of the Tattoo was briefing me over a mug of Earl Grey in his Market Street office.

This year’s production will be Brigadier David Allfrey’s, below, fourth. He stresses that the theme this time is “home, friends and family”. He is keen to see more of the local populace turn out, the locals who perhaps have been up on the Esplanade only once, in the very early days, and apart from television believe that they’ve seen it all.

“Well, they haven’t. Far from it. It shouldn’t be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Edinburgers. The Tattoo has evolved beyond recognition.”

So for David Allfrey, 54, it’s very much upwards and onwards. This trip he’ll cover 64,000 miles.

“I do two of these marathons each year, fixing the acts, so to speak, one in November, the other in February. This time Bangladesh, Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. The challenge is in the communication. So many different languages.

“My job is made easier because I have a resourceful PA. Zeph Blair organises the trips. Since the start of the Tattoo 48 countries have participated. ‘International’ is the operative word.

“I travel solo and luckily I’m a good traveller, catching up on sleep while I’m en route. All told, the Tattoo, will bring in £100 million, give or take several million. Good for tourism in Scotland, for culture, for our heritage, for trade and investment, for Edinburgh . . .”

It’s as well the Brigadier is a good traveller and has a head for figures. Maybe it’s the Earl Grey that keeps him going.