John Gibson: Tut, tut! This was the Tattoo!

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I SO wanted to see the Tattoo live. Not as though I’ve Tut, tut not seen it dozens of times. Being a former high-flying military man myself, I’d never bad-mouth it. And David Allfrey so wanted me to be there, hence his invitation to the VIP box.

But this year I called off, hors de combat, as we used to say in the trenches.

So I saw it in the last resort, so to speak on Monday, as always, converted by John Honey-I-shrunk-the-Tattoo Smith for television. John’s a Weegie and by now expert at it.

But what of the show itself? I’ve seen better and there have been better. Brigadier Allfrey might well tear me off a few strips for saying. No denying the internationalism that stalked the Esplanade –Korea, New Zealand, even Mongolia – but too much showbiz, insufficient military.

Much as mini kilts gladdened an old eye, this was a night more for a rattling of sabres. A night more for the slickness of, say, the US Marine Corps or, again, the Swiss drummers.

Refreshing addition to the scene, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed junior choristers from Mary Erskine and Stewart’s Melville, two of Edinburgh’s educational seats. There could be an exchange trip to Mongolia, girls, if you’re not careful. Above all, this tattoo cried out for an imaginative, colourful commentator.

For sure we didn’t hear that from Bill Paterson, a Glaswegian veteran actor. Bill, take lessons from Peter Alliss. Or Pat Nevin even. Can I just add, that punters, desperate for tickets, some at black market prices, were still queuing for them at Tattoo Market Street headquarters hours before the final curtain.

That said, I doubt if the Brigadier will have me on his list next year.