John Gibson: What’s Brig deal about the Tattoo?

Brigadier David Allfrey. Picture: Julie Bull
Brigadier David Allfrey. Picture: Julie Bull
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I’m in the Market Street headquarters of the Tattoo at ten in the morning. Tea or coffee? Tea, I tell David Allfrey’s attentive secretary. Tea and Assam if you’ve got it.

Brigadier David Allfrey is the Tattoo’s producer. The main man. He makes the entire caboodle tick and I’m here to check out ticket sales. Is it going to sell out? Of course. But on June 19, how far short of the bullseye target?

“We’ve 167,000 seats to sell and today, with the Tattoo’ 25 performances opening on August 2, we’ve sold 80 per cent.” So the Brig is happy. But you couldn’t say‘‘content. He’s the persuasive sort.

“What I’d like you to stress is that I dearly want to see is the people of Edinburgh, the locals, embrace the thing. It’s their Tattoo too. It’s yours. It’s part of the city.

“Urge them to come along. And bring a friend. It’s maybe ten, 20, 30 years since they’ve seen it. An eternity. I’d like them to see how the Tattoo has evolved. It’s not just marching and bands.”

A fuller exchange between the main man and your parched scribe will follow, before curtain-up. Incidentally, a mug of Earl Grey had discreetly arrived on the table. Fresh out of Assam? Or PG Tips, even?

Afterwords . . .

. . . In from the cold, John Le Carre is telling us: “It is hilarious to me to hear Michael Gove urging schoolchildren to learn history when politicians patently know none.”

Besides, while I’m on about Le Carre, my cover was blown a long time ago. You’d have to be tone deaf not to deduce that my background is Foot of Leith Walk. Le Carre is adding: “You have a fairly good picture of my social background from my voice and I of yours. We’re branded on the tongue.”