Saturday, 20 August 2011


Massed Bands.

Hullo ma wee blog,

Last night we went to see the Edinburgh Tattoo. This is one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Festival and is - I am reliably informed by My Lovely G - the worlds top tourist attraction and we love the festival in all its guises. Why not? And after all Edinburgh is only a short drive from the house.. She and I had been to the Tattoo about 20 years ago but had never been back. Last year, we gave my brother two prime tickets as a Christmas present and he invited one of my uncles, who had always wanted to see it, to go with him. They both enjoyed the show so much and were so enthusiastic in telling us about it that we decided that this year we should treat ourselves and go back.

We decided to go to the late show, which takes place on a Friday, starting at nine p.m., as it incudes a firework display over the castle as part of the finale. The show lasts for two hours and, as you would expect, is an incredible spectacle and is watched by a crowd of several thousand appreciative people. The weather was quite mixed across the show with a couple of showers of rain, which swirled in the wind around the stadium on the Castle Esplanade and made taking photographs difficult at times. Here though despite that, are a few photos I managed to take during the performance as well as a couple of video clips from You Tube showing this years performance.

The word "Tattoo" is derived from "Doe den tap toe", or just "tap toe" ("toe" is pronounced "too"), the Dutch for 'Last Orders' Translated literally, it means: "put the tap to", or "turn off the tap". The term "Tap-toe" was first encountered by the British Army when stationed in Flanders during the mid 18th Century. The British adopted the practice and it became a signal, played by a regiment's drums or pipes and drums each night to tavern owners to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their lodgings at a reasonable hour. Later in the 18th century, the term Tattoo was used to describe not only the last duty call of the day, but also a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by Military musicians.
A lighter moment - visitors from Holland - and of course with bicycles

I can be fairly cynical about the way Scotland, or at least its tourist industry, choose to portay everything here as being tartan - and certainly when you come to something like the Edinburgh Tattoo you could be fooled into believing that Scotland is tartan from end to end. Despite that, we both had a fantastic night and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle. Aye - and the tartan too!

The performances were flawless and the staging of the whole show was excellent. It is difficult not to be impressed with the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle against the evening sky, lit spectacularly and decked with flags flying in the breeze. Watching some 250 tartan clad, red coated, gleaming specimens of manhood marching up and down the Esplanade it was difficult for me with my interest in Scottish history not to think just for a wee moment or two about the reality of why Scots have been such a huge part of the British Army - a fact born out of huge adversity and manipulation. I thought too, about the tragic armed mutiny that took place right there on the esplanade when the Seaforth Highlanders turned against their officers and marched off down the Royal mile and out onto Arthur's seat where they took up defensive positions against their commanding officers who they believed had betrayed them and were about to send them to India to serve there. Something I posted about here.

All in all, it was a great spectacle and an event well worth going to see. I would recommend it to anyone. It's impossible not to feel moved as you watch nearly 300 bandsman marching and feel the wave of sound from all those pipes and drums. The live performances of military bands from the UK and around the world have always been a huge hit and sell out well in advance. The Tattoo runs throughout August. More than 250,000 people see The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo live each year and 100 million see it on television around the world.


See you later.

Listening to this:


Rebecca S. said...

Well, that was great! No parade is complete in my eyes, without a pipe band. I always get emotional too when I see them in their regalia. As for the tartan theme, it is the same here in Canada. The way we are portrayed to tourists you would think our police were always on horseback each with a pet beaver as a personal sidekick :)

Alistair said...

Hi Rebecca. Being a sentimental old fool is a drag sometimes isn't it? (Ha ha!)

I empathise with you completely about the portrayal of the mounted police

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...