Loudhailer and rubber chook in hand. trampling scruples and modesty underfoot. Rod Quantock sets the pace for Edinburgh Festiy'al mayhem. Kristina woolnough is swept along in his wake.



l'\l l-'R()I\1Al78'l'RAl.l/\ WHERE THE SUN \'l \'l{R Sli'l'S'. bellows Rod Quantock through his Ioud-hailer. 'l'he queue at the bus stop looks slightly bemused. Two minutes later. adorned w ith false noses. glasses and moustaches. they lost look silly. ()uantock conducts them in a timeless rendition of "lhe Bonnie Banks of Loch l oniond‘. leading the song himself. again :ourtesy ofthe loud-hailer: ‘Y()l7'l.l . TAKE l’l lli lll(ill ROAD AND l‘l.l.’l'AKl{ 'l‘lIF.

l ()\V . . .'

.\1e and my crowd of two. similarly false-nosed. tr red hard to look the other way. When ()uantock accosted a traffic warden who was dutifully iWooking aii abandoned y'ehicle. there was no 'IL‘lIlllg’tHll ofit. ‘lllA’l‘CAR HAS l )ll’l .().'\lA'l‘l(’ lMMlINl'l'Y boomed the loud-hailer. 'l'hen Quantock blithely introduced


himself. handed the w ardcn a y isa ttppllt‘illltlll form for Finland (acquired at the preyiotis stop) and went on to torment the nest y ictini

()ur pedestrianized y'ersion of ()uaritock‘s infamous Bus tour could hay e been worse It was bad enough. At least l‘idinburgli orin faces the prospect ofa limited three-week assault on its sacred nooks and crannies: ()uantock has been terrorising Melbourne and Sydney for the last seven years with the threat of unexpected \‘l\|l\ Now. after Ztltltl-odd gate-crashes in his ow n country. ()uantock has left Australia for the first time to persecute us.

Gross kipper he

The idea is simple: ()uantock. with 45 passengers. takes his Bus and calls unannounced on whoever and whatey‘er he fancies. ‘Basically. ifthe door‘sopen. I‘ll go in. lfit's locked. l’ll knock. The tour has a bit of a reputation which I‘ve tried to deny because it’s not true. But being called a gate-crashing. noisy. otf'cnsiy'e rabble of people causing trouble is the best publicity you can get.‘ ()uantock. in his non-gatecrashing mode. is mild-mannered and gentle.

Pursuing their yoyeuristic bent. ()uaiitock's

public can‘t get enough of him An Australian 'l'\'

station sent a psychiatrist on the Bits to figure out the attraction ofthe tour (not. as might be imagined. to monitor ()uantock). Bearing in mind the impending [{dinburgh tours. the results were worrying: ‘l le reckoned that l giye people



the license to do all the things they‘ve ever wanted to do. With the false noses. they can‘t be recognised.‘ .

Being led astray by ()uantock certainly feels akin to childhood pranks like knocking on iieighbotii‘s' doors and running away. Only this time you hay e to stand your ground and face the music. ()uantock‘s gall isstaggering. In the Finnish (’oiisulatc. he asked to see the (‘onsul (‘arryirig his stick with a iiibbci chicken on the end of it. w caring .i bla/er coy ei ed in badges and a gross kipper tie. ()uaiitock esplained he wanted to go and work in l-iiilaiid. Instead of takingone look at him and saying ‘iio'. the assistant didn't bat an eyelid. ( )ui .'\tl\ll.tlltlll tour leader went on tosay that I (still to lalse nose and tickly black moustache ) wanted to study astio-pliysics at a Finnish uniy ersity. We were giy en the appropriate forms and off w e set again. from then onwards. Uiiantock alternately claimed to be a firm (handiiigoiit the forms) and an .-\iisti‘aliaii (going into iaptiii'es at the sight of a lltltll's L‘ttllc‘tl ‘Nii \Vttt‘t‘les. l fins to Sun We -\itstralians‘).

But. as I said it could liaye licc it worse Uuaiitock‘s past esploits haunted me throughout the tour ‘l’y‘e been to pensioners‘ dances and been threatened by a pensioner bouncer with a chain l'ye y isited ( anaiy ('lub meetings and the State of Victoria Policeman‘s ( )fficial Dinner.

I‘\ c gone to priy ate houses. w hen my passengers got port and watched the family slide show , “eye been to lreeiiiasons' dinners and meetings. a ( ir'cek w eddiiig. a ’l'\' award tL‘t'L‘miiny. \Vc‘wc‘ been ey c“t'_\\\ ltetc‘.‘

()uaiitock is not always welcomed with open arms We were chased out of a beautician’s w hen he tried to go into the cubicles 'l he ehook nearly came to an unhappy . decapitated end when it got tangled up iii the oy er head fan too In Melbourne hes been pursued by the police a couple oftimes once after he and his bus-load had been singing ‘( )nw ard ( 'hi istian Soldiers‘ outside a massage parlour when they couldn’t get in. and a second time after he and his entourage gate crashed an e\clttsl\ e discotfieiiue “I put two people from the Bus w ho looked like they were dressed for a disco iii front of the spy-hole When the bouncers opened the door to let them in. the rest of its charged. .-\tter they \l c alled the police. we filed out again. We met two foot policemen and I said ‘it‘s awful down there you must hurry". later the police cars caught up with its. But it‘s impossible for them. liliey come to me and say ‘what are you doing." Behind the there are ~15 people with funny noses on. laughing at them. It's an abstirdsitiiatioii

‘()nward Christian Soldiers'

()ne of the hardest places he's found to get into (apart from the (iaining Board for ( ii'eat Britain in Princes Street which was w ell and truly locked) was a priy ate girls‘ school 'II was like trying to get into a tlireedimensional architectural chastity belt \\ e went through the grounds. looking for ways to get iii l'linally some ofthe girls let us in. 'l‘hcii the headmistress threw us out.‘

The parallel boys. school Was a different matter ‘I had the name of one of the boys and I said it was his birthday \\ e took a cake and a card and they let us in So we went into the boys‘ study rooms They had all these lingerie photographs on the w all from wotttetrs maga/ines. We sang Happy Birthday and c‘\plaltlL‘tl that w dd come for a midnight feast

l he two most coiiipioiiiisiiig situations he‘s found people in fiaye been coming out of a massage parlour t‘l‘y‘e often caught a man leay ing afterasession withJSpeoplestandirigthere. they can‘t get into their cars quick enough‘) and in bed. ‘We went to a college. I knocked on the door . 'l'here was no answer. so I opened it. There was a student and his girlfriend in bed. It was a (‘hristian college. so they shouldn‘t have been

l‘ales of