In the iirst oi a series oi Festival guest celebrity columns, Alan Parker, urban warrior, empathises with those of us north at the border.
0 People olthe Scottish Land hear me now ior I am speaking to ye. l Alan Parker- urban warrior, purveyor oi TBUTHS, youth spokesPERSON and voice oi the disconnected masses- throw in your direction the hand of friendship. Grab it and throw it back I plead unto ye.
Down in London, where lam hailing ye from, I have heard blokes laughing at kilts and saying suchlike things as ‘You wouldn’t catch me wearing a skirt ho ho ho’. But in these debates I always take your side of the matter and I say, ‘Don't dis the Scottish folk-we should salute them ior their brave stand in support of women.’
And 0K, ye may not be a ‘people’s republic’ as yet. Technically speaking, ye may all still be the slaves and
iesters oi the English Crown. But ye time will come. And it will come soon, lor I AM COMING to yourtown and I will lead ye out of your hills and down the A1 and into the warm. And ye say to me, ‘Alan, we don’t need your leadership,’ and I respect ye torthat decision, yet still I come North to the burgh oi Edin to rouse ye up. Ye might suddenly find ye have a shortage oi leaders and it would be right handy to have a spare. lam that spare. And while I awaityourcallings, I’ll be doing a show on your Fringe. What do I be doing in said show? I do be speaking the truths. I kick down the prejudices. I bash the taboos. And people do laugh somewhat BUT IT IS ALWAYS THE LAUGHTEII OF UNDERSTANDING and not ever the laughter oi being a bourgeois middle claSS Nazi fascist. ‘What is the laughter of understanding?’ ye ask. It is when ye leel such a sudden rush oi euphoria and joy, oi enlightenment and deep-seated
comprehension, that you can only express it by cackling out loud.
I’ve got good memories oi Edinburgh. I actually tried to move there a few years ago-so that I could NOT PAY THE POLL TAX a year beiore any at my mates. But unlortunately, I got thrown oil the train at York for NOT PAYING THE RAIL FARE.
And I remember a couple of years backl met this bloke there. He had a camoullage jacket, camoullage trousers and a camoullage hat. He was wearing completely camoullage clothes, and it he hadn’t been in the middle ot Princes Street, no one would have spotted him at all. Anyway, I got into an argument with him, because he claimed that he was ‘subverting the whole idea oi military unilorms’ and I thought he was just wearing one. But he won the argument. He pointed out that soldiers have to wash their clothes, and he didn’t. So what he was thereby doing was associating in people’s minds the concepts oi ‘military uniiorms and military Iorce’ with the concept oi ‘really stinking badly’. Ii you’re reading this Andy— IIESPECT TO YOU.
Alan Parker- Urban Warrior: Stop the Fibbing (Fringe) Alan Parker, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 12 Aug—5 Sept, 8.15pm, £6.50 (£5.50).
On paper, the mission was a cake-walk: attain the Castle Esplanade, infiltrate the Tattoo and give Johnny Soldier a right reviewing. But for Scotland’s elite, the number one Press Corps, nothing was ever a piece of 3 cake unless there was a 9 drink at the end ofit, as Thom Dibdin found out.
The evening was clear and we were equipped with the latest in mixed metaphor technology. Informal dress had been requested so we mingled easily with the eight and a half thousand-strong crowd of tourists, our Liberty ties hanging limply in the evening breeze.
Security was tight. Dextrously eluding the programme sellers we made for the second cordon of yellow-clad stewards. Would they frisk us and find that incriminating notebook and pencil? I decided to bluff it out: ‘Looking forward to it?‘ I asked, thrusting my trusty tape recorder into the stewards face. ‘I do this every year, wouldn‘t miss it for the world,‘ she replied. We were through!
But not so fast! The Tattoo was running with military precision: precisely ten minutes late. ‘Please form a queue on the right‘ said the soldier in the ridiculous red cap with a peak so long it forced him to look down his nose like a penguin. Although the frontal assault had failed. I slipped round the side. taking cover as the tourist’s vanguard, chanting their battle cry. ‘Which way to the North Stand?‘. made mincemeat ofthe penguin.
Seen from the inner sanctum. high on the East Stand. the massed cagoules of the tourist party sparkled, psychedelic. on the floodlit stands. Some foolhardy souls had come without warm clothing or cushions, an omission they might live to regret. Out on the Arena our loyal lensmen, cameras loaded. were ready for the showdown. Two heavily armoured camera crews and a squad of light infantry video units were also in attendance.
The lights dimmed, an unctuous voice oozed out of the PA, smooth as Brylcreem it was our unseen commentator and guide to the
night‘s proceedings. A bang. A ﬂash, and the Union Flag ran up its pole high on the castle top. ‘Ahhhhh‘ went the tourists as gentle lights played over the castle walls to reveal The Scots Guards. whose 350th anniversary this year's Tattoo commemorates, lined up on the ramparts. The lonely wail oftheir bagpipes and thud of the drum sent the hairs creeping up our necks, across our scalps and into our eyebrows.
As the historic pageant unfolded. we made light work ofthe regiment's early history. until the lensmcn got caught in the crossfire ofan 18th century re-enactment. ‘May I warn the press photographers that the soldiers will fire‘ oozed The Voice. The tourists cheered. the troops fired. but Our Boys stood their ground. Operational restrictions do not permit me to say how many survived, but I counted them all out before the fusillade. and as smoke cleared I counted them all back in again.
The massed kazoos of the Turkish Mehter Band. the massed Highland and Scottish Country Dancing. the Massed Pipes and Drums. the massed this and the massed that are all a blur in the shorthand of my notebook. The marching was precise. the lights bright and the music loud. But there is a limit to the amount ofconcentrated militaristic proselytisation a body can take. so when the lone piper at last wailed out from the battlements, it was with some relief that we took the offered drinks. We had seen the Tattoo and
The Tattoo takes place every night (except Sundays) and costs from £ 7 to £11. Tickets from The Ticket Centre, 31 Waverley Bridge (03] 225 8616).
nun wm YEAR THALWAS
In 1962 the country was run by Harold Macmillan, the first Beatles single was released and Marilyn Monroe died aged 36. In Edinburgh, 34 companies with over 300 actors were On the Fringe. Thom Dibdin was one year old at the time, but remembers it well . . .
I Proto method acIOIJames Mellor (no relation) insisted on a complete pub crawl of the Grassmarket to get into character for his part as the infamous Burke in Dylan Thomas‘ The Doctor and the Devils. I On the Fringe. the Cambridge University Players‘ production of Ibsen‘s Brand was well received. The producer, one Mr Trevor Nunn, told the press that he hoped soon to enter the professional theatre. The Festival is a ‘fantastically exciting cultural experience‘ he said. I The Footlights revue, The A pres Show also received good notices for the ‘seven boys and one girl’ in the cast. Amongst those mentioned in dispatches were Mr Graham Chapman for his ‘perfectly-acted study’ of Mr Macmillan’s ennui, while Mr Timothy Brooke-Taylor ‘simpered deliciously'. I The Group 69 (sic) were busy getting up the logo of the Festival Society with a parody of their official motif. the Festival Girl by Jean Cocteau. The stuffy worthies on the Society were only mollified when the Groop promised not to distribute any more of their publicity material, showing ‘a bloke combing his fringe with an inane smile on his face‘. I The Lord Chamberlain banned The Jesus Revolution, a new one-act play from the Queens Players of Belfast University. ‘Since its performance necessitates the impersonation of both Jesus Christ and the Deity on the stage. it is not allowed.‘ he wrote. Graham Chapman was obviously taking note. I ‘Inadequate, ill.equipped. badly designed and no good' was how Peter Hall described the Lyceum Theatre where he was directing the RSC. He was forced to buy 20 baby baths and 120ft ofgarden hose so the cast could wash off their makeup after Troilus and Cressida. I ‘Edinburgh is awiul’ said Dmitri Shostakovich, darling of the Festival. The press pack licked their pencils as one. splash headlines running through their minds. They should have wondered why the lad Dmitri was speaking with a Scottish accent. as it was the composer‘s dopplega'nger, a Glaswegian journalist. who was answering the questions.
The List l4 — 20 August I992 7