Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2013 - 7 August
A week ago last Wednesday the Saunders family went to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. These days you either have to book about a year in advance or get tickets via some block allocation or other. Hilary had been offered some via a college connection, so we went. (It wasn't always like that: when Hilary was at school in Edinburgh it was often possible just to turn up on the night and buy tickets.)
The Tattoo, for anyone who doesn't know, is a massive show held every night on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, right outside the main gate, where there are massive permanent stands. They're used at other times for concerts, though the city is pretty careful about noise. The Tattoo features bands and display teams of all kinds from the armed services not only of the British Commonwealth but from all over the world. (If we're not actually at war with then, they can come.) The quality of the performances is amazing - but then the military put the same attantion to detail into training and supporting their dancers, riders, singers or whatever it might be as they do into training their snipers and mine-clearers.
For example, a few years ago (this video is from 2011 but it was longer ago when we saw them) the Royal Netherlands Army Bicycle Band wowed us all:
This year's show, in addition to the New Zealanders with their Gangnam Style and their massed (for want of a better description) weapons-grade cheerleaders, we had music and dance from Mongolia, Mexico (with a Day of the Dead theme) and South Korea.
And it finished with more than the usual complement of fireworks. We knoew that before we went, as you can see and hear them all over Edinburgh, including from our house. A good evening anyway, as even the Guardian's correspondent had to admit. (I must confess that before I went to a Tattoo for the first time I had just the same misgivings as he had, but was won over by the showmanship and professionalism of it all.)