Talk to the Tour-Guide
- The Midgie
- 1 October 2008
EWAN KENNETH MACLEOD
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AS A TOUR GUIDE?
4 YEARS (IN THIS LIFE)
COOKING, SCOTS HISTORY, A CUP OF TEA AND A BIT OF A BLETHER
What types of people come on your tours?
All sorts of people. I’ve had Mongolians, Chinese, Taiwanese… I’ve never had an Inuit though. It’s amazing that you get people from all over the world, as far away as possible, and they’ll come to this small, great country.
And where do you take them?
I try to show people nooks and crannies and places they wouldn’t usually find. The first thing I like to do is welcome them, introduce them to Edinburgh, then drive out of the city, through the central Lowlands, Fife, up through the Highlands and the Western Isles. Sometimes it’s best to just tear the itinerary up. You can’t follow an itinerary. It’s sunny on that side of the island; let’s go over there.
Where’s your favourite place to spend the night?
I guess it sounds a bit soft but, Dundee. [Sings to the tune of Bruce Springsteen] Born in the DRI! I was born in Dundee Royal Infirmary. I still love to go back there, have a blether and a nice cup of tea. I’ve been all around the world, and the best water I’ve ever tasted comes out of
the taps in Dundee.
What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you on a tour?
There’s many tour guides that have been doing this a lot longer than me, and they always get asked ‘What’s worn under the kilt?’, and these old guys will say, ‘Nothing’s worn under the kilt. It’s all in perfectly good order’, that’s one of the oldest jokes. These very rude older women, they didn’t even ask me a question; I was bending over, getting some flasks of tea out of my bag. They grabbed me. I never saw it but I felt it.
Favourite drink after a long day?
Same as anyone. Cup of tea. I’ll go into a local bar for a dram; meet the local folk, have a local whisky.
What would you choose,given the choice between a 5 star hotel in the city for a night, and a tent in the highlands for a night?
Tent in the highlands. Everything else is plastic, eh? Just extracting people’s dosh.
If I could send you anywhere in the world right now, where you choose?
I’d probably go up and see the Inuits. See what it’s like up there and ask them why they don’t come down to visit? Nah, they probably do visit.
You can only take three things. What would they be?
My Mum, my Dad and my brothers.
If I wanted to find out your secrets, who would I ask?
Ask anyone I’ve ever met – I’ve got nothing to hide. Or ask anyone who runs a pub in Scotland.
Do you have any nicknames?
Aye. When I was a wee boy I got called Flech – which is Scots for Midgie actually. Nowadays I get called Fishy by my best pal, but that’s a story that goes back to my school days.
What time is too early in the morning?
Getting home at seven in the morning after a late night in the pub, and your mother’s standing over you asking if you want a bacon roll for breakfast, but you’ve not even been to bed yet. That’s too early in the morning.
Have you got any bad jokes?
Do you know the Egyptian taxi driver that works in Dundee? His name’s Toot ‘n’ Come-Oot.
Has it ever gone a bit pear-shaped for you?
Aye, that time an American woman stuck her hand up my kilt. But that wasn’t so much pear-shaped – more like a wee bag of plums.