A tour named Greyfriars Bobby & his Four-Legged Friends is clearly geared towards young children, and yet this sold-out tour is still comprised mostly of adults eager to revisit their childhoods and indulge in an hour of interactive storytelling. Tour leader Fergus McNicol is charming, personable and made an effort to talk to every member of the tour group, quickly building and maintaining rapport across the hour. Although taken aback at the fact that his audience is not the mass of toddlers one might anticipate from the title, he successfully readjusts his act and delivers a tour which is funny, fresh and unpretentious, delighting not only the few children in the group but the adults who he manages to coax into joining in with silly songs and dances.
Starting at Greyfriars Bobby, McNicol and his co-host Chloe the Cockapoo guide the group to St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street gardens, bringing the streets and landmarks to life with tales of monkeys, elephants and bears. An excellent storyteller, McNicol is entertaining and engaging, and brings to life both the oral tradition of storytelling and the streets of Edinburgh, painting a picture of the city as a place of possibility where exotic animals could be hiding around any corner. The children in the group seem entranced by his performance and are quick to interact, clamouring at the chance to stomp like an elephant outside of the castle and singing along with the songs that dotted the tour.
Ultimately, this walking tour proves that there is no age limit on a good story. Although the majority of the audience are arguably too old to be spending their Sunday morning traipsing around Edinburgh learning about the monkey who used to dance outside of the cathedral and the elephant who used to live inside the castle, not one person leaves the tour without a smile on their face.
Greyfriars Bobby and his Four-Legged Friends: Amazing Edinburgh Animals! took place on 27 October 2019 as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. You can find more details about the festival, and buy tickets for future events, here.
Image: Andy Kaye via Flickr