MY subject for your homework this week is beauty and the beastly crowds. I speak, albeit opaquely as usual, of tourism.

From Venice to Portree, from Barcelona to Edinburgh, the people are rising up against overcrowding and the taking over of their communities by the great washed.

To define my terms, I say “people” in the accurate sense of two or three overly intense individuals with angry, red faces. And when I say “rising”, I mean issuing a press release.

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All the same, to this situation I intend bringing some fresh perspective, prejudice and misanthropy.

First, to differentiate: though I know Portree and Edinburgh, I am completely ignorant of Venice and Barcelona and this should help me devise an objective or scientific assessment of these cities.

Whether Venice can cope or not, the sheer daily pressure of constant crowds and racket would bring any community to the point of a nervous breakdown.

As for Barcelona, protesters there are now attacking tourist buses, though it seems the perceived loss of their community is tied in with the wider loss of their Basque country.

Turning to Edinburgh, a capital like Barcelona without a properly sanctified nation, it has hitherto been glad of tourists.

Latterly, however, there has been whispering, and this has been amplified into screams by the popular prints, which report that the capital cannot cope and that more than 340,000 people passed through Edinburgh’s main train station on the first weekend of the various ghastly “Festivals”.

There have also been warnings that the city might become a “hollow shell museum”, with natives displaced by tourist hordes.

This has already happened in the centre, certainly in terms of residents, if not office workers, who struggle wan-faced in ill-fitting, dark suits through the colourful crowds to get a wee lunchtime sushi tray from Markies or Pret. Though I live in Edinburgh, I haven’t been to the city centre in years, barring once for a coffee and once for an ill-advised stroll among the Festival crowds last year.

On that occasion I was seriously insulted from a stage in Parliament Square by an Englishman wearing a kilt.

Apart from that, sometimes I pass the centre’s fringes if I’ve decided to walk back from the footer in Leith because, first, I don’t understand the buses and, secondly, I must punish myself for having had just another five last pints “for the road”.

On the day I had that coffee – it was my first “business meeting” in many decades – I felt that I was on another planet, never mind my home city.

And that wasn’t just because the coffee menu seemed written in another language.

Oh, the crowds, the inconvenience! I don’t know if it’s because we’re talking about people who had not the great fortune to be born British – I detect sniggering in Caledonia – but many tourists do seem peculiarly dense. They do block pavements and entrances, indicating a low stock of common sense and a poor capacity for thinking of others.

Which brings me nicely to the Edinburgh Festivals, including the gut-wrenchingly crass military tattoo. It’s these that are causing the current overcrowding.

Banning them would halve the problem and bring great pleasure to many. And I use the term “many” in its postmodern sense of “me”.

Binmen and baronets alike urge me not to be so curmudgeonly but my dislike is instinctive, and I trust my instincts.

Indeed, my instinct used always be to flee Edinburgh during the Festivals.

I’m stuck now at Festival time but where, at other times, do I love these days to flee? Why, to Skye, of course. To be fair, I’m usually there in winter.

But I’ve been once or twice in summer and must say that, compared to Edinburgh, it seems positively deserted. A few more speccy anoraks on the pavements of Portree, but that’s about it.

The situation causing the present hullabaloo isn’t generalised overcrowding but logjams at the spectacular tourist attractions – none of which I’ve ever visited – with too many cars and coaches for too narrow roads and too wee car parks.

That does need sorted. As for the wider fuss, that has been attributed to “business owners” in that peculiar way the media has of making a plural out of a single phenomenon, in this case a man who operates a van dispensing cups of tea.

But I believe that Skye for the most part welcomes tourists, particularly as many who visit there are decent, quiet people for whom the scenery is something to feel rather than snap.

Edinburgh, too, would be a poorer place – just in terms of buzz – without visitors, by which I don’t mean the the smarty-arty crowd with their hellish “antics”, but the normal, bovine ones.

That is, as long as they don’t come near my suburb, which is mercifully far from the madding crowd.