Saturday, 28 December 2013

Hello Blogfolks,

Sorry for not blogging yesterday: I have to blame the beers I shared with good buddy Danny Warren at the White Hart on Boxing Day evening, which left me a little delicate Friday morning. Not as young as I used to be ...

Anyway, as for Christmas Day itself, I'm one of the rare people who are more than happy to spend Christmas Day on their own. Most of the day was spent with Radio 4 Extra's day-long tribute to Richard Briers until it broke off at 4:00 -

As far as the walking is concerned, the application for the start-up loan has been received and is in order, so I just have to await the decision in the New Year. I've designed a leaflet, and have asked a few people's opinion of the design, and then I can print it up and get it circulated.

Sadly no-one was up for the Helping Hands walk today, which may have been because of fear about the weather - which has turned out splendidly, with lots of sunshine. Hopefully tomorrow's Battle for Bethnal Green walk (2:00 tomorrow afternoon) will enjoy the same weather.

Bethnal Green on Rocque's map of 1769

The walk next Saturday (4 January) should be fun, nosing around Theatreland while all the Christmas decorations are still up, indulging a little longer in the Christmas atmosphere before Twelfth Night. It will be followed by a catch-up drink with two special ladies, Kath Pykett and Denise Kent. Later that day another catch-up with two more special ladies: Nika Garrett and Valy Dumoulin.
I need to work out the order of the next few walks, including the pre-Fire City and Westminster, the seat of power bearing the fingerprints of various monarchs. No walk on Saturday 11 January anyway, because I shall be at the illustrious Big Boys' Beer Festival at my nephew Wesley's gaff at Bletchley.
In the meantime, having posted pictures of Bogart, here's a picture of Oscar (that's my hand behind his head).

That's all for this week - the Christmas week is always a little unsettled! I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Mind how you go.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Howdy - the last post before Christmas, so I'm taking the opportunity of a mug of tea and a couple of mincies to put down what passes for my week. Like many peeps, I was struck with the here-comes-Christmas-so-just-to-make-sure-you-don't-enjoy-yourself-too-much rotten cold on Friday last. Thankfully, through the ingestion of much chilli (con carne, curry, sliced chilli on salads) and Tesco own-label lemon powders, it's been kept under control.

In the midst of all this, I managed to get in a couple of walks. Last Saturday, m'colleague Viv Schrager-Powell and I gave our Organised Finance walk in the City.

This was thanks to the good offices of my old schoolchum Brad Baxter, a fellow alumnus of Parmiter's School, Bethnal Green, who is now a mathematical guru at Birkbeck, and the walk was arranged with his M.Sc. Financial Engineering programme in mind.

Also, on Monday afternoon I gave my Westminster walk 'Of Commonwealths and Kings' for the UK Educational Development Agency - a group of Italian teens over on language experience.

An important development for Charnowalks is that, thanks to my good buddy and fellow University of Hull alumnus Graham Starling, I now have a website:
I'm getting to be increasingly professional, especially as I've added another walk to Eventbrite, my Theatreland walk 'Behind the Magic Curtain' on Saturday 4 January:

Time to see London's theatres before they all fall down!

Thanks to Play-by-Play ( I've got a ticket for 'Strangers on a Train' next Monday afternoon, which'll get me out of the flat for purposes other than researching walks. For a theatre addict, it's been difficult having my theatregoing so curtailed, but come the New Year, when things pick up, I shall be able to fit more in.

Anyway, that's a brief account of what's been going on, other than that I was with Brad yesterday evening, and we popped into the Wenlock Arms - still a top-notch beer selection, but it's lost a lot of its atmosphere since the change of management. It's more like the many pubs now geared towards the fake Bohemians who have settled in the East End over the years, rather than the warm, locals' pub it was before.

Well, that's all from me. I hope you all have an exceedingly enjoyable Christmas, and a New Year full of goodies. Stay warm, keep up your fluids and vitamin C, read a book or two, and get yourself out to see some proper live theatre.

With all that's warmest and best,


Friday, 13 December 2013

The best news of the week is that my very dear friend Nika Garrett passed her exam walk, and will now add City Guide to her considerable achievements.

My past week has been busy as usual. On Saturday I did my first Eventbrite-advertised walk, 'To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime', my walk which explores the problems the authorities experienced with the death penalty as well as moments where the due process of law was put in a questionable light.

Me doing my bit at the site of the Giltspur Street Compter, talking about George Sloane

Sloane arriving at the Compter in December 1850

I also did my Westminster Walk 'Of Commonwealths and Kings' for a small but select group yesterday afternoon. I also met with Antonio, my business mentor, on Tuesday, and he signed off my business plan. The Good Ship Charnowalks is getting onto the slipway.

I've been meeting with various interesting people, and today it was William Palin of the new East End Preservation Society. Things are happening in east London, and the more people who get behind this swell of interest the better. So much heritage is under threat in the East End, we need to make sure we give it a voice by telling its stories.

I'd like to post more, but today has been a little hectic for personal reasons (not my story, so I won't post about it), plus I need to get my head down because tomorrow my esteemed colleague Viv Schrager-Powell and I are giving our organised finance walk for a group from Birkbeck - through the offices of my good friend and fellow Parmiter's alumnus Brad Baxter - and I need to pile up some 'Z's.

Good night.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Hello Blogfolks,

As promised, a second weekly instalment of my adventures. Thankfully this time Bogart's not interfering, but here's a picture anyway:

I'll have to get pix of the other two uploaded for next time.

The week has been occupied with networking and trying to get things into shape. I met up with Simon of Hackney Tours:
and Angela of London City Steps:
to discuss what I and my Walkie Talkie colleagues are up to, and had some interesting chat. Both groups do very interesting and important stuff.

Talking of the Walkie Talkie peeps, I didn't mention last week that a group of us were given a tour and explanatory chat about the Foundation of St Katharine by Mark Aitken, the Master:
Originating as a hospital, it survived the Great Fire, the Reformation and the Commonwealth, but couldn't survive the expansion of the docks. It was a great evening, and we were invited back for supper by Judy Stephenson, one of our number.

Before and after pix of the Master's house - 1946 and now.

This week, John Ryan, head honcho of Oxford House, did the honours for us.
A major local venue which doesn't get the press it deserves. A Victorian university settlement which is an important community resource.

The theatre at Oxford House

Guiding in Tower Hamlets looks set to get more and more important. There's so much life in the East End and people don't know about it. Even today someone said to me that there's nothing to see here!

I'm still working on my business plan: I need to get it to my business mentor before I meet him next Tuesday. In the meantime, tomorrow morning (Sat 7 Dec) I've giving the first walk I've advertised on Eventbrite, my judicial punishment walk 'To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime'. I've started getting stuff out now: two for the weekend after Christmas which focus on philanthropy and charitable enterprises in the City and in Bethnal Green, both at a bargain 25% off:

Finally, but by no means of lesser import, my good buddy from Hull University, Graham Starling, has been putting me a website together. The more astute can probably work out the address, but until I manage to get enough stuff to him to get the whole thing alright, I'll leave you hanging ...

I think that's all for the moment, so I'm going to have the last tea of the day and get my head down, ready for tomorrow's guiding.


Dave Charnowalks

Friday, 29 November 2013

Hello everyone in Blogland,

I hereby make a firm commitment to putting out a weekly blog: I'm sure you're panting to hear what I'm doing, plus it reminds me what's been going on. The old loaf is fair spinning with trying to keep up. It's proving a bit difficult right now because the boy Bogart wants my attention.

On the literary front, I was able to give two readings for Red Army Fiction: I headlined their Hallowe'en special, Dead Army Fiction, and gave a reading as part of a Red Army Fiction slot at the local Lit Fest, Write Idea. Still trying to persuade people that Death and the City makes a good Christmas present!

Guiding in Tower Hamlets is developing in various ways. After the first five-week instalment of Walkie Talkie, we decided to break, regrouping in the New Year, and we'll concentrate on developing walks in a workshop format. In the meantime we've got some visits, including the Royal Foundation of St Katharine last Weds, and Oxford House this coming Weds, as well as the last of the programme of Saturday walks - Sean Patterson will be taking the group through Whitechapel and a bit of Spitalfields, in the footsteps of Charles Booth.

I've put my first walk on Eventbrite: 'To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime' is booking for Saturday 7 December:

We shall hear, for instance, the sordid story of George Sloane and how he just about escaped the mob:

So much to do, and so little time. I have to have my draft business plan ready before I meet my mentor on 10 December. December isn't really the best time to start up in business as a tour guide! Rather a slack period, but I'm sniffing out business where I can.

That's all for now, friends, so I shall head on out into the weekend with head held high, and see what hits me in the face first.

Mind how you go.

Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Unbelievably I haven't posted since August: sorry about that, but I've been a little busy ...

Apart from some health problems for Dad (no details - not my story), I've been getting involved in the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to get Charnowalks off of the ground.

My first meeting with my new business mentor went well this Friday morning: he seems to think that I've been approaching things the right way, developing the product before advertising it. Advertising must now become a priority, as well as expanding the more 'populist' aspect of the repertoire - look out for 'Of Commonwealths and Kings', the Westminster walk, as well as 'Red, White and Blue', policing the City (from the red-and-white chequer pattern favoured by the City police, in distinction from the blue-and-white sported by the Met).

A recent highlight was meeting the illustrious Nat Benchley on 21 September. A grandson of the great American humourist (or should that be humorist?) Robert Benchley, Nat is a writer and performer in his own right. We've been e-penpals for some years, but this is the first time we've met, and it was a genuine privilege to show him around the City. Sadly a trip to New York, New York is currently way out of the question, but hopefully before too long I'll get myself across the water.

Another project is Walkie Talkie, an adult education course I've devised which starts on Wednesday 9 October. It cultivates in novice guides and civilians the imaginative art of guiding, and introduces everyone to guiding in Tower Hamlets. The borough has no structured guiding culture, and given that it is an area rich with history and story, this is surprising. It also explains why low-level heritage is so vulnerable: King Cole's eucalyptus tree (look it up!), which once stood proudly, if rather crookedly, in Meath Gardens Park has now been reduced to a stump.

As well as advertising the walks, I must devote more time to advertising Death and the City, which (I am continually reminding people) makes an ideal and inexpensive Christmas present. I will be headlining with it at Red Army Fiction's Hallowe'en special Dead Army Fiction, but must do more. The writing has taken a bit of a drop in priority while I've been building up the walks, but now it must be stepped up the list. Also, the second book of stories will be self-published quite soon: thanks to Ronald Chapman for a really classy pic for the front cover.

Many plates are still spinning, and I mustn't let any fall, but I will try and post much more frequently to let you know of my adventures.



Thursday, 22 August 2013

At last, I can put aside a few moments to post something. Your man is rather busy at the moment. Leaving aside domestic stuff (my intimates will know about this), there are various plates spinning.

I'm pleased to report that the walks are coming along well. First of all, 'Venture Capital' (the walk looking at engineering ventures in the City) went well for both groups of summer school students last month, and it looks like there might be more take-up for that, so grazie mille volte to Marco Federighi at UCL for his help with this. Viv Schrager-Powell and I are pleased to announce the unveiling of our first collaboration at a financial walk, with more to follow. This one looks specifically at the story of organised finance in the City; the next, which is on the stocks, will look at trade.

I'm also looking for more ways to plug my adult education course based on guiding walks in Tower Hamlets. The East End doesn't have an organised guiding structure; various London guides have walks in the area, but a proper structure will allow guiding to develop, bringing out the stories of this rather ancient borough. The course (beginning in October) will comprise a five-week course which will feed the students, with walks and visits as well as stuff in class; this will be followed immediately by another five-week course which will be more practical, concentrating on the principles of guiding and how it works.

For details of the course and of my walks in general I can be contacted via or tweeted on @Charnowalks - use the hash-tag #GuideLBTH if you're interested in the course.

Well, I must go now to carry on working on revisions to an item for the Literary London Society's journal: 'Ackroyd's Ghostly Heroines'.



Sunday, 14 July 2013

Hello All,

Your man is standing on the brink of a very full week. Tomorrow morning I'm off to be inspected by the UK Educational Development Agency with a view to being put on their books. They're offering me a go at taking overseas students round the West End Monday week. It's only £10 an hour, but then you've got to take the opportunities that present themselves, and it'll be useful experience. Wednesday sees me taking some UCL summer school students around, showing them some engineering ventures in the City, some successful and some less so. And then on Thursday and Friday it's the Literary London Society's annual conference at Senate House, where I'm giving a paper on apocalyptic threat in Robert Rankin's Brentford Trilogy (don't be fooled; it's seven novels).

Then, on Saturday, it's the great reading and signing of Death and the City, 2:30 at the Sun Inn, Bethnal Green Road. At least, I'm hoping it'll be a signing! I got so caught up with preparations for the UCL walks and this Tower Hamlets course I'm devising that I ordered the books late. Hopefully the ten I ordered at extra-fast delivery will arrive alright; possibly the other ten will arrive in time too. Who knows? If not, I'll still be doing the reading, and handing out leaflets ...

Nothing like living on the edge, is there?

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the sun this week and don't get overheated. It's going to be a scorcher on Wednesday apparently, so spare a thought for your humble servant as he pounds the pavements, as well as the hapless students who struggle to concentrate in the heat.

Health, wealth and happiness,


Monday, 8 July 2013

As the embryonic Charnowalks emerges into the harsh light of day, I am creating an accompanying Blog for fans and friends to follow his adventures on the mean streets of London. Actually they're not that mean: I've lived here all my life, and I've never found them a problem. London is far more welcoming and friendly than people tend to think. You just have to get below that veneer of reserve adopted by us as a defence mechanism. After all, we tend to think that every moment of our day is spoken for and sometimes begrudge those who seek to break our concentration on the next event on the calendar.

Still, that's what people like me are here for: the guides who keep the secrets and tell the tales, and who take you behind the top-show to reveal a city based on people. History is the story of what people have done, and London has plenty of doings to reveal, many a story for you to hear.

This is my maiden post on this blog, but it won't be the last by a chalk as long as your arm. There'll be all sorts of odds and ends coming up, but for now I want to mention just one thing. On Saturday 20 July at 2:30 I will be having a book reading and signing session at the Sun Inn, Bethnal Green Road:

If you come along, not only will you get the chance to sample one of the best pubs in the East End, you'll also hear me reading snippets from my recently-self-published book 'Death and the City'
and a couple of extracts from the new novel, which is going the rounds of the agents as we speak.

If you are interested in guiding btw, and are in striking distance of Shadwell, I am starting a small course about guiding (hopefully the germ of something much bigger) in Tower Hamlets in October, and there is a taster session on 2 August 2013:
(You'll have to go right down to the bottom, which will involve clicking a couple of times on the 'Show more' whatsit.)

Anyway, that's enough for today; I think the sun is affecting me. I must crawl back under my thinking cap and get on with devising fun and interesting walks for the populace.