Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hello Blogpeeps,

Another round up from my full and eventful life. Much of my week has been spent working on a new walk in the liberties of the Tower, which will visit tidemarks left behind by the area's history of maritime trade. It's not a docks walk - if you want one of them, my good friends Nika Garrett and Rob Smith can oblige:

My one is more inland, and takes in one of the grossest acts of architectural vandalism committed in the name of post-war city planning:

Five of us are working on a walk each which together will form a supplementary programme of walks for the adult education course 'Walkie Talkie' when it comes around again in April ( This will be my one.

Anyway, yesterday morning I gave my 'Before the Make-Over' tour for a very enthusiastic audience of five (did the wine gums help, I wonder?). It tunes in to echoes of Plantagenet and Tudor London which persist despite the destruction of the Great Fire of 1666. I get the feeling though that it would make a pair of better walks if cut in half and worked the halves. We shall see.

We started at Blackfriars, where Paul Talling was also starting his River Fleet walk:
He does excellent tours, ferreting out so many obscure and unnoticed items and places.

The Black Friar - quite a pub

On Thursday evening I was allowed to contribute to Red Army Fiction's first gig back at the Gallery CafĂ© this year: It's a writers' forum created by the lovely and lovable Alison Eley and Raven Garcia, whose imaginations are possibly even more fertile than mine. I read out most of the opening section of 'Jack', a story from my (hopefully) soon to be ready second collection of stories. Jim Minton, who read a beautifully descriptive item of his own, was good enough to lay out ten smackers for a copy of my first collection, 'Death and the City':

Anyway, I think I'd better get on and do something more useful, like tackling that stack of ironing. So, thanks for tuning in. More drivel will be forthcoming next Sunday.

Mind how you go.


Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hello blogfollowers,

The final meeting of the Walkie Talkie group took place on Wednesday, so that we could debrief and finalise our project, to provide five East End walks which will constitute a supplementary programme to offer the students on the second outing of Walkie Talkie: With walks in Limehouse, Poplar and Bow, from Aldgate to Mile End Gate and between St Katherine's and St George's, it's looking good. We also shared our ideas about our next guiding project. More details about that later, when the ideas and responses have been collated.

On Tuesday afternoon I did another outing of my 'Of Commonwealths and Kings' walk for the UKEDA. I was expecting Italian students, but this time it was a group of Spanish students. Thankfully, all but two were reasonably competent in English, and of course a teacher was with them, a charming lady called Christina. I've had to create a revised version of the walk now, as I have to meet some groups at Covent Garden, which means I've got to do Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square before taking the students down to Buckingham Palace. This will be via St James's Palace, and the grave of Giro the dog, who belonged to the German ambassador Leopold von Hoesch:

Giro's grave, Waterloo Place

Poor Giro was electrocuted in 1934 when he bit through a live cable while Speer's refurb of the inside of the embassy was going on. Sadly the window in the protective housing is filthy, so it's not as visible as it could be. You can't get to the grave, so I'll try getting some fizzy water and seeing whether I can spray it clean.

A good time on Thursday evening: I went with Kath 'Sweetcheeks' Pykett to see 'The Duck House' at the Vaudeville Theatre. Based on the recent expenses scandal, it was hugely funny. Of course, an evening out with such company as Ms P is enjoyable enough in itself, but this made it all the better.

An outing yesterday morning for 'A Helping Hand', my walk in the City looking at the various enterprises connected with the City which brought help to others. Ann Flowers and Jenny Almeida came along with me, which was excellent. Most of these enterprises were started by individuals, many without money or influence but who exploited resources around them for the good of others. The walk takes in Postman's Park, the memorial to heroic self-sacrifice by all sorts of people who died saving, or trying to save, others from life-threatening situations. A couple of them were Bethnal Green people: Elizabeth Boxall is commemorated, as are Alice Maud Denman and Arthur Regelous:

Though the weather has been horrible, it was kind to us on Saturday, even if there were a couple of showers. Today it looks quite fine for this afternoon's outing of 'To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime'.

Anyway, I've got to get ready to head out to St Paul's for my merry stroll reflecting on the death penalty and judicial punishment as a whole, so I'll sign off this week's blog: anything I've missed I can add next time.

Mind how you go.


Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Howdy blogreaders,

Another late blog: life doesn't always respect timetables.

Yesterday morning's outing for 'Venture Capital' was a wash-out because of the weather. The thing was that it was really fine weather until about 10:20 when the rain began lashing down. I was leafleting at Tower Hill station - alone, up against three leaflet-givers from the Tower Bridge exhibition! We were driven into the station by the rain, but I did manage to get over forty leaflets taken.

This afternoon I got lots of leaflets handed out outside the Clerk's House, next to Shoreditch Church, and a charming couple called Iliona and Graham came along to sample 'The Dark Side of the Green', hearing stories about the likes of Arthur Harding and the London Burkers:

Bishop, Williams and May at Bow Street

Yesterday and Friday have been taken up with work on existing stories, since I've decided I've left it long enough before getting the next volume of stories published. I've reworked 'Jack', 'Commitment to the Community', 'Zuleika Day' and 'In Bobby's Room', and am now giving the treatment to 'Disturbing the Garden'. I know those titles don't mean anything to you now, but they will.

Otherwise I'm working on various odds and ends, walk-wise. I'm not yet taking up the law and order in the City walk; instead I'm concentrating on the Wellclose Square area as part of the Tower Hamlets project, and will be marshalling material for the trade walk Viv Schrager-Powell and I have had on the stocks for some months now while other things have gotten in the way.

Interesting meetings this week were a meet with David Graham down at Wilton's Music Hall last Tuesday, talking walks and outreach and similar things; then William Palin of the East End Preservation Society came along to our Tower Hamlets group last Wednesday and had a chat with us. Connections, liaison and co-ordination are so important.

Work, work, work: is there no end of work? Well, Kat Pykett was kind enough to take me along to hear Mark Steel at the Leicester Square Theatre the other day, which was a fab evening out, and as we were nibbling our pre-theatre sandwiches in the Trafalgar Square Pret, in walked Martin Shaw.

I'm afraid that I've become quite the home-body recently, so apologies for the strictly non-racy nature of my posts to date. They will open up more in due course when things get more even. I don't even have more cat pix to post this week! So, I'll go now, and resume next weekend. Who knows what the intervening week will bring about?


Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Afternoon Blogpeeps,

Rather late this week - sorry about that.

Today, I've been concocting my February schedule of tours and, as I must have been sleeping awkwardly, I've got rather a stiff neck and right shoulder, so typing has been literally a pain in the neck. I did slap on some Deep Heat, but it hasn't really helped much, so I'll have to resort to Voltarol.

Having posted pix of Bogart and Oscar, I tried to take one of Nicholas the other day while working, but he's not as sedate as the other two (which is why he's less of a tub), so I managed to get only unsatisfactory photos, but here's one, taken using webcam technology:

Last Friday (31 Jan), I previewed my new walk, 'The Dark Side of the Green', with an enthusiastic audience despite the cold and the rain. The tour looks at stories from the criminal history of Bethnal Green: the twentieth-century (mainly, but not exclusively, gangland stuff), but also eighteenth and nineteenth century stuff. I need now to work on the City law and order walk.

One sad story from last Friday's tour was that of Frances Shea: she married into the Kray family only to find out too late what that meant. She tried to find her way out but couldn't, even in death.

Frances and Reggie Kray on honeymoon in Athens

We finished in Paradise Gardens - if ever somewhere failed to live up to its name ...

I'm now officially on the New Enterprise Allowance, which means I have to come up with a projection of what my income will be over the next quarter. Hmm.

The schedule of tours I've devised for February can be seen on Eventbrite:
I've sent this out to my loyal mailing list followers, but there's always room for new fans: I can be reached on

The website is getting updated nicely, since Graham Starling (its creator) walked me through the processes. I'm still getting the hang of it, and there's much to learn. Once I master the secrets I shall stamp it more forcefully with my own personality!

The Tower Hamlets group didn't meet last week, allowing time for us to work on our walks, but we're reconvening this coming Wednesday. All being well, we'll welcome William Palin to speak to us. He's the man behind the East End Preservation Society. The group seems to have shrunk somewhat, but we're pushing towards the goal of creating a supplementary programme of Saturday morning walk for the April rerun of Walkie Talkie. More information as and when.

Well, that'll have to do for the moment: I need to go and slap on the Voltarol before I seize up completely.

Keep smiling!


Dave Charnowalks