Monday, 31 March 2014

Hello Blogworld,

Things are ticking over here. I managed to get tix for Moira Buffini's new play 'Handbagged' at the Vaudeville, and am going with two dear ladies I'm privileged to call friends, Kath Pykett and Denise Kent.

Sadly though, I didn't manage to get tix to see Kate Bush, the woman I've loved since I was thirteen.

Maybe she won't leave it another thirty years until her next live appearances.

Thankfully I've managed to get my proposal in on time for a paper at the Literary London Society's annual conference in Bloomsbury this summer. It was good to focus on something academic, even if for a little while. My mind has been fixed so firmly on tours and guiding that it's good to be able to do something else. I will make time definitely this week to concentrate on getting my second collection of stories up to scratch and ready to (self-)publish. The paper is on Peter Ackroyd's presentation of London as a perpetual City, transcending time. That old thing.

Preparations for the Walkie Talkie adult education course are coming along well. Julian Walker, who has an ideal surname for a tour guide, gave us the test run of his tour in Bromley and Bow, and he's got together a fascinating collection of sites, from past and present. I enjoyed it hugely. He finished it at Bow bus garage: the sun was shining, and as I said to him, a bus garage in the sunshine always makes me think of days out into the country and down to the seaside, so it ended on the highest note.

Gandhi at Kingsley Hall in 1931 -
one of the stops on Julian's tour

Viv Schrager-Powell and I met up on Monday to chat about resuming work on our suite of tours examining the business City. So far we've got a tour looking at organised finance. now we're working on trade. Viv did the St Paul's guiding course, which meant we suspended work for a while, but now it's getting back into the swing. After our chat, I rushed home to get a couple of things done before rushing back to visit Haberdashers' Hall with Viv and some of the current students on the City course, and a couple of qualified guides, including the redoubtable David Thompson, whose architecture tours and lectures I found so helpful on the course last year.

The original grant of arms for the Haberdashers -
featuring their original arms

St Katharine is there with her wheel - the Haberdashers met originally in a chapel dedicated to her in St Paul's.

Well, I've got the Decent Homes inspection tomorrow - we're having new bathrooms and kitchens - so I need to get the flat straightened out, so I'd better sign off now.

Mind how you go.


Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Hello Blogpeeps,

A funny old week: putting together information for a new tour most of the time, and a week without either Italian or Spanish students! Still, I went with my old schoolchum Brad Baxter on Thursday to the Rose to see the rarely-performed Christopher Marlowe bloodbath, 'The Massacre at Paris'.

They used red confetti for blood, picking up on the marriage scene that begins the play, and just as well, because there's a lot of blood flows in that show. This meant that the stage got progressively covered with red, which emphasised the gruesome business going on. Very effective.

Yesterday saw the first preview of the walks we're devising as a supplementary programme of tours for the Walkie Talkie course which begins next month, on St George's Day. This weekend it was my turn, with my tour of the Liberties of the Tower looking at the remnants of visual heritage testifying to the area's links to maritime trade.

The former Court House of the Liberties
of the Tower

This afternoon I had another outing of my 'The Dark Side of Bethnal Green' tour, looking at chapters of Bethnal Green's criminal history in their historical and legal context: stories from the C18, C19 and C20.

Sadly, life is still centred around tours, and currently I'm working on my Law and Order in the City tour, which I have named provisionally 'Law and Order EC'. We shall see! I need to make some time however to carry on working on the stories for my second collection, as well as putting together a proposal for a paper for the Literary London conference this summer.

Well, I need to get my ironing done and get an early(ish) night, so I'm going to sign off now. I hope to be able to bring more exciting posts soon!

Mind how you go.


Dave Charnowalks

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Hello Blogophiles,

This has to be a record delay - it's now Wednesday, and I haven't done the weekend's blog yet, so I thought while it's still in my head I'd get something down on virtual paper.

Looking at the work diary I'm obliged to keep for the New Enterprise Allowance, to show that I'm not spending my days watching Loose Women and eating hob nobs, I see that last week saw me twice on the streets: Monday taking Spanish students around Westminster on the overseas student version of 'Of Commonwealths and Kings', and Tuesday taking Italians round on what, for convenience, I'm calling 'Squares and Palaces': from Covent Garden through Leicester and Trafalgar Squares and then along Pall Mall to St James's Palace, then Buck House and back through St James's Park to the heart of Westminster. As usual, the squirrels in the park are the main attraction, but the students react sympathetically to the story of poor Giro, the German ambassador's dog who was electrocuted when he bit through a live wire.

Giro - ein treuer Begleiter

I'm trying to find out who's responsible for cleaning the window in front of his stone: the German embassy say it's not them, so I'm trying Westminster City Council. The window's filthy, so you need a picture to show what it looks like.

I'm putting together my next tour, which will be one about law and order in the City. I've been reading up about Kitty Byron and the Lombard Street Post Office stabbing. I'm also putting together material for the walk based on trade and the City which will be the second of the series Viv Schrager-Powell and I are creating about Business and the City. Thinking of a linking theme for the tours' titles, I thought body parts might be an idea - the financial heart of the City, the sinews of trade, the commercial backbone, etc. We shall see.

Sadly, my life at the moment tends to revolve around business - such is the lot of the self-employed sole trader. Consequently I don't have much personal stuff to report for last week. I need to focus more on housework. I have someone coming round in April to inspect things in preparation for the Decent Homes work, where we have new bathrooms and kitchens. The bathroom certainly is a priority: I couldn't get the ceiling done for ages because of water penetration from the flat upstairs, and it's in a terrible state.

One positive note about last week is that I got Series 8 of the Navy Lark on CD: the previous week I'd been playing loads of episodes from Series 1-7 to get myself into an appropriately salty frame of mind for the preview of my maritime trade tour.

Anyway, that'll do for now: I'm going to brew up and get back to my tour preparations.

Cast off for'ard, cast off aft!


Dave Charnowalks

Monday, 10 March 2014

Hello Blogonauts,

Rather a week last week, hence the delayed posting. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible! Much of the week was taken up with creating the new tour, 'Tidemarks from the Pool', which looks at remnants of the heritage of marine trade in the area east of the Tower, the Liberties of the Tower. Very interesting material, but it needed so much work to get to grips with all the history involved, plus the area is south of the Mile End Road, which is largely terra incognita for me, being Bethnal Green born and bred. It needed also a number of episodes of 'The Navy Lark' to get me fully in a properly salt-caked, tar-coated, rum-sodden frame of mind.

Of course, part of the tour deals with the loss of the Scandinavian quarter of Wellclose and Princes Squares. Not only were buildings destroyed needlessly in the 1960s that were of architectural merit, many were of interest for other reasons, like the Court House of the Liberties of the Tower, which was part of the 1680s phase of building and stood on the south side of the Square.

The Court House, Wellclose Square

The remarkable Wilton's Music Hall is also on the tour: a vague hint of which can be got from Tommy Trinder's 1944 film 'Champagne Charlie'. Thankfully Wilton's was spared in the 1960s, thanks to Betjeman and the London Music Hall Trust.

Tommy Trinder in 'Champagne Charlie'

I've done a little work also on the Law and Order tour in the City, which will probably be the next cab off the rank. Indeed, it was after doing some work on Thursday in the British Library on Kitty Byron that I met with fellow Old Parmiterian Brad Baxter, and we popped into the Queen's Head, Acton Street:
followed by a stroll through southern Pentonville and into Clerkenwell for a long-overdue visit to the Jerusalem and the Sir John Oldcastle. Some highly interesting housing en route, houses and blocks of flats. London just keeps unfolding ...

A beery time because on Saturday, after a morning preview of the maritime trade tour, we took the underground Overground line from Shadwell to Whitechapel and had a few pints of the excellent 'Lost at Sea', brewed on the premises at the White Hart, Mile End Gate.

Sunday afternoon saw another outing for the 'Behind the Magic Curtain' tour of Theatreland. Lovely sunny weather, making me regret my wearing a coat. As a theatre addict myself, I enjoy doing this tour hugely, mainly because it visits actual theatres, so you can see places that have contributed to the development of performance in this country and continue to do so.

Brian Rix (L), the man behind the Whitehall Farces,
with Ronald Shiner

I took out some Spanish students today around Westminster - where did all the sunshine go?

Anyway, this is more than overdue, so I'll go now and get me some victuals.




Sunday, 2 March 2014

Dear Blogpeeps,

There was me, just about to close down and head for bed, and I remembered that I hadn't done this week's blog entry. Got to keep on top of things. Particularly since I've managed to make it through the ordeal of a Dry February! I'm currently preoccupied with maritime trade, working on the prep for my new tour eastwards and inland from Tower Bridge and the Pool of London.

The former Courthouse of the Liberties of the Tower
Wellclose Square

The preview run of this walk means I won't be offering a walk next Saturday morning, but will be offering one on Sunday afternoon: 'Behind the Magic Curtain', my Theatreland tour.

Joseph Grimaldi as Joey

Last week saw a second go at my new walk for Italian students from Covent Garden to Westminster via Buckingham Palace, where as usual the stars were the squirrels and birds in St James's Park! Not to mention the red telephone boxes ... Still, I shall be developing it into another tour for 'regular' clients in due course. Here's a clue to what it'll be:

Wyld's Great Globe

Not much else of interest to report, except that I got a freebie to see Emil and the Detectives at the National on Thursday, which was very well done. It was an early start - curtain up at 6:00 and it finished 7:50. It meant I missed the launch meeting for the new book group at the library, but hopefully there was enough interest, and it'll be meeting regularly, so I can catch up.

Also my good friend Anna Tomlinson has been making me jealous by posting FB pix of Cologne: or Köln, as it should be.

It's nearly midnight now, so I must get my head down.

Look after yourselves, and I'll be back next week.


Dave Charnowalks