Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Hello the Blogophiles!

Some time ago a gracious lady said to me that blogging is addictive. That I've not found it so is apparent from the date of my last post: Sunday 1 June 2014! Well, it's not that I've not found it enjoyable to blog; it's more that I've been prevented by other things. So, what's been keeping me from blogging for more than seven months? So much ...

One important development has been that of the Walkie Talkie adult education course, giving an oh-so-low-level introduction to guiding in Tower Hamlets. Not only was there a second run of Part One in October 2014, but we had the first-ever run of Part Two in November. This has encouraged the enthusiasm for guiding of some talented people who will be coming together to establish the workshop initiative known as the Tower Hamlets Walkshop. We are now in a position to get the workshop off of the ground, and an initial meeting is planned for later this month.

The autumn run of the course has been supplemented by some other initiatives. August Bank Holiday weekend saw Tower Hamlets at Street Level, a weekend of free tours in the borough. One of these was 'What Is Heritage?', a tour devised by some of the folks from the April-May run of Walkie Talkie. Running from Bethnal Green to Mile End, it considers our understanding of the idea of heritage and what will constitute the heritage of the future.

Andrew Wilson addressing the eager
'What Is Heritage?' audience
(pic: Susie Clapham)

Another successful collaboration for Walkie Talkie students was the Old Ford History Trail, devised for the Roman Road Winter Festival. Looking at the rich heritage to be found along the unassuming Old Ford Road, it opened up many people's eyes to the important stories which go unregarded and neglected in London's traditional suburbs, particularly those to the east of the City.

On Old Ford Road - a bit of Alan!
(pic: Leigh Clothier)

We have been seeking to develop links with local groups who share our enthusiasm for the heritage of the East End, such as the East End Preservation Society, and others whose interests overlap with ours, such as Oxford House in Bethnal Green. The threat of indiscriminate development which hangs over the East End like the sword of Damocles is one reason why we need to promote the area's heritage and its importance, but just as important is that it teaches people about the richness of where they live, and helps increase their enjoyment of what they see around them.

At Lincoln's Inn with the RCS
(pic: Anna Tomlinson)

On a personal level, the touring is developing; last September I managed another gig with the Royal College of Surgeons, courtesy of Anna Tomlinson (above). Recently (last Saturday, in fact) I previewed a new City tour, 'Law and Order EC' ( which looks at policing and the law. My distinguished colleague Viv Schrager-Powell and I have been expanding our suite of tours 'The Anatomy of the City', and last October we previewed 'The Sinews of Trade' ( to match 'The Financial Heart'. Currently we are working on 'The Commercial Backbone'. I've also been added to the prestigious Footprints of London site, which features only qualified guides who are members of a recognised guiding agency. (

Viv and I at Billingsgate Market
(pic: Ann Flowers)

Now that the guiding has become more established, I've been catching up with the writing. At last, the second book of stories has been completed: 'Behind the Curtains' features an atmospheric cover picture by Ronald Chapman. I'm having a reading and signing session at the Old George pub in Bethnal Green Road ( at 2:00 on 31 January. Also I'm working on a revised proposal for a non-fiction work looking at dark moments in the history of the East End. Not the Ripper nor the Krays, but less covered moments. Respectable crime for responsible people.

Ronald's pic for the cover of 'Behind the Curtains'

Since the last blog post, I've obtained a new kitchen, toilet and bathroom through the Decent Homes programme, though the concomitant nuisance meant I could make only one day of the Literary London Society's annual conference last July, because I didn't want the moggies disturbed by builders going in when I wasn't there. I had to have work halted for the Wednesday so that I could go in to give a paper on Peter Ackroyd's portrayal of an eternal London using the device of the subterranean city, and to chair a panel on Ackroyd afterwards. I've also discovered a site called which allows people to share things they've written, and I've uploaded various items to that:

Literary London Society banner

I think that by now I've probably exhausted your patience, so I'll sign off. I hope to be able to set aside more time in future to maintain the blog, but no promises (and thus no disappointments). But if you join up my blog (see right), you'll get updates as and when!

Thanks for supporting my curious efforts!


Dave Charnowalks