Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Yes, I know it's nearly a month since my last post, but such is the life of the jobbing tour guide - you have to snatch at every opportunity! One curious experience I forgot to mention in the last blog was that I had the privilege - along with some other Footprints of London guides - of guiding some Chinese students. I took them on a Theatreland tour on the Friday evening (11 August), which was extra special because they'd been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe! They were particularly impressed to hear about Peter Daubeny and his World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych; especially pleasing was that in 1955 he brought the Peking Opera Company to the Palace Theatre for the first ever cultural visit to the UK by the People's Republic of China.

Anyway, what about the past month? The big news is that twelve people enrolled on the Walkie Talkie Introduction to Guiding course, and are now getting to grips with the real East End. Session One of Part One happened last Wednesday.

That Part Three ran this summer means that momentum has been revived for the Walkshop project. We have two groups working on individual projects, starting small to build up soundly! The current intake for Part One are enthusiastic, so hopefully we'll carry on into Part Two in November. These things are all recruitment-driven, so it's not something to take for granted. Still ...

In connection with the East End, I've been included in an initiative on the Isle of Dogs. I don't know how much is under wraps at present, so don't want to say anything, but things are happening and Island life is looking up.

It was good to contribute to Totally Thames: two slots each for two tours celebrating how the Thames has been crucial to the development of maritime trade that established England, and then Britain, on the international scene. One of them, River to Riches, was co-developed a couple of years ago with good buddy Vivien Schrager-Powell. Talking of Viv, I had the now-usual honour of backmarking for her 'In the Shadow of the Shard' tour yesterday for Walk London. This a weekend of free tours offered by Transport for London, usually thrice a year. Look out for the next one in February 2018.

Another festival looms in October: the Footprints of London Literary Festival.

This year we have over fifty different tours (five of them mine!) offered throughout October. Indeed, there's one or more tours EVERY DAY in October 2017! Even Doctor Who is represented this year, courtesy of my friend and colleague Robin Rowles. The list of tours can be found here:

I've increased my consultative value, as noted author Rebecca de Saintonge engaged me for a day to give her some medieval colour for a work she's putting together.

We strolled from Westminster, through the Inns and into the City, finishing on Bankside, and Rebecca mined my knowledge of medieval London to get a flavour of the C15, her period. It was a pleasure to recreate mentally how the different areas would have looked - and indeed smelled - with someone so charming, despite the hours of walking involved and the continual sound of my voice. Rebecca's site is here:

There are other dribs and drabs I could mention. My new tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life' is in fine form now, having had two outings. On 1 September I was on my chum Rob Smith's tour 'The Long Good Friday Revisited'. I couldn't do it last year when it was new, but he offered it for Totally Thames this year, so I got the chance and encouraged a couple of pals along too. It's a top tour, with all sorts of stuff about the film, including locations of course, but also reflections on how the regeneration of Docklands Harold Shand dreamed of achieving eventually came to pass.

Anyway, I've trespassed long enough on your valuable time, so I'll sign off now and hope to see you on the streets very soon. October sees East End Saturdays, in line with the course; the Sundays tiptoe along the dark side! Full details as usual on my schedule:



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