Some "word", eh?
Everybody's synapses tingling? Good. Now let's crack on.
As always, lots of you have been asking about the dates Donald Rumbelow will be guiding the Jack the Ripper walk. (And for anybody who doesn't know – the reason that's an FAQ is that Donald Rumbelow is "internationally recognised as the leading authority on the Ripper.")
Ask and thou shalt receive. The dates* Don will be doing his Jack the Ripper Walk in March, April, May and early June (2013) are as follows:
*We'll be updating the "Don calendar" in late April (if not before). So check back then if you want to know when Don will be out CSIing the mean streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields in high summer. And when Don's dates go up here they're as close as we can get to definite** but with the usual proviso about the "unforeseen" – i.e., the published schedule is subject to Don's not coming down with the flu – or being hit by a bus!
**Doesn't hurt to check back here a week or so before the date you circled. When you produce a schedule like this – sometimes it's months in advance – it can happen that something will come up at a later date that forces Don to tweak his schedule ever so slightly. Case in point: back in 2009 there was a Monday in April when Don was down to do the walk but that bit of scheduling was "overtaken by events". I.E., something came up that forced him to pull that date from his guiding calendar. The good news is that he always gives us as much "distant early warning" as he can, which enables us to get those (happily extremely rare) changes up here asap.
Anything else? Yes, there's this heads-up about the Ripper walk...
When you turn up for the 7.30 pm Ripper Walk from Tower HillTube Stop please make absolutely certain that it is the bona fide London Walks guide you get linked up with. Or to put it another way, whatever you do, do not part with your money until you're absolutely certain it's going into the right hands! Not to put too fine a point on it, there have been some "problems" there from time to time. Which is by way of saying: anybody can "set out their stall" at Tower Hill tube stop. A security guard, for example. Or an individual who's been on the fringes of the Ripper "scene" going back some time now. Indeed, he has an "entry" in the standard reference work on the subject, the Ripper A to Z. This is what the A to Z says about him: "[he] has produced three cyclostyled pieces on the Ripper, all seriously marred by habitual extreme inaccuracy and inconsistency, and atrocious spelling and grammer". (In stark contrast – it goes without saying – to the A to Z's entry on our – London Walks' – Ripper guide, Donald Rumbelow. According to the A to Z "Donald Rumbelow is internationally recognised as the leading authority on the Ripper".) For the record, the individual in question – he of "the habitual extreme inaccuracy and inconsistency" – also claims to be a descendant of the Ripper. And for good measure of Count Dracula and Robin Hood. Well, you can draw your own conclusions. But the point is that if you do turn up for the Ripper Walk – please be very careful about whom you're handing your money to. Don't part with your cash until you're certain you're giving it to the bona fide London Walks guide. Because if it goes into the wrong hands it's a fairly sure bet that it won't be returned to you. The bona fide London Walks guide will be holding up copies of our distinctive white London Walks leaflet. He or she will be wearing their white London Walks badge – or else their Blue Badge, the token of the professional guides" association. And – crucially, crucially, crucially – the bona fide London Walks guides will never – NEVER – start the Ripper Walk before 7.30 pm.
And as long as we're on the subject, a word about the bait and switch antics that are par for the course on the internet these days. Here's the necessary corrective:
And that's soft-pedalling it. The full quote – it's from The Jack the Ripper A - Z, the standard reference work on the subject – is "Donald Rumbelow is internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper." Enough said?
No? Okay, there's still more on the subject right down at the end of this page...
Here's a much earlier "post"...
I hope you have a thoughtful cup of tea to hand.
You're going to need it...because you've got some reading ahead of you.
A new feature you're going to like is the From the Repertory page. It gives you a taster – a blurb – for many of the From the Rep and Special Walks. As those of you who are reasonably au fait with our programme well know, up until now we've only ever provided a title – and the starting time and starting point – for the From the Rep walks. Reason being that there's only so much space on a piece of paper and the London Walks leaflet already runs to 22,000 words and there are over 300 walks in the full London Walks repertory...so if we were to "blurb" every single London Walks From the Rep walk...well, you'd be able to gift wrap the Houses of Parliament with a single copy of the LW leaflet!
But cyber-space is a rather bigger canvas. It bends space. It's stretchable. Elastic.
So we're on the case. John has done a heroic – a sterling (and if you've been on my [David's] Along the Thames Pub Walk you'll know how thrillingly rooted in London history that word is) – job of chasing down the guides, shaking blurb dust out of them, shaping and baking it, and writing up some very tasty "descriptive" blurbs for the From the Rep offerings.
And I in turn have been tweaking "em and getting "em up onto this website. And we've made a good start. I think there are about 40 of them up there now. Initially I was taking them in chronological order. Banging them up as the walks hoved into view. But we've since switched over to presenting them in alphabetical order. Anyway we've got the bunting flying, so to speak, for quite a few of the From the Rep walks.
And as you'll see John's tacked on to each of them a couple of handy little bells and whistles. To wit: a "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" and the Tube Stop at which the walk ends. Can't be bad.
Here's a still earlier "post" on the Donald Rumbelow - Jack the Ripper Walk subject...
Runs as follows:
And in this same vein – as adumbrated (I've always wanted to use that word!) above – we get just a ton of email wondering when Donald Rumbelow will be guiding the Ripper. And well people might ask...because going on Don's Ripper Walk is as close as you're going to get to nailing the Ripper.
How good is Donald? Well, let me repeat what The Jack the Ripper A to Z - the "bible" of Ripperology – says about Donald.
The A to Z puts it categorically: "Donald Rumbelow is internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper".
And here are the reasons Donald Rumbelow IS "internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper".
He's the author of the definitive book on the subject, the best-selling The Complete Jack the Ripper.*
He's the former Curator of the City of London Police Crime Museum.
He's a two-time Chariman of the Crime Writers" Association.
He's been the chief consultant for every major television programme and film on the Ripper over the past 20 years. Indeed he's appeared on several of those programmes, including one that recently aired in the United States. And he will be appearing in another one that's in the pipeline.
Donald was the consultant for the recent Johnny Depp film on the Ripper, called "From Hell...". Indeed, Johnny came to London in order to go on a private Ripper walk with Don.
And I hasten to add, Don's not some dry-as-dust academic...he's an ex-City of London Policeman who pursued a dual career as a crime historian. Which in effect means you're taken over some of the most famous crime scenes in the world by a law enforcement professional who just happens to be the world's leading expert on those particular crimes. Can't be bad.
When Donald's Ripper Walk dates do get set out here they are definite but with the usual proviso about the "unforeseen" – i.e., the schedule is subject to Don's not coming down with the flu – or being hit by a bus!
Donald's Ripper Walk goes at 7.30 pm from just outside the exit of Tower HillTube Stop.
But please do take a look at the further particulars regarding the Ripper Walk – do a search for "Ripper" on our little search engine.
Take a look at those further particulars because we spell out there how to make absolutely sure it is Donald you've linked up with – as opposed to what a major American newspaper recently described as "a Ripper ripoff".
Or as The New York Times puts it, "be careful about the Ripper tour, however, since there are imitations...look for [the] one guided by Donald, who is Donald Rumbelow, the author of The Complete Jack the Ripper and a former curator of the notoriously grisly City of London Police Black Museum (a crime museum open by appointment only), credentials that are scary in themselves."
Or in the same vein, here's how Frommer's puts it in London by Night: "London Walks" Ripper Walk has many copycats, but it's the best".
Or here's how the recently published - and wonderful - little guide book: City Secrets – London...the ultimate insider's guide puts it: "Despite initial protestations from visiting friends, they invariably return to my flat in a Victorian frenzy saying, "that [Donald Rumbelow's Jack the Ripper Walk] was the best thing we've done in London"."
*Donald will have some of his books with him in case any of you want one. And needless to say he'll be glad to sign it for you. Makes an unbeatable present for anybody who's got a friend who's interested in the subject.
As it happens, a year ago or so I went on Don's Ripper walk. A day or so later someone asked me about his walk and because it was so fresh in my mind I banged out a rather detailed reply and e-mailed it to him. Anyway, I've put a copy of that letter in the Latest News section (see the Links column) of our web page. Take a look at it if you'd like my personal impressions of Don's Ripper walk.
And just for jolly, try this for size: London Walks is an anagram of Don knows all
Now on another note...
Famously, London Walks works "in an oral tradition". And I think the reasons for that are fairly clear. For one thing, It's just the nature of what we do...it goes with the territory, so to speak. But also – and I'm not going to pull my punches here – our material is our material. It's for us and our walkers – it's not for knock-offs and never-going-to-be's.
That said, we have just produced a CD-rom that does get down in words and pictures some London and London Walks "concentrate", so to speak. I.E., it complements – rather than duplicates – what we do. In effect, it "bottles" some London Walks essence. It's a piece of us and our town and what we do that you can take home if you want. An aide de memoire.
I, David, planned and wrote the thing. It runs to something like 20,000 words...words which accompany 500 or so photographs. And there are lots of nifty state-of-the-art bells and whistles: e.g., 360 degree panoramas (from the top of the Monument, from a couple of London bridges, that sort of thing), good sound effects, etc. etc.
If I say so myself, it's a fetching little piece of work.
And, intriguingly, it's packaged – and I think this IS brand new – I've certainly never seen anything like it before – as a Multimedia Postcard. In other words the CD-Rom is part and parcel of a postcard.
Anyway, to cut to the chase. Some of the guides are now carrying them. I certainly always have a few with me on the walks that I guide. So if you'd like one...well, just say the word. They cost six pounds, six loads of hay, and midsummer's rose. Though to be a purist about it, the six loads of hay and the midsummer's rose are optional!