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Adam, Fiona, Karen, Russell and Simon. Guides of this calibre, it’s like having Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen in the starring roles. You just let them get on with it.
You want to crystallise London’s character in one word – and crystallise its response to the disasters visited upon it over its long, colourful and dramatic history – you can’t do better than the word Resurgam. (Don’t know the tale? Google Christopher Wren and Resurgam.)
There’s a Resurgam halo around this team of London Walks guides.
London Walks and London Walks guides, we were George Bailey down at the bridge (the Jimmy Stewart character in It’s a Wonderful Life – I Want to Live Again!)
We lost our livelihood overnight. It was impossible to be a tour guide.
Whereupon Adam, Fiona, Karen, Russell and Simon did the impossible.
What they did wasn’t just about this little tree called London Walks and the people nesting in it. It was also about London and Londoners and London Walkers and Londoners-in-spirit, wherever they may be.
The Fab Five led the way – came to the rescue. Found a way. Succoured us.
They made London better. Made life better. They did the impossible. They gave us purpose. They gave us hope.
They created a worldwide community.
They put a candle in the window.
In the 641 days since that first lockdown, these five guides – the Garde Impériale – led the way in creating over 300 Virtual Tours.
As a team, the Fabulous Five created four series of Virtual Tours – The Story of London, The Story of 20th Century London, The London A – Z, and Underground Overground – A Virtual Tour Series Exploring London by Tube. Two more are in the pipeline – London by Post Code and London by the River Thames. Each series runs to 8-10 episodes. Each episode is individually guided but all five guides are in attendance.
That’s as a team. They’ve been no less creative and productive as solo guides. Adam, for example, has created several dozen virtual tours, including a 22 episodes-long Musical London series debuting in January: 22 in 22. Simon’s created two Art in London Virtual Tour series and a Fabulous Fashion series.
They created any number of date-specific Virtual Tours. By way of example: The Great Fire, Halloween, Guy Fawkes, and Christmas in the Capital.
They took the lead in creating and guiding approximately 30 new shoe-leather-on-pavement tours. Added to the 500 already in the London Walks repertory. They contributed to the 451 podcasts London Walks has put out since that first Lockdown. 451 podcasts listened to over 100,000 times. They were instrumental in recently creating a cuts-a-dash London Walks Newsletter that already has 2,500 subscribers. They contributed to the new and coming-on-strong London Walks Blog.
Wonder’s the word for what these five guides have achieved. Done justice to London’s the phrase. Tourist London was largely kettled in central London. The Fab Five have – in The London A – Z and the Underground Overground – A Virtual Tour Series Exploring London by Tube series – ranged all over London. Opened our eyes to greater London. Deepened our appreciation.
Done justice to London and to the grateful community they serve.
They’ve taken London all over the world. Taken it to the world-wide community they’ve created: in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Israel, France, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and Ireland. And Wales, Scotland, England and, yes, here, London.
Widened parameters? I see Adam (the only human being I know who talks like a well-written magazine article) charming his way onto the privately-owned Eel Pie Island as part of his research. And dapper, infinitely stylish Russell in Savile Row for his Menswear Tours. And vivacious Karen guiding, sometimes as few as one or two people, in the West End. (Yes, we always go, even if it’s just one walker. They’ve kept their end of the bargain, we’re going to keep ours. It’s a matter of professional honesty and integrity.) And Fiona, London’s most decorated guide, high above the City, scoping out sky gardens for our London Panoramics Blog piece. And Simon guiding virtually, at midnight, 100 Australian and New Zealand Travel Agents. And his handsomeness himself, Simon guiding a private virtual tour – a birthday party present – suddenly excusing himself and reappearing 40 seconds later as Dame Edna Everage. How’s that for a mystery guest – a special surprise – for your birthday party!
We started with a crystallisation. Let’s close with one. This letter was written earlier this week to the Mayor of London. The author – we believe she’s somewhere in America – copied us in. It was NOT solicited – it came out of the blue. It was, surely, a sign. We read it and looked at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in West Hampstead. It settled the matter. We entered the competition.