This excursion will be back soon. In the meantime we’d be happy to organise a private tour for you. Please contact us on 020 7624 3978 | [email protected] to make a booking.
Embankment underground station, London (Villiers Street exit)
Guided by Fiona
In Focus: Trafalgar Square
Scales keep falling from my eyes should be the theme song of this walk. The threads in the tapestry range from a portable flogging and beheading kit to felines with canine paws to a woman facing a firing squad to to why the Roman cut the cloak exactly in half to battle stations at the other most important moment in 19th century history to Reubens and horse manure to the Great Pyramid to that General about whom our former mayor should have known better. Great walk. Great guide: Fiona, winner of the 2015 Guide of the Year Award.
Better still, look again. Take a Fiona-directed look. For the first time in your life, get the blinders off – really see Trafalgar Square. That’s when you’ll know it.
Well, no need for that if you can spot the portable flogging and beheading kit without our help. And – in the back of your mind I hope – the pepper boxes without pepper that make you think of bird shit every time you look at a Rubens. And the death cart with the lawyer in it. The death cart carrying him to his beheading. And every inch of the way he’s face to face with another head that didn’t have a body attached to it. (It, the other head, was affixed to a pole secured to the cart – the pole, needless to say, positioned so the head was in the face of the condemned lawyer, leering and jiggling at him the whole way. Saying, “see me, this is you in 45 minutes.”) And a headless woman with six children – “sandwich in her hand, no mouth to put it in” – and the culture-shifting importance of that moment for English literature. And the Roman officer who, drawing his sword to behead a beggar, changed his mind and decided to get a job as a saint. And the woman facing the firing squad. And cyphers and sea-shells and doggie paws and a nose. And funerals, endless funerals. And New England. And how to “read” the architecture so everything locks into place like the lines of a sonnet. And the pyramid. And the measures. And the weighting allowance (and why it is where it is). And the vegetable cook. And what is it about those columns? And that “too warm work to last long” meant a warm body didn’t last long. And the ghost ship in Trafalgar Square. And that Janus-face amazed by the company it’s keeping – the less weird-witted survivors of a blurred time. And those that bareback rode the crest of untamed seas. And the statues…
OMG the statues. For starters, “the worst statue in England.” And what about that scroll in his right hand? What’s that mean? Any connection with the most famous pun in history? Which was? And two horses shot out from under him? And being left for dead on a battlefield? And a fool proof means of stopping sati in its tracks? (Sati – you know – burning widows to death on their husband’s funeral pyre.) And banishing forever the moronic dismissal “what’s that old 19th century fart got to do with me and my selfie times?” by hearing him say, “so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another.”
Look at the statue and then look at each other with a wild surmise, ladies and gentlemen. How weird is it, the British public’s strange attraction for religious generals? And what does a name tell us? And an article of clothing? Yes, that’s right looking at these statues we’re looking under the bonnet, seeing into some of the innermost recesses of a time and a culture, seeing their workings.
And there, in a nutshell – well, in a few hundred words – you have the plat of an IN-FOCUS walk. They’re a really close look – a fine-tooth combing, a richly rewarding look – of a single famous London street or square. That’s the two-sentence short version.