London Walks connecting.
London Walks here with today’s London fix.
Story time. History time.
It’s September 7th. Time to get back in the saddle.
Wasn’t going to miss this one. It’s the date that did the trick.
September 7th, 1940. Extremely important day in London history. The day hell came out of the London skies. The day the mass air attacks on London began.
And I think we’ll go first hand with this one. Hand over to the great American reporter Edward R Murrow. The very least you can say is for once I’m not going to have a problem with the accent.
At the time, Edward R. Murrow was 32 years old. He couldn’t have been more American. “A mixture of Scottish, Irish, English and, yes, German descent.” He’d been in London for three years, working for CBS. Nothing brought the war home to Americans like Murrow’s live, terse, highly descriptive broadcasts from London during the Blitz. After the war of course he went back to the United States and career-wise didn’t break stride. His reporting and commentary was brilliant and historically important. His See It Now Show that criticised McCarthyism and the Red Scare led to the political downfall of the rabid rabble-rousing Senator from Wisconsin who wrought so much havoc. One critic described that June 15th, 1953 broadcast as “a landmark in television and a milestone in the cultural life of the 50s.”
Edward R. left us in 1965. He was in good company. 1965 was the year Winston Churchill died.
The Edward R. Murrow broadcast I’m now going to run up the flag pole of the London Walks podcast was aired on September 8th, 1940. It began, as always, with Edward R. Murrow’s signature opening. This….is London.
[The Edward R Murrow broadcast follows]
You’ve been listening to the London Calling podcast. Emanating from www.walks.com – home of London Walks, London’s signature walking tour company. London’s local, time-honoured, fiercely independent, family-owned, just-the-right-size walking tour company. And as long as we’re at it, London’s multi-award-winning walking tour company. Indeed, London’s only award-winning walking tour company.
And here’s the secret: London Walks is essentially run as a guides’ cooperative.
That’s the key to everything. It’s the reason we’re able to attract and keep the best guides in London. You can get schlubbers to do this for peanuts – for McDonald’s wages. But you cannot get world-class guides – let alone accomplished professionals.
It’s not rocket science: you get what you pay for. And just as surely, you also get what you don’t pay for.
Back in 1968 when we got started we quickly came to a fork in the road. We had to answer a searching question: Do we want to make the most money? Or do we want to be the best walking tour company in the world? You want to make the most money you go the schlubbers route. You want to be the best walking tour company in the world you do whatever you have to do to attract and keep the best guides in London – you want them guiding for you, not for somebody else. Bears repeating: the way we’re structured – a guides’ cooperative – is the key to the whole thing. It’s the reason for all those awards, it’s the reason people who know go with London Walks, it’s the reason we’ve got a big following, a lively, loyal, discerning following – quality attracts quality.
It’s the reason we’re able – uniquely –
to front our walks with distinguished
By way of example,
Stewart Purvis, the former Editor (and
subsequently CEO) of Independent
Television News. And Lisa Honan
who had a distinguished career as
diplomat (Lisa was the Governor of
St Helena, the island where Napoleon
breathed his last and, some say, had
his penis amputated – Napoleon
didn’t feel a thing – if thing’s the mot
juste – he was dead.)
Stewart and Lisa – both of them
CBEs – are just a couple of our
The London Walks All-Star team of
guides includes a former London
Mayor, it includes barristers (one of
them an MBE); it includes doctors,
geologists, museum curators,
archaeologists, historians, criminal
defence lawyers, university professors,
Royal Shakespeare Company actors,
a bevy of MVPs,
Oscar winners (people who’ve won
the big one, the Guide of the Year Award)… well,
you get the idea. As that travel writer
famously put it, “if this were a golf
tournament, every name on the
Leader Board would be a London
And as we put it: London Walks Guides make the new familiar and the familiar new.
And on that agreeable note…come then, let us go forward together on some great London Walks.
And that’s by way of saying, Good Londoning one and all. See ya next time.