Ann’s cats round-up, James Bond’s drinks round-up & old fashioned voting

London calling.

London Walks connecting.

This… is London.

This is London Walks.

Streets ahead.

Story time. History time.


Good evening, London. It’s May 3rd, 2024. Today’s pin – a touch of yesteryear that’s still going strong. I’m talking about voting in the UK. Yesterday was election day. Well, the 2024 United Kingdom local elections. Elections to choose some 2,600 councillors on 107 councils in England. And 11 directly elected mayors in England. Including London of course. And the 25 members of the London Assembly. And 37 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales. My local polling station is just round the corner, in our little local community centre. The polls were open from 7 in the morning until 10 at night. And here’s what I really like about it. It’s done in the tried, traditional, old-fashioned way. Paper ballots. You put an X in the box by the name of the candidate you’re voting for. You fold your ballot and drop it into the ballot box. And then the votes get counted by hand. I don’t mean to be paranoid or anything but I don’t entirely trust electronic voting machines. Paper ballots sorted and counted by hand by lots of volunteers – all of that done semi-publicly – it seems to me that’s almost 100 percent proof against somebody trying to cook the books, rig it, fiddle the outcome. Electronic voting machines, surely they can be got at. A little programming hocus pocus and, well, you’ve got a bent election.

There were 13 candidates running for mayor. My favourite – apart from the individual I voted for – was the spoof candidate Count Binface. And sure enough, his logo was a bin. A candidate who wasn’t spoofing was the No to Immigration hopeful. A city of immigrants…my guess is his seed will have fallen on parched, barren ground. But we’ll see. And a goodly range of parties and independents for the London Assembly. In addition to the big three, I mean: the Conservatives, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. There was the Animal Welfare Party. And the Christian Peoples Alliance. And the Communist  Party of Britain. And the Heritage Party – wonder who they are, and what they’re about. And the Rejoin EU Party. And one called Britain First. And cut from the same cloth, I suspect, a party called Reform UK – London Deserves Better. And the Social Democratic Party. And The Green Party of course. All of them no hopers but you have to admire their public spiritedness. Anyway, come tomorrow all those paper ballots will have been tallied and it’ll be step forward winners.


Moving on, today’s Random. One of the stops on my Old Westminster walk – which I guided yesterday – is the Lord North Street house where Anthony Eden lived when he was first a member of Parliament. And of course Anthony Eden will be forever associated with the Suez debacle. In the words of Deputy Cabinet Secretary Burke Trend, Suez was “the psychological watershed, the moment when it became apparent  that Britain was no longer capable of being a great imperial power.” Now earlier on that walk we’d look at the house of Mansfield Smith Cumming, the first chief of the British Secret Service. Who, famously, signed off his communications to his underlings in green ink with the letter C. And I made the point that James Bond’s boss was known as and signed off his communications with the letter M. Which was the nickname of Ian Fleming’s – Bond’s creator – the nickname of Ian Fleming’s mother. And since it’s all about making connections, when we got to the Anthony Eden house, I threw another faggot on the blaze, I mentioned that shaken as he was by the Suez debacle, Eden retreated to Jamaica. Specifically to Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s house. In other words, the house where James Bond was born was the last refuge for those still in denial about Britain’s place in the world. In the event, the three weeks that Eden beat a retreat to Goldeneye was sufficient time for his opponents to get themselves organised and unseat him.

Anyway, that’s all by the by. In the meantime, at Goldeneye, we can rest assured that the prime minister’s host, James Bond’s creator, and his guest knocked back more than a few drinkie poos during the prime minister’s R & R. And as everybody knows, James Bond wants his favourite drink – a martini cocktail – vodka martini – shaken, not stirred. So, the connection – however tenuous – is there. But if we’re going to shake that connection – not stir it – get it properly random, I think the time has come to count drinks. So while votes are being counted, let’s get a second count going. We know generally that James Bond drank like a fish. Let’s quantify.

The British Medical Journal, in their Christmas edition back in 2013 – God rest those merry gentlemen – the British Medical Journal reported that, across the entire run of James Bond novels, 007 drinks an average of 92 units of alcohol a week. That bears repeating: 92 units a week. You could say just slightly over the recommended 14 units a week. British slang, at its most graphic, would say, “what a piss artist.” And it’s not just the fluids. 007 takes a puff or two as well. In Casino Royale, Ian Fleming describes Bond as smoking his ‘70th cigarette of the day.’


Well, I think we better come up for some air. Make our excuses and get shot of “Bond, James Bond.”  Head to today’s Ongoing where the fun is much healthier. Ann’s Cat Tails Walk – London’s Feline History is coming up in a couple of weeks. And, as always, I’m purring with satisfaction – and delight – because, by way of a trailer, Ann’s come up with another one of her delightful cat tails podcast. Here’s Ann.


You’ve been listening to This… is London, the London Walks podcast. Emanating from –

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 £20 a walk. 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 accomplished, in many cases

distinguished professionals:

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 a 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 headline acts.

Or take our Ripper Walk. It’s the creation of the world’s leading expert on Jack the Ripper, Donald Rumbelow, the author of the definitive book on the subject.  Britain’s most distinguished crime historian, Donald is, in the words of The Jack the Ripper A to Z,“internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper.” Donald’s emeritus now but he’s still the guiding light on our Ripper Walk. He curates the walk. He trains up and mentors our Ripper Walk guides. Fields any and all questions they throw at him.

The London Walks Aristocracy of Talent – its All-Star team of guides – includes a former London Mayor. It includes the former Chief Music Critic for the Evening Standard. It includes the Chair of the Association of Professional Tour Guides. And the former chair of the Guild of Guides.

It includes barristers, doctors, geologists, museum curators, a former Museum of London archaeologist, historians,

university professors (one of them a distinguished Cambridge University paleontologist); it includes

criminal defence lawyers,

Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre 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 Walks guide.”

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 walking and Good Londoning

one and all. See ya next time.

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