London Walks connecting.
London Walks here with today’s London fix.
Story time. History time.
This one’s served up by Ann. Making one of her periodic and always relished guest appearances on this podcast. It is – how shall I put this – a taster.
Ann – a quondam BBC journalist and now walking tour guide extraordinaire – is our London foodies expert. And a word to the wise, one of her four different Foodies Walks is hoving into view. Namely, Foodies London – Pie Crust to Upper Crust. It takes place this coming Saturday – October 7th – at 10.45 am. To get your taste buds – historical as well as the standard variety – firing on all cylinders – or whetted if you prefer – meet Ann just outside the Villiers Street exit of Embankment Tube Stop. That’s this Saturday, October 7th, at 10.45 am.
And in keeping with all of that, this podcast – Ann’s entree anyway – is all about food. In particular, about cheese. About some of the best cheeses in the world. Napkins tucked in? You ready? Hope so. Because, oh look, here she comes. Here’s Ann. With the cheese board.
[Ann’s remarks about cheese follow]
You’ve been listening to the London Walks 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 £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
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 was created and was guided for many years by Britain’s most distinguished crime historian, Donald Rumbelow. In the words of the Jack the Ripper A to Z, Donald is “internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper.” He’s emeritus now but he’s still the guiding light on our Ripper walk. He curates it; he mentors our Ripper Walk guides.
The London Walks All-Star team of guides includes a former London Mayor. It includes the former Chief Music Critic for the Evening Standard. It includes barristers, doctors, geologists, museum curators, archaeologists, historians, criminal defence lawyers, Royal Shakespeare Company actors, a bevy of MVPs, Oscar winners (people who’ve won 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 Londoning one and all. See ya next time.