Mother’s Day – A Feel Good Podcast

London calling.

London Walks connecting.

This… is London.

This is London Walks.

Streets ahead.

Story time. History time.


Good morning, London.

It’s Sunday, March 10th, 2024. Mother’s Day.

So the pin for the day – the news story that gets the show on the road – has to be London’s new museum. The Women’s Museum. It opened just a couple of days ago, on International Women’s Day. It’s located in East London, in Barking. Its first exhibition, An Idea of a Life, looks at the history of the abbesses and nuns who lived in Barking Abbey from the 7th Century to the early 16th Century.


Moving on, today’s Random. A short and sweet London factoid. A London factoid about Eros, the famous statue at Piccadilly Circus. And, yes, it is appropriate to have Eros be our guest of honour on Mother’s Day. Because Eros the statue isn’t just about romantic love. It’s also about philanthropic love. And what’s really to the point here, everybody’s first love is mum. For the ancient Greeks, Eros symbolized all the attractions that provoke love. A cosmic primordial deity tied to creation, he was frequently associated with plants and fecundity. The rose was his sacred flower. Greek philosophers from Plato to Epikouros reflected on his power and its centrality to human existence.

Well, that’s the back story. The factoid – it’s fun to know this, you can impress your friends with it – the factoid is Eros was the first statue ever made of aluminium. As Brits say. The American version of that same word is of course aluminum.

And on that note, cue today’s Ongoing. One of the joys about being a small company is you can respond personally to every customer. When London Walks gets back to you it’s a real person, a living, breathing human being answering your query. You’re not going to be hearing from a robot. You’re not going to get a form letter that also goes out to a billion other customers and tells you how much it cares about you.

No, you get in touch with London Walks, you’re going to hear from me, David, or Mary, or Fiona or Peter or Naimh. Or perhaps from a guide if your question is one that only a guide can answer.

First thing this morning was field a question from Kim in America. I’m going to read out Kim’s query. And my response to it it. And that’ll be today’s Ongoing.

Here’s what Kim wrote.

To Whom It May Concern,

I reserved a Jack the Ripper tour for June 1st but my email confirmation says it is for 1/6/2024.  I’m not sure what happened but this isn’t correct, especially since today is 3/10/2024 and 1/6/2024 has already happened.

Please let me know what I should do.

Thank you in advance.


I wrote back,

Everything’s tickety boo, Kim. You are booked for June 1st, 2024.

What’s happened is one of those Anglo-American cultural differences. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”

So your side of the Atlantic when you express a date in numbers rather than words it’s month first then day of that month then year. June 1st, 2024 in the American way of doing it comes out as 6/1/2024. The “numbering” sequence takes its lead, its cue, from the way both sides of the Atlantic would normally “speak” that date: the month, the day of the month, the year.

We do it differently over here. And in a curious way the British way of doing it also has a certain logic to it. I.E., we go with an ascending ‘order of time’, smallest first, then next size up and then the largest size. By that I mean we lead with the smallest ‘unit of time’ – the day of the month – then it’s the next largest unit of time (the month) – and finally it’s the largest unit of time (the year). Well, the largest unit of time in that particular ‘set’ – day, month, year – of time units.

But it can be confusing. If you’re used to the American way of doing it there’s no question but 1/6/2024 ‘reads’ as January 6th, 2024. But, rest assured, it isn’t January 6th, it’s June 1st.

Hope this helps.

Albestest and looking forward to seeing you on the Ripper Walk come June. To be specific: come 1/6/2024.


London Walks

P.S., they may be confusing all these little cultural differences but they’re also fun! When I used to teach the History of London to American university students virtually the first thing I said to them was, “don’t kid yourself about these Brits you’re living amongst this semester, these are not Americans with cute accents. They’re a very different people, they see the world differently from the way you see it. You’re from a huge country – effectively a continent. This is a small island. The whole country (the U.K.) is slightly smaller than one medium-sized state: Oregon. Texas is three times as big as the UK. Alaska seven times. California twice as big. And that’s beefing the place (the U.K.) up with Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. If we’re just talking England, it’s no bigger than Arkansas. You’ve got a “continental mentality”, Brits have got a “small island mentality.” There’s a huge difference. You’re in for a fun ride, kids.”

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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