Friday, 23 January 2015

Streets Ahead: Why Do They Do It?

Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen & Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker


More precisely: why do they allow it to be done to them?

Sunday last. 1.55 pm outside exit 2 of St. Paul’s Tube, waiting for my Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ Old City walkers to form up. Woman comes up to me, hands me a computer print out, says, “I’m here for the walk, I’ve pre-paid, here’s the voucher.”

Tourist. Foreigner.

I said, “Sorry, that’s not us. There’s no booking with London Walks, we don't do pre-payment. And this is a completely different walk from the one you’ve booked and paid for – I’m afraid I don’t know who they are. Or where they are.”

Look passing over her face like a cloud shadow over a wheat field. Dawning – or more like it, sundowning – look of recognition. One of those crest falling, downcasting, “oh no” looks.

The right look for the occasion because sure enough, whoever the “guide” was she’d “booked and paid for”, he never showed up. She’d thrown her money away. And her time.

Bears repeating: why do they – tourists – do it?  There’s no need to do it.

I mean giving your credit card details to someone you don’t know from Erratum – and you’ve got less comeback with them than you get on Ebay – leaving you with a lose-lose: either write if off to experience (the least bad of two crummy alternatives) or double down, spend some of your precious time in London trying to track them down – there’s no person on the end of the line, no address, just an email address and a www – and claw back what you blithely handed over.


It’s folly. And that stuff like this goes on – that’s an upper case SUCKS. But that shouldn’t be your lookout – not your fight – unless you’re foolish enough to take the bait.

And why would anybody do that when there’s no need whatsoever to do so?

You don’t need to pre-pay. You don’t need to book. Just turn up on the day at the appointed hour outside the listed Tube Stop. It couldn’t be simpler. Couldn’t be a surer thing – a safer, not least financially, course of action. Do it that way what you’re going to get is what you’re after, what you bargained for: a very good walking tour. What you won’t be getting is disappointment, a shystering (being out of pocket), a dose of that supremely horrible feeling – feeling like a fool. The cloud shadow look won’t be passing over your face.

Most important – from where we’re, London Walks, coming from – you’re not going to have a bone to pick with our wonderful town; not going to feel hard done by, have a bad taste left in your mouth from what happened to you in London.

Don’t do it, don’t fall for it.

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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