Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Streets Ahead: Us & Them

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

If you're reading this, well, we'd like to tap you. Invite you to be one of us. Rather than one of them.

Tapped. You know, being tapped – chosen – to join one of those secret societies, one of those elect, elite socities – clubs, really – at an American Ivy League university. Difference is we have a better class of clientele. We wouldn't let Dubya, for example, through the door. 

Being tapped – joining us, being a London Walker – means you get to see all kinds of things – neat things, fun things, interesting things, satisfying-to-know things – the "them" don't get to see.

Take Hampstead Tube station, for example…

Them thinks it's a ho hum. 

Us knows better. And sees better, sees more. Sees a feast more, a phantasmagoria more. 

Them sees only about a tenth of what us sees. And, yup, it's the ho hum tenth that them sees. 

Them's not seeing the Nelson column detail. Or the bomb shelter. Or the significance of – how to *read* – the glazed terracotta. Or the signage decoded (that yellow one just to the right of the entrance, for example). Or the Toast. Or the barre (and the dancers that go with it). Or the award-winning garden. Or Mary and her mates (yes, those are real people – fellow human beings with interesting back stories, interesting lives – who work there, who keep a century-and-change old place alive and vibrant and good to visit, even just passing through). Or the 320. Or the Welsh wizard. Or the station safe. Or the connection with the landmark building over the way. Or the Mr. Spock connection. Or the iceberg

And that's not to mention the Arts & Craft fixtures and fittings in the booking hall. Look, do yourself a favour: LOOK. They're very beautiful, very graceful. Life enhancing. 

Counting, the them percentage – saying they see 1/10th of what we see – is putting it generously. It's more like six* percent. And yeah, sure, you only see six percent of a place...that's blinders on, that's tunnel vision, that's a big steaming heap of ho hum. Lucky them [smug alert, here]. 

Skimming off the smug I'm still left with an honest-to-goodness: rather them than me. Or us.

Or, if you prefer, there but for the grace of London Walks go I. 


And that's just a few seconds of a London Walks guide flinging out a couple of handfuls of bon bons before his Hampstead walk starts. Some hors-d'oeuvres.

Us and them? Not quite. It should be: Us or them?

No contest I'd say. 

*.666 to be exact. And no, let's not go there. 

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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 www.walks.com.

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