Thursday, 21 May 2015

"What Will I See On The Walk?"

London Walks' pen and Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker writes…

You’re looking at it.

Looking at what’s wrong with the “What will I see on the walk?” question.

The inscription on the statue reads George IV.

That answer the question?

Or maybe a bit of elaboration – “You’ll see the equestrian statue of George IV in the north eastern corner of Trafalgar Square.”

That answer the question?

The problem isn’t the answer(s). The problem is the question. The best it’s ever going to get you – in the way of an answer – is a carapace.

In short, what you’ll see with your eyes  – the carapace – doesn’t begin to answer the question.

The only way to properly answer the question is to throw open the vault door and show you what the mind’s eye will “see”. 

And what shines the light in there is the words – the guide’s words.

Look at the image again and “see” it through the lens of the dozen or so words I’ll caption it with this time. I think you’ll, er, see there’s quite a difference.

As the Daily Constitutional Editor (and brilliant guide) Adam puts it, “it’s not just what you see, it’s how you see it.”

The wickedest of all “the wicked uncles” – George IV. “Swollen, gouty, bewigged and bedaubed” – the living embodiment of sin.

Put it that way it gets a whole lot more interesting, doesn’t it? And, hey, it’s Trafalgar Square. Innumerable pairs of eyes “see” that statue every day. But they don’t really “see” it. Not the way you’ve just seen it. Here in this post for the London Walks blog. Or, if you see it in the flesh as it were. See it right there, in Trafalgar Square – see it through the eyes of a London Walks guide.

And that little 18 word “caption” is just the overture. Cracks open the door – which we proceed to properly fling open. Everything from the missing stirrups to the statue’s being a “reverse Dorian Gray”,  

Parting shot. Don’t let that statue fool you.* That’s the seamier side of royalty you’re looking at. Frightful old George IV. Swollen. Gouty. Bewigged. Bedaubed.

Now you know.  Now you’re seeing.

Post Postscript. We get that question all the time. We dread getting it. Dread getting it because it’s impossible to answer. Answer properly that is. We field it as best we can. Field it gingerly. But the right answer is the one we can’t put into an email or talk down a phone line. The right answer is the walk. And the walk is where you go and what the guide shows you and how the guide illuminates what she (or he) shows you.

It’s what you see. And see.

*The horse knows. He’s trying to tell you. That plaintive look on his intelligent, sensitive face.

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 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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