Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Streets Ahead: #London #Rain

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




The rain it raineth all the walk.*

Didn’t rain on us, though. Well, hardly at all.

And why was that?

The Sioux and Cheyenne and other Plains Indians** carried their abodes with them. Their teepees – the buffalo hides that were the “walls”, “roofs” and “floors” and the poles that provided the skeletal framework. Instant shelter wherever they were if the weather got seriously ugly.

And no – translated to a London Walk that doesn’t mean – yawn – umbrellas.*** It means proper roofs. Interiors – into buildings. And awnings and arcades and covered passageways.

You have to know where to go, though. Have to know where they are.

Where. They. Are. On. The. Route. Punctuated like that to stress that I’m not talking about a 200 yard dash to shelter, which of course would mean Game Over for our walking tour. Am talking about shelter that’s on our route that we can access, can avail ourselves of. Ready roofs – so to speak – along the way.

And. You. Have. To. Be. ABLE. To. Go. And I’m not talking about being ambulatory  – I mean it was a walking tour. I am talking about being ABLE to open those doors and go through them. Go in there – get inside those places. Get in out of the rain. Permission To Enter.

Being welcome.

“Come on in for a few minutes. Get out of the rain.”

Those are the two keys you’ve got to have. Knowing where the shelter is. And having the best swipe-in card of all: a friendly “Welcome, come on in – get out of the rain.”

And where do you pick up those two keys? Sorry to have to tell you this if you’re a Wannabee Kensington guide: they’re not there for the picking up. You have to have your own personalised set. And the only way you’re going to get one of those is by guiding that walk for 20 years or so. It’s the old story – your face has to fit, you have to become part of the furniture. The locals have to know you, accept you. You pay your dues – become in effect a “local” by guiding that walk for upwards of 20 years – those doors will open for you. You’ll have your personalised set of keys. You’ll have earned them.

In one word: experience.

It’s not just important. It’s a sine qua non

For the record, it was six interiors and seven covered passageways and awnings and arcades.

Thirteen in total. Not the whole walk but a whole lot of the walk. Teepees going up at stop after stop.

So, yeah, it rained the whole walk. But it didn’t matter very much to us. We were  teepee’d a whole lot of the time.

And to put the final piece in the puzzle: it’s why I don’t take an umbrella. Who needs one if you’re going to be in out of the rain.

Experience. Good word. Good stuff. Cognate with the word expert. You have to have the former to be the latter.

*My (David’s) Kensington walk last week, Nov. 5.

**Message to any cadres of PC Surveillance Police who think it’s their job to ride herd on my prose – cow me into writing some clumsy formation like Native American denizens of the Great Plains instead of Plains Indians – you can back off. ABOUT FACE: GOOSE-STEP. Bye bye.

***Half the group had ‘em. And fair enough. I didn’t, though. And same open boat for the other half of the group.

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