Sunday, 1 November 2015

Streets Ahead: My Mistress…

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

Confession to make.

I’ve got a mistress.

It’s David here. Owning up.  Manning up. Fessing up.

Don’t care if the world knows.

She’s beautiful. Exquisite. Mysterious. Sexy as hell.  I “engage” with her every day. Age cannot wither nor custom stale her infinite variety.

Can’t stop thinking about her.

Her name is always on my mind. And on my tongue.

Her name is: The English Language.

She’s mine. My language.

But not all mine. To be honest she puts it about a bit. Well, more than a bit. But I’m okay about that.

And what’s prompted this disclosure? Though it’s not in the least a disclosure to my friends, colleagues, sprogs and of course Mary, my wife. They all know. Have known for a very long time. It’s a long-standing and open, er, affair.

Although impossibly deep passion, boundless love, and, oh yes, rapturous besottment do it more justice than that crummy little word “affair.”

What’s prompted it – believe it or not – is my pit-facing away at the Winter 2015-16 version of the London Walks website: Getting it ready for the handover moment – midnight Saturday, October 31 – when the Summer programme goes pfffft, crosses the bourne, Becomes a spirit. Departs. Becomes the “departed.” Passes through.

But anyway, to put the red dot on the individual target: beavering away on the Summer to Winter “transition” I’ve of course had to attend to – amongst much else – the “custom details” for the walks where that comes into play. “Custom details” is the terminology the design programme we use gives to that Itinerary Planner option on Immediately beneath the title of a walk there’s an old fashioned pointing finger and the phrase Add to My Itinerary.  London Walkers use it to create their own, individualised programme of London Walks.

And if, for example, a regularly scheduled weekly walk will not be taking place on a given date we have to flag that up. By way of example, the National Gallery Tour takes place every Friday afternoon except Friday, January 1. We can’t run it on that Friday because the National Gallery is closed on New Year’s Day. And that byte of information has to go into the Itinerary Planner item for the National Gallery Walk.

And the way I flag one of those exceptions up is just to say at the end of the blurb: N.B. this walk does NOT run on January 1 [or whatever the date in question is].

It’s a fairly tedious chore but one that has to be done.

Not so tedious though when your mistress sneaks up behind you, gives you a whiff of her perfume and nuzzles at your neck and ear. Sussurates, “I’m right here, big boy – come and get me.”

In this instance of course it was that bit of infinite variety in the juxtaposition of the words: walk and run.

Suddenly saw that – heard it – non-idioimatically. Saw it, heard it with the eyes and ears of a non-native speaker of the tongue. One whose grasp of English is, well, fairly basic.

How does that sound to them? This walk does not run.

Theese walkings, they is running sometimes? How fast they run? C’est possible pour man old? Why walk run? Why not walk walk?

How many walkings? How many runnings? Why walk walk walkings only on January 1? Ahhh, je comprehende – ces Anglaises trop much drinkings el 31 de Diciembre. No can runnings el 1 Enero.

Theese English, tres tres strange gens.

My loves-a-bit-of-mischief mistress.  

Love her.

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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