Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Testosterone, Texan Goats, The Economist & Her Majesty The Queen: David Tucker On #London Walkers

DC Editor Adam writes…

In December 2016 I posted the The Daily Constitutional's blog post number 5,000.

To mark the occasion I've been digging in the archive and over February and early March 2017 I'll be reblogging The DC's "Greatest Hits" – my 50 favourite posts. 

In addition I'll be sharing my 50 favourite London photos to have appeared here since October 2008. 

I hope you enjoy them

March 2017

From time-to-time David reports back from the field, writing about walking and walkers, guides and guiding.

In summer 2013, he posted this…

London Walks guide Angela rang up recently, fizzing with excitement.

"I never want to stop doing this. I love this job. The people you meet on these walking tours – it's beyond price."

In this instance it was a family from Texas. Goat farmers. (Who'd a thought it?) They were on their way to Cannes. To the Film Festival. Someone had made a film about them. And why not? Lovely family. Counter culture types. Mum, dad, two teenage girls and their goats. The daughters – the teenagers – were home schooled. So they could help with the huge job of keeping the goats farmed. Turns out the girls did most of the milking. The mum and dad had wired the barn for sound – fitted it out with speakers. Two birds with one stone. Girls could have something to listen to while they were milking the goats. Not Justin Bieber or something even more mindless (or insipid). The father hit on the idea of "barn"-casting articles from The Economist. He'd be at the mike in the broadcast booth reading the articles – the girls and the goats would be on the receiving end. Didn't work especially well. "Everything slowed right down." Daughters and goats got completely absorbed in what they were hearing – what The Economist was uttering took precedence over the uddering – and the business to hand went, dare I say it, tits up. Mozart and Prokofiev yes, The Economist no.

But it's easy to understand Angela's excitement – and be completely attuned to the stand she's taken. "The people you meet on these walking tours – who'd want to forego that?"

Then in September 2013, David's testosterone levels were up. Never fear, gentle reader, nothing sordid this way lies, it's all about the science…

David writes…

Something you need to know about your London Walks guide...

His testosterone levels are spiking.

Or her testosterone levels - if the guide's a gal.

How do we know that? It registers. In the saliva.* They - scientists not guides - measure it.

And why are the guide's testosterone levels spiking? It's because he - or she - is the centre of attention for two hours. When that happens - it'll have happened to you, dear reader, happens to everybody - our testosterone levels go up.

Has to do with power - or so the physiologists say. You're the centre of attention that's a "power position" so up goes - better be careful how I phrase this - the old testosterone.

Invites the question, what must the Queen's testosterone levels be like?

And the other side of the hormonal coin? While the guide's testosterone levels are spiking your progesterone levels are also "reverse depth-charging" dear walker. I.E. going up and off like a Roman candle.

The reason? Quite simple, really. When we're in a social situation - an agreeable gathering of people we like or are favourably disposed to - our progesterone levels go up. And a companionable gathering of intelligent, civilised people - well, that's the textbook definition of a group of London Walkers.

For the record, it doesn't even have to be "live", doesn't have to be the real thing. Scientists say that if we're looking forward to an agreeable social gathering - envisioning it - our progesterone levels go up.

And where's all this come from? A young German scientist who specialises in this field and who was on my Little Venice walk on Sunday.

The things you learn on a London Walk.

But seriously, remember my passing on Angela's excitement earlier this summer about the goat farming family from Texas. The dad, you'll recall if you read the post, "broadcast" Economist articles into the barn so his teenage daughters had something cerebral, something informative to listen to while they milked the goats.

Angela's heartfelt conclusion: "I never, ever want to stop doing this job - not least because of the people you meet!"

Amen, Angela. And indeed amen Texas goat farming family and amen fräulein scientist.

*And elsewhere, presumably. But they measure it - test for it, take their readings - from the saliva.

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 www.walks.com.

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