A number of my tour guiding colleagues do not, and will not lead them.
One particular colleague has a one-word answer ready for anyone who asks why he will never lead a walk on the dark side:
G-g-g-gosh. His response is even more sc-scary than my t-t-t-tour.
Clearly, no believer in ghosts, he.
But then not everyone who joins me on the Ghosts of the Old City tour believes in ghosts either.
Which is weird.
Must be something to do with the confusing title of the walk: GHOSTS of the Old City.
Down through the years I've learned that the best nights on the Ghosts of the Old City tour are the nights when the non-believers are as great in number as the believers. This allows me to pitch the tour across the spectrum, to include a little something for both the romantics AND the scientists.
Or, as I like to describe it on the tour itself, a craven attempt to try and please everyone.
Ghosts, of course, dominate my narrative. But my witch's brew (in the cauldron boil and bake) is seasoned with folklore, legend and history, along with execution, murder and even cannibalism. Like I said, a little something for everyone.
What's left at the end of the night, from the guide's point of view, is pure storytelling. All the elements of a good tale are in place: location, of course. I have 2,000 years worth of murder and mayhem sites to visit in the City of London. An impressive cast of characters from which to draw - step forth William Wallace and Hawley Crippen, to name but two.
Time is on my side in that I have history, which, as we all know, is the study of EVERYTHING.
Then there's the folklore elements – persistent stories and legends that have stuck around for centuries, beguiling everyone from the high-minded poet to the pauper clutching his penny dreadful.
Best of all I have an audience willing to be enthralled - whether they are waiting to be convinced, or to have their beliefs confirmed, or whether they are along to shoot it all down in flames as so much unscientific balderdash, the participants are engaged in a Ghost Tour like no other walking tour.
By 9.30p.m on a Tuesday night, I may not have created any new believers, but if I can get someone to say:
"I liked the history bits."
"I liked the bloody bits."
"I liked the stories."
Then I am off to Moorgate tube station with a sense of triumph.
The Ghosts of the Old City tour is a collaborative act of pure storytelling, reaching back into the oral tradition we gather together to examine our beliefs and fears and to share our experiences.
But do I believe in ghosts? Well, I keep an open mind… and with an answer such as that, a career in politics beckons.
All that I will add is that I have met some lovely, friendly, seemingly sane and rational individuals who have shared their experiences of the supernatural with me on a Tuesday and Saturday night.
There must be something in that, surely. To draw, once again, from that great Londoner William Shakespeare (he was only BORN in Stratford, he wrote HERE)… There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Join me for a Ghosts of the Old City tour on selected Tuesdays and Saturdays. Book here…
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