Friday, 31 May 2019

The Glory Game

DC Editor Adam writes…

With Tottenham Hotspur contesting The Champions' League Final against Liverpool in Madrid tomorrow night, I'm reposting a couple of Spurs-flavoured blogs from the archive.

This one is from my series The London Reading List…

The Glory Game (1972)

By Hunter Davies
(Mainstream Publishing)

It seems like an age ago now, but there was once a time when football (by which me mean soccer) was a topic of conversation reserved only for those in-the-know. A codified world, largely working class, almost totally masculine.

Then came Nick Hornby’s book Fever Pitch.

Hornby’s eloquent memoir of the trials and tribulations of life as an Arsenal supporter crossed over into the literary mainstream, garnered great reviews outside the sports pages. And deservedly so. It is a great book, by a great writer.

But then the deluge.

In the wake of Fever Pitch, football too entered the middle class mainstream. 

Before long, every celeb, every telly actor, every politician was shoehorning references to “footie” into their public utterances.

If you’d like to know what the world was like before such working class heroes as Tony Blair (ahem) and David Cameron (ahem-ahem) were spouting off about their love for Newcastle United and Aston Villa (!) then The Glory Game is the place to begin.

In the two decades before Fever Pitch, Hunter Davies’s warts-and-all portrait of life behind the scenes at North London’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was the only decent book on football. The only one. Sure there were “memoirs” of retired pros, formulaic, ghostwritten affairs intended as Christmas stocking fillers. But nothing insightful, nothing that the clubs didn’t want us to know.

Davies’s book changed all that.

Published in 1972, Davies had enjoyed unprecedented access to the club to research The Glory Game. This access included the dressing room, the training ground and even the players’ homes. Davies witnessed rivalries and conflicts first hand. Everything ended up in the book.

“His accuracy,” wrote former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson, “is sufficiently uncanny to be embarrassing.”

If Davies’s book was such a revolution, one might ask, then why didn’t it start its own avalanche of copycats? The answer is simple. His portrait of life behind the scenes at a major football club was deemed by everyone inside the game to be so explosive that no writer was ever allowed such unfettered access to a club again. In today’s climate, with every club running a well-oiled publicity machine, it is unlikely that such access will ever be granted.

The Glory Game, therefore, stands alone as a fly-on-the-wall account of the internal politics of football. And it remains a classic 40 years on.

Click the button below to book a place on one of my scheduled public tours…

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Thursday, 30 May 2019

All My London Walks Tours In June 2019

June 2019

All the scheduled public tours led by Adam Scott-Goulding for the famous London Walks company in the coming weeks.

Tours last 2 hours and cost £10 for adults, £8 for students & seniors. 

Click the Book Your Tour buttons to pay & reserve your place. 

Bookings are handled via our online shop Pay A Tour. There are NO booking fees.

The Unknown East End

Sundays 2nd & 9th June 2019

Meet at Whitechapel tube 2:00pm

Rich in history and stories, this walk was taught to me by my late friend and colleague Harry Jackson. Multiculturalism, immigration, gangsters, literary history, architecture, legends and politics, this walk has the lot.

Tour ends at Brick Lane.

A Village In Piccadilly

Monday 3rd June 2019

Meet at Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros) 2.00pm

Fancy shops and royal traditions…

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

London Horror Story

Tuesdays 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th June 2019

Saturdays 8th, 15th & 22nd June  

Meet at St Paul's tube 7.30pm

Ghosts, murder and mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music

A rock & pop history tour with LIVE music from your guide

Wednesday 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th June

Meet at Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1) 7pm

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Inside Covent Garden

Thursday 6th & 20th June

Meet at Covent Garden Tube 10.00a.m

The West End revealed - looking beyond the shops and chain cafés to the rich history of London's playground. Where possible, we'll take in a few interiors, too.

Tour ends in Trafalgar Square

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Old Kensington

Thursdays 6th & 20th June 2019
Meet at High Street Kensington tube

A walking tour of London's royal village…

Jack the Ripper

Thursdays 6th & 20th June

Meet at Tower Hill Tube by the tram 7.30pm

The word's most enduring crime story – social history, conspiracy and gruesome murder make for an intense night.

Tour ends at Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street station.

The London Music Tour – Rock'n'Roll London

Fridays 6th & 20th June

2pm Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1) 

The history of pop and rock music in London…

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Want to book a private tour? Get in touch!

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Karen's Scheduled London Walks Tours In June 2019

June 2019

Scheduled public tours led by Karen Pierce-Goulding for the famous London Walks company in the coming weeks.

Tours last 2 hours and cost £10 for adults, £8 for students & seniors. 

Click the Book Your Tour buttons to pay & reserve your place. 

Bookings are handled via our online shop Pay A Tour. There are NO booking fees.

Karen writes…

Come and join me on a London Walks tour!

Pay on the day or book in advance via Pay-A-Tour (no booking fees).

Darkest Victorian London

Monday 10th June 10.45a.m

Meet at Monument (Fish Street Hill exit) 

A vivid exploration of Victorian south London.

Tour ends at London Bridge tube

A Village in Piccadilly

Monday 10th June 2019 2.30p.m

Meet at Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros)

Royal history and fancy shops!

Tour ends at Green Park tube

Past The Palace

Monday 10th June 2019 2.30p.m

Meet at Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros)

Offbeat royal history.

Tour ends at Green Park tube

British Museum Highlights

Wednesday 19th June 2019 2.30pm

Meet at Russell Square tube 2.30pm

Tour ends at The British Museum

Legal & Illegal London

Wednesday 19th June 2019 11:00a.m

Meet at Holborn tube 

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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The Rain It Raineth…

Adam writes…

Rain. It’s A London Thing.

Sorry. But it just is.

As a walking tour guide, how can I spin this P.R disaster?

My own personal modus operandi when questioned about the alleged inclemency of the weather – keep in mind that I am from Scotland – is this:

Rain? You think this is rain? YOU THINK THIS IS RAIN?! Where I come from rain can be sliced as it falls and spread on a sandwich.”

My suggestion is not merely to “lighten up”. It’s more than that. It’s a philosophical thing. A piece of old Irish wisdom can help. A pal of mine from The Mainland (as he calls the Emerald Isle) uses a grand old Irish phrase to rise above the weather. Gazing out at a wet landscape, he simply sighs, “It’s a fine, soft day.”

And with this sooth he is superior to the weather. He wins.

A fine soft day. Quite so.

My countryman, comedian Billy Connolly, once observed that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. As a visitor from Austin, Texas breezily announced to me as she joined one of my tours recently: “This is my third new jacket since I arrived!”

This hardy visitor, to my knowledge, is still up on her hind legs despite a little rainfall on a walking tour. It’s all in the attitude.

Similarly, another walker – coincidentally also from Texas, this time Dallas – informed me that his home town was basking in temperatures way up in the 30s (Celsius). This while we fought our way through Spitalfields in a torrential downpour. Was he downcast? Hell no. He was laughing. Actually laughing out loud.

There's a tour guide underneath there… somewhere

I am constantly asked by timid types, “Do you do your walks in the rain?”

My reply is always, “Yes, of course I do.”

But what I really want to say is: “It’s ONLY RAIN. Samuel Pepys walked the streets of London during the plague. THE PLAGUE for the love of God.”

A bit of perspective is what’s required. Along with the Attitude. And the Philosophy. All far more useful tools than an umbrella.

During our spells of fine soft weather here in London, I am often reminded of one of my favourite London films. Four Weddings And A Funeral is set broadly in a Hollywood-friendly Englandshire, but the capital shooting locations root it deeply in the fabric of our city – from the South Bank to St Bartholomew’s Church, Smithfield.

It is the movie’s denouement, set in the immediate aftermath of the St Bart’s scene that has been haunting my reverie:

Exterior. A London Street.

It is raining. Not the kind of Hollywood rain that Gene Kelly would dance (and sing) through. This is RAIN. Raindrops the size of Brussels sprouts. Like King Lear on the blasted heath on his way to hitch a ride with Noah. Charles (Hugh Grant) pursues Carrie (Andie MacDowell) through the rain.


(*And if you haven’t seen Four Weddings and a Funeral, one question: Why?)

It rains. Charles professes his love. It rains. Carrie hers. It rains. They kiss. It rains.

Charles: “It’s raining.”

Carrie: “Is it? I hadn’t noticed.”

At which point the whole cinema audience heaves a big, goofy groan at the most hilariously corny moment in the history of British cinema.

Except walking tour guides don’t groan. To us, this is a moment of Cinéma Vérité. We applaud the accuracy of the observation that would put the post-war Italian Neorealist directors to shame.

Because that’s what London visitors seem to say every day: is it raining? I hadn’t noticed.

Rain. It’s A London Thing. Everyone knows that.

But walkers who who join me despite the rain are the best London Thing of all.

Click the button below to book a place on one of my scheduled public tours… rain or shine!

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