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Day in the Work Life: London is calling

Marketplace Staff Jan 26, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Three hundred years ago this week, Scotland’s Parliament voted itself out of existence. Its members agreed to unite with England and the kingdom of Great Britain was born. That union hasn’t always been conflict free, to say the least. But on this week’s a day in the work life, we meet one Scot who’s made the most of it. His job? To educate visitors about England’s most popular city.

Okay, good morning. I’m your guide back in time. My name is Adam. I’m 37 years old and I’m a tour guide for original walks at London Walks, based in London. The London of 1888 and places no longer exist. During the Second World War, this part of town was bombed. The consequences for us today is that we’re going to have to use your imaginations.

I ended up in this job through story telling. My other main job is as a journalist, as a writer. I’ve written a lot about London in the past and I merely translate the stories that I’ve written into a vocal context and tell people the story of the history of London as we walk through the streets. The most surprising aspect was how much people don’t mind rain. This is England, it can rain here, oh once or twice a year here in England. And the amount of people who come out hardy and all weather — snow, wind, rain — that really surprised me and delighted me indeed.

Some of the dumber questions that I’ve been asked are more intriguing and entertaining questions, perhaps, that I’ve been asked. It’s been commented upon that it was very clever of the British government to build the tower of London so close to the tube station. That I enjoyed very much. I’ve also been asked if there’s a McDonalds at Stonehenge. And when I replied no, there’s no McDonalds at Stonehenge, the person then asked, well is there a Burger King.

The most bizarre and unusual thing that’s ever happened was on a ghosts of the old city tour. I had a group of Dutch students who were lovely, very pleased to be there. And there was one particular fellow who was about 17-years-old and very tall. He was more than 6 feet tall. I was telling a story of cannibalism within the walls of Newgate Prison in the 13th century. And as I got down to the juicer aspects of the tale, the large Dutch student suddenly keeled over like a felled tree and his teacher merely turned to me and said, he has a very vivid imagination, don’t mind him.

My salary, translated into dollars, is between $42,000 and $46,000, something like that. My hard earned money would disappear very quickly on, principally my record collection. I collect vinyl records of all kinds from the 50s and 60s particularly. Work-related expenses would include comfortable shoes and a succession of umbrellas that I keep losing on the tube train.

London’s a very fast paced city. It’s very difficult. Sometimes it’s a fight to go from one place to the other through the streets. We don’t have the time to pay attention to the city. So I hope that I contribute to society by making people just open their eyes a little bit more and taking the time to look at our great city.

A day in the work life was reported this week by Sally Herships.

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