Dad rang in a blind panic just as I was leaving to collect Mac from nursery: what does he do with his cousin who is coming over to dear old Blighty for just over two months with his Canadian wife and will be spending12 days at my dad’s abode and is expecting the Full London Tour Guide experience. Exhausting and expensive. First things first I said as dad hyperventilated down the phone – when are they coming? The answer floored me somewhat “They fly in on Sunday”. I joined in his hyperventilation. I calmed down once dad told me that they were arriving in England on Sunday but not getting to London until 1 March. That puts a slightly different complexion on things doesn’t it? After a brief discussion on the logistics, I promised I’d look into it and told him to go and make some tea.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a tour guide. Well, for about a week or so after a trip to Clink Prison with the school and the wonderful tour guide who kept a bag of toffees in her pocket to keep the attention of wayward school children. It’s quite exciting when you think about it – all that knowledge, able to impart little gems of information at the drop of a visitors guide. Don’s family left England when he was two – this will be his first visit back aged 60 - and Lorna has never been to England before. They’re looking forward to visiting Belfast, Edinburgh, the Lake District, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Cornwall and Newcastle. A mixed bunch I’m sure you’ll agree.
But London. There’s so much to do and sometimes I feel ashamed that I live in this great city and don’t ever visit it. In my time I’ve been to Hampton Court a couple of times, the Tower of London ditto, London Dungeons (where I was jumped on by a monk, don’t ask), the Aquarium, The Eye once and a boat trip up the Thames which we abandoned at Kew because mum didn’t “like the sound of the boat engine”. We got a train and about six buses back and it took us forever. In thirty-mumble years that’s pretty disgraceful.
There’s London Zoo, Trafalgar Square, the Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, The Globe Theatre, Madame Tussauds, Kensington Palace, the Thames Barrier…..an endless list as you can see. Where to go, what to drop? Do they like gory, would they prefer regal? Do museums bore or invigorate? Will they sneer at our souvenir stalls or buy enough tat to necessitate the purchase of another suitcase for their return journey?
I rang Dad back and got their email address – I’ve offered myself as Official Tour Guide and have promised them a whistlestop tour of London.
To be fair, David hasn’t exactly asked me what I’m letting myself in for here but I could tell he was thinking it.