In precisely seven days, I will commit the most hypocritical act of my lifetime. Only my short stint as a member of a Pentecostal youth cult, or as a groupie with my CK model boy toy and his reality TV friends one hot New York summer, can begin to compare. And if the outcomes of those little episodes are any indication of how this latest hypocrisy will go, it won’t be long before I’m exposed as a complete fraud looking for a good story.
I’m applying to become a London tour guide.
She-who-rates-London-with-drain-sludge could be leading gaggles of enthusiastic Germans, Japanese and American high school students through its filthy streets by summer.
While I’m not exactly sure what sort of questions I’ll be asked in the interview, as long as I’m not asked if I 'heart' London, I figure I can muster up some answers. If they like me, I’ll be invited along to the training and trial stage of the process. I’m assuming my lack of knowledge beyond Jack the Ripper, plague and fire, and how-to-queue-without-getting-clucked-at will be answered with a basic training guide I can surely memorize for the benefit of my passengers.
Should I make it through and actually be hired as a guide with this renowned company, it will be my mission to help people enjoy their time in London as much as possible during the weekend they’ve booked here. A weekend, after all, isn’t long enough to worry that the BNP might win more seats for racists in the upcoming election; that London gangs are now using dogs as well as knives as weapons; that journalistic integrity is traded for sports, tits and celebrity affairs; that sexism thrives on a level not seen in urban North America since the era of Mad Men; that it can be difficult to find coffee before 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning anywhere but McDonald’s; or that alcoholism is so standard that, as a bartender, I’ve regularly served crane operators two pints before noon. The credit crunch happened, by the way, while the old boys sucked back Guinness at City pubs. I’m privy to all this, because bartending was the only job my degree in Public Relations could get me at the time.
No, I’ll just show people the gritty and glorious bits of London’s history. As a guide, it would be my duty to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of London and lovingly deliver it to my passengers to take back home with them.
Not for love of the city, but maybe for spite.
This is a sign in Alexandra Park, near Muswell Hill. It's a more affluent area and experiences different dangers than places like, say, Brixton.