A few months ago I was one of the last of the “London Weekenders” on the Robert Elms Saturday Show. One of the questions was about experiences with food and drink. I thought hard; How could I link this to tour guiding?
Well it was more about getting out of a difficult situation, although the restaurant is pretty good.
Sometime in 2009, when London was suddenly hit by a blanket of snow bringing London Town to a standstill, I was already near Liverpool Street preparing to lead a Jack the Ripper walk. Needless to say it was cancelled. All transport was halted.
I trudged over to the curry mile, Brick Lane, for something hot.
At number 13 Brick Lane is the old Frying Pan pub, long converted into the Sheraz Indian restaurant. The Sheraz provided one really hot perfect meal whilst I pondered what to do next.
Difficulty solved! Above the Sheraz they have (still) two lovely rooms and I was able to book one. True it was not quite Jack London renting a room in the East End but the room was probably equally as welcome!
Many a Ripper tour has huddled around the location listening to various accounts of Polly Nicholls. Some were scholarly, some entertaining, and some almost as much a work of fiction as Shakespeare (you know who you are!)
The next morning I had a traditional fry up at the 24 hour Polo Bar Bishopsgate before one of the longest train journeys back to Essex.
It may be the myth of memory but those two meals seemed the hottest when needed on the coldest of days. Fortunately, I was alone in the white-out so memory isn’t contested!
And what of Ripper tours? They are still as popular as ever, but what is welcome is the emphasis on the lives of the victims and the social conditions in which they struggled rather than a focus upon a deranged killer.