Last weekend I made an experiment to test out the material I have been gathering on Shoreditch and The City. It was a way of bringing some focus to the research I have been doing and offered me a chance to get feedback upon it before the next stage of making it into a more distinct work in its own right.
It is difficult to write about my own tour and make anything like the same sort of critical remarks as I make when reviewing other people's. I will instead just restrict myself to one or two comments. Firstly, I decided to borrow the hat idea from the Occupy Tour team. With me being tall already, wearing a top hat adds and extra bit again onto my height and means I don't need any umbrella to lead people, I am perfectly visible with the hat alone. More than that, it also has echos of Phileas Fogg the Victorian gentleman explorer/navigator of Jules Verne. I find this both amusing and sympathetic as I have just an element of these characteristics myself. The hat therefore gives me license to play up these qualities when so required.
It was a small group that I led, maybe 8 in number. This was a very manageable size and I didn't have to shout or play to the crowd at all. I suspect that to make the tour economically viable I will have to lead larger groups but if I had a choice I'd stick to this smaller number as it made everything more conversational. People felt easy to ask me questions and share their own observations in front of one another, something that larger more anonymous groups generally suppress.
For the pictures I must thank Debbie Kent. She, like some of the others in the group, is also working in a related way on performances that deal with the city. My group was in fact a great mix of artists, curators and friends who managed to entertain one another very effectively as they made their way from point to point.
The tour was quite simple and transparent in the sense that I did not try anything too smart formally but rather performed it as a report on the tours I had taken so far. Giving it in this way left me enough space to be able to perform it in an engaging tone. I should be careful not to lose some of this informality when I next begin the work of integrating the research and layering this tour in a more deliberate way. The comments afterwards in the pub were positive and constructive and I look forward to the Summer when I will complete this tour, start giving it to a broader public and ditch the padded coat.