I received some very good news a few weeks back.
As a younger man I often worried. Worried for the future, worried for my friends, worried about taking risks and chances. It’s this train of thinking that made me one of the few people in my sixth form not to continue on towards University, but to get a job. I was terrified of the debt such ventures would put my peers in (this was when University courses cost £1000 a year – Crisps cost more than that now) and the thought of leaving home made me nervous. So whilst my friends went off to study at Warwick or Falmouth, I reluctantly made a token gesture of entering further education and went to the University of Greenwich to read History. Three weeks later, I left for the world of work.
It’s been eight years since my hesitation on what to do with my life and my aforementioned friends have all gradated and have very interesting jobs. Within the last year or so I’ve become very wistful on my inability to just DO something with myself and better myself with higher education, to add a string to my bow, and a growing voice of my friends saying ‘why on earth didn’t you go to Uni, Sheldon?’ prompted me to stand myself up, look at myself and think ‘right. No more. Come on.’
One of our followers on Twitter, Nika Garrett, sporadically publicised that the University of Westminster were offering a one year professionally recognised course and qualification into tour guiding. I’d been on a couple of tours and loved how each guide took the role of an urban storyteller, relaying how Wren would be furious if the south wall of St. Vedast Foster Lane was exposed like it was nowadays, to the eternal cobbles in Mitre Square where Catherine Eddowes was discovered on that fateful night in 1888.
I decided to apply for the course. I felt it would be a great vehicle to relay my strengths – sharing my passions with people, my love of London and my fondness for meeting new people. I enclosed my CV and reasons as to why I wanted to go on the course: I was duly invited for an interview where I was asked to present a three minute talk on Marylebone Parish Church, which I mentioned in a previous entry. The interview panel consisted of the course leaders and I gave the kind of tour I’d find interesting – slightly chatty, factual, and with my own views on what was happening.
The course leaders obviously agreed, as of two Thursday’s ago, I am now a student of the University of Westminster’s ‘Diploma in Special Study: Tour Guiding in the City of Westminster’. To say I’m salivating at furthering my knowledge and skill-set as an ‘urban storyteller’ is an understatement: at the induction I was kicking my eighteen year-old self for not having the gumption to indulge my interests and exploit a part of me people had been telling me for years to nurture – my interest in the past, our surroundings and its effect on today.
I also know very little about Westminster, and this isn’t through ignorance – it’s just that my fondness for Wren and Cemeteries hasn’t let anything else through, and I realise this needs to change. I’m thankful this blog has opened up my love for research and pushed me to set myself a challenge of preparing a guided walks and perhaps improving the interactivity of this blog with walks given by yours truly. I’ll be updating you all with how I’m getting on with occasional posts on my progress.
Change was needed. A string to my bow added. Let’s see how the arrow flies.