We’re a funny bunch, us London Blue Badge Guides. Today a group of us met up and went off to Leicester by coach to see sites associated with Richard III. Sitting towards the back with friends, I had a flashback to the intensity of our training; hours spent frantically taking notes, listening to qualified guides expounding as we sped along motorways. A feeling compounded by the fact that the coach driver, Paul, had been the driver during my coach exams back in 1998. I couldn’t do it again. One of the most galling things a visitor can say to me is “Oh, do you have to train?” Another is “I expect you just make it up if you don’t know.” I try not to grind my teeth, but I’m not sure I always succeed.
We were talked to by people on mikes at the front. First Monica, who had responded to a casual conversation and made our trip possible. If you read this Monica, many many thanks. I had a great day. Then Tim took to the mike and gave a wonderfully entertaining and informative presentation that kicked off with a rendition of Peter Seller’s delivery of A Hard day’s Night as Laurence Olivier in Richard III. If that sounds like complete double dutch, watch this.
It helps that Tim is a member of the Richard III Society.
I have only been to Leicester once before, despite being a lover of Red Leicester cheese. I remember the station, the Thomas Cook statue and many many outdoor pursuit shops. Led by a Heart of England Blue Badge Guide, we didn’t see any of those today. The car park where Richard’s remains were recently and dramatically recovered, was not accessible, though some of my colleagues knelt on the ground to peer underneath the gates.
We visted an amazing church, St Mary de Castro, which deserves a post of its own and another visit; lovely romanesque arches and a fug of incense. We went to the superb Guildhall, which only ceased being the meeting place for the town councillors in the late C19. We saw the cathedral, light, bright with fantastic angels in the roof.
After a snatched lunch, we got back on the coach to head for Bosworth Field. The White Boar fluttered and a crown hung on the sundial. I rather fell for the gift shop with its Bosworth bonbons and War of the Rosé wine. Back on the coach I noticed Tim was sporting a new silver boar badge.
Last night I photcopied the pages in the Blue Guide to England about Leicester. Reading between the lines, it seems to suggest that if you have the chance to visit Leicester, don’t bother. After today, I would disagree. In fact, I may have to go back quite soon.