Back in guiding mode after a short break, and my week seems fairly divided between tours of parliament and work for London Walks.
I had a bit of free time in parliament today, so headed outside to leaflet passers by. Some people ignore you, others smile and shake their heads, some walk by and then come back, quite a few take a leaflet and ask questions.
It was encouraging back inside to see some of them enjoying tours.
Parliament doesn’t make any money from the tours. The charge – £16.50, and £14.00 concessions – covers the costs of administration, guides fees, security and so on. Nor is parliament allowed to advertise the tours in listing magazines or with, say, a banner. Most visitors come because they know someone else who has visited and enjoyed it. Therefore the leafleting job is quite important for raising awareness. It can also be a nice way of meeting people.
Some people stop and chat. One Canadian graduate confessed to having been on a free tour. Was it really free? I wanted to know. Well, no, they asked for money at the end. I hope next time he takes a tour when he pays upfront and goes with a professionally qualified guide.
I advised him on some places to enjoy that won’t empty his pockets and off he went.
I gave my last leaflet of the day to Yasmin. She was in a wheelchair pushed by her partner, her golden retriever Miami’s leash under her control. Not that Miami looked like she needed a lot of controlling. Zen must be her middle name.
Yasmin explained that she is on an awareness raising trip. She has a rare illness, Behçet’s Disease. She’d already been to Liverpool and met The Lord Mayor, and met me just after being at Downing Street. She talked a mile a minute, and despite the discouraging prognosis of her illness, she was upbeat and energising. Miami is in training to become her assistance dog. I reckon she’ll be kept busy.