Excerpts of 1,700 word article


"I know it's raining cats and dogs, Madam," said the voice at the other end of the telephone, "but I suggest you hop on over to the rendezvous point anyway. Your man will be there, inside the west entrance...carrying a brolly." Not too thrilled at thoughts of sloshing about in the wet for the next two or three hours, I hopped the tube to Holborn as instructed, and found "my man" surrounded by 20 or so plastic-wrapped tourists, all of them mustard keen to start their walking tour of Legal and Illegal London.

I used to think London's greatest bargain was the pub lunch. Now I know it has a rival in these escorted walks which, for the modest fee of about 5, introduce visitors to the insider's London. Our guide this day was an articulate young author/historian who delivered a wealth of information with such interesting anecdotes, we soon forgot the wretched weather. Also, in view of the rain, he refused our money until we had been going for half an hour, in case anyone chose to drop out. Nobody did.

Several companies organize these tours. I chose London Walks, after picking up a pamphlet at a city tourist office. Their particular routes include areas frequented by Shakespeare, Dickens, Christopher Wren, Princess Diana, other royalty or Jack the Ripper....

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After my morning walk I went for lunch at Ye Olde Cock on Fleet Street. The food was good and fellow diners filled my ears with legal chatter to conclude our tour in an appropriate role.

IF YOU GO: Several companies offer escorted tours of London. You will find their pamphlets at tourist information offices. No reservations are necessary. Simply turn up at the appointed tube station, even if it's raining cats and dogs...