Daily Life in London
Richard Tames is a tour guide in London. One of the classes I am enrolled in travels around London every week. Mr. Tames was my tour guide on our first trip. He has given me tours of various places every week since I have been here in London. Mr. Tames is very knowledgeable about the entire city of London. Sometimes I ask him random questions and he always seems to know the answer. Mr. Tames is in his mid-sixties. He has been a tour guide for over twenty years, and truly loves architecture, art and history. You can really tell he loves what he does. When he gives me tours, he always sounds excited about what he is talking about. He makes me want to know more about London.
Mr. Tames has a wife and a 14-year old daughter. His wife, Mrs. Tames, is also a tour guide. She speaks six languages. She does most of her tours in Japanese. Mr. Tames always says that one day he hopes to be as good of a tour guide as his wife. They often talk about their common interests: history, art and architecture. He says although they do not give tours together, they have a similar style of explaining the history to people. Good tour guides like to engage the people on the tour. Mr. Tames likes to ask questions to keep his group interested in the topic. If people are not interested in a particular place, he takes them somewhere else. Mr. Tames always asks us if there is some place that we want to see that day.
Mr. Tames seems to know the history of places all around the world. I went on a tour of the city Bath with him, and he knew everything about the ancient city. He knew when the buildings were built and who the architect was. He knew which streets were demolished hundreds of years ago. It’s amazing that he can answer all of my questions. When I took a trip to the Netherlands for a holiday, he happily told me buildings I should go visit, and even recommended some restaurants.
Mr. Tames gives tours to locals, tourists, school groups and friends, and wants to continue being a tour guide as long as possible as he really loves his job. Mr. Tames enjoys sharing the history of London, and says he has always found history interesting. I asked him if he wants his daughter to be a tour guide. He told me that he wanted her to be whatever she desired, but he wants her to learn two other languages. It is quite common in Europe for people to learn two or three languages.
The amazing thing about Richard Tames is that he is more than a tour guide. He was born and raised in London. He watched London’s urban fabric change. He watched new buildings rise and old ones get torn down. He watched the city change time and time again. He has a personal connection with London. He tells me stories of buildings that were around when he was growing up. He often recalls walking along the bank of the Thames River. As a boy, his parents would take him for walks up and down the Thames. Today he takes those same paths with his wife and children. He is a part of the history.
There is an arc that used to serve as the gate to the City of London, but it is now just for decoration. Mr. Tames remembers how it used to be down the street at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Now the arc sits in between two buildings next to the cathedral. Mr. Tames finds it funny that many people now don’t pay attention to the arc. Hundreds of people walk under the arc every day, and most of them have no idea that the arc is an important a historical landmark. He is disappointed that the arc was not placed somewhere it could be more recognized by the public. At one point in time Mr. Tames recalls the arc being abandoned. When he was younger he would try to climb it with his friends. He is reminded of his childhood every time he walks past the arc.
Richard Tames also watched the Piccadilly Circus area become more and more populated. It is considered the “Times Square” of London. All tourists visit the circus. During the day, hundreds of people crowd into the area, a busy square and a popular meeting place. There is a big statue in the center, and people like to take their picture in front of it. It is called a circus, because the streets intersect in the shape of a circus. There is always a lot of traffic in the circus. Mr. Tames says that there was a time when the big flat screen TVs and stores were not all over Piccadilly Circus. He says he never imagined that Piccadilly would be such a tourist attraction.
Mr. Tames says he loves his life. He enjoys one day at a time. He loves seeing and touring London every day. He says he seems the city differently every time. Mr. Tames has watched the city evolve and become more technological as time has passed. He says that technology has helped the city grow. He wonders how the city will change in the next ten years. He loves seeing the city develop into something new. Every year London changes in some way. Buildings get built and renovated. Mr. Tames hopes that one day his daughter will have the same appreciation for London that he does. He wants her to continue the family passion for London. He hopes that she will be aware of the changes that are going on around her.