Ed Glinert, Manchester’s most prolific tour guide, here.
I know we live in strange times, and are surrounded by lots of unexplained phenomena, like how anyone thought Liz Truss should be leader of the Tory party and PM, and why Chelsea or anyone would appoint Frank Lampard as manager, but some of the stuff I’ve had to endure this week has been strange even by the usual odd guiding standards.
On Wednesday some 16 people booked for the Secret History tour. Two turned up. When I questioned later why people book but have no intention of turning up, a Jo-Anna Lyons contacted me to say she couldn’t find the Mercure Hotel, where we were supposed to start and that I should start the tour outside Central Library.
Well, amazingly enough, we put hours of thought into where we start tours and the route. There are half a dozen excellent “Secret History” stories around the Mercure. That’s why we start there. Start outside the Library? I started a Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll tour outside the Library about a year ago. Many were booked; no one turned up, and I was later told that a number of people were also outside the Library and still couldn’t find me! Why didn’t this Jo-Anna Lyons phone me to say she couldn’t find the Mercure? I would have waited for her. She then cancelled the half a dozen tours she’d booked. I find this incomprehensible. It must take hours to search through all the tours available, then book them on Eventbrite, only to waste another hour or so cancelling. Why would anyone do this? The cancelling came with the very suspicious adieu “Good luck with the tours”, which is exactly the same phrase that people who waste enormous amounts of time booking then cancelling tours say every time. Very suspicious!
Yes, I smell scam. It happens often. It happened when we charged in advance. Large numbers of people would book, pay, not turn up, then go on social media to claim the guide hadn’t turned up and they’d been conned, even though the tour had of course taken place, just not with them.
Today, Saturday the 8th of July, 103 people booked for the canal walk. 30 turned up, half of whom were Chinese who couldn’t speak much English, had no interest in what I was saying, and talked all the way through, preventing those who wanted the tour from hearing. I asked them nicely to desist, but they persisted, so I had to abort the tour. Thanks guys. They brought a large number of children with them who I’m sure would not have had much interest in the canal-side stories of Venetian architecture, the Gay Village, the Hacienda and so on. That’s what it says the tour was all about on the web. They then told me they had expected a boat trip. What, for free? On the Rochdale Canal, in a barge with four people able to see the sights, and with lock after lock, each taking half an hour to pass through?
Why would we be scammed? We’re just a walks, talks and tours outfit who have invented Manchester as a tourist and historical destination. However there has been, and still is, much opposition. The 1996 Blue Badge guides led by Jonathan Schofield have spent 14 years trying to put us out of business; how dare a Londoner come up to Manchester and get to know more about Manchester than him? Meanwhile, a tranche of fellow Green Badge guides, led by Pauline Schofield and Sue McCarthy, who don’t actually do any tours, have been very hostile for 14 years on the ground that a north London Jew isn’t welcome doing Manchester tours.