London - I take groups — usually families — around a beautiful stately home in the South West, and tell them all about the history of the building.
I’d say most of them are more interested in how to get to the tearoom afterwards.
I don’t expect kids to behave perfectly, but I often have to ask them not to grab things or eat crisps on the way round — because it doesn’t occur to their parents to stop them. I’ve even had nine-year-olds having tantrums because they’re “bored”.
Middle-class parents are obsessed with safety, and won’t let their children go to play in the highly supervised gardens — yet they don’t seem to mind how bad-mannered their offspring are.
The ones who really get my goat, though, are those I know are retired teachers or lecturers. They have to prove they know more than me, as if they’re at a pub quiz. I often wonder why they’re on the tour, given that they already know everything.
Women in pairs are terrible for simply wandering off — I’ll be halfway through explaining something and turn round to find half the group has disappeared.
Once, I found a lady sitting on a precious four-poster bed. It was roped off, but she’d just climbed over ‘to see what it felt like’. People forget how easily historic objects can be damaged.
I prefer the foreign visitors, who tend to be more respectful. Brits grumble about entrance fees and are harder to impress.
It’s a tiring job physically, but what wears me out most is arguing with middle-aged men about history. The competitive spirit of people on a pleasant day out never fails to amaze me.
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