Confessions of an irate tour guide

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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.

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File photo: Your think tour guides have cushy jobs? Think again... Picture: jason boud

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.

* Name withheld

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