Gregory Ainger

Gregory Ainger

Born in Hampstead, allegedly within the sound of Bow Bells, I, like Dick Whittington 600 years before me, felt them calling me back to London after spells in the English Lakes where I lost my tonsils, but found the countryside; Bedfordshire, where I spent the 60s (and I can even remember something of them); Durham where I got my Geography and Anthropology degree and discovered lands north of Watford; Uganda and Brunei with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) where I learned about cultural and religious diversity, and Leicester where I put what I had learned into practice working for the BBC, and ....where I met my wife! After hearing the call of 'The Great Bells of Bow' I returned to London nearly 30 years ago to continue working for the BBC in Radio and Television until the birth of our son when I became a 'house husband', and then I really began to explore what London had to offer. Albeit from a different perspective - that of an active four year old! - The Parks, the Museums and Galleries, the theatres and, of course, the Zoo, where we were on first name terms with the chimps and they with us.  I qualified first as a City then as a Clerkenwell and Islington Guide - both areas closely connected with my interest in Charles Dickens. At the same time I became a Guide of Lord's Cricket Ground where I delight in showing the home of cricket to people from all over the world. In addition to said wife and son (now 21), I share responsibility for a lively Collie Cross who often takes me to Hampstead Heath for 'walkies' - where, if I listen ever so carefully, I can hear the sound of those same bells that rang (allegedly) in my infant ears all those years ago. For me what is fascinating is not that London 'has' history, but that it 'is' history. Not that it 'has' a future, but it 'is' the future. Past and present are not separate but are intertwined, and where new strands are continuously created and wrapped around what is already there. The city's diversity is one of these strands. Roman London was diverse, housing people from all over the Empire, and this diversity continued throughout its history; Flemish weavers, Huguenots from France, Italian emigres, Jews from Eastern Europe, Bengalis, West Indians, East African Asians, Poles, Romanians Australians etc have always contributed to the vibrancy, colour and character of London and make it such an exciting place to be. London entertained the world in 2012 when the city hosted the Olympic Games and Para-olympic Games on a site in East London, that literally rose from the ashes of post industrial dereliction. And talking of the Ashes - cricket, a passion I'm anxious to share, for it provides not only an exciting spectacle, but also a metaphor for life and an insight into the British personality and social history even if you don't know the difference between 'caught behind' and 'leg before.'  So if you want an entertaining couple of hours perhaps taking in an historic pub or two.  If you are familiar with the main sites but fancy delving a little deeper - perhaps around Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Islington.  If you want to give a present that is a little different - then get in touch.

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