As a Blue Badge Guide, I’m used to answering questions on all kinds of topics. So I thought it would be fun to interview myself, and share a few secrets, suggestions and favourites in various categories. So here goes with part one…
What are the most important qualities in a Blue Badge Guide?
Passion, knowledge, personality and professionalism. I put passion first because I believe that even more than someone who knows what they are talking about people want to be guided by someone who genuinely cares about the places they are visiting and ensuring they experience the best of it. Essentially, you can get away with gaps in knowledge but not a lack of passion. I hope this is something that comes across in all my tours, as it is something I pride myself on. Knowledge is obvious – guiding is about giving information to people in an interesting way. I am blessed with an almost photographic memory so learning material for tours is not too much of a problem. Personality is all about communicating in a friendly, entertaining and accessible way, being a person the clients enjoy spending time with. Finally, professionalism is vital – punctuality, good customer service, exuding reliability and assurance on a tour. People are putting their leisure time or holidays in your hands, they have to feel confident in your abilities.
What’s your favourite city?
I have to say Birmingham. It is where I have made my home, it is the place I am most passionate about promoting and sharing. I think it is an exciting city to live and work in, with plenty going on, and I love its independent spirit, humour, lack of pomposity, and the down to earth good nature of its people. It may lack world famous sights but it is extremely rewarding for visitors who can find plenty of unexpected delights if they know where to look, or have a good guide to show them!
Three historical figures to invite to a dinner party and why?
First would be Shakespeare. Someone I talk about so much on tours in Stratford, a genius with a massive legacy on literature, language and art globally. But we know little about the man, and what made him tick. I’d love to find out. Second would be Mozart. I love his music and became fascinated by him when I worked in Austria. Not sure if I could afford his wine bill with the meal, but as with my first guest, it would be amazing to discover the man behind the art. I guess we need someone to add a bit of gravitas to proceedings, so my third choice would be Matthew Boulton. The more I learn about his life, the more I admire everything he achieved in Birmingham and his role in shaping the modern world.
Your favourite legendary or mythical figure?
Only one man in the running here. I grew up just north of Nottingham and spent large chunks of my childhood exploring the woodlands in the area. I was steeped in the Robin Hood legends from a very young age and remain fascinated by them today.
More questions will follow shortly…