Mary Poppins Returns Premiere-Eve
On the eve of the premiere of the new film Mary Poppins Returns, I got a phone call from a local news reporter. It was 3:40pm. I was preparing to tour at Down Street Underground Station, part of the Hidden London programme with the London Transport Museum. The reporter was quick-spoken with a voice that combined chaos and urgency into one. “Tonight is the premier of the new Mary Poppins movie and I see you do a tour. We want to interview you about why you think this story has stood the test of time.”
It’s hard for me to deny that the first thought in my head was “you’re a little late to call, eh?” I have had this frustration with press in the past. They have an idea at the last minute and then expect you to bend over backwards to help them achieve their story. In previous experiences, I have complied by moving meetings and accommodating their requests, only for the story to never see the light of day. With this experience under my belt, I was cautious to proceed.
“Well, first of all, I don’t do a ‘Mary Poppins’ tour.,” I stayed for clarification. “My tour is about the life of PL Travers and her creation of this fictional character, and what inspiration she might have taken from her life and London to create her stories.” The reporter had his own ideas. “Well can’t you just dress up in your outfit and we can film you?”
The short answer was No. I then had to extrapolate in the nicest way that I am not a costume juke box, I am a professional tour guide. He wasn’t taking no for an answer. So I had to explain the obvious logistics. “Well, you have called me when I am about to start another tour. I’m in Mayfair.” He was excited, “Oh, so can I meet you in Mayfair? We go live at 7!” Clearly, I needed to use smaller words for this guy! “No. My costume is at home in Greenwich and I am about to do a tour in Mayfair. I have customers who have paid to come on this tour, so I can’t just run home and meet you and leave them behind.”
Him: “Oh? You do other tours?”
Me: “Yes, I’m a tour guide.”
In the end, I am glad I was not featured on TV on this occasion. It is important that my tours are experienced in their pure form, not in a sound byte.