So, since I’m lucky enough to work with bloggers for a living, a while ago I decided to host a great big blogger event with some of London’s finest (and those from further afield!). For full disclosure purposes, I’ll admit – yes, Jack The Ripper (the walk, not the murderer!) is my client, and this was a bit of a PR event. However, as a new blogger, I absolutely loved it, not only because of the experience of doing the tour and learning lots, but also because I got to meet a ton of really cool people and get to know others in the online community – offline!
I had arranged for the group, which was about 25 strong (I won’t list them all, but for an idea, check out #JTRBloggers), to meet on January 11th just before 5pm outside Aldgate East train station. This is where The Jack The Ripper Walk usually meets, but today, the group would be extra special! I was a bit nervous, because I’d only met one or two of the others through previous PR nights, and the rest were total strangers. I had also had a few cancellations too, and I was panicking nobody would show up! Luckily, lots of lovely ladies, and even a few men did come, and I’m so glad they did! When everyone got there, I gave everyone cute name tags (lame, but super useful!), and we set off on our way.
Richard, who I had only ever spoken to by phone and email, was fantastic. He’s the owner of the tour with his brother Colin, and as a guide, he really brought the tale of Jack The Ripper to life. It was honestly more like being part of a travelling theatre group than a walking tour.
He’s so passionate, and his genuine interest and talent as a raconteur was evident throughout. We went all around the East End of London, seeing it in a totally new light.
I’ll admit – some of it was ghastly, but I personally felt ready to deal with this, knowing full well how awful a person Jack The Ripper had been – whoever he was. Ripper Vision, the trademark portable projector Richard and his team uses, was fantastic – it showed us scenes to help us really imagine we were in the area back then. However, I’m glad I hadn’t eaten much beforehand, as some of the images might have made me feel super sick.
There’s absolutely no glorification of the murder here, which is what I was keeping an eye out for, so I’m glad. I feel – as a feminist with a lot of concern for sex workers – that Richard handled the tour with excellent sensitivity (in spite of the gruesomeness of the projector!). I actually feel that if anything, the attention to these crimes even today shows that the lives of the women the Ripper killed matter, because despite them being prostitutes, everyone is shocked and saddened by what happened to them. This is the way it should be, and I hate when people only sit up and take note when women they deem as ‘more important’ are killed. I would ask though that people pause to think for a second about the reality of what went on – the media sensationalized the crimes with the name, but in the end, many innocent lives were actually taken in the most unthinkable ways possible.
It’s been many years since The Ripper’s reign of terror – he killed at least five women back in 1888, and so he’s definitely long gone! Because of this, we’ll sadly almost certainly never know who truly did it. Sure, there will be speculation – Richard certainly has his suspicions! But unless we invent time travel, it’s likely to be lost in the sands of time.
After the tour, we headed for a lovely meal at Mumbai Square, where we wined and dined, thanks to Richard’s generosity. We then did a quiz, which was a lot of fun, where Richard’s knowledge was again able to shine. I also somehow was on the winning team… I legitimately swear I hadn’t seen the questions and this wasn’t rigged!
My main recommendations for the tour, which you should definitely go on, would be to wrap up warm, and make sure you head to the bathroom before you go, because there are no stops! Bring an umbrella, too, because the stupid rain REALLY tries to get in the way (come on, it’s London!). Finally, wear comfortable shoes, because this tour has the added bonus of being a bit of added exercise for your week. Or, if you’re me, the only exercise you’re getting all month. One blogger actually tracked it – it was 3.5 miles!
I had such a laugh, and made what I hope will be lifelong friends. I’d definitely recommend booking onto a tour when you’re next in London – it’s a little different, a lot of fun, and a bargain at just £10.