The Americans are the worst. Or from my perspective the best. They take gullibility to new lengths. If I get a whiff of an accent from when they call up to book, I know I’m in for a good night. Plus, they’re big tippers.
I throw in some stuff at the beginning about Dickens and they lap it up. They’re practically salivating when I mention Shakespeare. Now, you don’t have to be a geographical genius to know that there is a world of difference between Stratford-Upon-Avon and Brighton. There’s also the small matter of one hundred and sixteen miles.
I’ve been running my ‘Ghost Walk Tours of Brighton’ for several years now. I’ve thought about branching out, franchising the format but it keeps me in beer and baccy, especially in the summer months. I start the tour at eleven o’clock at night on the seafront in front of the twisted rusting structure that the sea is doing its best to reclaim; the West Pier. I give the punters some old spiel about it being haunted. They love that. Then I take them across the road and we wind our way through the narrow streets of ‘the Lanes’. I tell them tales of impoverished orphans, knife-wielding jilted wives and Plague-victims whose souls can never rest. My audiences can never get enough. Some of it may even be true. I was never big on research.
Tonight’s crowd seem particularly eager. There’s a bunch from Texas. One of them claims his forefathers were “originally fisherfolk from Brighton”. I couldn’t have cared less – I only moved here five years ago but to the paying public I’m a born and bred Brightonian. I feign interest in his internet genealogical findings. My pantomime reactions of ‘Wow!’ and ‘That’s amazing!’ seem to convince him. He offers to send me links to his family tree. I’m…