History and heritage like rocks and sponge cakes comes in layers and Bill Aitchison’s Tour of Tours in Bath took us in and amongst those layers.
Layers of interpretation and layers of experience.
We heard stories of cartoon cockneys on tour buses responding to each phrase of the tour guide with “thats what the doctor ordered” and of a young Chinese tourist obsessed with spotting Tescos. Bill had spent days taking all the tours Bath has to offer including experiencing a tired guide going onto auto pilot and describing everything he saw and relating that back to his own life experience. Before long we were indeed wondering where the official heritage discourse ended and a more personal one began.
Exploring a city as defined and described by tour guides, led by Bill, witnessed by the barker outside the Jane Austen Museum who heckled, by a man who might have been a freemason going into the old Theatre Royal, who said the commentary sounded reasonable, and in the tour party a guide who does tours of Bath, in Russian. A wonderful and surreal experience.