For our first full day in London, HCarryOn and I followed the advice of one of my fabulous UVA English professors (whom I caught up with in Charlottesville) and expeditioned ourselves off to the Tower of London.
On the way, we waved hello to Emperor Trajan at the Tower Hill tube stop, who was altogether too busy chatting with pigeons to care about two Hannahs visiting him all the way from Australia. (I did start to take photos of the pigeons, but then I remembered that they were pigeons. So I put my camera away.)
I have one word for any of you who might, at any point in the future, consider visiting the Tower of London:
(And not the True Blood Bill, either.)
Look, I’m sure the other Yeoman Warders who lead the Tower tours are also fun and knowledgeable, but Bill was magnificent.
How often, for example, do you find a man capable of telling you the effects of a high fibre diet on your digestive system, describing the grotesque details of William Wallace’s execution whilst simultaneously taunting all Scottish people, making fun of the institution of marriage, and yelling at your tour group to move more quickly, all in the space of the tour’s first fifteen minutes and all while making you laugh and love him more than a little bit?
Exactly. And for all Bill’s jocularity, I learnt a lot about the Tower’s history, its moat and the polar bear who lived there (no joke), and the fact that one shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the size of Henry VIII’s codpiece. To explain why, Bill removed his Yeoman Warder hat and demonstrated that while the hat extended quite a way beyond his head, his head didn’t fill up the entirety of the hat. (I think this point was lost on the under-10s in our tour.)
Another favourite moment of the tour was when Bill utilised, with utmost conviction, the shouting experience gleaned from his former days as a senior NCO of the Armed forces (which all Yeoman Warders must have been, along with holding a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal). When some teenage tourists started running amok in the Tower courtyard, he pulled them up with a deep-voiced booming “Pillocks!”
Even in Australia, I would have expected this to be accompanied by a joke or a laughing apology to the tour group, but no. Bill simply used this opportunity to glower and insult all French people, for the boys were, in fact, French.
All in all, Bill, if you ever read this, you made my and HCarryOn’s day, and we would both happily marry you and darn your Yeoman frock. Oh, I’m sorry, your “State dress uniform modelled on military garb”. Of course, we both have a proclivity for grey-haired men (Jed Bartlett, Victor Garber, Barnaby, Bill Nighy, and the dearly departed Graham Cullum, who surely is right now sharing his third pack of smokes of the day with Tolstoy, to name a few), so we’re easy targets.