After his appearance in PooterGeek this week, Allan Brigham—this the last time I will refer to you as “celebrity roadsweeper“, Allan, I promise—invited me on one of his tours of Cambridge for free. What a revelation!
Sonya and I joined the throng outside the Guildhall yesterday evening and (after some shockingly un-English touchy-feely stuff so everyone could get to know everyone else) our band of mostly-locals were treated to the most amazing introduction to what had been under our noses for so long.
Firstly, I can see why Allan thought I might enjoy myself. He is a “Blue Badge” certified guide so normally he would charge quite a bit for the “Allan Brigham experience”. We were treated to a freebie, punctuated by what were, by his own admission, rants. The history was enlightening, but the rants were exhilarating. He railed against the profound political corruption that persisted in Cambridge until relatively recently in the city’s history, against social injustice, against ignorance, against our short memories of infectious disease, disenfranchisement, and sexual discrimination. He railed against ill-informed NIMBYism, against sentimentality of all kinds, and (all the more shocking from a historical tour guide and the chairman of the Friends of the city’s Folk Museum) against the chronic English fetish for heritage.
Allan, you are a social radical in the finest tradition. Trustafarians have the luxury of being able to kill an(other) idle hour waving a banner saying “free grants” or “Bush=Hitler”; very few people are prepared to walk the streets (as he does every day, cleaning them), to sit in the library studying for exams and to come out with a striking and genuinely progressive set of beliefs, underpinned by real rigour and learning.
I might have, on occasion, argued with one or two of the things you said, but I was always awestruck by the quality of your argument. Thank you and bravo! I’ll be coming on more of your tours—and I’ll be more than happy to pay next time.