Many of us like true crime shows books and podcasts. However, there is another form of true crime entertainment that adds another dimension to it. They are walking tours with a knowledgeable guide that can share a dark history of the streets and buildings of your very own city. Combined with actual locations and imagination the stories just like a polaroid photo develop colour after a few seconds. Hotel and office buildings on the way to work become part of gripping stories with characters forever stack in your mind.
I am an events organiser for an ex-pat community and am often on the lookout for fun things to do. Last week I came across a small company of local comedians running walking crime tours around my city. The idea of horrific crime stories by a professional laughing provocateur seemed strangely appealing and after watching a few youtube videos I made a booking.
I learnt about a cult follower with a plan to bomb a hotel but forgetting the detonator at home. The guy failed to set off his bomb and gave up living 30 TNT sticks in the trash can. The next morning two unfortunate council workers collecting garbage triggered the bomb that took their’s and a police officer’s lives. The guy later became a catholic priest with a LinkedIn profile after the completion of his prison sentence.
Then there was the first Mardi Gras in 1978 that started off as a street party in 1978 eventually clashing with the police. People were thrown to jail, forcibly evicted from their homes and name-shamed for participation in local newspapers. It was a very different place back then with the evidence in front of us. While hearing this story we were in the middle of floats preparation for the parade to start with tens of thousands of people gathered in the city. Police helped people to find Mardi Gras locations and took photos with visitors who came to see the parade.
We heard a story of a seemingly perfect plan to rob a bank in fact the whole bunch of them. This guy figured that if he staged a fake robbery at one location all of the police units will be called in and thus leave another bank somewhere else totally unprotected. The plan worked a couple of times until clever police figured out the setup and sent units to all banks in the area when it happened. Faced with a difficult situation the robber took a hostage and then drove to pick up his girlfriend from work. While having the police chase him. Spoiler alert – it did not work out well for the guy.
We walked the streets of the same but different city after spending an hour with our guide. And all because of unlocking the dark history through stories. While we sympathised with the victims and were gobsmacked by the irrational logic of the criminals I felt a sense of gratitude sharing these moments with new and old friends. A feeling of gratitude to be able to do something like this on Saturday afternoon.