Updated: Dec 30, 2021
A tour settles into its seasonal slumber and its tour guide takes time to reflect. It was an intense summer of working, walking and waxing lyrical about Falmouth and its story, and over the months many lessons have been learned. Here are the thoughts that have stayed with me.
5. Falmouth is full of blimin' lovely people!
When I started the tour back in May I was worried that some Falmouthians might object — 'You've only lived here a few years,' I imagined people saying, ‘What right do you have to tell the story of this place?!’
Apart from one brief exception, this has not proven to be the case: Falmouthians across the board have been unfailingly warm and supportive. The experience has confirmed, if it needed confirming at all, that this is a deeply special place.
(Special thanks to Sam and Alan down at Fal River Visitor Information, and Christian at the Dog & Smuggler, for their early support, when I needed it most.)
4. My voice is not the boss of me
I am one intensely allergic dude. For large parts of the year pollen, spores and dust conspire to wreak havoc on my airways, often leaving my voice as a croaky, strained shadow of what it should be.
I have a huge complex about it — for many years I’ve never considered applying for any job that would require me to use my voice, just in case I had a bad day and was unable to carry out the role properly. It affects day to day life too; when my voice starts to struggle my entire personality goes down a gear — it’s easier to be quiet than have people look puzzled and say ‘What!?’
It almost stopped me from doing the tour at all. Yet the use of a microphone & speaker, coupled with a resolute commitment to symptom control, have made it a problem that can be dealt with. It’s not ideal, but what’s life without some obstacles?
3. Marketing is hard
This might seem a bit of an obvious one, but successfully proclaiming, ‘Hey, strangers! Pay attention to this thing’ is bloody difficult! Our world is swamped by words and images (often designed to encourage a particular behaviour), and consequently most of us have developed powerful filters that ensure we only pay attention to that which actually interests us.
This does make it rather difficult to launch a new project. I spent months of this year fretting terribly about it, assuming that there was some magic marketing technique that I was failing to take into consideration. What eventually worked was just doing everything: a sold-out tour would have people that read my Facebook advert, saw my pavement sign, had a recommendation from a friend, browsed Tripadvisor, took a leaflet from the visitors’ centre etc.
Hopefully it should be easier next year...
2. Be genuine, within limits...
One of the reasons the tour works is my willingness to be myself and ‘make friends’ with everyone who comes along. It’s obvious why this goes down well: people like genuine warmth and personality, and are adept at noticing when someone is faking it.
This commitment to being completely open has had its downsides though — for a while I actively told people where I lived (‘That’s my bedroom window!’) and when asked about my opinion on second homes I’d be unambiguously frank. That’s not a problem when those you’re talking to agree with your perspective, but it’s not ideal when the people standing behind you decidedly don’t. Top tip: don’t pointlessly piss off your customers.
1. The right role can unlock your potential
A common movie plot element involves an unconfident character suddenly discovering inner reserves of awesomeness and wowing their critics. It happens in action films starring ageing male movie stars, it happens in ‘chick-flicks’ with likeable-yet-encumbered main characters… and it happened quite memorably to Peter Parker in Spiderman 3 (2007).
These scenes are cathartically pleasurable to watch because they fulfil a belief many of us have about ourselves: I may be disempowered and unfulfilled right now, but there’s a powerful version of myself waiting to get out.
There is something to this: often we just need the right role or situation for our power to manifest itself. Michael Jackson was a force of nature on stage but a barely functional adult the rest of the time, authoritative military men often seem rudderless out of uniform, and terribly anxious people can be calm and grounded when their job requires it.
Becoming Mr Falmouth Uncovered did this for me in the most wonderful way. I would slip on the boots and perch the tricorn hat upon my head, take a few deep breaths and become, in an instant, a heightened version of myself free of the self-doubt that often encourages smallness. It’s essentially been the psycho-emotional sensation of stretching my wings out and having a good flap.
Thank you for reading, reader. The tour is currently not running, but it will return in May... bigger and better than ever, perhaps.
With seasonal regards,
(And thanks to Cornish Holiday Cottages for the cracking cover photo)