Last week I took the kids to the Tower of London for the first time. Mr M and I went in June half-term when we had a couple of child-free days in London, and I was tempted to get the children's guide so that we could engage the kids before their visit.
"Don't get that!" says Mr M. I assumed he was just weeping uncontrollably inside at the idea of adding yet another book to our collection. But no. Mr M remembered a book from his own childhood about the Tower, and wanted to find it. "It was a Choose Your Own Adventure". Say no more, Mr M.
I absolutely loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, even though I was also really, really terrified of them. I remember one called Your Very Own Robot, which could equally have been called Die in a Variety of Quite Scary Ways. I was always extremely risk averse in the books (as in life), but still ended up meeting a sticky end quite often. And yet, I remember the books with fondness.
How could I resist the opportunity to combine an educational visit with some scary, nostalgic fiction? I couldn't. No book was purchased that day at the Tower.
Unfortunately, we couldn't find the chosen Tower book at MrsMSnr's house. We found one about a shark, which probably would have given me nightmares for weeks, but there aren't that many sharks at the Tower. Obviously the only available solution was to buy the book from a second-hand Amazon seller.
I can't remember if all of the Choose Your Own Adventure books were American, but Choose Your Own Adventure The Tower of London certainly is. Published in 1984 "You" play the part of an American tourist visiting your penpal with the, unlikely even in 1984, name of Rodney, who lives at the Tower. Obviously, in MrM and my readings of the text, Rodney speaks with an Edwardian BBC accent. This is partly because it just seemed right, but also to try and minimise the terror, lest one of our unsuspecting children picks the story which leads the ghost of Richard III to throw you down a pit where you are destined to starve to death.
Most of the story arcs are not quite so terrifying, which is good. They do cover a basic Who's Who of Tower of London ghosts, which is what we were after. On balance, almost certainly more entertaining than the rather dry kids guide sold today at the Tower. Also, we had literally minutes of fun daring and double daring each other to go and ask all of the Yeoman Warders if they were Rodney's Dad. Who can put a price on that?