One thing did puzzle me, though. I wondered what had
happened to the Polish acrobat who was no longer to be seen.
I reasoned, quite accurately as it turned out, that he had been
replaced by me, but I couldn’t figure out why, since he was obviously a sizzling professional act whereas I was simply an
incompetent card magician who couldn’t handle drunks and who
died a death every night.
After making some inquiries I found out what had happened.
It seemed that the gentleman from Poland got highly irritated
when the waiters crossed the floor to serve customers; in doing so
they had to cross the performing area. The acrobat felt, no doubt
quite rightly, that it interfered with his act. He remonstrated with
them and with Mr. Mustapha, but to no avail. One night he was
fuming mad and threatened the waiters: “If you dare to cross the
floor again while I am performing, you will pay for it.”
Of course, the waiters simply did what they always did and
that was to cross the floor when they needed to. The acrobat
lost his temper and ejected his wife from his shoulders into a
wandering waiter who went sprawling over the nightclub floor,
the tray of food and drinks sprawling with him. There were then
great screams of Turkish from the waiter and screams of Polish
from the acrobat, followed by punches and mayhem. I am quite
sure the audience was entertained more by this than any of the
acts that were performing that night.
As a result of the uproar the acrobat was deemed to be surplus
to requirements and was given the boot. The nightclub was then
short an act; the result was that I was given the job and the start of
a show business career that has lasted to this day (along with my
various other shenanigans). My act was somewhat on the mediocre
side, but at least I never sent any of the waiters sprawling.