The Lives of a Showman–Part Four


All this happened in the summer of 1966. The reason I
remember the year is that at the time I was selling Svengali decks
outside Wembley Stadium when the World Cup soccer games
were in full swing. Mexico was playing, and I was selling the
trick decks in droves, mostly to Mexican soccer fans.
After a few days of selling the decks, I decided that it was
about time I got paid from the L’Hirondelle. I assumed that Mr.
Mustapha must have returned from his business trip. I found a
payphone near the stadium, phoned the club, and asked for Mr.
Mustapha. I was greeted by a secretary who on hearing my name
got very excited and said, “I am so glad you phoned. We have been trying to reach you for the last couple of days, but we’ve lost your
phone number. Mr. Mustapha would like you to work at the club
for one week starting on Monday”.

I was astonished at this turn of events, but was naturally quite
pleased about it. I did go down to the club on Monday and lo
and behold they had my money ready for me for the three days
I had already worked. The act died a death virtually every night
as usual, but the earlier shows were always a little easier than the
later ones, although still not spectacular.

I did not see Mr. Mustapha in the club all week, which was in
some ways a relief since he wouldn’t witness my act flopping every
night. However, one day I went to the washroom and suddenly
became aware of a small Turkish man using the next urinal. I
quickly realized this was Mr. Mustapha. He recognized me and
said. “How are you?” I said “Fine. Thanks for the booking.” He
responded, “You are welcome. I want you to work for another
month. Can you do this?”

I agreed in a flash. From being booked for one week, I now had
my engagement extended for a whole month. As a matter of fact,
the month eventually stretched into several more months. I must
say, however, that this is the only time in my career I have ever
been booked while urinating in a public washroom. I wonder if
this event is of great historical significance.
The last episode of this saga will be in my next entry. I reveal what happened to the Polish acrobat and why I had suddenly been booked out of the blue.


The Lives of a Showman–Part Four