Confessions of a Showman: My Life in the Circus [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Gerry Cottle
eBook Category: People/History
eBook Description: Gerry Cottle, a stockbroker's son, ran away to join the circus when he was just 15 and soon married into Britain's oldest circus dynasty. In time he was the owner of the biggest circus in the world until his growing cocaine addiction led to his arrest and bankruptcy. He recovered, and, ever the showman, went on to make millions with the first ever non-animal circus, the Moscow and Chinese State circuses, and the Circus of Horrors.
eBook Publisher: Vision Paperbacks/Vision Paperbacks
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007
I ran away to join the circus when I was fifteen. Please do not under any circumstances try to find me. I have gone forever. I have joined the circus.You do not understand me.You are not listening to me. I do not need O levels where I am going. I am going to join the circus. I have gone. So ran the tape my school friend played from a telephone box down the line to my parents. Poor Mother and Father. It was not the done thing in those days for a Surrey stockbroker?s son attending a prestigious grammar school to run away and join the circus. It must have been a bit of a shock. Don?t think this was an act of impulse. I had been planning my exit for months. I had cultivated a friendship with the Roberts brothers, the owners of one of the biggest circuses in the country, and I knew exactly where they were touring. One morning in March 1961 I set off as usual on my bike, but instead of going to school I went to Cheam station, where I abandoned my bike and jumped on the 9.15 to London and from there caught a train up to Newcastle. (I had already given my younger sister, Jane, half a crown to collect the bike from the station, take my uniform from the saddle bag and hang it up in my wardrobe, that?s how organised I was.) I walked from Newcastle station to Roberts Brothers Circus.As I got closer and caught my first glimpse of the Big Top with its jaunty flags flapping in the wind, my stomach turned somersaults. I was totally excited and petrified at the same time. I had half a mind to turn around and get straight back on the train to London, but I knew if I went back now I would have serious egg on my face and ? horror of horrors ? still have to sit my O levels. I took a deep breath and holding my head as high as possible strode on to the ground. People I knew saluted me on all sides, ?Hello Gerry.? Nobody seemed surprised to see this rather intense posh Surrey schoolboy turn up in Newcastle, but then people turn up all the time on the circus and then leave just as quickly. I could see Mr Bobby Roberts supervising
the tent men: ?Hello Gerry.You come to see the show?? ?No sir. I have run away from home and I want to join the circus.? ?Ah. I see.? Bobby grinned.As the owner of a circus, it was a request he received almost every day from people of all walks of life. Usually it was men running
away from something ? pregnant girlfriends, nagging wives, the law. But sometimes it could be ordinary people who had fallen in love with the romance of circus and finally got the courage to walk away from normal life, or men who for one reason or another were just down on their luck and had nowhere else to go. Some took to it like ducks to water, others left as quickly as they had arrived. I think I was probably the first stockbroker?s son who had stepped into his wagon though. ?Look, Gerry, I?d love to have you come and join us. But you?re still very young and I really think I need your parents? permission before you can travel with us.? My heart sank. I was going to have to ring them up. I just couldn?t face my mother?s displeasure, my father?s silent disgust. Disappointment must have been written all over my face. ?Look, Gerry. We?re going to be here in Newcastle for another week.You?re welcome to stay with us as long as we?re here. Muck in with the tent men. You can sleep in the stables and when you feel ready ring your parents. See what they say and then come back and talk to me again.?
Fair enough, I thought. It took me five days to pluck up courage to ring home. I had made the tape recording precisely because I couldn?t...