Confessions of a Showman: My Life in the Circus by Gerry Cottle, Helen Batten

By Gerry Cottle, Helen Batten

Gerry Cottle, a stockbroker's son, ran away to affix the circus whilst he was once simply 15 and shortly married into Britain's oldest circus dynasty. In time he used to be the landlord of the largest circus on the planet till his transforming into cocaine dependancy resulted in his arrest and financial disaster. He recovered, and, ever the showman, went directly to make thousands with the 1st ever non-animal circus, the Moscow and chinese language nation circuses, and the Circus of Horrors.

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You were likely to be lynched by the mob waiting outside. When we got on the road I’d be dashing off between acts, wrestling with my clown costume, the coins, a pencil and paper and the telephone receiver. I hated it. 6. Let the audience know you are coming In these early days we’re really talking about posters. Joe Gandey had taught me that even the smallest circus should take the trouble to print their poster properly and, instead of writing on the location and date, have slips printed that could be stuck on the posters so it looked like the circus coming to your town was a proper event.

I saw a poster for local stock car racing. The track’s managers were more than happy to advertise a man walking the tightrope as cars raced underneath him. Brian was less happy. ’ ‘Get lost, Gerry. I am not doing it. ’ ‘Look, you can shove your circus right up your . . ’ Somehow, I’m really not sure how, I managed to persuade Brian to do it. He started off cheating it – waiting until the cars had started before walking which meant they’d already gone under by the time he was over the track. ’ Poor Brian had to do it again It was absolutely petrifying.

Staying long term had never been an option but you can imagine my trepidation as I took that short walk across the ground to Jim’s caravan. He ushered me in cheerily, thinking probably that I wanted to talk about the latest poster design. Instead I dropped my bombshell. Total shock. I ploughed on. ‘I think you know it has always been my ambition to manage my own circus. ’ I thought I could detect just the hint of a raised eyebrow and twitch at the corner of the lips. He was making me nervous. ’ I was starting to stammer.

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