Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Thank You.

The guy on the right – that’s me.

The Guy on the left – that’s Gusti.

We are wearing black and white; the only colour is the light burnt sienna of my tie.

Today, I’m wearing black – black shirt, black trousers, black boxers, black shoes – the only colour is the orange of my socks and a single thin red strip on the black boxers.

Did someone die?


In the photo it looks like it is raining – it wasn’t, it’s just an old photo.


He was in Berlin, I was in Berlin, he was going to throw plates in a theatre that was reopening and he needed someone to throw them at who wouldn’t drop them.

A mutual friend – Karl Heinz who had seen me catch and drop quite a few things introduced us.

“Gusti, this is Mr Adams.”

“Mr Adams this is Gusti.”

He invited me to show him how I thought I would carry a pile of plates across the stage.

I showed him.

I got the job to be his partner for the next six weeks.

There are ways to walk across a stage with a pile of plates, and ways not to.

The show was populated with trapeze artists, a shadow master, a unicyclist, two tango dancers and the king of pick pockets.
Variety is the spice of life.

The dressing room was tiny and shadow master and pickpocket had the best mirrors…… but we had the most props.

So we chose the space under the stairs and created our laboratory of laughs, hanging stuff for people to fall over as they climbed the steps to the stage.

After the opening night, and after the stars had left we sat in our corner and discussed our number.

“What did you think, how did it go?” I asked, polishing a large rubber fly.

“Yes, it was good,” he replied, “but come…………….AFTER.”

The next night, waiting in the wings I heard my cue to enter and waited, waited a bit more, waited a bit more …and entered, the number went well, the public laughed and the pickpocket smiled.

In the quiet of back stage, after midnight we sat polishing the trays we intended to tap dance on.

“Was that better?”

“Yes, good…. But…. Come …………. AFTER.”

The next night, wings, cue came from on-stage, I waited, waited, looked around, waited, checked my tie, waited and only then entered.

It was our best show to date.

We tapped danced on the trays, we swung fire – well Gusti did, I stood behind the curtain with a fire extinguisher – and we passed out aspirins to people at the bar (they were mints).

Later – “So, what do you reckon.”

“Yes, good, but…… come…………… AFTER.”

Gusti was born in Switzerland, and English was not his first language. Neither was it his third, but they were his plates so I deferred to his judgement.

The next night I didn’t even bother to wait in the wings for the cue, I sat beneath the stairs listening to the intercom.

When the cue was delivered, I stretched, stood up, looked at myself in the pickpocket’s mirror, went up the stirs slowly, tripped on the rubber chicken (there should always be a rubber chicken in the dressing room) and finally entered onto the stage.

The number was getting bigger and bigger as we discovered that the ideas worked.

After the show, we celebrated with a beer in the bar.

Gusti looked at me – “I think we should rehearse together tomorrow afternoon.”

“Ok, sure. When?”

“I’ll be there BEFORE two”, he replied.

“Ok, see you tomorrow.”

I got to the theatre at one.

There was nobody.

I waited.



2 o’clock came.

2 o’clock went.

Half past.

Gusti walked in at 3.15.

I don’t speak Swiss, but I have a bit of Spanish. Gusti spoke Spanish too and I thought now might be the time to ask.

“When you say come after, what would you say in Spanish?”

“Venga antes.”

Ah – it’s an easy mistake; if a clown is too polite he can wait on stage all day waiting for his partner to enter if he mixes up his before and afters!

I got a message that Gusti died yesterday.

It was a shock; it seems like only yesterday that we sat under those stairs.

This time he went…… before.


Anonymous said...

this is so sad

Anonymous said...

whoa - that was a punch and a half - beautifully written thanks Tops xxxx