Saturday, 12 June 2010
Hae ye ever done somethin that stupit that ye're black-affrontit wi yersel, but that ye're gled efterwards that ye did? Well here's a wee situation that ah got masel intae, an believe me, ye'll be thankin me that things turned oot how they did.
We're gaun back a wee bit now, it was afore the war startit, back when whit's noo the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh toun went by the name o the Empire Theatre. That wis back in the day when we actually had an Empire. Ma wee pal Maisie Crabbit wis aw excitit because The Great Lafayette wis comin tae the Empire, an she had managed tae get twa tickets through her Uncle Dod, wha used tae dae joinery-work oan the scenery there. The Great Lafayette wis yin o thae 'illusionists'. No ma cup o tea, but Maisie wis besottit wi him, she had photies o him oan her bedside cabinet an everythin, thocht he wis the bees-knees so she did, an he wis supposed tae be yin o the better turns o that sort, so ah agreed tae gang along wi her.
Ah picked her up aboot half-six. She came bouncin oot her stair door, aw dolled-up wi a touch o slap an a big cheesy grin oan her face. She wis that het-up she forgot tae even look up at her Golden Boy. Noo that shows ye the state she wis in.
Usin that as ma excuse, ah managed tae drag her intae Rutherford's Bar ower the road. "Ye'll be needin somethin tae settle yer nerves Maisie" says ah, "Come oan, jist the yin an ye'll feel a lot better"
Ah couldnae help but laugh at the look oan her face when ah got her inside. Ye wid think ah had taen her intae the auld Queen's private cludgie insteid o a fairly ordinary wee drinkin-shop! She wis like a startilt rabbit lookin doon the barrel o a fairmer's gun her een were that wide. Ah'm sure she thocht the men in there were gaunnae bite her arse. Awfy sheltered life she led, it wis a shame really...
So aye, efter a few sherries we daunered ower tae the theatre an got settled doon. The support acts werenae up tae much if ye ask me. Some auld wife singin oot o tune, a wummin wi a dancin dug, a wee laddie that looked like yin o thae eunuchs an singin the same way, that sortae thing. Ah wished ah had brought ma big gong wi me, an ah wid hae been beltin it non-stop ah tell ye. Then, at last, oan came The Great Lafayette. He wis quite entertainin actually, ah'll gie him that much, an ah wis really warmin tae him. Ah couldnae make oot how in heaven he wis daein some o his tricks. Maisie, as per, wis near greetin wi adoration, her cheeks aw pink an rosy-lookin, her een as big as ashets. When the Great Lafayette looked oot tae the audience an asked fer volunteers fer his next trick, well, ah couldnae help masel, the sherry wis workin its magic, an up shot ma airm...
There wisnae really ony panic. Theatre fires were run-o-the-mill in thae days, hooses were aye burnin doon, so the band struck up wi the National Anthem, we aw stood up an made fer the doors, an the big safety curtain startit tae descend. Aw the way doon it came, tae aboot a fit-an-a-half aff the stage, where it ground tae a halt. An ye ken whit that meant.
Mind when ye were settin yer coalfire o a mornin an ye wid haud a newspaper ower the front o the hearth tae draw the flame? Well that's exactly how the Empire Theatre behaved, an whoosh! up went the back half o the hoose. Murder polis it wis, an absolute inferno. Gutted.
Here ye can see me tryin tae find it (that's me in the big hat) Needless tae say ah nivver found it an had tae shell oot 4/6d oan a new yin. Daylight robbery so it wis.
The Great Lafayette perished in the fire ah'm sorry tae say, an they found his body the next mornin, then again efter dinner, an again later that night. "Eh?" ah hear ye say, "Three times?" That's right, three times in aw they found his corpse. Ye see, the great 'illusionist' wis actually a great 'imposter', an he had aw these body-doubles, the cheeky swine! Nae wunner ah couldnae follae his act an how he wis daein his tricks. The only way that they could be sure it wis actually his corpse wis by the ring oan his finger. Ye see, him an Houdini were great pals, awfy close they were, an Houdini had slipped his ring oan tae Lafayette's finger!
That raised a few eyebrows...
So how am ah gled that ah caused the fire that burnt oot oor biggest theatre an knocked aff a world-famous stage act? Because tae this day, aw ower the world, when ye sit doon in a theatre, an afore the show starts, they'll aye bring doon the safety curtain, aw the way doon tae the stage an back up again, jist tae show ye that they can, an that ye're no gaun tae burn in yer seats.
Are ye no awfy gled that ah had that bottle o' sherry?