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Coco the Clown

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. There are a lot of books from the distant past that deserve to be read, so here are a few stories from these books as a bit of a sampler. This issue focuses on clowns.

Clowns get a pretty bad rap these days. They’re just out to make some fun and give people a laugh and some perspective on life. But they’re often portrayed as demonic creatures or serial killers. In one 1988 movie, they were aliens from outer space that didn’t mind devouring people or turning them into human puppets.  But in 1959, when the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, London, became the official clown’s church, the Vicar, Rev. Stanley Evans, said that every time a clown made a child laugh, the clown was doing the work of Christ. It’s fascinating reading about the people behind the clown’s makeup. Here a few samples from oldish autobiographies. 

Coco the Clown is a absorbing autobiography by Nicolai Poliakoff, published by J.M. Dent in 1941. It tells the story of the Russian clown’s often very hard life in Europe. He eventually moved to England with his family. At one point he writes about a tiger trainer he worked with, named Togare. One day, three of Togare’s tigers escaped.

He writes: The third tiger was not so easy to capture, and they had to use a net. Afterwards I heard a funny story about this tiger. Outside, a long queue of people were waiting for the evening performance. As they stood there, this tiger padded quietly along by the queue. The people were delighted. Of course this was a tame tiger, there to amuse them while they had to wait.

“Isn’t he lovely?” they said. “Just like a great big cat.”

And some of them leant over the railing and kindly scratched the tiger’s back. This the fiercest of Togare’s tigers!.

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