Monday, June 07, 2004

I was a manualist...

Sorry that blog PS's go upwards, but I noticed in the tongue twister the name Ramo Samee. That's not all nonsense verse: being a juggler and conjuror I recognised the name - he was very well known in the UK (A David Blaine of the day) in the early Nineteenth Century.

You can find material about him in the juggling archive here

Where I first saw him mentioned was in Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, a huge book, of several volumes, which my dad turned me onto. It is the most extraordinary snapshot of street life of the period. Roughly contemporary with Dickens, Mayhew was a journalist rather than a novelist, and went out to interview all the street workers. He then published the interviews as monologues (eliminating the questioner). I looked up the relevant street performers when I was starting out. Here's the juggler, just for a sample of these treasures.

I remember seeing the strong man's monologue done straight, in a London Bubble theatre show many years ago. It was a powerful piece. This is a rich resource for writers and performers.

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