Saturday, 17 October 2015

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 45 ............. the escapologist on Rye Lane .... catching the memory

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

So there I was possibly aged six or seven watching this man on Rye Lane inside a sack and wrapped in chains make an amazing escape.

It might have been a Christmas Day in which case I think it will be have been 1957 and that is the extent of the memory

It has sat deep down occasionally coming out but with the passage of time I had pretty much decided it was imagined.

And then by chance I came across this picture postcard dated 1955 and my escapologist bounced back at me.

Now this I know isn’t Rye Lane but just a little to the left of the carts was that open space beloved of street vendors and other more dubious characters that existed on a Sunday morning to fleece the unwary tourist.

And yes that was where I remember that other escapologist dressed as they had been in the 19th century in body stocking and fur coat and assisted by a rather odd looking old man with a flat cap which he handed around after the escape.

The crowd was big and me being little I wanted to worm my way to the front but even given the excitement of the moment and my childish curiosity I hung back because I have never forgotten Nana’s warning about being trapped in a crowd.

Sometime around 1900 in Cologne aged I guess about three and attracted by a noisy group beside the canal she too had worked her way to the front only to discover that what had drawn the people was the body of a drowned woman and unable to escape she was stuck at the front.

All of which is daft I know but stuck with me and even now makes me less than happy surrounded by lots of people.
I had to go checking that there was a canal in Cologne which there is and so another bit of a half remembered story was confirmed.

All of which brings me back to that Sunday morning event and the knowledge that mine might well be the last generation to have watched such an event in the open air.

It’s a tradition which will date back to the travelling men at the annual fairs in the Middle Ages and no doubt goes back even further.

But I won’t be alone in remembering him.

Picture; Tower Hill, 1955 Judge Picture postcard, courtesy of Mark Flynn Postcards,

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

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