Taking a Bow

East your heart out Anthony Joshua…


The old man sat in the Upper Circle. The woolen suit he wore had once been expensive. As a youth he had bought it, made-to-measure, from a bespoke tailor in Shepherd’s Bush. English Worsted; heavy cross-cut cloth, now thin and frayed at the collar and the edges of the cuffs. Frayed like the upholstered seat he sat in, and with the same faded elegance as the old Palace Theatre.
Down in the stalls the first five rows of seats had been removed. Heavy decorating cloths
draped the stage and the now uncurtained wings. Scaffolding covered the proscenium
arch. The old man shook his head……

“And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklyed o’er with the pale cast of thought. And
enterprise of great pith and moment, by this aspect their currents run awry, and lose the
name of action”…….. He shook his head again, this time with more vigour; washing the
picture of Ralph Richardson from his mind’s eye.

‘There are Press everywhere downstairs,’ said the young man in the light, loose Italian
suit. Raymond his lawyer, as smooth and as expensive as his favourite single malt. ‘There’s been a leak. That must be it.’

‘What leak?’ said the old man in a light, youthful voice. He rose with difficulty. ‘There’s
no secret here. The Crossroads Foundation simply wishes to restore a famous old
London theatre. That’s hardly news.’ No one heard the end of the old man’s statement,
their attention grabbed by the noise of a crowd entering the auditorium far below. The
Press had arrived.

‘Mr Walker, Mr Walker. Will you give us a few words?’ The request was from a man
looking more Drugs Squad than Times or Observer. Leather jacket, faded jeans and faded
smile. ‘No. Jaded smile’ thought the old man as he came to stand at the front of the
balcony. Jock, his PR man fielded the questions, and so the old man’s mind was free to
wander…. Jo Stafford sang Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and the scintillating gleam of a tear sat on the old man’s lower eye lashes. The money in the Upper Circle bayed for more…..

‘You’re jealous aren’t you?’ The old man’s attention came back to the present.

‘What? What did you say?’

‘You’re jealous. Max London, your old sparring partner, has put all his money into The
Alhambra. So you want to do the same? You want to buy success at this theatre.’

‘You need to do your homework son. I won the British Middleweight title in the ring
down there where you’re standing right now.,’said the old man with an apologetic smile.
‘Success enough, one would think.’

‘It’s going to cost,’ shouted another of the reporters. The old man nodded before turning
to face the exit and the Manager’s office beyond. As he made his way up the aisle, he
seemed to jog lightly on the balls of his feet. Raymond would later swear he smelled
linament as the old man passed him.

© franciman 2023
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I loved the nostalgia in this Jim, sad not to see more comments.

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