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EPILOGUE- Future Tents

The next season came and Nigel learned twice as much as he had the first year. The struggles and work never ceased. Lots of decisions were made out of necessity. Nigel doubled everybody’s wages which turned out to be a huge mistake as he would find out they would expect it every year. He learned it was better to increase them slowly and incrementally every year thereafter.

In the off season, he had found a magic act which would provide a useful alternative to the freak show. He hired two chefs and put the acts from the freak show to work behind the scenes dutifully making and serving a new realm of decent and quality food to himself and the players and crew. That made them happier that the raise.

He found a machinist to replace Ivan in the shop and donated the Major’s truck and caravan to him. His new apprentice had to drive the truck however due to Ivan’s lack of ability to shift gears. Ivan became the construction captain as he could organize and arrange set-ups and understood mechanical breakdowns. His head was good if his hands were feeble.

As changes came ,they were dealt with in a measured way. Edgar was given to a department store because he just stopped throwing the billiard balls one day. Dr. Baas stayed on as the veterinarian and remained as obnoxious and arrogant as always. Zeus was donated to a small zoo and replaced with to large African elephants which were a bigger draw.

Nigel married Lilly two years later when they were both seventeen but he was twenty two in the eyes of the state.

As the towns grew, the circus had to be farther from town. That caused more families to come in cars. That meant parking and more land with larger leases. Logistical nightmares were the norm. There were always problems to be anticipated and solved.

Vadim made a reliable and loyal partner for the next ten years the a tragedy struck the industry. Two children were killed in separate accidents on similar fair rides at other fairs. Lawyers, regulators and insurance companies stepped in and made the connection to the circus un tenable. In 1975, Vadim and the Roma’s were forced out due to the insurance and lawyers and were left to create their own way in parking lots and school festivals in Northern England and Ireland.

By 1980 the public was complaining about animal acts all together and a slow English economy was driving sales and attendance down. Families were not going to the circus. Barely profitable yet with nearly 20 million pounds in the bank, Nigel saw the business going backwards. He was now the father of two teenage boys and a 9 year-old girl. They lived in Leeds and visited Nigel’s Mother regularly.

In 1982, Nigel decided that England was no longer the home for an animal based circus and sold off all of the animals and retained all of the acrobatic acts. He invested in a new act or trapeze artists and a variety of acrobats that were climbing over the Berlin Wall to escape the Soviet Empire. He picked up and moved everything he had left to Montreal, Canada and leased a property year round where he could permanently erect a new tent that was incredible durable to weather. He brought the food, inside and portable toilets that were civilized outside.

For the staff he rented three large apartment buildings and the weather allowed them to work for nine months a year instead of six. No more caravans, busses and trucks.

It was a hit. People loved his Broadway version of acrobatics and music with a European flair. It worked for a few years until everyone had seen it so it was time to hit the road again. Time to buy a new tent, new busses, new caravans and new trucks. It was a twenty million dollar cost to get to the starting line. When the Berlin Wall came down, a flood of new talent came in.

Circus people were no longer allowed to do lifting, packing hauling and rigging. There were teamsters, electricians, carpenters and a whole array of unions involved. Traveling the U.S. was an endless lesson in permitting, alcohol laws, local restrictions more up front city council political payments than anyone would every want to believe could happen.

Everyone had a hand out.

There were fire departments, police departments, planning departments, revenue departments and ticketing agents. Everybody got their cut before he started and another when he left. It was not outright corruption, but it felt corrupt.

Time marched on and despite the massive population the local crowd grew weary of the spectacle. Families did not go to the circus. They went to Disneyland, Universal Studios and eventually Las Vegas let go of the sleazy alcoholic gamblers and strippers giving way to of all thing amusement park rides, gold courses and family adventures, shopping and restaurants.

Nigel kept pace. He visited Las Vegas and saw the spectacle and sense the movement of the baby boomers of which he was one. Visiting the Circus-Circus casino sent a flare up for him. He contacted every casino he could find and finally someone said yes. He took a six month run in a main showroom in Las Vegas with an all acrobatic show making more on the royalties of the merchandise sold t the audience than on the show itself, that changed life.

Suddenly, he had hot streak again. His circus safe in a casino and working he could now travel the world, look for new acts, talent and incredible feats of human strength. The kids were young adults and it was the best time of their lives.

They used the home tent in Montreal to practice and cultivate more and more shows. In 2011, They sold the entire business to an entertainment conglomerate and management company for an undisclosed 8 figure amount and settled back into their Montreal home where they live today with Nigel’s 97 year-old Mother who still finishes the day with a gin and tonic.

At the time of this writing Nigel is 68 years-old. His driver’s license says he’s 72.

*68) Strategize about the future. It is coming. Business will change…lawyers, * regulators, markets and public opinion cause it. It is currently happening in your industry.

*69) Visionaries plan and do the work to receive the change instead of react to it.

*70) It doesn’t matter how old you are. It matters how old you act.


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