A while back, in his Ragbag, Gaw posted an excerpt from David Kynaston’s book Family Britain 1951-1957 recalling inhabitants of a lost world, variety acts of the time including mental telepathists the Piddingtons and Valantyne Napier the human spider. Lost indeed, but that trace of them survives, both in Kynaston’s book and, duly quoted by Gaw, on het internet. Imagine how pleased you would be, as one of a younger generation of Piddingtons, to do a Google search and find your grandparents or great-grandparents (and so on, yea unto the last generation) remembered, even in so tantalisingly vague a fashion.
But what of those who vanish utterly from memory? I thought, perhaps naively, that everything could be found on het internet, somewhere or other, hidden in some cobwebbed corner. This morning, in The Naked Lady, or Storm Over Adah : A Biography Of Adah Isaacs Menken by Bernard Falk, I came upon this:
“Ted Volta, the famous clown, happily still alive in the winter of 1933-34, remembers how he, and the young men of his day, rushed over Westminster Bridge to be shown the bold hussy, whose surprising dress was said to be that of Mother Eve.”
Falk’s book was published in 1934, when the aged Ted Volta could still be described as “the famous clown”. Intrigued by that splendid name, I looked him up online but could find not a trace of him anywhere. Not a trace. And The Naked Lady is out of print. So will Ted Volta be completely forgotten? Or, by tapping out that quotation, have I singlehandedly rescued him from oblivion?
It is my hope that one day a historian of clowns will stumble upon this postage, and set off in pursuit of Ted Volta, and, after months and years of tireless research, produce a thumping great biography in book form, and a website dedicated to the famous, not forgotten, clown.
And let’s not overlook his Valet, Dot.
Good to have you back on anagram duty, R.
Digging about for acts of yesteryear can be a disappointing experience.
I went looking for Bennett and Williams and the One String Fiddles.
Sadly, I found them.