LOOKING BACK: Magic with budgies, rabbits and doves

Karl Reno and Kay
Karl Reno and Kay

The memoirs in Looking Back recently of former pet shop owner Elizabeth Wright has prompted Eastbournian Peter Goldsmith to write in.

Mr Goldsmith, of Chiswick Place, who with his wife Anne was known as Karl Reno and Kay, writes, “It was while doing my National Service in Germany that I remembered the things I had done in my life.

“I remembered mostly the magic I had been performing since the age of six.

“Now I was planning on producing live budgerigars. As soon as my service contract had finished I spent many hours practicing with the birds. The hardest thing was to make them sit still – if you watch a bird they do not sit still.

“It wad during this period that I met and married my wife Anne. That was 56 years ago: a lot has happened since then.

“When we were ready we travelled to London many times for auditions, which was really hard work.

“We eventually managed to secure a contract for six weeks at the famous Windmill Theatre in the West End – six shows a day.

“Sheila Van Dam stopped us halfway through the act and said that’s enough and we knew we were in.

“We soon expanded the act – two rabbits, two or three doves and a monkey.

“As soon as one performance was finished we had to prepare for the next.

“When we completed each day at the Windmill we had to take all the animals round to the Stork Room, Winston’s, New Bagatelle and any others.

“It was while appearing at the Windmill that Anne slipped on a glass stage and a dove flew from the stage to the circle and we did not get it back until the end.

“This was the only time the family and friends came to watch us. It was far too expensive in the night clubs.

“We travelled from one end of the country to the other performing for children and adults.

“We stayed in our caravan behind a pub in Brixton because it was so near the Windmill Theatre.

“In the end we have it all up as we wanted to have children.

“Mark was the first and a good son he has turned out to be, followed by our daughter Tracey, also a lovely person. Unfortunately they both live away from Eastbourne.

“When I was only about 10 years old, I helped at the Royal Hippodrome and in the interval purchased sandwiches from Chez Maurice restaurant next door and for that Max Miller, who was top of the bill, gave me about £25.”

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