Composing this Requiem for a dear friend is made more difficult, knowing that I am missing his funeral as I write it. Any number of emotions envelop reasoning. Pierrot Bidon is dead. Long live Pierrot Bidon. It was impossible able to thank Pierrot. He gave me the opportunity to experiment in a genre of maverick hype that forged my early career in entertainment publicity. And now it’s too late.
Pierrot will always be the first name on my fantasy dinner party guest list. He would have a dual role: as a mischievous sprite to help create a unique ambience; and to help provide the food. Here’s the reason – on one memorable occasion, we discussed staging a party I wanted to throw for a long-forgotten reason. Pierrot enthused about creating a Bacchanalian feast. He envisaged a gigantic spit roast complete with a huge cow rotating under a vast fire, adjacent to the dining table. It would approximate a medieval banquet. Attendees would carve their own portions.
Pierrot was sardonically compassionate to the vegetarians with his meat-free option. He proclaimed that he would erect an infinitesimal spit, powered by a Heath Robinson motor and pulley system, which would gently roast a few mud-splattered carrots. This, surely, would keep the vegetarians happy? Non? Ah, the poetry of Pierrot’s barbeque and “after show” celebrations, they were legendary.
Food was of paramount importance to Pierrot. At one journalistic junket in Ales, Pierrot became excited by one of the bikers returning on a spluttering Yamaha with a sheep strapped to the bike with a discarded electrical flex. The sight of a rifle slung across the drivers bare back lead on scrupulous scribe to believe that they were witnessing a touch of “mutton rustling”. Peirrot assured the concerned hack that this was a normal shopping run. “We don’t go to the fucking supermarket; our food is fresh!”
If you ask circus folk: “How is business this week?” you’ll get one of two responses. If audience figures are reasonable the patron will shrug and say: “OK”. But if the tent is empty the retort is: “We starved this week.”
Historically, travelling shows depended on good houses to feed the troupe and Pierrot knew that he had to take responsibility for feeding his company. Good food produced a happy company. The mess was the centre of the circus family’s existence. And if there wasn’t any food available there was always red wine.
One journalist got very excited when Pierrot told him that he would bring 400 litres of wine into Britain to lubricate the tour. The preview piece ran in advance. The article was also read by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. The excise men tried to find the booze when the company convoy arrived in Dover. Despite their best efforts the fuzz failed to recover the stashed booze.