I had found my way to the London Eye and was working the river when I saw a group of tough looking ten minute sidewalk guys queued up, I avoided them as long as I could, but loneliness got the best of me.
I walked up, and said hello, they all just leered at me and their leader wore an old fifties suit with a black leather biker's vest to make it a three piece. He said, "How did you hear about this place?" I told him I just stumbled on it. I told him I was from New Orleans.
They were all stand offish until I mentioned that I knew Dante, then the leader said he knew him and introduced himself as "Lord Lucan." I later found out his real name was Paul.
For my fellow Americans who don't know who the infamous Lord Lucan is, he was some guy from the higher echelons of English society who did some terrible things and disappeared into the night. For decades there have been sightings, but they never found him. So Paul's stage name insinuates that he is Lord Lucan hiding out in plain site as a busker in the inner city.
Paul, outside of his show, is a pretty reserved guy, who doesn't talk a lot and chooses what he says closely, so what happened next surprised me.
As we were standing there talking, four young thugs rode up on bikes and started picking fights with us, Paul calmly without a word walked over to them and tore them off their bikes and threw them around like rag dolls until they ran away. And just like that he walked back over as if nothing had happened and went back to talking with me right back on subject. We became fast friends. He took me back to the squat, I lived there, and worked with him for some years in-between my travels.
He liked that I had lived in a cave in my youth as a Beat writer/punk, as he had also lived in a cave, down in Tenerife, with similar affiliations.
One day as we walked to work we saw a very old man walking between us. His hair was slicked back and tapered, he had a thin tie with a dark brown shark skinned fine lapel suit, and drab olive slacks cropped with wingtips. As the old guy walked between us we checked him out as if he were a chick, we loved his look. There was that moment when we realized what we were both doing and we knew we were friends.
I remember how he put it, he said, we both love culture. In every major city in the world there is a guy who looks like that town, for Paul it was London, he WAS Cockney and for me it was somewhere inner city USA. Me and him were like the beats of old, we loved real culture, not fashion. The reason we connected, is because in our busker world, or any other scene for that matter, this was rare.
Real is rare.
That day he took me to eat pie and mash, and later to eat cockles and jellied eels from a stand, and taught me some rhyme slang, and what I'm about to tell you ain't a porky.
We were working The Magic Corner on James st. in Covent Garden and I was having trouble with hecklers, my show is scripted and when I would get a major interruption it would throw off my timing. One day the sidewalk guys came up to me and said, "Hey you need to talk to Paul, he's beating up your hecklers."
I said, What?
They said, "Yeah, he drags them out through the back of the crowd when your working, and takes them into the alley over there."
The next show I observed his hat moving around the back edge and saw a heckler vanish through the back of the crowd. I was horrified.
So after the show I confronted him, but to no avail, he said, if I wanted him to stop, I'd have to learn how to deal with them myself in my show.
The next show I thought I was doing pretty good batting of the roaches until a particularly obnoxious one wouldn't let up, he was really laying into me. And then I saw Paul's hat moving behind my edge towards the heckler, so I began pleading with the heckler, even agreeing with him that I wasn't good, but if he would just give me a chance (what he didn't know, was that I was pleading for his own safety). The heckler sensed something was wrong and looked around and finally told me to go ahead.
I saw the hat stop moving, turn around, and go back whence it had came.
After the show, Paul came over to congratulate me on my progress.
This story may leave the reader with the wrong impression of Paul, it should be understood, that besides him being a man of the street, he is a well read individual, with a keen understanding of human nature.
He is a cultured intellectual who can hold his own in Oxford, yet survive in the most dangerous inner city ghettos in the world.
Over the years we had many other adventures, and as I look back on these other adventures, I realize, Paul must have been the best friend I ever had, when it came to magicians.
For the type of guy I am, magicians don't really get me, but he did. We grew up on the streets, knew the rules, and understood loyalty and the salt of the earth the same way.
Looking back on my life, I Thank God I got to know him.
Hey Paul if you ever read this, say hi to Peps for me.