Pom Poms and Ruffles

“POM-POMS AND RUFFLES” – A strange dream!

Do you believe in reincarnation? Or in the possibility that the spirit of a dead soul can somehow enter the mind of the living and re-live a moment from the past? I recently had a most unusual dream. So real that even now I cannot be sure that what I experienced in my dream did not actually happen.

About three months ago, I was reading a book about the pierrot troupes who entertained seaside holidaymakers at the beginning of the last century. There were names of people on the pages of the book that I remember hearing my parents and grandparents talking about when I was young; Will Catlin, Adeler and Sutton, Fred Walmsley, Bert and Jackie Grapho! They were all there.

Working mostly ‘al fresco’, outside on the sands – Shows at 11.00, 3.00 and 7.00 – “Weather and Tides permitting”! Sometimes they were lucky enough to have a flimsily erected platform stage, and the more prestigious companies even had purpose built outdoor pavilions for accommodation, with seating for their patrons! The book was entitled, “Pom-Poms and Ruffles”, it contained seventy or so pages and I read it in one sitting.

About three nights later, I had the dream that I mentioned earlier. In the dream, I was a member of one of these troupes. Complete with white smock top, black and white ruffle and a pointed hat. The costume was decorated in traditional manner with black pom-poms.

I was on the stage, performing a magic act. Nothing unusual in that, I am after all a professional magician. The strange thing was that the routine in my dream was one that I had never before performed, seen or even heard of! The whole presentation was quite clear in my mind. So vivid in fact, that when I awoke, I immediately wrote down the entire sequence, patter and all! Unfortunately, in my dream, although I performed the trick successfully (I remember at the end receiving applause), I had no recollection of how it was done!

When I had finished writing down the details, I left it alone and for the rest of the day carried on with other things. There were no dreams on the following night but upon awakening the next morning, I picked up my notepad and wrote down exactly what I had to do to make the trick work! The routine has now become part of my act and so far is proving to be quite successful.

Now was the trick in my dream merely lying there in my subconscious all the time, waiting for the spark of inspiration that the book provided? That would be a bit of a coincidence, I mean, how could my subconscious know that I was going to read the book?

Or, as I believe, was I visited by the spirit of one of those pierrots of long ago who’s desire to continue performing his magic was so strong that it breached the barrier between the past and the present, the dead and the living? It really was a very vivid dream. But I do not suppose we will ever know for sure.

Copyright Leslie Melville 2002.

This story could precede almost any trick that an early 20th. Century pierrot magician might perform. In my case, following the story, I put on a pierrot coat and hat, and perform a trick with 'pom poms' (for the magicians reading this, the basic idea for my trick came from an item by Jim Steinmeyer entitled 'Apples and Oranges' in the July 1999 edition of 'Magic' magazine - no more clues!).

N.B. I have obtained a few copies of the now out of print, "Pom-Poms and Ruffles". If you are interested

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