By Gerry Cottle, Helen Batten

Gerry Cottle, a stockbroker's son, ran away to affix the circus whilst he used to be simply 15 and shortly married into Britain's oldest circus dynasty. In time he used to be the landlord of the largest circus on the earth until eventually his growing to be cocaine habit resulted in his arrest and financial ruin. He recovered, and, ever the showman, went directly to make hundreds of thousands with the 1st ever non-animal circus, the Moscow and chinese language country circuses, and the Circus of Horrors.

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I began a war of attrition, my tactics – to wear her down through sheer persistence. I had absolute confidence I would have my way in the end. I used every opportunity to get close to her, whether it was squeezing in the van beside her or chatting her up behind the curtain or taking her hand in the cinema. This was the first time I had had to chase any girl that hard, but then I had never fancied any girl that much. Maybe that is what kept me enthralled. But circumstances were going my way. Her two sisters were already paired off.

We had lost all our savings. Betty was seven months pregnant. We stopped in a lay-by to do some hard talking in the back of the van. Betty wanted to go back to James Brothers. ‘What’s wrong with you, Gerry, why won’t you? You know they’ll have us back straight away. With the baby coming it’s not the time to start anything new. We haven’t got any money anyway. ’ 45 Cottle Book 3rds 28/7/06 11:39 am Page 46 Confessions of a Showman In my mind was a picture of Jimmy Fossett laughing. Hell would have to freeze over.

I had a very strong feeling that if I didn’t make my move now, I never would. I certainly would never own the biggest circus in Britain. I stuck to my guns despite intense pressure from all around. The day dawned for us to go. Until then the family didn’t really believe we were going to leave, but when they saw our caravan all packed up ready to go an almighty row broke out. I can’t remember the details except the sound of weeping, which still rings in my ears. Worse still was the fact that Betty’s father, who I really liked and respected, stayed locked in his caravan.

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