Back in London, I hooked up with a friend of mine who told me all about her great grandmother & grandfather who used to work in the old London fairground business. You know, like in Carnivale. Utterly fascinating stories and family lineage.
She showed me a newspaper clipping of her great grandma Bowman and I just had to share this with you. How incredible.
Apparently she had all of the tattoos done in a week! Seriously. They needed to get the tattooed lady act going and so she just proceeded with getting the equivalent of 1 year's ink in a matter of days. What a woman.
Her great grandfather is credited with bringing the first flea circus to London He apparently extracted the secret of how to make fleas jump from a drunk German fairground man. He used electric wires running through feathers.
Between both of them they had so many tricks and acts, such as:
- Throwing a manacled grandma Bowman of Brighton pier as part of an escape act.
- Her great Aunt Nellie was the queen of that sphere though and was even recognised by Houdini, who allowed her to use his name.
- Great Aunt Kate’s speciality was being put in a bag and thrown into the sea
- Grandma Bowman picking up a horse's harness with her teeth – one night she got distracted by something, and had most of her teeth ripped off. Ouch
During World War One Grandad Bowman got creative with Grandma Bowman by acquiring an old fashioned egg box filled with hay, and placing her in it, with a sign outside the tent saying:
“Belgian refugee – tattooed and tortured by the Germans”
Apparently this act was a fantastic success. Grandma Bowman had to lie in the box for 12 hours, as if she was in a German-induced coma, and on the first day 48,000 people came to see her. Grandad Bowman charged £200 a head for this.