I was about seven and on a Sunday
as a family outing we’d walk
to the famous West Pier
which was just across the road
from where we lived
With his blend of humour
self confidence and very even temper
he was the English answer to Houdini.
He also rented a room in the house
where my mother was landlady at
the time so, we got to see his
act for free.
We’d go to the end of the pier
and soon with bare chest but
in swim trunks
the Great Omani would appear.
The gathering crowds would not
refrain from making such a racket
and without a trace of fear
Omani made a show of leaning
over and checking the current in
the green swirling waters below.
His helpers added to the
suspense and spectacle
made a great display of wrapping him
from head to foot in padlocks and chains
even asking one or two of the bemused crowd
to check each lock’s latch was secure
then, he stepped into a sack
which was also padlocked, chained
and, tied at the top with string
then fastened to a crane.
With a lot of dramatic flair
there was a crack as the crane’s
gear lifted him slowly off the ground
and despite a bit of a draft the
strike of a match successfully lit
a torch then, thrown into the water
which became a circle of flame
in the middle of which Omani
Too much time passed
the crowd gasped and I was sure
he seemed to have been under so long
but without much more time to spare
the Great Omani suddenly
popped back up
and raised both arms
triumphant in the air.
The West Pier was the first pier to be built in Brighton. It even had a small theater where some pretty well known actors/actresses would perform plays. Since the 70’s, because of the cost of upkeep, this once beautiful pier has fallen apart and is just pieces of wood and metal in the water.