107. A cunning plan...
George Sanger was a menagerist and showman from Kent who recalled how he constructed a devilish plan to attract huge audiences to his show in London in 1926. Mr Sanger owned twelve wolves, as tame as dogs, which he advertised to perform at Palace Road, and which were kept in a large den alongside a thirty-horse stable. One of these horses was very ill, on its last legs, and so George, six months before the show, decided to send for his slaughterman, whom he would pay a tenner to kill the horse quickly, putting it out of its misery, but not tell a soul.
That night, with the theatre empty, and all staff (including firemen, watchmen and the property master) taking a break in the bar, George slipped into the stables in complete darkness, knowing his way around, to make sure the horse was dead. It was. He then released the wolves from their pen. Naturally hungry, several headed straight for the dead horse and began to rip at the flesh greedily. Sanger then quickly slinked back to the bar, telling his staff, "Now lads, come on, time to lock up!", knowing full well the sight that would great them. As soon as they reached the theatre, imagine the horror on their faces when one screamed, "The wolves are loose!", and another yelled, "They've eaten a horse!".
Playing along with the drama, Sanger sent for a friend named Alpine Charlie who was to be the hero of the tale. Police swarmed the area, as did the press, and many hundreds of local folk gathered around the theatre. Little did they know that Alpine Charlie only had to shout "Get in there!" and bang his rattan cane for the harmless wolves to enter their pen. Of course, to many who never saw the drama, he was a hero. The Prime Minister was asked at the time about the wolves roaming London, and chaos ensued, but when the show was finally performed, thousands flocked to see the allegedly nasty wolves, and their marvellous tamer.
A tale of great deception if ever there was one!
Photo by Harlequeen on flickr