Prompted by Hannah, Axl told Mitchell about his school for entertainers, which he ran out of a squat in Stockwell. “All I ask is your time and your enthusiasm. Be you banker or Prime Minister, I will turn you into a clown!’ This gave way to stories of his time as part of theatre troupes in Los Angeles and New York, and touring South America with a circus.
‘I’ll never forget when our elephant died in Guatemala. We held a funeral, and all the inhabitants of a village turned out as we buried it. This dirt-poor place, children running in the dust alongside the procession. We winched the elephant onto the back of our truck, covered it in the tarpaulin from a ruined tent. We took it to the outskirts of the village and set fire to it on top of a hill. The fire burned all night. I’m told that every year the villagers hold a festival in memorial of that elephant, that they make effigies of it, and masks. Can you imagine that? To be involved in the birth of a ritual…’
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