A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


John Cotton - Actor - Sailor - Hypnotist - Etc & The Can-can
Friday, April 20, 2007

Today's blog could go in many directions but I will start it with Rebecca practicing a simple version of Offenbach's Can-can on our living room Chickering. Every time she plays it I remember the best can-can I ever saw. It was in Studio 40 at the CBC some 29 years ago.

Leon Bibb was taping an extended show on the origins of the blues and jazz. The segment with the Can-can was performed in beautifully staged New Orlean bordello. The dancers were my favourite CBC jazz dancers including Viktoria Langton and Jackie Coleman.

I was taking the stills and looking at my contact sheets I notice that during idle moments my camera was either trained on Langton or on Coleman. But I did take some pictures of a distinguished looking gentleman with all white hair who was supposed to be one of the patrons of the establishment.

His name is John Cotton and we have been friends of sorts since. Circumstances get us together every once in a while. He is one of those persons that I often see walking on the Granville Street Bridge. Perhaps it has to do with his white hair. One of the last times I saw him he wanted to deal with my migraines by hypnotizing me. Somehow I declined his offer and my migraines have diminished with age.

Cotton called the other day to tell me about a PBS special on Patagonia. It ocurred to me that he would provide fine company for my friends Graham Walker and Abraham Rogatnick. We are having lunch at home tomorrow and then we will retire to the living room to hear the live radio broacast from the Met of Handel's Julio Cesare . I think that the four of us will have a great time.

Looking at those negatives of so long ago I spotted a very special one that I had forgotten I had taken. The bearded man on the right is cameraman Mike Varga. And yes he had much more hair then!


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