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Sunday, 8 June 2008

Report on the official Salt and Sauce book signing

7th June was a very special day for me. My father and I launched a book that has taken us at least six, probably seven, years to complete off and on. It was also my first ever published book. Since I was about 5 years old I have wanted to write a book of some description. I can't say that this was the book I had envisaged, but nonetheless it is a book I am very proud of. With the help of my father's expertise in the world of animal training and our various contacts inside and outside of the circus world we were able to produce the type of circus book we both would enjoy reading. Launching the book at the Circus Friends Association's Annual General Meeting did fill me with more than a small amount of anxiety. True these dedicated supporters of circus knew and have followed my father and my family's career well, but this book was not about him or the Chipperfields. This was a book about elephants who Dad never knew and didn't ever appear on my family's circus. We had tackled a topic that had become wound up in myth, speculation and folklore during an age that now seems like centuries ago. Furthermore, unlike many books that sell to circus enthusiasts this was not a book dominated by posters, postcards and photographs - although it does include quite a number - rather it is mainly dominated by my prose. Nevertheless, through the help of other dedicated and helpful historians to not mention wonderful characters like Ivor Rosaire, who began their career with Salt and Sauce, we were able to assemble the entire story for the very first time, disentangling the legend from the reality, and I have grown as a writer through the experience.

It would appear that our efforts were not in vain. Ned Williams, a helpful contributor, very kindly stood up to give a speech of thanks for the book. He and others pointed out the huge impact Salt and Sauce made on the lives of residents, still alive today, of Wolverhampton when they roamed their streets having lodged at John Swallow's winter quarters near the old railway bridge. Ned also made the poetic observation that the story of "The Legend of Salt and Sauce" had begun with a father and son, George Lockhart the elephant trainer and his son, the ringmaster and storyteller, and now it had been retold by another father and son team: my dad the animal trainer and me, the new storyteller.

The event was well received and included me reading two exerpts from the book and Dad giving a Power Point display, including photos that did not make it into the book. My thanks to my publisher, David Jamieson of Aardvark Publishers and the CFA for hosting us on this very special day.

Pictures from the CFA book launch of "The Legend of Salt and Sauce"