Thirty five years & the memory is fresh even today. “Jockey” , the” local” round the corner from my office in Sunbury-on-Thames . Cream-of-Tomato soup , Jacket Potatoe & a Pint of lager on luncheon vouchers . In the company of colleagues : Elaine , Carol , Basil , Alan , Mike & David . The two senior managers , Ian & Bernard , lunched at a slightly up-market pub but joined the gang at the Jockey every so often . It was at one such meet-the-guys that Bernard mentioned the name of a clown who straddled the late eighteenth / early nineteenth century England with his legendary ability to make people laugh . The name & the folk-lore surrounding it has remained untainted by the passage of time .
Fast forward some 32 odd years : flipping through an old issue of Fortune Magazine I came across an interesting little write up on Prince Albert II , the poorest amongst the Ten richest Royals in the World ( or, to put it more respectfully, the richest amongst all world’s royals who didn’t quite make it to the top 10 ) .
In more recent times , a new Pizza rstaurant in Hiranandani Gdns in Mumbai , & even more contemporarily , one in the recently opened Phoenix Mall in Pune : both serve sumptuous thin-crusted Pizzas cooked in a coal-fired brick- oven .
One name is common in these three seemingly desultory statements even though there really is no linkage : Girmaldi
The cooked-in-brick-oven Pizzas ( also called Neapolitan Pizzas or thin-crusted New-York pizzas ) are popular in New-York ( so I have read ) largely due to innovative cooking techniques adopted at the Girmaldi chain of Pizzerias , & have now become popular in places as far away as Hiranandani Gdns Mumbai & the Phoneix Mall Pune . The extended Girmaldi family has remained loyal to their coal-fired brick ovens & the Neopolitan & thin crusted Pizzas in the Pizzerias of Mumbai & Pune are often referred to as Girmaldi Pizzas .
Prince Albert II heads the 700 year-old Girmaldi Royal family & is the incumbent Constitutional Monarch & Head of the City-State of Monaco . Monaco is a tax free , 0 % unemployment ( Rich & Famous in leisure aren’t exactly unemployed !! ) , poverty-free ( you are either rich or obscenely rich !! ) , city-state with the highest nominal per capita GDP in the world at a staggering USD 175,000 . With a total population of below 40,000 , & international borders & coast lines in single digit kms in aggregate , Monaco has a total Army & Police population of a little over 250 . Famous for its Casinos in the Monte Carlo quarters , Monaco has a total land mass of 2 square kms , a happiness index next only to that of Bhutan ( you must either have everything or have nothing to be truly happy !! ) , & an uninterrupted stability in the 700 year old dynasty of House of Girmaldis. The tiny-city-state , as a matter of interesting detail , could not possibly accomodate all the Girmaldi Pizzerias of New York , if the Girmaldi chain were to hypothetically shift base to Monaco.
As for Joseph Girmaldi , the 18th / 19th century English clown with legendary ability to make everyone laugh , folk-lore has it that he was actually a very sad man , with an abused childhood at the hands of his deranged father , an unhappy marriage , a drinking problem , financial bankruptcy , et al . Folk – lore also has it that he gave his clowning profession his all to escape the malaise of his intense depression . Ironically , his Doctor once prescribed for him a Girmaldi show to be able to laugh & feel happy , not realising that the patient was in fact the legendary clown himself. More expressive in his clowning than in his writing ability , his poorly drafted Memoirs were edited , critics say rather poorly , by a then fledgling writer called Charles Dickens ( later successful with Pickwick Papers / Oliver Twist / David Copperfield ) & were never published successfully . Nearly 300 years after his death , scores of clowns from all parts of England assemble each year on the first Sunday of February at his grave to pay tribute to the memory of Joseph Girmaldi , the clown who started a trend in clowning which is practised till date.
Cheers & atb