Extract of interview with Andrew Beddeau
Interviewer is Judith Laird
J: Tell me about the Midnight Robber character.
B: Well the robber is a carnival phenomenon that robs people. If you're walking alone some place and this robber hide himself somewhere, in caves and big bushes. And you'll be coming up, if you have any money or jewels, he comes up with this big piece of knife or dagger or gun or something and stop you An take whatever you have and skeet.
J: What was the speech like, the traditional speech the robber gave
B: Well the Robber stops you and say "Hark, hark! You scrums of the earth you three headed serpent you dogs of sucks(? )Stand back for it was written in the book of Midnight Robber that all mock-men as you shall be buried alive. Way down from the high class regions of the phantom graveyard comes I the indomitable, son of the impregnable the incredible. My name is King Grabbler who gobbled up the sun moon and stars created darkness by bits with my ivory teeth and chewed, shortened the seasons, feeds upon wasps. At the age of one my renowned compound was too strong for a reconstitution where I was placed into prison for 99 years. A reward of (nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars was offered for my discovery. There I studied crimes and punishment for all mock men as you. As the dawn of morn has just begun to illuminate the oriental horizon it seems to me as though you want to make a perfect getaway Hark! it is too late for these two hypnotical and magical eyes of mine have already doomed the opposition. At the age of two I killed my Great -grandfather Ezuggemeh. At the age of three I drowned my mother Cecilia into a spoon full of water. So stand back mock-men and tell me if it is your cowardice or bravery that sends you into that dismal track."
J: Did you write this speech yourself?
B: Yeah I wrote some for myself and I also got some for an Indian fella by the name of Rox Roy(?) I got some from him.
J: So that every year you give the same speech?
B: No. It changes every year.
J: Are there any others that you could remember?
B: Yeah…"Stop mock-man, for this is a midnight hold up. As the dawn of morn has just begin to illuminate the oriental horizon it seems to me as though you want to make a perfect getaway, but Hark! It is too late. My mother's name Cecilia mean man that command my grave to open and speak to my dead if I shall only say one word I shall turn your body into vapour . Throw those two long negative hands of yours into the air. Do what I command you. Keep them there. For the morning is like unto the night when I awake I see there are many lives here to take. So please mock man come across with some of your hidden treasures else ye shall surely die! I am the man that cause coward men to do brave deeds and die. Rob robbers as myself. Rob even down to the suckling babe at my mother's breast. Fathers mourn, women groan, children weep when meeting me this high master criminal and master of crimes. Animal tamer, high class gambler, rikitiki gun peddler, max-man gun-choker . I am one of the worlds most steel jawed and copper bowelled high master criminal that has ever breathed the breath of life into man. So stand back, Mock-man, else you shall surely die." Blow your whistle and you run off.
J: Without collecting your money?
B: Oh, you gotta collect your money, Yes you collecting your money and you run off. That is what you holding up for.
J: Could you perhaps describe the costume for me, the one you would have worn?
B: Well, the robber that plays now is far different from the one I uses to play. They all playing fancy robber and thing now.
J: When you used to play, what would the costume be like?
B: Well, you just get a bag, you know, and you fringe it out, cut it out in small pieces-
J: Made from what? What would the bag be made from?
B: Well we get flour bag and so but we dye it. In different colours. And sew it on to a pants.
J: This is Midnight Robber-
J: -And so the bag would need to be
J: Right. And so what else would be on the costume.
B: Well you just sew it on to the- you fringe it out and sew it on to the pants. You get a shirt, a Black shirt, you get a black piece of cloth, velvet or satin or something like that, and draw a big skeleton on it, with the name of what you portraying. Like Tousan Mayo, King Grabra, Rox Roy, or so.
J: This is on the cape?
J: And what about you shoes, what were the shoes like?
B: Well, sometimes fella uses to wear bend something In wire, otherwise the would mould something and make a mould it out of dirt- and cover it over with paper. A big tiger head, or a big dragon, or a big snake or something like that. And we uses to use wire, cause you see the wire- (gesturing a springlike rocking/swaying movement) -when you walk the wire look like something that is really alive.
J: What about the headpiece?
B: The headpiece you wear a broad hat. A broad hat with fringes. Right around.
J: I understand sometimes there were coffins, where were the coffins?
B: In the hand.
J: In your hand?
B: You have a small box, like a cash box., and that is where the money goes.
J: So the bag that you were describing, what was the bag for?
B: Just to make the costume- pants.
J: Ah-ha. And on your face, did you used to wear anything on your face?
B: Well, long ago, when I uses to play the robber used to have a big pair of dark shades, and I get the rope, I would fringe it out, dye it in whatever colour, and make a big beard, the beard sometimes with the fringe…just shape it so. And with the glass' and thing., big moustache and so- and so that hide a lot of your identity.
J: So where did you attach the beard? From you ears?
B: From here (gestures smoothly from ears to
chin) you sew it on to a piece of cloth
And you make something like come down here.
J: And how did you affix it to your face?
B: Very good. (smirks)
J: No you tied it or you stuck it on or what?
B: No well you see you did that, you get a piece of elastic, and you sew on the piece of cloth that you get the bag from, and you attach it onto here ( makes tying motions behind head.) You sew the thing like that -(gestures v shape under chin) the beard come right on it here Just put the elastic and you put your hat over it, and you put on your big glasses. Nobody can see your face. (Chuckles