What I like about the title for this is it is both a metaphor and a literal thing and Peter as Claude is right in the middle of both of them!
Claude Langton is a dynamic sculptor, an excellent clown, a pretty good boyfriend, but an equally rotten mate. Claude gets a couple of good scenes (I could watch the ladder climbing forever), but he’s very much a supporting player in what is more or less another mad-dog-killer-and-or-red-herring-of-the-week role, but with the twist that the murder he’s suspecting of (possibly) committing hasn’t yet occurred and Poirot is pre-investigating the case to keep it that way.
Leaving aside the clown suit — and even that makes me question at least a little bit a long held assumption that a clown could never be sexy — oh my, do those 1930s fashions suit Peter, even the ridic trousers he’s wearing outside the pub. And since this takes place in the summer, and Claude is a carefree bohemian type (the kind, I suspect, who can afford to be because he has a large private income), we get the delights of rolled up shirt sleeves and open-necked shirts, and lovely braces, and the occasional jaunty scarf.
To change the subject a bit: If you’re a long time reader, you’ll recognize Claude as the face I used for young Randall when I did my Randall/Lix The Hour timeline. Peter was the right age, and this was set at the right time, to correspond almost exactly to 1930s Randall. He just needs some round horn rimmed specs, a camera, and a portable typewriter and he’d be good to go.
Obviously, if you look at Claude’s hair of emotional emotions and 1950s Randall’s hair of repressed repression, somewhere in there Randall changed a lot, but I figure it makes sense that as Randall got older he had to button up and tame the wild locks of righteous fury as part of the coping strategy he’s forced to develop to keep his otherwise out of control emotions from tearing him apart, but here (minus the clown suit obviously) we perhaps get to see him exactly as Lix would have first seen him when they first met in Spain.
(Especially the braces: 1950s Randall — an inveterate braces-flasher — has a pair very similar to the pair we see Claude wearing.)