Monday 20 October 2008

Circus of Sorts

I have amazing memories of going to the old coliseum in Denver, Colorado to see the Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey circus as a child. Back then the circus would arrive by train and then parade through the streets of downtown Denver to arrive at the coliseum. I'm sure they don't do that anymore, mostly because they tore down the old coliseum and built a new coliseum for the National Stock Show and Rodeo. And I don't think the circus travels by train anymore. Heck, I'm not sure there are circuses any more. Good Lord, I sound like those people who talk about the times before television and telephones and you still rode your horse into town.

When Sebastian was about 2 we took him to the circus in London. I must have been pregnant with Abigail although to be honest I can't really remember. Now how's that for a memory? I can remember the circus arriving by train 35 some odd years ago but not 5 years ago when I took my first born to his first circus. I must be getting old!

The circus in Denver had 3 rings and a flying trapeze and loads of animals including dancing bears and elephants with gorgeous women with loads of makeup and little clothing riding them. There were tigers jumping through fire ringed hoops and men with long curly bleach blonde hair riding motorcycles on spinning wheels as it all rotated above the ground. And there were clowns. Lots and lots of clowns. I loved the clowns.

I was so looking forward to taking Sebastian to the circus and I was well aware that he was a bit young but that wasn't going to stop me from having a great time. I knew we were in trouble and I was up for a sore disappointment when we walked across the park and I saw the wee little tiny tent. It was one of those "we don't live in the USA anymore Toto" moments.

There were no animals. Apparently there seems to be some sensitivity to animal cruelty over here and putting animals in a circuses is considered cruel and unusual punishment for a crime they didn't commit.

There was only one ring. Which is a little bit good. I was always afraid that three rings meant there was more going on than I could keep track of and I knew I missed things. This way I would catch all the action. The trouble is they could have done with a few more rings just to up the action factor. There was rarely enough action taking place in one ring.

And there were very few clowns. No way near my clown threshold was met. And Sebastian has absolutely no memory of the event. At all. Ask him!

I swore I'd never go to the circus here in England again!

Ah but what do you do when one of Marc's clients generously gives us some complimentary tickets? Well, not being one to kick a gift horse in the mouth we go to the circus. The start time is just an hour after school lets out so we shove food in their faces and change them out of their school uniforms in the car. We drive like maniacs to the circus, get parked and race to the open seating hoping we get a seat closest to the front that we can see round the really tall people that seem to always sit right in front of me and my children.

I think we are early when we enter the tiny tiny tiny tent and there are fewer than 30 people seated and we have no problems getting a front row seat. I have just enough time to run and get popcorn and return to my seat and the circus begins with fewer than 70 people in attendance.

The Cirque Surreal has no animals. And only one clown. No flying trapeze. And I'm not entirely convinced that anyone in the troupe spoke a word of English. It would appear that they are mostly from Eastern Europe with a couple from Asia and one from Africa. Not that it matters but it was indeed a strange evening's entertainment.

There was a very muscular young man juggling. With his head, feet, hands, arms, back up to 8 balls. This was Abigail's favourite bit.

There were two Oriental dancers and the girl was particularly limber. I gasped as she wrapped herself into a perfectly formed circle and was held above her partner's head and then she dropped to hold on to his waist with nothing more than her little toes maintaining her perfect circle.

There was a woman, actually a couple women who swung from ropes above the crowd.

I particularly enjoyed the two men on a large steel apparatus suspended above the ground with spinning wheels as they walked around and, in my opinion, nearly fell to the ground far too often for my sensibilities.

Sebastian danced in the aisles to the music and despite only having one clown, he was a good clown and was Sebastian's favourite bit.

No horses, no dancing bears, no elephants, no lions, and far too few clowns but not bad for free.

No comments: