“It is useless to describe the astonishing performances of the acrobats and gymnasts. The turning on ladders, poles, balls, barrels, &c., was executed with wonderful precision. But the principal attraction was the exhibition of the Long Noses, a show to which Europe is as yet a stranger. These noses were made of bamboo, and were five, six, and even ten feet long, some straight, others curved, some ribboned, and some having imitation warts upon them. It was upon these appendages, fixed tightly on their real noses, that they performed their gymnastic exercises.”
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Coated and scarfed, we trooped across the common, crunching leaves under foot. The almost-full moon brightened the autumn sky. Circusy-music drifted towards us on the breeze, promising high-wire tension and hilarity.
Some 35 years ago I’m sure I must have run, towing one of my parents behind me, across the entire dusty field to the circus entrance, a similar pink ticket stub in my small hand. White horses with plumes, the smell of damp straw, animal cages, waistcoated monkeys and hotdogs – the Boswell Wilkie Circus!
Some years on …
We bought 4 tickets for the Moscow State Circus and invited a couple of friends to join us – part of our recent anti-navel-gazing-phone-a-friend approach to whole life living.
Despite being sans-children and towards the older end of the audience spectrum, we ooo’ed the unicycles and aah’ed the trapeze; we gaped at the double swing acrobats and we laughed and laughed at the clowns until our stomachs ached (only partly due to the large buckets of over-priced popcorn we’d consumed).
It was so good to laugh and let that small girl loose at the circus again.
Hubby, a little bit of a clown himself, is working on a cure for my seriousness-disease.
At home one of his favourite tricks is to stick out his belly, pose like a model and ask: “Do you think I’ve lost weight?” Or, while I’m putting on mascara, intensely focussed and watching the clock, he pulls faces in the mirror and says to his reflexion: “Oh hello there, who are you?”
And at other times, when I’m most in danger of death-by-seriousness, he takes me in his arms and dances me around the kitchen – boiling pots and chopped onions be damned. He always cracks me and saves me from myself.
I know. I’m a lucky girl.
There is, I’m sorry to say, a highly contagious bout of seriousness going around. You’re probably checking your pulse right now.
Just in case, I pray that God blesses you with some clowns in your life.
P.s. My favourite acts at the Moscow State Circus were the clowns and the double swings. Hubby says Russian clowns are known to be the best in the business.
P.p.s. Clowning is a serious business, so serious that there is an official registry for clown faces and no two clowns are alike. I know this because a friend of mine is a clown in San Jose. His talent is balloons.
P.p.p.s. When interviewed about the words of his song Send in The Clowns, Stephen Sondheim said, “It’s a theater reference meaning “if the show isn’t going well, let’s send in the clowns”; in other words, ‘let’s do the jokes’. Send in the Clowns didn’t settle in until I got the notion, ‘Don’t bother, they’re here’, which means that ‘We are the fools‘, or ‘Aren’t we fools?‘”
P.p.p.p.s. On Tuesday 7th November Hubby and I dressed up as Russian peasants and joined our Russian-speaking friends at a Russian restaurant in Soho called Zima. 7th November was 100yrs since the October Revolution – we tried to commemorate it ‘ironically’. Such fun! #Mirandavoice