We filled the quiet market place
With music, colour and smiles all round
We did not leave but one small space
Free of celebratory sound.
The eyes of on-lookers never strayed
From our bold and bright parade.
Stilts and jugglers, horses and clowns
Acrobats, dancers, musicians abound
A glittering spectacle dazzling all day
Your ears left singing with the horses neigh.
The streets were thronging
With many hearts longing
To join this band of raucous rouges.
But gone in a twinkling
Such wonder leaves you blinking
Till once again they bring their handsome shows.
In this beautiful sunshine, I’ve been reading “The Circus Has No Home” by Rupert Croft-Cooke. I came across a story he tells of when he was watching a little boy at the circus in 1940. He describes him as a “deliriously happy” child and it’s such a wonderful sight to see as it’s that delight that keeps the heart of the circus beating.
“He was watching the ring, his small face flushed with rapture, fixed in such an expression of happiness that the smile seemed a part of him. His hands were clapping, slowly and gently, moving apart and together in a rhythm out of his own consciousness. Only his eyes went greedily in pursuit of more colour, more movement, more comedy.”
Waking up to the familiar quacks of Brian the Goose and the band getting ready to make all their wonderful circus instruments sing for the show is magnificent. “The Saturday Book” world of Victoriana is entered as soon as you arrive to see the show and going into the Big Top is a feast for the eyes picturing the beautiful curiosities of this year’s theme.
The show is fantastically funny with Tweedy the Clown as lovable as ever and making a hilarious double Act with Tiny Tom the Circus’s very own Shetland pony. The director of this year’s show is the brilliant Cal McCrystal hot from his West End success “One Man, Two Guvnors”. He has created so many belly achingly funny moments that make this year’s spectacle a real treat. New to the company are The Godfather’s, a dashingly slick acrobatic troupe from the Ukraine who have just finished travelling Latin America with their Act and Francois a wondrous wire walker from Paris.
Circus Sauce is back again with the most delicious food imaginable. Last night’s scrumptious three courses began with an pork terrine followed by roasted duck breast for mains and strawberry and elderflower panacotta for desert, all freshly cooked in the travelling restaurant.
Going to sleep again in my cosy wooden showman’s wagon with the bold and bright circus music playing round my head, I can see the lights on the Big Top look like magic a night.
Sky Arts, the main broadcasting partner at the Cheltenham Literature Festival have chosen to do a display of my Circus poems in their Creative Wish Den from the 7th to the 16th of October.
A winner out of the three creative disciplines on display for the festival will be voted for by the public. The prize is £1000 which I would put towards writing a book of Circus poetry and short stories. I’ll be talking about the poems and doing a reading on the 8th of October in the Sky Arts Den, it’s free entry and it would be lovely to see anyone who has enjoyed the blog for support.
“Our memories may mottle,
Or blur other seen sights,
But kept like a ship in a bottle
In dreams the Circus recites.”
We’ve now had the last show of the 2011 season. Each act performed, the violins played their melodies, the actors spoke their words and the audience roared applause for the final time this summer as Gifford’s Circus closed it’s blue green velvet curtains on “War & Peace at the Circus”. Gifford’s Circus was created by Nell and Toti Gifford in 2000. They began it from scratch; tent, horses, wagons, acts and all the other things that make up a Circus had to be made. It’s amazing to see it now, bringing that Circus sparkle to everyone who sees the show.
During the last few weeks everyone in the Gifford’s Circus travelling troupe has been so kind and it’s such a strange thing to be living so closely and then to disappear into far off countries. That intensity leaves you feeling very still at the end of the season. At the Circus you can find someone to talk with whenever and they’ll tell you some interesting story, you’ll sit drinking home-made elderflower and honey tea, hearing exotic tales from lives lived before the Circus. I must admit I’ve been putting off writing this final post as it’ll really feel as though it’s finished. It’s already unfamiliar to not be speaking to foreign accents or sleeping in a caravan every starry night.
To end the blog for the season, I thought I’d start at the beginning. I’ve written a short story about that first glimpse of a Circus, all the magic and intrigue I used to see in every child’s eyes as they went into the ring. “The Boy Who Found A Circus” can be read on http://thecircusgoose.wordpress.com/.
With thanks to readers for their comments and ratings, I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts.
Filed under Circus, Diary
The Big Top’s sounds dance with one another
While field flowers wish to be rooted nearer,
To see circus silhouettes a little clearer,
Blackly lit by the moon’s pearly glimmer,
That glints though she wanes ever thinner.
Replace alarm clocks, traffic, routines
With flowers, fiddles, plucks of strings
That twing and twang around the ring
While voices hum and drum and sing
And you watch on,
Ready to expect the anything.
About the ring, white socked horses skipped,
Fine songs were sung and fine words lipped,
Jumps and bends of upturned faces,
In the most legendary of places.
Velvet curtains unroll and the hope of every soul
Is to once more know the secret wildness;
That magical charm that is the Circus.
Eyes never straying
Balancing with their stare
Twirling, swirling objects
Swoop in curls of air.
Poised on the tip of a chin, cheek or nose,
Turns and flips, drums quicken, wrist flicks,
Under over arms and shoulders, a current of symmetry
Ducks and dives while eager eyes,
Watch on unmovingly
Sky touching spirals
Arcing, looping like a bird in flight
Forming painterly patterns
With the grace of a high flown kite,
Gasped breath resounds
From wide eyed, awe struck faces
Jugglers’ world renown
Even gravity, their act outfoxes.
For more information about Bibi and Bichu visit their facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bibi-and-Bichu/202539465438 .