Monday, June 10, 2013

When I was young, we'd now and again go to the circus as a treat. Not very often, mind, as it was pretty expensive.

And we wouldn't go and see any old circus. The regular British touring circuses with lions and dogs that leapt through hoops were unofficially off limits.

But when the Moscow State Circus came to Sherwood Forest (actually, I don't think that's where they parked up but it sounds more romantic), off we trotted, hearts in mouths. We were off to see The Clowns.

I remember:

- popcorn trampled underfoot and the smell of hotdogs

- the dim judder of the diesel engines

- the spotlights, the sequins, the band, the ebullient band skittering through the set

- the clowns, beautifully Russian, beautifully absurdly tragic in a way that a 9 year old could only fractionally understand

- terror that the trapeze artistes - or the tightrope walkers - would fall

- weeping with pity (sentimental child) for the show pony that ran round and around in endless dizzying circles while a slim girl pranked around on her (or his) back. This was surely the cruelty to animals for which circuses were known, thought young cmf in her lower middle class suburban way

- clapping till my hands were sore in an endless standing ovation because their show was surely - how could it be other? - just magic.

Because we didn't have cinemas and three screen households full of CGI and fakery in these days. The Dark Crystal was mystical. Health and safety wasn't endemic. Calculated risks hadn't been invented.

Risk was risk.

The circus danced along the tightrope between normality and the extravagently audaciously dare-devilishly bold.

And the trapeze artist really might jump and fall.

Fast forward to Spain. A couple of weeks ago. And I snapped this.

The Grand Circus of Alaska. And Peppa Pig.

We've lost our sense of wonder.

And I wonder if it's too late to get it back?


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