We took her to Billy Smart's Circus, at Glyne Gap field. We all enjoyed it. The big top was classic, the band was rumpty-tumpty, the ring mistress was dashing, and the acts were of a high standard.
To our surprise, GD seemed particularly taken with the clowns. That sort of slapstick humour has always left me cold, and when I was little, I spent my time quaking with dread in case a clown spotted me and singled me out for some unimaginable public humiliation.
It wasn't a circus, but I'll never forget being pushed up on stage by my grandparents at a pantomime in Torquay, having to sing 'The Happy Wanderer'. Even worse... no, don't even get me started on being on stage with Ken Dodd at that Housing Conference.... I cringe to think of it.
|Woman in cube thing|
|The flying trapeze...|
|Woman on large motor-bike. In the old days, she would have balanced on a horse - see below|
When I was a child at the circus it was so exciting to see the lion cage in place. The lights would dim, and the big cats would come slinking along their tunnel, growling and roaring. It was pretty clear they didn't enjoy it though. Although I used to enjoy the elephants, I always felt it was a bit undignified for such big animals.
However, I can't see any problems with horses, dogs, birds, or even camels - any domesticated animal, in fact.
Cats would be useless - No - I lie, I've found the Chicago Acro-cats, and a current article about the Moscow Cat Circus.
|The Acro-cats - that looks like Digby on keyboards|
|Moscow Cat Circus|
Then, there were the horses. I used to love the liberty horses, one of the classic images of the circus. A group of glossy matching palominos would come cantering into the ring, feathery plumes nodding on their heads and glittering diamante on their harnesses, controlled by a beautiful woman in a sparkly frock. How I longed to be her.
|Palominos at Bertram Mills Circus, 1962|
|Jan Ashton, 1950s|
|Zoppe troupe, 1950s|
I have looked on the internet and currently only two circuses touring in the UK, Zippo's and Gifford's, still use horses, dogs or birds. The RSPCA appears to be against the use of any animals in circuses, as do a variety of other animal-rights pressure groups. This seems a misguided use of their energies - it would be better to focus on agri-business, and the sad lives of the animals we use for food.