Can We Go to the Circus?

No, we bloomin’ well can not!

I hate circuses. Always have done and probably always will.

It is not because of a fear of clowns. I just find their ‘comedy’ tedious and predictable. It isn’t because of the animal cruelty angle, either, because that has mercifully ceased to be an issue. And it isn’t because of overexposure to ‘Dumbo’. I love that film, as the clowns get it in the neck in the end.

It is simply that I find circuses to be the second most dull and pointless form of live entertainment in the world.

Towards the end of 1982, Karen and I were staying with Gran and Grandad – I guess it must have been October and the school half term – so that someone else could listen to us squabble. Gran and Grandad always had tea at 5.40pm, so that they could watch the early evening national and local news whilst eating*. It was a Thursday, and on the local news was an article about a circus which had come to one of the local towns and which was having to close early because so few people were coming to see it. I remember clearly that the previous night’s audience had been exactly seven. Which ought to have been a hint, really**.

Grandad loved things like circuses. He was born before television was invented and in an era when it was considered acceptable to keep lions in cages the size of shoeboxes, so it was understandable that he would decide that we should all go and help out this poor ignored farrago.

But it was Thursday. ‘Top of the Pops’ was on at 7. I didn’t want to miss that, and certainly not for a circus. Fortunately, I had (I hope) the good sense to keep my opinions to myself, and I remember turning the television off as Wah! were performing*** ‘The Story of the Blues (Part One)’.

Needless to say, the circus was almost entirely a waste of time. The news item had dragged a few more people in, but the big top was still cavernous and echoing. I was bored to tears. I was cold. I wanted to be watching Top of the Pops, not a trapeze artist. But it made Grandad happy, which was worthwhile in itself.

*The BBC really did broadcast the news at this strange time. They changed later in the 80s, when they decided to broadcast ‘Neighbours’ at 5.30 so that students could drool over Kylie twice a day.

**In fairness, the major problem that the circus had was that some sort of misunderstanding had led to all of their advertising posters being taken down almost as soon as they went up.

***OK, ‘miming’. Pedant!


About Richard

Just your less-than-average married father of one
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