I meant to write about this yesterday but got sidetracked by soap boxes and sticky notes and the like.
This came yesterday in the post:
One of Giffords magical mailouts about this years show. They are always gorgeous intriguing gifts in their own right which are opened and stroked by the kids and I and ritually oohed over. My favourite was the year it was a packet of pansy seeds, but I love them all.
Giffords Circus. If you’ve got a sad picture in your head of miserable animals and terrifying gangs of Technicolor clowns cast it away and think again. Giffords literally is a piece of dreaming magic, brought to life and wheeled around the Cotswold yearly in tents.
I’ve always daydreamed about the circus – any books I got my paws on as a child were read and reread until truly battered but my one circus trip as a child courtesy of my Dad’s work was a shattering disappointment. One where I had to hold back my tears as my lovely parents had scrimped to afford the tickets so I had to nod and clap and laugh as though my beautiful spun circus sugar dreams weren’t crushed underfoot by the enormous soulless tent and the miserable shabby animals and the bad-tempered, distant clowns.
When I started at the bookshop Nell Stroud had just published Josser which I read a proof of and then recommended and hand sold as though my life depended on it. I flirted aloud with the idea of taking up bareback riding in a dress fashioned from rose petals, maybe a shirehorse could take my weight and my friends alternately teased and collected pictures of ladies on trapezes for me.
In 2001, I
bullied persuaded Steve and everyone at work to buy tickets for a jolly to Cheltenham to see Giffords. I was pregnant, excited but prepared to be disappointed. We left after the show, running across the fields for the bus home with me in a daze. “Are you okay?” Steve asked, relatively anxiously as silence isn’t a natural state for me. At which I burst into tears. Looking back I like to blame the hormones but I was just so excited and moved. It felt as though my circus dreams had been scooped gently from my head, mixed around with star-dust and whimsy then paraded in a whirl around me in a tiny, vividly embroidered and decorated tent. Horses, clowns, acrobats, a pair of lavishly costumed lions tap dancing to Putting on the Ritz had woven a spell of belief, beauty and wonder around me and I was earth shatteringly grateful.
We’ve tried not to miss a show since. Each time I’m sick to the stomach before each show in case the magic has gone but I’m never let down. One of the greatest pleasures of my parenting journey has been taking the kids and seeing their faces alight with joy at the spectacle of it. I’m torn between raving about it and spreading the word and not wanting it to get big and polished and priced completely beyond my reach. I think I have to trust it won’t.
If it’s near you or you ever get the chance – go. The tickets are not cheap but comparable to going to the theatre and that’s exactly what you’ve going to see, a fantastic, fabulous work of reality defying art that will satisfy all your senses and remind you about wonder.
I’d like to reassure you that no-one is paying me and I’m not linked to Gifford’s in any way. I bloody wish! In fact I always have an odd feeling sitting on the benches that the whole thing means SO much to me and they have no idea – why should they? I hope they know as performers how valued they are.
Hmm off to see if there’s anything hanging around I could sell before May… One of the kids maybe.