Gifford’s Circus

On saturday we went to the circus. Gifford’s Circus, with their War and Peace show at Gloucester Llanthony Priory. (I’m going to maybe talk about the show a bit so if you don’t want any spoilers skip this post)

We were all ludicrously excited. Ida had a new dress and I was wearing my curtain skirt in honour of the occasion. We know how to celebrate here I tell you.

Ah, my beautiful mum and dad – the patrons of the day!

They’re pretty excited too, they’re trying to be the grown ups but they can’t deny it. As we walked round to the entrance a car pulled up to ask if we were on the way to the circus and which way they should go. I catch the man eyeing up my skirt and Ida’s dress and I frown slightly. Turning round I see Zeph smirking. Before we left the house he’d mentioned his worries about people thinking Ida was with the clowns.

It’s the small things that please me! I love this sign. Ida and the armadillo are impatient to get into the tent. It’s not hugely busy as it’s 11 am on a Saturday morning – it has to be one of their quieter shows. We came to the same one last year and I’m pretty confident it doesn’t affect the magic. I think it’s because it’s all so beautifully intimate anyway. I’d like to come in the evening but this was the only show my parents could make.  Oh to live in a social whirl!

I didn’t take loads of pictures – because I was too busy sitting on the edge of my seat oooohing. I couldn’t resist a few of Ida – I’d like to assure everyone she’s loving it. The small frown is her concentrating-very-hard face. It’s tricky explaining to people when they give her presents that the sudden intent scowl means she loves it. It tickled me that when I looked down she was holding up armadillo so he could see too.

Here’s Tweedy bringing out the big book. Zeph is banging my shoulder insisting I put that he is the funniest man in the world.I have obliged.

War and Peace is a big concept for a small circus but I thought it worked really well.

The band in their sumptuous russian dress. The original score and live music is one of the things that makes Gifford’s so memorable.

THere is a lady, flying in the air, on a silver curtain. Ida is wide-eyed, she dropped armadillo at this point, forgotten in the excitement. The most alarming bit here is as she cuddled up to me just afterwards she murmured speculatively , “Ida has curtains…”

Tweedy – literally the funniest man in the world.

My dad bought Z a Gifford’s circus t-shirt which he insisted on changing into there in the field. He’s cross questioned me on my ability to wash it carefully enough.

(actually he’s right as I only ever use one programme. I kind of figure if the clothes don’t survive it they weren’t meant to be ours)

Ice cream was had and heartily enjoyed.  Ida carefully sampled all flavours. Just to make sure.

Goodbye, goodbye beautiful circus.

Afterward Zeph pressed me to declare my favourite show and I can’t pick. I just can’t. If I close my eyes there are moments seared into my heart that I know I’ll never forget. A women on a horse raising her hand for the falcon to alight on.  A women in a delicate rose petal costume picked out by a spotlight on a trapeze, her voice soaring into the dark wrapping us in its spell. Two be-ribboned, ruffled papier-mache pigs pointing their toes delicately. Horses, oh the horses, nostrils flared, manes tossing. The smooth glide of muscle under gleaming hide. The jingle of the harness, the muffled thud of their hooves on the sawdust.

I remember Zeph’s incredulous delighted face when he realised the act had children in it, tossed into the air by their parents feet.

This time I take away the tightly composed comet slipping through her hoop with practised ease. The burning torches tossed  nonchalantly into the air. Ida putting her hand up in wonder to the falling snow. Her snuggling into my side as the shot rings out, “it’s sad.” Seeing her wriggling and thrilled with the cracking whip of the cossack magnificently aside two horses.

The most enduring pleasure is watching the machinery of the circus, the moving of the people setting up and changing of the equipment. Like a beautifully balanced clock interior. The cogs and gears smoothly changing and switching, each piece a gleaming thing of buffed beauty. The pleasure to be had in the complicated dance. Appreciating the sweat and effort that has honed it to simplicity.  Emerging back to the world afterwards, glad of heart.

Bloody astounding and breathtaking. The most jewel-like, genuine, soul mending Beautiful Thing.

Thank you Universe, and Gifford’s (obviously!)

4 responses to “Gifford’s Circus

  1. you have summed up the magic beautifully. I liked the Comet’s arm muscles and the carefully timed men swinging around her.

  2. wow circus looked great.
    loved the photos.
    I’ve tagged you over at my blog
    would love you to do this for me X

  3. I read your previous post about Giffords and loved it as I do this one. I love your writing and description of the show, you really capture the emotion and feel of the whole thing.

    I have to agree with Zeph, Tweedy is indeed the funniest man in the world, but then I may be biased.

    Sharon x

    • Thank you – such a lovely comment to start the day with. I just hopped over to your blog which is fantastic – such a great glimpse into your travelling and circus life. – We all agree with Z here!

      It means loads to me that you liked the post and felt it caught a bit of the magic since you’re more part of it and probably see all that honing. Zeph did a project on early memories at school and one of the ones he wrote about was Tweedy at Giffords with all the fish on sticks like balloons. I’ve no idea when it was,(maybe the joplin show,) but he must have been tiny – how lovely that the magic leaves such strong impressions.

      All the best 🙂

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