Thrills, spills and chills of the circus
My husband is a founder director of the World Circus Federation and his work takes us to exciting places. On this occasion, as we flew from Brisbane on New Year’s Day, our first destination was Florida and the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Before the show we were introduced to the high-wire walker Nik Wallenda. We asked him about his tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. He said the Canadian passport authorities had asked his reason for travel. His answer: “To inspire people around the world to follow their dreams.’’ He lives his dream: this quiet, unassuming man has since high-wire walked across the Grand Canyon.
One of our circus friends was nervous. Her 20-yearold daughter was the new “ball’’ in the cannon act. The previous ball, she told us, oblivious to her pun, had been fired. Thankfully, all went smoothly. The girl flew from the cannon at around 100km/h and sailed gracefully across the ring to land on air cushions. I was informed that, had there been an accident, the orchestra would have struck up the Jamestown Rag. This is circus code to warn behind-scenes staff.
My favourite circus act involved a lady in a luxurious fur coat which was dramatically transformed into a bunch of fleeing ferrets. (Google “Roncalli fur coat” to see a similar act.)
Flying on to England to stay with my brother, I learned he had a suitcase of clothes belonging to our mother who had died some years before. Among them was a stylish faux fur coat which fitted me perfectly — so light, warm and luxurious in the January chill. As our next destination was the sophisticated World Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, the coat would be perfect.
Alas, the garment was old. I discovered my mother’s careful repairs to the worn fabric now ripped afresh. I sewed and darned busily but, as I approached the Chapiteau on the first night, it split again. I spent the evening mingling with circus royalty, wearing a fur akin to the ferret-coat in Florida. OK, a slight exaggeration. Nevertheless, somewhat regretfully, I parted company with what remained. Still, I guess there is not much call for a fur coat in sunny Noosa.