Thrills, spills and chills of the cir­cus

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - AN­GELA LE MARE TE­WANTIN, QUEENS­LAND Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­ Columnists re­ceive a Paula’s Choice Re­sist Es­sen­tial Kit with four skin­care items, in­clud­ing cleanser and nour­ish­ing creams suit­able for

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.

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