I can't believe I forgot to mention, but I took The Daughter to the circus a while back. It's been years since I went, in fact so long ago that I don't actually remember if I have been or if I'm just getting my memories mixed up with having watched 'Dumbo' so many times. It was named 'Uncle Sam's American Circus', but despite the name (and the 'We need YOU' type posters, and the Stars and Stripes overload) I couldn't find anything remotely Stateside there. The Ringmaster was an extraordinarily camp and round Englishman who liked to say "Twooooo thousand aaaaaaand tweeeeeeelve!" alot, as though we'd all walked into the Big Top and thought we'd dropped into a timewarp. The ladies in the ticket booth were either Russian or Polish, the women in the overpriced 'Diner' (which was a burger hut selling thrice cooked chips for the price of a kidney) were Jeremy Kyle fodder, and the acts themselves were Russian and Chinese. So quite lacking in the American department.
I have to say though, I really enjoyed myself! Yes, it might have cost a small fortune to sit on ringside seats so rickety and unsafe the Health and Safety Executive would have burst into tears on the spot, but I was totally spellbound by most of it. There were tiny but perfectly formed Chinese acrobats doing mesmerising things at the top of ropes, a troup of Russian gymnasts so ranging in size they looked like Russian dolls. Two huge burly ones with large beer bellies were jumping onto a springboard, catapulting skinny ones into the air, where they would somersault like mad and then be caught in a net by some middle sized men. All of them wearing shiny black lycra trousers and red satin shirts. Eek. Then there was the juggler, who could catch his clubs in pockets on his belt. Who says men can't multitask? I was particularly wowed by a female gymnast with arms like a dockside navvy and buttocks that could crack walnuts. Seriously, they were like two satsumas in clingfilm. The finale was two motorcyclists inside a round metal cage and wow, was that impressive. And noisy. But mostly impressive. And out of all of the acts - the fantastic gymnasts, the bendy acrobats, the daredevil motorcyclists - which one did The Daughter pick out as her favourite? Some people dressed in quite frankly terrifying giant Toy Story costumes who came out at the interval and waved at us for less than two minutes. Ah well, at least we didn't get food poisoning from the chips..there's always next year!