Thursday, March 10, 2011

Duffys Circus - One Night and One Night Only

You should've seen their faces as we waited in the lee of the huge Big Top to get to top of the the box-office queue and take our seats inside the coloured canvas-covered arena. The boys clutched their Circus tickets tightly, €15 each for them, through Ticket-master no less! Used to be they cost ten shillings or ten pennies! They stared fascinated at the posters either side of the entrance, showing brave lion-tamers and daring fire-eaters, while as each minute passed they were being wound up further by the sound of trumpets blaring brassy tunes tunes, tunes only circuses play, sending excited pulses out to us through the flaps of the canvas dome.
Finally we entered the tent, and picked our way up the tiered benches to where we sat amidst the smell of sawdust and wet grass rose up to greet us as we took in the scene. The boys were beaming with expectation from the stories they's heard in school, vying to see cast of characters and curiosities that makes the Circus special; acrobats and trapeese artists, tumblers and jugglers, llamas, elephants, camels, lions and tigers, miniature horses...and big-footed Clowns! The Circus is come to town, same as ever it was, and the smell of sawdust, and oh so-expensive candy floss and the wind howling, rain spattering on the canvas tent, held up by huge poles and guy wires, garishly painted hard bench seats tiered around the arena, and the Ring-master, with his red coat-tails and top hat and booming voice...'Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, it is my pleasure to present to you, and at great expense, the finest troupe of circus performers gathered together under one big top, from the 4 corners of the world, from Mongolia, from the Steppes of Russia and the sands of Arabia.... Duffys Circus'... transported me right back to the Fair-green in Loughrea, and the open-mouthed, wide-eyed stares of a little boy in short pants, vying with his friends to volunteer to help erect the big top with the 'carneys' in the hopes of a free ticket, or a chance to pet the animals, fascinated by these exotic visitors in their painted caravans and sequinned women!

A dreamed-of escape from the bleak 1960's reality of grey old Ireland. The Circus, a window to another world...Aaaah, Priceless!