September always brings a fresh air of excitement. It is the time of year when schools and colleges restart and there is a sense of anticipation. I love learning and I have enrolled on two online courses this month, Learn Something New Every Day, and 30 Days to Done. Now this is a new class to me, and already I am buzzing with excitement with ideas shared in Day 1. I’ll tell you more another time.
Because right now I want to tell you about the Circus.
Last week I went to a Country Show and there, in all its glory, was a big top. Now as far as I am concerned age is a number and the excitement of the circus stirs now as much as it always did. So once seated I was even more exited to learn that this was a circus school, and some of the acts we were about to see were performed by students. Others were professional acts who were also teachers and mentors, and everyone gave amazing performances. But the act that took my breath away was the trapeze artists. Without any safety harness they swung just by hooking their feet or fingertips, their skills and trust in each other was awe inspiring.
And this took me back to my own school days. For me, life is a learning experience and I felt removed from learning shut in four walls with subjects that did not grab my interest or attention. Outside we had a school farm and vegetable patch. There was gardening to do, animals to care for. But the children who were considered slow learners used to have lessons there, and all I could do was look at the window and feel resentful.
But once the bell rang I felt free. I would head straight for the riding school where I had lessons. Joan, the owner of the riding school was a renowned circus performer with her Palomino stallion, Goldie. She was semi-retired and only performed on TV or in local shows at this time. But the stables also happened to be the winter base for the circus. And in the huge barn there were trampolines, high wires and a trapeze. Whenever any of the performers practiced their acts I would stand mesmerized. I remember tiny dogs that performed tricks, and sometimes I would be allowed to go on the trampoline. Luckily Joan was always grateful for willing hands to muck out stables and help groom the ponies, so when not in school, that’s where I would be!
And through Joan, I also met Bill. He lived about 5 miles from my home and he also had a horse that he had trained to do acts, and he would lead all the local Carnival processions. But as well as the horse, Bill had a small private zoo. There were 2 lions, a llama, monkeys, sheep and a whole range of other animals. And Bill also appreciated help with looking after them! I remember an old electric milk cart with a long handle that I used to carry the food and water to feed the animals. I never was allowed to go in with the lions (probably a good thing, or I might not be here to tell the tale!) but I was allowed to take one of the money’s out on a lead. It was a small Rhesus monkey called Rastas, and it would sit in the hood of my anorak. And believe it or not, I would go up to a local cafe for breakfast or lunch, take Rastas, and he would sit at the table with me. Can you imagine that now, with our Health and Safety regulations!! How times have changed, and how glad I am that life was so different during my childhood.
After time, Bill had to close his zoo because of concerns that the cages were too small for the animals welfare. I was there the day Mary Chipperfield came to collect the lions to take to her family circus. TV cameras were filming and it was on local news. My photo appeared in the local newspaper, taken with the animals. And can you wonder why, for me, school was so dull and un-inspiring? And my experience influenced my decision to home educate my own children. But that’s another story.....
Sian hosts the monthly gathering of 'Story Telling Sunday'. To take part or read other stories please do visit Sian here, you will be made very welcome.
Thank you for popping by!!