Every so often, the husband and I decide to overcome our natural cynicism about kid’s entertainment and spend actual money on doing something we think our son might enjoy.
I don’t know why, because experience has definitely taught us differently.
Like the time we took him to a Pontins, and he completely shunned the kid’s entertainers in favour of sitting on a wheelchair. For three days.
Or the time we took him to Thomas Land and he took one look at the Fat Controller greeting kids at the gates and demanded ‘why did we come here?’.
Or the time he absolutely insisted that he would sit through the entire Trolls film, but within ten minutes had shouted at the top of his voice ‘this isn’t very good, can we go home now’ like a mini Peter Bradshaw, if Peter Bradshaw was a 3 year old twat with popcorn stuck to his face.
This time it was the Moscow State Circus.
I’m not entirely sure why the circus was invented. Perhaps someone once saw an elephant dry humping a chair and thought ‘I could charge for that.’
Anyway, this was a show described as being ‘breathtaking in its brilliance’ and given that we could experience this asphyxiation only ten minutes from our home, we thought we’d give it a bash.
The first thing you need to take to the circus with you is a pair of blinkers. Like what horses wear. Because from the moment you enter the ‘Big Top’ you will be beset on all sides by people attempting to relieve you of waaaay more than your ticket price. Pick n Mix outlets. Fast food joints. A light-up-spinny-thing stand that attracts kids like flies to a big battery-operated rainbow landfill turd.
We naturally took thrifty precautions and packed a Tesco Value cereal bar and some council pop. No frigging blinkers though.
You are then funnelled through into the main arena, a 3,000-seater capacity circus ring lit like a submarine brothel. The ticket man grunts for us to take any plastic seat we can find. I now realise this was an invitation to at least get something in return for our money, but at the time I thought he was telling us to sit down.
Once there, I look at the faces of my son and his BFF who has come along to make the experience more expensive enjoyable. They look genuinely excited. Fuck me, I think. He might actually like this.
*SPOILER ALERT: He asks to leave after 35 minutes. But let’s discover if he’s right to want to….*
And so it begins.
The first thing I notice is that anyone performing more than three feet off the ground has a safety line attached to them. Hang on a minute, I think. Surely the whole point of spunking several pounds up the wall to see live entertainment is to have your guts in your mouth the whole time knowing that something might go wrong.
Not that I want to see someone die. Christ, I can get a funny front bum when someone even describes a compound fracture, but there’s a certain frisson in knowing it could happen. Otherwise you’re just watching a group of well-trained adults doing their job. I could do that at work, and even then there’s a slim chance one of us will fall face-first onto a recently sharpened pencil.
Anyway, it kicks off with these two perfectly safe acrobats doing some writhing up a pole. They’re alright I suppose –he hangs off something, she climbs up him, she hangs off him, they spin round something, we clap in all the wrong places. It’s a bit like a naff tribute act for Cirque du Soleil.
Only the problem with getting down off something you’ve been trained to do something up is that you also have to do something once you’ve got down. This is generally some awkward little dance involving a forward roll, flapping your hands and sticking your chin in the air. It is precisely the shit that you yourself could do after a couple of wines whilst watching gymnastics during the Olympics. And then they expect a SHIT LOAD of clapping at this point. For that last bit. That bit that you could do after wine.
But it’s okay, because they need to do a set change, so it’s time to bring on the clowns. Or clown in this instance. Just one clown. Cut-backs I imagine, because of instead of a hilarious clown car that falls apart when he drives it, this one has a bicycle with a dodgy saddle. Although it’s also possible he’s killed the other clowns out back and torched the car, because he looks like he does not want to be here any more than we do.
Which is fine by me, because frankly, clowns can suck my phantom ladyballs. In fact, I am thinking of getting some neuticles inserted into my pissflaps so that any clowns in the general vicinity of my vagina would have something to chow down on. Because clowns are the WORST. I’m glad that clowns are secretly really unhappy. They should be. Anyone who decides to turn their pants falling down into their day job deserves to be wretched. Who in their right mind trips over their own feet and thinks ‘that’s it, I’ve found my calling’?
As far as I can tell, this particular specimen’s skills ran to ‘holding an umbrella’ and ‘exaggerated clapping’. There was a particularly memorable bit in which he swept popcorn from the stage. It was at this point I wished that circuses were still allowed to torture animals…..(joke alert)…..instead of their audience members.
It was also at this point that Edgar asked to leave. God love him. He’s nothing if not predictable. We were obviously hugely tempted to jack it in ourselves, but then there was an unexpectedly emotional bit… when we remembered how much we’d paid for the tickets.
We get the cereal bar out to buy us a few more minut…shit, the cereal bar has been consumed. I repeat, the cereal bar has been consumed. Bring on the emergency crisps.
Next up, the splits 452 different ways. Splits on the floor. Splits up a pole. Splits in a glass bauble. Splits on a tightrope. In fairness, the tightrope thing was very impressive. Not so much the balance, but I once got my lady knackers impaled on a skipping rope when doing Double Dutch in the playground and I thought I was going to puke. This bird didn’t even flinch.
I was also genuinely impressed by a Unicyclist jumping from one seatless unicycle to another seatless unicycle whilst both seatless unicycles were in motion, but this was followed by the clown not getting trampled to death by a no-longer-allowed show horse, so the good feeling didn’t last for long.
The stage was then set for some skinny lads to do somersaults on a swing. Again. pretty impressive the first couple of times, but about two minutes in and they’re still slapping their thighs and going HAH! at the end of every identical maneovre, the Pavlovian crowd conditioned to clap every time in the hopes of a morsel of variation should they do so.
At this point Edgar insisted he was leaving, launching himself from his chair, I imagine in an effort to crowd dive his way to the front to throw himself on the murderous mercy of the clown.
Just as I tried to grab a skinny ankle to pull him back to submission as all those disastrous attempts at ‘family fun’ flashed before my eyes, I suddenly thought, what the hell am I doing? He didn’t ask to come to the circus. He didn’t ask to go to Pontins. He’s never asked to go to the cinema. In fact the only thing he ever asks to do is to go camping, and he’s never once wanted to come home early from that.
So perhaps I should actually embrace all of our cynical twattery and just lay off INSISTING we STAY and have FAMILY FUN GODDAMMIT. At least not the organised and paid for in advance kind. Because the chances are the boy will think it’s a bit shit.
And in a lot of cases, if I’m completely honest with myself, the chances are he’ll be right.
Would you like me to pickpocket you of time and replace that valuable commodity with more of this ? Then allow me to casually bump into you on a busy street whilst you pop your name into the subscribe form that’s at the top of this page (or wherever it chooses to pop up today). Much obliged.