From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Le Cirque est Roi!

The circus came to town!  Our non-horsey friend C is visiting us, so when we spotted the colourful posters attached to lamp-posts around the town, we decided that in the interest of exploring French culture, the three of us (Martine, Anne and C) would splash out the €5/head and see what a small French circus is like.

This circus was French... and it was small - in fact, it was the smallest Big Top any of us had ever seen.  I had jokingly said to C that there would be 200 small kids plus parents and us ould wans from Ireland - I was wrong.  200 small kids would have burst the tent at the seams, never mind their parental escorts.  We did a rough count and reckoned there were about 80 people present all told.
A section of the crowd
Hmmm, 80 punters at €5/head == €400.  We could see straight away that these guys are not making a huge profit, so we weren't expecting much.

First we had Mademoiselle Laura, who did stuff with hula hoops.  Laura had been selling tickets five minutes earlier, but she had taken off her red gilet and seemed a bit under-dressed for the time of year.  To keep warm, she's wearing a lot of hula hoops in this photo.

Two feet...

Then there were the horses.  First a little skewbald guy who didn't want to be there.  He went around with a mulish expression, and half-heartedly bucked every so often, much like many riding school ponies I've seen.  I get the feeling he's been in this job for too long.  Anyway, he did his tricks and trotted out with a relieved expression on his face.

Four feet (he wasn't keen on this at all)
Take a bow... he was good at this!

Then there was a sparky little cremello pony.  My guess is he's learning the ropes to take over from the skewbald.   He trotted around with ATTITUDE and did a sort of dance with his trainer, which students of Natural Horsemanship could easily emulate.  Then he did his final trick and trotted out, still sparky!
Two feet on podium.  Note Mademoiselle Laura is working
away in the background, getting the popcorn machine going
Mademoiselle Laura quickly divested herself of the red gilet and presented herself in the ring again.  This time she climbed a rope and did all sorts of acrobatic stuff while hanging from the rope.  The ringmaster/animal trainer/her Dad? held the rope steady and was, perhaps, prepared to catch her, but his fielding skills were not required today.

Wow, she is bendy
Ringmaster/animal trainer/dad is spinning
the rope here while Laura does stuff.
Actually, this was pretty impressive!
 Then we had the camels.  Or rather, we had the dromedaire first, followed by the chameau.  French is much tidier than English here, and always differentiates between the two species.
Here's the dromedaire doing his trick
Two feet on.. wait, I'm seeing a pattern emerge here
Then the chameau came in.  He was pretty impressive, although I don't think the name Rambo suits him
Ringmaster/animal trainer/dad tried to give the crowd a little Natural History lesson and talked about how the different animals move their legs when they walk/trot.  This is a subject which is endlessly fascinating to dressage aficionados, (especially when we see the dressage camel doing his flying changes) but I suspect it was over the top for most of the people present, especially seeing as the majority were less then five years old.

Anway Rambo finished with his trick, and strolled majestically out.
I started to get "arty" with the photos.
The "two feet" trick was beginning to pall 

Rambo was followed by a small clown act.  There was only one clown, and he was small.  I've a strong suspicion he was the young lad who had taken our tickets as we entered the tent.  He played the trumpet (quite well) and engaged in some repartee with ringmaster/animal trainer/dad, some of which I could follow.  The little kids were giggling anyway, and seemed to enjoy it all.

The intermission followed, during which small clown sold souvenir flags, Mademoiselle Laura sold candy floss and popcorn and parents went out for a much needed smoke.

The second half passed quickly... there was a little donkey who did his trick...
Oh look! Two feet on a podium!
To be fair, he had another trick as well, he jumped over a small pole that small clown held, then when small clown raised it higher, he went under it.

The donkey's final trick was that he's an absolute sweetheart.  He went around the ring and stopped in front of all the small kids and stood patiently while they petted him.
I want a Donkey!

The final exotic animal came in - a llama from Peru.  He seems to be young and doesn't have any trick(s) yet, so the wooden podium stayed where it was, ringmaster/animal trainer/dad continued his discussion about animal gaits and then small clown led the llama out.

The final act was... TaDa...... Mademoiselle Laura again, in another aeriel performance, this time in a ring dangling from the Small Top's top.
Anne's comment : I bet she'd be good at Pilates!
Ringmaster/animal trainer/dad then said their thank yous and farewells, small clown and Mademoiselle Laura waved and smiled at everyone and we all filed out, to find small clown and ringmaster/animal trainer/dad at the exit saying Merci, Bon Journée to everyone as they left.

Within an hour, the small top was down, with an extra man appearing from nowhere to pitch in with the family and help disassemble and pack up.

Did we enjoy ourselves?  Well, yes.  It was a small operation, to be sure, but it gave us a brief glimpse of the life of a small-time circus family as they travel through France, working hard at the only life they know.  At €5/head, it was well worth the money, but there is no way these guys will ever get rich doing this - at best they made about €500, having spent two days in Céreste.

Will €250/day keep the show on the road?  There's a lot of hay to purchase : the animals were all well fed, and apart from the grumpy skewbald, all seemed reasonably content.  There's three large trucks to keep fuelled.  There's four (we think) humans to feed.

Will Mademoiselle Laura stay with the show?  She's the centrepiece, and she also chips in and does whatever needs doing along the way - I bet she even drives one of the trucks.

Will people continue to go to the circus?  This is a big question for Irish circuses too.  This one is in Céreste once a year - with such a small population, will audience numbers be sufficient to keep them going?  It's hard to say, but the small kids loved the show, with one small boy remaining in his seat long after the goodbyes were said, in the hope that something else would happen!

I wish Le Cirque est Roi well, and I hope that they continue to introduce les animaux exotics to small children for years to come, with Mademoiselle Laura continuing to bring a bit of sparkle to small country towns for another few years before she is drawn away by the lure of a bigger Big Top.

1 comment:

  1. We've often talked about the hard life of these small family circuses. I suppose when they go to the larger towns the takings are better but how great that they still visit the small villages. There is a much larger circus called. Zavatta that goes to Apt (station) the square in Cereste is not large enough. Long may they continue before health and safety step in to spoil the children's fun