Tuesday, 25 May 2010

running away with the circus

I've just got home from a lovely few days in Brighton. The Clown was there on work, performing in a free outdoor show for NoFit State circus called Parklife. The show was fantastic - the audience was possibly as large as 7000 people. It helped that the weather was glorious: proper summer heat and cloudless blue skies.

The Clown was working quite hard, but I was just looking for an excuse to do nothing, without feeling guilty about doing nothing. It was my first experience of running away with the circus; our camp, in a park in the middle of Brighton called The Level, was behind the performance area and was filled with children, babies and small dogs. I wandered around town by myself - losing myself in the antique and flea market in the North Lanes, admiring the Pavillion from its beautiful gardens, mostly steering clear of the beach crammed with people all turning various shades of shiny red - or I sat in the open doors of our pink starry campervan and read The Cloudspotter's Guide, under a clear blue sky (it's a state of mind).

After the show, people hung out in the park late into the night. The darkness around our camp was dotted with bonfires and fire-spinners dancing to music beating from portable speakers. The Clown and I wandered out to join one of the groups, a raggedy circle collected around a group of dreadlocked fire-spinners and girls playing with hula-hoops in fluid dancing swirls. The fire-staff and poi were mesmerising; was it the light and sparks in the darkness, or was it that these kids were tireless, determined to continue until they ran out of fuel, playing for the sheer joy of the game?

On our last night in Brighton, after the crew and performers had spent a hot day breaking down the set, and I had spent an easier day as a camp follower sorting out the campervan, we strolled down to the seafront and walked out to the end of the pier. It was another perfect evening. We wandered amongst the casino games and tacky souvenir shops and rides, and leaned over the edge of the pier to watch large fish darting at the surface below. Is Brighton Pier a poor man's cruise ship? I was fascinated by it. I always see an edge of menace in a fun fair, an undercurrent of the grotesque, and to have a fun fair on a pier over the ocean is sublime.

There's just something about seaside towns. I'm not sure that Cardiff is one, really, as we are sadly lacking in a beach. It's not a holiday town in the same way as Brighton, certainly.

I'm going to live in a town by the sea one day.

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