Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Big Top (for Pat Thistlethwaite)

Pat screams whenever she sees one. And the spiders always scream back but no-one can hear them. 

The bigtop circus has come to Pat's town. Tonight Pat's with the kids in the ringside seats:

Row: 1,
Section: A,
Seats: 10, 11, 12. 

A tarantula stirs uneasily under Pat's seat. It arrived in a box of banana flavoured candy floss. Those sweet-toothed chimps will never know how lucky they were. Let the show begin!

First the whimsically musical clowns. Some with red noses. One with a bottle of scotch. 

And then the rest of the show in order: a glittery-sexy girl on the flying trapeze, a fire eater and his burning breath, a juggler juggling bottles and balls, a tightrope walker holding tight to his balancing pole, a snake charmer and his hypnotic serpent . . . 

. . . Pat screams. The spider screams. The snake screams. The children scream. The adults scream. What can it be? Has a lion escaped?

People are running in all directions. Send for the police! Send for the army! Bring on the clowns! It's complete panic. Cancel the chimpanzee's tea party.

It seems like almost  everyone has a mobile phone held high to record the scene; several people are yelling down their phones to their relatives, saying we are okay. Several others are speaking to TV anchors, describing what they think they have seen.

Approaching sirens can be heard in the distance.

And now there's the thrum and clatter of a helicopter hovering overhead. Next, a strident metallic noise is demanding surrender. There is no escape, it says. 

All at once all the lights go out. Stun grenades and smoke bombs are exploding. The top of the tent is suddenly on fire.

Pat takes stock of her situation. She slips the kids under the tent flap and they all creep quietly away. The cobra and the spider follow at a distance.

The chimpanzees run away screaming; a blue flashing light some distance behind them. 

Later there's Breaking News on the TV tickers: Suspected terrorists holed-up in candy floss factory refuse to surrender . . .

Will the sweet-toothed chimps come out with their hands held high? Will the snake charmer find his cobra? Will the tarantula find it's way into Pat's bathtub? Did the juggler drop his balls? Did the big top burn to the ground? Did the lion escape? For technical reasons these and other questions must remain unanswered.

No animals suffered abuse or injury during the making of this unlikely tale. 


  1. Oh but I do want to know what happened to the clowns; they had the scotch!

  2. I think, speaking as Pat's kid, in the nonfictional world we did go to a circus once, twice maybe. I don't remember it being as exciting as this though. Thank god for fiction.

  3. Unlikely? I think it is a fair scenario for me if I actually found a tarantula under my seat, circus or no circus.


  4. Maybe the clowns had the scotch and are now selling burgers. Well done and flame grilled no doubt.

    It was just a silly bit of fun based on Pat's fear of spiders, as she posted on her blog. Thanks for the comments.


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