“It’s the circus!” she says. “Surprise! It’s the circus!”
You look into the field. “It doesn’t look like the circus,” you say.
“Of course it is. What else would it be? Look at the big top.” She helps you over the gate and you walk towards the tent. Inside it is loud and smoky. There is straw on the floor.
“Why are there so many men here, Mam? Where are the other children?”
“It’s a special circus. It’s just for special children. Not many children are allowed in. But I see one over there!” She points. There is a little girl on her father’s shoulders.
“I don’t know if this is the circus. Everything is grey and brown. Circuses should be colourful.”
“That’s just in your books. This is a real circus. It will be wonderful.”
“What is that man saying?”
“He’s the ringleader. He’s telling us about the show. He speaks very quickly so it’s difficult to understand him. He’s probably excited. He wants everyone to get excited.”
“He looks like a farmer. He has wellies on.”
“He does, doesn’t he? Look! Here come some animals.”
“Those are cows. Why are there cows in the circus?”
“They are circus cows. Very special.”
“The men are patting their backs. I still can’t understand the ringleader man.”
“It’s a circus treat. A pat of the circus cow’s back. You would never get to feel a lion’s back like this, would you? Do you want to try?” She brings you down to the edge of the ring and you lean over and pat a cows back. It is big and hard and warm. The hair is scratchy.
“That’s pretty good,” you say. “Can we sit down again?” She walks you back up to the seats. The men around you are discussing the bad weather. “I think these men are farmers,” you say.
“Why shouldn’t farmers come to the circus?”
The ringleader talks and talks and talks. Sometimes one of the men shout at him. You try and have a shout but your mam tells you to whisht.
Later on some horses come out. They look fat and old. The ringleader talks and talks. “Will they do any tricks?” you ask. Your mam shrugs. The ringleader talks for a long time and the horses stand doing nothing. Eventually a gate is opened and they walk out the other side of the ring.
“Are there clowns?”
She looks around. “Those are clowns,” she says, pointing to some fat men standing at the edge of the crowd. They look like farmers too, but they do have big red noses so you watch them to see if they will do anything funny.
“Can you sit here a second?” asks your mam. “Stay right here, I’ll be back in just a second.” You sit and watch the cows. She comes back with a cardboard box of chicklets.
“Those are chicks!” you say.
She nods. “Magic chicks. Just you wait to see what they grow into. You’ll be astonished.” She is grinning.
“I don’t know if this is the circus.”
“Relax! It’s the circus! Enjoy it. Look around.”