A day at the circus

We had a new starter last week. So we thought, 'what better way to introduce somebody to Gandey World Class Productions than to send them to the Gandey's Circus'! It turned out that not only had he never been to one of our circuses before... he'd never been to any circus!

Here are his thoughts:

I've never been to the circus before. Well, that's not strictly true. I don't remember ever going to the circus. 

I'm told by my parents that they did take me once when I was about four years old, but my older brother didn't like the clowns - so we never went back. I have a hazy recollection of elephants performing in the ring (back when the the use of animals was commonplace), but I don't know if it's a real memory, or a false one picked up vicariously through television.

So, when I was asked to visit Gandey's Circus in Aintree last Friday, as an introduction to my new role, I had no idea what to expect.

I knew there would not be animals, so I pushed the images of elephants balancing on balls and lions being tamed with chairs out of mind – images that had been ingrained by years of cartoons. But what did that leave? 

All I could picture were clowns. Curly red wigs, painted white faces and round rubber noses. The same clowns that made my brother cry when he was five. I imagined them squirting water from a fake flower, tumbling out of a comically small clown car, and throwing cream pies in faces. Suffice to say, my expectations were not accurate.

When I arrived at Aintree, the iconic Big Top stood tall in the famous racecourse - the vibrant red tent easily visible against a muted backdrop. I was amazed that they had managed to erect such a large tent in such a small timeframe. The racecourse had been battered by Storm Doris on the previous day, and Gandey's had made the decision to take down the Big Top in the interests of safety. The dedicated team then worked through the night to reassemble everything in time for this performance.

I felt a tingle of excitement as I entered the Big Top, and it soon became clear that the feeling was shared. There was a buzz of anticipation from kids and adults alike - all waiting to enter the main arena, and many passing the time by playing fairground games and enjoying the candyfloss.

What surprised me most on arrival were the various smells in the Big Top. I had expected this aspect of the circus to have departed along with the animals, but the tent was filled with a delightful aroma of burgers, hot dogs, candy floss and popcorn, all accompanied by the scent of grass and the great outdoors. 

It all seemed incredibly familiar. Maybe there is a distant memory of my childhood circus trip rattling around in my head somewhere – if so, it has definitely been drawn closer to the surface.

The show itself was fantastic. I wouldn't want to give too much away, but the 'Thrill Circus' moniker is no exaggeration.

The acts ranged from wholly impressive displays of strength, athleticism and dexterity; to gravity-defying heart-in-mouth moments that had me perched on the edge of my seat. The fast-paced action was coupled with a sound and light display that would give any theatre a run for its money.

Oh - and there wasn't a curly red wig in sight! There was a clown, however. The fabulous Chico Rico from Mexico! Chico kept the audience entertained between the thrill acts with his own style of razor-sharp physical comedy. When he starts collecting volunteers from the audience, be warned - you're in for some belly laughs!

I came away from Gandey's Circus content that my day was a success. I learnt a great deal about what a circus in 2017 is actually like - a more modern experience than I'd presumed, with up-to-date references, songs that all the kids will get, yet still retaining the traditional atmosphere that a circus needs.

I already have plans to visit again further along in the tour, but this time I'll be taking my family along (assuming my brother is over his fear of clowns).