The first time. Steam lifting from dampened grass; sweet pungent haze,
halo-ed crimson against the tented stars. It’s a theatre of senses; a temporal world you can only visit the once if you are to tumble through magical transformations and return.
Blue: plumed horses hoofing sawdust, whirling speed; Orange: tigers leaping wild-flame; Green; the solitude of acrobats suspended, spinning silks. Red: the reckless, po-faced clown who sawed my dad in half to a delighted, ebullient crowd.
Years later, I am sharing the foxed programme with the maestro ringmaster, now stooped with cane, cocked topper and a jamboree of memories. The print is as bright as his eyes and he retells colourful travelling tales in blue, orange, green, red.
Beneath the stars my father still shuffles slowly. The years have healed his injuries- no regrets. In a world demanding rehearsal and precision, the performer’s worst time is always their first time. And practise, my friend, makes perfect.