Sunday, 8 December 2013

Circus, anyone?

Flying trapeze and other childhood excitement.
THESE days, I am not at all interested in the circus. I really can't see the great excitement of watching people doing all sorts of daredevil acts, or making animals perform.

As a kid, though the thought of running away to join a circus had never occurred to me, I was really excited to go to a circus with my family. A troupe from China came down rather often, those days when I was small -- around the 60s. I think one of the troupes was called 大天球 (Big Sky Globe). There were flying trapezes, tigers, etc too. But the "star" performance was that of motorcycles ascending a huge cage shaped like a globe, in a spiral manner. Three or four riders would be defying gravity and roaring round at such a speed-- enough to give the audience vertigo. I always feared that one of them would fall and knock off the others in their spiralling.

There was noise enough to beat the F1. But as a kid, I loved the deafening roar. There must have been a "tiger show" as well. I vaguely remember a poor tiger obeying its master to either sit on a stool or beg or its hind legs at the crack of the whip. My sympathy was for the tiger more than for the trainer who may be eaten alive any moment.

I do remember the flying trapezes. Of all the other circus acts besides the crazy motorcycles, it was the flying trapeze I loved most. It may not be by chance that I sewed myself a blouse with two long pointed ends that reminded one of my colleagues of the costume worn by the flyers. For a while, my nickname was "flying trapeze" as I "floated" around the office in my "trapeze" outfit.

In Cantonese, flying trapeze is known as "hoong joong fei yen" (person in mid air). There was a story being broadcast on the radio around the time called "Lai Gwai Juei Hoong" (Lady Ghost Pursues Murderer). Being still rather mesmerized  by the flying trapeze act, we nicknamed this programme "Lai Jun Fei Hoong" which translated into Cantonese means "Milk Bottle in Mid Air" -- which sounded more interesting than its original title.

Stories on the radio were Class Acts for the family in those days -- especially thrillers like Milk Bottle in Mid Air. Milk Bottle was aired around 11am I think, and I remember wishing it was broadcast in the night instead, so that I didn't have to worry about going to school later. Then there was the 6.30pm one when Lay Da Sor came on air with his renditions of Gu Long's sword fighting tales.

Between catching up with these stories and going to the circus, I would give the circus a miss.

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