Home' Nova National : NOVA JULY 12 Contents contained lists of winter courses soon
to become available. One in particular
caught my eye: LEARN CIRCUS SKILLS.
During my childhood in the 1940s,
I lived in a house adjoining the Glen Iris
playing field and Gardiner's Creek. In
those days, the oval was more like a
rambling paddock and, once a year, Perry
Brothers Circus camped there. I spent
every day after school befriending the
circus folk and helping to feed the
animals. All I ever wanted to be when I
grew up was a trapeze artist. I wanted to
wear silver leotards, ballet shoes and a
golden hairnet over my hair.
Peering now at the words CIRCUS
SKILLS, I fumbled for my glasses to note
the telephone number. Scribbling it on
the back of a Woolworths receipt I hurried
on, noticing the pain in my back had eased.
An hour later, Jade and I strolled
back through the park. Frozen in
time, the same group of men huddled
motionless around the chessboard. A
couple of teenagers in school uniform
sprawled on the grass beside push bikes,
kissing passionately. I dragged Jade to
"Look at these interesting courses. I
want to enquire about the one on circus
Jade looked at me as if I'd just ann-
ounced I wanted to swim through toxic
"You've got to be joking!"
"No, I'm serious."
"But Aunty Jo, aren't you being a little
unrealistic? You're turning seventy two
"What's age got to do with it?"
"Circus skills! They wouldn't let a
woman of your age through the door!"
I felt a petulant pull at the corner of
my mouth. "Just a simple bit of juggling,
maybe. I don't know..."
"A course like that's for kids! Look
at these other ones -- ceramics, water-
colours, macramé -- or what about Gentle
Aerobics for Senior Citizens if you insist
on being physical?"
"No, it's circus skills I want to learn.
You know, smell of the greasepaint, roar
of the crowd."
"Aunty Jo, I know you're a Leo but this
is ridiculous. Come on, let's go over there
© NOVA JULY 2012
and smell those beautiful roses. They
won't be in bloom for much longer."
She strode ahead like a bossy hockey
teacher. With a sigh, I observed the Big
Top in my mind deflate and crumple to
the ground. A sturdy, iron walking frame
with rubber tips replaced the tightrope.
"Smell this! It's beautiful. The red
roses smell quite different from the yellow
I felt the twinge in my back return and
"Aunty Jo, don't look so gloomy.
You're babysitting the grandchildren to-
night, remember? They love it when you
jump up and down."
In an attempt to save face, I spoke to
Jade slowly, as if she were a small child
who needed to have things explained
"So can't you see how circus skills
would come in handy for someone my
age? I'm teaching the children little tricks
all the time."
"You mean you want to teach them
how to juggle and stuff?"
"Yes, That's all I'm trying to say. Juggle.
Twirl a drumstick."
Thank God I hadn't mentioned the
"Well, that's all right then. A great idea!
Smell this one. It's unreal!"
For the moment, I agreed to smell the
Feeling like the cat who'd just swallow-
ed the canary, I peeked inside my bag to
check that the phone number was still
there and we continued along the path,
knees bent, heads down, sniffing the
blooms until we reached the wrought
iron gate. Jade enveloped me in a big hug.
"Bye Aunty Jo. Have fun."
"I will. Don't worry."
Striding down Mozart Street, I scrabbl-
ed for my mobile. Squinting at the scrap
of paper, I hit the buttons. A cheery voice
'Good afternoon. Circus Skills and
'Hello, I wonder if you can help me....'
By the end of the conversation, the
pain in my back had completely
disappeared. The Big Top in my mind
was ablaze with lights and pigs were
definitely flying overhead.
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