My Circus Diary

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  1. #1

    My Circus Diary

    My Circus Diary


    Ian David Bradcott

    Aged 14

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    This is my home

    This diary belongs to Ian David Bradcott of Family Circus UK

    Address: Somewhere in Great Britain

    The World
    The Solar System
    The Universe
    More space

    Anyone finding this diary is requested to smack its bottom and send it home.


    ​Monday 15th June,

    When I woke up this morning it took me all of 2 seconds to realise today is my 14th birthday. I’m getting old, well 14’s ancient; I remember this time last year Mum said I’d never see 12 again. Uncle Doug bought me this diary for my birthday. Seems strange getting a diary in June, but Uncle Doug’s got a weird sense of humour.

    Uncle Tony came to wish me happy birthday, he’s the ring disaster, I mean ringmaster of the circus my family owns. He’s worried about Clovis who is one of his four cats, she’s gone missing; I hope he finds her soon as he tells me she’s going to have kittens.

    When I was having my flakes Mum gave me my birthday card and a box of chocolates. She says she’ll give me my main present after my birthday party, which is on Saturday. They’re giving it in the big top after the last show.

    What I’d like more than anything is to have my dad back, he got killed when I was 10, he was trying to do a quadruple somersault from the trapeze, but he didn't quite make it. He was part of uncle Doug’s act they are called the Flying Bradley’s. Uncle Doug is the catcher, then there’s my cousins Bob and Mary, the other part of the act was dad. Uncle Doug is training Peter who is his youngest to be part of the act. Peter’s a year younger than I am. It was after dad died that Uncle Doug decided the act would no longer perform without a safety net. I don’t want to join the act when I get older; anyway I’m scared of heights so mum’s training me to become a juggler, which is what she does in the show along with her elephant act.

    Great uncle Patrick who was uncle Tony’s dad started the circus. He used to own a funfair, but he sold the lot and bought the circus off someone who could no loner run it.

    So dear diary, I must stop and get some sleep, got to be up real early tomorrow.

    Tuesday 16th June

    Mum woke me at 6.00 and dragged me out of bed. I have juggling practice three times a week before school. So after my flakes Mum and I headed over to the big top. While on our way to it she told me she wanted to bring a new element into my training. She wants me to get used to riding a bike with one wheel. That’s going to be some fun. Practice usually takes about a couple of hours after which I have a break before going to school.

    We have a special school here at the circus, how many kids have a converted single-decker bus for a classroom? We call our teacher Tiny, but his real name is Mr. Clark. He’s big, I mean really, really big. He towers over uncle Tony who is well over six-feet tall.

    My best friend is Chris Hunter his Dad is our transport manager, he calls Tiny the Hunchback of the circus ‘cos he has to bend a bit like the Hunchback when he’s in the bus otherwise is head will hit the roof.

    You’d think us kids at the circus would have a good time. Wrong! Our parents are very strict with us, they have to be. Mum says the circus can be a very dangerous place.

    One day she caught Chris starting up one of the big trucks. He’d taken the keys out of his Dad’s coat and headed over to the truck and started it up. Mum saw him, went over to the truck and literally dragged Chris out of it by his ear, she then put him across her knee and gave him a good spanking. Chris got another spanking from his Dad and then he got sent to bed for the rest of the day.

    So dear diary that’s another day over still no sign of Clovis.

    Wednesday 17th June

    I woke up at four this morning and found I’m in love. She’s called Chen Liu who is part of the Diabolos a diabolo act. She’s only 12, and comes from somewhere in Shanghai. I wish I could say, “I love you” in Chinese.

    Wednesday night’s the night Peter, Chris and I actually get to appear in the show. We become part of the Francesco clown act. During the act Paulo and Jimbo dash into the audience and drag three kids from it. Of course, we are those kids, but we’ve got to make it look as though we don’t really want to go with them.

    As soon as we’re in the ring we have to put on plastic capes and hats as the act involves us throwing a lot of water about. Paulo throws a bucket of water at Peter, and then Peter throws one to me. Paulo then takes a bucket and throws a lot of water over Chris. This goes on for a few minutes, and then toward the end of the act, Peter, Chris and I pick up a bucket each and rush toward the ringside seats and aim the buckets at where the jossers* are sitting. They think they’re going to be drenched with water; instead all they get over them is newspaper cuttings. When the act comes to an end we return to our seats until the interval and then we wander about the tober** or go back to our living wagons and watch TV.

    That’s the end of another day. Still no sign of Clovis.

    Thursday 18th June

    In school today Tiny was in the middle of simultaneous equations when Chris got a fit of the giggles. The trouble is once he has a fit of the giggles he passes these on and it’s not long before everyone else starts to giggle, including Tiny. 8x + 3y = -1

    My love life doesn’t get any better, how can I tell Liu that I love her? She’s so cute and so is her sister. I wish I had the courage to go up to Mr. Yip their translator and ask him to tell Liu how much I love her. Peter and Chris laughed their socks off when I told them about it.

    As I had some money from my birthday I decided to treat Peter and Chris to a night out. The town where the show is playing has a funfair so we headed for that. Chris and Peter tried to get me to go on the frizzby but I didn’t want to go on it. Chris called me a chicken and Peter started making clucking noises. I went into the arcade and started playing the coin pusher. Put ten pence in and won five quid. Joined up with Chris and Peter and showed them my winnings. Peter was jealous as muck. Anyway, I bought them a pizza each. Chris wanted another go on the frizzby so did Peter. While they were on it I went and tried my luck on the pusher and won another five quid, well you know what they say, it’s the luck of the Irish. I returned to find Chris and Peter both looking a bit green in the face, I looked at the ground and saw the reason why they looked so green. That’s the last time I buy them pizzas, serves them right.

    When we got back to the circus Uncle Tony called us over to the generator truck. He was like a kid on Christmas morning jumping all over the place. He took us into the trailer and pointed to a cardboard box. I went over and looked into it. There was Clovis, she had had her kittens. Uncle Tony said she must have known that this was the safest and warmest place for her to have them. He said that if it was all right with our parents then we could each have one. I took the huff when Mum said I couldn’t. “But mum!” I pleaded

    So dear diary another day ends and Clovis has been found.

    Friday 19th June

    The antis were out in force today. They’re the people who complain about the use of animals in circuses. Mum went gorilla with one of them. She noticed he was eating a McDonalds. She accused him of being a hypocrite, then she told him if he thought the use of animals in circuses was cruel, what about the cruelty involved in bringing him his burger. He just stood there open mouthed. Next thing I saw was the burger lying on the ground. Our circus is regularly inspected by the RSPCA who have found that we treat all our animals well.

    After school I went over to Jimbo’s caravan to help him get ready for our Saturday visit to the children’s ward of the local hospital. Its great when we go and see all the kids faces light up as we perform our clown act. We even do the bucket act, although we don’t use water, just the newspaper cuttings.

    Last year we ended up in a police cell, apparently there was a robbery in the town, as it happened the robbers were disguised as clowns. The police stopped the car we were in as they thought we were them. Jimbo managed to call the circus from the police station. Uncle Doug and mum turned up and told the police who we were.

    Practice today went fine, I’m managing the bike with one wheel and I’m getting quite proficient at juggling while I’m on it. Mum had to buy a new chain saw as one of the saws she juggles with no longer works. I asked if I could try juggling with them, you know what she said? She said as soon as Nelson gets his eye and arm back.

    Saturday tomorrow and tomorrow night it’s my birthday party.

    Saturday 20th June

    After breakfast went over to Jimbo’s caravan to put my make up on and cut up some more newspaper cuttings for the bucket routine. Peter had beaten me to it and already had his make-up on. When we were at the hospital Peter saw this kid who had fallen down a cliff, he had both legs and arms in plaster. For the first time in my life I saw Peter cry.

    He has a fierce temper and when he looses it, it’s best to stay clear of him. We had a fight once and I came off worst. On the way back to the circus he held out his hand, I took it and shook it. “I’m sorry,” he said, “for all the bad things I’ve said and done to you and Chris.”

    We got back to the circus in time for dinner and the first show of the afternoon. We do two shows on a Saturday and by mid-afternoon I was beginning to get excited about my party after the last show.

    As soon as the last show had finished and when the big top was cleared of the jossers*, things were got ready for my birthday party. The band played the music and in the centre of the ring tables were set up with all kinds of goodies. Peter and Chris stuffed themselves as usual; I annoyed them by singing I’m forever blowing pizzas. Then someone put out all the lights. The next thing I saw was what looked like candles in the centre of the ring. The lights went up and there was my cake, which was in the shape of the big top, which Chris’ mum had baked.

    The band played happy birthday, and then I had to blow out 14 candles. I cut the cake and then mom cut the rest of it into slices and invited the guests to take a slice. I got some more presents. Uncle Tony came over with something in his hand; I looked down and saw it was a kitten. “But mum said I couldn’t have one.” I told him. I looked over to Mum; she came over and said, “if you could have seen your face the other night, of course you can have one of Clovis’ kittens. It’s one of my birthday presents to you.”

    When we got back to our living wagon Mum said she had one more present to give me. It was a gold pocket watch, which opened to reveal the watch face. On the back was an inscription, which read “To my dear son Ian on his 14th birthday.” I got choked up, mum said “Dad would have been so proud of me.” I know one thing I’m very proud to have had a father like Ian David Bradcott senior.

    Sunday tomorrow and moving day.

    Sunday 21st June

    Its moving day today and we’ve got to pack and store everything for the move. Uncle Doug, Mr Hunter and Pablio Wycezkieovski, I know, you should try saying it, I tried and had a sore throat for a day who’s our Polish tentmaster have already driven over to the next town to mark up the ground so that everyone knows where to park and where the big top is going to be put up.

    Pablio is the most important person in the circus. He has to ensure that the ground where the big top is to stand is properly marked out. He is responsible for everyone’s safety while the big top is not only up, but also while it is being built up or pulled down. Uncle Doug told me the Poles make good tent men and we have quite a few with us at the circus.

    Mum also has to see to her two elephants and that they are suitably watered and fed before the move. Their truck is long and fully air-conditioned. Guntram Williams also makes sure that his tigers are comfortable for the journey.

    As soon as uncle Doug, Mr Hunter and Pablio returned, uncle Doug got ready for the last show. Mr Hunter came over to our living wagon and started the engine of the tractor that will tow it. As the tractor has been idle for over a week Mr Hunter says it takes at least twenty minutes to warm the engine and get the battery fully charged up. As soon as it was ready I climbed into the cab and joined Mr Hunter ready for the move to the next town. During the journey Mr Hunter told me that when Great Uncle Patrick started the circus in 1946 it cost about a couple of hundred pounds to move the show, now it costs thousands.

    As soon as we arrived at the next town, Mr Hunter hooked up the Calor Gas to the living wagon and made sure everything was OK. He then left me and took the truck he drove when he came to mark up the ground back to the old town where he will give a hand to pull-down the big top.

    I’m not totally alone as I’ve got Robbie McMurdy and his wife to keep me company. Mr McMurdy looks after the advance booking office. I like them and we often share a cup of tea and play cards to pass the time.

    Very soon the new ground begins to fill with people’s living wagons, caravans and the big trucks. About half nine uncle Doug’s living wagon pulls onto the ground. At the same time I make my way back to our living wagon to put the kettle on for mum, as she will be gasping for a cup of tea when she arrives. As soon as I see the elephant transporter I know mum has arrived as she drives it herself.

    Mr Hunter and uncle Tony are the last to arrive. Uncle Tony likes to make a final check of the old tober to see it is left in a tidy condition and Chris’ Dad makes sure that everyone is accounted for and that there have been no breakdowns on the way from the old town.

    Tomorrow’s Monday and we have to start all over again. Anyway, the first week of my diary is complete.


    * Jossers, circus slang for the general public.
    ** Tober ground where the circus sets up.
    "Rules were written for the obedience of fools
    and guidance of wise men"

    "Goodnight John-Boy."

  2. #2
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Not bad. I think the premise is good as the circus has a lot of scope for a neat story.

    Now some comments: first thing is you have a lot of run-on sentences here. I always feel a bit of a responsibility when dealing with childrens' and YA writing to be as correct as I can be, and not spread any bad habits. I know that rules are there to be broken but I swear that excessive run-on sentences, while conveying a sort of slapdash youth's voice reasonably well, tend to undermine younger readers' ability to easily tell what is what, if you see what I mean. It's like those back-to-school signs where "school" is spelt S-K-O-O-L or the C is backwards or something. Toys'r'Us I am looking at you.

    Love this line:
    "I woke up at four this morning and found I’m in love."

    I think even more than the comma splices is that ... not much actually happens. A cat goes missing, and is largely sidelined until she has kittens. What else? A pretty girl shows up from China ... and gets two tiny mentions before vanishing. Think about how you can hook in readers. Intrigue them; make them want to explore.

    As an aside, my older daughter (9) is reading Anne of Green Gables, and I read a chapter to her last night at bedtime. I'd never read it before. Holy hell that is a fantastically-written book! Look:

    On the following day Mr. Phillips was seized with one of his spasmodic fits of reform and announced before going home to dinner, that he should expect to find all the scholars in their seats when he returned. Anyone who came in late would be punished.

    All the boys and some of the girls went to Mr. Bell’s spruce grove as usual, fully intending to stay only long enough to “pick a chew.” But spruce groves are seductive and yellow nuts of gum beguiling; they picked and loitered and strayed; and as usual the first thing that recalled them to a sense of the flight of time was Jimmy Glover shouting from the top of a patriarchal old spruce “Master’s coming.”

    I really need to close out this Robin Hobb and sneak some AOGG into my readery. But what's my point? Other than a desire to share this literature, don't underdeliver to your readership just because your readership is young.

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  3. #3
    WF Veteran H.Brown's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading this piece. It was funny at times and also captured a sense of futility towards the end. As Bd has pointed out there are some parts that need a little more attention, but overall this is a good piece of writing, it captured and held my attention and I would definitely read more.
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  4. #4
    Thanks for your feedback all points noted.
    "Rules were written for the obedience of fools
    and guidance of wise men"

    "Goodnight John-Boy."

  5. #5
    There is a lot here that could be further expanded on for sure. I wasn't put off though by the lack of serious action. It's a diary, and maybe this week that's all that happened. But since it is fiction, all sorts of stuff could happen.

    A tiger could get loose somehow. Maybe a couple of the clowns don't actually get along outside of the big top.

    Possibly one day, that triggers a mishap during their show. More about Ian Jr.'s take on his nomadic life style.

    And yes, don't mention the girls and not develop that into something more substantial! He's in Love! What exactly does she do in their act? He could go watch them practice and they get to talk after. Or he watches them perform later, and has to tell her how much he was impressed by whatever it is she does.

    Must be some adventures they could find themselves in. Like that loose tiger. He could save her from it somehow. Okay, maybe that's a big dramatic, but hey, it'd be fun! Show us more of the elephants and his mom. Name the animals. I hope there are horses in here somewhere! Lol!

    All in all, I liked it.


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