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Saturday, 28 February 2015

1 elephant (usual tricks)

In researching the circus and performing animals for The Boy with the Tiger's Heart I came across this advertisement for an unrivalled opportunity. If I'd been alive in 1888 and had the cash I think I would have taken it up. The reference to the elephant (usual tricks) and the fact that it rides a velocipede -  also that the purchaser can be taught how to make them perform in a fortnight - is breath taking. Although it must have been an amazing sight in those days for people who had never seen these animals lets hope we continue the ban on performing animals in this country and try and stop it all over the world where it does still continue.

Unrivalled Opportunity
(on account of family arrangements) a LARGE THEATRE OF PERFORMING MONKEYS AND LEARNED DOGS. WITH A MINIATURE CIRCUS consisting of  a PERFECTLY NEW TENT, CHAIRS AND BENCHES FOR 800 PEOPLE, PROVIDED WITH Carpets of good quality, the interior well lined with very good carpets, the ceiling of  good canvas, the scenery oil-painted and richly decorated; for the outside there is a very pretty frontage with a show gallery, ornamented with pictures. The whole has only been in use for one year, and has been well taken care of; in short; it is all new. 5 VANS. 1 caravan, 1 van for monkeys, also contains a kitchen,1 van for elephants, horses, goats. Sheep, dogs and other animals – 1 ELEPHANT (usual tricks)rides on a velocipede, is worth 15,000francs, 6 WELL TRAINED DWARF PONIES,4 SHEEP (a performance never yet shown), 15 MONKEYS and 12 DOGS, equally well trained – All these animals are trained and guaranteed, and the purchaser can be taught how to make them perform in a fortnight.  The whole will be sold for 40,000 francs.

The talk to 250 school children in Wales about the book went down well I think - mainly because of the paper tearing trick I suspect. If I'd had a small elephant riding a velocipede with me I daresay it would have been a sensation. I talked- amongst other things - about the inspiration for writing the book including my hatred of Health and safety and all those ridiculous signs and warnings.

 Here is Pixie. There's a sign on the other side of the gate saying No Dogs Beyond This Point too. She is very obedient.
 And here she is back in the country of her forebears. I took her (and Beezle) to Ireland. She caused a lot of heads to turn. Apparently you don't see many of them out there. Perhaps because there are no wolves.
the last of the hyacinths - funnily enough these are called Pink Elephant- fill the house with their heady perfume.

Beezle enjoyed his trip to Ireland too - he spent a lot of time in the meditation centre. As he and Kalu Rinpoche would say - "We will never again have the chance to be born with a body like this one."

The Circus Animals' Desertion 

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.


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