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Swamp Circus, part 2 - Dieppe

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

There was one time when we had to put up with Brett for a whole week. Every year Dieppe holds a kite festival. Kite flying clubs from around the world gather there to put on kite flying displays. There are an array of shows and exhibitions, fascinating history and designs of all sorts. It’s certainly worth a visit. Each year, one nation is the guest of honour. This particular year, it was the U.K. There were displays and stalls celebrating everything British. There was even daily Morris dancing shows. The organisers also thought it would be a good idea to have a traditional British circus....


Brett booked us all on the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry. We managed to leave in time to get to the ferry some 300 miles away.


However...


An hour into the journey, it was suddenly remembered that some of the equipment we needed had not been loaded! By the time I’d parked the trailer up safely, turned round, run back, fart-arsed about getting together everything that had been left behind, loaded and rushed back to the trailer, we were running something around two hours late. Reassured that everything was now on board, I gunned for it. Fortunately, the fire engine has no speed limiter fitted. I was racing 65’ of juggernaut along the road a lot faster than I should’ve been. That inevitably lead to us being pulled over by the police. I explained the situation and managed to get a sympathetic ear. Again, fortunately, as it was a showman’s vehicle, it is not subject to the same legislative restrictions as commercial lorries. Brett had long since gone on ahead and managed to hold the ferry. We eventually arrived at the ferry port and were waved straight onto the waiting ferry.


Getting to the town of Dieppe from the ferry is a bit of a round-the-houses affair as there is a swing bridge between the two which had to be circumnavigated due to weight restrictions. On the front, adjacent to the promenade is a recreational area. We set up at one end. Accommodation was provided for the crew and performers (I had my caravan, so stayed on site). Food vouchers were also given out that could be redeemed in any of the participating restaurants. We were made very welcome.


Not being a performer, I was able to relax and enjoy the town; going for walks, etc. It also meant that I could enjoy the evening entertainment, too. Sometimes, some of the others came along to the bars for the earlier part of the evening. I had some interesting nights, especially after I had found the right back-street bars! I have a habit of finding out where the best places to go are wherever I am. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, one or two had become drunk by the time they had returned to their accommodation. Brett being Brett had kicked off, all hell had broken loose and the town mayor had been awoken in the middle of the night by the brawls. It turned out that the mayor lived in the same building as Brett and co were being accommodated! Brett then blamed me for getting people drunk and told me that I was not to go out. I simply told him to go fuck himself and pointed out that my time was my time to do what I liked, especially as I wasn’t being paid (I only got paid for driving. I wasn’t even allowed to help with the setting up and tacking down). I also made it clear that I was not responsible for his circus troupe. Besides all that, as far as I knew, anyone who had been out with me had returned home early and sober and it was he who had decided to kick off at them in the middle of the night, anyway.


The show we put on was well received, though.


At the end of the week, rather than taking it easy tacking down so that we were relaxed the next morning for the trip home via the pre-booked morning ferry, Brett decided to rush the tack down in order to catch the evening ferry, despite the fact that he had to pay an administration fee for changing ferries. Of course, that again meant that he had to go ahead and hold the ferry up while I had to take the long way round!


By the following year, I had a litter of kittens in tow. I was also busy with other things, too, especially the psy-art gallery. (More about that coming soon). I continued to drive the circus lorry whenever I was needed, except on a couple of jobs where I had been pre-booked elsewhere.


On occasions, Brett would arrange to leave the trailer somewhere rather than drag it back to Cornwall then back up the motorway a week later. There was an occasion when the whole rig was left on a site that we had appeared at near Tewkesbury, as the following week we were booked at a holiday camp just down the motorway at Weymouth. I went off to do my own thing and arranged to pick Brett and co up from the railway station that following week. At the agreed hour I was sat in the car park. The train arrived. Brett appeared. But only Brett appeared. “Where’s everyone else?” I asked.


“Just me.” Said Brett.


“Well, I can’t drive both vehicles!” I pointed out.


“I’ll drive your motor.” Said Brett.


“What!?” I exclaimed. “With my caravan!? I did not agree to that!”


Against my better judgement, I had to relent. It was only a short distance. What could go wrong?


We picked up the circus lorry. Before we set off, I stressed that he was not to use his mobile ‘phone, no smoking and to drive slowly. The inevitable happened!*


The holiday park gig was for a well-known nationwide company. The company had asked us to come along and put on a show with the view that the circus show would be extended to cover all their parks as a yearly tour. It didn’t happen.



*see entry My caravan



Photograph courtesy of www.france-voyage.com

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