Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chapter 68 - Swingers & Mingers

Chapter 68 - Swingers & Mingers

I was right about Jonny. He was nice and easy-going and as soft and velvety as his black curls. Like a milk-bath, a vanilla-scented spa treatment or an afternoon with your favorite uncle - he was JUST what I needed. No fake laughter. No bull. We were both clumsy and awkward with the diabolo, either failing to catch the spinning object on half inch of string or sending it flying off at random angles.

I have to admit, as predicted, I DID giggle. Especially when it nearly hit the loudmouth that I'd thought was Jonny. And, NOT as predicted, Jonny WAS funny. Not in a laugh-a-minute, joke-cracking way. More of a slightly 'off-the-wall', observant way. I didn't want to crack a smile and be predictable but I couldn't help it, what with his daft comments and playful jibes. He was a funny guy!

Ross and Darren were slightly annoying as they kept stopping the cameras from rolling and asking me and Jonny to face left, or face right so that the angles and shots were good, but with Jonny's soothing way I soon found myself not so aware of them and, I have to admit, I actually DID start having some fun. The loudmouth turned out to be a regular at Circus Space and, I imagine was more of a clown in his real life than he could ever pretend to be in a circus. Of course, once the cameras were rolling he was drawn to the spotlight like a moth to the headlamps and it was only a matter of time before he started appearing, by 'accident', in the background. Jonny could see that Ross and Darren were getting annoyed and handled it expertly, turning to face the guy and charming him into the action.

"Hey, c'mon over here. You look like you know what you're doing."

Of course he was delighted and couldn't get close to us quick enough.

"Right," Jonny smiled, "show us how you do it."

And the guy obliged. With each hurl of the bean-filled juggling balls he mutated into the clown. And with the camera crew zooming in on Jonny and his new friend, at least it took the pressure off of me!

"You're a natural!" Jonny encouraged him.

"Thanks!" he guffawed.. And then proceeded to mutate into that clown even more. I glanced down to notice his wide-legged stance to see that his feet were huge! All he needed was the red nose.

"Hey," he chortled, mid-juggle, "why won't cannibals eat clowns?"

"What?" Jonny frowned at him, and then us, and then back at him again.

"Because they taste funny!"

We all rolled our eyes but the camera was specifically on ME when I did. Just my luck. Bet I look ridiculous!

Our collective groan clearly didn't deter him, as he rolled out another line,

"You know, my dear departed uncle was a circus clown before he died…"

Suddenly he stopped juggling and stood, motionless, the juggling balls cupped in his hands as the animated version of him ceased and we saw his shoulders sag as he stared down at the floor.

That makes sense then! It's all falling into place. It's obvious now! His uncle was a circus clown and he wants to continue the family tradition. I can just imagine him as a kid, sitting in the big top clapping and grinning, full of pride for the funny uncle, the favorite clown in the entire troupe. A little boy, like in those Hovis adverts, in his hand-knitted, woollen jumper, clapping and cheering louder than any child in the crowd….

Just as I began to feel a little empathy for the guy he broke his trance and spoke, his voice quiet this time….

"Yeah… He was a great circus clown before he died. I remember all his friends came to the funeral in one car!"

We paused. Then it sank in. And the guy burst into life again, laughing as he shouted, "Honk Honk!" in a loud nasal impression of a car hooter.

He was awful.

Nobody laughed.

And then just when we thought we were stuck with him Jonny surprised me by grabbing my hand and pulling me over to the trapeze net and ladders.

"OK, so who's going first?" he smiled at me. He has the most stunning blue eyes. I can't help but notice.

"Not me!"

"OK, let's go up together. That ladder looks scary."

"I don't want to go up there! It's too high."

"C'mon," he took my hand and squeezed it, "let's go up together." Then he leaned in so close to be out of the microphone pick up zone and whispered, "and we ARE supposed to be on a 'date'. At least let's flirt a bit, hey?"

He's lovely.

"OK," I agreed and took his hand as the cameras followed our steps to the base of the high ladder leading to the trapeze swings.


I squealed at the trapeze - my god, they are just SO high. It's been years since I've been on a playground swing, never mind perched on a thin rod suspended 50 feet in the air. Net or no net - I was petrified! Of course, I fell. About 9 times. And Jonny was there, at the side of the huge bouncy net to help me down. In a strange way it was all rather therapeutic. The suspending myself in the air, the concentration required to try and juggle three balls at a time… It was almost like those team-building events where, regardless of the egg-heads you work with, you still come away feeling a little better about yourself, slightly more at peace with who you are.

And I have.

Jonny has, unbeknown to him, restored my temporary loss of faith in menkind.

Chapter Sixty Seven
Chapter Sixty Nine

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