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  • 'You've got to fucking pull it 'arder than that mate', bellowed the thick set man in the two tone lilac and white track suit pants. One of his Tom & Jerry ham joint legs was tucked neatly into rubber boot número uno. Numero duo had two tone brushed cotton rucked up around the mouth like a crumpled synthetic elephant leg. His hair was a vague crew cut and an only faintly smouldering roll up cigarette hung from a damp clammy lip, sending minute stuttering smoke signals over the hill tops of several chins. He was, thought Waldo, a fucking slob. But he was in charge of raising the proverbial big T, so WTF. And no matter how far this brilliantined task master had fallen from his athletic prime he was a card carrying circus insider, and Waldo was not, so Waldo pulled harder.

    'That's more like it', said the task master. 'Get them sparrows legs straining. Got to get this fucker up before the shitting rain comes in'.

    The 'shitting rain' came in, like whatever it was that the cat was supposed to have dragged in.

    At the circus profanity is, it seems, as everyday as popcorn, thought Waldo. Or candyfloss, spun effortlessly, but with no small amount of magic. Cockporn and fannycloss. He had never sounded convincing in his swearing. A fact only marginally outdone by his ability to look at home with a cigarette. But he could hold an audience with a story or a tale. Or, even, the prestige of a bit of prestidigitalism, turned to the rare and quixotic art of escapology, no less. The simple bare and matter of a fact truth being that we are all in a bind connected with the crowd, for we are all trapped in some way or other - all wrestling and string at the straps in some way or the other. Whether we know it or not. And so, with that metaphor consciously or subconsciously in mind, most punters that passed Waldo in the street were more than happy to toss him a coin and stand for a moment, projecting their inexpressible binds into the grunts and groans of a small , compact and muscular man on the sidewalk..

    But only just muscular enough to pull his corner of the big top four feet shy of the mark where a derisive circus hand waited with a cold tent peg and mallet. Two clowns in civvies took up the slack and helped Waldo make the mark. ' Trick is', the older of the two leered, 'to treat it like a bird. It says it ain't gonna stretch or bend no more, and then you fucking open 'er up like a spatchcock and give it to 'Eric 'ard.' you could tell they were clowns because many years of leering in an exaggerated fashion had not washed off with any amount of greasepaint down the plughole. The genuine smiles and subtle nuances of mirth had long gone down that swanee in a thousand witch haze soaked balls of cotton, in an all round eagerness to get to the boozer. Throttle brothers circus had 7 clowns in its retinue. These two were low in the pecking order, for even in the world of Clownery there is an order, didn't you know. At the top is Pierrot, who drinks alone and will not relinquish his lone tear drop. This cavalry class clown has a lineage which is wrapped up in operatic snootiness, and no Pagliacci equivalent has ever been penned for the next in the social order - a relatively modern archetype - the coco or bonzo clown. All resplendent in tail coat and flapping soles on size 16 feet, his foam red nose and brutally shaved receding hairline rests upon a perma shocked face of white greasepaint and cruelly thin lips. Waldo could tell the Coco clown, not only from his artificially receded hairline, that was beginning to grow back around the forehead, but the thinness of the lips that were dotted with the derisive beads of mocking saliva. 'Run along you little cunt' he spat. 'When giving hand jobs to real men gets the crowd cheering, the fucking ringmaster will give you a call'.

    The smell of horseshit, obscene demob clowns, track suited bully boys and the barely resisted sideways sneer of a lithe Asian girl (exquisitely drawn inked in carved dragons and thorn branches) could not put Waldo off. He must have her. He must have the circus. Even if it meant the clowns and the camargue ponies, for that matter, having him. Everyone here was switched on to sensuousness, gravity, and chance, and the shuffle of a hand that can mean, in an instant, either instant prestige or perennial purgatory.

    'That', as the clown said to the broken necked trapeze girl, 'Is how the potato mashes'.
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