Thursday, 19 November 2009


You may remember that we left our hero, and future owner of this circus, Algernon R. Pettigrew, making his way into the fair city of Edinburgh after being left to his own devices by the Raggle Taggle Gypsies because they were sick and tired of having to scour the Greenwoods for him every time he got lost.

He found lodgings at the "Bide A Wee" Guest House run by Miss Agnes Flotsam, an Edinburgh landlady (of whom it was often said...... but never, ever proved!) who was kind enough to feed this waif up and wise enough to leave him to his inner turmoil - as long as that turmoil didn't involve a lot of noisy crying which would upset the other guests.

After a day or two he felt fit enough to face the world - even that bit of it called Edinburgh - and so, on a fine Spring afternoon he strolled through town, buying a lottery ticket on his way.

Then, that same evening, as he watched T.V. with Agnes Flotsam, he found that he was now a multi-millionaire ex sandwich board man. His eyes lit up. Who needed sandwich boards now. Who needed all that running through Greenwoods anyway. He was sure that was the quickest way to catch Dutch Elm Disease.

At the news of Algernon's good fortune, Miss Flotsam let out an involuntary whoop, apologised and left the room carrying an empty biscuit plate.

Our dancing rover sat staring at the T.V., like a hypnotised rabbit trying to make sense of his new reality.His new position in life was a little daunting but it was certainly more exciting, than squirrels, strange flowers and trees with bark in the shape of a human face.(see previous posting for enlightenment).

Then it dawned on him that Miss Flotsam had been away longer than was strictly necessary to replenish a plate full of "Jammy Dodgers". He was just thinking of getting up to look for her when she burst back into the room, a vision in pink chiffon, the scent of "A Night In Tangiers" wafting all around her and carrying a plate of little pink and yellow cakes which she set down before him on the coffee table.

"Can I interest you in a Fondant Fancy, Algie?", she said in a voice quivering with desire and marinated in Gordon's Gin. "The'yre very moreish."

She licked her lips lasciviously and fiddled with her under wiring suggestively and, for good measure, she fluttered one false eyelash so vigorously that it fell into her mug of hot chocolate.

Algernon was finding that life was suddenly becoming so much more interesting. All of life's pleasures - even the forbidden ones - were being laid before him on a plate. Oh, he sighed, with guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasures, guilty, guilty, guilty, pleasures.

He eyed Agnes' swelling bosom and the curve of her hips. It was his turn to lick his lips now. It was all there, just in front of him. All he had to do was reach out and take it.

So our hero reached out and........picked the pink Fondant Fancy nearest him!. Then he picked another and another. Then he fell asleep in front of a repeat of Holby City and Agnes retreated to the kitchen and sobbed her heart out and didn't care whether the other %^@~~~** guests heard her or not.

Miss Flotsam was disappointed in a sort of Olympian way at the failure of her seduction attempt. Coming second to a fondant fancy is hard even for the most philosophical of women and the nearest Agnes had come to Greek Philosophy was the kebab shop owners musings on Edinburgh's local business rates.She was not a quitter,though. After all there were multi millions at stake if she could hook this "slippery little minnow".

Next morning there was an extra sausage on his plate at breakfast and she had taken the trouble to stuff his mushrooms with some delicacy, or another, which on questioning, she was slightly evasive about. Algernon was suspicious. Even his stint n the Greenwoods had not taught him to trust mushrooms. Things could go either way with mushrooms.When Miss Flotsam went pack to the kitchen to get more toast Algernon saw his chance and stuck them down the back of the settee, hoping that by the time she found them he would have moved on to pastures new.

On the day that his winnings cheque cleared he sought refuge from Miss Flotsam's attentions at an afternoon performance of the circus which had just arrived in town.

He had never been to the circus before and was absolutely enchanted. Then, it suddenly dawned on him. Here was the family he craved. This was the biggest and best family in all the world and, what was even better, was the fact that if he owned it and was paying the bills they could not leave him behind. Why, even if he got LOST they would HAVE to look for HIM.

Without wasting another second he went to his bank and came back in a couple of hours with a suitcase full of money.

He burst into the owner's luxury caravan and demanded to buy the whole show "lock, stock and barrel".

He fully expected to have to haggle but five minutes later he was the proud proprietor and the slippery little sod of an ex owner, whose character I have already given you, had burned tyre marks into the grass outside the caravan and was already history.

Pettigrew sat down on the couch with a contented sigh. Was it all a dream? He pinched himself. No, it wasn't! He was home, home at last.

Just then the door flew open and there stood N. Osferatu, the circus business manager/accountant/sword swallower. He was not a happy man, but then he never was.

Still, that's another story!

Our last picture shows the aforementioned Mr. N. Osferatu in one of his better moments.


Friday, 6 November 2009


I thought it an opportune moment to start an occassional series featuring some of the Dramatis Personae of this travelling "Circus of Dreams" and where better to start than our proud - if often perplexed owner - Algernon R. Pettigrew.

He took over the circus shortly after I arrived myself and is generally regarded as a decent sort, if a little child like and naive. He is certainly an improvement on the previous incumbent of whom it was said, "if he entered a revolving door behind you, he'd be waiting for you on the other side, ready to pick your pocket".

Algernon was born to a travelling rat catcher and a mother who was, well let us just say, "well travelled". Times were tough when little Algie arrived in the world but, as well as his rat catching work his father had just started a side line in organic sausages and, not to be outdone in the entrepreunerial stakes, his mother toured the dockside bars of their hometown singing bawdy songs and selling kisses to sailors who did not seem at all "put off" by her glass eye and missing front teeth. She was one of the few among us who could truly say (to paraphrase the song)that she'd seen what the boys in the back room would have - particularly as she was the one thatgave it to them. As long as they paid for it she didn't care!

Algernon was a fey, dreamy child and while his peers were playing games during the break, he could be seen staring up at the passing clouds. It was during these childish reveries that his dinner money was invariably stolen - so he was a fey, dreamy AND skinny child!

He left school with no qualifications other than a gold star for being in charge of Miss Winterbottom's Spring Bulbs in Primary 7.

A succession of jobs followed. He was briefly employed putting holes in doughnuts at a local bakers but he left after a couple of weeks complaining bitterly about it being an empty experience.

Being fey and dreamy and forgetful was not much help in his next chosen occupation for, after the third time of finding himself in the High Street without a stitch on because he had forgotten to put his clothes ON AGAIN, he was fired from his job as a life model at the local Art College.

It was third time lucky though. He answered an ad. placed by an Oriental Carpet Merchant who was holding an exhibition of his wares at a prestigious nearby Hotel and needed a Sandwich Board Man to tell the world about it.

Algernon's ability to walk up and down half a dozen streets over and over again, stand motionless at strategic street corners for half an hour at a time in the wind and rain and go for a very long time without needing to go to the toilet stood him in good stead.

Soon he was advertising everything from hats to holidays and carpets to car doors and he would have jogged along quite nicely too if some jobsworth on the local council had not decided that sandwich boards were an Elf and Safety ishoo. Overnight sandwich boards were banned from the town.

Algernon was distraught. He took to covering his old round and standing motionless on street corners with his arms held out to mimic his missing sandwich board.

No-one is exactly sure but it's reckoned that it was about this time that he came into contact with a representative of the Raggle Taggle Gypsies (you know, the ones that "laughed and sang as the Greenwoods rang") who suggested that a spell with them might help him to see the world afresh.

Well, young Algie saw a good many Greenwoods and did his fair share of laughing and singing in them in the next few weeks. The whole experience did him a power of good. It really took him out of himself. It was a real tonic and much better than expensive therapy. There was just one problem.

Algernon had a bad habit of getting distracted as he danced and skipped his way through the woods with his merry companions. It might be a flower he had never seen before, a squirrel, or a peace of bark that looked like someone's face - the result was always the same.

As the strains of "a hey and a ho and a hey nonny no" drifted off into the distance our hero would be staring like a hypnotised rabbit at whatever had taken his fancy this time.

A half hour would go by before his Gypsy host's would realise he was no longer among their number and then a great "hue and cry" would echo through the trees until he was safely back in the bosom of his adopted family.

After the umpteenth time this got to be rather wearing for the Gypsies. You can't really blame them. After all, it takes away from the joyous sponataneity of the "laughing and singing" bit if you have to break off to launch a full scale manhunt every so often.

One morning, thinking it the kindest thing for all concerned,the Gypsy Folk rose extra early and left him asleep under a tree on the edge of a wood near Edinburgh.

Rosie, the pretty young girl in charge of the tambourine had formed quite an attachment and she brushed away a tear as she looked upon the baby faced troubador for the last time.

She knelt down and gently placed a four leaved clover in the breast pocket of his jacket, blew him a kiss and then parted forever. It would be quite a while before the words "hey nonny no" passed her lips again.

When Algie awoke. He ran through a gamut of emotions: mystification, shock, panic, anger. One moment he had a family and the next he did not.He wondered what he had done wrong and knew in the bottom of his heart how much he would miss them all but he knew he would miss Rosie most of all. Never to hear the jingle of the little silver bells around the edge of her tambourine again was a terrible prospect.

Eventually, he realised he could not sit in the woods forever. They were damp with dew and he did not want a flare up of the old trouble again. He had enough to deal with as it was.

Reluctantly, he rose from his woodland bed, yawned and made his way into the fair city of Edinburgh.