My memories of Clacton in 1982 are a hazy mixture of imagination, Spider-Man, Superman and Batman costumes, the smell of jacket potatos mixed with the salty air, a huge amount of freedom that would shock today's helicoptor parents, a videogame arcade, fairground rides, Dracula ice lollies, adventures around a caravan site, losing at least one milk tooth and many, many other things that concern a five year old turning six. I was a circus kid and our circus had stopped touring.
Around me raged drama, anxiety, laughter, conflict and all the trappings of the great traditional circus in its last valiant death throes; spectucular live performances juxtaposed against a world set for change but not quite there yet. My father's dreams and my mother's nostalgia.
We were working in buidings now, like our cultural ancestors in the Victorian era. Back then temporary circus buildings were replaced by permanent structures like the Hippodrome in anticipation of ever-growing circuses. Now we had swapped in our canvas to work in ice rinks, theatres and pavillion buildings. We arrived just two years into the pier being bought by a consortium of businessmen who sought to bring back the dolpinarium and renovate the old Jolly Roger building. Apparently this would be the last performance given at the building. Now, in 2017, the old structure is about to host a circus again.
My father recently discussed our time at Clacton. Here are his words: