The Wishbone Alphabet – an experiment, of course, with attitude, life and the eponymous soup.
I think I was five, maybe five and a half, because it was summer time when we trooped to the circus to chortle at clowns and be brought to trepidation by the snarls of lions; in those days animals worked the ring, it seemed natural to us; and when the trapeze artists spun in the air time must have stopped.
If I was five years six months four days ten hours forty minutes and three seconds old, that’s how I stayed for the duration of the act. Not a clock ticked, not a heart dare beat.
Resplendent in spangled fringing, like birds made of jewellery, with make-up so huge we could see their red smiles, even miles and miles up in the domed tent roof, they jumped without fear so I loved them.
I dreamt of them. I woke up, I thought of them.
At home there was a swing in the concrete yard. Seagulls spread refective white wings above me in clear blue sky, the ground was sharp with hot afternoon shadows.
If I could work up enough velocity, I would also leap into flight.
In my mind, my spangled fringing flew through an immaculately executed forward flip, landing expertly on satin feet.
Reality was head first.
I was brave, having my stitches, the nurse gave me a lollipop. The shape of the blood splashes, perfect splats, were utterly fascinating, almost symmetrical. I didn’t know why my mother looked so pale, my blood was falling out, but I wasn’t afraid. I did not understand grown-ups at all. Delicious faux strawberry lollipop stained my mouth red.
I must have timed something wrong, that was the only set back, my head was neatly fixed. I cleaned my teeth that night, my face was left sticky from the lollipop. In the morning bits of pillow fluff were stuck to me. Like tiny feathers.
This time I hit the back of my head, and my blood stayed in. I discovered that concussion makes you feel giddy. Maybe I had not built up enough speed. Maybe I needed a costume.
The swing was moved to the garden, which had a hedge full of distracting wild cats and chatty yellow snapdragons.
If I need to be brave, though, jumping is a persistent metaphor.
|The would be aerialist, aged 35 and seven months, dressed for the halloween circus.|