It was a long time ago. I was about nine or ten, old enough to go out with friends without the parents being around, although in my case I was old enough at a younger age than that. That’s another story though.
I was with my friend, who for this story I’ll call ‘Mandy’, she’d managed to get tickets to the circus. I’m not sure how she’d obtained these tickets and I thought it best not to ask. I can’t remember if it was the school holidays but I’m guessing it must’ve been because I’m not the sort of person to have ‘mitched’ off. (Taken time off without permission). It was about an half hour walk for us to get to the park where it was being held. On entering Central Park, we noticed the huge colourful tent taking up residence on the green area where we’d played a thousand times before. The only time I had ever seen a tent like that before was on the TV. It was the circus tent, The Big Top, as it was called.
Now, when I was young, circuses would feature animal acts although I can’t ever recall liking animals. It was a case of ‘taking them or leaving them’ which suited me well. However I got closer to a particular animal than I could ever have imagined.
We’d stood in the enormous queue for what seemed like an hour or so but was probably a lot less and, being children, were bored with the waiting. as we’d moved along with the queue we noticed a corridor, or something like that, and it wasn’t busy at all. As we were keen to get in and get a seat, we decided to go an explore a quicker way in. At the time we didn’t see any reason for us not to have done that.
Feeling like we were being really naughty, we proceeded to follow the path along the corridor, unaware of any danger. It wasn’t long before we noticed somebody coming towards us but feeling brave, decided to carry on. As the figure came closer we noticed that he wasn’t alone. Walking beside him was a beautiful, muscular TIGER. A real tiger. he wasn’t on a lead or anything, he just kept close to his trainer. They passed us as casually as a dog owner in the park. We didn’t even flinch but carried on walking. That was until a clown, who’d noticed us trespassing, came over to us and began to tell us to get out and queue up like everyone else. He changed his mind quickly when he saw the trainer with his tiger and decided to show us a better way of getting to our seats. He wasn’t happy with us though, which was odd because we’d thought he’d be really jolly considering he was a clown. Believe it or not, but we hadn’t realised how much danger we had put ourselves in until we became adults.
Actually, on remembering this occasion, I’d begun to tell myself that it hadn’t even have happened and thought that it was just a dream. That all changed when I bumped into ‘Mandy’ one day, a few years ago. It was the first thing we spoke about whilst having a cuppa. She was just like me and had thought she’d imagined it for all these years. Finally I could come to terms with what had happened and say to my friends and family that… I’ve been up close to a tiger…
Many thanks to Google for allowing me to add relevant pictures.