The circus has come to town. Me, I haven’t been since I was eight, and a fire-eating clown scared me half to death. It’s an event here though, and when I find discount ticket vouchers at the local café I ask my daughter if she’d like to go.
‘Of course, daddy,’ she says, looking at me as if scarcely able to believe that my forty-odd years haven’t equipped me to come to such conclusions on my own. ‘It’s bunny’s birthday. It’ll be a special treat for her.’
Saturday comes and my daughter arrives downstairs in the morning with bunny.
‘How do you know it’s bunny’s birthday?’ I ask, as I pour her a bowl of some cereal which is more-or-less just a packet of sugar-lumps.
‘It says on her bottom. Look,’ she says, tipping bunny up and showing me a label with a date of birth printed on it.
‘Oh yes,’ I say. ‘She’s six, like you.’
‘I’ve made her a card and a cake,’ my daughter says, rummaging in her book bag and pulling out a card with a picture of a cake on the front and a cardboard cake, which she stands next to it on the table. ‘Happy birthday,’ she says, hugging bunny. ‘I made you a card and we’re going to the circus later. I bet you’ve been looking forward to it for ages.’
At the circus I buy my daughter some candyfloss and we sit inside the Big Top amid the smell of sweat and damp tarpaulins. My daughter finishes eating and puts bunny on her lap to enjoy the view. I’m half-scared to death again, this time by the gymnastics of the trapeze artists high up in the canopy. But as the show goes on I begin to enjoy it.
At the end we walk out and I ask my daughter what she thought of it all.
‘Good,’ she says, as she does when I pick her up after school.
‘Oh,’ I say, disappointed.
‘Don’t worry daddy, bunny liked it. That's what's important.’
I smile and put my hand on my daughter's head, wondering when I’ll ever go to the circus again.