When I was a child, I lived on a dairy farm in a large family. We children were often sent off, on rubbishy old unmaintained bikes to get the milk from the farm buildings half a mile away. We used a gallon cannister to dip into the bulk tank and had to switch on a huge electric paddle to agitate the milk so you didn't just get cream. While this sounds all very ooh ahh and Lark Risey the reality was far from hilarious, particularly if you had the daily newspaper tucked under one arm as well. The bike ride back could forever and involved lots of wobbling,stopping, adjusting the cannister and setting off again. Dangerous and quite scary.
I sometimes wonder if my parents were really training us to be clowns and ride the high wire. Sometimes, I wonder if, in my case, that's exactly what I ended up as. Bowler hat, red nose, water pistol in one hand, cycling all wobbly, along the high wire. Today felt just like that, but in rehearsal. There was no one else in the Big Top, and I was just trying to perfect the act, in private. No lights, no stink of sweat, greasepaint and sawdust. Just an icy wind sucking and blowing the canvas.
The knife throwing act was a load easier.