It’s not every day that you get the chance to turn a childhood dream into reality. Over the last 17 years, I’ve been performing all around the UK and overseas – 17 countries to date, and counting! – but in its own special way the experience I have just enjoyed here in my native Cornwall is right up there with the very best of them.
I’m talking about Flambards at Helston – the place of so many fond childhood memories.
It seems like only yesterday – instead of a quarter of a century or more ago – that I was heading down that way as a starry-eyed youngster and enjoying what was even then a whole host of magical activities and entertainments at one of Cornwall’s top visitor attractions.
I longed to join them, having set my heart on becoming an entertainer from the earliest of ages.
I don’t recall circus workshops and performances there when I was a kid, though. Things have clearly moved on a bit – and for me that meant the opportunity to turn that dream into reality. I returned to Flambards not as a spectator but as a performer. I was there for 9 days, performing twice daily and also leading circus workshops.
I got to do my stuff on stage, with plenty of my trade-mark silks and some fire but also I got to perform with feathers exploding out of my head, just like those dancers I admired so much in my youth. There was even an illusion where I magically seemed to split my co-performer in two.
And before you ask – no, I can’t tell you how it was done. Magicians never share their secrets, after all!
But one thing I can’t help sharing with you is the wonder of performing at a place like Flambards – and seeing the looks of wide-eyed joy on the faces of the children watching you . . . just as I used to look on in awe at all that Flambards offered me, as a child, all those years ago.
And then, to top it all off, I take a bow with the famous Ferdy, Flambards well-loved mascot. Yes, he was also there when I was a child; I certainly loved him then, just as all today’s kids clearly do, too.
One way and another, it all added up to a memorable first fortnight’s performing in Cornwall since I returned here to live.