|"Hi, I'm looking for some casual work," I told the clown. He didn't speak, he just scratched his head of fake spikey hair, pulled a silly face, then pointed to a caravan with bright red sidings. When he cartwheeled away I walked in the direction of the caravan. "Wow!" I nearly got run over by a horse in fine livery ridden by a girl of maybe five or six.
I knocked on the door of the caravan and it was opened by a tiny little man in top hat and red military type uniform. "Can I help you?" he asked.
"I'm looking for work."
"Can you push a broom and wield a shovel?" I nodded. "Like animals?" I nodded again. "You're hired." He waddled off and I followed. The horse that narrowly missed me was now munching happily on a bale of hay. The child was busy brushing its tail. "You need to shovel up the droppings, lay fresh straw, sweep the yard, polish the harnesses ... the list went on and on. Now, I wanted to work but ...
"Help, get an ambulance." The clown came rushing out of the tent. "Serina's had a bad fall," he explained. I had my phone out in seconds. Dialling 999 I was unsure of the address. "Cranford Farm Park," the clown told me. I rushed to the entrance to direct the ambulance. "She fell from the horse," the clown told the paramedics.
The horse was pacing in its stall, obviously upset by the incident. I removed its trappings, stroked its head and slowly it calmed and started munching hay. "You're a natural," the little man said. "Do you ride?"
"Never tried," I responded.
"Well, now's your chance. Someone's got to replace Serina." I looked at him in amazement. I had never even sat on a horse. Now he expected me to do tricks? "Don't look so worried. All you gotta do tonight is stay on. The rest you can learn tomorrow."
The clown held the horses reins and showed me how to mount. It was a struggle but I made it. "Nice horse," I whispered as the beast began to move. "Wow, slowly boy."
"It's girl. And you're perfectly safe. We use this old girl to train the kids." I didn't feel safe. This thing beneath me had a mind of its own. I was not in control. "I've got the reins for now but you really need to learn to control the horse yourself." We began to walk around the ring with the clown leading. "Move with the horse." I tried, I really did. But I was terrified.
"I'm never gonna get it. I want to get off. Please," I begged. Just then another horse galloped into the ring, ridden by the little girl. I watched as she stood on the saddle, did a handstand, rode facing the tail, spun round, then under the horse, before dismounting with a somersault. "There's your replacement for Serina," I declared. "Get me off this thing and pass me the shovel."