There is something fascinating about a circus even now but 50 years ago they were mysterious, exciting, smelly, colourful and totally irresistible to a young girl when the opportunity to do a fashion photo shoot at one of the two large Australian circuses arose
Models, photographer, and me with elephants, Tigers in cages and clowns...oh it was such fun and the people of the circus were a delight, they were like a large and united family so when the matriarch invited us to her trailer for afternoon tea we accepted with alactrity!
as we sat in her incredibly comfortable and spacious accommodation something kept poking me in the back, I moved around in my seat only to find that whatever it was had moved to my shoulder blades. Immersed in the conversation going on around me I really wasn't taking a lot of notice, just registering some discomfort...that is until....the lobe of my ear was pinched tight and something very bony was stuck in my eye!
Apparently my reaction was hilarious, I can't imagine why as I'm sure it's quite normal to jump up and scream when you suddenly find a very small monkey attached to your face!!!!
It turned out that this small scamp had taken a liking to me, which apparently was unusual, it had been abandoned by its mother and was now in residence in this immaculate trailer.
For the next hour I adjusted hems, pinned dresses, directed poses and generally irritated the photographer all whilst that small creature perched on my shoulder and investigated my face which did mean I had a finger stuck in my ear, my mouth, up my nose and in my eyes!
I was very young, that's my excuse anyway, so when offered, I accepted and left at the end of the day with monkey in tow.
The reception was mixed when I arrived home.
My grandmother was easy, she always was, my mother was concerned about where to keep it and my father was not a happy camper at all but eventually it was settled and we introduced it to the litter tray found a large tea chest for a bed and when we went to bed I went to sleep with my arm hanging over the edge of the tea chest and my finger held in an up breakable grip.
When I woke in the morning our positions had not changed, my finger still in that amazing grip even though it was sound asleep.. How sweet it was, how innocent. I decided it was not going to be abandoned again, poor little thing......
We lived in what my father described as decaying grandeur full of antique furniture, chandeliers, velvet drapes and hand painted wallpapers. But for all that it was a comfortable family home that was always full of family, friends and any stray animal that came along so really there was no reason for this little mite not to have found a home at last....
My eternally accepting Grandmother never raised her voice, was never shocked, never cross.
I have one of those names that can be shortened in a variety of ways and was rarely used in its entirety so I knew something terrible had happened when my full name was called in the very loud voice of my Grandmother
The scamp and I raced downstairs
We were ushered into the lounge room
Have you ever seen a chandelier hanging upside down?
Velvet ribbons had replaced the drapes
We no longer had a tufted chaise longue!
It would appear that 8 inches of monkey could do an enormous amount of damage as it had had fun swinging, slipping, leaping, hanging and sliding whilst we had slept
As it turned out the Matriarch was not surprised to see me later that morning and seemed to take in her stride my absolute turn around when it came to supplying the forever home for the scamp and
she was not surprised I had been given the ultimatum
"It goes or you go"
Monkeys, it turns out, are not meant to be pets.