Vibrating Scakes, former Calypso Monarch of SVG and raining In-de-pen-dance Monarch, sent me ah “Whats Up” or “Whats App” message asking what I knew bout de ‘catch phrase’:
“St Vincent Mash up ah Circus.” Actually, ah knew very lickle bout dat story except dey was ah Circus in SVG dat went bankrupt, folded-up right here; things were so bad dat de owners started to “sell off de animals to feed de animals.”
It seems however dat after ‘Sin-Vin-Sin Mash up dah Circus’ dat phrase literally became ah punch line or ‘Nah-shun-all Cliché’.
Whenever ah come-plain to Lie-Za ‘bout de broken state of Sin-Vin-Sin’s E-con-Army, food prices soaring yet salaries remain stck she would say to me: Remember you always tell me dis country going back to de days when “Sin-Vin-Sin mash up ah Circus!”
To answer Vibrating Scakes’ question ah decided to check around. Most people in reply asked if ah checking foh de current Pull-it-tek-all Circus or de original Circus. Even Henry Gaynes, my former friend and colleague recalls as ah youth hearing only about ah Circus dat went brokes, how Syl De Freitas bought some ah de animals including ah Lie-on, and had to buy an Ass every two days to feed Brer Lie-on. Ah called Dennis Mounsey, man wid an elephant’s memory; he only remembers as ah child hearing dat back in de 1930’s, dey was ah Circus dat mash up in SVG. It was located near de Cotton Ginnery way UWI Centre is presently.
But my good ole friend, de late Selwyn Brisbane, ah most loveable, popular and comical character- he loved his Liquor bad, think he would have been ah young man back den, but he gave me personally ah ‘ball by ball’ commentary, an Anecdote par excitamente of his personal experience with dat Failed Circus.
“Dey Circus went brokes!” he said, “de animals were starving, tears ran down de Lie-on’s cheek, Syl De De freitas did in fact buy ah set ah de animals including ah Lie-on. Den another company came and bought out what remained!” Selwyn continued: “Before de company finally shut down de place once and foh all, dey decided to put on ah Final Show wid ah Grand Finale. As an incentive, dey put up ah reward of $ 5. 00 foh anyone who was brave enough to go into de cage wid de Lie-on.” He continued: “yuh must understand dat $ 5.00 was ah lot ah money in dem days.” He gave it some thought and someone saw him coming from de direction of de Circus, and before long it was all over town dat Selwyn was going in de Cage wid de Lie-on dat night.
Show time was 8:00 p.m. Selwyn got dey early at 6:00 p.m. He was hidden in ah tent, given two bottles ah rum to start getting drunk, den de Lie-on tamer briefed him. “ Doh fraid” he told me,” he will go into de cage and calm down de Lie-on, and when it was safe he would give me (Selwyn) de signal to enter.”
Waiting inside de tent, Selwyn heard ah massive crowd outside waiting foh his appearance. At 8:00 p.m. on de dot he heard ah trumpet blasting: “ Tah, tah, tah Taaaar! Tar, Tah, Tarrrr!” De crowd roared, and de Lie-ons roared louder! When Selwyn braced de tent door, de crowd went hysterical. When he looked in de cage and saw two Lie-ons, he immediately sprang into ah panic! He thought maybe he was seeing doubles, after all he had consumed most of de two bottles of de lick-her back-stage. He took ah second look and dey was definitely two beasts: Lie-on and Lie-oness in de cage running round and round angrily. When the Tamer cracked his whip, dey calmed down and Selwyn got de green light to enter de cage. “Dat female Lie-on picked up my odour, she smell me blood!” he said, “and she began to get aggressive again running round and round, and de damn crowd start to shout wid excitement,” He admitted dat he panicked, water and soft stuff running down his pants, he looked back and de cage door was half closed, all he remembers is dat he heard de crowd roaring dat sounded like ah jungle ah Lie-ons behind him , but he was already 200 yards away from de tent. De show mash up after dat! Lie-Za say we thought “we had mash up ah Circus” back in de 1930’s, but she has news foh me, dat Circus is back 21years young, alive and well. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy,
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.