Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Must the show go on?
The Greatest Show On Earth came to Chippenham last week so at the weekend we took our five-year-old daughter to see it.
Bobby Roberts Circus is one of a dying breed of travelling shows and you have to wonder how much longer they can keep going in a world of computer games, digital TV and Simon Cowell.
I can remember going to Bily Smarts when I was little and the Big Top being just that, a cavernous tented auditorium that seemed to be the size of Wembley Stadium.
Maybe that was just because I was five but in comparison to the ramshackle affair that pulled in to Allington Farm it was another, altogether more exciting world.
Bobby Roberts Circus carries a certain amount of controversy wherever it goes because among its acts is a live elephant.
Animal rights campaigners have called for people to boycott it because of that but there was no evidence of anyone listening at the weekend when about 200 people turned up, which is about 150 more than I expected to see,
There were two forlorn-looking animal rights activists (although I've seen wheelie bins looking more active) outside the entrance yo the show site. They were waving a sign about animal cruelty that was so small visitors were in danger of driving into the horse enclosure trying to read it.
They had a point about the elephant though. A more pathetic, wrinkled and lumbering creature I have not seen outside of England's back four at the 1998 World Cup.
It was not actually performing but was led out into the ring at the interval to allow the owners to charge punters £5 a time to have their picture taken with it.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to have a photo of themselves next to what is almost a corpse but nevertheless the queue stretched all the way round the ring.
It was touch and go whether the poor elephant would live long enough to make it to the end of the queue, though doubtless the punters would barely have noticed.
The elephant is supposed to be in retirement but I reckon the circus made the best part of £100 out of it while it was having its picture taken.
Most pathetic and painful of all was that it obviously realised where it was and kept attempting some half-remembered routine from decades ago that involved putting one foot up on to a platform that wasn't there any more.
I'm sure the creature is as well looked after as possible, and I am certainly no expert, but make it schlepp up and down the M5 for a living doesn't seem much of a retirement plan.
But if the poor old thing is bringing in £100 a show you can see why they do it. Just one photo a day is enough to keep it in buns and hay.
The rest of the show was okay, there were some good acrobats, a juggler and a strongman, all of whom left my daughter and her friend saucer-eyed, but it was all a bit tame for a cynical old git like me.
I don't know if it was the fact that the balancing act had a paunch and a mullet or that the clowns were about as funny as bowel surgery but it all seemed a little cheap and run down, as if the show family responsible were trying to squeeze a last few quid out of the public before the whole industry, like that poor old elephant, gasps its last.
But then again maybe that's what my mum and dad were saying 40 years ago on the way out of Billy Smart's.