Dr Sandman’s Tent of Terrors

When I was a wee grain of a Sandman attending sandman primary, the prep school for aspiring Sandmen and Sandwomen, we would have a weekly music lesson as year as a whole. Well, when I say music lesson I mean we had a teacher who would play the piano and we’d sing the words of the songs on the overhead projector, and when I say sing I mean it in the loosest possible sense. Anyway, one of the songs which we would sing was about the circus coming to town and how we all loved to see the clown and his various slapstick antics, a song which clearly has no idea on how people view clowns. Hands up those of you who don’t think clowns are ever so slightly creepy. Oh more then I thought, but there is something about clowns which is just plain odd. A clown’s make up is supposedly copyrighted (and painted on an egg if you are an Avengers fan) so no two professional clowns lookalike and there are castes of clowns, as a clown’s career progresses they slowly become the sad face clown who always makes mistakes while the newbies do all the basic horseplay.

Since the prompt is specific to Circus here’s a bit about Lion Tamers. If you want to be a Lion Tamer and your job is Chartered Accountancy the first thing you should know is that having a hat with Lion Tamer written on it is not going to be the first they’ll ask, secondly have you ever wondered why a lion tamer always uses a chair when taunting the lion? The answer is simple, the lion doesn’t realise that the chair isn’t part of the man so when it attacks it and the man doesn’t react the Lion gives up.

I don’t like circuses myself, never have done, I don’t know what it is I don’t about them but there it is. They are popular in crime and horror stories because they offer an immediate location with plenty of ground for shady goings-on and unusual exhibits to keep the characters and audience guessing. Jack Trevor Story wrote an excellent Sexton Blake story set in a circus which has a very good inversion of the Sherlock Holmes locked room mystery set up, it rapidly becomes a how-done-it as opposed to a Whodunnit as the protagonist is fairly obvious early on, it is available in the book Sexton Blake Detective which features a good cross section of stories from various authors and recreates some of the illustrations from the original publications. A word of warning though: the text is incredibly small and there are numerous typos through out the book (and one story lacks half its final chapter).


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