Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Elephant poo pong: not news. No elephant poo pong: news


It has been said my strongest point is the number of weak points I have. The theory being, I suspect, that a great number of weak points add up to something mighty strong, which is pretty comforting. But boasting is not my strong point, in fact it could be seen as one of my many weak points. Anyway, that’s not what I came into your house to talk about today. And it’s not why you invited me.

For many of you, I’m here because you clicked onto the wrong key, the other lot, who came with intent, form my tiny band of discerning disciples. I call you disciples to my only real friend. It’s our little in-joke, we keep to ourselves. Well, we used to, up until now. Followers sounds so weak, don’t you think? Bryan and his Disciples is much better. Must make you feel kind of important. I know it does me. Perhaps that’s because I’m Bryan.

Assuming you are the former, you can leave now, if you haven’t already left. If you want to join the latter, you have to go through the demeaning process of clicking on the button implying you want to follow me. That doesn’t mean you actually get to follow me. If it meant that it’d say ‘stalk me’, wouldn’t it? But don’t worry, in my eyes, and my only real friend’s eyes, you will have become a Disciple of Bryan. I bet you’ve never been one of those before. You can put it at the top of your CV, if you want, and I’ll send you a reference. You’ll have to pay the postage, as I won’t put a stamp on it. Well, it is my paper and ink.

But no more caboodling about with nonsense, let’s get down to brass tacks. You don’t see so many of those about since the invention of Velcro, do you? I don’t, anyway. Perhaps I need new glasses. No, what I wanted to talk about today was circuses and elephant poo. The circus has come to Conil again. A fact that would’ve completely passed me by had it not been for the posters on all the lampposts, and anything else that doesn’t move in the pueblo. And let’s not forget the loudspeaker van constantly filling the highways and byways with noise pollution advertising its arrival at all hours of the day and night. There ought to be a law about advertising circuses. I heard one old man was staring into a shoe shop window no more than ten minutes, when some bright clown in charge of a brush and a pot of glue slapped up a poster on his back before stuffing a couple of tickets for the half-price matinee in his top pocket. The half-price, afternoon matinee. I ask you, who wants to go to the half-price, afternnon matinee? Full of screaming kids sloshing ice cream all over the place and wetting themselves.

Allow me to explain, you might as well now you’ve got this far, otherwise the whole day could go to waste. Normally, I am first alerted to the arrival of the circus by waking to the pong of elephant poo drifting across the town on the prevailing wind, the morning it sets up camp. This year there was no pong. No elephant poo pong equals no elephants. So what could that be all about? my journalistic instincts enquired immediately. Sharp as a tack, as ever. A brass tack, geddit?

As I was trying to explain to Angelica, with the greatest patience, I might add, in Spain, circus with animals equals no news, circus without animals, news. Now that’s easy enough to understand, isn’t it? Apparently not. Never the twinkliest star in the Milky Way at any time of the afternoon, it took some time, I can tell you. Talk about my weak points, hers seem blunted by comparison. Anyway, this isn’t about her, it’s about me. And poo.

It was after I said, judging by the posters and the lack of elephant poo pong, there were no animals at the circus this year. Her reply was: “There were animals at the circus in Cádiz.” in that annoying ‘neh-neh, neh, neh-neh’ sing-song sort of way she has about her. Some might call her contrary, some might call me pedantic, but I felt it necessary to tell her that sort of comment was the reason she would never become a journalist. Luckily, she wasn’t contrary or pedantic enough to point out, it was that, and the fact she had never applied for a job as a journalist. It allowed me to go on and quote the original aphorism attributed to Alfred Harmsworth, the great British newspaper magnate: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

Well, you can imagine what I did after that. No you can’t, if you were that clever, you’d be writing this and I’d be reading it. Anyway, to get back on track, I only marched down to the plot of land just beyond the cemetery where the circuses and fairs set up to have a gander for myself. Kind of poignant that, not me having a gander, but having the circus and the fairs pitch up by the cemetery. Plonk a bar nearby and it’d be just the sort of place I’d like to be buried, except they don’t bury you down this way, they stick you into a hole in a wall. Never mind, if there’s life after death you can always look forward to the times when the fairs and the circuses come to the pueblo.

So, back to elephant poo, as there’s probably more than a couple of you on the edges of your seats by now, wondering what my investigative journalism sniffed out. Well, it wasn’t elephant poo, or even camel poo, not even the lion or the tiger poo one of the big posters promised. It didn’t actually promise lion and tiger poo, I mean nobody goes to the circus to see the animals poo, do they? At least most people don’t. If you’re the sort of person, who likes to watch animals poo, you can take our dog for a walk any day of the week.

That started me off wondering why? Why they didn’t have any animals this year, dolt-head. They do have a troupe of Norwegian Hells Angels though, appearing under the name Caballeros Noruegos which translates into ‘Norwegian Gentlemen’. Intriguing that.

Now, that’s what I call news.

Copyright © 2014 Bryan Hemming

To read about last year’s circus in Conil click onto: Bring on the clowns


3 comments on “Elephant poo pong: not news. No elephant poo pong: news

  1. eremophila
    May 31, 2014

    Oh you’re SO far behind the times Bryan – Circus Oz has NEVER HAD ANIMALS! 🙂 As usual, the rest of the world is still trying to catch up to us Aussies. 🙂


    • Bryan Hemming
      June 1, 2014

      Even further behind than you may think. In Spain the government still uses taxpayers’ money to subsidise bull-fighting, which qualifies as an art. No matter that the majority of Spaniards have no interest in it whatsoever, and many are against it.

      It is televised on national TV – again supported by the taxpayer – as though it was akin to ballet or classical music. Recently, the serious injury of three matadors at one event started people questioning the government support again. But, as one commentator cynically remarked in a British newspaper: “Why stop now, just as the bulls start winning?”

      I think the local council may have banned animals from appearing Conil, for it is certain circuses are allowed to have animals in most other towns and cities in Spain. In Britain, many local councils banned circuses with animals years ago, but a nationwide ban will not come into effect until December 2015. Even then, the British ban will only apply to what are termed ‘wild animals’.

      Wild humans will still be allowed to perform, as they are in Oz.


      • eremophila
        June 1, 2014

        The whole system of animals ‘performing’ for the entertainment of humans is a vexed one Bryan, and not restricted just to circuses. Over the years, I’ve done a comeplete turnaround on it, as I have on many issues. When the Olympics were on in Sydney, I refused to watch any of it on TV – and I’m talking about the human events! Getting too close to the Roman Gladiators in my opinion…..


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