Search

Free 40-page supplement celebrating the Queen’s record reign in this week’s Recorder

On sale now

Video: Clowning around as Zippos Circus arrives at East Ham

07:32 09 May 2014

Reporter Sophie Morton tests her circus skills at Zippos Circus, East Ham.

Reporter Sophie Morton tests her circus skills at Zippos Circus, East Ham.

Archant

Can you teach a reporter new tricks? That was the aim as Sophie Morton spent a morning with Zippos Circus on its arrival in East Ham

Reporter Sophie Morton tests her circus skills next to professional juggler Billy at Zippos Circus, East Ham.Reporter Sophie Morton tests her circus skills next to professional juggler Billy at Zippos Circus, East Ham.

On arrival at Barking Road Recreation Ground, the temporary home for Zippos Circus during its visit to East Ham, I was whisked away to a truck where brothers Oreste and Vittorio Rastelli were applying their make-up.

The Italian duo perform a traditional clown act in the circus, and are the latest in a family of performers stretching back several generations.

“Every clown has their own face,” Vittorio explained while Oreste applied red and white paint to me. “It’s like their trademark.”

My appearance was left completely to the experts, and after a few attempts at perfecting my nose, I was given a red hat and sent on my way.

Reporter Sophie Morton with ringmaster Norman Barrett at Zippos Circus, East Ham.Reporter Sophie Morton with ringmaster Norman Barrett at Zippos Circus, East Ham.

Standing in the middle of the ring, the big top seemed even bigger than it did from the outside.

Ringmaster Norman Barrett introduced me to contortionist Odko, who showed me her talent of fitting inside a bottle.

My first task as a circus performer was simply to close the door when she was inside - so far, so good.

The next challenge was much more difficult.

Aerial silks artist Stefanie Usher performs at Zippos Circus, East HamAerial silks artist Stefanie Usher performs at Zippos Circus, East Ham

Two pieces of purple silk hung down from the ceiling, and as I watched Stefanie climb up and down them with ease, I suddenly felt rather nervous.

For someone who struggled on the monkey bars as a child, using my arms to hoist me high in the air was going to prove a challenge.

Stefanie showed me how to wrap my leg and foot around the silk before pushing down with my other foot at the same time as pulling myself up with my arms.

Several failed attempts later, the silks were lowered to give me more material to use and eventually I managed to pull myself up - though nowhere near as high as Stefanie could get.

Next up on my list of circus challenges was juggling.

Coached by Billy, who juggles during the shows, I managed to get the three balls passing through the air a couple of times before a lack of coordination - and possibly small hands - let me down.

Trying to toss three plastic rings in the air was even more difficult, but thankfully Norman and his budgies came to my rescue, providing a welcome change of pace. He demonstrated a few of their tricks, including a slide and a cart, before showing me to the van where they are kept.

“I absolutely love it,” he said. “It’s not something you could do if you didn’t love it.”

As much as I enjoyed my morning learning new skills, I don’t think I’ll be packing it all in and running away to join the circus just yet.

Read more:

Review: Zippos Circus

Latest News Stories

10:52
Royal Wharf construction site in Silvertown

The Royal Wharf is an urban landscape in constant flux, a blurred vision gaining focus with every steel rod that is laid.

07:00
The study, commissioned by the Post Office, shows Newham residents have some of the longest commutes in London. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The borough’s residents face some of the longest commutes in the capital, a recent study has shown.

London
Yesterday, 18:00
Police launch a stop and search operation at the Stratford Centre with police dogs in action

Four people were arrested during a successful drugs search dog operation in Stratford last week.

Metropolitan Police

Most read news

Competitions

Get ready to take in the beautiful sights of London from above!

Are you always seeking unique ways to see your favourite city? This one is for you.

Read more
Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Read more

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder