The mission: Nicholas Barber rolls up to Circus Space, and finds himself flying through the air with the greatest of, er, ease

y red nose is in place, my custard recipe perfected and I'm all ready to prod a tranquillised arthritic lion with a chair. Sadly, joining the circus is no longer quite so easy. In the Nineties big top, moth-eaten animals are out and eye-popping performance art is in. If I'm going to accomplish this week's mission I'll either have to master gymnastic aerial ballet, or I'll have to go down the Jim Rose route and hang metal weights from the more pain-sensitive parts of my anatomy.

On balance, the former seems marginally preferable. I head to Circus Space in the fabulously trendy area of Hoxton, east London. It's in this complex of halls and rooms, each equipped with ropes and trapezes, that 90 aerialists are already training for the Millennium show. But this being the magical world of journalism, I'm going to learn everything there is to know in one hour. One of the staff, Lorraine, agrees to give me a trapeze lesson, and from now on, my mission is twofold: I've got to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and I've got to write about it without using the phrase "show me the ropes".

I've come unequipped with Lycra, but Lorraine assures me that this is not a problem; I can just take my shoes and socks off and roll up my trousers. True, I look like a cabin boy in an amateur production of The Pirates of Penzance, but I've soon learnt the best method of climbing up a rope (getting down turns out to be much harder) and I've stepped on to the "static trapeze". This is not to be confused with the flying trapeze. The idea of the static is that you do all the swinging around, but the trapeze itself stays where it is. Frankly, it's not static enough for my liking. Still, I eventually get the hang of hanging, standing and sitting in the air. It's actually not too difficult, mainly because I'm too busy concentrating to realise how difficult it should be. Lorraine teaches people to do this kind of thing all the time, so when she says, "Now just put your toe on the bar and your other leg over your head," she's so matter-of-fact that it seems like the most natural thing I could be doing on a Thursday afternoon. As I hang upside down, I'm even relaxed enough to read a notice on the wall. "No smoking, no food or drink", it says, "and no blowing bubbles in studio spaces."

Next, I'm taught a few more advanced trapeze positions. My "half angel" is nearer to a "quarter angel" and I'm not sure how successful my "bird's nest" is. But it looks graceful when Lorraine demonstrates it, so I can only imagine that I'm the picture of lithe elegance on my own attempt. The fact that my trapeze is just five feet off the floor is, I feel, quite irrelevant. I leave Circus Space with a ludicrous sense of pride and Lorraine's words of encouragement ringing in my ears. I have a strong upper body, don't you know, and anyway, creativity counts just as much as perfect technique in the circus. So there.

The following day, my muscles ache so much that it takes me 20 minutes to pick a pen up from off of the floor

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments