It was more than twenty-five years ago when Julian’s dream came to an abrupt end. He was knocked down, near a roundabout whilst trying to fix his car. He survived to tell the tale but who was prepared to listen? What he did during this time, I don’t know. The road accident had certainly affected his mental health but not his physical capabilities. When we first met, he was still able to remain relatively independent and, in the short time I had got to know him, I had the feeling that he had been performing the same daily routine since the accident. This involved getting up, having his breakfast and coffee at his local café, reading the newspaper, getting the afternoon bus from Edinburgh to the steading where his two ponies, (Lucky and Tony had performed in his first and second circus tour) and donkey (Benny) were kept, and, then, leave for home at midnight.
Often, he would find himself lost at night, lapsing into complete dissociation. Whether this was due to not taking his medication or forgetting to take it on time, again, I don’t know. He never took any medication in the time I spent with him. Sometimes, the next day, and this happened on many occasions, he would tell me that the Police had driven him home the previous night because he had missed his last bus or, if he had completely lost track of time, he would ring for a taxi.
Even now as I write about Julian and the moments I observed about his being, I have the image of him caring for his animals in the pig-huts, clearing out the manure, laying fresh new beds with straw, brushing their coats, cleaning their hooves, filling their bags with hay, and giving them the occasional treat - chocolate bars and biscuits - night after night for over twenty years. Julian was not a recluse but was forced to be one. The animals were his only focus long after the death of his mother. I remember often before I went to bed, I would walk round to the pig-huts to see if he was okay and offer him a hot drink.
Due to his mental health, there was certainly no chance of him starting up his circus again. This remained deeply with him for a long time; he refused to accept that it had. Occasionally, when I was helping with the animals he would say, ‘I’m thinking of starting again you know.’ Now we could observe and conclude that, since the end of his dream, his mind was in constant conflict. His body was able and he had the strength, however, his mind was not in conflict with itself but with his spirit. Julian’s spirit was ready to continue the dream whilst his mind was not able enough. This was not about the faculties of his mind being absent, more the persistent states of mind and attention that are needed to live. It was a crossover in utter frustration, each human expression which he tried to fulfil, was in conflict with the consequences of his past. In every direction his spirit turned, he was presented with the opposite energy. He had to adapt and live with a condition, and a mind that could not perform or sustain his wishes. The only future which he could aim for, was the few minutes of consistency that lay ahead.
He continued to battle daily with this dilemma, if he had given up, maybe he would not have achieved sustaining the few animals that he had left over from his circus. However, without the animals, what was left for him to carry on? The animals were essential to Julian’s dream and we must keep them with us as we try to understand what was behind his expression. For his dream remains, it is still present with us.
When Julian walked every day to his circus trucks and horses at the farm steading, getting off at the same bus stop and then up the small path again, did he walk back to a dream or nightmare? Perhaps, when people talk to themselves, alone, they have a story to tell. I remember once discussing with a local man who knew a little about Julian’s history. However, to my surprise, he complained, ‘When I spoke to Julian I got bored.’ ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘I got tired. He kept telling me the same stories.’ Didn’t he stop and wonder why he kept telling the same stories? Is that a real reason to abandon and ignore a man whom he saw for the last twenty years? Again, who was prepared to listen to this man and take an interest in what he had to say? Julian's situation was inhumane. Sitting relentlessly inside a small pig-hut alone was, for Julian, to remain frozen, unable to free himself. The pig-hut became his cave.
During that same day I took a walk around the farm, to cogitate and look across the landscape between the hills and motorways. However, before I went back inside my home, a man, walking his dog, approached me about the stationed trucks that were ready to be towed away. Firstly, he asked me if I was ‘related’ to the man that had just died, I told him ‘no’ and, then, he said ‘he was right.’ Right about what? I thought. His son had told him about a few old circus trucks piled together on a small landfill not far from where they lived. ‘I didn’t believe my son until now.’