Category Archives: juggling

Damn you, cancer! Update

Aidan passed away a few minutes before 9:00pm this evening, Thursday October 9th.

Usually I pour a glass of wine of an evening. Tonight I have opened a bottle of beer. Aidan would always have chosen beer.

He declined very suddenly this afternoon, struggling greatly with his breathing. He had lots of his close family with him at the end; his Mother was holding his hand.

If you have not kept track of him over the past year, he kept a blog from the time he first fell ill. You can read it here
I choose this page in his blog to link to as he performed these street shows with me last December. He was already very ill at this time but it was a good, happy occasion.
I am sure all of you who knew him will have your own happy memories of a very special man.

I will pass all messages or replies I receive onto his brother Bernard to share with the family.

I shall be posting this to several different lists and pages tonight, apologies if you see it more than once.

So, put on some prog’ rock, go find a Sudoku to do and raise a glass of beer – just make sure it’s a real ale!

And next time you throw a club at someone, throw it for Aidan!


Juggle on, Aidan.

Damn you, cancer!

I just received the following message via the Passout mailing list (reproduced in full, but removing Tudor’s mobile phone number):

I know many of you around the world know Aidan.
Please see the message below.

I suspect he would like you to juggle some complicated passing pattern for him!

I know you are on this list, Aidan, if you’re still checking your e-mail: We’re juggling for you!


———- Forwarded message ———-

Hi all

Sad news. Aidan’s brother Bernard has just phoned to say that Aidan has only a few days to live.
I went to see him on Tuesday and he was very weak but insisting that he did not wish to go into a hospice. Bernard and his mother, Maureen, are respecting his wish and he will stay at home.

Bernard asked me to pass on the news to the juggling community. I am just emailing those few people for whom I have email addresses; would you please let Aidan’s many friends around the world know.
Anyone is welcome to contact me for more information if they wish.


I’ve known Aidan for a number of years and he’s taught (or tried to teach) me many awesome juggling passing patterns over those years. I’m going to miss him a lot.

He set up a blog after his original cancer diagnosis. I don’t know if it will be updated at all, but it can be found here for the time being at least:

Bungay Balls Up

The Bungay Balls Up juggling convention in Suffolk has come and gone for another year. I usually volunteer for set-up and tear-down but couldn’t make it until Friday afternoon due to OU commitments (the final online tutorial before my philosophy exam) so was just working tear-down this year. Ten days of buttercups, games, juggling under drones, morning runs and study sessions, trips out to parkrun, Sunday roasts, watercolour painting, pancakes, spinning, yoga, reading, cat-bothering, washing up, and basically doing as much or as little as I want. A lovely sunny and windy day for tear-down (perfect for drying out damp carpet), with the opportunity to transfer to a smaller tent from the big bell tent before the rain came on Monday evening (which is currently drying over the banisters).

Some photos here: Bungay 2014

There were other people there, but I’m rubbish at taking pictures of them. Same time next year?

Luke Wilson – juggler, magician, friend

The juggling (and magic, and rubik’s-cube-solving, amongst many other) community lost Luke Wilson to cancer yesterday at the too-young age of 35.

Many other people will talk more eloquently about his various skills and his love for those skills (a man who rips a keychain rubik’s cube from someone else’s belt in order to solve it has a clear passion for it). They will talk about his personal innovation and willingness to pass on his skills and advice through his teaching.

What I will remember Luke for though, in addition to his dazzling skills and intricately crafted routines (which were always a delight to watch), is just him being him. I can’t have met him more than a dozen times in total, but each time he was funny, intelligent, polite, quiet, and seemingly genuinely interested in talking to me. Now I’m nobody special in the juggling community. I’m a hobbyist pure and simple (and am on the path of juggling less and less at conventions these days). Possibly recognised by regulars on the scene because I’ve been around for a fair few years, but I don’t perform, I’m not an expert at anything, and I’m pretty quiet when not in a group of close friends. But Luke always chatted to me like an old friend (in person and online). He never gave off a self-important vibe that you can get with some performers, and I never felt that I was being humoured by him as the partner of a performer.

As a performer (from what relative little I saw, as with most professional jugglers the majority of his work was performed to non-jugglers) he was always professional, whether juggling in a show, organising it, or acting as master of ceremonies. As a human being he was always kind and considerate. He also had damned fine taste in skinny t-shirts (the Jack Sparrow one was a particular favourite), even if he did have tiny feet that made locating Skywalker trainers tricky.

He will be missed, for many reasons, all of them good, and by many more people than he probably would have expected.

BJC2012 – Southend – 25th Anniversary

It was BJC’s 25th outing this year (my 10th BJC) and it was convened in Southend from 11th-15th April.


We arrived just after 16:30, having navigated the M25 without issue and then got stuck behind a steam engine. Straight over to registration for our passes, show tickets, and explanatory brochure. A quick pitch of the tent before the showers came, then back to have a look around the main venue. I headed straight for the merchandising and got one of the rare size small hoodies and a size small skinny fit t-shirt (money well spent). The main hall was an excellent space – indoor tennis courts divided in half by a walkway, with workshops in the indoor basketball courts.

We stayed long enough in the main hall or get ourselves oriented and dump juggling gear for later (also having a quick tour around the traders who were still in the process of setting up), then back for some dinner before the evening festivities.

In the course of catching up with friends a group of us ending up in the evening’s quiz, which was half juggling questions and half general knowledge.    But for my Helen Mirren being changed to a Judi Dench we would have drawn with the winning, but ended up with 42 to their 43. The winning team was composed of friends and we would have normally been part of it but we happened to be sitting at different tables chatting when the quiz started.

A relatively early night as it was going to be a busy day on Thursday.


Thursday was the British Kendama Open, but I started it with a swim (a gentle 500m) and running a workshop (introduction to club passing). I had to dash out of Aidan’s theory workshop halfway through to go help run the BKO (mostly filming).

Lots of good clicking at the BKO, but my spot was freezing cold and I had to dash out of the Big Top where it was being held to grab my massive down coat (dodging the heavy showers). Gorgeous sunshine was waiting when the competition was over (at which point I got a call from my sister giving me the lowdown on her merting with the incompetent solicitors who are still handling my grandmother’s estate, three and a half years on).

Back to the main hall for some solo juggling, watched the German wheel display, then dinner. After dinner I decided not to queue for Open Stage but instead headed back to the main hall to throw things around with friends. This was all going well (we were working through the scrambled v variations) when I got a club which bent my nail back 2mm into the nail plate, cracking it). That sidelined me for the rest of the evening, but I did get a Wallace and Gromit plaster out of it.

Later on I went to the Old Skool panel in the bar, to hear tales from “experienced” performers and BJC attendees. Highly entertaining and I hope it happens again in the future, there are lots of stories out there to be told.


Another 500m dip in the pool and a quick trip to Waitrose to stock up on plasters. Just as well as I managed to smash my thumbnail getting my highest ever run of 4 clubs (120 catches).

I elected not to attend BYJoTY as previous years had been hard to get into and I didn’t feel like queueing in the on-and-off rain for rickety big top seating.

It left the makn hall nice and quiet and I interspersed my bouts of solo juggling and snakeboarding with workshops (on social siteswaps and beginner hat manipulation) and after dinner watched the Gandini show “The Event” from the bar. No sound, but an excellent view, with additional commentary.

The “black tie and silver” party took place in the beer tent with a live band, so I got dollied up and trundled over there, to spend a lot of time trying not to look at Tom (there’s always one, I just wasn’t expecting it to be someone I knew). The live band (Scooby) were a little slow to warm up, but once they hit the right songs in their repertoire the dancefloor became cramme and I got my groove on (and made full use of my deely boppers).


Saturday was show day. Not being interested in the parade or games we walked down to the seafront, avoiding the buses and leaving more time for juggling, chatting, and playing cribbage. We did hit the end of the games, but there was ice-cream as a distraction, following which was the traditional herding of cats to find somewhere to eat before the show. We ended up in a curry-house chosen because they opened before their neighbour as the rain began to fall, after which it was a short meander to the theatre for the gala show.

The gala show began with the now traditional wasting of modelling balloons (though there didn’t seem to be as many giant beach balls bouncing around to whack you in the back of the head). The acts then ran as follows:

Phil Os – German diabolist. Lots of energy, good use of a semi-floppy haricut with rocky music. A bit of padding with some glow diabolo, but good fun and only minimal drops.

Ian Marchant – British variety act. A nice bit of combination trickery, and the final trick is good but I’d seen the act earlier in the year and the audience interaction brought out the worst in people who forget that the gala show isn’t a renegade.

Matthias Romir – German hat and ball juggling (with mime). I’d seen this in Munich at the EJC last year, and whilst good it did drag a little and I wanted him to get to the chair section quicker.

Gunnar Erik – German handbalancer. I was slightly concerned that he was going to be taking himself seriously when he marched on stage in his Matrix get up, but instead he kicked off with a properly hard trick (no waving around of the spare arm) and generally proceeded not to take himself seriously at all. Probably my favourite act of the show.

Gandini Juggling Project – multiple nationality gloclubs. Malte made me laugh (even though I couldn’t see his face) and it was all very good, very clever (with the colour changes and the music), but I’d seen a 4-person version of it in Rotterdam so it didn’t have as big an impact as it probably should have (plus the theatre was warm and I’d had a big dinner). It was good to see Jon Udry making it to the A team.


After the interval some juggling hero awards were given, to people who had contributed to the British juggling scene over the years, through their own juggling, through books and organising conventions, through prop design and manufacture. A couple of surprise inclusions and exclusions to my mind, but I wasn’t involved with the choices made so it’s always going to be very subjective. The acts kicked off again with:

Tony Pezzo – American ring manipulation and juggling. A very good act. I liked that he started with the high numbers, then gradually reduced (instead of going the other way), and the balance between fiddling about and actually throwing them was good. Extra points for hitting that final beat (and then just busting out 7 rings).

Rod Laver – British ping pong ball juggler. An act that I had mostly seen before over the years (though the gin bottles were new to me). All of the old jokes (still funny), all of the gurning (still my favourite parts of the act, though the actual juggling is also very good and mightily impressive), all round good egg.

Matthias Romir – back to do some club manipulation/juggling and clowning. All of the manipulation/juggling done with a balloon in front of his face (let me repeat that, with a balloon in front of his face!) was impressive, and I enjoyed the helium balloon interaction.

Tigris – German hula hooper and contortionist. Aside from a couple of tricks with the contortion I was disappointed with this act. It didn’t contain anything I hadn’t already seen and would have preferred to see HulaBoy Craig insteaD.

Françoise Rochais – French baton/club/parasol juggler. The headline act and very good she was too (though the initial costume was fugly). I preferred the second half of the act to the first and my only wish was that it had been a little longer (isn’t that the ideal, to leave the audience wanting more?). All done in heels on a raked stage.

A quick dash to get on the first bus back for more juggling in the main hall and watching some seriously good gladiators.


Managed to get the tent down and packed away in the dry (and high winds) leaving plenty of time to grab some brunch in the cafe and attend the BJC business meeting (broke even and the Yorkies are running it next year). A final wander around the main hall and trader then it was time for the closing show, “Smashed”, by the Gandinis again. It was a longer show than I thought it would be (an hour), but entertained for its full duration. Some things I was expecting, some things I was not. Funnier and more disturbing than I expected.

Back in the car and home.

Thank you to everyone who made it happen.