I know I’ve been away for a few days, but I assure you that I have been diligently surfing the globe for Cool Jobsters! Now I’m back to share with you my latest find: Juggler Steve Thomson from Stirling, Scotland. Steve began juggling in 1993, “turned pro” in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since. In fact, he’s so passionate about juggling that he’s also the proprietor of an online juggling supply company!
I’ve never been able to master juggling myself, but I was lucky enough to date a juggler for a while (yes, flaming torches on your birthday are pretty romantic!) and I can tell you from experience that it requires an enormous amount of practice and dedication to attain the level of skill required to be a professional juggler. The jugglers I’ve met also seem to have a passion for sharing their skills and teaching the art of juggling to anyone who shows an interest, and Steve is no exception. Next time I’m in Scotland (and I’ve been to Stirling before, it just might happen) I’m certainly going to look him up and get a lesson!
So what’s it like to “juggle” a performing career, a strong Christian faith, volunteer work with people of all ages, an online business and The Stirling Juggling Project (not to mention a bunch of balls and flaming torches)? Let’s ask Steve!
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?
I am a Professional Juggler with an Online Juggling Equipment and Novelty Items store!
What are the things about your job that you love?
Working with Nursery and Primary School aged children (age 3-13yrs). They have such an enthusiasm for trying out Circus Skills (diabolo, juggling, devilstick, poi, plate spinning etc) and they love to be entertained! I wouldn’t want the job of having to teach them a serious subject like Maths or Physics though! Working for myself is another bonus. There are days when I would love some company, but it is great to be able to be in charge of what to do and when to do it and choose my working hours!
What are the things about your job that you hate?
Travel. I only learned to drive 3yrs ago which means that I now accept work much further away from home in Central Scotland. The upside is that I can accept more work (and therefore make more money and fit more than one gig in each day whenever possible), but the downside is that I can be traveling a long distance, then performing and immediately heading home, so the days can be very long!
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
I actually graduated from University with a 2:1 Honours Degree in Information Management back in 1999 and spent a year trying to find a “real job”, but didn’t even get to the interview stage, which is when someone who knew I could juggle offered me the chance to run a workshop and do a performance at her kids birthday party. At that party, I got another booking for someone else’s kid and then found out that there were government startup business grants available to people who wanted to set themselves up in business, so here I am 7.5yrs later! The Honours Degree actually turned out to be a blessing as it gave me the skills to be able to build my own website and market myself, as well as use databases to keep track of enquiries and run my store!
What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your professional training or your job?
I was on Mission in Ayr, and it came to the night’s youth event, which I was asked to perform juggling at. We had a pretty rowdy crowd of mainly guys who were in a local gang, and when they saw me juggling balls and clubs, they weren’t that impressed. I challenged them to choose three objects for me to juggle, no matter how dangerous, and one of them ran to the kitchen and fetched 3 large knives.
The others sniggered to themselves thinking I wouldn’t be game enough to attempt this, but I had been practicing Knives earlier on that afternoon, just in case a situation like this arrived. The theme of the youth club was “TRUST”. As I was about to begin juggling the knives, everyone gathered round to watch, and my leader (Sylvia Norton) edged away from standing beside me. Some of the youth asked her if she didn’t TRUST me!
She told them that she trusted me implicitly and would put her life into my hands to prove it, and then lay down in front of me, face up (directly below where the knives were to be juggled) and told me to continue! This was never part of the plan! I said a quick prayer to myself, and then began the one minute routine. Sylvia had a camera, and took a photo from underneath the knives which looks pretty impressive!
jimsmuse sez: Steve has a lot more great juggling stories on his website here, and if you’re in the market for some juggling equipment and you live in the UK you can visit his online store (sorry readers, Steve ONLY ships inside the UK — but don’t you have a friend there you need to get some juggling balls for? Hm?) Thanks again for being on My Cool Job, Steve!