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A Skelding Summary

Jugglers are a regular sight at Covent Garden and get their name from the Latin 'joculare' meaning to jest or to joke. That is correct. Throwing your balls in the air and catching them is supposed to be funny. The word Jongleur, a predessor of jugglers came from the same word.  Humour has come a long way but in those days by all accounts they did not do a lot of laughing - it was a dangerous old world where a laugh could end in a dual or simply being killed by whim.  Fools had certain protection as they hid behind the act of being at least batty though some of them were said to have remained silent for days after a dangerous outburst of fun making.

It was regarded as 'funny' however to take the time to practice juggling instead of bringing in the harvest.

Juggling, a safer trade than humour, has its origins in the ancient world and became a regular feature in open fairs throughout Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. As organised circuses & theatres emerged n the 1800s, in the 'good old days', jugglers such as Enrico Rastelli used to amaze spectators with what he could do with his ten balls. Nowadays, jugglers can get the same effect using around three, but make the effect look more exciting by riding 'blindfolded' on a very large unicycle at the same time.

Lately juggling is said to bring peace to the mind because you really do have to concentrate on balls rather than thinking.  You can buy nice soft ones to practice in the house and won't bounce into windows, as well as books galore on 'how-to' do it yourself.  It's worth a try. Now that 'health & safety' stops anyone from doing almost anything risky it's hard to acquire skills beyond getting on a bus without falling - let alone 'mind the Gap'. - so just wait for the buskers to take out their 5 batons, light them up and start juggling them. Awe inspiring, not funny.

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By Laurence Skelding

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