SEVENTEEN YEARS ago Mark Robertson watched a television show featuring Kris Kremo, one of the world's greatest jugglers. Immediately he decided that that was what he wanted to become. Two years later, at the tender age of 14, he won a Butlin's talent contest and as a result performed at the London Palladium.
It was the beginning of an outstanding show career. At 17 Robertson was combining yo-yoing with his juggling, was touring with the Harlem Globe Trotters and had won a top prize for Britain at the Cirque de Demain in Paris in 1980. There he met Sergei Ignatov, the Russian juggling master, who recognised his talent and took him under his wing. From then Robertson toured almost every continent, amazing people with his consummate skill.
Recently he performed for the Magic Circle and The Water Rats and toured with Russ Abbott and Paul Daniels. His latest trip took him to Japan. They elevated him to superstar status: he appeared on television twice a week and was mobbed as he left his stage door. Typically, he found the whole experience amusing and could not understand what all the fuss was about.
In 1991, one of the organisers of the British Juggling Convention, in Leeds, persuaded him to rush from the cabaret show he was performing in, to the Jugglers Public Show a mile away. Until Robertson arrived, the show had been a light-hearted display by some of the characters from the previous three days of the convention. He brought the house down. The audience, who were all experienced jugglers and street performers, were treated to an act which was the definition of professionalism. Robertson wrote the music and choregraphed his show to perfection. He was given a standing ovation.
Mark Robertson's pleasure in juggling came from sharing it and encouraging others rather than from an egotistical gratification from his expertise. His nonchalant air disguised a private devotion to juggling: his practice schedule often lasted six or seven hours and even in his rest time he could be found throwing objects around, testing how they span or balanced.
Mark Robertson was considered to be the fastest juggler in Europe, but the title did not really mean anything to him. His focus was on professionalism and the grace and beauty of his performance.