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"Dragons in bubbles" or "Thursday 25th September 2014. Part 1"

THURSDAY 25th September 2014


A few weeks ago I got confirmation on a gig for a big qwertyioup company. Might as well get it over and done with from the start (sigh): i had to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement so you’ll have to put up with me being careful about what I say, nay, give away.

It’s one of those where you probably won’t have heard of the company, but without question have many of their products in your home.

They wanted to use bubbles to illustrate how it worked in their presentation to a massive supermarket chain (you will have heard of this one) in full Dragons Den style. At least I'll be fully prepared and rehearsed when I do go into the Dragon's Den for real!


The long and short of it would be a minute and a half gig (my shortest yet!) in Leeds,. Working out my hourly rate based on this, you’d think I was a millionaire. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually quite work out like that. Aside from the crucial minute and a half on the day, there was a rehearsal day a couple of weeks ago at the venue, and many hours figuring out the best equipment and solutions to create the effect that they wanted.


So two weeks ago I got my suggested equipment together and took the fast train up to Leeds. I like the train. I can sit and look out the window and wonder how many fields there are in the whole of the UK (Anyone know the answer? … I did find out there’s approximately 300,000 farms, with an average size of 57 hectares, except Scotland where they’re twice as big. I guess if you could find out the size of the average field, you could work out how many fields there are…. Answers on a postcard please).


Where was i? oh yes…I got up to Leeds and headed to the venue. This turned out to be a gallery and incredibly, had an exhibition on festival folk! Lo and behold, there was a great pic of none other than my good friend, Rosa Bloom in some of her fantastically glamourous and sparkly outfits (check it out at http://www.rosabloom.com/)

I unpacked my equipment and discovered in my exhausted state, I’d forgotten to pack the scabbards for my bubble swords. doh! Btw you can get our very own fantastic bubble swords at http://www.bubbleinc.co.uk/products/giant-bubble-sword (shameless plug? Maybe but check out this new family review just out! http://madhousefamilyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/were-forever-blowing-bubbles.html)

Anyway, I guess I got away with it because the client went ahead with the plan which seemed to be largely about blowing bubbles in a bubble. This is something I’ve held 2 Guinness World Records in, and consider it a bit of a speciality. I left Leeds feeling confident and thankful it was only the rehearsal.

I waited for a week for confirmation of their vision before I got to work on rehearsing. Emails and phone calls went back and forth over the remaining days with increasing fervour.

When their vision eventually came through, it was a bit more complex than they’d originally suggested. Now they wanted me to make a cluster of 3 equally sized bubbles within a large bubble, hold on to the whole structure with a large wand and then ‘volcano’ it by popping the bit of the soap-film within the wand so that the big bubble deflates and the cluster shwoops out the top.

Got that?..

I set to work, trying different wands, different solutions different dilutions.

3, 4, 5 days of practising later and only 3 days before the event itself, I realised this gig needed a different approach.

I‘d got it figured and could make it work (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UfBHlk-UYA&list=UUlgBFNz8kYXXq-oIK7WYNxg) but at best, with only 50% accuracy. Bubbles are unpredictable, slippery little buggers and there was just too many things that could go wrong: the cluster in the middle could hit the side of the big bubble and join with the wall, making them un-volcano-able. The cluster could drop off the wand and fall right through the bottom of the big bubble onto the floor below. And more… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEENP2gENlU&list=UUlgBFNz8kYXXq-oIK7WYNxg

I needed a different approach. I needed something which was fool-proof and I could do with my eyes closed and also something I just loop so that it could go on for the full 90 seconds and if anything went wrong, I could fix it.

That was it… the no.1 most important part of this gig. There was ONE chance to get it right and that’s IT! Bit like doing live tv – I hate doing live tv with bubbles – they have a rebellious spirit (that’s what I blame mine on) and don’t work well under pressure. Much better to be calm and take a deep relaxed breath as I go in confidently to do what I do best.

I made videos. Lots of them. What can work, what can’t work and why, plus the original idea working. I sent them over to the client and waited for a response.

None was forthcoming. I kept on rehearsing and worked out a 90 second segment that I was happy with.


The day came. Actually the day before came. They wanted to meet with me in the evening and run through a last rehearsal. I got on the train and tried to count the fields, secure in the knowledge that my swords, scabbards and all my other equipment was definitely with me this time.


Tensions were high – I want to do a good job, and there’s a lot riding on it. One chance… I learnt that this day was filled with pitches – the big supermarket set it up that way, so they have the best 40 products which they are considering taking on, and get the companies to pitch their ideas. There’d be a lot of competition on the day and it was crucial that it all go swimmingly.


The rehearsal, I’m glad to say, went sweet. They’d watched my videos and highlighted something I was doing that they asked me to loop. Make 1 large bubble, turn it into a cluster of three and then blow it apart. I had a suggestion to make it better, by umbrellacizing it. If you don’t know what this is, check out the video on my website’s homepage (www.bubbleinc.co.uk). I showed them, they loved it.

There was still a couple of things that could go wrong on the day, so I did my best to minimise the issues (secrets of the trade!). Then it was just a case of putting the dragons in a bubble and we were home free.


We met the following morning at their office which just happened to be round the corner from the ‘Den.’ Bright and sparky,… except all the alarms in my hotel went off at 4am and the entire hotel had to be evacuated onto the street till a couple of big red fire engines turned up. Our time slot was 10am, and we had an arrival time at the venue of 9.30


I changed into my outfit, deliberated over wearing my Blue Peter badge (I did) , and tooled myself up.


At our designated time, we wandered over to the venue. People dressed in pseudo science outfits and cups of soup were ahead of us, looking angsty and like none of us had had enough sleep. Maybe they were staying in my hotel?


We kept our cool as we moved up through the queue. The company was confident about their pitch, and confident in me. We could do this. One take.


Final preparations done, bladders emptied, the door opened and we were ushered in.

As we’d known, there was a full tv crew filming the whole thing and the empty white room we’d once rehearsed in was now an unrecognizeable film set with 4 dragons in their antique leather armchairs, several project managers from the supermarket, plus a tv crew of another 7 or 8 people. Including 3 camera-men/women, producer, the director, the gaffer(?) and of course, someone holding a long pole with a furry ferret on the end J


And now our team of 6 to add into the equation. We strolled in. Swift set up. Began. 10 minutes to nail the whole thing and within that I had 90 seconds to complete my tricks, and put the dragons in a bubble.

It all flew by so fast, there was no choice but to swim with it. The moment I really remember is when the first dragon said they liked the presentation, loved the theatre (me!), and most importantly they were IN! The other 3 Dragons followed suit!


Hook line and sinker. We got it! A quick pack down to allow the next angst-ridden looking team to come in, and we were all done. All that was left was to congratulate eachother outside, ignore the fact that I’m a corporate tart, feel exuberant on a job well done, and then miss my train home.


Home I hear you say? Oh no, I wasn’t going home.

But that will have to wait till “Thursday 25th September 2014. Part 2”

Coming soon to the Bubble Inc website near you!

Hope you enjoyed the blog – do feel free to share it et al and keep spreading the bubble!


[later] On reading your posts on my FB update, I realise there’s a few of you who mistakenly thought it was the tv version of Dragons Den. Sorry! That was never my intention!

Believe me, when THAT happens, you’ll know about it..


Happy bubbling!


Samsam Bubbleman