Growing UP / Being a Kid
For as long as I can remember, Magic has been my biggest passion in life, seconded only to the constant, optimistic search for a past 8am Sunday lay in.
As a father of three autistic children, that would be REAL Magic!
My earliest magic memories revolve around my nan who was my biggest fan. I am a family man through and through, so my story will always revolve around them.
She used to take me to Toys’R’Us when I would stay with her and I would buy a new magic trick from a range called ‘Magic Works’, which I believe was a partner of the Tenyo Magic Company from Japan.
Like all Tenyo tricks, the bright colours and funky shapes instantly appealed to me as a kid and the methods, well they blew my mind.
I would take these £6 miracles back to my nans, learn them in about 30 seconds (they were practically self working) and i’d be showing my nan within minutes, over and over again. She never complained.
I can also remember sitting on my knees, my nan and my mum in the room with me. I must have been about 6.
There I was, a few feet away from a big TV, watching this INCREDIBLE guy perform magic and get locked in a prison.
Of course, I now know this to be David Copperfields Tv Special ‘Escape from Alacatraz’.
Move forward 30 years and who would have thought that I would meet David Copperfield, visit Alacatraz AND somewhere very special. More on that later.
When I was 10, my childhood passion was shot higher than I could ever imagine. I asked and my Nan delivered.
From behind the Sofa, a gift was pulled out that blew my mind.
A Paul Daniels Magic Set. Life would never be the same again.
I had my very own collection of brightly coloured plastic props. I dont think my family even saw me for the next week as I sat and practiced each of the little tricks. I felt like a REAL magician.
I owe a lot to Paul Daniels, I guess like most magicians do. Thank you Paul.
Hitting the Teens
At this point, I don’t actually recollect any major magic milestones for a few years. However, I do remember loving watching the Marvins Magic hour on QVC.
I became hooked on watching Bruce performing these tricks over and over like the magic demming machine that he is! What a legend.
The thing that was different though, Bruce, Marvins Magic, there was a difference..
These men were performing what I can only describe as ‘proper magic’. This was grown up stuff, these weren’t kids tricks.
Especially one trick in particular.
It was incredible, mind blowing…
It was called’ Dynamic Coins’ and it was made of METAL.
This to a 13 year old kid who had only ever had plastic tricks was a revelation. Magic Tricks can be made of Metal and Wood! WOW!
That year, for Christmas, Santa gave me a Marvins Magic Executive Magic Set. An awesome black case fullr of ‘real’ magic.
Nobody saw much of me for the rest of Christmas day.
I literally spent all day admiring the contents and practicing. The Dynamic Coins, Chinese Sticks;, Coin Pedestal, Wizard Deck and Pencil through Coins, these were crucial tricks in tipping me over from being a kid that did tricks, to someone that realised just how important magic is.
After Christmas, I wanted to find out more, so I asked around and found out about a magic shop in London. Davenports.
I ordered a catalogue, seem to remember paying by postal order! Eagerly I waiting for this little book to arrive.
When it did, well, you probably didnt see me for weeks, this thing was HUGE.
You have to remember that I had never seen any kind of magic catalogue before, just the occasional ad in the back of a comic.
This thing was like a phone book, FULL of the most amazing descriptions and hand drawn ilustrations.
I remember going through and writing a list of everything that I wanted. That list, if I had it now, would no doubt make me cringe.
I remember that ‘Squaring the Circle’, which cost about £4, was at the top!
I placed my order with Davenports and every day I waiting by the door, until it arrived. I dont remember every detail, but I do know that I ordered a cigarette thru pound coin and a 2p / 10p coin unique and they BLEW MY MIND.
Not only can you buy magic tricks that are made of metal, but there are also PRECISION ENGINEERED miracles!
Fast forward about a year and I am standing at the counter at Davenports. My sister had taken me up as a Birthday treat as I had birthday money. £170 exactly.
I distinctly remember being served by Roy who, despite being asked 100 questions by this 14 year old kid, was as helpful and generous with his time as ever.
I left that shop SO happy. Being the money savvy lad that I was, it made perfect sense that I should buy as many tricks as possible for my money, after all, quantity is more important than quality, right?’
I remember visiting Davenports many many time over the years.
Always with three traditions. Three things that I would buy on EVERY visit
• A Chicken and Stuffing Sandwich
• A Red Silk to mess about with on the train
• A copy of Abra Magazine.
Yes, I know, I didnt pretend to be cool!
Two big bags and im off home to practice!
In 1997, I was 15 and looking for ways to increase my magic knowledge. I had taken out each of the library magic books numerous times.
Through a friend I heard about a local magic club, very local, but their minimum joining age was 16, damnit.
However I was invited along to visit and I instantly fell in love.
The first day that I went along happened to be a few days after the ‘David Blaine, Street Magic’ special had aired, so there was a real buzz in the room.
Me, wanting to impress and be in conversation with the big boys, I asked ‘So, how did he levitate then?’
With a smug grin on my face.
The guy in front of me proceeded to turn around and levitate, actually frickin float! My jaw hit the ground.
This guy was Andy Smith who now works at Alakazam.
We became good friends, regularly meeting for jamming sessions etc.
Andy was (is) a walking library of magic moves, routines, anecdotes and history.
Never have I met another person with so much passion for the Art as Andy and I owe him every thanks for the advice and teachings that he gave me during that part of my life.
So that was it, I was part of a Magic Club, I knew how to levitate AND I owned a set of Dynamic Coins.
Every 2 weeks I would visit the magic club, jam with friends, watch lectures and generally share the passion that we all had for magic.