Monday, 19 October 2009


Well they do say the secret of successful blogging is to post 'regularly'. With this entry, I am now up to once a year - so, that's something to be proud of, right?

I had wanted an excuse to visit this mystery mansion for ages, and finally found it, in the form of Jeff's 18th birthday. Thus we found ourselves meandering down some suburban backstreets of London recently, thinking "This doesn't look right, are we really..?"

- when across the street, I spied Laura herself. London, I mean - Mistress of female magic - waiting for some chums to turn up, outside a bland looking doorway. OK - the House of Magic is only open a few days a year to the public. But - they live in London, could come any time, and this particular night, when we are here, is the one they happen to have chosen? Just the perfect kind of weird coincidence, to make us feel right at home. We were there.

Now, I've always felt you can accurately assess the quality of a 'spooky' venue by the quality of their smoke. If there's a loud regular puffing sound, and it disperses every few seconds - 2 out of 10. Here though, Reassurance was quick in coming. As we traversed the entrance (sic) garden by dusk light, we were absolutely wowed by the low lying carpet of foggy vapour clinging to each rockery and weird tableau on the way. It seemed organic, permanent, and otherwordly. We almost didn't want to go in, but then a nice man standing in the doorway - and holding his own head on a tray - bid us welcome.

Inside, sensory overload rather takes over. The Red Room bar and reception area already contained a few quietly excited patrons, eyeing the surrounding gothic decor and artefacts with satisfaction: mirrors, candles, fireplace, automata lurking in dark cabinets. After an efficiently served drink we went through to look around the small cabaret theatre area beyond, and a Lady of the Night invited us to have our fortunes read in the Whispering Chair. The fact that it did so using headphones, did strike me as the evening's only anachronism, but is no doubt necessary for practical purposes. Overall, the venue's ambience is faintly disquieting, but nothing to trouble even a squeamish viewer of Rocky Horror.

Indeed, lurking behind a pillar just in front of us, was a fellow who seemed to have stepped from an 18th century precursor to that show. He later proved to be our escort for the Cellar Tour, a delightfully camp and kitsch few minutes which also featured some genuinely good magical effects, especially for fans (like myself) of Victorian optical effects.

Back upstairs, the buffet was out and being pounced upon, so we tucked in. That nice headless man had now reassembled himself and was performing closeup magic nearby. Over the course of the evening we saw him, a similarly youthful colleague - and a veteran. How wonderfully appropriate to see Patrick Page in these surroundings, and apposite to hear his line as he brings out some half-crowns, pauses, and says "I've been doing this trick a long time". Indeed: but I still can't see the coins going through the table.

Pleasantly fed, and after a hilarious ribald musical warmup act from 'Doctor' Adam Kay, we were into the show. Simon Drake entered rather grandly in a lift, which descends from - where..? Now, since my aim here is to tease rather than tell all, suffice to say he went on to perform what could best be described as a dark-themed parlour show - silent, in his case, though accompanied throughout by powerful music and punctuated by various groans, grunts and gurgles, as well as occasional voice-over. There is also plenty of humour. (To say he 'involves' guests would perhaps be an understatement, especially in the case of one front-row victim.) Nothing is corny or cliched, and even familiar themes are always given a personal twist. Throughout, two excellent female assistants accompany him, who while darkly glamorous, are emphatically also performers themselves and add immeasurably to the whole effect.

After a decent but not overlong period the show comes to an impressive end and the lift re-ascends. More table magic, cake and coffee, and a replete sprawl in the upstairs drawing room, whose walls are a mini museum of magic memorabilia. (Too much alliteration? Mmmmm...). And so, not wanting to feel the evening's magic slowly dribble away, we quit while we are ahead. Jeff is delighted with his birthday present, and it is not hard to see how the House of Magic gets regular repeat custom. Their combination of venue and quality of entertainment is unique. Hmm. Wonder where might be suitable in Bath..?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

This is Ridiculous...

Not sure if I was sulking or something, but it got me down that my techno-incompetence left me unclear how to respond to your comments. So there seemed little point writing a blog - as opposed to a good old fashioned pen and paper journal. However time heals all wounds, and flushed with my recent success creating a Group on Farcebook, I am returning to the fray. So yes - I went to Vegas. It was hot. It was great. So much so, heck - I might even write a blog entry about it...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


So there we are as per, in the Velo Lounge: me and my mate Jon, self-professed Genius. As previously, it turns out - he actually IS.

Both my readers will already know, this Churchill Trust Award means I'm off to Las Vegas soon, to learn about magic, and - crucially - teaching magic. Vector One. (Well, I do have a Maths Magic show...).

Vector Two: I have a Maths Magic show. (Did I mention that already?)

Vector Three: I'm performing recently for a very nice lady and her equally charming friends. She, and several of the friends too, are Maths Teachers. They love the magic, hear about the - well, you know which Show - and wonder if there is anything I can teach them, to liven up a rainy Friday afternoon double maths class with the bottom set year nines? Or indeed any others. Obviously, I say that I could come in and perform the - yup, that. They're very interested, but also want something more personal and permanent, which they can continue to do after I've disapparated again.

Vector Four (is four allowed? Hey - I just do the tricks, it's not like I'm Einstein, OK?): On return from the US, I will be actively looking to teach magic more as well as perform it. Some of this will be gratis, for charity, some of it more along the lines of professional Training, for adults, using magic.

Vector Five (this is getting WAY out of control now, surely? Ed.): I was inspired not long ago at a Corporate Magic seminar, to consider the use of magic for corporate team-building days etc.

So. Still only on his first Leffe, Jon says here's an idea: why don't you offer Teacher Training in Maths Magic? I realise - I don't know. Why don't I? So - I am. Cool eh? In a Mystically Convergent kind of way...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


What could be more International, than an American TV show presided over by an Israeli who lives in England, being filmed in Germany for a Dutch station, featuring a Dutch magician performing Indian Magic? Ah, warms the cockles of your heart to see our art bringing people together.

Well - kind of. Actually 'Phenomenon' is more of a televisual fight to the death (Wands at Dawn?) between contenders for the crown of Top Mind Magician. It originally ran in the US, on primetime but to mixed reception. Seems like they've learned a lot along the way, as the German/Dutch version looks good and features some truly talented performers.

So why am I banging on about this? Well - it's Magic obviously, but there's a more specific reason. One of those performers is my dear Amsterdam chum Wouter, aka Ramana, who has taken his supercool take on Indian Magic all the way to the FINAL!! I'm really excited - as is Uri Geller, who has been championing him all the way.

Wouter and I are both alumni of the International Magic Masterclass, and it's thrilling to see him do so well. For those of you interested in what this is all about, visit and click on the video clip links for Ramana...

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Winston & Me

We go back a long way, me and the Great Man. When I was first getting into magic, age 13, my favourite book was 'Magician's Magic', which describes how Churchill was repeatedly fooled, one wartime evening, by a trick called Out of This World. It's such a classic that magicians still perform it regularly, and no less than Derren Brown featured a version not long ago. I've been a Churchill fan for as long as I can remember, so it was both a surprise and a total delight, when his Memorial Trust agreed to include Moi, in their annual round of Travel Fellowships.

What this means, is that I can fulfil a long cherished aim of visiting Las Vegas, and studying there with the world's best magic teachers! I'll be attending an extended Masterclass with the astounding Jeff McBride (recently featured on Criss Angel's shows among others) and the remarkable Eugene Burger (ditto the Beeb's recent series on magic, and a zillion others). Then since they know everyone who's anyone, hopefully I will get to meet them too, and suck their brains dry. In a nice way, of course. Previously I only experienced Jeff & Eugene's teaching in Amsterdam, for a visiting Masterclass. For a magician, it's life-changing. In an age when Magic, like everything, is increasingly commodified, (ie made into something you can supposedly buy), it's amazing to have the experience of learning it the 'old-fashioned' way - aka the ONLY way, until about 100 years ago. Thank you, Winston.

Thursday, 14 February 2008


Made it to the dizzy heights of the Bath Chronicle today, all to do with this Travel Fellowship thingy I have just been awarded. Of which more anon, but now, in the absence of a hot Valentine date (though the night is young), time to pack for Center Parcs tomorrow...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

New website and blog launched

The new website and blog has been launched, round of applause if you please!