Magic in the summer usually involves lots of requests to perform outdoors. June and July are the months when villages, schools, churches and many other organizations hold their summer fetes. I have performed at several this year.
Performing close up magic for small groups of people, adults or children, works very well. This can be done either by strolling around performing for people as the magician meets them or working from a base with a table and entertaining people as they go past. I often attract attention with some plate spinning which is very visual and which children of ALL ages (I’ve had people in their eighties having a go) enjoy trying to do.
Performing a magic show for children, which is often requested, is another matter and I generally decline unless the show can be performed indoors which is seldom the case. I have found over the last 20 years that magic shows work best when performed indoors. The reasons are many, the weather being a major factor. The possibility of rain in our country is obvious but sunny days also bring problems in that the sun can be in the eyes of the performer or those of the audience. Gusts of wind can also wreak havoc with the magician’s props, often to the amusement of the audience but difficult for the magician. It is also difficult to hold the attention of the audience with constant chatter from parents and people walking past. If the organizers insist on an outdoor performance I normally recommend a Punch and Judy Show where the operator is in an enclosed booth oblivious to what else is going on around him.
Recently I was asked to perform a show at a school fete. I explained my views to the enquirer and declined the booking. However, she was very persuasive and on the promise of being given a marquee in which to perform, against my better judgment I agreed. When I arrived at the venue I asked where I should go and was pointed to a two sided gazebo about eight feet by eight. I expressed my doubts but said I would do my best. Despite my use of a PA system I could still hear some of the mums chattering close by which is off putting and sad to say all too common. It was also a windy evening and the sides of the gazebo kept blowing in and knocking over some of my props. I was on my last trick of the second of two 20 minute shows when the heavens opened and the audience made a dash for the shelter of my gazebo with obvious effects on my speakers which were knocked over but fortunately not damaged.
Only yesterday I was asked to perform a show in the open air. I declined.
The Associated Wizards of the South which meets in Hedge End near Southampton, was founded in 1911 and is the fourth oldest magic society in the U.K. At its annual general meeting last night, 3rd May 2016, I was surprised and delighted to be made an Honorary Life Member for services to the club over the last twenty years.
Houdini was an honorary member of the society and is pictured with founder members in this photograph taken on Southampton docks in 1913.The tall man to the immediate left of Houdini is Professor Harry Woodley who lived in West Wellow. Prof. Woodley was President of the Society in 1924/25 and again in 1970/71 the Society’s Diamond Jubilee year. He is still fondly remembered by many older people in the Romsey area.
My Magic Show seemed to go down well with the Nepalese Community in Andover on Saturday when I entertained at their New Year party with my assistant Mirrah. Here is a photograph of some of the ladies in the audience with Mirrah, dressed in black, centre right.
The magic show comprised a mixture of magical effects for both children and adults including three illusions. Mirrah acted as my assistant for two of the illusions as well as performing an effect herself and a male “volunteer” from the audience helped with the third.
The Nepalese were a great audience and I hope to work for them again sometime. I think a lot of the men present were former Gurkhas and I couldn’t help wondering what some of them had done in their lives. Having visited the Gurkha Museum in Winchester last month I realise why they are so highly respected by the British armed forces and feared by their enemies. Prince Harry was reported last month to have said that if you are in a war zone the safest place to be is next to a Gurkha.
Close up magic is one of my favourite types of magic and last night I was performing it at the King Rufus pub in Chandlers Ford. The occasion was the 65th birthday of a gentleman who has spent much of his life in football management. He’s obviously a fun loving person with a lot of friends because he had planned three birthday parties, last night’s being the first. He also likes magic as the other two will also have a magician to entertain. I thoroughly enjoyed performing for a great audience so if you read this “Thank you Barrie.”
This week at a meeting of The Associated Wizards of the South (fourth oldest magic club in the country) I was pleased to meet a lady magician Mirrah. Mirrah is from Bulgaria and although fairly new to magic, shows a lot of promise. As I have a cabaret show next week entertaining the Nepalese community in Andover, I asked her if she would like to assist me with a couple of illusions. So we have teamed up for this event and perhaps more. I met my previous three assistants in restaurants so it’s refreshing to find one in a magic club.
Magic for me seems to make the time go faster. No sooner has Christmas passed than it’s Easter.
Apart from private party bookings I have two magic shows in pubs for children and families next weekend. On Easter Sunday I am returning to the Bedes Lea pub in North Baddesley, a repeat of a performance I gave there at Halloween last year. Then on Easter Monday I shall be at another pub in the same group, The Stonehenge Inn. Both are carveries so if you want a good family lunch followed by a magic show why not come along? On the recommendation of the owner of the group I also had a private party booking at another of their pubs last weekend, in Stoford near Salisbury, so I guess I’m doing something right in their eyes.
This week saw the passing of Paul Daniels, probably the most successful British magician in living memory and one of the most knowledgeable. I remember attending a seminar he ran about 12 years ago where he talked about the business of magic. It lasted from 10.00 in the morning until 4.00pm with a lunch break and the odd comfort break, such was his knowledge of the business. He will be missed by the magic fraternity.
Magic Shows in 2016 are getting off to a good start with plenty of bookings coming in for January. Magic over Christmas and the new year has been good with some good quality bookings. Apart from my work as a magician I am also looking forward to attending the Blackpool Magicians Club Convention in February which attracts some 3,000 magicians from all over the world. Whilst it’s not until September, I am also looking forward to the annual convention of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians which this year will be held in the delightful town of Buxton. The photograph shows me meeting the legendary Sooty the last time I was in Buxton.
To all my clients and fellow magicians I wish a happy and prosperous 2016.
Christmas Eve has arrived and I’ve finished a successful programme of Christmas shows. These included the usual children’s parties for schools, pre-school groups etc, close up performances at dinners and several cabaret style performances for the residents of various care homes, including several repeat bookings.
I’ll spend time with the family over Christmas and then look forward to performing some close up magic at The Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on New Year’s Eve.
I performed a cabaret show at a day centre for the elderly today in The New Forest. It went very well. I was however surprised that as I was leaving a lovely lady called me over and said how nice it was to have me there and that she hoped I would come again. I cheerfully replied that it was up to them of course. She then said that she had trouble sleeping and that the sleeping pills the doctor gave her were no good. However she had managed to sleep throughout my show and was sorry that she had missed it!!! So a new opportunity opens up to me, performing for insomniacs.
Magic of Christmas is a term we hear and read a lot at this time of year. Over the years I have written several letters to the Daily Telegraph on a range of subjects but have never had one published, UNTIL NOW. It is shown below and to my mind the short story portrays the Magic of Christmas.
I am a magician and children’s entertainer. Some time ago I received an inquiry from Southampton. “We are having a Christmas party in our Hindu temple and would like you to entertain the children,” the man said.
I agreed and then remarked “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you are having a Christmas party in your Hindu temple?”
“Yes, we all live together in this country and should get on together.”
An example to us all.