Posts Tagged ‘enchantment’

In the Comfort of Books


I am the first to adopt all sorts of new technology and have benefited greatly from working on-line, with large and complex data sets, on the iPad, the iPhone, and any other piece of time saving technology available; however, I have a lifelong love and commitment to books. Their sheer physicality can never be replaced with technology. They have history, a special smell, a feel, and each one is associated with a different moment in my life.

I particularly like old books. There is something about the way books were produced 100 years ago that makes them more attractive than anything that is on the market today. I grew up with Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Alan Poe, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, Roald Dahl (especially James and the Giant Peach), and the Hardy Boys. Now, I am more prone to dip in an out of Plato, Aristotle and Descartes (the nice, small and natty Everyman editions), as well as some intriguing fiction.

My office is jam packed with books (even after a very painful purging) and my little monastic cell at home has a few hundred more tomes about everything from politics and philosophy to mathematics and magic.

This holiday season, I shall be delving into books on oligarchy, authoritarianism and human rights, along with some escapism through some fiction that is still sitting on the shelf, and even Dalrymple’s monumental Return of the King (funny how history repeats itself).

Nothing beats the satisfaction of holding an old book and appreciating the wafer thin pages, font, look, feel, and size as you curl up with your favourite hot beverage (mine’s a large cup of strong Lavazza) and lose yourself in the words.

I will also be writing and editing a new book called The Magiculum, which is an new exciting project that brings together lifelong magicians from all over the world, who are reflecting on what magic means to them. The essays are all fascinating and all different. Thanks to Enrique Enriquez and Camelia Elias, this book will come to fruition in 2014 from EyeCorner Press!

I also gravitate toward bookshops, especially second hand shops or those that value the magic of books. Wooden floors, shelves bursting with unusual titles, and the sumptuous smell of coffee wafting in the air. These are increasingly rare venues these days, but I hang on to the ones left and approach each new one I find with anticipation and excitement, like Shakespeare and Company in Paris, WatkinsDavid Drummond, Foyles and Skoob in London, Kramer Books in Washington DC, The Bookworm in Beijing, and many more.

As time slows down a bit this season, I hope we all get a chance to pick up a book and get lost for a while. I know I will…


Enchantment for Comic Relief 2011

I am delighted to be performing my show An Evening of Enchantment for Comic Relief 2011 at the New Cut Theatre in Halesworth Suffolk! The show is on 12 March from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm and tickets are just £8.00.

It is really great to be involved in Comic Relief this year and we hope to get as many people as possible to come to the show. The theatre offers a wonderful peforming space and great atmosphere. It seats 220 people and the show is perfect for such an audience.

Themed around the idea of the fluid fabric of the human mind, the show explores unobserved worlds and takes you on many journeys through space, time and the unknown.

The whole area around Halesworth is wonderful with many picturesque villages just a stone’s throw away, including Walberswick, Aldebrugh, Southwold, Orford and Snape. So why not make a weekend of it?

I am grateful to Evanna Harris who has helped write and produce the show. All proceeds from the show go to Comic Relief, which is a great cause and over the years has raised millions of pounds for so many great things. Come along a be a part of it this year!

Magical Lessons from 2010

2010 has been the busiest magic year yet with a wider range of experiences than ever before. I took my magic to China, Mexico, and Chile, each of whch presented different challenges. The whole pace, structure and timing of routines changes in response to these different cultural contexts. The Chinese were delighted to see all sorts of things and loved mentalism, which is not as well known there. Chance routines, peeks and Jim Critchlow’s wonderful Whitestar were all well received (I had many emails abou this effect once I returned to the UK). The Mexicans and Chileans are more closely aligned culturally but also different enough to present certain challenges. I had a great evening with a full mentalism set over dinner with hypnotic trance induction and offbeat revelations from peeks and forces, which all went down very well.

The year also so the staging of my second one-man show An Evening of Enchantment. The show was conceived around the idea of my own quest for deeper understanding of magic and philosophy. The first set was framed around the idea of growing up and the experience of unobserved worlds: a trio of mental card routines that showed how I moved beyond the physical properties of cards; a series of routines based on Dracula and Sherlock Holmes; and my Victorian couplet of Luna and Whitestar. The second set is framed around the idea of Journeys and featured trips to Mongolia, China, my own travel gear (credit cards, cash, phones and a passport), and then ended with a routine framed around the idea of The Fool’s Journey that used my own childhood puppets in a mental riddle that involves giving life to one of the puppets. The show also features music and powerpoint slides, as well as a stage full of curios that enhance the magical ambience. The show sold out at the Headgate and then travelled to Southend and London. It will also be perfomed in Huddersfield in February.

I have to say that none of this show would have been possible without the assistance of Evie Harris, who has helped in co-creating routines; assisting in stage set and layout of props, and assistance with music and powerpoint. We have had long conversations about all aspects of the show and she takes copious notes and gives me fantastic feedback. I hope that I have also contributed to her developing work on The Smoke and Mirrors company. I have used her products in my show and have really enjoyed working with her this past year. The key lesson for me has been the discovery of a trusted friend and colleague with whom I can develop my ideas. I have been burnt in the past in collaboration, but this is one that has worked very well indeed.

In addition to these activities, I had a lot of bookings with so many different audiences and had the honour and pleasure of working on the Magic is Real for Haiti charity event with Ian Rowland. Butley Priory in the deept forest of Suffolk has proved a wonderful venue, and as led to bookings with wonderful clients incuding the Aldebrgh Musc Festival as well as Richard Curtis and Emma Freud. The key lesson here has been the need for total flexibility of material, the willingness to enagge in loss leader activity, and pursuing all leads as they present themselves.

Work on Psycrets and the Tabula Mentis events continued apace with the Banachek event in April and Lennart Green in November. Psycrets continues to grow in the UK and internationally. We are delighted to welcome Barrie Richardson in April for Tabula Mentis IX, which will take place on the 16th and 17th at Huddersfield University (many thanks to Pyscrets member Nik Taylor). I am always impressed by the good will and genersoity of spirit in Psycrets and the comradarie at the events themselves.

My new book Metaphysical Magic: Essays for the Discerning Mystery Entertainercame out this year and has been received well. I learned a great deal working with Lulu and I am grateful to Steve Drury or all the great artwork. I also combined my parallel worlds of academia and magic in ways that have opened up new opportunities, new markets, and new clients. I am grateful for the folks at The Mackman Group ( who assisted in branding and web design ( 

Finally, I had the honour of working on a number of magical projects including some essays for Bill Cushman, Thomas Heine, Labco, and the Talea project with Christo Nicolle.

In all of these ventures, I took many lessons away concenrning collaboration, team work, staging, scripting, the use of music (and the need for copyright free sources), powerpoint for performance anhancement and the unbelievable good will that is out there in the magic community.

Looking forward to new verntures in 2011!

Clifftown Theatre

Last night found me in the new University of Essex Clifftown Theatre for a performance of my show Evening of Enchantment. The venue is superb and the staff were amazingly helpful in the organisation, support and enthusiasm for the show. The theatre is in a refurbished church on Nelson Street in Southend and forms part of the East 15 Acting School at Essex.

The setting was nicely lit and complemented my stage set, which is dripping in Victoriana and filled with mystery and intrigue. We had a good sized audience and plenty of participation as audience members supplied personal objects, thoughts, numbers, words and other things for a journey through the fluid fabric of our collective unconscious last night.

The stage at Clifftown is set!

The show covers many enduring themes:

  • childhood pursuits
  • rational deductivism and psychic power
  • physical and metaphysical manipulation
  • framing and the unobserved world
  • journeys in time, space and spirit

Our final journey is the Fool’s Journey expressed both metaphorically and in reality by revisiting my house and some toy puppets from my youth.

I am pleased with the show as it sold out in its debut at the Headgate Theatre in February and will travel to other venues. Selections from the show made an appearnace last week in the intimate setting of Treadwells Bookshop near Covent Garden.