Monday, 1 July 2013

Flamin' June!

June was a very busy month. On the 6th I gave a lecture "Some of my favourite close up effects" to the Hull Magicians' Circle at the invitation of their President, Professor Eddie Dawes. Luckily I had been doing lots of practice as I showed the same tricks in my talks in May to the Junior sections of the Northern Magic Circle. I had a pleasant evening in Hull where the members are all enthusiastic about magic. 
Sunday 9th June was the Chairman's Day at The Modern Mystic League (Blackburn & District Society of Magicians). The theme this year was birthday magic and I am grateful to all the performers who took part, Donald (compere), Paul (G), Matthew, Trevor (D), Ron, Lorenzo and Brian. It was good to see two of our Junior members having a go as well as some of our experience Senior members. Again a very pleasant afternoon. 
The following week The Modern Mystic League took part in a Victorian charity fun day at Oswaldtwistle Mills. This was interesting as the working conditions at a fair of this type are quite different from the usual dinners and parties. It was hard work but good fun and I got to wear my bowler hat! 
On the 18th June I went to see the brilliant Jan Logemann lecture at the Fylde Mystics' . He is the FISM World Champion of Card Magic. His performing advice was priceless and his effects just mind blowing. Go and see him magicians if you get a chance. 
On my 60th birthday weekend I celebrated 50 years in magic as it all began with a David Nixon magic set when I was 10 years old! I know many magicians who have been involved longer than this but it is still a significant period. 
The Northern Magic Circle President's Day on the 23rd June was a splendid occasion when many friends came from all over the north of England and elsewhere. I gave my lecture on Houdini v Hodgson, The Blackburn Challenge 1902 and after a lovely buffet tea we had a magic show from Brian, Paul and Donald, all members of both the MML and the NMC. Brian was a humorous compere, Paul baffled with some great effects and Donald was just so funny. Paul had a special item which produced my picture (see the photos on my Facebook page).
Then on Thursday 27th the monthly MML Workshop meeting was as enjoyable as ever with lots of discussion and ideas being presented. Paul (Guy) is lecturing at the MML on 14th July and he should be worth watching as he has a great reputation for adapting magic effects in an original way.
Away from magic I am reading about Castles and Dan Brown's latest "Inferno" which I am enjoying as Joan and I visited Florence, Italy a few years ago and spent a week (not long enough!) exploring all the Renaissance sites which are referenced to so much in his book. Incidentally, Dan Brown's birthday is also on the 22nd June! 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

National Health Service - urgent care experience

No wonder NHS Accident and Emergency is said to be in crisis! Our son Robert was taken by ambulance to the Royal Blackburn Hospital urgent care unit yesterday having suffered a series of epileptic fits. We arrived around 3 p.m. and (having left Robert in hospital overnight for observations) finally got home after 11 p.m. after 8 hours with a lot of waiting about. I cannot praise the ambulance, medical and hospital staff enough. They did a thoroughly professional job and Robert has now been allowed home. However, the urgent care unit appeared to be overwhelmed. There seemed to be so many patients who had walked in; they would have a very long wait after emergencies and those brought in by ambulance. But, why were they there at all? Minor injuries should be treated locally either at the local health hub or by general practitioners. 
Unfortunately, it being a particularly busy Saturday night (I suppose they all are), the situation is not helped by those abusing alcohol and drugs who are part of the standard fare I suppose of these units. They put great pressure on the staff, who continue to be patient and professional despite the abuse and bad language, and unnerve other patients who have a genuine need to 
be there.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Northern Magic Circle

The Northern Magic Circle Council meeting on Sunday was most productive and I am looking forward to an exciting Convention next year. Plans are ongoing and it certainly looks most promising. 
I must spare a thought for my good friend and magic colleague Mo Howarth. He rang yesterday to day he had had a heart attack and had been in the Royal Blackburn Hospital for three days although was now home again. He must rest and will miss lots of magic events in the next few weeks. Get well soon Mo!
I have e-mailed all the Northern Magic Circle members and Modern Mystic League members on e-mail to let me know if they are coming to my President's Day at the Sunnybank Social Club, Helmshore, Rossendale, Lancashire BB4 4LQ on Sunday 23rd June. Commencing at 3 p.m. there is an updated lecture on Houdini v Hodgson, The Blackburn Challenge 1902, by me, followed by a buffet tea and raffle and then entertainment from some good friends at the Modern Mystic League. I am hoping it will be an enjoyable and fun day. For those travelling further there are the Helmshore Textiles Museum, the Musbury Fabrics Mill Shop and the Holden Vale Antiques Centre all nearby with cafes for morning coffee or lunch.
There is a workshop meeting of the Modern Mystic League later this week. These are always enjoyable and you cannot fail to come away without some new ideas and renewed enthusiasm.
I received the new Roberto Giobbi book this week, The Art of Switching Decks. It certainly looks good and another one to add to the list to study! 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Northern Magic Circle Yorkshire Juniors

I visited the Northern Magic Circle Yorkshire Juniors last night (following my visit to the Newcastle section last week) and had a good time showing them some of my favourite close up magic tricks and explaining them. Their enthusiasm is infectious and it is good to see them learning so much about magic. Su Jayne was there again with Stevie B (immediate Past President of the Northern Magic Circle). I am sure the juniors appreciate the time Su Jayne and Stevie give to the Junior Section. The drive over was not great with a traffic jam at the end of the M65 (which I suppose is to be expected on a Friday tea time). I thought the drive home would be easier but ended up following a convoy of fairground lorries and caravans for quite a way! Have now sorted out the tricks ready for my next visit. What a great interest magic is :-)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Northern Magic Circle Juniors

My talk to the Northern Magic Circle Junior section seemed to go well. I demonstrated some of my favourite close up tricks and then explained them. It is the first time I have given this type of lecture as opposed to lectures and talks on the history of magic. 
I am visiting the Ilkley Junior section soon to repeat the whole process. 
I am very grateful to Don & Pam Beattie who provided me with hospitality when I visited the north east. We had a lovely meal and had a great chat about many things during the course of the evening.
Su Jayne and John Russell do a lot to keep the Junior section going for which all members of the NMC should be grateful. It means that the Juniors are full of enthusiasm and keen to learn new things. These are experiences that not only relate to magic but to life itself. 

Newcastle Upon Tyne

I went up to Newcastle Upon Tyne on Friday last to give a talk to the Northern Magic Circle Juniors on Saturday morning. It is only the second time I've been back to Newcastle since I was a law student there at the University 1971 - 1974! The city is much bigger and busier than I remembered. I had a good walk around and many things have changed in forty years of course! However, some things are still the same. The magnificent view down Grey Street, for example. I walked up Richardson Road to the Castle Leazes Halls of Residence where I lived then. The Halls are still there. Did we walk so much every day to go to University? My room overlooked the main reception so I could see who was coming and going. Unfortunately the Honours Board has been stored away - I was Junior Common Room Secretary. 
Grainger Market is still brilliant with Robinson's bookshop still going (founded in 1881). There are many new buildings at the University but the Arches are still the same of course. 
There are many new shopping malls. The view of the bridges across the Tyne is still impressive. The refectory at the Cathedral contains a cafe with a refreshing cup of tea and biscuits. 
I would like to return again with Joan and spend more time exploring Newcastle and the Northumberland coast.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Rossendale Free Press

I am very pleased with the article which appeared in our local newspaper the "Rossendale Free Press" today as attached. 

This report is accurate and informative and the photograph isn't too bad either! It was taken when the Modern Mystic League (Blackburn & District Society of Magicians) paid a visit to the Bradford Magic Circle. 

Thanks to Brian Taylor who has generously scanned our book "Showmen Or Charlatans? The stories of 'Dr' Walford Bodie and 'Sir' Alexander Cannon" which has been submitted to to add to the publications already available as pdf downloads. 

I hope the mention of my website will bring some bookings for my talks!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Other electronic publications available

I am pleased to say that Demagic and Josephine Langley Lady Ventriloquist my other publications are now available on as pdf downloads at the very reasonable prices of $20 and $6 respectively. Although I like printed books best there is no doubt that electronic publishing is here to stay as well and it is a good medium for obtaining ebooks at bargain prices. 
The only publication I have not yet published as an ebook is Showmen Or Charlatans? The Stories of 'Dr' Walford Bodie and 'Sir ' Alexander Cannon. At 72 pages I do not have a scanned or pdf copy yet although this is still available as a printed book - see my website

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Houdini books

The Houdini books by Brian Lead and myself "Houdini The Myth Maker" (long out of print) and "Harry Houdini Legend and Legacy" are now available as pdf downloads on At only $12 each this is excellent value and I hope many new readers will enjoy our researches into  Houdini's various challenges which appear in these books.

Colombini Farewell Tour 2013

I went to the Farewell lecture Tour 2013 by Aldo and Rachel Colombini at the Manchester Circle of Magicians last night and it was excellent. They explained many tricks, told us the story of Rachel's heart surgery and Aldo was very funny. The tricks were all easy to do and very good with an emphasis on presentation and effect rather than complex methods. The lecture notes are well produced at £10 and there were a number of DVDs also for sale at £10 each. I am not a big fan of DVDs usually preferring books but Aldo's explanations are always straightforward and easy to follow. Their website is also very good where everything is $10. If you get ten effects on each DVD at £10 that's only £1 per effect which must be great value for money. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Northern Magic Circle

The Northern Magic Circle Convention at Whitby was excellent with some of the best lectures and shows I have seen at this Convention over many years. It was a friendly Convention and the Whitby Pavilion proved to be quite a good venue. The four dealers on display were all good too.
I was very proud to be made President 2013-2014 on the Sunday evening when I said a few words. I am looking forward to visiting the affiliated societies with Joan during my year of office. I am also going to talk to the Juniors in Newcastle and Ilkley next month. 
Articles about my appointment are due to appear in the "Lancashire Evening Telegraph" and "Rossendale Free Press" shortly. 
The entry about me in my new website has been updated to include my appointment as President. When I joined the Northern Magic Circle in 1970, 43 years ago (I was a child prodigy!), little did I know that one day I would become President. I am going to enjoy the year of office very much.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Website and others

Thanks to Brian Taylor who assisted me with set up and design I now have a magic talks flyer, new business cards and a new web site to advertise my magic talks, publications and close up magic for private parties, weddings and exclusive events. I have had some interest already and am looking forward to lots of bookings!  

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Time flies so fast when you are having fun! It is ages since I last posted on my blog! The Centenary History of The Modern Mystic League (Blackburn and District Society of Magicians) is all but complete ready to be published later this year just in time for Christmas:-)
The story of Chris Van Bern is taking a lot longer as there is more to add about his performances and his appearances throughout the country. I have purchased a new laser printer to I can produce my own booklets etc. 
I am also looking at presenting magic talks to clubs and societies. To that end Brian Taylor has assisted me with designing a flyer and new business cards. I am hoping to have a new web site soon too. 
The Northern Magic Circle Convention at Whitby will soon be here when I am being installed as President of the Northern Magic Circle 2013 - 2014. As Helen and James have decided to get married in 2104 it is certainly going to be a busy year!
Brian Lead and I are also arranging to have our earlier books on Houdini available via pdfs on the web site which is a great resource for magic pdfs. 
So much for a quiet retirement!