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"The Magician, The Magic Shows and The Entertainment"

29 March 2011

The British Magical Society's Annual Dinner and Dance

 
President: Liz Warlock

0n Saturday 26th March, the British Magical Society held its Annual Dinner and Dance at the Ramada Hotel in Sutton Coldfield. The dinner, for those of you who don't know, is the culmination of the society's year, and Saturday evening saw Elizabeth Warlock round off her second-term as president in fine style.

After a lovely three-course meal, and the obligatory speeches - including a very humorous one from our President - it was time for the BMS Awards Ceremony. Jay Adkins, Norman Smith and George Symes received awards for various competitions they'd won over the last twelve months, while John Jeremy won the Fred Walker Memorial Award for outstanding contribution.

David Berglas
The final presentation was the, much coverted, David Berglas Award which is always presented by the man himself. A star-studded list of previous winners include: Paul Daniels, Wayne Dobson, Geoffrey Durham, Ali Bongo, John Fisher, Peter Warlock, Elizabeth Warlock, Paul Kiev, Pat Page, Alex Emlsley, Terry Herbert and David Berglas, himself. This years recipient was Derren Brown, the only magician currently with his own show on television (Channel Four) and, without doubt, the most popular magician in the country at the moment.

Derren Brown

 David Berglas, a Past President of the Magic Circle (1989-98), and a legend in the world of magic, was once again in attendance, but unfortunately, Derren could not attend the dinner due to his gruelling tour schedule. We did, however, get to see him receive the award via a video presentation. Derren expressed his deep gratitude and said that: "It is a great honour to receive such an amazing award". The huge silver trophy will take pride of place in his magic den at his studio. Everyone agreed that this was a well-deserved award.

With the presentations over, it was straight into the cabaret which was compared by, society treasurer, John Jeremy. The opening act was Joe Swing, aka magic dealer, Zane. It was an unusual act that Joe Swing presented - a sort of a magical tribute to the Rat Pack. He sang a range of songs, made famous by the Vegas stars, whilst at the same time performing magic.Brian Shefton followed with his suave manipulation act. Appearing cards, coins, thimbles, billiard balls and a beautiful presentation of the classic "Floating Zombie" effect, perfectly timed to classicial music. High Jinx closed the cabaret with an act that was like a mini-variety show, including: magic, illusions, juggling, unicycle riding, an optical illusion and a straight jacket escape performed to "Duelling Banjos" - a wonderful piece of music that was used, and made famous, by the film - Deliverance. 

The evening was rounded of with some live music and the oppertunity to dance; most took the chance to catch up with old friends and acquaintances, discuss the evenings events and, of course, have another drink.

Whilst it is sad to note that the attendance was significantly lower than the last time I attended (four years ago), those who did attend were treated to a very enjoyable evening. I look forward to next years event which will be held at - a yet to be announced - new venue.










22 March 2011

The Magic of Writing



Andy working his Magic

You may have noticed  a few changes in my blog-page. The new name and appearance have been designed  to reflect the two passions in my life — magic and writing. I hope you like the new site.  And I thought this would be a good point to tell you how I became a magician and an author...

The love of magic, and the dream to become a magician, started with "A Box of Tricks" given as a present one Christmas, and that love has never left me. For many years, magic was an obsessive hobby but at the age of twenty-seven I finally decided to take the plunge, and leave my secure job in the insurance industry, and move into the daunting realms of self-employment. It was a risky decision but, nineteen-years later, I have no regrets.

The writing bug hit me much later in life. Just two-years ago, we took a family holiday abroad, and whilst there, and for something to read during the long wait for my partner to get ready in the evenings (I hope she doesn’t read that bit), I picked up an old tattered book which was full off very short stories - they were absolutely awful. I jokingly said that I could write better stories and get them published. The idea stuck in my mind and with loads of ideas buzzing around in my head, I decided to put pen to paper (finger to keypad, actually).

It was by no means easy and my first attempt was quite poor. I quickly realized that I needed to revisit and brush up on my grammar and punctuation skills which had, over the years, become very rusty, indeed. An English course at college helped in that department.

A few months later, and determined to learn more about the writing business, I joined the Worcester Writers’ Circle. Getting published is not an easy task and I was constantly told by members to ‘Expect lots of rejections’. My first submission was indeed rejected but I guess I got lucky because my second submission—a short story called: 'Framed with love’— was accepted (published in First Edition Magazine, July's Edition, 2009). It was an amazing feeling to have achieved my ambition so quickly, and to be able to see my own story in print in a national magazine. More success followed with three more pieces being accepted and published; most recently I entered a "Flash Fiction Competition" and was amazed when I was informed that I'd come 2nd out of 150. Of course, I have had just as many rejections as acceptances but that's just how it goes in the writing game.

It's fair to say that I have, well and truly, caught the writing bug and as a magician I think that writing is as magical as any trick I have ever performed. I love the whole process of putting a story idea together, the research, the first draft and then the many edits that follow—until finally your piece is ready to send to that unsuspecting publisher.

There are a lot of comparisons to be made between a magic act and a short story. Each must have a strong start to hook your audience. Both must continue to captive their imagination, hold their attention and make them want more. And, finally, it must always have a memorable finish. And if I'm comparing the two arts with one another then it could be said that — If writing is the magic, then getting your work published must be the trick.






17 March 2011

Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour



The Man Himself - Bruno Mars
I was lucky enough to get hold of a pair of tickets for the Bruno Mars mini-tour. The venue was the HMV Institute in Birmingham, and if, like me, you've never heard of this venue then I strongly recommend that you check it out — it really is worth a visit.
 
The HMV Institute, formerly The Barfly Club, maybe a small venue (1500 capacity) but for me it was an ideal way to see one of the most successful pop stars of the last twelve-months.
 
Dressed in his trade-mark hat, Mars waltzed onto stage to screams of delight from a small but jam-packed audience and delivered a flawless, pitch-perfect vocal performance. It was a fascinating gig and a great way to showcase his laid back, rhythmic, big band sound.
 
Playing a barrage of hits from his world-wide smash hit debut album -"Doo-Wops & Hooligans" - he teased the audience, with his slick and stylish movements, as he sang his way through songs like: Runaway Baby, Marry You, Count On Me, The Lazy Song, Our First Time, Talking To The Moon, The Otherside,  and a brilliant version of Michael Jackson's, Billie Jean. He also sang Billionaire — the Travie McCoy song on which he featured — and it went down a storm as the crowd sang along.
 
Also on stage was special guest, rapper, B.o.B and together they electrified the audience with their hit song Nothing On You. But the highlights were, without doubt, his two number one hits, Grenade and Just The Way You Are which sent the crowd into hysterical overdrive.


Bruno Interacting with the crowd

It was nice to see how much time he took interacting with the audiance, and he also annouced that, earlier that day,  his record company had told him that his album "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" had gone platinum, and deservedly so. And after such a superb performance, it was hard to believe that just a couple of years ago this young man was earning a living jamming at local bars for tips.  But I'm sure that this is just the start of a massive carrer for Bruno Mars.

Other Blog Posts you may be interested in.

Penn and Teller: Fool Us
William Shatner, The Pendragons and what went wrong?