The first instalment of this blog covered the most memorable ups and downs that happened in my early days of performing magic (if you’ve not read part one of this blog you can find it here https://www.scoopmagic.co.uk/scoops-most-unforgettable-gigs/). Now I’d like to tell you about some of the more interesting experiences I’ve had as an established magician.
One of my earliest gigs completely unrelated to Camelot was also one of my best. I was hired to entertain families flying out to Lapland at Christmas. This involved greeting them at the airport, entertaining them on the flight over and then just joining in with all the activities which included: dog sledding, reindeer sledding, tobogganing, snow mobiling, a tour of Santa’s village where I’d meet the reindeer and the elves before meeting the main man himself! I’d then fly back the same day, usually entertaining different guests who had been there for a few days but occasionally I’d have the entire plane to myself. These occasions were brilliant, I’d have a laugh with the cabin crew, I could lie down and sleep across the seats, I got a choice of food and they even let me in the cockpit!
All that was amazing but there was one drawback, I’m based in Lancashire and the airport I was flying from was… Gatwick. This meant I had to set off at midnight, drive down to London, do the full day of entertaining and activities, fly back to Gatwick then drive home to get back at midnight the following day. That’s right it was a 24 hour day. I also had other gigs in between so I couldn’t just stay in London. In fact the worst bit was when there was two days of Lapland together because I didn’t have time to get home and back. That’s when I’d end up sleeping in my car (which isn’t great in December it turns out) or on the airport benches before using the airport facilities to freshen up then straight back to work. I should have got a hotel really but the prices near Gatwick at Christmas were just too high for me to justify it for the sake of a few hours sleep.
There were only a few occasions when I had to endure these minor hardships and overall it was definitely, indisputably, massively worth it! If this is what being a professional entertainer away from the comfort of a regular gig such as Camelot was going to be like I was ready for more.
- Some Random Corporate Gig
I’ve done a lot of corporate entertainment over the years for massive multi-national companies alongside entertainers who are household names as well as for small businesses where it was just me and a DJ. At one of these events I was booked with two of my good friends, Paul Roberts (who crops up in my blogs way too often!) and Shaun Bowen. The gig itself was good but as part of the job we had been provided with overnight accommodation in a five-star hotel which had a nightclub.
Now you’re probably starting to think that this story is going to involve drunken shenanigans and it kind of is but not from me or my magician friends. We just had a couple of quiet pints in the hotel bar but there was another group of revellers who were in and out of the nightclub and were well and truly on it. One of their number inevitably decided to have a little nap on one of the couches in the bar. I don’t know how it started but we decided to use the elastic bands, that we’d been doing tricks with at the gig, as catapults to fire folded up playing cards at the snoozing drunkard as well as at anyone who came to check up on him.
Reading this back I’m thinking it might not actually seem that funny or memorable to you but we had a whale of a time trying to look innocent and stifle our childish giggles every time we scored a direct hit and either sleeping beauty (large, drunk, bearded blokes can be beautiful too!) or one of his cohorts would be looking around, confused, wondering what just happened.
- Brittany Ferries
I worked on the Cap Finistere Ferry which goes from England to France to Spain and back. It was for ten days in January so it was hardly a sun-drenched pleasure cruise but it was quite nice on the occasions that I managed to spend time in Santander, Spain and the scenery, ships and landmarks on the way into Portsouth are pretty spectacular. My job was to go around and do close-up magic for the passengers in the bars and restaurants. I’m guessing that usually there are plenty of families heading off on their holidays but in January it was mostly tired burly truckers who had no interest in being entertained whatsoever! It was a tough ten days and I spent a lot of it on my own in my tiny cabin practicing new tricks and routines.
However, the most memorable part was when we hit some particularly bad weather, I’ve never experienced anything like it. The ship would ride up the enormous waves before plunging down the other side. Needless to say it was even more tricky than it had been to get people to watch and enjoy magic. In the bar they had specially designed shelves to keep all the glasses on them even in bad weather but they weren’t designed to deal with this level of roughness. Glasses and bottles were going everywhere! After I’d finished my allotted performance slot I headed back to my cabin. When you were trying to walk along a corridor one second you’d be really struggling and feeling like you weighed a couple of tons, the next second you’d be flying down the corridor feeling completely weightless and unstoppable. This made for pretty funny viewing so I wedged my cabin door open and witnessed the chaos. I’m sorry, maybe my sense of humour is a little cruel, but there was nothing I could do to help, no one got hurt and I didn’t have a telly.
- Conwy Castle
Due to my background in medieval entertainment I’ve performed at a number of castles halls, towers and stately homes over the years but last year it was my privilege and pleasure to perform at Conwy’s Tournament thanks to the town’s resident jester, Erwyd. If you’ve never been to Conwy it’s a small market town in Wales completely dominated by the ruins of a castle. It really is like stepping back in time even on a normal day but on this day the whole town had been taken over by medieval entertainment. I met some great people, made new friends and there was SO much going on; from jousting tournaments to medieval craft workshops from archery demonstrations to dance displays.
I was doing magic shows within the ruins of the castle itself and it was just beautiful, especially later in the day as the sun began to dip. There’s not much else to say, no funny anecdote or tale of woe just the simple pleasure of being in such spectacular surroundings with no lights, music or mic, just performing for a great crowd of people as their claps and cheers echoed off the ancient walls.
- (Not So) Real Housewives
I’ve done quite a bit of magic for TV (see my earlier blog https://www.scoopmagic.co.uk/tv-magic/ for more on my TV appearances) but I had never done anything for so called reality TV (unless you count Don’t Tell The Bride) so when I got booked to perform on Real Housewives of Cheshire I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t even watch anything like TOWIE or Made In Chelsea so this genre was completely alien to me.
It turns out it’s almost exactly like filming for the soaps, it’s all completely set up and stage managed for the cameras. To be honest I’ve no idea how they get away with calling it reality TV, it’s basically Hollyoaks with a little bit less scripting! I managed to make it a little bit more real though. I was supposed to be entertaining at a party (which was completely fictional and everyone the was a paid extra) and they got me to do some of my stage magic in a situation where I would NEVER usually do it. So I made my pet dove Barry the Bird appear and he didn’t hesitate to let everyone know exactly what he thought by doing a massive poo! Perfect. There was no second take, that was that but fortunately everyone seemed to think it was pretty funny and of course that’s the bit they focussed on when the programme aired.
In case anyone thinks I’m being insulting to Real Housewives by pointing out how fake it all is I’m really not, I’m sure it’s very entertaining. I was just really surprised by how unreal it was for supposedly reality television or even constructed reality television as I’m informed it’s called. The whole experience felt strange but everyone was really lovely and I was surprised to bump into another magician friend of mine, Matt Windsor, who was also being filmed for the show.
And those are the gigs that stick out in my mind when I look back at my time spent performing. Please feel free to comment, like or share this or any of my blogs. Also, if you’ve got a story from one of my shows I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment or send a message. Finally, if you are looking for an experienced and versatile magician don’t hesitate to get in touch through the ‘Contact Scoop’ link or on the contact details below. Thanks for reading.