Mandy Davis - Diva of Deception

The Diva of Deception, Mandy Davis, is a professional close up magician and balloon modeller working for the corporate market as well as banquets, dinners, receptions, weddings, bar/batmitzvahs, private parties etc. As a member of The Magic Circle, she is chairman of the Young Magicians Club and editor of their coveted glossy magic magazine. Mandy is also a member of Equity.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


It's certainly something to blog about - I finally made it to NYC with the amazing help of Margaret Steele who took me back to her home for a few days - from where I was able to commute to and from Grand Central Station which was an experience in itself. I won't write more - but one of the highlights was going to the top of the Empire State Building where I was able to take these photos so I'll keep quiet and let them talk for me instead:
The atmosphere was fabulous and there was hardly any problem with crowds after 9.30 or so at night - it just made the experience a whole lot better.
The one day photography class I took the weekend before the trip certainly helped too - in spite of learning that my one year old camera was, in fact, useless for the kinds of pictures I want to take - namely those of action (magic performances) in low light. Well at least these buildings weren't moving!
There are many more photos - but none that give such an overview of my trip. I met up with some incredible people too - see my FB page for those. So thanks go to Bruce, Arlene and Wendy Kalver who welcomed me into their home for so long; once more to Margaret Steele - and to Maggie, Alexis and John the Chiropractor who made my visit to Peekskill such an adventure, not forgetting the local rotary club. Then thanks to Jann Goodsell, Ed, Eric and, of course, Vinny who were all old friends that I met with once more; to Phil Levy and Mike Maione for a fabulous day's sightseeing; Roger Dreyer and Fantasma Magic - what a fortuitous arrival at the store; to Simon Lovell for being Simon - the one I know so well; to Rory Feldman on a horrendous day of torrential rain and flash floods who whisked me from the station in a cab for a deli lunch at Katz's and then to see his incredible Thurston collection, supper with him and Kara and transport back to my train. And finally thank you to all the members of the Advanced Toastmasters group - as well as the Warwick group whose pool party I invaded! On the Monday the advanced group had me evaluating a speech as well as delivering a table topic - whilst on the following day, thanks to Ed Sturka, I had to write and deliver a textbook speech whilst standing on a lanae (word of the day) by the poolside in competition with the sound of crickets, very vocal ones at that!
So that was my trip in a nutshell and I'll never forget it! I want to go back but ... things are never the same... who knows? After all three months ago I never dreamed.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



He only made it two weeks past his 69th birthday but he was so proud of that one – he told everyone on that day that he was soixante-neuf! He died in December 1992 of a massive heart attack – which I believe was in answer to his fervent prayers. You see he didn’t want to live as an amputee and, the night before the doctors had told him that he would have to lose his leg… Who am I talking about? My dad….

You know about my mum - well I should give you the rounded picture and introduce you to my dad.

Matthew Davis was born in the East End of London in 1923. London in 1923 and grew up there with very little money but a very loving home. He would always boast that he was a true Cockney, born within the sound of Bow Bells. He grew up there with very little money but a very loving home. He had a sister, Estelle or Baby Stella as she was known for too many years, and he idolised her completely. He himself was still called Mattie by his aunts and uncles well into adulthood – although to everyone else he was always Matt.

School was JFS, the Jewish Free School, where the pupils were given a pair of boots every year as so many of them had never owned any. He loved learning, anything and everything but he had to leave school at fourteen to help the family finances.

As a youngster he would spend the weekends roaming the streets of London and one of his particular favourite haunts was the Tower of London itself. He became friendly with some of the Yeomen there, or Beefeaters as they are colloquially known, and he learned many tales which were passed down verbally to the fraternity rather than written in the history books. He never stopped learning about his favourite city – right up until he died. Every week he would spend an hour in the local library reading through the Encyclopaedia of London. We would say: ‘What letter did you get to today, then?’ and receive the reply ‘Oh, I’m at E or F or G – and did you know…?

Dad loved to tell stories, particularly based on the history he’d learned, He would share great chunks of his knowledge with us as soon as we were old enough to understand words. Whatever the story, true or a bit made up, he would give us graphic details and end the whole thing with ‘And I know this – because I was there!’

Of course I believed him completely, well he was my dad so he wouldn’t lie! Whether stone age times, the Armada or his favourite – the Great Fire – I really believed him – until I reached an age when I could understand the twinkle in his eye when he said it! I still hoped, against hope, that maybe he had some sort of magic potion or time machine that meant he really did manage to be present all those amazing events. Because of this attitude of his I grew to love the writings of Charles Dickens because there was a man who really was there!

He was in the army during World War II - he was a Gunner and that meant being a driver too. He was always stationed in the UK and escaped the worst when he was on weekend leave and returned to find all his batallion had gone over to France while he had been gone - thus saving him the carnage of the final push. He was finally invalided out due to asthma - which he never suffered from again once the war ended.

He studied at night and became a dress designer with his own factory and eventually, when i was very small, he opened a market stall on Saturdays, and on Wednesdays from 1973, in St. Albans - the first in the country to have a changing booth so customers could try on the dresses instead of taking a chance.

He loved watching magic, really loved it, and instilled a love of it in me too. He also loved comedy and musicals. Side by side we’d sit watching Tommy Cooper, Fred Astaire and Paul Daniels (not in the same film you understand). Mum didn’t enjoy these at all – her love was horror in the form of Dracula and other gory tales – but she sat alongside us as dad and I wallowed in our magical musical enjoyment.

When I was nine and a half years old my dad was ill. I didn’t understand what was going on – I just knew that there was whispering in corners, phone calls from doctors, rushing out to hospital appointments. I spent one day in school crying the whole time. Then they explained to me that he had too much sugar in his blood and had to stop eating sweet things because he was overweight.

Six months later my parents noticed that I had become very thin and with the same symptoms! Sure enough I was diagnosed with diabetes too – but as a child I had to start giving myself injections twice a day.

I spent ten days in hospital learning to do it and then one of my parents had to learn too. My mum bottled it straight away – she was not going to stick needles into her beloved daughter. So Dad had to hide his revulsion at the task and take on the responsibility. He did so with love and anguish because he felt that he was somehow responsible – the shock of him getting ill had possibly given it to me he’d been told.

But he set the tone for the rest of my life when he sat me down the first time I tried to cope with that injection at home without the safety net of the nursing staff around me:

‘Mandy, you have to remember always: this is not an illness, it’s just an inconvenience.’

And that is how I’ve lived my life – because my dad, my hero, set the scene and made it possible for me to do so.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


When my phone sprang to life at 7.10 a.m. on April Fool's Day I didn't answer it. I saw the name on the front telling me who was calling and I switched it off!

Maybe you won't understand - maybe there are some of you who will.... it said that Mum on the label, meaning the home where my mother had lived for the past seven years and two months. She had Alzheimers' Disease - she didn't know where she was, she didn't know me, she could no longer talk, sit up, feed herself... alll she could do, and that was rare now, was smile.

When i saw the name and the time I knew they weren't calling this time to tell me she had a scratch on her face or a Urinary Tract Infection (quite common in either elderly ladies or homes, I was never sure which). IT WAS OVER...

She had gone. Oh, I thought, my poor little mum but she is at peace now. And I turned off the phone and dozed.. for about five minutes and then I listened to the voicemail from the staff nurse telling me to call them as soon as possible.

Yes - that had to be The Call. So I dozed for another ten minutes because i knew that, from the moment I called them, my day would change; my routines would change, my life would probably change too.

And then, at 7.25 I made the call.... I really don't think that fifteen minutes made a difference to anyone apart from me. In those fifteen minutes I came to terms with the news before I heard it and was able to be composed when the staff nurse answered the call and burst into tears which told me exactly what I was expecting to learn.

I was composed because I had lost my 'real' mum two or three years earlier when she stopped being able to walk, to know who I was. I lost her when she began to babble more than talk; when she kept asking me if her dad knew where she was.....

And just who was my mum? I will tell you:

Little Myra – our little mum – she never changed! From the day she was born in Leytonstone in 1926 until the end, she never changed. She was always little and she could always switch on a huge smile that warmed everyone around her.

Her parents, Rosa and Hyman Kossack, spoiled her endlessly – but although their only child was charming with her tumbling bright red curls, she could be a liability too - as all sorts of mishaps happened around her.

Mum’s earliest memory was when the family chauffeur drove into a milk cart and the horse neighed through the open car window, absolutely terrifying her.
Then there was the time she was running ahead of her parents on a beach – and disappeared shoulder deep in quicksand which needed fast reactions from passers-by to save her.

Then there was the cat’s meat – delivered every day and pushed through the letterbox in a paper parcel. Our grandma was very angry at the end of one week when she thought the tradesman had been cheating her on weight… only to find that Little Myra had been eating it in secret!

Mum was an accomplished child ballet dancer – till one night a make up artist tried to strangle her. She was a great ice skater in her teens – until she broke her leg!

But the accomplishment we were all most proud of was the fact that she was a boxing champion too! We still have the certificate that she won – and she would often put up her fists in mock fighting pose to anyone who appeared to challenge her.

When Myra was eleven the family of three moved to Edgware. The original plan was to buy a house in Canons Drive – but at that time Jews were not allowed – isn’t that incredible? So they settled in Purcells Avenue and mum went to North London Collegiate School.

She became a teacher at Parkside School in Green Lane. She was known to all as Miss Myra and, right up until she moved away in 2004, she was often greeted in this way by past pupils or their parents when she wandered through the Broadwalk. In Edgware.

Our little Mum hated the war and always told us of how she would hide, terrified, under the heavy dining room table when the bombs were falling. But the GIs loved the beautiful tiny teenager with the 18-inch waist and long red ringlets and they would try to flirt, calling out ‘ Hi Red’ when she walked down the street.

Myra met Matt on the beach in Cliftonville and this was one holiday romance that lasted forever. When dad passed away 18 years ago, they had been on 42 years of honeymoon, they never called it a marriage.

They built their home in Harrowes Meade and we still have the photos of it from the moment the first bricks were laid.

My brother and I were born - not necessarily in that order - and completed their happiness. We were brought up in a traditional Jewish home, full of love and laughter, and with a great respect for education.

To give us the best start in this, Dad took on a market stall, selling dresses, in St Albans and mum, the most unlikely trader of all, thrilled in matching the customer to the outfit with unnerving accuracy – and took great pride in the fact that theirs was the first stall in the UK to have a changing room!

Mum was secretary to the Market Federation, St Albans branch, using her love of routine and her great admin skills. She was always doing some sort of good deed within the community, - getting people to donate to charity, for instance, far beyond their original intentions… once she had smiled that huge smile.

She learned to drive in her thirties – it only took five attempts at the test! She was a well known sight in Edgware, driving her little white car with yellow duck transfers hiding the dents and our cocker spaniel on the front seat.

Once Dad had passed away, and then Alzheimer’s struck, Mum continued to be fun and friendly, needing constant social activities throughout the regression; she was still able to make friends and chatter away when she finally moved to the Nightingale Home seven years ago.

To begin with she led an enjoyable life with activities three times a day – from keep fit and concerts to films and theatre outings – she just never remembered she had been to any of them afterwards!

I know she was very happy and settled during that time and she made good friends before the deteriorations really worsened. She left us peacefully, aged 84, without physical illness. But that huge smile – it never left….

Goodbye Little Myra, my mum.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Yes I know! I've not blogged for over a year... it's inexcusable!

But I just happened to glance at my blogs and honed in on one from June 2006. It made me cry...

Back then I talked about my mum and the deterioration from the fun loving, forgetful, somewhat confused individual who, for the most part, enjoyed the community living and activities at the Nightingale home and was usually glad to see me when I arrived....

Now the story is far from cheerful, a bleak and probably all-too-familiar one to those who have gone through this gloomy tunnel from the beginning to the end.

Mum was moved from Ronson Floor in 2007. She was placed on Lady Woolfson - one of two secure units for dementia sufferers. She was there till this year. I would like to say the changes happened slowly but that wouldn't be quite true.

Mum's ability to talk any sense at all diminished quite rapidly. Soon she was reduced to a kind of 'rap' now and again which centered around the words 'bibbity bobbity boo' and spoken rhythmically and with some pace. After an outburst of this kind, it seemed to take her by surprise and she would collapse into giggles - yes she still giggled like a small child.

Her walking continued, all over the wing as she was now not allowed off her floor as she had been able to do previously. Then, one day in May last year I got a call to say she had collided with a carer and fallen. She was sent off to hospital to check that her bones weren't broken. She had survived unscathed but they discovered a Urinary Tract Infection and kept her bedbound on a ward for a week. She returned unable to stand up from a chair without help and her days of running around the corridors were over.

And so it was... I visited - probably not so often now - at suppertime so I could feed her and in this way have some interaction with her. Otherwise I would be sitting next to her on a chair, bereft of conversation, maybe talking to her about people she had long long forgotten - even her son and grandchildren unknown to her as, indeed, was I.

Almost a year to that day in May I got another call. This time they found that her arm was broken and had, once again, packed her off to hospital. I won't go into details but the fracture was a spiral one and she was kept there for three weeks without being taken from her bed.

She returned to the Nightingale but, this time, to a different floor. Samson is bright and new, a lovely place to be with carpeted bedrooms, as opposed to linoleum, and caring, dedicated staff. There is now no capability of sitting up unaided so she lies in a bed-chair all day. However staff who had dealings with her during the past year tell me she is more relaxed and happy now - and I do feel that this is true. There are more smiles and less grumpiness overall considering grumpy is the usual state of play these days.

And so she sits - or, rather, so she lies.... day after day... unable to deal with anything for herself, not even think....

Is this a life? Yesterday I had a call to say that a friend's mother had died in her sleep at the age of 79. Am I selfish to wish that it was me in that position? That my mum would leave us now, in her sleep, freed from the prison of her demented body and mind. I feel guilt at thinking that but deep inside I know that it would be for the very best... she has done no harm, let her go in peace - and sooner rather than later for all our sakes.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Now that the Fringe season is over I can look back on the month and say that we had some extraordinary fun seeing some of the best, and worst, at Camden.

I've already expounded on the ill prepared actors and acting in OAPz (oh, didn't mean to name it - for more detail read previous blog!) and also on the joy of Shazia Mirza who was one of the best things we saw....

The Ten Commandments turned out to be a student rag - or so it seemed. It was a full house - but full of friends and family of the cast who tended to laugh to extreme at their mates dressed in women's clothes or similar rather than at the tag lines of the gags which were mainly predictable although there were occasional flashes of brilliance - but too few.

We saw Mr & Mrs one Sunday evening and found it to be a fascinating script but not particularly lively in deliverance which made us rush to the programme afterwards to see who the actors were - only to find that they were playing themselves, two stand up comedians talking about what it's like to live together and be married. Of course this is one we could do better! So watch this space....

Thirty minutes later we were back in the same studio for 'This is a Chair'. We felt cheated - it was a bare forty minutes worth and never seemed to say a great deal that made any sense. I suppose it was modern and thought provoking but who knew that the cameo of a two adults allegedly encouragng a baby to eat was in fact a statement about anorexia? Various scenes were played out with different people playing different parts of stories that had no beginnings or ends, just middles. Afterwards Rob discovered it had been played to critical acclaim elsewhere so that no doubt casts doubts on our abilities as reviewers...

'Breaking Legs' was a great improvement At last we started to see some drama we enjoyed and understood! A dialogue between understudies backstage was funny and fascinating at the same time as they vied with each other to try and, for once, be on stage playing the parts instead of watching in the wings.

'Vera and the Sea' was powerful and well acted by all but one of the cast who tended to bring out a reaction in me like squeaking chalk on a blackboard. However this ghost story of abuse and manslaughter kept us gripped throughout.

'A Dinner Party' was another dialogue with great substance and took us to a different venue as the other plays were all at the Etcetera and this was at the Camden People's Theatre which was a venue we often see on our way home from The Magic Circle.

However the best piece of all had to be 'Shaft' - a powerful, funny and telling play about girls backstage at a pole dancing club. The characters were acted with great realism and were so very different from each other - and the pole acrobatics were amazing in themselves! Raunchy as could be, it was not really the time to be sitting in the front row as eye contact was worrying to say the least!

All in all, though, we had a great time seeing the good, the bad but not the downright ugly at the Camden Fringe and we discovered some amazing eateries too! An Indian restaurant in the Stables with a buffet at £6 per head or a vast Oriental buffet at not much more which included desserts of many kinds - and a Mr Whippy ice cream machine and cornets to fill! What more could anyone need from a night out?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The time flies by and then it was our first wedding anniversary and we hadn't had time to get used to being newly marrieds yet!

How to celebrate? We thought we might go away towards the end of the month.. then we thought we wouldn't. We thought we'd go to the theatre... and then we thought we wouldn't. We thought we'd celebrate on the day itself... and then we thought we wouldn't (I was working all week so we decided to wait till the next day which was Saturday).

And then we discovered that Camden was having a Fringe! Oh joy or joys! We could do the kind of thing we love doing best - but without having the travel and accommodation expenses we'd have going to Edinburgh (and we couldn't afford it this year what with credit crunch and all).
In case you are wondering what this pigeon is doing here - it's the emblem of the Camden Fringe!

We have decided to 'do' the Fringe all month as and when we have time. So we got a Chinese takeaway (and we have the very best of 'em near us) and had the most brilliant anniversary evening watching the DVD of the wedding! Oh how we laughed at Graham's speech! Oh how we giggled at Brian and David's appendix to their official (?) reading. Oh how we gloried in seeing our friends once again, some who hadn't surfaced in our neck of the woods since the day!

Then on Saturday we enjoyed two one-person shows at the Roundhouse. We wallowed in the wonderful wisdom of Shazia Mirza's observations and fell about, albeit guiltily, at Scot Capurro's audacity in offending absolutely everyone. Then we wandered into the Stables courtyard and found the most fantastic Indian buffet meal for a mere £6.00!

Yes - it was meant to be our paper anniversary so I suppose tickets for shows count as such. And a glorious time was had with the promise of more...

... until today. We went to see another Camden offering 'as seen on TV' and came home deeply disappointed. What had the promise of an hilarious hour fell at the fences with actors losing their ways, forgetting their lines and a shortened plot that must've lost lots in the editing from two hours down to one! I won't name it, for decency's sake, but it did make me wonder what else is lurking in the depths over the next couple of weeks.. delights or dispairs - watch this space...

Friday, July 17, 2009


It's been a while since I've either read Brian's blog (or anyone else's) or written my own but I've been compelled to do this now as Brian has all but given up on me! He apparently tagged me over a week ago and I hadn't noticed because I hadn't visited!

It's an arduous meme too 26 answers required, with pictures to stop it being boring as it's all about me! So here goes:

Age: No answer, too many young magicians read this!

Bed Size: Double - because other sizes are expensive and we don't seem to spend big money on house stuff. The duvet is king size though - does that count?

Chore you hate: Is that the one I don't like doing but do anyway - cleaning the loo, washing the floor. Or the one I hate so much I don't do it - washing windows, gardening, decorating, putting things away!

Dog's name: We don't have a dog now as we never know when we are going to go away. When I was ten my grandma nagged my aunt to go rescue a dog advertised free in a newspaper. Once she'd brought it home my grandma said 'What do you want a dog for, better you give it to the children!' So our family of two adults and two children (three of whom terrified of dogs) acquired Sherry the Cocker Spaniel or, to give his full name, Sheridan Ostler of Ware, He stayed with the family for around fifteen years and when he had to be put down as he was so ill my brother told everyone my mum was the 'dog murderer', because she'd taken him to the vet, for years afterwards.

Essential Start your Day Item: Cocopops (when I'm home) and prunes in hotels.

Favourite colour: Blue since a child but nowadays loving pink so guess i've mellowed.

Gold or silver: I thought i loved gold but I think I prefer silver as it shows up so much better whether tanned or not.

Height: 5' 1.5"

Instruments You Play: You should be glad the answer is none! Can't even sing and that is not being modest, it's true. No sense of rhythm, [refer spoken word to music!

Job Title: Magician

Kids: One son, Hadleigh, who lives in Phoenix.

Living Arrangements: Now what does that mean? Who with? Type of house? Owner occupier or rented? I live with Rob, my partner of 16 years and husband of 11 months in a terraced ex-council house.

Mum's name: Myra - sadly she doesn't know her own name now, let alone mine.

Nicknames: This might give my age away - I was called Ricey at school because of the prominence in the news of Mandy Rice Davis and in teens was also called Randy Mandy for no reason at all other than the words rhymed!

Overnight Hospital Stay other than birth: Mine or someone else's birth? Mind you, Hadleigh's birth was not the first time - I was there for nine weeks, six before and three afterwards. I was in hospital as a child for: adenoids, then for a hole drilled in the bone of my nose to stop mucus traveling to the brain and killing me within hours (I don't know, I was two but my mum said so). Then there was a few years gap till ten and was in for two weeks to learn how to inject myself with insulin; then... wisdom teeth; infected lymph gland; benign breast lump, hysterectomy. I should also include the two weeks I stayed in a London hospital but was allowed out during the day so they could monitor blood sugars - had a great time shopping, theatres, films, museums! Well... you asked!

Pet Peeve: Being patronised!

Quote from a movie: I can never remember things like that from movies although I want to. I suppose the obvious one - 'I'll think about that tomorrow!' from Vivienne Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind - or 'I am born' from any production of David Copperfield.

Right or left handed: Left which makes learning card flourishes and fancy stuff difficult.

Sports: Absolutely not! Not playing nor watching!

Time You Wake Up: You have to realise we don't even think about going to bed before 3 a.m. and lately it's been nearer 4 before putting out the light so wake up tends to be around 11.

Underwear: Always

Vegetable you dislike: Beetroot and cooked spinach. The spinach reminds me of the night we arrived late at a hotel in Belgium and they did us a favour and made us supper - Eggs Florentine, poached eggs on a bed of spinach. I can still see my brother crying and her my mum and I retching as my dad insisted we ate it so as not to offend anyone!

Ways You Run Late: If I'm working I'm always early. But if I'm meeting people or just going somewhere like visitng my mum or deciding I must leave the house to shop or go to the bank - I misjudge how long everything will take me before I go out or how long the journey will be or start doing things that 'will only take a minute'.

X-Rays You've Had: Give me a break - you can see the list of hospital visits I've had! Most recent one was a couple of months ago to see if I have Arthritis in my hands - but I don't.

Yummy Food You Make: Good old-fashioned Jewish Chicken soup. Oh - and a mean Christmas turkey! Take your pick - I please everyone!

Zoo Favourite: Whipsnade! Seriously - I love that zoo. You can drive from area to area and the animals appear to have freedom but it's not like a Safari Park so you don't have to be confined to your car either. I also love Regents Park - and although I remember Brumus the Polar Bear cub, my favourite Zoo animal was Guy the Gorilla.

So I'm done - I know that no one else will do this but I feel honour-bound to tag people so I am tagging Rob Cox and Mark Lee! Of course, Hadleigh, you don't have a blog yet but consider yourself tagged too!