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.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Visited my mum today; how quickly the awful effects of Alzheimer's Disease spread through a personality. It is devastating to witness and to deal with. I can't believe the strength of people who have to look after partners who are still living with them even once they have become incontinent and argumentative, paranoid and hostile.



My mum has always been a fun-loving person. She enjoys life and enjoys being amused. She has a great sense of humour.
She is now on a floor of the Nightingale Home which gives her great dignity, where the staff will always go that extra mile. I admire them for all they do and all they have to put up with from dealing with double incontinence, with people like my mum who no longer uses a toilet but smears her waste products over the walls, her bed and herself as well as hiding the stuff in cupboards and drawers. I admire the staff for taking some dreadful verbal racist abuse from people they look after with such tenderness and love. You can see the love they have for my mum. Yet i fear it's all too late....



As I got out of the lift on her floor this afternoon my mum was walking past and I was able to call her; it took a moment or two for her to realise it was me and she greeted me with something like "About time too, where have you been?" It's difficult to understand what she's saying now - her sentences contain words that don't relate although she obviously believes that she's making sense. Now and again she'll indicate that she knows she's spoken rubbish but for the most part you have to try to make responses that might just fit the bill. 'Really?', " Did you think so?", 'You are so right!" etc



We collected her friend who used to be mum's inseparable companion when she lived on the floor above. This is the only downside to the move to Ronson Floor - leaving Doris behind. It's set mum back, particularly as she can no longer talk sense enough to make new friends. We all went down to the coffee shop for tea and then out to sit in the gardens for a while. This was all fine; mum was 'too hot' when the sun came out and 'too cold' when it went behind a cloud - par for the course really. At one point another lady, Eva, joined us and she and Doris talked about the fact that they were getting older. Eva maintained that she didn't get old, she stayed young all the time. She turned to mum for confirmation and what she got was "The dog that came in the other day was very nice; I played with it'. Unfortunately Eva thought mum had referred to HER as a dog! So that took a bit of sorting out.

All went well till we got back to mum's floor and then I saw the curtain come down on her face; she shut herself off from everyone and if we spoke to her or tried to disract her she got verbally aggressive and agitated. She no longer knew me or responded.

That was the third week in a row that this had happened - it doesn't get any easier to bear....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

WEDDINGS.... THE NEXT GENERATION

There was a time when I went through the wedding seasons with my friends and contemporaries . I was the first (more fool me!) and after that everyone around me seemed to get hitched. Then it was the baby years, again I was the first and the rest followed suit.

As the years have passed, and the various family celebrations have come and gone, I now find myself at a time when a second wave of friends' children are now in the frame where weddings are concerned. The earlier ones have been and gone and done it and are now making aged grandparents out of people I used to rate as modern up to date contemporaries. Not any more - they are now drooling over their offspring's offspring, babysitting and bragging about the first smiles and movements, eeuwww!



Anyway back to the weddings. The first one was announced in a phone call last week and will be happening this coming Sunday. Some people would jump to the wrong conclusion - quick annoucement, must be pregnant. I know better - Elly is from another country (can't remember which but came over here via France where he and Debbie met) so the visa must be running out! Cynical? Moi? Surely not..... They have nowhere to live as yet, staying with our friend Penny for the unforseeable future. So wedding late Sunday afternoon at All Saints church in Hertford then back home for nibbles in the garden.



Meanwhile - cousin Barbara's eldest, Danielle, called me on my mobile phone on Sunday afternoon to announce that she and Malcolm, her live-in partner were now engaged, complete with ring. This wedding will take place in Mauritius in October and only the parents are invited so Barbara and Len will fly there from their new home in Bermuda and I, thankfully, don't have to be there even though I'm Danielle's adopted mum whilst Barb is away. it's less than a year since Barbara and Len got married themselves; as you can see in the photo, this was a very happy day. None of us stopped smiling the whole time.


All these weddings make me feel very claustrophobic - I know people won't let the occasions pass without comments regarding our unmarried state. And I do wonder why I'm still on the shelf... it makes so much financial sense to get married, don't worry about a proper 'do', just run down to the local register office with a friend or two as witnesses would do. I don't even want to change my name, just feel secure that's all. I know I've got the engagement ring but even so...




Oh well....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oi Vey!

People never cease to amaze me! I'm still wondering about the logic of a phone booking I got the night before last and the after effects.

Rob told me that a woman had called and was interested in booking me on my birthday in August. He didn't know what it was for. Whilst collapsed on the sofa after my boating adventure a Mrs H. called back.

She explained that she'd got my number from someone whose group party I'd done in December. It had been an all girls' get together, ages from 7 to 15, and they hadn't been the easiest to entertain! However the organiser had been delighted (!) and so I now had Mrs H on the phone....

This time it was for a summer day camp, over 250 children between the ages of 3 and 13. I suggested two half hour shows, splitting the age groups and this was agreed. Mrs H kept referring to the fact that 'your father said...' but would not take any notice when I corrected her; I even used the term 'husband' for simplicity but it was no good, Rob was still deemed my father!
I mentioned the fact it was my birthday on that date - she didn't acknowledge I'd even spoken.... just explained how important it was for me to start my show in Stamford Hill at 10 a.m. sharp!



I was then asked if I would not refer to myself as a magician but call myself a conjuror instead as being an orthodox Jewish community the word magic could be misconstrued. I said that was fine, she could bill me as a conjuror if she wished...

I took the details of the booking for the contract and was so busy at the time that I didn't really take much notice of the fact that each time I mentioned magic Mrs H, rather condescendingly, suggested another word such as 'trick' or 'effect'. She also requested that I wore a skirt, not for religious reasons you understand but 'then the children will feel comfortable with you'.

I was tired and didn't give the thing much thought till the next day - and then I started to realise the implications. When you are working your standard routines that you have used for years, how often does the word 'magic' get said? 'Magic wand', 'magic words', 'now the magic will happen'; would there be an embargo on 'Abracadabra' or 'hocus pocus'? Bearing in mind that she didn't listen to anything I said on the phone, this woman was quite capable of walking into my performing space during the show and telling me what not to do!

So yesteday evening I called her. 'I have thought about our conversation yesterday evening', I said, 'and I've decided I dont' want to take the bookiing after all'.

'Fine' she replied, 'can you recommend someone else?'

'Not with your restrictions, no. In fact I would suggest that you don't book a magician at all, it's not what you are lookinig for'.

And that was that! No argument from her, no discussion - and I came away feeling that I'd done the right thing, that Mrs H could quite possibly have got 'cold feet' about inviting a magician to entertain her precious children and pulled out at the last moment anyway.

And I'll have a much better time that day - after all, it'll be my Birthday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A 'QUIET' DAY ON THE RIVER? NEVER!

Working on a river boat in June sounds idyllicI - until I looked at the problems of getting to the pier in the first place. I've worked on boats often enough before; you get onto the craft along the embankment as the day's commuters are rushing home and you spend a couple of hours performing miracles to an audience who eventually want to watch you after the lure of the passing riverbank wears off.




This time the gig, for a group of carers during 'Carers' week', was starting at 11 a.m. (and you know how much I don't do mornings!). It was also kicking off at Greenwich Pier which is a very long way from our house - and on the other side of the river too.

Sat. Nav. would carry me through; but when I checked out the route a couple of times via the AA it appeared that, whether I went on motorways or not, I was going to hit the Blackwall Tunnel during rush hour. The estimated journey time was an hour so I reckoned on allowinig three.

Rob then discovered a smarter way to get there and my plans were finalised: still allow three hours but now I'd leave home at 8, allow an hour to an hour and a quarter for travel to Euston - a journey normally of 30/40 minutes. Park at the Ibis Hotel, get a cab to the Savoy Pier and catch a commuter boat at 9.55 to Greenwhich. It sounded so restful and easy....

Yeah, right!

I don't know how people manage to get to work every day by 9.30. I left home at 8, in spite of the alarm not working, yet I arrived in Euston at 9.45!

So I'd missed the boat! On top of that the Ibis car park was full so I left my car at the station park instead and went to the cab rank. There is no exaggeration in saying that the queue held around 200 people - it snaked along a corridor, up some stairs and into the station concourse where it continued for some length. No chance there, then....

I walked out of the station, along to the Ibis, up Drummond Street to the main road and eventually found a cab which was willing to stop. The journey cost me £30 - but we were there by 10.40.

To add insult to injury - the coach of carers was 40 minutes late!

All's well that ends well....

Err - not quite....

The boat was crewed by some friendly young Australians. When they heard about my taxi dash across London they told me the boat was kept at the Embankment so they could give me a lift back and save me the fare from Greenwich - wasn't that nice? -ish...



Once the party was over and the boat was empty, I had a wonderful time sitting by an open door watching the views as we motored down the river. Whenever I'd been on a London boat in the past I'd always worked so this time I really enjoyed the glory of the riverbank and the wonder of the architecture we passed on the way.

We were in the middle of the river when one of the guys said: 'Oh, by the way we anchor here as we can't get any nearer to the pier but we'll take you in on the work boat.' Eh? What?

Two other men came on board from the side of a large and rusty craft and everyone rushed around, tying up ropes here and there. Then a bathtub toy came alongside and a flimsy and very grubby life support was thrown at me to be worn over my smart, if somewhat crumpled, outfit.



Now I'm not built for leaping - but leaping is what I had to do! First I had to leap down into the little motor thingy to be driven from the front of the cruiser to the back (or was it the other way round) and then - I had to leap (?) up to an opening high above me to access another pleasure cruiser which was moored alongside yet another. I know the 'captain' was surprised I was still there when he anchored the original one - I am certain as I can be that I gave him no end of headache as he valiantly worked and worked until he wedged the side of the little boat as high up as he could against the side of the big one so that the height between the two was narrowed.

And then I had to leap, first onto the slippery side of the smaller one and finally up (with a skinny young man pulling on my arms) into the other.

A brief walk across the decks of two cruisers and I finally reached dry land - 'Turn right and the station is just across the road' I was advised by the grinning crew who'd found me most entertaining, in a very different way from the norm.

Underground? Train? After all that? No way -

'Taxi!"

Monday, June 05, 2006

THE SHOW MUST GO ON; THE SHOW WENT ON; WE SHOWED 'EM!



Well, we're back from the golf club where we 'put on a show' and all went well. The figure raised for the Nightingale was £1000 so we're pleased with that.

Between 70 and 80 people were there; the supper was plentiful, the magic amazed them and Rob's cabaret reduced them to tears of laughter.

I enjoyed the evening on a personal level. Some of these people knew me as a married suburban housewife. They had viewed me with some suspicion 'Mandy does tricks now? She thinks she's a magician?' - you could read their thoughts as they said 'hello, long time no see'.

But the magic really blew them away and whenhttp:I finished at each table the attitude was so different from when I'd started, when I'd walked into the hall. By the time Rob had slaughtered them with his act they was a look of respect that had been lacking earlier. The director of the home came straight over to us to tell us how much he'd enjoyed us; no more slight nods as he races down the corridors in future, I bet he talks to me in the same way he does the relatives in the big cars!

I know it sounds daft, I know it doesn't matter in the scheme of things - but gosh, it makes me feel good....

Sunday, June 04, 2006

OUT OF THE KINDNESS OF OUR HEARTS ETC ETC...

It seems we've taken on more than we thought we were for tomorrow (or now it's tonight's) charity event. We were in conversation with people who form a committee called Kentongales. They raise money for the Nightingale where my mum lives. We offered/agreed to perform for an evening they would arrange - supper with magic. All sounded great but their marketing was abysmal!

The leaflets I was given to advertise the event were badly put together with clip art cartoon magicians' heads and rabbits out of hats. No one has bothered to find out about us, whether we are amateur enthusiasts who wave silks around or whether we can actually sustain an evening's event!



It turns out that the evening starts at 7 pm and goes on till 10.30 and it's up to us to keep the people entertained. They have managed to raise 70 people - 7 tables and we are supplying one of those. Earlier I made a call and was told we were to do whatever we wanted. So we're hoping the evening will run like this:

Arrival 7 - 7.30pm with me making balloons for as many of the ladies as possible; supper is on table (quiche and salad bits) so everyone eats including us; then during dessert raffle tickets sold and we'll run Rob's quiz with Heads or Tails game; close up magic from us both. Ali Bongo's puzzles on table for table entries throughout this time plus coffee and danish pastries (I think); then raffle drawn, another heads or tails quiz and finally Rob's cabaret. Hopefully that'll bring us to 10.15 - 10.30 and we can all go home.

Wish us luck with it.... I just hope I can keep my cool with these incompetent people.

Friday, June 02, 2006

THE WHERE, WHAT, WHO AND WHY OF ME!


This is my potted history - used as my original profile, you know the one that got lost in the ether! Thought I'd fill in the gaps:

I was born in London, the Middlesex Hospital to be precise, and grew up in Edgware, Middx. I have a brother who is 5 and 3/4 years younger than me because I was an ill child (you work it out - all I know was that I had to have an operation to bore a hole in my nose/head as the mucus was travelliing to the brain! Yeh, I know - it explains a lot, ha ha!) That is why parents put off having another child.

I went to an all boys' private school for the first three years of education; mum had been a teacher there when it was co-ed and it got sold after I'd been there a term but they agreed to keep me on. At seven years old I had a nervous breakdown and was off school for three months because of the pressures there; moved to another private school till I was eleven then to a girls' grammar.

I left school after A Levels to work on Horse & Hound, then Woman magazine. Got married too young and had child ten months later; he now lives with a wife in Phoenix, Arizona and I haven't heard from him for two years even though we were very close up until he left and we have never rowed or anything!

I divorced after 17 years of that marriage and lived alone for four before meeting Rob Cox, deputy head turned professional comedy magician; we've been together now since 1993. My dad died two months before that and my mum now has Alzheimer's and lives in a home in South London so I'm a carer as you never stop being one, even when they are in a home. She is very happy and so am I - with my life of magic and Rob and my friends who are so very supportive of me and everything I do.

I love my work as a close up magician; I enjoy meeting people, performing for them and their enjoyment and absolute wonder at the magic. I also love being involved with the Young Magicians Club and my work as both chairman and particularly as editor of their glossy magazine. That is very much a childhood dream come true for me - I wanted to be a journalist since the age of seven.

Anyway - now you have the background to me we can move forward. Catch ya later.....

Thursday, June 01, 2006


How annoying can it be? I couldn't access my first blog, no matter what I did! When I tried to enter the site my user name and password were already in the access box on the home page for me to 'click' on but when I did so I wasn't recognised and nothing I did would get me in to write more or to add word verification or any of those things that bloggers want to do.

So I've started all over - this won't beat me!

I had a very nice evening yesterday. I went to a book reading, something I seldom do. It took place at Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street and if you love books, then this is the place to go! It is primarily a travel books expert but that is quite a wide ranging heading and besides, they have all sort of books for all sorts of tastes and ages. The shop has three floors, one in the basement and galleries above the main floor - just like you'd imagine the library in a stately home.

The author was Stuart McLean, who tells stories about the Vinyl Cafe owner Dave and his family. These are funny, sometimes sad, tales with so much of real life in them that quite often it's what isn't said that gets you laughing, the long pauses as your brain races to the conclusion before the author voices the words - wonderful timing, excellent stuff.

There were about 100 people to listen to this Canadian DJ, who has a Sunday programme playing music and tellling the tales, who can be heard on cbc.com or, as in my case, on BBC7 just performing his stories in front of a live audience.

Afterwards, having done the thing of buying both the author's volumes and also a comprehensive guide to Bermuda (!), more of that another time, I went across the road to a turkish/moroccan type cafe which was very busy and ate my meal chatting to two people who also had Daunt's bags on the table. One lady was an actress who had mostly worked abroad - is that the new euphamism for resting these days?

Came home to solitary confinement as Rob was working in Plymouth and staying over but ended up chatting till 4 a.m. with Bruce Kalver in Michigan or some such US city (only three hours from NY, he tells me, so no excuse for not dropping by when we go to lecture in NY!)

Enough now - need to eat as sugar level was only 3.5 an hour a