Mandy Davis - Diva of Deception

Mandy Davis - Diva of Deception - is a professional close up magician working for banquets, dinners, receptions, weddings, bar/batmitzvahs, private parties etc. A member of The Inner Magic Circle, she serves on their ruling Council and currently holds several posts. . Mandy is also a member of Equity and twice honoured with the Society of American Magicians' Presidential Citation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Today I went to the V & A for the Winnie the Pooh Exhibition. I had read about it and was determined to visit - even more so when i discovered friends Brian Sibley and David Weeks had loaned some of the precious items from their collection.

I had forgotten how imposing the museum is - the front door lets you know you are entering a very exciting place.

From there it was straight to the cafe and an elegant lunch under the enormous modern chandeliers which seemed incongruous against the illustrated ceiling.

Then a visit to the Fashion section - covering early 1700s through to modern times. I didn't know at that point that I could take photos - so  i have very few and they were sneaky! I loved the early gowns but the 60s and 70s onwards were fascinating as were the 2000s onwards.

Before long it was time for Winnie the Pooh and I entered expecting...  who knows? I certainly thought it would be much more than a vehicle for E M Shepard's drawings! 

I was disappointed by this. The opening was a long wall case crammed full of items which would've done better to have been spread around the whole space - and at a level that children could appreciate. There were boxed games - but we couldn't see contents, only lids. There were treasures - but they were so high up that small people, and those in wheelchairs,  couldn't possibly see them easily. 

There was even a glorious hand painted child's tea set which had been lent to the museum by the Queen herself - yet it was not isolated as a glorious gift but squashed into an ill designed display.

I heard people in wheelchairs complain about so much being way above their heads and I felt the frustration of the little ones who were bored by the time they got a third of the way along. There were an incredible amount of drawings, wonderful of course, but eventually monotonous as one had come for 'wonderment'.

Yet there were some super things as I walked through the wall displays - like the doorway with 'Mr Sanders' written over it which was a great photo opportunity; and the dark area to sit and enjoy a reading from one of the stories - as the words slid smoothly in various directions across the ceiling..

There was Pooh Sticks Bridge, very well represented, with moving 'water' effect and sticks which

apparently floated out from under the wooden structure as would be expected.

Then it was back to the drawings high up on the walls...  though the interactive section on the different books in so many languages was an engaging way of explaining the worldwide appeal.

All in all - the Winnie the Pooh exhibition had its heart in the right place - but needed more input from those who understood lovers of children's classics rather than academics.

Try harder next time V & A!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Life as a Type 1 is like being a magician - maybe that's why this profession suits me so well?

Let me explain...
First, maybe you want it to disappear? 
I know I did in the beginning, back in February 1962, when I was nine and a half years old. I was very thin indeed which was a result of being diabetic without anyone realising. Only six weeks before I had heard that I'd won an essay competition, run by Cadburys, and my prize arrived in the same week as the diagnosis - a year's suppyly of giant bars of chocolate! Fifty-two of those big bars you only see at Christmas - and then I got told I couldn't eat them!

Then, like a magician keeping the secrets of magic, you may want to hide the knowledge that you are diabetic? 
When I was ten, I was put on insulin having tried various concoctions of pills first. Soon after I was 'sent to Coventry' for two weeks by my entire class at school - one of the girls had an undiagnosed illness and was in hospital for most of that time; some bright spark decided she had 'caught diabetes' from me!
My mother would've been a good magician too - in order to make me seem 'normal' she'd visit the homes of those who'd invited me to their birthday parties. She'd explain that I could not eat sweet things and she would be given a paper jelly bowl, to match the ones being used that day for the rest of the guests. My jelly was sugar free but - Ta Daa - no one knew and I could be like everyone else.

How do magicians make things disappear and reappear? By misdirection of course! 
I got used to that with my Type 1 too. Back in my early days, there were no insulin pumps or pens - just glass and metal syringes with comparatively thick needles compared to those for my insulin pens today. For transportation one syringe would sit in a soft metal tube with a screw top, half filled with surgical spirit to keep it sterile. No one explained that these were not watertight so handbags were often stained with this strong, recognisable spirit and the aroma was surgical in the extreme!
Maybe that's where my love of distinctive perfumes came from as I battled to misdirect other people's sensitive nostrils - bring on the YSL Opium, DKNY Be Delicious or Chanel Number 5!

Now I think about it, I was using magicians' tools long before I ever thought of becoming one. Now, with almost twenty-two years of the profession behind me, I can announce to you that these are the subterfuges we can use as Type 1s too - although they may need adapting to your own specifications and modern times.
Looking back over my years as a Type 1, I can honestly say that what shaped my mindset forever was what my father's told me right at the beginning - but it took a while to understand it. He told me: 'Diabetes is not an illness, it's merely an inconvenience' and this is so true for me. 
If you have been rescued early enough not to have complications at the start, then you are really not ill - you just need to adapt your own and others' mindsets. Live as normally as you can - it's not a flag to be waved, but it's your own path so tread it wisely and use it well. It will never stop you doing the things you want to do - and you may do them even better than others! "

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?