The next few months were spent reading my books, and practising some of the sleight of hand that was described within them. The 'One Handed Cut', or the 'Charlier Pass' as it is technically known, was a card flourish that I was constantly trying to perfect. Just when I was about to give up trying to master this knuckle busting piece of manipulation, I got it!! I'll tell you, I felt like Archimedes when he jumped out of the bath...Eureka!
It was then that I wanted to further my knowledge on magic; and the only way to do this was to be in the Magic Circle. How do I do that? The Magic Circle, it all sounded so esoteric. I remember reading in one of my books that if you would like to further your knowledge on magic, you should contact your local magic society. I immediately looked in the telephone directory for the local information centre; I called them and asked them if they had a telephone number for The Magic Circle. The lady on the telephone said that she had a number for the secretary of the Leicester Magic Circle. I was gob smacked! She said that the secretary's name was Gordon Collin, and gave me his number.
I was so nervous about calling this number, but eventually plucked up the courage to dial. I expected some Merlin type character to pick up the receiver and talk in a mysterious voice. But a perfectly well spoken Gordon Collin answered, and said, "Can I help you?" I replied, "I want to join the Magic Circle, I've been practising card tricks, and I do the vanishing cigarette." I thought, I bet he thinks I am really stupid. There was a long pause and eventually he explained that somebody would need to 'vet' me, and then if he felt that I was good enough, I could take an audition. He took my telephone number, and assured me that a gentleman named Billy Wilson would contact me.
I was on tenter-hooks for the next few days, waiting for the telephone to ring and my Mum to say, 'Wayne, it's for you'. Eventually the call came and I arranged with Billy Wilson to come over to the house, one late afternoon the following week. On the day in question, an old gentleman arrived at the house, carrying only a small briefcase. It was Billy Wilson. My Mum offered him a cup of tea, but he said he didn't have time, and would like to get on with seeing what I could do. My bedroom was where I kept my books, cards etc. So off we went up the stairs to my room. Later in life my Mum told me that she was very nervous about me going to my room with a strange man. She needn't have worried; he was such a nice person. He asked me to show him what I knew, so I did the 'one handed cut', and a couple of simple card tricks. He said, "It was very good, but do you know this?" He took my cards, waved his hand in front of the pack, and the face card changed from the four of clubs to the queen of hearts. I felt the same feeling that I felt when I saw Patrick Page perform the Cups and Balls. Utterly amazed! I asked him how he did it, expecting the same "very well"
reply I got from Patrick Page that I thought must be a 'stock reply'. But no, he showed me exactly how to do it, and also showed me exactly where it was in my book, 'The Royal Road to Card Magic'. After a short while he had to leave, but made arrangements for me to visit his house the following week. I was so excited.
Luckily, my parents had purchased a small motor cycle for my sixteenth birthday, so transport to Billy Wilson's house was not a problem. So on the day in question, fully armed with a pack of cards and a couple of magic books, I got on my bike and made the short journey of about four miles to the house of Billy Wilson. Whilst there he showed me a couple of tricks with cards, one being a trick called 'The Last Card'. The trick utilised a spinning five pointed star which held cards on each of its points. The trick involved the selection of a card, and the spectator gradually eliminated cards that he had previously placed onto the points of the star. The elimination process was repeated until there was just one card left. This card was then revealed as the spectator's selection. This was a very impressive trick that left me totally baffled! Not only did Billy explain the workings of this effect, but he also gave me the prop and recommended that I should use it as part of my audition for the Magic Circle. I was delighted.
The next few weeks were spent visiting Billy, where he taught me various tricks, the 'Multiplying Billiard Balls' and the 'Cut and Restored Rope' being the main effects. The three tricks that I had now learnt, the 'Multiplying Billiard Balls', the 'Cut and Restored Rope' and the 'Last Card' were to form my eight minute audition act, that I would present in two weeks time, in front of the committee at the Leicester Magic Circle. I was so excited, but also extremely nervous.
As the days passed, I was getting more and more nervous about my audition. My Mum told me to get my hair cut and be smart. I didn't take her advice as I was at that age where I felt very anti-establishment. The day for the audition arrived and I caught the bus into Leicester town centre, wearing some heavily checked trousers, a bomber jacket and a haircut like the Bay City Rollers. I looked a right scruff, but I didn't care. My audition was held in Roland Carr's, (himself a magician) tailors shop. It was very intimidating standing before eight people, who asked me to inform them when I was ready. It didn't take me long to set my tricks and say I was all set. The next eight minutes were like a complete blur. Everything worked ok; I just couldn't remember doing any of it. The committee then left me all alone and went up the stairs to deliberate my performance. I think they were gone for about five minutes, but it felt more like five weeks. I remember looking at the various suits hanging in the shop, thinking to myself how smart and expensive they all looked, and there was me in my tatty looking attire. It was at that point I wished I had listened to my Mum and looked smart. The committee then returned to give me their verdict.
I listened with baited breath as they told me that I had passed the audition and that they would like to welcome me into the 'Leicester Magic Circle'. I left the shop and went straight to the nearest payphone to call my Mum and Dad. "I've passed!
I'm in the Magic Circle!" I told them. They congratulated me, and I made my way back home. The next few days were spent basking in the euphoria of telling people that I was a member of the prestigious Magic Circle.
A couple of weeks passed before I was due to go to my first meeting at the Magic Circle. The meetings were held the first and third Monday of every month at the Grand Hotel in Leicester. I really didn't know what to expect as I entered the Cromwell Suite of the Grand Hotel. I was first greeted by Billy Wilson who explained that he was the Librarian for the society, and that I was allowed to take two books away. And provided I returned the books when I had finished reading them, I could swap them for two more. He showed me the selection of books I could choose from, and it was like Aladdin's Cave. I explained to Billy that I wanted to learn the Cups and Balls trick. He immediately pulled out a book titled 'The Dai Vernon Book of Magic', telling me that the best routine for the cups and balls was described within. He also showed me another book titled 'The Roy Johnson Experience'. I inquired what the latter book contained. He explained that it contained very commercial and workable routines. He also said that the author, Roy Johnson, was standing right behind me. I looked at Roy Johnson, and recognised his face as being one of the committee that I had stood before at my audition a couple of weeks previously. Billy introduced me to Roy Johnson, and it felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. What I didn't realise at the time, was that Roy Johnson would become my magical guru, and also one of my best friends.
As everyone then settled into their seats, the visiting lecturer was introduced; his name was Bob Sinclair. I can't recall what effects he performed, except I do remember him performing 'The Dancing Cane', and ever since that day I have never seen anybody perform this trick with the grace and elegance of Bob Sinclair. The cane just seemed to levitate and dance without any effort. It was like watching perpetual motion. It was beautiful! He then explained the method for accomplishing this trick, and I thought that I would like to emulate this effect.
My father, who was the manager at a pattern making company, organised the manufacture of a beautifully turned and perfectly balanced wooden cane. Although I perfected all of the moves and technicalities required to execute this trick, it needed the panache and elegance of somebody like Fred Astaire to carry it off. Being only 5' 6" tall myself, and not an ounce of rhythm to speak of, I realised that this effect was not for me. Shame!
At the end of the lecture by Bob Sinclair everybody congregated in the hotel bar. It was there I was introduced to a Scottish gentleman by the name of John McDill. He noticed one of the books I was holding as Dai Vernon's Book of Magic. He offered to demonstrate a trick from the book; it was a trick called 'Twisting the Aces'. And what a trick it was! The four aces were removed from a regular pack of cards, and each ace seemed to twist, turn, and disappear. It was fantastic. I wasn't shown the mechanics of the trick; however John McDill set me the task of learning the trick from the book, and at the next meeting he would watch me perform the effect. I went home and the next two weeks were spent practising 'Twisting the Aces'. I had learnt something very important over the previous couple of weeks, and that was when learning anything, it was always best to read it, as you would absorb far more information, than if you were shown it. That's what I think anyway.
I returned to the next meeting of the Magic Circle, and my first priority was to find John McDill to show him how I was doing 'Twisting the Aces'. He seemed quite surprised and congratulated me on my technique. He put me right on some finer points, but apart from that it looked good. I now felt like I had mastered my first real trick!
The next few months were spent mastering various tricks, but for a short while I had an obsession of wanting to do a trick with livestock, i.e. doves and rabbits. I possessed a prop known as a 'Dove Pan'. This would magically produce any small animal. Only one problem, I didn't have an animal. However I did have a pet hamster! I thought "I couldn't do the trick with a hamster, could I?" Why not! I put the hamster into the secret compartment and called my Mum into the kitchen to witness my latest miracle. I poured lighter fluid into the bottom half of the pan, set fire to the fuel and put on the lid to extinguish the flames, however the flames didn't extinguish as quick as they should have. I removed the lid and there was the hamster, which jumped out of the pan so high that it almost reached the kitchen ceiling. This was due to the fact that the base of the pan was red hot. However my Mum thought that it was part of the effect and congratulated me on such a great trick. I took the credit for the jumping (?) hamster, but it dissuaded me from doing any further tricks with livestock.
Over the next few months I became quite friendly with Roy Johnson. I admired his style of magic, and never stopped reading his books. The only problem I encountered with Roy was that he made me feel extremely nervous when trying to show him my latest idea. I think it was due to the fact that I had great respect for him, and still do, and really loved his work. Even now, if I need any advice, he is always one of the first people that I call. Roy helped me put together my first show. It was ten minutes of magic, interspersed with a few one-liners. I was desperate to try it out.
Dave Palmer, my local youth club leader, used to be the DJ for any of the disco nights. He suggested that I perform at the next 'do'. I said, "You try and stop me", and he even offered me a fee of £2.50. It was only a week away, but the sooner the better, as far as I was concerned. Although very nervous about performing in front of all my mates, I felt very confident about what I was going to do. The evening arrived and I was all prepared and dressed in my black velvet jacket, white frilly shirt and bow tie, and some grey trousers which, although very fashionable, looked like they were from 'War on Want'; I wore them because nobody wanted them! I did the show, and afterwards Dave Palmer must have been impressed because he suggested that I appear with him again at any gigs that he did. I was delighted! Appearing on Dave
Palmer's Discos gave me the invaluable experience that I needed for entering the Magic Circle's annual competition.
The competition, or The Sir Julian Cahn Cup as it is known, was to be held at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester. I was only sixteen and a half years old, and my rivals were far more experienced than me, but I didn't care! What I did care about was getting some new tricks for my act. I called Roy Johnson, who advised me to take a trip to London and visit some magic shops. He gave me some addresses of various dealers, and now all I had to do was to save up my weekly pocket money. I was also doing a paper round at that time, so that would give me some extra pennies. However I couldn't get to London quick enough, so I had to find a method for making a few quid quickly. The paper round job provided that money! Not from its wages, but a slightly illegal method.
I used to get to the local newsagents at 6am, and to get my newspapers I had to walk through the unopened shop to the back room, where the newsagent would fill my canvas bag with newspapers. As I left the shop I had to go past the shelf that had all the cigarettes stacked. As I passed the shelf my left arm swept a load of cigarettes into my bag. I know it was thieving, and I did it a few times. But because I wasn't nicking money, I didn't feel so bad. Changing the cigarettes into cash was not a problem, as all my mates smoked, so I sold them at half price. I now had enough money to go to London, and my Mum and Dad gave me a little extra pocket money to buy some new tricks. All I had to do now was to bunk a day off school, and that I did, 'because the following week saw me stepping off the train at St. Pancras station in London. I then caught the Tube train to Russell Square and walked to Davenports Magic Shop. Patrick Page was behind the counter demonstrating various tricks. I spoke with him and explained that I was learning the Dai Vernon routine for the cups and balls. I also explained that I was using tea cups and rolled up pieces of paper, as I couldn't afford to purchase a set of nice chrome cups and crochet covered cork balls. He gave me a very reassuring reply, in that I was doing the right thing. I didn't stop in the shop for long as I wanted to get to 145 Wardour Street, Ken Brooke's Magic Place!
I made my way down Oxford Street and turned left into Wardour Street, got to number 145, up a flight of stairs, pushed open the door, and there I was, in one of the most famous magic studios in the world. Suddenly a man appeared, bubbling with personality, speaking with a strong Yorkshire accent, who said: "Can I help you son?" I explained that Roy Johnson had sent me. Ken said: "Never heard of him. You better sit down." I picked up one of Ken's flyers which advertised various tricks for sale, and a lot of them were effects by Roy Johnson. "Don't buy any of that bloody rubbish" said Ken. I looked up and noticed that Ken was smiling. Of course he knew Roy! It was then that I realised that Ken had a wicked sense of humour that obviously rubbed off onto me. I asked Ken what the effect 'Bongo's Bloomer' was. He explained it to me, and it sounded like just what I wanted. I purchased it for the grand sum of £12.50. Other magicians came into the studio and Ken demonstrated a few tricks to them, one of them being the 'Malini Egg Bag'. I thought to myself I remember this trick from my magic set, but no, this was different. I don't know why it was different; it just seemed much more magical than the one that I knew.
The door then opened and standing there was a very tall man. I thought I recognised that face. It was none other than Tommy Cooper! He then came and sat on the sofa right next to me. He looked at me and said in that very familiar voice that we all knew so well, "Are you ok?" I immediately started laughing. He said, "What are you laughing at?", and the more he spoke to me, the more I laughed.
He then removed from his jacket pocket a small package that was made of newspaper. He very carefully unfolded the package, and inside was a cheese sandwich, which he then proceeded to eat. I then started to laugh again. He looked at me and then at his wristwatch, and said, "I don't know where my wife has got to, but she will be here soon, she's very late. Don't swear when she comes in 'cos she's very religious." I said: "I won't." It seemed like a strange thing to say to me, but I just agreed with what he said. In fact he said it about four more times, "Don't swear in front of my wife, she's very religious. She's very late; I don't know where she is."
At that precise moment the door opened and standing there was Tommy Cooper's wife. He said to me, "That's the wife, she's very religious" He stood up and said to her: "Where the fucking hell have you been!!!!!" It was not long before I started to make tracks, but not without getting Tommy Cooper's autograph. He very kindly gave me a signed caricature picture of himself. What a nice man.
As I got to Oxford Street, for some unknown reason I made my way towards and into, Regent Street. As I walked down Regent Street, I saw a sign pointing to the London Palladium. I followed the sign and within a few minutes there I was, standing in front of the most famous theatre in the world, The London Palladium. I just stared in wonderment at this incredibly historic building, thinking of all the great names that have appeared there. Little did I know that many years later I would be performing in the Royal Variety Show at this very theatre. I also made numerous other appearances at this venue; a particularly memorable appearance there being with Hollywood legend Dean Martin.
I started to make my way back to St. Pancras Station. However, on my way back, I was walking down Southampton Row when I happened to notice a shop called Alan Alan's Magic Spot. I ventured inside and it was like a scene out of World War 1. There were boxes scattered everywhere. In fact, if the place was bombed, I think there would only be about two quid's worth of damage! Sitting behind the counter was a man with a classic 'sweep-over' haircut that looked like he had stuck a shredded wheat on his head. He had an arrow through his skull, some fake snot on his cheek, a stuffed mouse on his shoulder, and his jacket was covered in so much cigarette ash, it looked like somebody had tried to cremate him. I asked him if he had any tricks for sale. He replied, "Go and look in the window." As I started to leave the shop he called me back to the counter to show me a trick. And what a trick it was! However when I got to the counter I realised that he wasn't sitting down, he was just incredibly short.
He took a handful of coins and placed them one at a time into his closed fist. He asked me how much money I thought was there. Whatever I replied, it didn't matter. He immediately opened his hand and all the coins had completely disappeared. I said that I wanted to buy this trick, but he refused to sell it to me. He said that I only wanted to buy it to find out the secret. I pleaded with him to sell it to me, but he wouldn't. I was really pissed off!
Upon returning to Leicester I called Roy Johnson to tell him that I had purchased a trick called Bongo's Bloomer, which was a comedy trick where the magician pours a glass of real milk into a plastic beaker. The beaker is turned upside down and placed upon the spectator's head, and when the beaker is lifted, instead of the spectator being drenched in milk, a bunch of very colourful flowers are sitting on his head, and the milk is nowhere to be seen. Roy said he knew the trick and that it would be very suitable for my competition act. I went over to Roy's house and he started to work on my act, offering me lots of sound advice. I also mentioned to him that Ken Brooke had performed a trick called the 'Malini Egg Bag'. He immediately went to his magic den and returned holding what looked like a Malini Egg Bag. It was just that! He said that I could keep it if I found it of use, but that he would like it back if I didn't get on with it.
After leaving Roy's house I couldn't help noticing the most beautiful set of chrome plated Cups and Balls he had on display. I picked up one of the cups and it felt like pure luxury. I thought to myself, I bet they're expensive. Roy told me that they were called the Paul Fox Cups, and yes, they were very expensive! I started practising the Malini Egg Bag, but it just somehow didn't seem to look as good in my hands as it did in Ken Brooke's', so I decided to return it to Roy the next time I saw him. This turned out to be when we met backstage at The Haymarket Theatre in Leicester on the night of the annual competition. I returned the Egg Bag to him and then concentrated on getting my act together for my performance. Roy wished me 'all the best', and said he would see me after the show. I didn't see any of the other performers, all I know is that my act went extremely well. My act must have registered better than I thought, because when the judges gave their decision, I was awarded first prize! I couldn't believe it, I won!!!
I left school at seventeen without any qualifications and ended up working in a hosiery factory as a laboratory technician. This sounded a very grand title for a job that only entailed matching the colours of socks. I hated it, but I didn't know at that time what I wanted to do for a living, so I just drifted into anything that would supply me with an income.
September 1977. I was twenty years old, and I entered 'The Zina Bennett' trophy for Close Up Magic. This competition is held annually at the British Ring convention. This particular year it was held in Harrogate. Myself and another guy called Peter Duffie were awarded joint first prize, and nothing could prepare me for the telephone call that I would receive on the Monday morning.
"Could I speak to Wayne Dobson?"
"This is Biddy Baxter here from the BBC I heard about you winning the competition, and was wondering if you would appear on Blue Peter next week?"
I was silent for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually replied in a very nervous fashion.
"Will I get a badge?
"Yes of course."
"I would love to do it."
"We will call you tomorrow and make arrangements."
I immediately said to my Mum, "I'm going to get a Blue Peter badge, I'm going to be on the telly!"
The following week saw me at the BBC mingling with John Noakes, Peter Purves, Leslie Judd, and Shep the dog. The programme was transmitted live, subsequently I never saw it, so I could only judge my performance by the people who did. I made sure that everybody I knew watched it, and they all praised my performance. But I suppose they would have a biased opinion. However I lapped up the compliments, and even went to work the following day wearing my Blue Peter badge. It wasn't long after Blue Peter that I got called into the foreman's office at work. It was regarding the mismatching of colours on the socks. Apparently I was adding the wrong colours of dye to obtain the correct shades. I couldn't work out why I was getting it wrong. It was then suggested I take a test for colour blindness. And guess what? I was colour blind!
I got sacked from that job, but I didn't give a shit! I had a Blue Peter badge! I soon found another job, again in a hosiery factory. This time it was actually manufacturing the socks - wow! I still hated it, but never thought that I would soon be making my living out of what was my hobby, Magic! I worked three shifts on this job, mornings, afternoons, and nights. This fitted in perfectly with me, as I could perform at local working men's clubs, whilst still holding a full time job.
I went back to London a few times and frequently visited Ken Brooke's Magic Place, where I experienced such great magicians as Fred Kaps from Holland, Ricky Jay from the USA, and Fin Jon from Norway. I also became really good friends with Ken, often going to his flat in St. Johns Wood, where he would cook me roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, leaving me in his lounge to watch magic videos. Ken always believed in my talent, but sadly never lived to witness my success. I also purchased the Vanishing Coin trick from Alan Alan. However, I must admit that I gave somebody else the money to obtain it on my behalf. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that I had purchased it.
Early December 1977 saw me at the International Day of Magic in the Empire rooms, Tottenham Court Road. The room was full of Magic Dealers selling their latest tricks. My first purchase was a book called 'The World's Greatest Magic'. Whilst standing around at the back of the room with my head buried in my new book, I noticed that a group of people had gathered around somebody. That somebody was none other than Paul Daniels. I had seen him on the TV a couple of weeks previously, and thought that he was absolutely brilliant!
I made my way towards the crowd, and very nervously asked Paul Daniels for his autograph. He signed a picture postcard of himself and very kindly gave it to me. I didn't know what to say to him, but I did say that I saw him on TV recently and thought that he was brilliant. He replied in a very sarcastic tone, "Does that mean we're married now?" All his sycophants started to laugh at his very witty reply, but I felt so stupid! I just walked away from the crowd, thinking to myself, what a horrible thing to say!
As I stood on my own feeling very dejected, I decided to have a cigarette. I put a cigarette in my mouth, and as I searched my pockets for some matches, a flame appeared in front of my cigarette, and a guy with a strong European accent offered me a light. I told him that I recognised his face, but couldn't decide where from. He told me his name was Richard Ross from Holland, and that I had probably seen his picture in the book 'The World's Greatest Magic', which was clutched in my hand. He took the book from me and turned to the page that featured him. I asked if he would kindly sign it for me. He wrote, 'To Wayne, good luck in magic, Richard Ross.' I was amazed how delighted I felt, when only minutes before, I felt so sad. Richard Ross was now my hero, and I was going to see him perform that evening on the gala show. I just knew that he was going to be good.
Richard Ross was not just good, but sensational! To this day I have never seen any magician give such a charismatic performance as Richard Ross gave that night. Solid steel rings linked and unlinked with the grace of a beautiful ballet, coins materialised from mid-air, and pocket watches seemed to appear at will. Although his act was of the mime variety, and he never spoke a word, he had a very boyish charm that communicated incredibly well with the audience. Richard Ross was magic!
That night as I sat on the train making my homeward journey back to Leicester, the autographed picture of Paul Daniels fell from the pages of my book. I picked it off the floor, took one look at it, and many thoughts went through my mind, like: 'Why was this little man so conceited? Are all celebrities like this? Is he just insecure? David Nixon would never have been like that.' I screwed up the picture, and threw it under the seat that I was sitting on. Little did I know that this was the start of the war between me and Mr. Daniels!
"I thought, you must earn good money from Magic because I heard my sister telling her friend that she got paid £50 a Trick "
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.