Sharpened senses in Auld Reekie

So, we are fast approaching Edinburgh.
A few weeks from now, I’ll be in Auld Reekie at The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre for a short residency of my stage show.
As part of the pomp and circumstance I shall be attempting a blindfold drive around the city on Monday the 12th.
Rather than actually driving around the grassmarket without sight, I will be in the back of a taxi, where I will be placed into a hypnotic trance and blindfolded to allow me to better concentrate on the movements of the car. The taxi driver will drive to where he or she feels like driving to somewhere in the city of Edinburgh. When they stop the car, I will then attempt to talk them back to 25 Palmerston Place, the address of the Conan Doyle Centre and venue for my show.

More details will follow soon, suffice to say, I am studying maps and have been practicing around Oxfordshire building up my confidence. My friends Richard and Frankie have already helped me out on a test run, where I managed to get within several feet of where we started, avoiding local police who might have questioned two blokes driving slowly with a guy in the bag with a black bag over his head.

25 Palmerston Place

25 Palmerston Place

An Evening of Mystery

Being in the mystery business means that I have a fair few mysterious friends. Amongst these there are two gents from Tamworth: Christopher Gould and Anthony Black. They’ve been running a monthly evening of mystery entertainment in a local bar in Tamworth and I decided to go along to the last one.
It’s about an hour and fifteen from where I live, so I popped in the car and shot up the motorway arriving a little into the first act. Hypno guru and all-around chi devil Anthony Jacquin was in attendance along with another name in mentalism Fraser Parker, whom I knew of but had not previously met. There was already a lot of table hopping in effect and the audience were fairly buzzing by the time I arrived.

Christopher and Anthony have a penchant for the more magikal and bizarre and this was apparent throughout the evening. They had also invited more friends and what friends too! None other than Gothic dark knight and silverware nemesis Dee Christopher and the irrepressible life force known as Peter Turner. The venue itself was a small one, which made for intimate presentations and good audience rapport and it was a testament to the skill of the performers that although this was a pub and people were involved in the business of drinking, they duly sat up and paid attention during the action. I’ll talk a little about the performances in no particular order.
Pete delivered some incredible revelatory material, hard-hitting, no-nonsense mind reading with poignant and personal stories. A delight to watch. He is the human equivalent of magnesium, fizzing, bright and with a little bit of danger making you want not to get too close! Dee opted to frazzle the assorted public with metal bending-some of which took place in the hands of volunteers- and a routine with cards redolent of a Vulcan mind meld. Dee was the dark to Peter’s light and a nice counterpoint in delivery and energy. Christopher bestrode the stage like the evil half child of Mick Fleetwood and Mephistopheles complete with silver ram’s head cane and hoodoo swank. Christopher tried out an esoteric experiment in determinism which yielded some very interesting results. The whole evening was enjoyed by the local crowd, some of which, it was apparent had come to a previous evening. Finally Snr. Black hit the stage with a homage to the bearded lady! I told you they like bizarre, right? Well, Antonella, in a rare moment of theatrical grace gave birth to a child on stage, the union of an imagined (or was it?) night of passion with an unfortunate in the audience. The father was asked to name the child, only to find that Antonella had correctly predicted the father’s choice!

A great evening loaded with wit, wonder and broken waters- and the best thing? It’s all happening again next month and it’s completely free.
Seriously, if you live anywhere near Tamworth, you owe it to yourself to get along.
The next event is I believe, on the first of August at The Wherever Bar.

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Put Another Dime In The Dukebox Baby

Whoah! What a week. This last week has been such a great experience. This was really the first time I got to roll out new facets of the show and to integrate some business. Over the course of the run at Brighton, Frankie (my tech guy and creative sounding board) and I tweaked and talked over moments and mooched repeatedly from Hove to Brighton.
The result is that the show is leaner and most assuredly better.

Fringe city, an outdoor event along New Road promoting acts playing the Fringe proved to be an excellent way of meeting fellow performers and potential audience. For a second time I hit the ‘up close and personal’ Fringe Van after playing one of the open stages to deliver some hypnotherapy to those wanting to shift a limiting belief. One dear soul leaving weepy but energised about what she had accomplished in so short a time. Onstage as well, I capitalised on a particularly good subject capable of experiencing catalepsy and amnesia

Fringe City

Entrance @FringeCity

Audience feedback at The Dukebox Theatre reveals that he was a reason for some of them stopping by!
It was edifying to play alongside Elvis and Marilyn impersonators, a musical revue about the life and times of pioneer surgeon John Hunter and two hairy dudes singing tunes about Billy the Kid.

The second weekend was rammed as Brighton was playing host to ‘The Great Escape’ a rather large music festival in addition to Fringe and Brighton Festival events. Large gangs of the painfully hip roved around or perched on pub benches discussing the finer points of music whilst sipping Aperol Spritz (which seems to be ubique through clever marketing and hard cash advertising) and artfully, nonchalantly rolling ciggies one-handed. I hadn’t seen so many AAA passes since my London ligger days.

Performance-wise I had three very different audiences, the smallest being on the last night (7) which necessitated a reworking of certain elements of the show. It actually elevated the emotional content of the show and the rapport with the audience (though I felt I knew them all pretty well by the end of the performance!) eliciting several ‘wow’ moments and a fair share of confused ‘What?’ And ‘nooooo!’s.
Cbeebies legend Sid Sloane also popped in and stayed around after for some drinks and a chat. I heard his voice in the audience (I was blindfolded at the time) and had one of those ‘He sounds familiar’ episodes where you try to place someone. Turns out he’s a South London boy so we had a proper chat about Wandsworth, Tooting and Balham and the haunts we knew therein. Tremendous chap!

Here’s a little feedback post-show from some of Wednesday’s audience:
Your Place or Mind

Off to sunny Manchester today and beginning prep for the Banbury show.

Brighton Rock

So, a fair wee while since I updated this blog. I’m currently in the Iron Duke pub having completed a technical rehearsal for my show. It’s the first night tonight and naturally I am nervous. Frankie, my stage manager is an island of calm whilst I stalk around checking and re-checking the stage, set and order of the performance.
I fell over on the way to the venue today and ripped my trousers! No permanent damage and there were no buses going past to squish me.
Yesterday evening was a turbulent mix of promotion and pizza and the weekend performance at fringe city was incredible.
I offered free phobia removal in the fringe van, literally, the back of the van. One lady in particular got very emotional and managed to shift a limiting belief she’d had for a long time, another searched and couldn’t find any trace of the phobia she had had twenty minutes before. All thanks to techniques taught to me by Freddy Jacquin and Anthony Jacquin and Head Hacking. I enjoy this element of what I do, it is excellent to see people engineer change and move forward.
I’m off to check everything is in place again!image

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The Banbury Affair

A few weeks ago I decided to start promoting myself and my services in a much more visible way. I went to the local paper and asked local journalist Martin Elverly if he would be good enough to hold onto an envelope containing a series of future event predictions I had made in a hypnotic state. Whilst at the offices of The Banbury Guardian, I asked him to sign one of the slips containing the predictions, to seal the envelope, sign across the flap and place it into a second, larger envelope, which was again sealed by Martin with adhesive stickers placed around the edges and on the flap to prevent tampering. This envelope was then taken by Martin and placed into the safe of The Guardian and we agreed to meet two weeks hence in the town centre to open the envelopes and see if it was possible for me to predict the news headlines.
Martin was kind enough to run the story and we met as agreed, two weeks down the line.

I never again touched the envelope, nor it’s contents. On the day of the revelation, we stood in a chilly Banbury town centre whilst the clock struck twelve noon and Martin and a helper dragooned into service from the street, a passer-by, read out the predictions.

How did I do?

Well, I remember thinking that one of my predictions had definitely came in earlier than expected. A prediction about the nuclear test in North Korea, I missed on one prediction involving questioning a random passer-by but was almost spot on with three other predictions including the front page of The Mail and the back page of The Times.
Well, nobody’s perfect!

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What is totally excellent, is that the local theatre The Mill Arts Centre has booked in ‘Your Place or Mind’ on the 13th of June! Which just goes to show, you can’t always see everything that’s in store.

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New Year, New Thoughts, New Show

So it’s been an interesting time relocating to the UK after an absence of over a decade. I had forgotten the joys of bureaucracy, form-filling and admin that Britain revels in. The whole family is in free-fall experiencing serious Asia pangs and this is the first harsh winter we’ve seen in a good wee while. One of the nice things about being back in Albion has been catching up with extended family, friends and meeting folk who I’ve talked to on the net but never met in person. I attended Tabla Mentis, a meeting of The Society of British Mystery Entertainers. A great affair where I got to mix and mingle with people who I respect and have hitherto admired from afar. I also hung around the periphery of Head Hackings training in Derby and helped out where applicable. Grabbing some time to chat with Ant and Kev about the Automatic Imagination Model of hypnosis. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read Kev’s explanations here http://tinyurl.com/asn5ktx Thought provoking stuff. It got me thinking in all kinds of directions and specifically about some of the processes behind the creation of character in acting rehearsals. I’m currently investigating a way of crossing over some of the AI model into acting, but more of that later.

I now have a limited company, which I called CAVORT. It is my hope that I can draw together the strands of what I do under the umbrella of this company. My current show Your Place or Mind will continue to tour this year in a slightly changed format. Those of you that have seen it, know that it investigates the notion of coincidence through a series of experiments. I have a new experiment which I am adding to the show, which I am very excited about. I’ve tentatively titled it ‘The Wreck of the Medulla’ and it involves hypnosis and psychometry with some rather special ‘hauntiques’ which are antiques with a certain history to them. One of the delights of this piece is that I genuinely don’t know how it will turn out, it’s real fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentalism and has the potential to be really excellent theatre.

Rojak

‘Because things are the way they are,
things will not stay the way they are.’
 

My days in Penang, the beautiful Pearl of the Orient are coming to a close as I prepare to shift focus back to Europe for a while, and to be honest, I’m going to miss Malaysia and in particular, Penang.

I’ve made a lot of friends here during my stay and met some incredibly interesting people. I’ve gotten involved in all kinds of capers and eaten some of the most bizarre and delicious food I have ever tasted. Malaysia is Rojak.

Rojak for the un-initiated is a medley of cucumber and tropical fruits with added extras tossed in a sauce and sprinkled with toppings. A vague description, I know, however, Rojak is different everywhere you go. One man’s Rojak in KL will be significantly different from the fella’s in Johor Bahru. A chap from Kuantan will tell you what his Rojak consists of and it’ll be very different from the Rojak a lady from Malacca will describe to you. In Penang- food paradise of The East, they change it again and it changes from hawker to hawker. Here’s a picture of Penang Rojak:

 

Penang Famous Rojak

 

Why am I banging on about Rojak? Well, because to me, Malaysia is Rojak, it’s a grand mixture of all kinds of things. It’s sweet and sour by turns, piquant, savoury, at once familiar and then strange, a melange of flavours that your mind tells you at first wont work. But it does work. I love the fact that Malaysians take their food so seriously. I think it says a lot about a culture, when a typical greeting is not ‘how are you?’ but ‘have you eaten yet?’, that although there are many things that Malaysians do not agree on, they all agree that a good feed is entirely necessary.  Yesterday I went to Red Garden Hawker Centre with fellow hypnotist and man of mystery Frankie Lee, and there we both sat gorging ourselves on Loh Bak and Dim Sum. We (I) over-ordered and missed out on having some Char Keow Teow, Frog Porridge and fried oysters – there simply wasn’t any room. Whilst I was there, I was hit by a premature wave of what the Portuguese call Saudade. I looked around and saw the uncles and aunties, the young potential boyfriends desperately trying to impress the immaculately turned out Chinese girls, the large extended Malay family out to celebrate, the Indians playing cards wreathed in cigarette smoke, the waitresses wending their way through the cheap plastic tables, slotted into their Carlsberg and Tiger dresses and of course, the singer accompanied by a synth-pop backing track, adorned in a necklace that highlights her singing prowess, growling bitter notes of unrequited love in Hokkien and Cantonese.

All Malaysian, all getting on because Malaysia boleh!

Another friend of mine from KL, Chi master and Silat practitioner Henzi Nusantara will be walking blindfolded soon across Peninsular Malaysia one kilometre for every year of independence to celebrate the idea of Satu (one) Malaysia. That’s right folks, 55km blindfolded.

One dish, many ingredients. 

Hope to be back soon, gotta get me some of that Rojak and Laksa, and Bak Kut Teh and Hokkien Char and Kuih and Satay and Belecan Chicken and Roti Canai and Ice Kacang and Nasi Kandar and Nasi Campur and Nasi Lemak………..

Victor Kiam

“Even if you fall on your face,
you’re still moving forward.”
 
That has been my kind of day today, not entirely without merit and there is still ten hours left of it, however, there has already been frustration and teeth-grinding going on.
I like the fact that the above quote is attributed to Victor Kiam (It’s also attributed to others, but I say let him have it!). If you are old enough, you may remember Mr. Kiam advertising electric razors with all the zeal of an evangelical. I certainly remember enjoying his adverts because the product wasn’t really important, it was this luminously white-toothed grinning maniac with his battleship steel-grey coiffured hair that made for good telly. The man knew a thing or two about people and the nature of belief. He obviously knew a good shaver when he saw one too. I could discuss so many things using Victor Kiam as a model- sales psychology, mindscripts, hypnotic language and so on, but I think why he sprang to mind today was his sheer force of will and indefatigable nature. Possibly also because I’ve been watching Mad Men of late.
 
So it’s Ladies Night in the Upper Penang Road tonight, I’ll be there promoting this weekend’s shows. I’ll get my Kiam on and see where it takes me!
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Indescribable… Indestructible! Nothing Can Stop It………The Blog.

A formless mass that accrues as it goes and terrorises the masses – sounds about right.

Welcome to my blog. I hope this will be a stream of communication and not merely a series of nattering, yattering comments from me. I’m sure they’ll be in effect but I also hope to have a dialogue and to create a space where people can talk with me about subjects we find mutually interesting. A good friend of mine asked me why I hadn’t blogged before- he stated that he was shocked that I hadn’t already created a veritable mountain of digital prose and I answered that to do this kind of caper I imagine you have to be dedicated to it. I didn’t have the time.

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