Big Tall Tom

MANY OF MY CLOSE MAGIC FRIENDS have now left the room so nowadays I have just a handful of magicians with whom I spend precious moments of conversation on the art. They are a varied lot. A former radio producer. A former top legal director for a national newspaper. And a former lead clarinettist of a […]

An appreciation of one of The Pentacle Clubs most famous sons.

AS THE PENTACLE CLUB OF CAMBRIDGE  celebrate their 90th anniversary, I was asked if I would write an appreciation of Alex Elmsley for the occasion. I thought you might like to read the following. Alex Elmsley – Gentleman genius. An appreciation by John Derris I knew him for over fifty years. Intellectually he was light […]

The mischievous Mr. Ramsay

I HAVE OFTEN WRITTEN OF MY TOTAL ADMIRATION for John Ramsay, one of the finest close-up magicians I ever saw. He was a short, rotund little man with a shock of white hair, dressed in a conservative three piece suit with a Scottish twinkle in his eye as he would wind you up in his […]

Close-up magic – the greatest?

I’M OFTEN ASKED WHO WAS THE GREATEST CLOSE-UP MAGICIAN I’ve ever seen? Well, I can go back fifty years and give you my opinion acknowledging that by reputation alone there were obviously some greats in the period before my time. I thinking here of Nate Leipzig and Max Malini and whilst I know that time […]

The Kosher Mr. Bernard

HE’S NOT EVERYONE’S CUP OF LOKSHEN SOUP.. He can be argumentative, abrasive, pushy, boastful, attention-seeking, outspoken, petulant, intrusive and has irritated some of the best -known names in magic. I have known him for over sixty years. He has verbally laid into me many times, contradicting much of my conversation, which infuriates me because he […]

John Derris – who he?

THAT’S EXACTLY THE REMARK MADE BY ED. MARLO when Jack Avis sent him a John Derris effect in one of the hundreds of letters they exchanged for nearly thirty years. Fame indeed and perhaps a sentiment shared by many magicians. For John Derris is not a name in the heady firmament of the stars of magic […]

Al Koran – The Early Years

I KNEW AL WHEN HE WAS EDWARD DOE  a gentleman’s hairdresser at The Ritz Hotel in London. That was in the ’50’s when he used to meet up with our group – Jack Avis, Alex Elmsley, Roy Walton, Ted Danson,. Bobby Bernard and myself on Saturdays when we hounded the magic stores. He was mad […]

Lunch with Roy of the Clydeside Second Dealers!

HAD A DELIGHTFUL LUNCH WITH ROY WALTON  and his wife Jean  this week (started at 1.00pm and finished at 5.00pm!)  during their brief visit to the big smoke. We have been friends since we were teenagers but after marrying Jean  of the famed Davenport family, he gave up a career in the computing industry and decided […]

The Bonzo Count

ALEX ELMSLEY LIVED IN A BASEMENT FLAT  in Chelsea in his retirement years. We all called it “Wuthering Depths” He suffered badly from depression which he kept at bay with Prozac and the amber juice but not necessarily at the same time. I had known him all my magic life and he used to come […]

My good friend the ghost.

THERE ARE MANY GHOSTS IN MAGIC. People who are heard but not seen. People buried in the scenery of the magic landscape. People who make a tremendous contribution to the intellect of magic by their profound thinking and creativity often stimulated by their isolation from the magic tribe. People who rarely or never perform magic in […]