Do you remember 31st December 2019? About 5pm? I do!
I’m wandering around a Winter Wonderland attraction in Milton Keynes, wearing a three piece suit and performing close up magic and a stage show, to gasps of amazements, and roars of laughter. 2019 has been a fantastic year, and I am so proud of how far my little business has built up over the past year.
I jump in my car and make my way home to my wife… It’s a two hour journey, and I ended up somehow on the wrong lane on the M25 so it actually took a little longer. By the time I get home it’s a little later than I originally planned.
We snuggle up on the sofa and watch Craig David bring in the new year. The bells of Big Ben toll out across the Southbank whilst fireworks explode into the sky accompanied with a symphony of music from years gone by. We turn over to Jools Holland, I thought Craig David was an unusual choice, and make the phone calls to relatives and loved ones to wish them a Happy New Year.
2020 was going to be amazing. I had festivals lined up from early on in January to be working alongside Mr Bloom, one of my favourite acts to work with, as well as some exciting new theatre show developments. My agent had spoken with me about putting me into a large chain of holiday parks as a touring cabaret act for the summer season. I had exciting residencies in Mr Foggs Mayfair and Bunga Bunga Covent Garden performing close up magic for adults. Life was good.
And it continued to be good. Right up into March. I think I was probably one of the last magicians to stop working. My final gig was 12th March. I was back in Milton Keynes by sheer coincidence. There were 800 people in this room all having a lovely meal, and worrying about if we should be shaking hands or not. The atmosphere was slightly subdued for such an occasion, with worry of the covid virus, but still the show went on.
3 days later and cancelations for work are happening left, right and centre. Every contract I had before has been cancelled, and before long my diary was empty.
I started making videos in my conservatory. Daily to begin with. Blasting out anything I could, recording children’s entertainment in the morning editing in the afternoon, and getting videos out by about 3pm. I’ve got to admit, making those videos gave me some weird sense of purpose, and I was increasingly worried about how long this lockdown thing people were talking about would last, and if I would have a business left at the end of it.
We managed to celebrate my Son’s birthday with a trip to Southend aquarium just days before the entire country went into lockdown.
Over the next two weeks I continued making the videos, performing on Facebook, with Magic Frostie ‘LIVE SHOWS’ every Wednesday. I had heard of this ‘zoom’ thing people were using for video calls, and decided, with some encouragement from some of my peers, that it may be a good idea to try and perform shows and birthday parties over the internet.
And so I went for it. I didn’t charge anything as such, I had no idea how much to charge for a show from my conservatory? So I told customers to ‘pay what they can afford’ and hope that they would find some value in the nonsense I do for a living. The results of this were quite varied, and I made anything from £15 to £558 for a show. During this time of difficulty for me and my family these shows managed to help us to survive at a time where we had no other income, and I can’t thank my lovely customers enough for booking these Zoom shows. It didn’t give me the buzz I get from a normal show, but it certainly helped us through an exceptionally hard time.
Lockdown hit me pretty hard, I felt helpless and miserable. I was useless at home schooling my children, and I am the sort of person who likes to get out and do stuff. Sitting around the house watching telly is not my idea of fun, and so somehow I became incredibly productive. During the first few weeks of lockdown I
· Started writing a book for older children (currently mid chapter 12 and at a word count of around 14,000 words at the moment)
· Designed and manufactured a board game (now a permanent game at home)
· Began to learn to juggle
· Rewrote my entire show to allow for social distancing
We also went on lots of walks as a family. I found it impossible to stay in, and so we walked around our local town, and found places we never even knew existed.
Then Boris made a new announcement, up to 6 people could now meet in a garden. Almost straight away I decided that this could work for shows, and people craved the entertainment. I started performing again in gardens to groups of 5 with me as the 6th person. The shows went down an absolute storm. At the end of shows children were asking me to stay and not leave. Parents were delighted to watch live entertainment in their gardens with their children. It was a really happy time.
Things moved on and I realised that these outdoor parties were great, and as we moved into August we became allowed more people at a party (we are now allowed up to 30 at the time of writing) and performers are now allowed to perform indoors too, since then I've been back at Billericay Theatre, and back at my home from home Hamleys, the world's finest toy store.
My creativity didn’t really disappear from lockdown though. Lockdown opened my mind up to the ideas of what is possible, in my own little business. I have been designing new magic to perform at shows, which absolutely no other magician on the planet will be doing. I have exciting new projects involving dragons, even more exciting additions to my Magical Christmas Show, and one of my craziest ideas yet, which I just know all of my current followers are going to love, and I've got more ideas for 2021 too!
It also made me realise just how much I value my customers. You guys rock my world, and I realise that my business isn’t for me, it’s for you. The shows I write, and my quest for perfection in things is, its because I want you to have the best time physically possible. I want to create memories for you which will last a lifetime, not just for your children, but for you as parents too!
2020 has been a disappointing year so far, it’s been hard for everyone, but as we come into the Autumn of the year I feel optimistic, and excited about things to come. I can’t wait to show you all my new ideas and shows, and thank you all so much for being on this journey with me.