Stephen's Posts

Robbie Williams Changed My Career: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say: Age 20

“I’ve got 2 free tickets to see Robbie Williams in Manchester tonight, if anyone is interested?” asked Pete, my film tutor in college. Now, I’ve never really been a Robbie Williams fan - he wasn’t something I’d actively avoid, like rabies or cucumbers - but he was just never my cup of tea. Having said that… free tickets to a concert, you say?! That seemed like something I couldn’t refuse. So, my friend Jack and I took him up on the offer; we got an early dart from college and set off to the Etihad Stadium. ‘Maybe the support act will be good?’ I offered to Jack, who seemed dubious. He just fancied getting off college early and was less of a Robbie fan than I was. Neither of us were entirely sure why we’d agreed to come, but you know, free.

We made our way into the stadium, bought the obligatory £8 pint and found our position; surrounded by thousands of adoring middle-aged women. They adored Robbie Williams of course, having no idea I’d be there.

Suddenly, the music hit. There was a palpable excitement in the stadium that was difficult not to get swept along with. Descending from the skies, cameras projected the household name as he zip-wired down to the stage with a trail of red smoke behind him. I watched on, absolutely in awe. 50,000 people were there that night to see this one man and he was incredible. The biggest personality in the room, bursting with confidence and an absolute showman. The arrogance, the bravado; genuinely compelling shtick and I completely got it.

I arrived to the gig expecting to hate it. 5 minutes in I was singing and whooping with the best of them. I’d gone this this gig completely nonchalant and apropos of nothing, and came away genuinely, surprisingly inspired. In total wonderment. I never could have predicted it would have such a tremendous impact, but it really did. It wasn’t just a show, it was an event, and we were all part of it.

It’s safe to say that it reenergised me completely - changing my entire outlook on how I was going to progress forward. I’d become somewhat subdued with close-up magic and wasn’t sure where to go. This was it. Performing on stage and making people feel excited to be there. Not just being a ‘table-slave’ performing some close-up magic to drunk, unappreciative tables at corporate events - but doing shows. Proper shows with music and lights. I was excited about what would be possible and genuinely couldn’t wait to start working on it. The whole thing happened by complete chance and kick-started everything that was to come.

The show ended and we made our way back to the car, completely taken aback by the previous few hours. We drove back to Liverpool, buzzing with enthusiasm. I put Angels on Spotify. Robbie Williams is brilliant, I thought.

Lower Your Trousers Please, Mr. Williams: Age 21

Blimey. Right, well, I don’t think any of us expected to hear that today. I’ve just, rather excitingly, got on board my first ever cruise ship. We’re heading off to the Canary Islands from Liverpool and for the next month, this is going to be my home. I’m doing two shows a night, once a week and the rest of the time is my own – amazing, I think.

Being a magician in the North West, the fact that this cruise was sailing from a port on Liverpool’s dock couldn’t have been more ideal. So, I jumped on board and started to settle in.

A few hours passed and I was unpacked. I was excited. I was incredibly sea-sick. I won’t get into specifics, but it wasn’t my most flattering of moments. I performed at a wedding on a boat once but other than that I’d never spent any time on water, so I really hadn’t considered this.

I picked up the cabin phone and dialled reception.

‘Hello,’ I said tentatively. ‘This is probably nothing, but I’ve got a bit of sea-sickness and…’

‘Do not leave your cabin, sir. A nurse will be with you shortly,’ the suddenly very stern voice commanded from the other side.

So, I waited, anxiously. I considered putting the kettle on, to try and act nonchalant about the whole thing and give the impression that it was nothing. I didn’t.

I heard a knock at the door and welcomed the nurse in. She didn’t seem one for chit chat and almost certainly would have refused a cup of tea, so I was proud of my earlier decision about the kettle.

She looked at me seriously and said, “Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

I’m going to inject you with something to stop the motion sickness, but you’re going to be placed into quarantine – so please don’t leave the cabin for the next 2 days.”

I was taken aback. 2 days! 2 entire days stuck alone in the cabin. Having sailed away from the coast, I had no internet, no phone connection and I’d completely forgotten to bring any books! All I had was one film on my computer. The countdown to freedom began…

What was supposed to be the start of an exciting new escapade, an exciting new adventure, actually began with me locked in a cabin and watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the third time, in my pants. Being in my pants definitely wasn’t related to the fact that I was also watching Robin Williams dressed as a comical fat lady, of course.

It was mid-afternoon on day 2 when suddenly, the phone rang.

‘Mr Williams,’ said a low voice on other other end. ‘Since you’re showing no further symptoms, you can leave your cabin at 8am tomorrow morning.’

‘8am?!’ I questioned whilst raising my eyebrows – which was an unusual thing to do considering I was on the phone.

It appears they allow a little extra time to ensure everything is fine.

Early the following morning, my alarm sounded and I jumped out of bed. After what felt like a lifetime, I was a free man; free! I looked out my cabin window at the gentle waves and glorious sunshine. Brilliant! I’m a free man (I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I?) and the sun is shining! I’m going to spend today by the pool, I think.

Revelling in my new found freedom, I fled out of my cabin, making my way towards the not-at-all-Roman piscina.

Wanting to make up for the lost time, I swam a few lengths, drank a Margarita (well, a Diet Coke with no ice, but that doesn’t sound quite as good), grabbed a sun-lounger and closed my eyes to catch a few rays…

“You’ve cracked it, Williams!” I thought to myself.

I woke up a couple of hours later and decided to jump in the shower and get dressed for the evening’s meal. It was then that I realised what had happened.

Finding myself back in the cabin, I looked in the mirror, aghast: I was glowing with sunburn. I had a face like a giant tomato with a quiff. What am I going to do, I thought!

I was so embarrassed that you could say I was red in the face.

I couldn’t let anyone see me like this – I looked ridiculous! In my mind, there was really only one answer; I had to let this settle!

Right, I’m not leaving this cabin for the next 48 hours, I think.

Head in the Clouds: Becoming a Helicopter Pilot: Age 17

“Right then lads,” I said to my mates, Paul and Ryan over a curry, “I’m going to learn to be a helicopter pilot.” They both looked at me sceptically. “I’m starting in October and will be gone for quite a few months while I learn.” There was a moment of silence before I noticed a single tear trickle down Ryan’s face. Turns out he’d just eaten a particularly hot jalapeño.

If you’ve never been in a helicopter, you absolutely should do it; really, it’s brilliant. Properly brilliant. Groupon it, if that’s still a thing. Just don't go thinking about taking lessons as well - otherwise you might end up finding yourself in West Palm Beach, and living in a house with a 25-year-old Hungarian called Kristof, and I don't want that happening to both of us.

It all came about when I’d been at a wedding a few weeks earlier. It was a swanky affair and I’d been asked to perform some close-up magic in the gardens whilst the photographs were being taken. It was all very typical until a tremendous noise was heard above. Suddenly, the 200 or so people stopped and looked up at the sky. A helicopter was flying down and into the grounds, and it literally made the entire collective stop and watch. “Here comes the DJ,” I quipped to the guy standing next to me… he didn't laugh.

It was amazing. ’What am I doing, stood here on terra firma with these commoners,’ I thought, ‘when I could be flying a helicopter!?’ I knew, instantly, that I was going to learn how to fly and felt drunk with power by the very thought of it. Then I walked off and carried on doing card tricks.

Back at home that night I jumped on the computer, paid £150 and booked a test flight for the following day. I’m not really sure why - it was a bit impulsive I suppose, but it just seemed like it would be fun. I’ll arrive to all of my events by helicopter in future, I thought - not considering that it might not be the most practical thing to do when I’m performing at a Christening in the local social club.

The following day I went to the training school in Liverpool and jumped in the helicopter. It might have been a bit soon to have sat in the pilot’s seat, but I think he knew I meant business. Swapping seats, we set to the sky for the next 20 minutes or so and I loved it! It was honestly amazing and a completely different experience to anything I’d ever done before.

I spoke with the school to find out how much getting a license would cost, and after some minimal research I realised it would work out cheaper to do it abroad. Result! I’ll learn to do it in America, I thought – I’ll get a holiday at the same time and save some money. I took the rest of the day off, pleased with my own cunning.

Within 72 hours of having watched a helicopter land for a minute and taking a short helicopter trip over Liverpool, I set the wheels in motion and arranged to spend a small fortune and get my private pilots license in West Palm Beach, Florida. I’d sorted it all out with Ocean Helicopter School, who I’d be going to about 3 months later, giving me enough time to arrange my Visa and get my fingerprints and medical done, etc.

Why I didn’t consider taking at least one more flight in the UK first, or begin learning some of the theory is beyond me - but I didn’t have time for any of that tomfoolery, I thought. I laughed in the face of theory. I was going rogue. A helicopter maverick.

Visa now in place, I had a surprise going-away party with family and friends and set off for Florida. I was tremendously excited, buzzing with the idea of exploring aviation and conquering the skies. That was, of course, until the final internal flight I was on became hit by the worst turbulence I, or any of the crew on board, had ever experienced.

People throughout the plane were screaming and crying. I, having travelled on my own and without any other real option, picked up the SkyMall magazine and started perusing the wares. Whilst others were looking into their family members’ and loved ones’ eyes for what could have been the final time; I was reading the description for one of those things you plug into the wall to keep flies out of your kitchen.

All was, as you can probably guess, fine - although it wasn’t a great introduction to my time learning about aviation.

Exhausted, I finally arrived at West Palm Beach Airport and was driven to the house I’d be staying in with my new housemate; the aforementioned 25-year-old Hungarian, Kristof. The house was owned by the helicopter school, and was, as they say, an utter shithole. But still, I was here to become a pilot - most of my time would be spent soaring the skies, wouldn’t it? The only thing I’d be doing here is sleeping and practicing that song that Tom Cruise sings in Top Gun. This will be fine, I thought.

The first few weeks were brilliant; a right laugh, and really exciting - but there was just something about it that didn’t seem to be quite what I expected. I don’t know what it was, but I just started questioning what the point was. I realised I didn’t want to become a pilot as a career, and financially it would probably be a disastrous move to be flying to gigs all over the country. I also only realised when I got there that helicopters have little to no boot-space for my props. If only someone had told me that beforehand.

Having my doubts about the whole thing, I spoke to Richie Smith over Skype, who gave me some advice which really made my decision for me. He said that I’d have to look at this venture like climbing a mountain. The last thing I’d want to do is reach the summit, but then realise that, actually, I wanted to be on another mountain.

Right, I’m well aware that seems a bit ‘fortune cookie’ and naff in print, but when he said it, it actually did sound profound, honest.

From that alone, I made the decision to abandon the lessons and continue with what I really loved doing - performing. I booked my flight home for the following week, cancelled my remaining lessons, and spent the next 7 days having a slightly bizarre holiday with my new Hungarian friend.

So, after saying goodbye to everybody at home and having a going-away party before jetting off to Florida, I was back in Liverpool 3 weeks later without the ability to fly a helicopter, or even a tan.

A welcome-home party, anyone?

On the Road with Stephen Mulhern: Age 14

“Hi Stephen!” the email from Stephen Mulhern read, “I’m going on a bit of a tour called ‘Tricky TV LIVE’ and ‘The Stephen Mulhern Show’ and was wondering if you’d like to be a part of it?” I stood there staring at the screen, completely frozen. He wanted me to be a part of his tour?! I re-read the email. Then re-read it again, just to be sure.

Stephen, whom I’d spoken to several times since filming my small role in Tricky TV: Season 2, wanted to add a section with a young magician into his live, touring version of the show - and having seen a video of my classical act online, asked me to do it! I couldn’t believe it. This is incredible, I thought!

It would be running for 6 weeks and he was looking for me to perform 5 minutes of my act in the middle of each show. I was, as you can imagine, beyond excited and agreed to do it almost instantly! But only once I’d finished re-reading the email for the fifth time, of course.

Still unable to drive, my dad and I, along with the doves, made the 250-mile trip down to the bottom of the country for the first day of rehearsals. Stephen, a genuinely, properly nice guy, was there with the show’s production team, musicians and dancers, along with Paul Andrews; the producer and magic director from Tricky TV, who co-wrote and was overlooking the tour.

Now let’s not beat around the bush here: this was huge for me. Massive. Stephen Mulhern was someone who I’d grown up watching. The Quick Trick Show on CiTV was tremendously influential in my formative years, and really, to me, he was a proper celebrity. Someone who I admired and looked up to. To have him introduce me on stage each night and to just generally be around and learn from him was amazing.

He’d wrap the 3,000-strong audience around his little finger each and every night in a way in which I’d never seen anyone be able to do before. The little nuances; the slight differences he’d make between shows to adapt to that audience. He was absolutely in the moment.

It was remarkable to be a part of the show and utterly terrifying in equal measure. Waiting backstage, knowing I had 10 seconds before he'd say my name, were some of the most nerve-wracking and exciting moments of my career up to that point. What if it all went wrong? What would I do if something just didn’t work?

Thankfully, nothing major ever did - but the pressure of it really kept me on my toes. It’s funny how much an act, even one you’ve performed countless times before, changes when you start doing it every night. You’re able to start setting things up more quickly; you realise that just by waiting an extra 2 seconds before making something disappear, for instance, can make an audience go from applauding to gasping. I learnt more on that tour than I can possibly put into words.

The 6 weeks ultimately came to an end, and I look back on it with enormous fondness. Having said that, embarrassingly, I had no idea that thank you gifts were a thing at the end of a tour. Whilst the other cast and crew gave me and each other some lovely, well-thought-out gifts, I found myself having to improvise with the only thing I could find in the car at the last minute…

A Tesco Meal Deal and some chocolate covered raisins, anyone?

Britain’s Got Talent: And How I Nearly Gave Up Magic: Age 12

As I write this, Britain’s Got Talent is about to start its 10th season. I still find it difficult to watch. A couple of my magician friends have been on it in the past few years with huge success, and I typically watch their acts in support… but then immediately turn to something else once they’ve finished.

Although it’s not hugely known, I auditioned for the show once. In fact, it was 10 years ago, when the show was in its very first series. My gimmick, of course, was that I was a 12-year-old from Liverpool, with a broad accent and a slightly ill-fitting suit, performing magic tricks on stage. What’s not to like, right?

I submitted an application online after seeing an advert for the show on TV, and was absolutely delighted to hear back from them to say my application had been successful… along with about 5,000 other people as well, I would imagine. The audition I was invited to was held at the Manchester Apollo theatre a month or two later.

This was remarkably exciting! I would be performing on a proper stage, on a proper TV show, in front of the proper Simon Cowell! This is going to be incredible, I thought. Over the coming weeks I worked on my 3-minute act tirelessly, perfecting each word, each move, to make it Cowell-ready.

The day of the auditions arrived, and I set off to the theatre along with my family and some friends, most of whom would be sat in the audience and would watch the show live. I headed for a separate ‘performance entrance’ along with my dad. I was given a large Britain’s Got Talent sticker which I was told to place along my chest. Boldly and intimidatingly upon it was a number: 114.

We followed the crowd into what became an enormous waiting room backstage. Hundreds of nervous performers of all kinds were pacing up and down, making last-minute tweaks to their act and trying not to faint with the pressure of it all. “Just try to relax,” we were told, “we’ll let you know when we need you.”

Throughout the day, gaggles of numbers were belted out, alerting the corresponding variety acts that this was their time. In each instance, various performers from around the room would stand with apprehension and make their way towards the corridor in which they were all led. It was like The Hunger Games for ventriloquists and dogs who can do funny dances.

Several hours passed. “Can we have contestants 112 - 117 please?” shouted a member of the production team, over the remaining 200 or so singers, comedians and variety acts. I looked down at my sticker… 114. This was it. My hands started to shake as my entire body was suddenly swept with a feeling of trepidation. I tried controlling my nerves, keeping them hidden - but let’s not kid ourselves… I was petrified. I was just about to stand on stage in front of 2,000 people, along with a tremendous amount of TV cameras and a panel of judges, including Simon Cowell. Shit.

I stood in the wings of the theatre; the first time I’ve ever been on the other side of the curtains, and watched as the acts before me did their bit. First, a juggler who dropped a club early on through nerves and was buzzed immediately, illuminating the enormous red X’s above the stage. Until you’re actually stood there, you cannot begin to imagine how loud and intimidating they really are. The ground seems to tremble beneath you like an earthquake as each one is pressed. This was, of course, the very first series of the show - so even the idea that you could be ‘buzzed’ off stage was completely unexpected and absolutely terrifying. Especially for a 12 year old.

Next, a dance act. I didn’t pay much attention to their act to be honest. I just checked my props over and over again, constantly repeating my script in my head. The dancers did seem to do well though, and came running off stage, overjoyed. They were swiftly escorted into a side room to be interviewed for the cameras.

Now it was my turn. I took my position backstage, next to Ant & Dec. “Good luck pal,” said Ant, smiling, “you’re going to be great…” He gestured, signalling for me to make my entrance. I closed my eyed and took one deep breath. I rubbed my hands on my trousers to try and wipe the sweat away. I couldn’t turn back. I strode towards the middle of the stage, faking confidence. Directly ahead of me were the judges surrounded by a sea of people, all looking in my direction.

The next 5 minutes and my act itself is something of a blur, but the reaction from the audience and judges was absolutely incredible! They raved about what they’d just seen and couldn’t have been more complimentary. I was ecstatic - bowled over by their kind words! I walked off stage towards Ant & Dec who continued the barrage of compliments. This is amazing, I thought.

So I went off, did the customary interviews and set off back home with my family, who were elated and overwhelmed by the entire thing. I was on cloud nine for days afterwards and set to work on what my next act would be.

A few days passed and I got a call from someone on the Britain’s Got Talent team, who said the next round would be in London and we’d need to be there a couple of weeks later. We promptly bought some train tickets and my dad and I set off for the capital, excited to discover what it would bring.

We arrived at the theatre, as requested, at 10am that morning. Surrounding us were around 150 other acts, each of whom had also been put through to the next round; none of us really had any idea of what was going on. This was, after all, the very first year of the competition. We had nothing to base it on, or any real idea of how it all worked.

About an hour or so passed when suddenly Simon Cowell appeared above. A hush fell over the, admittedly, rather strange collection of people. “The other judges and I,” he boomed, “are going to re-watch the videos of all of your acts and narrow it down to just 12 of you. We’ll speak to you when we’ve made a decision.” With that, he disappeared into another room.

So, having nothing else to do, we waited. And waited. And waited. About 10 hours passed without a word or any real end in sight. That was until, finally, numbers started being called once again. Much like the first audition, groups of people were being taking away from the waiting room we had been in all day, and into a theatre. I sat, anxiously. Each passing second seemed like a minute.

Finally, my number was called. 4 or 5 other performers and I walked nervously to a show runner, who escorted us to what turned out to be an empty theatre stage. Empty, of course, other than the addition of the four judges sitting in the front row.

There was a moment of complete silence which seemed to last for hours. The other acts and I stood there in desperate anticipation; longing for good news. Finally, Cowell took the lead, “We’d like to say thank you for coming, but unfortunately we’ve not picked you.” Suddenly, in that moment, I felt completely hollow. I just stood there, completely exposed on stage as my dreams seemed to be shot down in front of me. A camera zoomed close into my face to capture any kind of reaction. It was crushing and in that moment I wanted the earth to just open up and swallow me.

I kept an absolutely straight poker face, trying to conceal any kind of emotion as Cowell continued, “you can leave that way.” He pointed towards a side-door and gestured for us to leave. In unison, we turned and sidled out into the dark London street. As quickly as that, it was over. Hours of apprehensively waiting; months of planning, all came crumbling down to this.

It’s a cliché, but I remember the taxi back to the hotel like it was yesterday. Bitterly cold; cloudy but not raining. There didn’t seem to be a single star in the sky. My dad tried to comfort me, tell me it was fine and that he was really proud of how far I’d come - but I just didn’t want to talk. So we sat there, passing the twinkling London lights as I desperately tried to hold back my tears, silently.

Even now, as I write this, I can still feel the unshift-able knot in my stomach I got at the time. I was at an age where the rejection just really hurt. I was completely crushed. Ashamed at the idea of my own failure. This is going to be shown on TV, I thought. I was mortified at the idea of walking into my new secondary school and being laughed at. Humiliated.

My dad spoke to my mum briefly. Told her I didn’t make it through to the next round, but I was alright and would speak to her tomorrow. I just sat, staring out the window.

We got back to the hotel around midnight and I got straight into bed. Head resting on the pillow, staring into the darkness above me, towards the ceiling.

“I’m not sure I want to be a magician anymore,” I said to my dad, “I don’t see what the point is.” I meant it. There was a moment of silence before I rolled over and went to sleep. My dad, he’s since told me, didn’t sleep for a second that night. Helpless in what he could say or do to make me feel better.

A few weeks passed, with Britain’s Got Talent and magic in general going entirely unmentioned. I had no interest in talking about either. I genuinely think I would have happily thrown in the towel after that night and never picked up a pack of cards again – but I had a problem. I’d been hired to perform some close-up magic at a charity event later that month. I was dreading it. I hated magic and did not want to do it, but despite my pleading, despite my begging, my dad insisted that I went and did it. He maintained that I could absolutely not let these people down.

So I went, begrudgingly. Over the course of the following 2 hours, something within me changed. I’d watch smiles dance on peoples’ lips; grown adults burst into spontaneous laughter and applause at the magic they’d just seen me perform. It was making people happy. It was making me happy to be there. It sparked my enthusiasm for magic and performing once again.

Jumping back on the horse was exactly what I needed to do and it reignited my love of it all. Looking back, I absolutely think Britain’s Got Talent did me an enormous favour by not putting me through. Truthfully, I wasn’t ready for it and I think they knew it. I just didn't have the material to sustain being on the show and being able to perform to any kind of high standard. I was jumping the gun without any real experience, and progressing forward in the competition would have probably done me more harm than good.

In the months that followed I forgot about the events of BGT, which thankfully were never broadcast, and moved onto other things. That feeling of rejection though, and how to deal with it, was a genuinely invaluable life lesson. It would be happening a lot over the next few years…

The Magic Set: Age 6

This, really, is where it all began I suppose. It was Christmas morning and amongst the popular gifts of the year 2000 (Stretch Armstrong, anyone?) I also received a Paul Daniels magic set. It seems like a magic set is a hugely common gift for someone of my age - but of everything else I received, that was the one that really stuck with me. Actually, the candy-floss maker was pretty cool as well. I loved the idea that these little props would somehow give me magical abilities, and I spent the rest of my time trying to work out how to make each one of them work.

The next few weeks were spent with me practicing alone in my bedroom - a habit which continued to become a very common occurrence throughout my early teens (and I was practicing magic tricks in there all those years, honestly).

Such minor miracles as making small red balls appear under brightly-coloured cups, or making three different sized lengths of rope join together to form one long piece became fascinating to me, and I’d work on them for hours to master the basic sleight of hand needed. Admittedly, I was a strange but dedicated child.

After enough time had passed I, now under the self-imposed stage name of ‘Magic Ste’ (cute, right?), decided to perform a show for my family during one of our weekly Sunday get-togethers. I was 6 years old; I thought I was David Copperfield and insisted that my relatives sit down to watch my magic show - as you can imagine, they were delighted.

With as much panache and showmanship as a youthful Stephen Williams Jr could muster - which, let me humbly tell you, was an awful lot - I stepped in front of the gathered 10 or so people and gave my first ever performance.

This wasn’t The London Palladium standard, let’s not kid ourselves; but at least 50% of the audience seemed to be mildly-amused, so I considered it a success. Coincidentally, that 50% rule stuck for the next 10 years or so.

The tricks weren’t earth-shattering; I was using a hairbrush as a microphone and my patter was wooden (“Hello, miss, what is your name?” I asked my mother), but I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suppose something about it just seemed to ‘click.’ Instinctively, I knew that this was going to be what I’d do when I was older. Hopefully by that point, I’d also have also grown into my dad’s black suit jacket that he’d given me to wear.

By the way, if you’re wondering, my dad is also called Stephen Williams - which is why I’m Stephen Williams Jr; although he’s not a magician. In fact, no one in my family does magic or are in the entertainment industry, so I assume they expected the whole thing to be a fad that would probably go away after a few weeks. Now, as I write this, 15 years have passed and I’m still utterly obsessed with it. Thankfully though, the tricks have improved somewhat since then… well, most of them anyway.

About Stephen...

I started doing magic when I was six years old, and became a professional magician as soon as I finished school at the age of 16. I have 4 years’ no-claims on my driver’s licence. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. I wouldn’t blame you, of course, if you finished reading there… but if you would like to find out more about me - how I got started; how I went from being a magician to a helicopter pilot (kind of) and back again; and how a chance Robbie Williams gig completely catapulted my career, along with all manner of other misdemeanours that have happened so far - then do continue.

This isn’t an autobiography per se; it’s more an overview of my life, in consecutive order, told from my perspective. So it’s almost exactly like an autobiography, just without the publishing deal.

See this as a kind of buffet of stories rather than one flowing piece. Much like a buffet however, there will be some parts you like, some parts you don't like, and some parts that look suspiciously like they have rat shit in them. That’s all part of the fun though, isn’t it?

Feel free to dive into the different sections in any order you want with a sense of wild abandon. Want to start at the end? Be my guest! SPOILER ALERT: The main character doesn’t die. Not yet, anyway.

To be honest, this isn't an autobiography; instead, it’s just a brief overview of some key events that have happened for me professionally so far. I’ve not gone into a tremendous amount of detail for any of them really, just enough to see what the response is like and if anyone would like to find out more. If so, pop your email address into the box on the right and I’ll keep you up the date with the progress. Plugging done.

Currently I’m writing this at Heathrow Airport, waiting to board an airplane for some magic shows I’m performing in Nassau, Bahamas - but we’ve got a fair few years to get through before finding out how I got here - so whack on the kettle, grab some baked goods (a pain au chocolat, ideally) and let’s begin.

The Beginning: Ages 0 - 5

Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

Blimey. Right, well, I don't think any of us expected to hear that today. I've just, rather excitingly, got on board my first ever cruise ship. We're heading off to the Canary Islands from Liverpool and for the next month, this is going to be my home. I'm doing two shows a night, once a week and the rest of the time is my own - amazing, I think.

Being a magician in the North West, the fact that this cruise was sailing from a port on Liverpool's dock couldn't have been more ideal. So, I jumped on board and started to settle in.

A few hours passed and I was unpacked. I was excited. I’m was, incredibly sea-sick. I won't get into specifics, but it wasn't my most flattering of moments. I performed at a wedding on a boat once but other than that I've never spent any time on water; so I really hadn't considered this.

I picked up the cabin phone and dialled to reception.

'Hello,' I said tentatively. 'This is probably nothing, but I've got a bit of sea-sickness and...'

'Do not leave your cabin, sir. A nurse will be with you shortly.' The suddenly very stern voice commanded from the other side.

So, I waited, anxiously. I considered putting the kettle on, to try and act nonchalant about the whole thing and give the impression that it was nothing. I didn’t.

I heard a knock at the door and welcomed the nurse in. She didn’t seem one for chit chat and almost certainly would have refused a cup of tea, so I was proud of my earlier decision about the kettle.

She looked at me seriously and said, “Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

I’m going to inject you with something to stop the motion sickness, but you’re going to be placed into quarantine - so please don’t leave the cabin for the next 2 days.”

I was taken aback. 2 days! 2 entire days stuck, alone, in the cabin. Having sailed away from the coast, I had no internet, no phone connection and I'd completely forgotten to bring any books! All I had was one film on my computer. The countdown to freedom began...

What was supposed to be the start of an exciting new escapade; an exciting new adventure, actually began with me, locked in a cabin and watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the third time, in my pants. Being in my pants definitely wasn’t related to the fact that I was also watching Robin Williams dressed as a comical fat lady, of course.

It was mid-afternoon on day 2 when suddenly, the phone rang.

'Mr Williams' said a low voice on other other end. 'Since you're showing no further symptoms, you can leave your cabin at 8am tomorrow morning.'

‘8am?!’ I questioned whilst raising my eyebrows - which was an unusual thing to do considering I was on the phone.

It appears they allow a little extra time to ensure everything is fine.

Early the following morning; my alarm sounded and I jumped out of bed. After what felt like a lifetime, I, was a free man; free! I looked out my cabin window at the gentle waves and glorious sunshine. Brilliant! I'm a free man (I haven't mentioned that yet, have I?) and the sun is shining! I'm going to spend today by the pool, I think.

Revelling in my new found freedom, I fled out of my cabin, making my way towards the not-at-all-Roman piscina.

Wanting to make up for the lost time, I swam a few lengths; drank a Margarita (well, a diet Coke with no ice, but that doesn’t sound quite as good); grabbed a sun-lounger and closed by eyes to catch a few rays…

“You’ve cracked it, Williams!” I thought to myself.

I woke up a couple of hours later and decided to jump in the shower and get dressed for the evening’s meal. It was then, I realised what had happened.

Finding myself back in the cabin, I looked in the mirror, aghast: I was glowing with sunburn. I had a face like a giant tomato, with a quiff. What am I going to do, I thought!

I was so embarrassed you could say I was red in the face.

I couldn't let anyone see me like this - I looked ridiculous! In my mind, there was really only one answer; I had to let this settle!

Right, I'm not leaving this cabin for the next 48 hours, I think.

The Time I Was Threatened By a Clown…

Right, well this is slightly embarrassing, but I was recently threatened by… a clown. I know, it sounds insane, but it’s completely true. We’ll start at the beginning: It was a Monday and I got a call from an unknown number. I get calls from unknown numbers all the time, so I just assumed it was someone enquiring about an event and answered the phone, cheerily. It turned out to be a local children’s entertainer – we’ll call him Coughy the Clown… mostly, because that’s his name. As a side note, if I were to be a clown I don’t think I’d name myself after an unwanted bodily function; he might as well have called himself Shitty the Clown. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to mention that on the phone.

Nevertheless, the call started quite successfully with us making all the usual, polite small talk – we spoke about the weather, the fact that Christmas is nearly approaching, and I asked if it’s make-up he wears or if his face is just always like that?

The conversation was going fine until he asked a question I never thought I’d ever be asked. He was phoning me up to find out if I’d be interested in purchasing 500 squirty flowers. Now, the squirty flower was probably a brilliant and hilarious gag before we had entertainment – no one is denying that – but I think it’s safe the say the novelty wore off sometime around February 1962; so what use I could possibly have for 500 of them is beyond me.

He didn’t take my refusal to buy the lifetimes supply particularly well, and, let’s not beat around the bush here; unmentionables were spoken and voices were raised – albeit, his was more comical and higher pitched. The call genuinely got so heated that he asked where I lived so he could ‘do me in.’ A man who’s job is supposed to bring joy and happiness to children wanted to beat me up over a job lot of squirty flowers – well either that or he was going to throw a custard pie in my face? I felt it best not to go into the specifics of his plans.

It was honestly quite unsettling though. I lived in fear of coming home and finding 12 loudly dressed men, squeezed into a tiny car waiting outside. My neighbor also has an unusual collection of old car horns he likes to play at night, which certainly didn’t help matters. Alright, that last bit’s not true.

Ultimately, as crazy as it sounds, I, Stephen Williams, was moments away from being beaten up by a clown. It was frankly terrifying, but thankfully it never happened and I’ve never heard from him since. I’d like to think he turned into a giant spider and was sucked into the drain, like at the end of that Stephen King film? Or perhaps he had a banana mishap due to his massive shoes? Well I guess we’ll never know…

Shape of My Heart Card Magic Routine

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http://youtu.be/YTNb5kVLx14 Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who came to my show at The Epstein Theatre in Liverpool last week! I'm delighted to say the show had completely sold out about a month before an the night and I had an absolutely brilliant time performing! If you were able to get a ticket I really hope you enjoyed it!

I'd also like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved behind the scenes, including Russ Stevens; the director of the show, Dan Burgess; who took some fantastic photos of the night (which can be seen on my Facebook page), Sean Hyland, Paul Cryer, Paul Dunlop and the technicians, Jordan and Gregg.

Russ Stevens played a huge roll is the show right since the very beginning, and I really cannot thank him enough for all his time, help and support over the last few months! The video above is of me performing one of Russ' most cherished routines, which was an absolute honour and a huge privilege to perform.

Due to the success of the night, I'm thinking of doing something of a magic show tour, perhaps taking it to theatres in Chester, Manchester and Southport? I'm just finding out what the interest would be at the minute, so if you'd possibly like to come to one of them, please join the newsletter below to find out more when I do.

Join Stephen's Newletter

The Worlds Best Macaroons...

It's Thursday afternoon and I'm walking though the new Christmas market in the city centre of Liverpool. It's nice, it's festive; it's the perfect reason to drink some warm alcohol at 2pm during the week. I'm perusing the stalls, when suddenly, I'm stopped in my tracks; aghast. To my right, bold as brass, is a large chalk-board with the words 'Worlds Best Macaroons!' written right across it. I've stumbled across a stall selling the world's best macaroons! The worlds best! Right here, in Liverpool. I cannot believe my luck - how could I not have heard about this? Surely this would have made the news or be trending on Twitter or something.

I approach the shack, excitedly.

"Hello!" I say, trying to keep my cool. "I'll take 3 macaroons, please." I suddenly wonder whether 3 is really too many, but I'm filled with excitement regardless.

This is the real deal, I think to myself. Everyone else is going into Starbucks or John Lewis or somewhere, and getting something mass produced and normal. Oh no, not me; for I have found the ultimate. I look over at the people waiting in the Costa over the road and laugh to myself - if only they knew what they're missing, I think.

"Would you like a coffee with that? It's the world's best." Said the man running the booth, half heartedly.

I'm instantly suspicious... this stall has managed to create both the worlds best coffee and macaroons? Surely that's not something they could just say, is it? It was crudely written on a large chalk-board so it must be true, surely? I take the plunge and hand over my fiver.

Moments later, I'm passed the goods and instantly become excited again. I am about to eat the worlds best macaroons, and drink the worlds best coffee. What a time to be alive, I think.

Slowly, I reach into the bag and raise the warm coconut treat towards my mouth, taking a bite. I look the man straight in the eye, and pause for a moment to build the dramatic effect just like they do on The Great British Bake Off. I'm just like Mary Berry, I think to myself. A few moments pass before I realise it was strange I didn't choose Paul Hollywood for the comparison.

The tension is palpable. Clearly, I think to myself, he cannot wait to hear my verdict. Just what do I think of these... oh, the man has sat down and started looking at his phone again. I swallow the mouthful and it's all a bit dry and underwhelming. I slip the coffee. It's luke-walm. I walk away, deflated.

I see another sign a few stalls down, 'The Worlds Best Coffee!' it says. I'm not falling for this again, I think.

I turn into Costa and order a Black Forest latte, begrudgingly.

It's the best coffee I've ever tasted.

A £35k Ring, You Say?

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I performed alongside Tony Hadley last night (I thought I'd get the name-drop in early doors), at a rather swanky event in St Georges Hall, Liverpool. It was in aid of The Prince's Trust, and I'm delighted to say that it was the second event I've performed for them so far. The event was a huge success with thousands of pounds being raised for the charity. I'd been hired to provide close up magic during the drinks reception, followed by between courses, and with it being for such a good cause it was a real pleasure to be a part of the night.

It was an evening full of incredible entertainment; an auction with some of the best items I've ever seen; and a raffle with the prize being an incredible diamond ring worth over £35k! Amazingly, a ring is donated to the event every year - so when I heard about this, I promptly found last years winner and I asked if she'd mind if I took the ring of her... for a magic trick of course, it wasn't just a polite mugging.

Ring in hand (and with the lady's husband, who just so happened to be much taller than I am, watching my every move) I performed for the table one of my most requested tricks - in which a borrowed finger ring disappears in a cloud of smoke, and reappears moments later, attached onto my car keys which have been in view since the very beginning! It is one of my favourites to perform, but it does make it slightly more exciting when you know the ring is worth more than the entire car! I did ask if she'd like to swap, but alas...

The Gym

The problem with Christmas, of course, is the sheer volume of cookery programmes on TV. I'm a terrible chef (although I do make a mean chilli) so I'm usually watching the someone create something delicious looking and apparently very easy to make on screen, whilst I'm waiting for the takeout to arrive. That, though, is going to change. I've just signed up for a gym with a friend of mine, Jack. I've tried gyms before and to be honest I've never really kept to them - but this time, oh this time will be different. I'm feeling fully motivated, committed and ready to feel the burn. From this moment on, I am a new man, a new Stephen Willia...

Sorry, have to go, I think that was someone at the door with my pizza.

Performing for Royalty... Nearly.

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Corporate Magician in Cheshire Stephen Williams. Magician performing for royalty in Cheshire. Best Magician for hire in Cheshire.So, last night I was invited to perform close up magic at the Duke of Westminster's Estate; Eaton Hall in Cheshire, for an event in aid of the incredible charity, The Prince's Trust. I knew that Prince Charles and Camilla had been in attendance for the previous two years of the event - so not only was I delighted to be a part of the evening, but this, excitingly, was my chance to perform for royalty. Upon entering the grounds I drove passed wild deer, horses and geese. The vast amount of grounds the estate encompassed was quite astonishing, and I, rather embarrassingly, found myself getting lost. Security wasn't long behind me though and were happy to direct...

I was told where would be best to park; so surrounded by stunning Bentleys, Jaguars and Ferraris, I reversed my Corsa into the allocated space and made my way towards the main building. The Corsa is only for insurance reasons, honest.

Walking into the private black-tie affair, rocking a pair of brilliantly white trainers; pockets filled with all manner of magical paraphernalia and a small goldfish tank in hand; I was ready to perform. The event was absolutely fantastic, and there was a real, palpable buzz within the room. I couldn't see any members of the royal family there just yet... stuck in traffic, I'd imagine. Well, either that or I'd stolen their parking space.

The main part of the evening was held within an hugely impressive marquee, provided by Mahood Marquees. I had been hired to provide close up magic throughout the evening, before the star guest for the evening, Lulu, performed an intimate 1 hour set for the 350 invited attendees.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the magic, and it was great to be a part of the night and meet so many interesting people. Unfortunately, however, an announcement was made to say that Prince Charles and Camilla wouldn't be able to make it but sent their best. This was a real shame, as I would have loved to have shown them some magic; mostly, if I'm honest, because it would have looked brilliant on the website.

Although it was a bit disappointing that members of the royal family couldn't make it, Lulu was there; so that still counts, doesn't it?

......

http://youtu.be/4wxMxU7ljds

If you're looking for a Magician in Cheshire (or anywhere else for that matter), visit the contact page to find out what Stephen can offer your event.