John was born in Walthamstow, East London and first had his interest in magic aroused when he saw magicians performing at the Walthamstow Palace, the Hackney Empire and the Finsbury Park Empire. He was fascinated and would go backstage to talk to the magicians after the show. He taught himself to do tricks learned from borrowed library books. John became a regular visitor to a small basement magic shop off Baker Street selling second-hand magic tricks, ventriloquist dummies and Punch and Judy puppets. John, who had been working in an office, appalled his parents by going to work for Oscar the owner of the shop. This was the start of his career in magic and Punch and Judy.
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