Video: St Albans' very own Harry Potter takes the city by storm

PUBLISHED: 13:35 08 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

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HARRY POTTER eat your heart out – St Albans very own wizard has been taking the city by storm with his myriad of magic tricks. 24-year-old Tony Middleton, who claims to be one of the UK s best close-up magicians, moved to St Albans from his home county

HARRY POTTER eat your heart out - St Albans' very own wizard has been taking the city by storm with his myriad of magic tricks.

24-year-old Tony Middleton, who claims to be one of the UK's best close-up magicians, moved to St Albans from his home county of Leicestershire a month ago and is on a mission to win the local community over with his talents.

From tantalising card tricks to stealing watches and reading minds, Tony knows all the tricks of the trade and, eager for the chance to see his kind of magic, I joined him last week for a spot of St Albans street magic.

We started off in a bustling coffee shop, where Tony, whose spiky blonde hair earned him the nickname Sonic, dazzled me with his signature card trick, turning my chosen red card into a blue one right in front of my unblinking eyes.

I watched as Tony scanned the room, looking for his next pray. He picked a family who didn't appear to have any sweet treats on their table - "Not even a magician can compete with cake", Tony said - and soon had them gasping with astonishment when he stole the woman's watch and made a 50 pence piece disappear from a little girl's cappuccino glass.

Despite my insistence that he could forge a great career as a pick-pocket, Tony said that magic is all he's ever wanted to do: "It started when I got my first magic set for Christmas aged 11 and, instead of pushing it to the back of a cupboard like most other kids, I couldn't take my hands of it. I was hooked for life!"

He added: "Ever since then, I haven't been able to get magic out of my head. I love shocking people with my tricks and, because it's my hobby, it never feels like work. I've had such amazing experiences with magic, including performing to celebrities such as Sir Roger Moore and Jools Holland."

"But as well as the highlights, I've also had some disasters. I remember a show I held at a garden fete aged 15 - it was a windy day and I couldn't keep hold of my cards! I've stayed clear of fetes since then."

After catching Cllr Anthony Rowlands out with yet another mind-boggling card trick on the Town Hall steps, we headed off to Verulamium Park for some fresh bait and came across a family - "I love wowing groups of people", an eager Tony told me - on an afternoon stroll.

On form as per usual, Tony impressed his little crowd with a number of card tricks - how did my signed card end up in his shoe? - before whipping out his Magic Box, which started out empty but soon revealed a neatly folded playing card inside much to a young boy's amazement.

"Between you and me", said the boy, "how did you do that?" Exactly what I'd been wondering for the past hour, but Tony, like any professional magician, never reveals his secrets to anyone. Maybe it really is magic?

Tony is determined to conquer St Albans and I'm sure with tricks like these he'll succeed. So if you're in town and you spot a smartly-clad young man with spiky hair, ask him to show you a trick - but keep an eye on your watch.

Tony has promised a Christmas magic show at a St Albans venue and will also be performing at the city's Christmas lights ceremony. To find out more about Tony or to make a booking, check out his websites www.sonicmagic.co.uk and www.differentideas.co.uk


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