Drummond Money-Coutts: Hitting the streets to raise awareness
Drummond Money-Coutts can usually be found at some of London’s best parties, dazzling and delighting everyone, from The Queen to David Haye, with his mastery of magic. However this month he has traded balls at Boodles for the capital’s streets, spending eight nights sleeping rough for youth homeless charity Centrepoint and performing magic at their shelters across the city. He was joined for his last night by more than 650 others including Sara Cox, Richard Madeley and David Ginola who were all taking part in the charity’s Sleep Out event. I caught up with him (once he had recovered) to talk about his time on the streets and his plans for the future.
People in the past, including Prince William, have just spent one night sleeping out on the streets for Centrepoint. What made you decide to spend so much longer out there?
Originally it was going to be five days but a few days before I was going to start, I would go to bed and because it was in my head, I felt lazy by going to bed. So the first night, I hadn’t planned on it but I got home and I just thought I wanted to push it as hard and as far as possible. So I started on the first night and it poured with rain. I didn’t have a tarpaulin, I had cardboard which, I discovered, turns to a sort of paste!
What were your biggest challenges whilst out on the streets?
Rain is the enemy, if it’s raining then you’re not going to sleep. The first two or three nights, it’s a very disconcerting thing going to sleep at floor level and in a place where you’re at the mercy of anybody who decides to walk past you. It took a few nights to get used to the idea that anyone in London could do whatever they want to you and you’ll be half asleep.
I didn’t have it badly but I had a few drunk people coming up to me and giving me a bit of verbal abuse on their way home. I was told by the charity that most of the attacks on homeless people come from drunks and I think it’s astonishing that people feel the need to say and do these things. That sort of needless unprovoked aggression is something I’ve always deplored in people and it didn’t happen a lot to me but it happened enough for me to realise how much it must go on and that was quite unsettling.
What were your personal highlights and lowlights?
Lowlights, the rain! Luckily it wasn’t that cold but as soon as there’s any rain or drizzle, the wet gets into everything and your just miserable. I think of the eight, I had three, maybe four nights of really grim wet weather.
The highlight was going to the Centrepoint homeless shelters and meeting the people there and seeing what the charity is doing for them. I met a boy and got to know him very well, who had come down from Scotland and spent eight months as a 16 year oldsleeping rough in London. He was put into the Centrepoint program and is now well on his way to a better future. To hear his and others’ stories was amazing and knowing that I was doing a tiny bit to raise awareness and money made it all worthwhile.
As well as performing in this country you’ve made several short films documenting your travels with magic – from learning from the card sharks of Thailand to investigating the practice of witch doctors in Tanzania – but what does the future hold for you?
In terms of my private work, I feel like I’m where I’ve always dreamt of being in respect of the people and the places that I’m performing at, which are beyond what I’d hoped for a few years ago. So for me television is the next step, the next summit, and talks are ongoing with a few people although it’s a slow and sluggish process.
It’s fairly secret at the moment but it would obviously be performing however I’m very keen for it to be more than just tricks. I think there’s a huge amount of magic on television, which is slightly vapid, there’s no real meaning or message behind it, it is simply a trick. I would like to do things like I did in Tanzania, going somewhere and exploring a theme and investigating as well as performing for those people. I would wish eventually to be able to make television that informs and educates as well as entertains.
For more information about Centrepoint visit www.centrepoint.org.ukTagged in: Centrepoint, charity, Drummond Money-Coutts, HOMELESS, magic, Sleep Out
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