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February 2018


Associates Day

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A range of changing bags was demonstrated and discussed, as was the ‘Just Chance’ theme in its various guises. Bob spoke of the value of props such as the tape-measure watch, and ended with some observations on balloon modelling – especially the fashioning of a Teddy which became Pudsey to coincide with Children in Need, and a gun with built-in sound effects which would appeal to the most ‘macho’ boy. This was another tour de force based upon solid experience.  

Now numbering over 80 specimens, the paddle trick collection of Brian Berry must be one of the most extensive in existence.  Brian traced the proliferation of paddle effects back to 1967 and Hugard’s Magic Monthly, although the paddle move is considerably older.  We were treated to a miniature cricket bat with a jumping tooth-pick credited to Jeff Busby, colour changing knives and Ken Brooke’s ‘Ju-ju stick’. We were also reminded of Ken Green via the spotted trowel which he used to hilarious effect and examined a Wally Boyce version on a traffic light theme utilising his trade-mark coloured, knitted ‘rope’.  Terry Herbert, Alan Warner and Colin Rose were mentioned as creators – the latter for a row of golden coins which changed into a small £5 note. Derek Lever had sold an ingenious sliding model with coloured geometrical designs, while Edwin also used tiny coins.  There was a dagger piercing a miniature card, a finger on a bone to complement a hallowe’en theme and a particularly sophisticated example with a chess knight becoming superimposed on a mirror while an optical illusion enabled a parrot to enter cage.  Most of the items on display rang a bell with some member of the audience.

So, there we had it . . . a wide range of subjects, from children’s magic to close-up and from large stage illusions to the tiniest of paddles.  It was a splendid afternoon which provided proof, if any were needed, that the MML is indeed privileged to have such an exceptional team of Associate Members.

                                     Brian Lead

At our February meeting we celebrated the diversity of our Associate Members - and what a talented bunch they are!

We first saw our technical wizard Craig Docherty displaying his magic wizardry credentials.  In partnership with fellow scout leader Donald (the Average) Monk he began introducing a touch of prestidigitation into scout jamborees, firstly with simple fare such as the levitating banknote and Zombie floating skull before branching out into full scale illusions such as the Asrah at King George's Hall - which he did for twelve years on a very respectable budget.  By the Scouting Centenary in 2007 outdoor audiences had swelled to over 5000, and video clips showed some spectacular presentations including the 'black light theatre' and a Copperfield-sized snowstorm.  We also saw the outcry at KGH when the whole audience won the bingo simultaneously, and a touching shadow box presentation which produced for a mum's 50th birthday a son who she thought was in New Zealand.  We were also delighted again by the presentation, with Donald, of the hugely entertaining dancing box which was finally shown to contain 'chief elf' Harry Moulding.  It was a tour de force which perfectly illustrated Craig's mastery of magic and the breadth of his skills.

Next up was Joe Gilmour, our President in 2012; only on this occasion he re-created part of his initiation act from 2008, featuring the sword of doom . . . which turned out to be the butter-knife of doom.  Nevertheless, it located a chosen card by means of a convincing stab.  Also on the menu was a spectacle case which predicted the same card and a scroll which predicted the position of various Egyptian amulets embossed with symbols; not to mention some fun with THIS, THAT and THE OTHER.  In fact, the emphasis was on fun, the routines being sprinkled with excruciating gags.

After an interval which included a wonderful sandwich spread courtesy of President Anne, Bob Benyon took the floor to talk about his work with pre-school children.  He began by emphasising the need for colour, before reflecting upon the Health and Safety legislation and PC 'rules' which have changed the landscape in so many ways in recent years; from DBS checks to fear of even shaking hands with youngsters, with adults always needing to be present.  Nevertheless, Bob dealt with the  psychology of making youngsters laugh, from silly voices to dopey questions.  He suggested how to  make the children feel safe by always being more aware of things than the performer, and by self-inflicted slapstick business and the element of surprise . . . all presented with examples.  Making a child a 'learner' magician with L-plates enhanced their involvement.  Bob also had fun with names, and was not afraid to challenge 'received wisdom' from his own extensive experience.