An Audience with Harold Wells
We had a truly nostalgic afternoon this month, when we welcomed back Harold Wells; runner up in our Cup Competition over sixty years ago.
Harold began by explaining some of the tricks which have served him well over the intervening years, from knife through note and his own three card repeat to torn and restored tissue, all laced with amusing anecdotes.
Harold had generously brought along pieces of apparatus which he could no longer use, offering them to anyone who could benefit from them. Among other items were a policeman’s helmet, a card-in-wallet effect, a toy dog, a large spider, a wrist chopper, a magic painting set, spinning plates, two miniature coffins and hand-carved Punch and Judy figures including a home-made crocodile.
Our daughter still recalls Harold’s traditional Punch and Judy routine which involved a skeleton and the afore-mentioned ‘coffin boxes’. In his wonderfully un-PC version virtually all the characters, including the policeman, ended up hanged on the gallows.
Harold also reminded us of the running gag in which Aunty Fanny, by phone from next door, keeps complaining about the noise of the children’s singing which has to become quieter and quieter . . . until she finally dies and the singing can return to being as loud as the audience can manage.
Another lovely bit of business was the hanging of a jacket from a hook drawn on the wall with chalk.
We were entertained with an uncannily accurate rendition of the Rob Wilton ‘fire brigade’ monologue, which may not have meant a lot to younger members, and in a potted life history Harold spoke about the prolonged childhood illness which had led to his interest in magic as a hobby, his time in Spain and performing with Hilda Baker, for whom he wrote a lot of material.
Other subjects touched on were palmistry, fortune telling with tarot cards, graphology and interpreting dreams, all of which Harold has practised over the years.
This was an afternoon full of memories, and in his closing remarks President Donald revealed that he had been inspired by Harold at the age of eleven, when he was called up to assist him on stage with Grandma’s Necklace . . . so now we know who to blame!