Coincidence plays a big part of magic. The spectator freely selects a card and by some magical coincidence it’s the same card the magician predicted at the start of the show; however, sometimes real life coincidence without any sleight of hand of trickery can be even more magical.
Let me share my favourite serendipity of the year.
At the end of November, I was performing magic over in Arran at the Santa Sparkle event, run by the guys at the Glenisle Hotel. The event is staged in a Marquee across from their hotel. The event has a light show, fireworks, a live band, Santa Clause & Mrs Clause, professional dancers, fantastic stalls…and moi.
The main show I’m meant to do is a stand-up comedy magic show. That starts at 7pm, however since I’m there I’ve been signed up to do some close-up magic and balloon modelling during the day.
On paper, it all looks great, however, this is Scotland, the land where a lovely idea on paper can quickly turn to paper mache. The event is taking place in a marquee said marquee is on the grass, next to the beach. The day was meant to start with a santa parade, but unfortunately uninvited guest arrived called Storm Clodagh. She turned up bringing with her 80mph winds, hailstones and torrential rain. Although the marquee didn’t blow away there was now a permanent water feature running over the grass making it wet and muddy. I wasn’t sure if the event would go ahead but these Arran folks are not to be put off by something as mild as a bit of a hurricane.
My first show of the day begins and I’m providing balloon models for the kids. This is not something I specialise in but I’m pretty quick at firing them out. Queues aren’t the most exciting thing to wait in line for, especially when you’re standing in a puddle but the audience were there and they were happy to wait. I’m making the balloon animals and the majority of the kids want a dog or a sword so the queue is moving pretty quickly and everyone is in high spirits.
Next in line is a young girl about eight years old. I ask her what she would like but she doesn’t respond, I ask her again and she cuddles into her mum and avoids all eye contact. I don’t know if she’s just painfully shy, she’s depressed because of the weather or if she’s sad because Mrs Clause and the dancers had to cancel. What I do know is that she’s waited in a puddle for about 20 minutes so she clearly wants a balloon just not to communicate. I’ve had this before. The solution is normally just to start naming things you can make the child will nod or the parent will jump in and say, “Oh, you like dogs, will the nice man make you a pink dog?” I start saying things I can make. I say would you like a dog? teddy bear? a swan? a cat? snake? giraffe..no reaction, no answer – I’m struggling so I change from animals to objects. “How about a flower? sword? wand? hat? heart? a machine gun?
The mother looked at me when I said machine gun like I’d lost my mind but could see I was trying my hardest to find something.
At this point, I’m really struggling and I’m running out of things I can remember how to make or even kid on I can make for that matter (I’ve sneakily passed on a few swords in my time cleverly disguised as light sabres and by disguise I mean, I’ve changed the name and let the child’s imagination do the rest)
So I say, “erm, how about a…octopus, or a…parrot…or erm, a snail? ” BOOM!!!The child & her mother jump into life like one of the fireworks has gone off.
Her mum says, “She loves snails!!”
I ask her: “Do you like snails?”
She says, “Yes, I love to draw them”
I said, “Well you’re not going to believe this, but my favourite thing to make from balloons are snails”
(This is actually true, I think of all the animals the snail is the most lifelike and the antenna give it character. )
seventy five seconds later I hand over her snail. She smiles and reaches into her pocket. I start to get embarrassed. Lots of times people think they have to pay for the balloons because they don’t realise unlike the stalls, I’m paid to be there. But it’s too late, the wee girl has reached into her pocket and has come out with an outstretched arm and a clenched hand. I really don’t want to take this wee girls sweetie money especially as she’s started off so shy and has now really come out of her shell (no pun intended)
So I’m thinking, “I’ll open my hand, she’ll drop a pound in there, I’ll vanish it, make it appear from her ear, give it back to her and say it’s a magic coin and ask her to keep it safe for me”
I open my hand and she gives me…a beautiful white snail shell.
I don’t know if this was her lucky shell, she may have had a full pocket full of them for all I know but I was really taken aback at this wee gift and I shall keep it with me always. I’ve even named it Shelly 🙂
All weddings are missing…
Well I was the Wedding Magician in Newton Stewart on Saturday and after a 2.5 hour drive most of which was around winding country roads that made me think the obesity epidemic is actually caused by the introduction of power stearing. You heard it here first folks the weighted steering wheel workout will be making a come back at some point in the next 2000 years or so.
Anyhow, I finally arrived and it was my first wedding on a farm! Yip, cows and everything just wandering around – it was mad. These people love animals so much they even had a dog at it. Yes, in the Marquee was a wee dog walking up and down the aisle of the temporary church. I think all weddings should have a dog as it gives people something to look at and just think if this happened.
“Does anyone here present know of any reason why these two people shouldn’t be married?”
Would that not be the highlight of your life?
Dynamo how you haunt me
Every 5 years we are presented with a new TV Magician and right now Dynamo is inspiring everyone under the age of 14 to pick up a deck of cards and with every shuffle of the cards they dream of becoming the next big thing. It’s almost becoming rare to attend a wedding that I’m not introduced to someone who immediately asks if you can walk through walls. Today was a little different…mainly because the closest wall had a gate on it and the others are made out of tarpaulin (or whatever marquees are made out of). So I was presented with the customary 12 year old child Findlay who was going to show me a trick. These things are always nerve wracking for me as there are literally a million tricks out there and I don’t know all of them. It’s always that moment of, “I’m the professional magician and I don’t want to look stupid in front of a 12 year old” Luckily for me…he got the trick wrong and I managed to keep my job for the day.
It’s nice to be nice
As the speeches started it was time for me to head back to Glasgow to teach magic followed by a gig in a comedy club. However, before I left I noticed the cards young Findley was using and I thought it would be a nice gesture to leave a deck of unopened professional Bicycle cards for him in the house. As I thought about it, I thought they’ll just assume I’ve left them by accident so I thought I’d better leave a note. Trouble was I couldn’t find a piece of paper and I started to become really guilty at the thought I was wondering around someone’s house and if I was caught the excuse of “I was looking for a bit of paper ” wasn’t going to work. Even as I mentally practiced it I didn’t believe myself. (is it bad that a professional liar was essentially feeling guilty about telling the truth?) Thankfully there was 1 piece of paper in the printer so I stole that, wrote a wee encouragement note and a p.s. of I’m sorry I stole the paper. I got a lovey wee thank you from the client today to say.
Just a quick email to thank you for Saturday. Everyone loved it and you did a great job in terrible weather conditions. Thanks also for the cards you left for Findlay . He has not laid them down since !!
It’s always been an in joke amongst magicians that we’re thinking about moving into the funeral market so you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a lady asking me to perform at the wake of her mother’s funeral. At first I was thinking a magician friend of mine had told someone to wind me up and I was thinking about going down the lines of, So do you want me to:
• Saw the coffin in half
• Do cards from corpse
• Contact the dead
But there was something genuine about the girls voice and although laughing she said that they wanted to celebrate her mother’s life and therefore the colour black was banned, there would be music and a party afterwards. So a price was agreed, the gig was booked and I turned up nice and early.
So I turn up, walk past the balloons and check with the staff and sure enough I was in the right place. When the guests arrived it met the daughters and both were bubbly, cheery and delightful.
As no one knew who I was or what I did it was time to introduce myself to the first table and there was no other opening I could use other than…”Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My Name’s Woody and I’m here to put the fun into funeral” It’s just one of those lines that you have to convince yourself that there’s an autobiography in everyone of us and in mine there’s a chapter dedicated to weird gigs and this currently sits at the top of all the unusual events where I’ve performed. Anyhow, the gig went well, people laughed, clapped and I ended up doing about 4 hours. I was even hit on by possibly the campest man in the world which we’ll just say was an experience, performed magic for a girl who knew Dynamo and another girl who is sisters of a guy from magic club – weird.
I’ve always said; when you have a venue and people – you have an event. When you have me at an event, you have a special event that will stay in the minds of everyone forever as – “oh that was the event with the magician”.
With the funeral market it’s basically exactly the same as a corporate or a wedding. People are dressed up, they have a few drinks and they meet people they haven’t seen in a while. Where it can and does go differently is that you can either have a sad funeral or a happy one. We all mourn differently and if by me being there kept everyone upbeat and in happy then I done my job.
Thankfully I made a difference in this girls life and I’m only sorry that I never met her mother as she sounded absolutely amazing. RIP BABS.