As a kid I really enjoyed performing magic tricks for my family and friends. I was never really that good at it, but I had fun and was fascinated by how confused people could be when you performed some apparently magical act in front of their very eyes.
Most people in the UK will probably be familiar with Paul Daniels, the TV magician (he’s currently on an advert for Tesco’s insurance comparison website). During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s he had a very popular television magic show, sadly not the sort of thing you see on TV these days. Mr. Daniels was one of my childhood heroes, and I was a big fan of his show.
I was particularly excited therefore when I first came across his range of magic tricks in a toy shop. The tricks were all packaged in little curvy shaped cardboard boxes with a little cellophane window on the front allowing you to look inside at the magical props it contained. The colour of the packaging dictated the difficulty level of the trick, from blue being easy, through purple and red to black, the latter being dubbed for “Master Magicians”.
These magic tricks were amazing for a young amateur magician like me. They may have only been plastic but they had a professional look to them, and they made you feel like a real magician when you performed them. The first one I bought was a tube with some coloured cylindrical pieces that you put in one end, waved your magic wand, and when they came through the other end the middle two pieces had swapped positions! I also had a magic case that let you make a playing card disappear.
The most difficult trick I had was the multiplying balls trick. You’ve doubtless seen a magician perform this trick at some point. They start with a single red snooker ball, wave their hand in front and then there are two. Wave again and another appears. The secret to this trick (which I won’t reveal – a good magician never reveals his secrets is one of the first rules of magic you learn!) is so amazingly simple it is untrue, but despite this it is an incredibly difficult trick to perform as you need to be very nimble with your fingers.
There was also a range of card tricks produced under Paul’s name. These usually involved having some kind of specially marked or prepared cards, so were great fun to perform but much harder to convince other people that you weren’t scamming them (which of course you were).