Monday, 2 September 2013

My magic

09:15:00 Posted by Colin Davies , , , , 2 comments
My magic (a moment in my life) Colin Daives

I love magic, have done since my very earliest memory. I actually wanted to be a magician, even tried practising for our in front of a mirror. Desperately trying to palm a card, holding the nine of diamonds in my fingers while concealing it from the audience and keeping my hand looking natural.

I would watch Paul Daniels with wonder. He maybe a bit of a Barclay, but his close order magic is something to behold. The same can be said of Jerry Sadowitz. Not only did he have to ‘offend everyone’ Scotsman years before Frankie Boyle said “Oscar Pistorius sounds like a Harry Potter sell to grow someone’s legs back,” but he was, and still is, one of the finest close quarter slight of hand trickers I have ever seen.

I never got close to these giant of the UK magic industry. I thought my love for the craft and my desire to conjure would never join. That my shot of creating wonder in the hearts and minds of an audience would never happen. And I was only twelve years old.

Then something happened, I wrote a story. This was not that unusual for me at the time, amongst my peers I was know doing such thing on a regular basis however, this story was different in three ways.

Firstly it was part of a challenge. This was the early 1983, we had all watched the Horizon programme about effects of nuclear strike; we had all read Raymond Briggs ‘When the Wind blows’; we all heard the speeches from Thatcher and Regan; we were all scared.

My friend, Anthony Hamlin, suggested we write stories about nuclear war. This seemed like a great idea, and during the next free writing session we both put pen to paper and scribbled out a tale of destruction. So this was the first time I wrote based on a theme someone other than the school had suggested.

Secondly was the teacher reactions. Pete Cartlidge was our form teacher and for some reason he loved my story, so much so that he put it forward to be read out at assembly. This was high accolade indeed. Then something strange happened, the headmaster My Nunn called for the story so he could have a read. This was unusual, but off it went. The following day the news came back that he thought it was ‘too strong’ for assembly and it was withdraw, banned.

I found this utterly strange, Anthony on the other hand found it utterly hilarious. Weeks past and the story drifted from our thoughts until Mr Nunn had to go away on school business and Mr Cartlidge, being the deputy head, put the my story back on the table. I questioned this decision which got the response “when the cat’s away...” So his was the first thing I wrote that caused controversy.

Thirdly was the performance. I stood on the stage in front of the entire junior school, some three hundred and sixty children aged eight to twelve and twelve teachers. I read the piece which included the lines “I remember the cloud, looking like a mushroom. So beautiful yet so destructive.” and as the protagonist contemplated taking his own life (which was one of the rules of the story challenge) “no one to live for, but so many people to die for”

As I finished reading I was met but a stunned silence, you feel the emotions in the room. I could see one of the teachers crying. Another teacher began to clap which started a chain reaction across the room with some of the children cheering. Mr Cartlidge smiled at me as I left the stage. It was the first time I had written something that had proved an emotion response. It was the day I realised I could effect people with my writing, the day I learned to true meaning of magic, the magic of words.

This was quite a profound thing. It would be years before I realised the true deeper meaning of this event. But now I’m here, writing children’s books, poems and blogs. Conjuring up entire worlds of fanciful images. All to try and create a wonder in the eyes, hearts and minds of an audience.

I still love magic, and even though I can figure out how a lot of tricks are done, I don’t care. The skill is in the mechanics, the entertainment is in the performance, the presentation. The rules of a good magic trick are the same as a good story. To quote the film ‘The Prestige’

“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called ‘The Pledge’. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called ‘The Turn’. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call ‘The Prestige’.”

Not all stories need a twist, they just need to leave the audience with an open mouth full of wonder and overflowing ideas on how you just got there. That could just be a description. I may not work for everybody, but for those you managed to connect with, well that’s magic.


Ashley R Lister said...

Great post. This is why we do it. For the magic.


Colin Davies said...
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