Modern Mystic League
Blackburn & District  Society of Magicians
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April 2021

Zoom with Friends
Although some members are still reluctant to commit to Zoom, a number of loyal supporters ‘clicked in’ on 18th April for an afternoon with friends – the friends in question being people who have contributed to our magazine over recent months and made the MeMeL into the rich tapestry it now is.

First to greet us was Northern Magic Circle President Roy Field, from a sunny East coast. He brought to life some of the ‘X Certificate Magic‘ items from his April article, demonstrating the colourful apparatus for a circus-themed effect while pointing out that performing animals are no longer ‘politically correct’. He showed us a Chinaman who required his pigtail to be stroked in order to make a card rise, and a delightfully ingenious item in which a fish, a toy soldier, a cat and a golly were rearranged to create a parrot.  In ‘Blind Date’ the victim always ended up with the ugly girl, and there were references to several other ‘sexist’ scenarios. This gave rise to some interesting points from the audience, and made for an excellent start to the proceedings.

You current scribe added to the debate with reference to the time-honoured ‘Baby Gag’, mentioned in our magazine a while ago. I traced its history, with illustrations, from Ken Brooke’s original ‘black and white’ gag through additions of red and yellow to the Supreme and Eddie Burke versions and modern photographic examples, including the use of the ‘magic colouring’ principle.

Next up was Rick Tynan from Southport, giving a new dimension to his recent exploration of ‘Dangerous Magic’ and linking it to his Mum and Dad – professional magicians who worked under the names of Derek and Doris Lawrence.  Ventriloquism made an appearance (with a dummy called Willie Talk!) and Rick spoke of being traumatised as a youngster by seeing his scantily-clad mother being repeatedly shot at by his father and spitting out a mouthful of ‘teeth’ in the form of orange pips. He concluded with video clips of himself performing an impressive coin matrix (with slow motion repeat) and the mini linking rings, which made for a very well-balanced offering.

After the break we were treated to a special close-up session by Chris Wardle from Surrey, reprising a couple of his own items from the recent ‘virtual’ British Ring President’s dinner.  Topically, a lady was ‘cut through’, but this time it was Queen Elizabeth II on a £20 banknote.  This was a clever adaptation of the tie-cutting routine which Chris showed us in his lecture a while ago, and shows how he continues to refine ideas. Chris also presented his ‘Revel-ation’ effect, tracing it back to an idea by Martin Gardner from the 1960s but adding his own ingenious thinking, with a neat final twist when all the words on a grid are reversed. Chris has one of the most consistently creative minds in the business.  He’s a serial inventor with scores of published effects to his credit, and an enviable track record in providing material for Geoffrey Durham on television’s ‘Countdown’. 

Our long-standing friend from Cheshire, Geoffrey Newton, concluded the afternoon with a simple but effective card-counting effect called ‘Supermarket Sweep’, taken from the latest issue of the Key Ring magazine, of which he is editor.  Geoffrey is another prolific thinker, having produced myriad items for publication over the years.  He closed his session with a hands-on piece of origami, members being led through the instructions to arrive at a three-dimensional ‘water bomb’ shape.  All great fun. 

Also with us, in classical black and white, was Tony Noon, the fertile mind behind the magic cartoons and observant articles which crop up in the MeMeL from time to time.  Tony chipped in with illuminating comments along the way, and it was good to welcome him on board for the first time.

It was also good to see our youngest member Harry Thomas with us again – especially as he was able (unlike many of us oldies) to quote the source of a card-counting routine, crediting it to Ali Bongo!

It would not have been possible to bring together so many geographically diverse guests under normal circumstances, so there are some advantages to Zooming.  The programme was well balanced, and virtually every interest within magic had been catered for.

All that remained was for Chairman Roger to thank all of the guests in the absence of President Allan, and for us to reach for the ‘leave meeting’ button . . . until next time.

Brian Lead