Sunday, 21 November 2010

I was a Magician's Assistant

Not knowing how to describe myself in just a few words -as Twitter requires -I leave my description as: 'I used to be a magician's assistant but, after years of therapy, rarely appear out of an empty box these days.

This may sound like something made up to amuse but it is, of course,  absolutely true.

I was twelve. He was a workmate of my father's - a member of the Magic Circle - and he started a small (very small) 'School of Magic' in his basement every Sunday morning. It was mainly pubescent girls, and his wife would make us costumes - we'd dress as mini showgirls or circus animals for his magic shows. 

Ahhh the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd... the vicious little teeth of Mr Wuffles, the dwarf white rabbit!

There was one trick where a dog 'magically' appeared out of an empty box - which was then shown to be empty again. Then me and another girl jumped out too with our special 'Ta daaaa!' faces on. 

It was quite a tight squeeze in the empty box with my friend and the dog.

I know what you're thinking. It does sound a bit pervy when I consider it now - but it was all in innocence and lots of fun. I was 'Young Magician of the Year' in 1977 - admittedly in a local competition they ran themselves which only had four entrants. I themed my act around outer space, wore deely-bopper antennae and a silver lame bodkin - 'sadly' there are no pictures - and did my tricks in rhyming couplets:

I'm a Magician, come from Mars I do magic on the stars.

(Oddly, I didn't win any poetry prizes.)

Perhaps, in retrospect, my parents were concerned - my dad came with me on Sundays and pretty soon he was learning the tricks of the trade and knocking up 'magic boxes' in the shed. So then I started being his 'glamorous' assistant at house parties for posh families and Christmas bashes for the kids of local factory workers. 

It was hard work and a bit scary - wondering if they would be well behaved and enjoy it.  By now I was a glowering, spotty, teenager - and when I had my hair cut off it took away my special powers. After all, it was all done with mirrors.

I suspect we were both very glad when he stopped. 

Update: I just found more pictures: The 'empty' box we used to appear out of and me in my lion costume.  Easily as dodgy!


  1. You've reminded me that I used to have a magic kit when I was a child. It had things like trick matchboxes in it and fake gold coins that you were supposed to make appear/disappear if you'd read the instructions right. I found it all so frustrating and small scale. But gosh I'd have loved to make dogs and people pop up out of empty boxes!

  2. The most magical I ever got as a child was a trick out of Jackie magazine where you write in lemon juice so that it's invisible.

  3. How exciting and something a bit different for the CV. I was thinking 'pervy' as I read the post, but the times were more innocent and it does sound like jolly fun.

  4. When I was about 6 years old, the school had a magician in for the Christmas party. He pulled a string of coloured ribbons from his sleeve, placed them in a metal pot and set fire to them. He then placed the lid on the pot and gave it a couple of taps with his wand. Off came the lid, his fingers got burnt and he dropped the flaming materials on the wooden stage. Oh, how we laughed.

  5. Joanne - Yes, but if you read the instructions wrong YOU vanish in a puff of prestidigitation! ;-)

    Fran - You got off lightly!

    Christine - Actually I can't bear magic now and rarely mention it - except in Twitter where people have started asking me about it... eek!

    Martin - That was probably my Dad!