Did I mention that I wanted to become a magician? Apologies if I over-egged it a little bit. I think it would be closer to the truth to say that I wish to learn a few tricks with which I might amuse people when I run out of conversation. And to that end, it’s going quite well, thank you. None of my ‘key texts’ have arrived yet. Although, it gives me a thrill to buy things from Amazon for which they charge you a sourcing fee. They probably need to travel to far-away places to obtain them from ancient men in little shops down dark alleys. Or maybe they’re just tucked away at the very back of the store-room.
Either way, even without the literature, I’m cracking on apace. Wee Gorbals was kind enough to equip me with my first trick, which is a good start. I’ve also been trying a bit of coin magic, which I’ve been testing on Mrs H. She is a very obliging audience, and is never too shy to cry out ‘I can see it in your other hand’.
I’ve been thinking about where all this enthusiasm came from, and have concluded that it probably goes back much earlier than the last couple of years. Several incidents have come to mind, only one of which I’ll talk about today, if you don’t mind. I’ve got a thesis to submit in a couple of weeks, and should probably be getting on with it.
But let me tell you about the first magic trick I was ever witness to. My family were entertaining (?) another family with whom they were quite friendly, and their son said he wanted to show me something. I was probably about six, he was probably about 16, but to my eye might as well have been as ancient as Yoda. He produced a front door key, which he placed in his palm and pressed against my chest. Then he took his hand away, and it was gone.
Put yourself in my shoes, if you’d be so gracious. The possibility (now obvious) that he had surreptitiously transferred the key into his other hand did not occur to me. I was left with the perception (not to mention a slowly-dawning horror) that the key was inside my chest. I asked if this was indeed so, and he confirmed it (perhaps underestimating the extent of my aforementioned horror). And then, to cap it all, he said ‘here, feel it’.
And I touched the place where it had seemingly gone in. There are ribs there, I know, but I was certain that I could feel the key as well. There was no question (in my mind) that it was well and truly there.
Perhaps sensing my alarm, he executed an additional bit of flim-flam and appeared to produce the key from my back. It had gone right through.
I was still horrified, but my mind was reeling for another reason. As I’d grown up, I’d been working hard to put together some coherent opinions about how the world works. One of the maxims I had hitherto settled on was that a physical object (e.g. a key) could not pass through another physical object (e.g. me). At least, not without leaving some trace of its passage. And yet, it had happened. Although my thoughts were not articulated as such (c’mon, I was only six), I had the distinct feeling that I was going to have to rethink things.
And then there were the possibilities. Was this something I could learn to do as well? Imagine what you could do with a power like that. You could, well, pass things through other things till you were blue in the face. This was going to turn the world upside down.
Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when I found out how it was done. I think my mother coerced him into revealing the secret, perhaps so that I would go back to sleeping at night. But I’ll probably never forget that feeling that this was something incredibly out of the ordinary, and that I was somehow witness to something that would make me re-evaluate everything that’d gone before.
And now and again, I’ve wondered what it might be like to be able to treat others to a similar experience. I might even try to perfect ‘key through the body’ for old time’s sake.