by Tony Russell A.I.M.C.

I read with great interest the articles worrying about the number of Magic shops that are blooming in the garden of England. I really think that we should get things into some sort of proportion.

We all had to start somewhere, and the somewhere was usually a magic shop or a box of tricks from Gamages (well, if you're my age it was!!) I was given a magic box of tricks by someone around 1937 and it hooked me. NOT the magic, but the fact that it put me head and shoulders above all the other kids at school! Someone had to produce that box, didn't they? It really doesn't matter who, the important thing is that it was done. At the tail end of the war (number two that is) and into the late 40's I haunted Ellisdons, Gamages, Davenports etc. etc. and I don't remember anyone asking me if I was a magician or not. I could not afford to buy much of the glittering array, so I made do with the Stripper Deck and the Thumb Tip, and a few other cheap bits and pieces. But that did not stop the people in the shops from showing me the latest miracle and, sometimes, showing me how! Please, don't let anyone stop us giving away the secrets that we feel it is safe to do, because the kid you are showing could be the next Paul Daniels. Someone has to show them - it is the only way to perpetuate the art. I don't mean tell them everything, just enough to whet the appetite and push them along to learn more. Don't let ANYONE pour scorn on the humble stripper deck - I earned myself a very substantial living with it and a few other bits as well, of course. I was never a "finger flinger," I was more interested in earning money at it and found out at a very early age that the latest miracle "move" is only of interest to another magician. I really don't think we have any need to worry about exposure because unless the person being shown in an "interested" party, the information is soon forgotten. I wonder how many of the people who watched the "Masked Magician" can still remember how it was all done? Magic is alive and doing well - despite all of our efforts.


Tony Russell February 2002