SEAL'S 30th Facelift

Peterborough's Annual 'Sale, Exchange & Lecture Day' gets a new venue and date
Sunday 14th October 2018
As seen by Walt Lees

The decision to change the venue and move the date into the autumn helped to boost attendance at the Peterborough Society of Magicians annual shindig. Despite the heavy rain, which may have put some off, there were certainly more sellers on 14th October than in the previous couple of years. Whether this was due to the new venue or change of date, is open to speculation.

The Italian Community Centre is more modern and better furbished than its predecessor. But on the downside, everything had to take place in the same room: no separate café, lecture annex or dealers hall. This did mean that, because of pressure on floor space, many of the sellers stands were accessible from all sides, with no clearly defined area for either customers or stallholders.

It also meant that during the lectures all the stalls had to close, probably no bad thing, as it allowed those who had brought stuff to sell the freedom to sit down and watch, along with everyone else, safe in the knowledge that they were not missing any potential customers.

But the main thing about the SEAL Day is the lectures. This year, there were three as normal, but somewhat unusually, they were all of basically the same type, i.e. inventive people fooling us with their creations and then explaining how they worked. That having been said, we saw a lot of innovative and clever new magic, with a surprising amount of variety.

Steve Gore, no stranger to the lecture circuits in the UK, opened the proceedings. He had some nice ideas with ropes as well as demming his Amnesia Deck, which is specially printed by the US Playing Card Company. It enables you to do many effects which would normally require the Aronson memorized stack, without actually having to go to the trouble of learning it.

But most of us thought the real highlight was his GPS Deck. It also makes possible lots of different feats and is fully examinable. For example, in one of them a spectator shuffles the cards, then removes one and places it unseen into his pocket. He next shuffles the deck some more and hands it back to the performer, who without looking at any faces, instantly names the pocketed card. If that reads like a miracle it is! And it can be repeated ad nauseam.

The second lecturer was Ben Williams, who typifies the modern street-magic style. Much of his material has a casual organic feel, which often belies the careful preparation underpinning it. He began with a one-ahead prediction that seemingly eliminated the need to force any of the choices. He then went on to explain his method of producing a selected card from his shoe, followed by a small pot of jam perhaps it was honey or marmalade something in one of those tiny jars you get in many hotels, these days.

He also had a nice, easily-made gimmick to enable you to balance a Sharpie or fork at an impossible angle on your finger. One of those things where the seemingly casual spontaneity of the performance gives a false impression of no preparation.

The highlight of his hour-long offering was a routine linking and unlinking Polo Mints, climaxing with the Os on the packet logo also being caused to link, leaving the spectators with a souvenir to scratch their heads over.

The lectures were concluded by John Morton, a newish face on the circuit, who had an impressive array of original mental magic. He began by showing how tea-bag paper is ideal for the old scientific effect of a flaming cylinder rising high into the air; something for which most commonly-available paper does not work very well these days.

Later, he showed an ingenious method of marking envelopes for a Psychometry routine, in which nothing is visible to the participants. There was also a cigarette-card divination using pictures of well-known super heroes, a book test with a children s picture book, and the stunning prediction of a lottery-ticket number using freely-chosen symbol cards displayed on a large board, and the assistance of several spectators. We were told that this highly visual item, manufactured to order by John, is already in the repertoire of a number of leading professional performers. And it is not hard to see why.

The raffle was drawn after this lecture; then dealing continued for a while longer, before the day concluded.

I certainly found it an enjoyable event, even picked up a couple of interesting bargains and watched a lot of classy new magic. What more can you ask?

© Walt Lees, October 2018