Travis Perkins Assembly Eighteenth Anniversary Day of Magic
Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire

Sunday 4th July 2010
Overlooked by Al Smith

With no price increase over last year and still just £3-50 for a day of magic, the only baffling thing is that there weren’t more “enthusiasts” clamouring to get in. But a grand total of 162 is not bad at all for a “small” event.

Working on the theme of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, the format remains largely the same, though there is some inbuilt flexibility.

This year the workshops were back, two in fact, one lecturette (a short lecture) a Questions & Answer panel chatathon and the showette (a short show).

Following the official opening, welcoming and various parish notices, came the announcement that the marvellous Mrs Higgins was retiring this year and come next year’s event, the venue would be in the hands a of a new caretaker. We wish the new girl, Rachel, all good fortune, but Mrs Higgins is a hard act to follow. “Caretaker” is a thoroughly inadequate description for the work she’s put in to keep the building serviceable and, of course to help keep the TPA Days running smoothly. Thanks again, Mrs H.

John Archer kept his fee at the same level as last year and so was invited to return. He offered a sprinkling of his new Hannibal Lecture. The time available in a lecturette meant it could be no more than a sprinkling. Introduced by Bob West (he does his best) the feature of this was Blank Night. This is something Mister Archer has been selling in PDF format via his website for the last month or so. It’s his take on Bank Nite, or as we prefer to call it, Just Chance. The performance was, not surprisingly, superb and the explanation very clear. There’s a bit of preparation, which will likely scare many (as a time served fingers-and-thumbs merchant, it did me) but it’s worth checking and persevering with.

This was followed by a direct card thing in which a married couple divined each other’s thoughts. Not much of a description for a strong item. Again well performed and explained. As was the final effect, a book test using street guides. Instead of a word, a spectator chose a street name. A fine idea and something Mister Archer markets. It uses special books and according to Mister Archer, it’s expensive. Quite how expensive, he didn’t say. But printing has never been cheap, so I believe him.

The session was a treat. Mister Archer is a familiar face on the convention and lecture circuit, but this is his new lecture. Don’t miss it.

It was the Q&A discussion panel next, with organiser-in-chief, Mike Shepherd chairing a discussion on various magic topics. The expert panellists were John Archer and Scott Penrose. Mister Archer is the current Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year and Mister Penrose is a previous (first-ever?) Magic Circle Magician of the Year. Mister Penrose is also the incumbent vice-president of the club. A high-powered duo, indeed.

Subjects ranged from which is more commercial, comedy or straight magic, working in films and theatre, exposure on YouTube and TV, and much more. No tricks, which may have irritated a few, but the majority loved it. An interesting session.

The “commercial-comedy-straight magic” question was posed by Derek Lever, a one-time TPA regular, who hasn’t been seen in Ferrybridge for a few years. Welcome back Derek.

The two workshops occurred simultaneously, so, it was a choice of one or the other. Outside in the sunshine and strong breeze, High Jinks, in the shape of Michael Jordan, current Magic Circle Young Magician, demonstrated juggling and unicycling. Inside Peter Roberts demonstrated his modernised version of the Slydini Silks. Both were well attended and both highly informative. Apparently Mister Roberts considers the Slydini original old-fashioned or dated some such. I’m still not quite sure how he arrived at this conclusion, as the trick uses handkerchiefs and not much else. I know sleeves are generally available as an alternative, but are handkerchiefs old-fashioned, or dated? Oh well.

To close the day came the traditional Showette. John Archer doubled as compere and performer, introducing High Jinks—Michael and Siobhan Jordan—and Scott Penrose.

High Jinks did the longest spot, with a very varied mix of stuff, ranging from needles from mouth, strait jacket escapes, tee-shirt prediction (you had to be there) singing, guitar strumming and other stuff I’ve forgotten. A solo spot from Siobhan featured Sands Of The Nile or Sands Of Egypt, or whatever the latest version is called.

John Archer presented a blindfold routine, divining three spectator-drawings in the middle of much comedy mayhem. Following this he introduced Scott Penrose. According to one Wikipedia description, Scott Penrose is: “The epitome of the professional magician. Think top hat and tails. Think silks, doves and disappearing candles and you will know exactly who I am talking about.” Which, in a nutshell at least, just about sums it up. Linking Rings and card manipulations also get a serious look in. I should, of course, say, card magic; during the Q&A session, Mister Penrose made it clear, more than once, that card tricks are not his favourite food. It wouldn’t do for us all to like the same things, would it.

Spending breaks were interspersed between the “official” magic, during which the dealers sold tons of stuff. Perhaps. As always, a mix of “proper” dealers and carbooters.

In no particular order and from failing memory, these included Castle Magic, Merlins Of Wakefield, Black Cat Magic, Bradford Magic Studio and the performers/lecturers. The carbooters were Sue de Courcy, Brian Mayne and the Barnsley Circle Of Magicians.

And that was it for another year. Next year’s celebration is set for Sunday 5th July 2010. Sadly there will be a price rise to £4-00. But it’s guaranteed to be pegged at that figure until at least 2012.

As always, Mike Shepherd, overseer-in-chief of Castle Magic, very ably masterminded the day’s proceedings, very ably assisted by the usual suspects—Christine Shepherd, Sue de Courcy, Maurice Johnson, and Bob West. Pat Gresham and Irene Webster (I think—I didn’t see her) were on the door keeping busy all day, as was the retiring Mary Higgins and her team of helpers.

All in all, a grand day out.


© Al Smith, July 2010