I became interested in magic when I was still in single figures; an age ago. I started, like all kids, with a magic set, bought in a shop. This usually consisted of the cups and balls, a card trick, the spotty paddles and one or two others that were never that convincing. Then, somebody turned up one day with some real magician's equipment, sans instructions. Not only that, certain essential bits were missing, so it proved to be a little frustrating. After that, it was off to Hamley's, who had and still do have, a magic counter. It was there that I first saw and bought the "disappearing hanky", made popular these days by Miss Ursula Martinez. (See below). However, I did lack the one bit of equipment to enact the climax of the trick, a la Martinez, so my rendition was fairly average.
I then progressed to the semi-professional level. By the age of 15, I was performing magic shows and getting paid to do so. Massive amounts of money in those days. I forget how much, but one show would net me the kind of money it took a week to earn in a proper job.
I used to make regular trips up to London to visit the people who made and sold professional magical apparatus. People like Ken Brooke, Harry Stanley, Davenports and several others. Apart from Davenports, the names will be meaningless to the general public, but to magicians they are very well known. I also made a bit of money by inventing tricks and having them published. I was about sixteen at the time and I remember meeting one of the publishers at a convention and he was a little surprised at my youthfulness.
I did a lot of kid's shows. I don't do that anymore. There is too much negativity surrounding the idea of old men doing magic shows for eight-year-olds. It's a pity, but we live in a very superstitious and hysterical era, more akin to Salem in the Seventeenth Century than the 21st Century.
I still entertain for friends, very occasionally. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could still do a party piece?