|Mysteries of the Mind|
Graham North Magician and Mindreader
The magic bug bit me at an early age. Flickering black and white shadows from the infant BBC transmitted wonderful things; Hancock, Quatermass and, most wonderful of all, Robert Harbin, the first magician to have his own series on British TV.
It wasn't until much later that I recognised Harbin as the magical genius that he undoubtedly was. All I knew then was that I wanted to be as magical as him. This was not the children's magic of Sooty or Uncle Boko at Butlins, this was real, grown-up magic, and I wanted to do it too.
Harbin was closely followed by Al Koran, Chan Canasta and David Nixon, all still highly regarded as great men of magic.
I bought Harbin's book for aspiring magicians, "How to be a Wizard", and tried very hard to be one. I read and reread every magic book in the local library. I bought tricks from Woolworths to mystify my friends, but I rarely performed my magic in public, for which the public were very grateful.
But I did perform. In dramatic and musical societies I learned all I could about acting and stage technique, about timing comedy and entertaining audiences. For twenty years I acted in every type of production from musical comedy to heavy drama, and as that most British of theatrical traditions, the pantomime Dame, I learned to ad lib and work with, not just to, an audience.
Eventually I was passing my knowledge on to other aspiring actors. I was writing sketches and plays and directing my own work. With a musician friend I was writing songs, and producing our own full-length musical, all to critical acclaim. I was beginning to think of myself as an entertainer.
It was time to become a real magician.
And sometimes I feel the spirit of Robert Harbin smiling kindly down on my efforts to become a wizard in the magical arts of mystification. I hope he approves.