Remembered by Dave Brown
I first met Bobby as an 18 year old (41 years ago) entering my first ever magic competition at a Northern Magic Circle convention.
He told me that I was quite talented but I was walking around stage as if my trouser legs were tied at the bottom and they were full after I had crapped myself. Later when I got to know him I realised that I had been treated quite gently.
Some three years later I moved from the North East to find fame and fortune in London and was lucky enough to work in Hamley’s Magic Department where I got to know more of Bobby Bernard and his thoughts about magic, magicians and life. During my time at Hamley’s I was moved to a new store that Hamley’s had opened on Wimpole Street – hardly any customers ever came to the store.
Bobby would pop in to the new store for a quick chat and hours later he would leave after having insulted everyone I have ever known. One thing Bobby and I would do was to challenge each other to ever more ridiculous feats of Dice-Stacking and I suspect it quickened his skills as much as mine. He would arrive with new challenges which he had obviously spent time working out and practicing and in between laughing at my accent and generally insulting me we would pass the time having fun.
The store eventually closed and I moved out of London so didn’t see him for a while and our paths crossed again when I moved back to London full time. My job at that time didn’t work out very well for me and I was quite despondent which brings me to an incident where I got to know a Bobby Bernard that most people never saw.
I bumped into him on Tottenham Court Road one day and he asked how everything was going so I told him the truth, which was that I couldn’t find any work and my girlfriend and I were having a really tough time. Bobby didn’t hesitate, he said “come with me” and he took me to his flat in Kilburn where he proceeded to fill plastic carrier bags with food then he said “let’s go to your gaff and you can cook me a meal”.
My girlfriend and I cooked a meal with some of the food and then we had what was one of the most memorable evenings I can ever remember. Bobby was on form and regaled us with some very funny stories about being evacuated to Wales during the war and some of the hard times he’d had in his life. He never once talked about magic and I think he was just reassuring us that life would get better and we would laugh about it later.
After that evening he would always tell me of the latest disaster that he’d had. I could go on for ages with stories he told me but I’d like to keep them as a reminder of one of magic’s real characters – there was nothing insipid about him, he was larger than life and I will always remember him with great fondness for his kindness to me and my future wife.
Dave Brown, November 2014