Claude Perry 1922 - 2008
Remembered by Alan Coventry
On Wednesday 23 April Cambridgeshire lost a much loved magician. Claude Perry was a friend of mine for forty years and for many of those years he was the Pentacle Club President. Not long before his death the Club marked his years of service by electing him Honorary Life President. Other clubs to which he belonged included the Ipswich Magical Society, the IBM, and The Magic Circle, in which he had been MIMC since the 1940s.
Claude’s interest in magic started, as is often the case, with a magic set around the age of ten. He gained a great deal of performing experience during and immediately after WW2, not least with Stars in Battledress in Germany. Claude’s day job after the war, and until he retired, was with a firm of accountants. He would always save the bulk of his annual leave for the Christmas period to in order to take children’s shows during this season. He held what I believe to be a record: 38 years of repeat bookings at a local school. Claude received extensive TV and press publicity in 2006 at the time of his last booking there, when he retired from performing at the age of 84. The head teacher summed up Claude in a way which all his friends will recognise: “He is very gentle, kind and he’s so gentlemanly”.
Claude was an entertaining and proficient magician. He thought hard about his magic and never lost his enthusiasm. He appreciated all styles of performing but for his own work he preferred to keep things simple, although always baffling and with plenty of humour. Many of us will remember a favourite saying of his, on being shown a large, complicated magic prop: “What a lot of bother - and what a lot to carry.”
Claude was always willing to help others. Many younger magicians developed their proficiency and presentational skills under his wing, and some of them went on to achieve considerable success with their magic.
Stanley Thomas was Claude’s dearest friend in magic over the years, but he was always keen to acknowledge how much he gained from others, not least John Gambling, who introduced him to many magicians at IBM conventions, George Blake, Ron Bishop and Roy Johnson.
Claude’s performing conjures up happy memories. His fast patter for his stand-up act had so many quick gags that the laughter merged happily with the applause he received for his baffling, entertaining magic. Then there was Troublewit, an item which he made his own. It was fast and funny with a wonderful surprise finish. His final Troublewit shape was a vase from which he magically produced a bunch of flowers, the perfect applause cue.
Claude was a good friend and an entertaining performer. He will be greatly missed.
John Davenport, May 2008