to Southport after a lapse of several years, the British Ring of the
International Brotherhood of Magicians mounted a highly successful
convention for four days, September 6-9 2018. Successful due to sterling
organisation by Moira Fletcher and an incredible team of workers.
Increased attendance, new members signing up and a terrific social
atmosphere made this convention memorable. However, the week kicked off
with a disappointment, the outside escape planned by Danny Hunt of
Amethyst being cancelled (banned?) due to wet weather.
From a night before ‘party’ get-together, with comedy Sword Dancing
(with skilled choreography) and a singer, to the closing flash show of
High Jinx with illusions and juggling, there was something for everyone.
Flitting about throughout was President Richard Cadell (photo), egged on
no doubt by Sooty! Principal Guest was I.B.M. International President
Michael Finney, who delivered a hilarious act in the Gala Show and sound
ideas and advice when lecturing.
Stage shows in the spacious Floral Hall (with, it must be said, about
the worst acoustics ever), featured Alexander Wells, whose one-hour show
included manips of balls, wooden wand, Cups and Balls, novel Multiplying
Bottles and much more; in contrast hypnotist Aaron Calvert proved the
power of suggestion works, without embarrassing volunteers.
Competitions for close-up and stage awards fielded seven and six
performers respectively. Close-up winner was Elliott Bibby of Edinburgh
with neat, entertaining card work, taking the Zina Bennett Trophy plus
£500, also the ‘Rovi Trophy’ for best card effect. First place for the
British Ring Trophy stage battle, plus £500, went to Megan
Knowles-Bacon, combining magic and ballet in a delightful sequence. The
British Ring Shield, for exceptional performance, was not awarded.
Eleven lecturers were each situated in a splendid room with two large
projection screens. These came from Darren Mac, Quentin Reynolds, Jon
Marshall, Anthony Owen (Jeffery Atkins Memorial Lecture), Andi Gladwin,
Fifth Dimension (Jeff Burns and Ivor Smith), Wayne Dobson with Richard
Cadell (standing ovation), Alexander Wells, Michael Finney, Aaron
Calvert with Sam Fitton, and finally Dion. There was much to learn from
More education, magical that is, came from ‘More History of Mystery’,
hosted by Eddie Dawes, the speakers being Paul Freeman, Marco Pusterla,
and Roy Field. Balloon enthusiasts were catered for by Graham Lee with
workshops, puppets by Stuart and Libby of Safire, and juggling by
Michael Jordan. In addition Professor Jon’s Flea Circus (courtesy of Jon
Marshall) made two appearances, the necessary fleas all trained from
The Saturday Gala Show opened with an effective Black Light sequence by
Dion, leading to the production of compère Quentin Reynolds, whose
stories, gags and classic Troublewit (paper folding to the uninitiated!)
linked the acts well. We enjoyed two spots by Southport Dance Academy,
consisting of a dozen spritely young girls. Fifth Dimension provided
entertaining mentalism, and Dean Leavy, currently The Magic Circle Young
Magician of the Year, proved it with varied manipulations and floating
As previously indicated Michael Finney was a real hit. His C&R Rope with
a small girl hilarious, with some of the best rehearsed adlibs ever!
Magic Tango proved to be Dion from the Netherlands, with a new act based
on girlfriend rejection and attempts to win her back. His lecture next
day disclosing techniques and methods was quite intriguing. Michael
Jordan had fun (we hope!) as he leapt, with the aid of two beefy
volunteers, on to a cycle – with three vertical wheels! Comedy
and skill the audience loved. Closing the show illusionists Safire, not
seen for a while and a welcome return. Head slider illusion and Clear
Substitution Trunk the features.
Featured as ‘Stars of Close-up’ were Vanni Pulé from Malta with
‘breakfast magic’, including Egg Bag, Andi Gladwin intrigued with a
notable ACAAN routine and novel Magic Square. Quentin Reynolds showed
miniature Linking Rings, a couple of card items and his signature
Handkerchief Mouse. Finally, Mike Sullivan played games (magically) with
the word Startling and passed a borrowed ring on to a key ring, all with
A round-up of film shots from past Southport conventions, by Bob and Sue
Hamilton, brought nostalgic memories for many as we again saw Ali Bongo,
Paul Zenon, Mike Gancia and many more in action. Unable to see
everything, I missed the Ali Bongo Micro Marathon, the Sooty and Friends
show in Southport Theatre, and late-night revelry at Peaky Blinders in
At the close of the convention Richard Cadell (and Sooty!) handed the
Presidential regalia to Brian Lead with best wishes for as successful a
year as he had enjoyed.
Next year the convention returns to Eastbourne, a popular location.
Dates are September 5th to 8th 2019. During the year President Brian
Lead’s dinner will be in Blackburn, 23rd March, and Picnic, again in
Leicester on 26th May. Full details of all events will appear in
editions of the monthly magazine Key Ring, so ably edited by Geoffrey
Not a British Ring Member? Check out the website
www.britishring.org.uk for details. Join the throng, the water’s
warm and friendly!
© Donald Bevan, September 2018