Peterborough Society of Magicians 29th Annual Sale, Exchange & Lecture Day
Millfield Hall, Peterborough
Sunday 11th June 2017
Overlooked by Al Smith

As Iíve noted before this is not a regular convention, but it does have enough features to comfortably parade itself as such. Dealers, lectures, workshops, carbooters and a fair bit more.

Sadly this year the one thing that was lacking was magicians. There were far fewer ďsellersĒ and probably only about 50 (potential) buyers, aka conventioneers or registrants.

ďProperĒ dealers were thin on the groundówhy should they be any differentóonly Dave Charles of Hocus Pocus, Alec Powell and Adrian Sullivan springing to mind. I didnít take notes, so omissions are down to a failing memory. John Carey and Steve Cook arenít dealers, but they do have things for sale. All alongside a hotchpotch mix of magicians with collections of this and that for sale. Not many, but there really was some stuff on display. We do accumulate things.

At 1015 or thereabouts, Keith Downs, longtime Peterborough stalwart, current club secretary, past president and more, officially launched proceedings and the slow boat was on its way.

The first official event got under way at 1100. This was a general magic lecture by Quentin Reynolds, which was very well received, although some felt it was a bit long in the overall context of the Day.

Paul Gordon did his card workshop at and proved yet again how easy it is to hold an audience with nothing more than a few, not particularly difficult, card tricks. And umpteen years of practical in-the-field working experience. Paulís enthusiasm is infectious and he does make you want to start shuffling.

Being of a certain age I can recall seeing Andi Gladwin at the British Ring convention in Llandudno in 1999. He was in the Zina Bennett Close-Up Competition. Since then heís gone on to all sorts of fame and glory and brought those years of experience with him.

In between the lectures, there was time to to spend a few coppers with the ever hopeful sellers. There were bargains to be had, particularly for people to who like to read. Books, magazines aplenty all at (mostly) knockdown prices.

Despite the ultra low numbers and the resulting air of sadness that this might be the final bell for the Day, there was much fun and much solid magic. I would say give it a try next time, but itís probably too late for that.

Time now for a chunter.

A common wail is that events like Peterborough havenít kept up with the times, and as a result of this attendance suffered. Frankly, this is a load of codswallop. The blueprint is simple and basic. A friendly get-together, with the features listed earlier thrown in for good measure. If magicians canít be bothered to turn out to see the likes of Paul Gordon, Andi Gladwin and Quentin Reynolds for not much money, itís not the organisers that need to be looking at themselves and the times. Itís the fraternity.

If magicians donít want to turn out, then fair enough, thatís the sign of the times. But anybody who blames any convention team for trying to bring magicians together needs a refresher course.

ďLook at Blackpool,Ē they smirk. Thousands there every year. True enough. But nobody knows why and itís not typical. Itís a mix of dealers, performances and lectures, much the same as every other convention. On a much bigger scale than anything else admittedly, but the mix is the same. Letís hope it continues, but using it as a comparison is not helpful.

The only way for Peterborough and other smaller events to really keep up with the times, is simply not to bother. Let Apathy rule.


© A E Smith, June 2017


Photo: Paul Gordon and John Carey.