Peterborough’s 27th Annual Sale, Exchange & Lecture Day
14th June 2015
Reviewed by Walt Lees

This year the Peterborough Society of Magicians tried an experiment and moved their annual event from April to June. It was hoped that this change would help to boost the numbers attending and, according to President Mark Lobo writing in the programme, avoid the Easter break. Sadly, it did not work. Whether due to this alteration or the rain, attendance was not great: something which no doubt worked to the benefit of the buyers and the disadvantage of those optimistic souls hoping to net large profits from the sale of their wares.

However, those who stayed away were the losers and the depleted gate in no way dampened the enjoyment of everyone who had made the effort to come. Nobody demanded a refund because Al Smith did not attend, as advertised! After all, the quality of the three lectures was well worth the entrance money.

First up was Peterborough stalwart Mark Lee (joint proprietor of magic dealers Merlin’s of Wakefield). He began by enticing the scattered audience to sit together near the front and then performed some excellent close-up magic, mostly featuring coins and cards, although colour-changing knives came into the picture at one point. However, he opened with a multiphase rope routine, culminating in the rope taking on the form of a coat hanger, causing much laughter and surprise.

Paul Gordon occupied the middle spot, working exclusively with cards and performing many of his signature routines. Paul is, beyond a shadow of doubt, one of the best lecturers on card magic in the UK – THE best in the eyes of many. Throughout, he stressed the importance of maintaining a brisk pace, and keeping things moving, while projecting both the voice and personality. Even if you hate card magic, you can learn a lot about performance skills and showmanship by watching the way he works his audience: living proof of the old adage that it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

The final lecturer was British Ring President Alan Astra with Barbara assisting behind the scenes. Alan’s specialities are children’s magic and mentalism. Indeed, his opening item combined both – a Just Chance presentation in which all three participants win something, with the birthday child taking the star prize. One interesting item was a very cheeky number force, used in conjunction with a Magic Square (Strictly, speaking, it was not a true Magic Square, because some of the numbers were duplicated.), with the final kicker that one of the lines was that day’s date.

Alan had trouble with his car that morning, which had delayed his arrival. So he had been unable to reach the venue in time to officially open the event. Instead, some old has-been/never-was, was pulled out of the crowd to deputise and do the honours. However, it did give me the chance to publicly thank the Peterborough Society for their generous gesture in granting me honorary membership.

Merlin’s donated the star raffle prize, as well as running their own (free-to-enter) raffle, in tandem.

It is difficult to mention everyone involved in the organisation of the day, as no names appear in the programme. But Keith Downs, John Learoyd, Ted Strong, Ollie Plumley et al, were all very much in evidence, as they always are. And, undaunted by the low numbers this year, it is still intended to go ahead with the event in 2016.


© Walt Lees, June 2015