06 Sep 2013
Hello everyone - hope you are all well and apologies for my lack of contact over the past few months. I think that the last time I saw most of you I was just about finishing off my degree at Durham. I then decided that getting a job was far too sensible an option and opted to prolong my student life by starting a PhD in Cambridge which, if I'm honest, is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Either that or reading about watching paint dry. Or talking about watching paint dry - I think I'll stop now.
Anyway, Cambridge is a great place: full of 13th Century Dining Halls and, more importantly, many pubs. The people (understandably) aren't nearly as nice as those up north, and it was great to come back home to the sound of Yorkshire accents over Easter. However, all in all (that looks really weird written down) I'm having a great time.
The Easter Parade was good fun: great to see so many of the Bradford lot and catch up. I have to admit that there were moments when the Convention did seem to be lacking in content (certainly on the Saturday afternoon), but this was made up for by the excellent company. I honestly think the Bradford Magic Circle is going to be the next Northern; certainly proven so in the competition results - well done to all involved. Geoffrey Durham University (sorry, my computer did that on its own) was awesome, both in the lecture and in the Gala show. He's an amazing speaker and captivated the whole audience. I don't think that anyone went away disappointed.
I was lucky enough the get a ticket to see Derren Brown perform at St George's Hall in Bradford on the Tuesday night, which I was over the moon - not literally -, about. Again, it was brilliant to see so many Bradford Magic Circle members there too. I made notes throughout the show, but I honestly don't think I can adequately describe the atmosphere and showmanship that Derren Brown carries with him with the detail that it deserves with just words; and I think that pictures would look silly. If anyone does get a chance to see the show, then I would strongly recommend it. But just as a taster for what the show includes, without giving too much away, I'll describe a little.
The first half is an amazing mix of comedy and psychological trickery - some of which I could fathom out, other's which I had no idea. One superb effect he did was to choose two audience members, one of whom thought of two numbers within any telephone number; the other blindfolded and handed a marker pen and board and asked to count down from 500 whilst allowing the pen to move constantly over the board. In short, the numbers which the lady wrote matched exactly with the two numbers that the other volunteer was thinking of It was a brilliant piece of theatre and was incredibly dramatic. The audience literally gasped, and even though I knew the workings of the effect (it took me a long time!), his presentation was so perfect that you could not help but be taken in by the psychological artistry with which he provides an explanation to the feat. He also performed the coin-in-hand effect which has featured many times in his Mind Control series (the one where he correctly guesses which hand the spectator has placed their coin in ad infinitum). If this is a 'trick' then I genuinely have no idea how it works. If he works out where the coin is via subconscious suggestion then it's even more amazing - the confidence with which he seemingly knows (and in some cases pre-empts) what an audience member has done/will do is staggering.
The second half of his show is much darker than the first; but he makes a point of asking people not to report its content, and so I won't. Suffice to say that it is brilliant and I really think that any practicing magician should see it, just from a presentation point of view, if anything - the ambience he constructs is overwhelming. His ultimate effect was either a brilliant stooge, a perfect example of cold-reading or real mind reading - I have no idea, but it was fascinating. A brilliant night out.
Right, best be going. Thanks for reading, and hopefully I will see you all again very soon. I'm going back to the lab to try and find some oil.
All the best.