This photograph marks the end of a 30 year quest! And a huge part of the reason why I became a magician.
When I was a kid, the Paul Daniels magic show was one of the highlights of my week. It was certainly the best bit of most Saturdays. I remember urging on the end of Juliet Bravo. As soon as I heard the closing credits for that show, Paul Daniels was next!
As well as watching Paul Daniels on TV, I collected his magic. He released a whole collection of magic tricks and they were great! There were various magic sets, which I’d often get for Christmas and Birthday presents, and individual tricks that I’d pester my parents into buying whenever we saw them in the shops. There was a range of card magic, but back then it was the other tricks that I loved. My passion for card magic didn’t start until much later. As a child, I was in awe at the creativeness of all of the other tricks. Sometimes I couldn’t understand the instructions, but that just added to the mystery and made it something to work harder at.
As well as the dozens of tricks in Paul Daniel’s collection, there was a special separate category. The Paul Daniels “Velvet Range”. These effects were separate because of their sophistication. The feeling was that the rest of the tricks were just for children. The Velvet Range was something special. Something more mature. Something that a young magician could see himself performing to an enthralled audience at some future event.
There were only 5 tricks in the Velvet Range. Just 5 effects that were considered good enough for this upper echelon of magic.
However, they weren’t so easy to find!
I got my hands on 4 of them. The 5th one always eluded me. Whenever I saw the Velvet Range in the shops, I’d feel the excitement, but no matter how far back on the shelves I looked I could never find the “Magic Rice Bowls”.
I got a bit older.
I stopped looking for the last piece of the puzzle and got on with whatever 11 or 12 year olds get on with. I still played with magic now and again, but the phase had at least partially passed.
Then, one day, I saw an advertisement for the Magic shop in Sheffield, Magick Enterprises. I believe I was 13 years old at the time and the advert made me think of the last trick in the Paul Daniels Velvet Magic Range. Could this be the answer? I’d been looking in toy shops in the past. Surely a real magic shop would have the trick that I so desired!
I plucked up my 13 year old courage (I was a shy kid, so phone calls were an ‘event’ back then) and called the shop. A lovely lady, who I later found to be called June, answered the phone. She told me that she didn’t know about the specific magic trick as she dealt with the fancy dress side of the shop. However, she also told me that all of the magicians go to the shop on Saturdays and they would know the answer to my question.
So, I went along on Saturday. I was ushered into the back room where all of the magicians hung out, and my life would never be the same again!
I asked about the “Magic Rice Bowls” at some point on that Saturday. Russell Hall, the shop owner, had a look through the stock but they didn’t have it. By that time though, it didn’t matter. I’d spent some time with some REAL MAGICIANS! The tricks I saw on that day renewed my passion for magic and took it to a whole new level. The rest of my teenage years would be spent amongst those magicians as much as possible.
Fast forward to now.
I haven’t thought about the “Magic Rice Bowls” much, but their absence from my collection has allowed them to take on a mythical place in my mind. Did they ever really exist? Were there a tiny limited number of them? Will I ever even see them?
Then, last week, in a magic facebook group, someone was advertising his Paul Daniels collection for sale. This is not unusual, but the “Magic Rice Bowls” being part of the collection was! He was selling the items individually and the trick could be mine for just £15!
Yesterday, it arrived!
It’s lovely to finally have the trick, but it’s the reflection of how the absence of this trick has shaped my life that prompted me to write this.
Thanks for reading,