| by Ian Adair
Lots of news from little ol’ Britain. What with the 61st annual British Ring Convention, magicians have been having a wonderful time. But more about this big convention later, and incidentally, some two thousand registrants attended. International I.B.M. President, and an old pal of mine, Abb Dickson was there and delighted us all with his presence.
MATHEW SAYS GOODBYE TO TV’S SOOTY
Son of founder, Harry Corbett, Mathew is ‘hanging up his gloves’ which is in the form ‘of television’s most lovable and long running TV bear ‘Sooty. Mathew’s father, Harry was an electrician by trade but loved performing magic and messing about with puppets. He found Sooty in a novelty store 45 years ago and with a few adjustments, gave Sooty his personality and of course his name. Harry became famous in the fifties, sixties and seventies, and even when handing over the complete outfit to his son (for a sum of money, I must add) he toured certain areas including the West of England where I live. Hence I had the pleasure of being his “Special Guest Artiste” the wording of which appeared on the colourful programmes which were distributed around the town he and I were appearing in, Mathew kept the TV rights. Harry became so popular that he was asked to come to meet Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace and be awarded with the OBE. It was his work in charity which made him this.
Mathew kept Sooty going making the puppet bear the longest-running, children’s show on national British television. Just before father Harry died, the late Bill Stickland, then secretary of the British King, past president of IBM, invited him to appear on one of the convention’s gala shows. What a delight it was to see Harry, together with Sooty and friends work in front of all those adults. We hope the new owners (and we believe the figure received is approximately two million pounds) will promote Sooty and keeping him going. This includes all the franchises of firms who manufacture and promote Sooty products, from beakers to toothbrushes, from comic papers to toy puppets. The list is endless.
BLACKPOOL AND THE 61ST ANNUAL CONVENTION
International stars of magic have been booked for this, the latest convention to be staged by the Blackpool Magicians’ Club. The famous Winter Gardens complex will again be used and some 70 dealers will be attending. Amongst those who have been booked are Tomsoni & Co, Peter Marvey, Dani Lary, Dan Garrett our own TV star, Ken Dodd, and many more besides.
The once ‘One Day Convention’ seems-to be spreading. It now starts on Friday and goes right through to Sunday which, of course, is the main day. We shall be bringing you news of this great convention in later reports.
Southport was the venue, one we have been to before on several occasions. The complex there is superb and the crowds came in their numbers. The souvenir programme , printed on the usual gloss, art paper had an impressive cover, again, designed by Ali Bongo. He came up with the idea of conventioneers trying to find out which two rabbits looked identical amid loads of them illustrated by his pen. Jeremy and Cheryl Le Poidevin of ‘Practical Magic’, a dealing depot of many years here in Britain, that was recently taken over by them, didn’t think the convention was a good one. When they unloaded their props from their nice new Vauxhall Estate car near the Floral Hall, found it was missing by morning. Fortunately, it was discovered miles away in another town by the police! Talk about the ‘vanishing car’!
Of all the events at this 61st convention, the competition event was the worst ever seen. So poor was the standard of entries, unfortunately, The New British Ring Shield plus Ãº200 in money was not awarded. Neither was the Ditta Shield for Manipulation. Comedy seemed to dominate the proceedings and therefore the Tom Harris Cup for this branch went to someone good at the craft of making people laugh whilst doing magic – John Archer. The Alastair Wand plus Ãº50-went to John Holmes and the Ladies Trophy, and the conventioneer’s trophy for originality, went to Mystique. Close-up trophy plus Ãº200 was awarded to Herman Koster, 2nd prize to Eddy Smit, with Ãº100 and in third place Mike Smith receiving Ãº50.
The dealers trophy, called the Mystic Craig award, went to Swadling Magic with special commendation to your own Jack Miller of his ‘enterprises’ firm. Nice seeing him back again!
The dealers opened on the Tuesday evening, giving the conventioneers a chance to see the very latest products on the market. The dealers also presented demos on stage starting early Wednesday morning but how can a dealer do ‘Just’ to his firm or products when given just four minutes to do it in? Impossible, but then, we are magicians! Aren’t we.
After the official opening, President Bob Hayden in the presence of His Worshipful The Mayor of Sefton, came the ‘start-of-the convention’ show. MC, Peter Scarlett introduced Terry Herbert with his comedy magic, Keelan Leyser with his now popular scissors act, where scissors small and large are magically produced throughout. Van Buren Jr. and Kim were slick and most professional.
OVERSEAS VISITORS WELCOME
We all gathered to see and applaud those who came from overseas to attend our convention. Magicians from the four corners of the globe (or should it be the circumference?) paraded in fashion under the banner of their flag, accompanied with suitable music which wasn’t always appropriate but yet fun to listen to. This year was different. No reception in the form of food and drinks given away by the council of the town we were visiting. Instead, and very gratefully accepted, was the complete show presented by Peter Kersten, direct from Berlin, Germany, and feauring The Diamond Dancers, Angelique & Kavalier, Carmen & Claudia and special guest, Carola Pander,
The first star lecture was presented by Torkova of USA and introduced by Peter Scarlett. Introduced by Jeff Atkins, Past International President of the IBM, was ‘Phil Temple recalls Thuston’ — a wonderful historical talk and demonstration.
Another star lecture, in the Yuji Yamamoto, introduced by Tom Owen and called the “Magic of Japan was excellent.
During Thursday afternoon the close-up competition for the Zina Bennett Trophy, arranged by Mike Gancia was a good one and at the beginning of my report, you will see the outcome of the winners. During the week hospital shows by numerous children’s entertainers were full-swing.
Peter Kersten Titled `Magic for Minors’ Richard Stupple, a well-known children’s entertainer himself introduced him. He was on top form and everyone watching, interested in this branch of magic, loved it.
FRIDAY 14.15 hours
Eddie Dawes presented CELEBRATORY MAGIC, a celebration of some magical anniversaries featuring Bernard Juby, John Marshall and Tim Cockerill, Mike O’Brien, Chris Pratt, Mark Raffles, Geoff Ray and Pat, Alfonso Rios and the Tempests supported at the keyboard by Dave Cass, with stage direction from Neil Roberts.
Another star lecture, this time introduced by President elect, Derek Lever, was simply called ‘Hints and Tips’ and was very well received.
Whilst those who wanted to attend the banquet were being entertained by various speakers, others were enjoying chats with their magical friends, leading up to the presentation of awards. President, Bob Hayden, a bundle of fun at all times, presented the awards and then let Ian Keable introduce Christian, Steve Walker, Domenico Dante, Bob McAllister, and Carl Dean & Caluadine the latter two being great friends of mine and whom scored so well with their manipulative type magic, laced with glamorous cost – umes and good stage direction.
A star lecture, introduced again by Peter Scarlett (can’t they find others to introduce those famous folks?) introduced Bob McAllister of USA and the title ‘Magic to Entertain’ whilst not that original, was certainly worth watching.
Meanwhile down at the ranch, as they say, this being, Southport’s Little Theatre, Children’s Showtime was in full force. Leslie Melville introduced Tony Rix, Peter Greenwood, Magical Moira Colvaii, Michael J. Decker, ‘Penny Arcadia’ plus the IBM clowns and the children loved them.
Later, on in the afternoon, whilst the dealers were still open all hours, Eddie Dawes introduced MORE HISTORY OF MYSTERY a seminar featuring David Price, Dick Newton, Frank Koval and Peter Lane. MARCO DUCA LECTURE This came later, and introduced by the wife of Stephen,(Budget’s editor). It was well received. Videotapes of the late Fred Kaps were shown by Steve Walker and then it was time for the famous Gala Show. Presented at the Southport Theatre, Jeff Atkins, assisted by Ali Bongo, brought us a superb program. Stage director was Neil Roberts.
After the overture Dave Cass at the keyboard, Jack Delvin was our MC. He introduced Yuji Yamamoto with Magic from Japan. Torkova of USA was ‘The Coin Star’. Marc Et Chantal presented ‘fascinating magic’ from Germany while Ward Allen changed the magical theme and introduced his vent dog, Roger. A spectacular `Garden of Flowers’ came alive from Peki of Germany to close the first half of the program. After the intermission came Rousseau, the award-winning magician from U.K. Cube-Triu (School of Magic) from Russia followed with a brilliant act whilst world-prize winner Juliana Chen performed her type of magic all the way from China.
To complete the program, Aquarius, Britain’s Champion presented a breath-taking finale.
A convention church service was conducted by The Rev. Michael Austin. The installation of our new President, Derek Lover was also conducted, followed by a cocktail party after which President Derek closed the convention.
And so, came the end of yet another wonderful convention. Perhaps not the best we have ever had, but one always learns and meets friends old and new and buys props and exchange ideas. It’s amazing just how much one gets out of a convention if he or she puts something into it.
Long journeys home for many specially those who traveled from overseas although I must admit, those who lived in New York got home much quicker than I did, traveling down the M5, M4 and into the West country, by car, with an eight-hour journey non-stop.
Until I write again. Very best wishes.