Ted Lesley – "going Back In Time"

Ted Lesley
(Ted Lesley)

This particular routine is my favourite one. I’ve been performing it for a couple of years in nightclubs and theatres all over Germany with sensational success. The trick leaves any audience entertained, mystified and completely spellbound. If the conditions are right, this is one of the most talked about mysteries in my programme. To keep the routine to myself, I have never performed it if fellow magicians or mentalists where in my audience. If I find that the conditions aren’t right, I perform “The Sough of Horse’s Wings” (surrounded version) out of my book “PARAMIRACLES” instead.

On the right side of the stage is a table with a chair behind it. The chair must face the audience. Stage left and a bit upstage is a small table, on which an attache-case rests. Its raised lid is turned towards the audience.

A spectator, preferably a lady, is asked to come forward to assist the performer in his next experiment. She is asked to take a seat. Then the performer takes a book out of his attache-case, riffles the pages in front of the spectator’s eyes and asks her to call out “STOP!” at any time she wishes. The selected page is shown to the lady and to a few members of the audience as well.

Then the lady is asked to call out her name, and the performer boldly prints her initials with a broad RED felt-tipped marker on the upper right corner of the freely selected page. The book is immediately handed to the lady with the request that she tear out the corner with her initials. This piece is inserted by herself into an empty envelope, which she in turn closes. The envelope is never touched by the performer during the whole presentation. The performer asks the lady once more to call out the freely selected page number and after she has done so, the performer hands her a pen with the request to write the number on the address-side of the envelope, which contains the torn out corner of the book. Then the lady rests the envelope against a glass on the table so that it is visible to the audience at all times. The book is placed between the palms of the lady spectator’s hands.

Now the performer recapitulates, what had happened since the lady approached the stage: A page of a book was freely selected. The initials of her name were written on a corner of the selected page and this corner was torn out of the book and inserted into an envelope the performer never touched.

“Is it possible”, the performer asks the audience, “to go back in time? Who knows………, but with a kind of mass-hypnosis and concentration, uncanny things are possible! It does not work every time, but under very special conditions, it simply happens!”

The performer asks the lady to open the book at the selected page and she finds, to her consternation, that the page is still intact with the initials of her name written in the upper right corner! Then the performer hands her a pair of scissors to open the envelope, which was in full view at all times and she finds, that it is absolutely empty! The lady is handed the book as a souvenir and she is escorted back to her seat.

For the performance of this miracle you need two identical paperback books. (Years ago I bought several thousand remaindered paperback books at just pennies apiece, so that I could do this trick for many years. I enjoy leaving the spectator with an ungimmicked book to ponder after the show!)

Before the show, you have to know the name of a lady in your audience. That can be easily accomplished in many ways: An assistant of yours calmly approaches an attractive lady at one of the front tables during the banquet and asks for her name. At a convention it is possible to ask the chairman for the name of a lady. The initials of the name are written at the upper right corner of the page which you want to force in one of the books. Both books are placed into your attachÈ case, the unprepared on top of the other. Make sure, that you have a broad felt-tipped marker containing red ink in your left outside jacket pocket. One Teleport envelope is placed on top of a glass and the whole arrangement is put on the table on stage right.

As soon as you have the lady sitting on stage (who’s name you already know), walk over to your attachÈ case and remove the topmost book. Approach the lady and perform a simple riffle-force. Any riffle force will serve the purpose very well. When using new paperback books, I have employed the old idea of creasing the spine at the force page which provides a break discernible to you as you riffle off the pages. However, more often these days I will use another method for creating a riffle break, one that allows you to force almost any page and leaves no trace of preparation in the book. Place a small coin in the gutter of the book, near the bottom edge and between the page you wish to force and its facing page. I always take the precaution of wrapping a rubber band around the bottom end of the book while it is in my attachÈ case so that the coin cannot accidentally fall out. As I take it from the case in performance, I can quickly strip off the band and leave it behind. Holding the book in your left hand, near the bottom of its spine, walk to the right side of the stage to the lady and ask her to call stop as you riffle through the book. Riffle the pages off your right thumb until the spectator stops you. At that moment, let all the pages above the break created by the coin escape from your thumb, and raise the outer end of the books slightly, causing the coin to slip from it and into your cupped left fingers. Hand the book, opened to the desired spot, to the spectator in her seat and direct her attention to the proper page, requesting that she note the page number and call it out in a loud clear voice.

Next ask for her name and take the felt-tipped marker out of your left outside jacket pocket, leaving the coin behind. Enter the initials of her name on the upper right corner of the force page, imitating the writing which you did in the other book. Hand the lady the book again and instruct her to tear the corner with her initials out. When she has done this, take the book back and draw her attention to the envelope resting on top of the glass in front of her. The torn out corner is now inserted into the empty envelope and it is in turn sealed shut by the lady herself. Make sure, that you are far away, as this happens!

Now you instruct her, to call out the page number again. When she has done so, instruct her to write it on the address side of the now closed envelope, but she has NO PEN! Now comes the moment where the book, which you hold in your hands, is switched. Thus:

You had the foresight to have selected for your primary assistant a gentleman in shirtsleeves or in our example a lady sitting with friends (she will leave her purse with her friends rather then bring it on stage with her). You target one of these types because neither will be carrying a pen.

“Do you have a pen?” you ask. As she begins to tell you that she hasn’t, continue, “ThatÂ¥s no problem. Here is one for you.” As you are talking, you stride calmly to your open attachÈ case, which sits on the side table, stage left and a bit upstage of the spectator. Its raised lid is turned towards the audience, so that no one can see into the case. You are at this point, holding the book with the torn out corner in your left hand. Place both hands momentarily behind the lid and quickly switch the two books as you seem to search for a pen. With the duplicate book now in your left hand, raise this hand to the top edge of the lid to steady it, as with your right hand you continue to look for a pen. The book should be at least partially in view above the lid. Search for a few moments more, then pretend to discover the pen, which is waiting conveniently for you in a compartment of the lid, and bring it out with the right hand. Do not rush the switch of the books in the case. Just exchange them calmly and without hesitation. It is also vital that you not look at your left hand at any time during the switch. All you attention should be focused on your right hand as it searches for the pen. Another thing that lends misdirection for this switch is a continuous line of entertaining patter.

Now walk back to your onstage assistant and hand her the pen, asking that she record the number of the selected page on the address side of the sealed envelope (which she still holds), and ask her to lean it against the glass, the side with the page number written on it towards the spectators.

Now hand her the book, requesting her to hold it between the palms of her hands.

The “dirty deed” is done by now and you can concentrate on your presentation of the climax: She opens the book to her selected page and finds out that the page with her initials on is still intact. When she opens the envelope with a pair of scissors, which the performer hands her, she finds no trace of the corner in it.

The routine is very, very easy to do and it nearly works itself. I can assure you that with the proper presentation it causes a mild sensation, so to speak.

I like this routine very much! Especially the subtlety with the steadying of the case with hand and book in view. My only suggestion would be to hand the lady the book along with the pen, your body language suggesting that she use the book as a support for writing on the envelope. She will probably later swear that she was holding the book all the time (if you are bold, you might suggest this verbally when you recapitulate the conditions). Just a thought.