I am proud to be the founding - and currently only - member of THE most exclusive magic society in the world. Now, I know that when you think of magic, a different shape springs to mind. Well, let me explain; The Magic Octagon is very similar to The Magic Circle - it's just a bit rougher round the edges.
When I was very young, I loved the idea of magic. I don't know how old I was, but I can remember being given a magic set one Christmas. It included a black plastic "magician's hat", and someone - I can't remember if it was my mum or my nan - made for me a black cloak (which I would later wear and pretend to be Zorro).
My favourite trick was a 'coin' penetration; a plastic coin was put into a small round container that it would just about fit inside, the lid put on, and eight (plastic) pins were put right through the container, seemingly penetrating the coin. Yet when the pins were taken out and the cap removed, the plastic coin was - gasp - intact. I loved it. I just had one problem; I could not do what I saw magicians on television do. I could not pull a rabbit out of that hat, no matter how hard I tried.
I found myself in the worst possible situation that any would-be magicologist (as I call them) could find themselves in; feeling disillusioned. So, I stopped messing with magic.
Over the years, I paid a passing interest in it; watched it on TV here and there, but that was about it. One day, when I was in my late teens, my brother stood in the doorway of the bedroom we shared, just a few paces from me, held a silk handkerchief in his hand, and made it vanish right in front of my eyes. I had to know how he did it, and he confessed, and I discovered my first proper magicology gimmick.
Move a good few years further on, and I discovered the invisible deck and a drawer box. Every now and then, I'd casually mess around with a trick or two, but then, moving well into my 40s, I suddenly started feeling the magic bug again quite strongly.
When I was growing up, the internet was non-existant, so there was nothing like the easy access to information that there is today. A quick bit of browsing led me to specialist magic shops and dealers, offering professional-standard props, illusions and instructional films.
One of those stores, Alakazam, started running an online 'academy', with interactive, live, lessons, and this fuelled my ambition even further. Inspired by the Alakazam team, and the likes of John Carey and Liam Montier, I've been slowly, but surely, working on developing my magicological skills Unfortunately, I am cursed with 'stubby thumbs' and fairly short fingers, which I was forced to acknowledge when watching a card flourishing tutorial video, and I couldn't do the most basic starting move because my thumb simply wouldn't stretch and reach as far as that of the performer.
But the bottom line is that I have a huge collection of magic I now need to learn, and you never know, I might just end up doing it publicly at some point. I've also become friends with a locally-based performer who has been encouraging me with a view towards building up to a first public performance later in 2019 or early in 2020.
And the best bit? I finally DID manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat. How? Well, to start with, it wasn't a real hat, it was a handkerchief with a picture of a hat on. And it wasn't a real rabbit, it was another handkerchief, with a picture of a rabbit on it. But I did only have one handkerchief in my hand (the hat one) and from "within" that hat, I did pull out a hitherto unseen "rabbit" out of thin air. How did I do it? Well, of course, I can't possibly tell you, other than to say just one thing. It's magic. And, as the Latin motto of The Magic Octagon states, "seeing is believing..."