I am proud to be the founding - and currently only - member of THE most exclusive magic society in the world. When you think of magic, a round shape springs to mind. Well, my 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 magicologicalistical meddler could find themselves in; I was disillusioned. So, I packed away my wand and was, I thought, done with it.
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 magicologicalistic gimmick.
Move a few years further on, and I discovered the invisible deck and a drawer box. 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 didn't exist, so there was nothing like the easy access to information that there is today. Now in middle-age, I soon found a wide world of specialist magic shops and dealers on the web, offering professional-standard props, illusions and instructional films.
One outlet, Alakazam, launched an online 'academy', with interactive, live, lessons, and this fuelled my ambition even further. Inspired by the Alakazam team, especially Peter and Andy, and the likes of John Carey, Liam Montier, Paul Gordon, Ben Williams, Jamie Daws, Mark Traversoni and others, I've been slowly working on developing my magicologicalistical skills, while spending far too much money amassing a large collection of props and effects.
I've conquered the psychological setback of accepting I had short stubby thumbs and short fingers (I don't think I'll be causing Dynamo or Shin Lim any sleepless nights when it comes to my flourishing cardistry!) and am making slow but deliberate progress. Every time I think "I'm never going to be any good at this", I get inspired or motivated by another member of the magic family, for it is an incredibly supportive community. Full-time, highly-experienced professionals, like Wayne Goodman, Jayne Corrigan and Noel Britten, have welcomed my interest and enthusiasm, despite being a humble hobbyist. I have found it to be an incredibly warm and inclusive community. I only wish I had come across it much earlier in life. But better late than never.
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..."