by Wally Boyce

This is just a quick little gag/bit of business. How or when you use it is entirely a matter of choice.

The scenario is this. At some point in the act the magician asks the audience, "Have you ever seen an elephant fly?". . .

.. .After a slight pause the wizard continues, "Well! This is an elephant fly!" and so saying, produces, magically or otherwise, a very long ZIP FASTENER!


— Recollections of Horace Spencer, as told by his friend and associate Dick Turpin to Walt Lees.

Horace Spencer was the brother of Stanley Spencer the famous painter. He seems to have been in many ways the "black sheep" of the family, prefering to spend much of his time busking around the London pubs. He was by all accounts a very fine magician, especially in the rough and tumble atmosphere of publand in the 1930's depression.

It was during this time that he met up with Dick Turpin and they decided to work together as a team. He taught Dick many of his own effects and together they survived those difficult years. It is interesting to compare the work of Horace Spencer with that of the legendary Max Malini. Both were opportunists, quick to take advantage of any situation, in which they found themselves. Also both were adept at creating situations and secretly preparing well in advance for something that would seemingly be done "impromptu".

Here are a couple of examples of how Spencer would prepare for a piece of "impromptu" magic. And how he would use it to advantage.

The Vanishing Cane

Spencer always carried a vanishing cane, ready for use. He would treat it as a normal walking stick and would casually put it in the umberella stand of any pub, that he happened to be working. Whether or not the cane that he used was a spring steel one, or whether one of the older type, which had to be pushed closed, is not clear. Nor is it important. What matters is the way in which the cane was utilised to Spencer's financial advantage.

If the particular pub happened to play well, and there were rich pickings, Spencer would depart, "absent mindedly" leaving his stick behind. This would provide him with a perfect excuse to return the next day and enquire whether he had left it there. He would then go and find it in the hat stand, all the time conversing with the barman from across the room. Naturally everybody would be aware of him, because of his raised voice.

When he found the cane, he would make some remark to the effect that it was a very expensive one and that he did not want to risk losing it, so he had better send it home now. As he said this, he would make sure that plenty of people were watching, and vanish the cane.

In this way, he was able to row himself into that lucrative establishment on two successive occasions. Normally most publicans would not give a busker permission to work their premises as frequently as that.

The Rubber Eggs

Although it was no doubt possible to obtain magicians rubber eggs at the time, Spencer preferred to make his own. He would obtain small, white balloons from toy shops and partially inflate them. In this state, they closely resembled the peeled, hard boiled eggs, which were sold in some pubs at that time. These were frequently displayed in large bowls of pickle vinegar on the counter.

Spencer would walk into the pub and, while the barman was serving another customer, would quietly drop three of the partially inflated balloons amongst the eggs.

He would then order his drink, usually selecting something that was near the other end of the bar. Then, when the barman went to get it, while he was as far away as possible, Spencer would call out to him, "I will have three of these eggs as well. Have you got a bag to put them in?" Setting things up in this way gave Spencer a pretext for talking in a loud voice, causing several people to look in his direction. When he "noticed" them looking, he would address them to the effect that he always enjoyed a pickled egg or two for his supper. He would continue to converse with them, until the barman returned with his drink and the bag (apparently pubs used to have paper bags to wrap snacks in, in those days). Spencer would then carefully select his three balloons from the bowl, drop them delicately into the bag, and then appear to be at a loss as to what to do with it. Finally, with some comment that he had better send the eggs home now, he would screw up the bag, bursting the balloons in the process. Quite how he did this cleanly is not clear. Perhaps he had a convenient pin concealed somewhere. Alternatively he may have set fire to it. Again this is not important. The lesson is how he used this very simple means to attract the attention of the whole company and row himself in.

In the next issue we will tell you how he managed to get himself into the lounges of pubs where buskers were only permitted in the public bars. Also we will tell you how he used to throw money away in the street!


by Paul Hallas

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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