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By MAX ANDREWS

The British Ring Convention in Edinburgh ended officially at lunchtime on Sunday, at the Assembly Rooms.

The dealers were packed up, and continually parties were saying their last farewell Some of the lucky ones were staying over until Monday however, and they had good reason to be glad about this, for we had had word that Borra, the International Pickpocket, was hurrying over in the afternoon to show to this select audience, a iittle of his wonderful art-

It was rather late when he arrived, for cross country travelling is not easy on Sunday. The Convention Motor Coach was outside full of magicians about to start their night long journey back to London. Then Borra arrived.

Just what they said to the coach driver I do not know, but within a few moments, a load of magicians were scrambling out of the coach again and trooping back into the Assembly Rooms . . . taking the driver with them, to watch the demonsrration!

Borra is certainly a remarkable man, a Czechosfovakian, I believe by birth. He has developed his art along different lines to the conventional, and his blowing of Smoke Rings has to be seen to be believed. He can, with absolute certainty, blow smoke rings in clear, thick, rolling cigarette smoke, at wili. Starting off with a succession of singfes, he then startled us by blowing another smoke ring so that it travelled swiftfy right through the centre of the first one, which had of course, grown larger- At the end of the routine he passed a silk handkerchief right through a smoke ring without breaking it.

He followed up with some beautifully executed manipulations with cards, including arm spreads, throws and catches, etc. Then he gave his routine with bails from the mouth (similar to the eggs) and I must say this was as much like real magic as one could wish for. Primarily, his forte was his misdirection, an art which is almost unknown amongst the majority of magical society magicians in this country. I will not disclose his system here for although I know how he did it, I could not in any case give his routine. Suffice to say that it completefy fooled a number of those present, and was highly entertaining. Every ball came from his mouth with a 'click', and he finished with seven in one hand . . . and the finale was an egg, which was taken from the mouth and straight away cracked into a tumbler !

To finish his show, which was all done within touching distance of those in the front row, Borra demonstrated the art for which he is topping the bill in a big touring circus, namely pickpocketing Here was no wild dashing through the audience, with a subsequent denouemenr on the pFatform, as seen in some performers today. The victims knew they were going to be worked on, and obviously tried to keep track on their belongings, but this was also obviously impossible. Borra would lead his volunteer to the front by holding his wrist, then on taking back a missing pen or pencil, the assistant would find his wrist watch was being offered back with the other hand. As soon as this was secured again Borra offered him his pocket wallet back and when this was tucked away ... he found his watch had gone again ! Ask Tom Harris, and he wili tell you all about it ! Even a hunter watch on the end of a chain did not seem to present any difficulties and his second volunteer was soon in as complete a state of mystification as the first.

His 'piece de resistance' was his removal of a man's necktie whilst he was completely oblivious of the fact that it was missing. Indetectably swift moves combined again with extraordinary misdirection made things possible, and when Borra had finished, he received a big ovation and the grateful thanks of all presenr, for taking so much trouble to come and entertain us in his valuable spare time.

KARACHI, PAKISTAN. Dear Max, August 31st, 1953.

... In the two years that I have been travelling about with the R.A.F. I have visited Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Egypt and now India. I have been reading the "Magic Magazine" all the time, from the very first issue, and as always, I can really say it has kept its own good style, and it makes pleasant and interesting reading. ROGER WEBB.

Alright, dear patient reader, we will legve "The Art of Practicing" alone for a lirtle while, in these pages, that is, for I fervently hope that you have not relaxed in your efforts to improve your style, your handling, your general presentation of the effects you include in your reperroir.

That my comments on the subject have borne at least a little fruit, was made evident to me at Edinburgh Convention, when, after witnessing some litrle close-up effect, one spectator (he shall be nameless, but if he reads this he will surely remember!) turned to me and made some «pointed remarks about "evident lack of practice". His comments went on for quite a while and I found myself listening to, almost, a complete repetition of all the things I have outlined in my first articles! He finally admitted that, although he'd known about it all for years, he had read about it recently "somewhere or orher". Such is life! Maybe he had forgotten where he had read it, on the other hand he may not have known to whom he was speaking. Could be! Such is life! At any rate, he acknowledges that there is something in "The Art of Practicing" and I hope there are others besides him.

Now to some odds and ends. Back to December 20th, 1952, when Abracadabra No. 360 was published. On page 342 of that issue Ken Bowel I gave us what he was pleased to call a puzzle, and it may be that the "puzzle angle" has caused it to lie buried among a lot of other good material. I know lots of conjurers who detest puzzles and ! have met lofs of laymen with a similar distaste. Puzzles tax one's patience and if one does not possess the necessary patience to be taxed, then puzzles get the push-off I have folded and manipulated dozens of cigarette packets since I read Ken's article—(which shows that I do have a lirtle patience)—and I have been surprised at the number of acknowledged readers of the said Magical Weekly (please spell that last word correctly, Mr. Printer!) who admitted that they had not read the article, or, because it was just a puzzle, had not taken any further interest.

In the beginning I presented it as a feat of concentration, allowing the folds to slowly close up—patience, gentle readers, details will appear in a moment—and this in itself was fascinating to watch but I felt that it needed that raison d'etre, or to speak plain English, the excuse for the doing of. The idea duly appeared and results show that it has been worth while. That at least has been the opinion of Ken de Courcy, who knows a good thing when he sees it, and the several magicians at the British Ring Convention, to whom I presented already-folded-apparatus. I am sure that Coodliffe wont mind my mentioning it here, for I've had to menrion Abracadabra to do it! and I'm more than certain that Ken Bowell will be gratified if he finds more magi carrying around folded cigarette packets than heretofore. So, here goes.

Take from an empty ten-size cigarette packet the inner sliding drawer, and carefully tear off the side pieces. Stretched out, you will find that you have a length of cardboard with three creases at one end and only two ai the other, the original bottom end of the drawer. You will need to make an extra fold at this end to tally with the top end, and these six sections, three at each end, are folded zig-zag fashion on to the centre portion of the drawer. See figure 1.

With these six sections folded in, the whole is then folded again once, across the zig-zag portions, to give the effect shown in Figure 1. My apologies to Dennis here. I have not actually copied his sketch, but find it difficult to illustrate the folds without having appeared to do so. How else could one clearly illustrate the set-up?

Now open our the folds, but do not flatten them, indeed the effect works best if the drawer is left slightly zig-zag, as in Fig. 2. Now take up the card by the thumb and forefinger, the tips of which are placed at the very centres of the card's edges, marked

"X" in Figure 2 If you will gently, very gently, squeeze towards the middle of the card, you will find the ends gradually closing up, then partly opening out again, and finally closing down to give the position shown in Figure 1.

At first you will be inclined to close the folds too rapidly, and I suggest that you allow the side of the first finger to rest and press on the adjacent side of the second finger, which, while taking no part in the operation, will help to steady the firsi finger. After a few attempts you will be able to manipulate the card so that it folds up very very slowly and, weirdly at that. ALWAYS CLOSE THE FOLDS AND OPEN OUT THE CARD AGAIN BEFORE ATTEMPTING THE EFFECT. This sort of 'sets' the folds and makes for easier handling.

Weli that is how I was presenting it, as against the idea Ken Bowell gave of setting the spectator the puzzle of folding the card, using finger and thumb only. Some would try, some wouldn't, and I found that I got a better response if I asked the spectator to gaze at the centre of the card and concentrate as I held the card and slowly squeezed the sides. The look of amazement in the spectator's face, as the ends slowly zig-zagged their way into the centre was worth while. You may like it at that, but I think that the following presentation is better

Having folded the card and opened it out again, sketch out in the best manner you can, the picture of a snake. This can all be done in front of your audience and boch the sketching and the folding of the card all tend to claim interest. The head should occupy one end of the card and the tail the other. See Figure 3. Crease the card, opening it out again and hold it almost upright, that is, so that the snake is almost verticle. Now you commence to patter as follows:—

"Have you ever watched a snake go to sleep?" (Any reference to snoopers, income-tax collectors, mother-in-law, enemies, etc., can be inserted here, bur I prefer to leave them out, and get on with the effect). "No? Well, now is your opportunity. The snake, contrary to general belief, prefers to lie on his back." (Gag here about some preferring to lie behind your back). "He carefully inspects his bed to see that everything is O.K." (By now the first folds should have turned over) "Make sure that his tail is tucked well in, then lays his head upon the pillow" (Top end has opened out again)" and, feeling mighty comfortable closes his eyes and says "GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY, GOOD NIGHT".

SLEEPING SNAKE'

SLEEPING SNAKE'

By the time you reach the final words rhe card should be fully closed, and, if your experience is the same as mine, you will often be asked to 'do it again'. When this request comes, or even when it doesn't, I open out the card and lay it upon the table, FACE DOWN, partering as follows:— "You have heard that a snake often strikes like lightning. Well some go to sleep the same way, like lightning. Watch!" You take the card by the finger and thumb, as before, and quickly turn it face up, at the same time, squeezing the sides very quickly. By the time you get the card turned over, it will be fully closed up, indeed the closing is sometimes so quick that ir can hardly be followed by the eye. Try it.

(Continued on Page 206).

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