May I Borrow A Book

PETER WARLOCK

THE NUMBER of book tests where the mentalist is able to borrow a book from his host are few. At the time I first used this {way back in 1942) it was, to the best of my belief, unique in so far that no conditions were imposed regarding the choice of word or words that the mentalist ultimately divines. It is an ideal effect for impromptu performance.

The Effect.

The mentalist (assuming that he is working in a house rather than on a platform) asks for the loan of a book. After receiving it he glances through it and tells his audience the number of pages it contains. With the supposition that the number is two hundred and fifty, he requests that a number not greater than that be given him by a member of his audience. Let's suppose that the number given is " forty-two." The mentalist turns to this page which he mentions is flanked by page forty-three. " You have the choice of both these pages" he informs his audience, casually showing those near him that he has opened the book at the pages mentioned. He then places the book, still opened, page side down on the table.

A member of the audience is invited to assist and with his help forthcoming the performer takes from his pocket a visiting card and a pencil. To the assistant he says: —

" I want you to stand with your back to my table directly in front of the book which I shall turn over so that the selected pages forty-two and forty-three are uppermost. By putting your arm behind you you are in a position to touch the surface of either page. I shall give you a pencil and when I have walked to the furthest corner of the room and I give you the signal, I want you to draw a small circle, like this (here the performer draws a small circle on the visiting card), on either of the pages."

The mentalist now places the spectator in front of the book and then hands him the pencil. Next he walks away and when he has reached the furthest point he tells the spectator to make the pencil ring on one of the pages of the book. When it is apparent that the assistant has completed his little task, the mentalist walks up to him and asks him for the return of the pencil. With it the mentalist starts writing on the visiting card. When he has finished he folds it in half and hands it to a member of the audience. The mentalist now motions the assistant to his seat, then picking up the book.

" Ladies and gentlemen," he goes on, " a borrowed book . . . two pages selected by one of you ... a marking made in the dark . . . also by one of you." The book is now handed to a spectator with a request that he looks at the word or words encircled by the assistant's pencilled circle and reads them aloud. The result may be something like this: —

" And now," this to the spectator holding the folded visiting card, " will you please read aloud what I have written?" The spectator then reads out " e . . . c a s e . . . w!"

The Requirements.

Any borrowed book.

A joke pencil that will not write.

A Nail Writer.

A Visiting Card.

The Preparation.

Nail writer in position on thumb, visiting card and pencil in pocket.

The Presentation.

The performer asks for the loan of a book and with this forthcoming the choice of page is asked for and the book is opened at that point. Should by chance there be a blank page, ask for another selection, at the same time giving the reason. Those nearest the performer are allowed to see that the book has been opened at the page number given, and before placing the book on the table it is raised so that the pages are shielded from the audience. At the same time the assistance of a member of the audience is requested by the mentalist. There is a little more to it than what I have said. As the performer shows the pages to the audience he notes and remembers the word immediately above the thumbtip. As he brings the book into an upright postion he rings a circle round it using the nail writer. If the word is short he includes the final letter or letters of the previous word and also the first letter of the following word. Don't try and rush this. As the assistant walks forward the book is placed still open, pages down upon the table.

Taking the visting card and fake pencil from his pocket and using the patter given in the "effect," the performer, holding the pencil near the point, appears to draw a circle on the visiting card. Actually it is the nail writer which does the work. The card is slipped into the pocket and the pencil is handed to the spectator whilst the performer walks away. When the assistant has performed his brief task, the performer takes back the pencil and sends the assistant back to his seat. Once again, using the nail writer technique the performer writes on the card the letters he circled and memorised. The card is folded and handed to a spectator whilst the pencil is slipped into the pocket.

The effect nears its climax. The book is handed to a spectator to read out the word or words circled; the other spectator with the visiting card reading out in confirmation the mentalist's correct divination.

RECENTLY Goodliffe wrote an editorial in countless societies throughout the breadth which he gave thought to the spawning of of this country. Nobody would deny the good fellowship of any magical society, nor for that matter the pleasure gained from meeting those of a similar interest, but unfortunately in many cases the smaller society aims, perhaps unconsciously, at a lower standard of performance. On the other hand don't let it be thought that the largest society maintains, all the time, the highest standards. A visit to The Magic Circle Theatre on a Monday evening is sometimes only for the staunch hearted for there, despite its enormous library, its excellent lecturers and the example set by so many of its members there are some who take the stage without the necessary clue. The magical society in one phase must have a bad influence on magic, and this is the phase, namely that a bad magician can have an audience and what is more an audience who will overlook every fault because they think that the performer is doing his best. If it is their best, then what the worst is like we don't know. Quite recently we sat through ten acts, three of which were well up to standard. Of the other seven we would say little, but with the many textbooks dealing with stagecraft and presentation we fail to understand any adult performer coming on to a stage with one loaded table and then during the performance placing used articles on the floor!

Both the Vernon Card Book and Tarbell Volume Seven are under way. Lew Ganson, now a civilian is immersed in the former whilst Doc. Tarbell writes saying that he hopes volume seven will be ready by the end of this year. Both of the books should be excellent' buys.'

When some while back we gave a talk on magical literature at the National Book League, we instanced the Vernon Book of Magic as an outstanding example of magic and publishing. We also had a display of books on magic and this particular volume had pride of place. In our own opinion it stands on its own and yet we have heard magicians say that there is nothing new in it. What do some people want? We think that we have read most of what Vernon has published. We have read his lecture notes and seen the famous manuscript. Nowhere in these has his handling of the effects described been equalled.

Congratulations to Larry Barnes on the production of his play the " Gimmick " at the Related Arts Club in Park Lane. The story of a magician and magicians, it brought to light the histrionic talent of Bobby Bernard. His performance, according to the reports we have seen, took first-class honours.

We can think of no other nation which, like Russia, seeks to encourage the best among its people. Whether the field be that of art, music, sport or science, the standard always aimed is the best. One development which has just come to our notice through the medium of our good friend Horace King, is that there is in Moscow, ready for opening, a School of Variety. At this school the various types of estrada (variety) acts are taught and coached. David Chitashvili who toured this country last summer and who will never be forgotten for his handling of the appearing and vanishing bowl of water will be one of its professors. In this capacity he will teach the art of illusion. The age limit for entrance into the school is thirty.

Kalanag continues to get first-class notices during his Continental tour. A performance at Copenhagen before Prince Knud and the Prime Minister brought much treasured letters expressing the pleasure that this master of mystery had given to the writers.

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