The Edinburgh Radio Prediction


WITH THE thought in mind that on a number of occasions readers may require a prediction that can be used effectively for publicity purposes I am explaining one that I have used most successfully on a number of occasions.

I think I am right in saying that I was the first magician to make use of a headline prediction in this country. There was nothing in the way of a pioneering effort about this, for America had led the field in this particular phase of mental magic. My own effort was immediately after the war, and the method that I used and later published in the * Linking Ring,' though effective, did not fully satisfy me. In 1948, at the British Ring Convention at Bournemouth, I used a method which I had evolved, and one, which for the time being, I do not wish to publish. This had some very strong points but necessitated the preliminary part of the prediction being done publicly.

My mind had always revolted at the idea of using a prediction written on a microscopic piece of paper contained in a box large enough to hold a pair of shoes, and so with each of the predictions I have mentioned I had tried to get away from such a drawback.

In 1949 I was struck by the thought that for purposes such as these what one wanted was a prediction which, when unfolded, could be read by a number, i.e., say a piece of black paper, poster size. I gave the matter quite a deal of consideration and at the same time thought how very good it would be if the prediction were seen by the audience prior to the event which was forecast, taking place! Quite obviously this wrote off the usual newspaper headline, but it made allowance for something even better—a radio news summary!

With the definite plot in mind plus the idea of using a very large display sheet for the prediction I settled down to work on the idea, but it was not until 1951 that I put it into effect, the occasion being a demonstration of psychic magic by members of the Occult Committee of The Magic Circle at the Medical School of St. Thomas's Hospital. As predictions are meant to be used sparingly 1 put it aside, not using it until May, 1952, at Bide-ford. It was used there to help the Devon Convention with publicity and it did not fail. Bill Stickland who was in the audience was very impressed with it and it was agreed to use it at one of the succeeding Conventions. And thus it came about that at the Edinburgh Convention in 1953 it was used on the night of the Civic Reception and through the medium of the Press helped to launch this particular Convention with sound publicity. Most interesting was the manner in which a number of papers accepted the fact that it was a genuine prediction and not a clever trick. Bill Brown that indefatigable talker and columnist made quite a feature of it in a Sunday paper adding that..." there are more things in Heaven and Earth, etc."

Let me explain exactly what happens.

A week before the prediction is scheduled to take place, a local dignatory or Press representative is asked to co-operate and in order that everything shall be in order a number of witnesses shall be present. The magician or his representative takes from a case a large envelope. From the inside he removes a peculiar looking object. This object consists, so he tells the onlookers, of a folded sheet of black paper held prisoner between two sheets of transparent plastic. The pieces of plastic 'are fastened at /the edges with medical adhesive tape, all joints being sealed with sealing

wax. One of the sheets of plastic has an opening cut away. The whole think looks something like Figure 1.

One further thing and that is a large white label is attached to the black paper and coincides with an opening in the plastic. This is quite clear in the illustration. There is an addition to the label. By means of a small piece of cellophane, a square of paper one and a half inches square is affixed so that it forms a hinge. Later a mark will be made on the label at the point where, when this little hinge is laid flat and sealed, such mark is concealed.

The performer or his representative stress the fact that so that there is no possibility of substitution, the sheet of paper must be marked in a way that will prohibit such a thing. First of all the local bigwig is asked to sign his name on the exposed part of the label, and then whilst the magician or his representative turns his back, make a secret mark beneath the hinge, then sealing the latter into position with a piece of adhesive paper which is given to them.

With this done the whole thing is replaced in the large envelope, the flap of which is stuck down, seals being placed across the joints and signet rings applied. The envelope, in this condition, is placed in safe custody with the further request that on the night of-it shall be brought to the performer at-.

The great night arrives. On the stage a few minutes before a news bulletin is due to go on the air, the performer stands. On his left there is a radio set and with about four minutes in hand he commences his spiel. With a minute and a half gone he asks for the envelope. The seals are checked and it is opened, the plastic container being removed. Cutting away the tape and seals, the sheets of folded paper are taken out, the signer on the label being asked to check his signature. He is then asked to tell the audience the nature of the secret mark under the hinged flap. He does so and the performer asks him to tear away the flap and confirm the fact that such a mark is there. This is done, and without the folded sheet of paper leaving the audience's sight it is unfolded. On the inside, written in chalk, are five predictions. The sheet of paper is tacked to a blackboard by means of drawing pins.

The time should now be 45 seconds off the hour. Quickly the performer reads aloud each prediction and then he switches on the radio set to full volume. There should be time for the fade out of the item preceding the news bulletin. The announcer's voice comes through . . . ' This is the

-o'clock news, etc.' As he reads the various headings in the summary, the performer scores them through with chalk on the large sheet of paper. Needless to say each and everyone is correct.

The Explanation Begins. The reader of this bulletin is well aware of certain things relating to the modus operandi of the headline type of prediction. Two main courses are open to him. The first is a clever substitution of a sheet of paper, or an envelope or some similar container containing the actual details of (say) a current newspaper headline, for the similar object that has been left in safe custody some days or weeks before. The other is the introduction, or apparent introduction of a paper bearing the headline into some container which has been left in safe custody for a similar period and to which there would seem no form of access. Into this last class we have that colossus of mental mediocrity, the Prediction Chest with its outsized fake key.

In the prediction to be described there is no switch, but the prediction is added in a rather novel way. Before describing the actual apparatus, let me say something about the items to be predicted. When I first got the idea of using a Radio News Summary, I had in mind the matter of recording these items on tape, doing all that was necessary regarding the technical side of the prediction and within a matter of some 20 seconds, reproducing the tape via means of an amplifier as the actual broadcast. There is little need for me to point out to the reader the very many snags that could arise were such a course of action taken. It was then that I realised that I was wasting time for in this country the reader will find that apart from the last minute introduction of some national or international disaster or urgent event, the seven o'clock news, is almost a repeat of the six o'clock news, whilst the ten o'clock is a repeat of the nine o'clock. Quite often there is little alteration over the course of the four bulletins, only the minor happenings being dropped from the later ones. With this knowledge it was obvious that if I could so time my prediction for either seven o'clock or ten o'clock, all the details that I required would be available an hour earlier. If the reader is using it as a newspaper headline prediction then he has all that he wants hours before the opening of the prediction paper.

Now let us deal with the make-up of the prediction paper itself. First of all you will require some sheets of black pasting paper. Take one which should measure 16 inches by 24 and crease it and fold it as in Figure 2.

The resultant rectangular packet should measure approximately eight inches by six. Incidentally the side pieces should come over first and care should be taken that the folding is even all the time, so that a perfect rectangle of black paper results. Now open up the paper, keeping in mind that part which is shaded in Figure 3.

Obtain a piece of tin sheeting and cut a piece measuring seven and three-quarter inches by five and three-quarter inches. See that it is well flattened and place it on that part of the paper I have shaded. Another piece of black paper is cut to the size shown in the drawing and applied to the protruding tabs with glue. These are stuck to the paper around the tin plate so that the latter is trapped within a pocket. When the glue has dried, the nature of the paper kills the overlaying tabs and to all but a close inspection, the reader has one sheet of black paper. This sheet is now re-folded, care being taken that the section of the paper containing the sheet tin lies at the back of the packet.

A piece of corrugated cardboard is now cut to exactly the same size as the folded rectangle of black paper and as shown in Figure 4.

Four segments are cut away, each being of such a size as to accommodate a strong bar magnet of the Alnico type. Their thickness should be no greater than the corrugated card. Alternatively if the performer has to resort to a thicker magnet, then the corrugated board must be built up to the same thickness as the magnets.

With the rectangles cut away to hold the magnets, the latter are inserted and a piece of the black pasting paper is taken and glued around the corrugated board so that the magnets are kept in postion. In fixing the black paper to the board an attempt should be made to produce a semblance of the folded sheet of paper.

When the gimmick is dry, a piece of white paper measuring nine inches by four is pasted to it so that it looks like Figure 5.

Further, with the aid of a piece of cellotape or gummed paper tape, the little hinged piece of paper is added.

Most of the preparation is done. You will however require two pieces of talc, celluloid or thin perspex. Actually I use talc. These pieces should measure 10 inches by 8 inches. From one piece a window measuring three inches by seven inches is cut away. Its relationship is with the label on the gimmicked cardboard so in cutting it away see that when the various items are placed together they are in register.

With this chore completed and some adhesive tape at hand you are ready for the final preparations. Place the non-window piece of talc on the table and on top of it the black covered gimmick, label side uppermost. On top of this with the window in alignment goes the talc with the window. If you have a stapling machine, staple the edges of the talc together at each corner and also at the sides. This helps to stop any bulge. Pieces of adhesive tape are then placed along the sides as shown in the first illustration. Finally the points where the adhesive tape overlap are sealed with sealing wax.

You are ready at this stage for handing over the prediction, the only extra accessory being a stout envelope large enough to hold it. With these items and some sealing wax, you enter the room where the men of integrity are gathered to assist you.

First of all the head man is asked to write his signature on the label. This done, he is further requested to take the packet and make a secret mark, which will be covered when the little hinge is pulled down. When this is complete he is asked to seal the hinge in place with a piece of sellotape or adhesive tape.

The whole thing is now slipped inside the large envelope which in turn is sealed and left in safe custody and the added instructions that it be brought along on the night. You can breathe freely until the night you intend undoing the prediction.

Now your preparations for the night in question. First of all you will require a blackboard and easel. This should be on the performer's left. Into the blackboard near the right hand top corner are stuck four or five drawing pins. Actually you only require two, but in the excitement there is a chance of dropping these fiddling little things and there is no time to be lost in the indignity of picking something up from the floor. A table should be centre stage.

You also require a copy of the current " Radio Times " (or if a headline prediction the necessary newspaper) a piece of chalk and a pair of scissors. These last two items are slipped into the right hand pocket. For the radio prediction there should be a reliable radio set on the stage. This should be to the left of the easel. On the right of the stage a chair should be available.

An hour before the opening phase of the prediction is due to commence, switch on the radio in a room well apart from the main hall where the prediction is to take place. As the News Summary is about to come up, stand by with a pencil or pen and paper. Have a spare pen or pencil right at hand in case ink runs dry or a point of lead breaks. Mark your sheet of paper 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. You don't want to overload this prediction.

Immediately the announcer starts, listen intently and write down briefly but legibly the content of each headline. Switch off the set and take the folded sheet of paper that contains the sheet tin. Open this paper out and preferably with chemical chalk or alternatively by damping an ordinary stick of chalk (both prevent smudging when the paper is re-folded) print on the paper in large letters the items concerned given by the announcer. Now refold the paper once more into a rectangular packet. You should not have taken more than five or six minutes over this so that between now and your appearance you have nearly 50 minutes to kill. Relax for half-an-hour and then take hold of the " Radio Times." Slip the folded piece of black paper inside between the last two pages, as shown in Figure 6.

which should flank him on the left. He casually flicks the folded portion back so that the whole thing lies flat, the folded black paper protruding slightly at the back. If the reader thinks that there is attendant risk through this visibility then I suggest that he has a black cover on the table. Actually as the attention of the audience is never focussed upon the table, I wouldn't worry very much about this point.

Then fold the rest of the magazine over so that it looks like Figure 7.

The gentleman with the prediction is invited on to the stage and seated on the performers right. He is asked whether he has it safely with him and also whether it has been out of safe custody since it was handed over.

After satisfactory replies the envelope is taken from him and he is asked to verify the seals. Taking the scissors the envelope is cut open and the contents removed. The helper is shown the contents and is asked whether there has been any alteration. Again a negative. The envelope is placed aside and then taking the scissors once more the performer cuts through the talc and adhesive tape on one side. Through this opening he reaches in and withdraws the contents. With the remark to the helper, " You can see that this was quite a transparent but strong container," the performer passes the talc envelope to the helper with the right hand whilst the left hand places the gimmick on to the table positioning it immediately above the folded sheet of paper protruding from the Radio Times.



You have now made all the arrangements necessary and you only await the clock hands coming up to the time you appear and take over on the platform.

Walk on to the stage or platform holding the Radio Times with the right hand. That part of the folded black paper which protrudes from the cover is thus well hidden. The action of holding is a natural one, much as one carries a book. The performer receives attention and possibly applause which he acknowledges and at this point he places the Radio Times and its contents on to the table,

The talc envelope is then taken back and also placed aside. " As you no doubt are aware," says the performer, " the atmosphere is filled with electronic waves. This little magazine ..." (The performer turns half left, his body coming between the helper and the table, stoops silghtly and with his right hand he takes hold of the " Radio Times " whilst the fingers of the left hand come down firmly on the edge of the gimmick. The " Radio Times " is pulled away and the gimmick lies almost perfectly aligned with the folded paper, the pull of the magnets on the tin making this move an easy one. There musn't be the slightest hesitation and as the right hand moves away the paper, and the body turns front, the left hand follows it, taking hold of the paper on the left side so that the action appears as though both hands picked up the " Radio Times ") "... gives just a slight example of how many things fill the air. One thing that this phase of science has brought us is the hour to hour happenings spread throughout the world. I have attempted to predict much ahead of time what certain of these happenings will be." (Whilst speaking the performer has idly turned the pages of the paper. He places the paper aside.)

"This gentleman here in the company of . . . , etc., was good enough to take care of this prediction that I made some . . . days ago." (At this point the performer once more turns half left, again killing the view between helper and table, and with both hands takes hold of gimmick and prediction on the folded sheet. The right hand goes to the right corner nearest the audience whilst the left goes to the left corner furthest from the audience. The right hand second finger presses in against the long side whilst the thumb performs a similar action on the short side. Similarly the left hand finger and thumb react against their respective sides. The result is that this pressure brings about perfect alignment of folded paper and gimmick in a fraction of a second and both paper and gimmick are picked up and, in turning front, the label side of the gimmick is kept to the audience. The right hand covers most of the side of the gimmick and fake and the performer now turns half left and addresses the helper.) " First of all sir, will you give the audience your word that this is the same signature that you affixed some -days ago." The answer is in the affirmative. " Secondly, sir, you made a secret mark, hiding it with this little flap . . . will you please tell the audience what form that mark took?" The helper tells. " Now, sir, (the performer tears away the flap) is that the same mark?" Again an affirmative reply.

The performer now turns full front and at this moment there should be about a minute in hand. Holding the flap of the folded black paper at the back he allows the labelled gimmick to go to the rear as the sheet is then opened out. The effect is most deceptive and there is no fear that the gimmick will fall off. The sheet is now pinned to the blackboard and the performer points to his various predictions enumerating them one at a time.

He moves across to the Radio Set and switches on the sound. Then comes the fade out of the programme preceding the delivery of the news and then the News Summary.

Quite obviously if you are doing a newspaper headline prediction you will need a copy of the current newspaper and not a copy of the Radio Times.

The reader will have to excuse the long windedness of this contribution, but it was essential that no point of importance should be omitted, and from my own point of view in a magic undertaking such as this, every point in preparation and presentation is vital, for the publicity prediction is something that cannot be fully rehearsed.

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