The Beach in South Africa

prediction or mind reading feat. The locals were superstitious and he knew that he could use that to his advantage. The routines he performed within the sophisticated atmosphere of the hotel would take on a far darker meaning if performed elsewhere.

One thing that attracted his attention was the work of the local shark fishermen. When they caught sharks in their nets, they were crated in long wooden boxes and then taken via truck to the fish factory for processing. The truck was of unusual design in that it had a deep well in its base where a box could be stored. When the truck appeared to be carrying a single wooden box it was actually carrying two, the second box being hidden directly under the first. It was, David noticed, just like a funeral hearse. Not many people realise that hearses are built to take two coffins and that one lies directly beneath the other. After dropping off a coffin at one funeral the hearse can drive off to another, the body already on board. It's one of those secrets that the funeral business likes to keep to itself.

When the owner of the hotel asked David to dream up a publicity stunt he immediately persuaded the fishermen to cooperate with him and bring along their truck, two boxes and a freshly caught shark, a creature that the locals associated with native medicines and, of course, witchcraft.

On the day of the performance Bob Holness gathered a crowd and introduced the Alan of Mystery. The truck drove into view and David climbed aboard. The side panels were raised and David got into the box. The two men who nailed the lid on the box were shark fishermen and knew about the hidden well in the base of the truck. They also knew that it contained a second box inside of which was a shark they had caught earlier that day.

As the box was being nailed shut the rear panel of the truck was raised. The box was now obscured from the view of the surrounding crowd. At this point the two men slid David's box to one side and hauled the shark box out of the well, placing it momentarily on the opposite side of the truck. David's box was then lowered into the well and the shark box placed on top. It was smelly and claustrophobic inside but, as David points out, no worse than many other

An escape from a Houdini packing case during David's 1960 appearance in South Africa.

stunts he has attempted.

The truck drove away towards the water. No one in the crowd was sure what was going to happen but the implication was that the box was going to be thrown into the sea for a dramatic escape stunt. But before the truck reached the waves the commentator called it back. When it reached the crowd the panels on the sides of the truck were let down and two ordinary members of the public, two nervous looking locals, were handed crowbars and told to get David out of the box as quickly as possible. Not being prepared for the task they were somewhat flustered and their struggles served to heighten the drama. Finally, when they got the lid free, they were absolutely shocked when they saw the shark wriggling about inside. It was only a baby shark but their terror was genuine and they fled the beach as quickly as they could leaving the rest of the crowd a little nervous and shouting to them for an explanation.

Finally the two fishermen climbed aboard the truck and gently tipped the box forward so that the crowd could take a look inside. They were amazed when they saw the shark and could find no sign of David. Bob promised them that this was only one of many incredible feats the extraordinary David Berglas could do and that he'd be appearing nightly at the Beach Hotel with more wonderful miracles.

The shark, however, was not so fortunate. This was its first and last appearance in show business and though it briefly considered a career as an agent, having heard that they had a lot in common, ultimately it was destined for the fish market.

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