The Press Club Prediction

In 1972 Thk London Press Cu b celebrated its 90th anniversary with a party aboard a brand new, £10 million cruise ship, The Spirit of I ,ondon. The event was organised by David's agent at that time. Lew Grade, later Lord Grade, and broadcast on television. David Berglas had prepared a special stunt to entertain. I remember it well. I watched it on television and it was the first time I had seen David perform. I've had to wait until now to learn how I, the viewers, and hundreds of Britain's top journalists were baffled. Here's what we saw:

The guests were seated at tables in the ship's lounge. David was introduced and 11 ugh Cudlipp, the chairman of the LPC selected three gentlemen from the audience to act as volunteers. David asked the first volunteer to take some items from his pockets and lay them on the table. As he began placing objects on the table, comb, wallet, watch, keys and so on he was encouraged to borrow items from others and add them to the pile until there were twelve items in total.

From these twelve he selected just one, a credit card. But as the volunteer picked it up from the table he accidentally knocked over a small bottle and the liquid spilled onto the floor. It was one of those awkward moments, an accident on live television, but David didn't let it affect the performance.

The second man was asked to choose a newspaper from among a number on offer. And from the paper he chose a page and from the page a phrase. At every stage he was given an opportunity to change his mind but finally he chose the words, "Prices Stabilised."

Next several members of the audience were asked to think of numbers and write them down on a pad. The pad was passed to the third volunteer who was asked to total them. He almost didn't. His pen had dried up and David had to lend him his. Finally though he did succeed and arrived at the number 17,370. "Really?" said David, surprised. "That's remarkable because that also happens to be the exact gross tonnage of this ship." The captain who was seated nearby confirmed that this was true. What a strange coincidence!

From an audience of hundreds three volunteers had been chosen at random. Between them they had selected an object, a phrase and a number. No one could have predicted those choices. Or could they? David pointed to a large envelope that had been in full view of the audience at all times. It was enclosed within a glass globe set upon a tall pedestal.

The ptirser of the ship, looking very smart in his uniform, lifted the globe and opened the envelope. Inside was a Press Release. He read it out aloud. It contained an account of the evening and three predictions. First that a credit card would be chosen. Second that the chosen words would be "Prices Stabilised." And third that the number 17,370 "the exact gross tonnage of the Spirit of London" would be arrived at.

The audience applauded but there was more to come. And this is the touch that, for me, made it most memorable. The purser continued to read out the Press Release:

The evening was not without incident for. Mystery. Man David Berg/as. For though apparently he could successfully look into the future, he could not possibly have known that one of the volunteers would accidentally knock over a bottle, or another would have trouble with a felt pen that had dried up!

And what was especially puzzling for followers of such things was the fact that the Press Release was printed. It had obviously been prepared some time in advance. The audience applauded enthusiastically. And so did I.

Revelations: For this event David had combined two of his favourite routines, his own presentation of Magician's Choice and his Newspaper Prediction with a version of the Add-A-Number Pad to produce a very strong triple prediction. You'll find descriptions of Magician's Choice and the Newspaper Prediction elsewhere in this book.

All the routines involved forces and this meant that David could use a printed prediction in the form of a Press Release. But he strengthened the predictions even further by introducing two "accidents" into the routine; the bottle and the pen. It was an ingenious strategy that not only baffled the audience but magicians as well.

The accident with the bottle was brought about with the aid of a length of thread. The table upon which the accident was to happen was a heavy low coffee table and David had stretched a thread across it and anchored it to the leg of a nearby chair. The thread lay against the tabletop where it was unobserved until required. Near the thread he had placed a bottle, a small coin under its base so that it would later tip over easily.

The performance was choreographed so that the volunteer had to reach across the table for the credit card. As he did so, and his elbow neared the bottle, David pulled the thread and tipped the bottle over. The timing was perfect and it genuinely looked as if the volunteer himself had knocked the bottle over. In fact the volunteer was so convinced that he immediately apologised for his clumsiness.

David was able to make this preparation because, unknown to the television viewers, Hugh Cudlipp had chosen the volunteers before the show aired. And David had already performed impromptu magic at the tables and taken the opportunity to set up the bottle accident. He also swapped one of the volunteer's pens for one of his own, one that didn't

The Press Club Prediction

The Press Club Prediction

A casual portrait from the 1970s.

work! This exchange was made possible because the Press Club had distributed identical souvenir pens to everyone who attended.

The use of a Press Release as a prediction was not David's first choice of finale. He had in fact managed to persuade one of Britain's most popular tabloid newspapers. The Daily Mirror, to feature his prediction on the front page. It was no coincidence that the chairman of the London Press Club also ran The Daily Mirror.

Had the prediction appeared there it would have been unprecedented and the most publicised newspaper prediction ever made by a magician. Unfortunately two days before the event something occurred that David did not predict, a printers' strike! There would be no Daily Mirror that day. No prediction on its front page. With little time to find a substitute David created the printed Press Release.

Originally David had arranged for a team of girls dressed as newspaper sellers to walk among the tables and distribute copies of The Daily Mirror to everyone at the finish of the routine. It was another marvellous touch. Having changed the routine the girls gave out copies of the Press Release instead.

Nevertheless it was one of the most baffling predictions I had ever seen and one that I will always remember for that unique and distinctive Berglas touch.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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