Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Magician of New Street

The other day I got to New Street station only to find that all trains to Coventry were cancelled and had been replaced by buses. 'Balls' thought I, 'I suppose I'll have to get a coffee and wait then'. I looked at the coffee shop, and figured I'd just save my money.

So I trundle out the back of the building to discover the loitering place. On my way out of the doors, I get a "'scuse me, mate". "Sorry" I say, delivering my usual leave-me-alone-i-am-not going-to-give-you-money line with half effort and blindly walk on. "I'll do you a trick." he says.

So I stop, and turn around to see a guy in a floppy hat and shorts with a bag. He looks like he's just fell off the Oasis tourbus, complete with hangover and mild concussion. 'Fuck it.' I thought. 'I've got 30 mins and if this guy can amuse me for a few, what do I care? I'll just keep my hand on my wallet, and an eye out for his accomplice (should this be one of the Distraction category scams)'.

So he offers me a deck of cards and and after narrowing down my choices to next to nothing, he says 'think of a card'. I say "11 of hearts" in my post-party, only just woke-up, slightly bruised state. "Hmmm.. that'll be a Jack then?" he says. "Err.. yeah, that'll be a Jack" I say. So anyway, up turns my Jack from the deck, as if by magic, and he reveals that all the other cards are blank. It must be magic. I start to form a slight grin. "Feel free to go 'Woooo!' and show your excitement!" he says. So he shows me a few other tricks that look mostly like they've come from a kids magic set and have been dragged through the garden a few times.

Up wanders an old Afro-Caribbean guy to watch. 'Maybe this is the accomplice' I wonder... the pair are such a mismatch, it would be a perfect cover. The old man loves it as the magician transforms 3 ropes of varying lengths (with my help) into 3 ropes of the same length, and laughs sporadically, patting his hands together. "That's wicked!" I say, genuinely impressed with his slight of hand, "Your best trick yet!". "Yeah? Can you spare me a little change?". I dig out a pound, and he offers some more really, really good tricks for another small donation. "Next time" I tell him and shake hands.

So my bus turns up and I get on.. now with a curious grin, thinking that the money I would have spent drinking coffee i didn't want, sitting at a wobbly metal chair, at a sticky Costa table, got spent on being amused by a magician.

Even if a basic one.

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