Thursday, 1 July 2010

My father is a magician which means

he knows how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. He knows but he does not do it. He says it is cruel to the rabbit. I agree. He knows how to saw a lady in half too - and put her back together again. He won't do that either. He says it is dangerous. I agree. I really am not sure about this "magic" thing.
I have been around my father and some of his fellow magicians long enough to know about some of these things. Illusions. I know they are not "real" and that David Copperfield does not really make elephants or jumbo jets appear and disappear and then appear again.
My father does not do much magic work these days. He never did a lot. It is not good for a schoolmaster to have a reputation as a magician. He has made magic apparatus for himself and other magicians in the past. He will still repair the occasional piece of apparatus for someone. Occasionally fellow magicians will turn up with a little problem. I am required to "magic up" the cups of tea as they try to work out "how" to use their mirrors, their secret compartments, their sliding this and their revolving that.
No, you do not want to know. The man who shows you how it is done on the telly is not doing you any favours. He is trying to take a little magic out of the world.
Adults take magic out of the world for children all the time. There is the moment in Margaret Storey's book "Pauline" where the youngest child has been singing in the bath about "fifteen men on a dead man's chest". Her father explains that these are bottles on a box rather than real men on a human chest - and she stops singing. That small scene says a great deal about the father.
There was a similar incident in the post office yesterday. There was a small boy "playing" with the automatic doors. His father, no doubt annoyed by the draughts of cold air which kept coming and going, stopped him and proceeded to explain how the doors worked. It was not what the child wanted at all. He stopped playing. I am certain he did not understand the explanation. It was sufficient that it had been explained that it what he was doing that caused the doors to open. All the magic had gone for him.

1 comment:

Rachel Fenton said...

I like to try and ignite a little bit of magic into the day of each kid I meet - or call it tomfoolery if you must - but my two year old is now looking for fairies under flowers and he is sleeping in a big boy bed because the fairies will bring him sweet dreams. I love the magic of childhood. It makes me feel so sad when I see people snuffing out innocence with facts.