Last weekend, I was in London for this year’s International Magic Convention run by the MacMillan Family. As ever, on paper, it looked like a cracking weekend and, as ever, it lived up to the hope and hype.
My weekend started when I arrived in London on the Friday lunchtime and after leaving (aka dumping) my luggage in my hotel room, I made my way towards the London Science Museum. I only wanted to visit one part of the building, the Space Travel exhibit, as I have been interested in manned space flight for pretty much all of my life. Two words – utterly amazing! They had mock-ups and replicas of the likes of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, and the Lunar Module as well as models of all the launch vehicles used by both the Americans and Soviets/Russians from the very first up to the Space Shuttle. These were all built by a guy called Matt Irvine, who I remember appearing on “Newsround” and “Blue Peter” during major space-related events when I was much younger – in fact, he still makes the models for “The Sky At Night” which shows you just how young he must have been when he started!
Bill Anders’ Spacesuit from the Apollo 8 mission – the first to send men around the moon in December 1968
Models of 2 Space Shuttles – American (left) and Russian
A little further on, in the “Making The Modern World” section, was THE most amazing artefact I have ever seen – the Command Module of the Apollo 10 mission that was the dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Command Module, codenamed “Charlie Brown” during the mission, was the only part of the spacecraft where the crew lived during the mission and was the only part of the massive Saturn V launch vehicle that came back to Earth. It looked amazing from the front but have a look at the bottom of it, the heat shield is still scorched from protecting the astronauts from the intense heat of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Apollo 10 Command Module
The heatshield of Apollo 10 – you can still see the white scorch marks from the re-entry!
A brief glimpse inside the Command Module of Apollo 10 (aka “Charlie Brown”)
That evening saw the start of the Convention itself which was taking place once again in The Shaw Theatre, located between Euston and King’s Cross Stations. The Theatre has become home to the Convention over the last few years and everything is performed on the stage. The Close Up is viewed via a large screen that sits on stage above the performer’s head.The first event on the cards, so to speak, was Guy Hollingworth’s one-man show “The Expert At The Card Table” which was loosely based on the classic book of the same name. I had seen an earlier version of this show roughly 9 or 10 years ago at my first Opus Convention in London so I thought I knew what was coming up. How wrong I was! It was totally different and completely re-worked! And it was brilliant! I won’t spoilt anything for you, but Guy did tell me that he intends to perform this at the Edinburgh Fringe next year. If he does, make sure you get a ticket for it. It’s fantastic!
Guy’s show was the only event that I went to see as I wanted to spend some time catching up with friends I haven’t seen in ages as well as get an early night before performing in the Close Up Competition the following morning.The following morning, and I was in my suit ready to perform in the Close Up Competition. I had never performed for 400 people all at once before and the thought was more than a little daunting. However, the actual experience of it was fantastic! My opening line got a big laugh, making me think “I like this!” and wanting to do more. I’ll keep working on the act some more – I want it to be better!
As for the rest of the acts, well I didn’t see them. I was too busy getting ready to perform to watch the ones before me and wanted to get away from it all after I had performed, so I didn’t see any that had come after me. If you’d like to know who did what, I can refer you to both JJ’s Opus Blog and Naquada’s Blog for their thoughts on the different acts.
Saturday afternoon was mostly spent in Hamley’s – bit of a mistake going there 4 weeks before Christmas. It was the closest to a rugby scrum that I’ve ever been involved with in a shop, only full of kids!!! When I got back to the Shaw Theatre, it was time to do some Close Up before that night’s Gala Show performance. Since I was going to see it on the Sunday night, I was going back to the Palace Theatre to go and see Spamalot, this time with my good friend Julie. This year, my seat was up in the Balcony and when I got up there I nearly freaked out it was so steep! Almost vertical. As ever, the show was excellent, this time with Peter Davidson taking on the role of King Arthur. That’s right, the 5th incarnation of Dr Who taking on The Knights Who Say “Ni!”. He was a completely different King Arthur to the one that Tim Curry portrayed last year (of course he would be!) and it was interesting to see how the 2 compared. Slightly unfair, I know, but it can’t be helped.
Sunday was a bit of a busy one with the Close Up Show, lectures and the Gala Show all taking place. There was also the chance to spend our hard-earned cash in the Dealers’ Hall, which we did! I saw the Darwin Ortiz and Francis Menotti lectures – both excellent and very educational – and the Close Up and Gala Shows were excellent. In the Gala Show, MC Noel Britten had some brilliant lines and gags worked out showing just how hard he is willing to work when doing this sort of show. He even had some cracking topical gags which I’ve been telling anyone that will listen! My personal highlight of the show was Veronin’s wonderful comedy act which has everyone laughing at the antics of the performer and his props.
From left – Voronin, Georgina McMillan (seated), Noel Britten, Svetlana and Fay Presto
Monday and, thanks to my good friend Julie, I at that night’s Magic Circle meeting, which happened to be another lecture by Darwin Ortiz. Luckily for me – and the others that had been at the convention – it was a different lecture. This time, instead of everything coming from his notes, he lectured on material from his book “CardShark”, a book of his that I had bought when it was first released in the ’90s but that I hadn’t read in quite some time. This lead to me and my good friend Ali Cook, who I hadn’t seen in ages then ended up sitting next to him at the Circle, muttering “nope, forgot that” and “don’t remember that one” through the lecture. The lecture was excellent and I’ll be re-reading Cardshark in the very near future!
Meeting Darwin Ortiz
Me with Ali Cook
The Cardman 🙂