Last week, I was in Southport for this year’s IBM British Ring Convention. The line up of talent on offer over the week was phenomenal with Lennart Green, Bill Malone, David Williamson, Boris Wild and Johnny and Pam Thompson (aka The Great Thomsoni and Co.) being just the tip of a very talented iceberg. I’m not going to give a full day-by-day account of everything that went on last week, just an overview of what some of the stuff that went on.

Me with Johnny and Pam Thompson
(aka The Great Thomsoni and Co.)

Julie helping Johnny Thompson with a card trick

I had decided that I would enter the Close Up Competition, which was taking place on the Thursday afternoon, so I used the Wednesday as a day just for catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Wednesday evening saw the Stage Competition for the British Ring Shield. I have to admit that I found this year’s competition to be an overdose of mediocrity. This may be due to the fact that entrants into the Stage Competition had to submit a DVD of their act before hand. A real shame. In the end, however, I feel that the correct act won – Hi Jinx won with a great wee act that I’ve seen a few times now and that never fails to entertain. Great stuff. One thing that did keep us going during the Stage Competition were the constant texts from home giving the Scotland v France football result. Suffice to say, every football-loving Scot in the theatre that evening left with large smiles on their faces after word got around about Scotland’s 1-0 win over the French – in Paris! A little more on this in a few minutes.

Me with my favourite Card Magician,
1991 World Champion Lennart Green of Sweeden

Meeting Bill Malone – and I KNOW we look alike!

Thursday, for me, started with rehearsing for the Close Up Competition. I had made a conscious decision that I would miss David Williamson’s lecture, scheduled for the Thursday morning, in order to be able to practice a little more. I just wanted to make sure that all was OK. When I finally did venture out of the hotel, it was to head to the Convention Centre for the Competition. I had to perform my act 4 times in total – one in each of 4 performance rooms, allowing spectators as good a view as possible of the acts. The acts all seemed to go OK. There were a couple of minor errors, but nothing that I couldn’t get out of – thank goodness. Even though I came nowhere in the competition (the eventual winner being former Young Magician of the Year, Steve Dela), I was really appreciative of the very kind comments that people made to me about what I had done, especially people who went a little out their way to walk over and give me their thoughts. Thank you all.

One thing that had been arranged for the week were “Late Night Magic” shows in the Southport Arts Centre. These were in place of Fay Presto’s “Fringe” that had become a staple of recent IBM Conventions. This year’s shows were lots of fun with the likes of David Williamson, Bob Sheets, John Fealey and Tim Gabrielson all causing mayhem on a nightly basis. A few highlights included:-

Lennart Greet attempts to contact the Mothership
after being blindfolded by Williamson and Gabrielson

Friday night saw the 4th running of the IBM Poker Championships, this year sponsored by Redtooth Poker. This year, 16 players took part with Mark Elsdon beating Noel Britten for the title and the trophy at just before 5am.

Mark Elsdon, winner of the 2007 Redtooth Poker
IBM Poker Championships

The Close Up Gala was one of the strongest Close Up shows I’ve ever seen! The conditions were great with good views of all the performers. Since my great friend Julie was a runner, or “Mobile Executive”, making sure the performers were where they should be for their shows, I decided that I would stay in the room that she was based in. This turned out to be the smallest room of the 3 in use and it was the perfect place to watch 6 of the best magicians on the planet – Michael Vincent, Boris Wild, Gaeton Bloom, Lennart Green, Bill Malone and Rocco. All the performers were excellent but there was, for me, a bit of a revelation. Last year, during the FISM World Championships, I had not “connected” with Rocco’s act. I didn’t seem to “get it”. This time, however, I really did enjoy it. I “got it”. It came across a lot better in the live room than it did when I was watching it in the video room last year. Of course, my favourite was Lennart – but then what else would you expect when I’m such a big fan!

The 6 performers in the Close Up Gala – (l to r) Lennart Green, Boris Wild,
Gaeton Bloom, Rocco, Bill Malone and Michael Vincent

Table for lots! Saturday night dinner with (l to r) Noel Britten, Romany,
Paul and Mhairi Nardini, JJ, John Archer and Dave Jones

The Saturday night stage Gala Show was pretty good. Highlights included Paul Zenon’s constant one-liners (and taking a few risks with a pint of beer, a snooker triangle and a dog lead – you’ll need to see him to know what I’m talking about) and Vik and Fabrini’s wonderful act.

Three of my best friends – John Archer and Paul and Mhairi Nardini

Ain’t I a lucky guy? Me with Julie and Ali –
friends I wish I could see more often!

It was a fun convention this year with tons of stuff going on and the opportunity to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in too long, as well as making new ones. The line up for next year has already been announce and it is so good that I fully intend being there already!

Speak soon

The Cardman 🙂

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