Well, February is now behind us and another Blackpool Convention is part of history. It was a lot of fun and, to be honest, for the first time in a wee while I had more fun with the social side of things than I did at the organised events.
The journey down was easy with me having a seat on the train with an electrical socket, meaning I could plug my laptop in and watch a DVD, making the journey vanish! For the record, I watched Local Hero – a great movie that I would recommend to everyone. Before I knew it, I was changing trains in Preston, heading for Blackpool and then making my way to what has now become my usual digs for the Convention over the last 13 years – Llanryan House.
As is now my usual routine, I spent that evening at Riley’s Blackpool for some practice and to catch up with a pal of mine, Lynette Horsburgh, who happens to be the reigning WEBF Ladies’ World Pool Champion. The last time I saw Lynette was when she had been doing a fund raising exhibition at Braehead Shopping Centre back in October (she’s doing another one in Livingstone in a few of weeks’ time and I’ll post details of that when I have them). It was great to be able to sit and chat with her for what turned into a fair amount of time.
The following morning saw the Registration Desks opening at 10am. There are, however, no events between then and when the Dealers Halls open around 1pm. That meant 3 hours to do whatever I wanted, so I went and played some more pool. This time it was with my pal Lucy, who I hadn’t seen since the previous year’s convention. She said she played a little. She said she hadn’t played in some time. She said she wasn’t used to playing on the American Pool tables that I’m used to playing on. She didn’t say that when she gets in stroke, she is a REALLY good pool player! So much for a quiet practice session and a natter with a friend I had not seen in a year! My in-built vicious competitive streak came to the fore and made me work really hard to try to win as much as possible! Still, we were able to have a laugh, especially at the antics of a few of the local players at the next table!
As for the Convention itself, I never actually went to a single event on the Friday. This was on purpose as I had decided to wander around the Dealers’ Halls and met up with and talked with friends. It was great to be able to catch up with them all.
Of the scheduled events over the Saturday and Sunday, I only went to a few. The 2 “Audience With…” interviews that were scheduled were fascinating. One with James Randi about his career both in magic and debunking Psychics, the other with Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride about their lives in magic – with Jeff doing a really funny and very acurate impression of Eugene. The only lecture of the weekend for me was Rudy Coby‘s lecture on creativity. Again, fascinating stuff and amazing to hear his thoughts on how he created the pieces that he performs.
I managed to catch a few of the Close Up acts on both days. Rudy Coby performing the “Human Blockhead” routine. Argentina’s Latko performed his Cups And Balls routine that gained great praise at last year’s joint IBM/SAM Convention in Kentucky which ends with the production of a full chess set – including chess clocks! Rick Merrill performed his, for lack of a better expression, act as known – the one that won him the Grand Prix for Close Up at the 2006 World Championships in Stockholm. All excellent stuff.
Rudy Coby performing “The Human Blockhead”
(in other words, he’s got a nail hammered up his nose!)
A mention here should go to the compere of the Saturday night show, Tony Stevens. He is, by far, one of the best compere’s that Britian has produced in many years. As he did 2 years ago, he published a mobile telephone number in the Convention programme so that anyone that wanted to could text in jokes and comments about the show. Two of the jokes were 2 of the best (and sickest!) I have heard in a long time – next time you see me, ask me about them and I’ll tell you them.
John, Mhairi, Paul and Lawrie sitting in the theatre
The Sunday night Gala Show was a little lop-sided. The first half was phenominal with the likes of Arthur Trace, Jerome Murat and Jeff McBride. The second half highlight for me was An Ha-Lim of Korea with an excellent card manipulation act that should get far in this year’s World Championships in July in Beijing. The compere for this show, Canada’s Derek Scott, seemed to split the audience down the middle – half loved him, half hated him. I was in the half that loved him. What that man can do on an empty stage with simply his personality, showmanship and a kazoo was hysterical.
all-round good guy Andy Nyman and his son Preston
As always, the late night activities were at The Ruskin Hotel. It was a hive of activity with magicians in every possible corner of the hotel talking, sharing tricks and generally enjoying themselves. Suffice to say, a great time was had by all.
One last wee bit – there was this guy walking around the Convention who had a huge crowd around him pretty much all the time. Apparently his name is David Blaine. I vaguely remember meeting him some 7 years ago in New York, so I thought I’d get another picture with him as he seems to have done alright for himself in the world.
The Cardman 🙂