Ever since I was a little lad I've been fascinated by magic.
It could have all started watching my father doing the three card trick on London Bridge but more likely was watching black and white magician David Nixon on early BBC.
He looks a bit frightening in this old picture. I also began reading some wonderful old books about magicians in the Edwardian heydey such as Harry Houdini who was killed in 1926 when he invited someone to punch him in the stomach and didn't have time to prepare his muscles, a mistake I never make myself.
I've just noticed that if you morph David Nixon and Harry Houdini you get well known urbane barrister wit Clive Jenkins who became head of the White Collar Union in the 1970's.
I loved magic spectacles though, and always wanted a pair with plain glass in. I was one of Paul Daniels's 17 fans (if you exclude Paul and Debbie) and went to see him at Thetford Sports Centre in the late 1970's. I also went to see Siegrfried and Roy in Las Vegas and was stunned by the fantastic stunts involving fierce Tigers and Motorbikes - however did their wives let them take such risks?!
So let me say I am a great fan of Derren Brown who has brought a new level to magic by dressing it up with all sorts of psychological mumbo jumbo plus a tiny bit of real hypnosis. His shows and stunts are always incredibly original and entertaining which stands out amongst the formulaic strictly-big brother-on-ice-factor television that fills our numerous channels these days.
We watched him on recording last night and he did a brilliant thing of taking a lady round Hamley's and letting her pick a toy from the thousands on offer. She chose a Giraffe, and he guessed correctly, but when she walked out of the store she was confronted by a giant giraffe with a name tag that she had chosen 5 minutes previously. Excellent!
Mind you, the finale of the show was a mass hypnosis film to make audience and viewers stick to their seats. I wasn't so impressed with this - making Channel Four viewers stick to their sofas doesn't sound such a big deal to me.