Some Happy Memories from my childhood about Pat Page.
One of the joys of growing up near England in the sixties was getting to visit Davenport’s Magic Store in London. The store was housed in an old shop that was directly opposite the British Museum and it sometimes looked as if it should have been in the museum.
The shop was very dusty and rather musty. Though I never saw them personally there was rumored to be vast underground storage cellars that stretched all the way under the road towards the cellars of the British Museum. I had a weird vision that one day an employee would venture into their subterranean storage looking for a Zigzag illusion; and by the time he had got it upstairs realizing he’d grabbed an Egyptian sarcophagus by mistake!
The shop had a long glass counter stretching across the right hand side of the room. The counter served double duty as a display cabinet and was filled with weird, wonderful and very dusty magic props. How these props could remain dusty was a mystery as behind the counter was one of the freshest breaths of air in London and his name was Patrick Page.
For a youthful magician there weren’t many places where you could spend an uninterrupted hour with a master magician like Pat. Just standing at the counter watching Pat smoke cigarette after cigarette was an experience. You knew that at some point during your visit you were going to be badly fooled by the big ashtray in which he was stubbing out his cigarette butts. Patrick was the king of misdirection and could palm a selected card out of the deck and leave it under that ashtray. It doesn’t sound much in print does it; a chosen card arrives under an ashtray? Maybe when the card arrived there for the first time it wasn’t too amazing. However by the time Pat had fooled you for the tenth time with the same trick it became pretty darn amazing!
Of course, Patrick was too good a magician to really repeat the same trick that many times. What he really did was to use his knowledge of psychology and misdirection to allow him to fool you by doing the same thing at a different time. Years later I read Daryl’s brilliant analogy between performing sleight of hand and playing improvised jazz music. Have all your moves ready and perfectly honed, then choose the perfect move for the perfect occasion.
Another trick where Patrick displayed his spookily brilliant misdirection was when he demonstrated the ‘Toppit.’ Pat would stand behind that counter nonchalantly vanish item after item, each one more impossible than the last one. At some point in his demonstration, after a particularly spectacular disappearance, Pat would casually show you that his ‘Toppit’ was empty and totally blow your mind! I guess catching something in your armpit is easy when you are a master magician like Patrick Page. However, catching a magician of guard and fooling them again and again with the same trick; that takes more than a little magical genius.