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WARD'S WORLD: A kind of magic...

I was looking for something I had misplaced the other day when I came across a small piece of black, very expensive material that is super thin but very strong, and I remembered why I had it and what I had used it for.

I had used the material in part construction of a magician’s prop that I had made for David, a magician, for part of his act.

We met originally while doing promotional stuff at an exhibition ’tup north some years ago as we both stopped at the same hotel.

John Ward with the wan dhe made for magician friend Dave. (39363477)
John Ward with the wan dhe made for magician friend Dave. (39363477)

We stopped – or lurched to a standstill – at a ‘delightful guest house (the promotions company that had booked us in said it was, but they had obviously not stopped – or lurched – there themselves) away from the hustle and bustle of the city’.

In reality this meant it was about seven miles out from the city plus the roads were possibly last repaired after the last Zeppelin raids took place and perhaps doubled as a research centre for pothole development.

This was the first time we met as on arrival I was guided or shooed into the lounge area (‘The Granada Lounge’ as a sign written on a sort of chewed up bit of warped plywood mounted over the doorway stated) by Enid – ‘but EVERYBODY calls me MRS TAYLOR...’ by way of a subtle hint, much like a sledgehammer used for clouting a peanut in its shell.

David had arrived the day before in order to set his assorted magical stuff up at the venue we were doing our respective duties at.

Although he lowered his voice before looking around to see if there were any listening devices – or Enid to be precise – as he explained although the venue was ‘top notch’ but was more than could be said for the present surroundings we were in.

Next MRS TAYLOR took me to my room (or pen depending on your upbringing) and I was given my key, then left to ‘settle in’ as she wandered off to possibly attend her weekly karate or knitting with barbed wire lessons.

I opened the door to find something completely different from other forms of accommodation I had encountered.

I assumed I was staying in the ‘Keith Moon Penthouse Suite’ (late drummer of the Who pop group) judging by the state of it as Keith was well known as a sensitive paragon of virtue.

It did cross my mind perhaps personnel from the SAS stopped there before me and brought ‘their work’ home with them as the general state was something else – what I thought was a giant size abstract flower pot was the toilet pan but ‘we are waiting for somebody to come in and fix it...’ I was told later after enquiring.

This might well have been the last job Dick Turpin was going to sort out before events overtook him, so to speak, on his way to York.

I must admit I had no idea of what sort of rocket propelled grenade or heavy machine gun could inflict the damage I saw before me.

The room smelt none too fresh either.

However if some of it was caused by being ‘slightly damp but we are waiting for somebody to come and fix it’ then there might well be a swimming pool on the floor above me and perhaps leaking.

I hoped that my bed was sited under the shallow end if this were the case.

Going downstairs later with David, we both saw the menu board in the ‘Sombrero Restaurant Parlour’ featured ‘Catch of the Day’ that turned out to be fish fingers and chips but, but this is the caring bit – with a choice that included ‘with either fresh garden or mushy peas’.

Enid’s husband Len – or ‘Leo-nhard’ if being introduced or mentioned – saw me looking at the ‘Catch of the Day’ item (I do a very nice line in not looking too stunned on occasion) as he leaned over to say it was ‘not all set in stone’ as we could ‘alternate’ regarding the choice of peas as we could have a fried egg instead.

Hearing that nugget we both played safe and had a salad each to which we both agreed it was possibly vegetable based with not a hint of fried egg to be seen or sniffed.

After this gastronomic event I sought out Enid – no, MRS TAYLOR – to ask about the toilet as she agreed that it was ‘perhaps slightly distressed’ in its present state.

Perhaps slightly distressed!? While it still had the cistern seemingly intact, there was no seat, no top of the toilet pan but broken chinaware with jagged edges and no way could anybody sit on it.

Now this is where diplomacy took on a whole new meaning.

MRS TAYLOR explained that this ‘suite was reserved for gentleman only’ (like SAS anti-terrorist squads maybe?) and not for ladies due to ‘the on-going (?!) toilet problems’ that will soon be resolved as gentlemen seem to not use or require all the toilet seat area for ‘their requirements’.

Both David and I did our daily stuff at the venue before going back to Château Colditz but as we car-shared alternately he mentioned idly that getting original and new magic props made at sensible, realistic cost was a nightmare.

So this is where we had a meeting of minds – he supplied the idea or at best a drawing or illustration of the prop required as we both put our heads to it and worked on it.

The best one I enjoyed making was the chair he produced from a folded newspaper, with a back and upholstered seat – hard work to construct but seeing him perform with it was, dare I say it, just magic. We were both sad when the event finished as we both enjoyed doing it as the people were quite pleasant, so we eventually left Château Colditz via the front doors as opposed to an escape tunnel.

As we trundled down to check out, MRS TAYLOR ‘assured’ us that we had been ‘model guests’ (or as David said afterwards, the only ones) but bearing in mind we basically only slept and ‘dined’ there, it was not so difficult to achieve.

Leo-nhard helped us with our cases to our cars as instructed by She-Who-Dominated-His-Life but told us in a very assuring way he was ‘not expecting a tip, oh gosh no..’ so to that very heartfelt wish we both complied. To be honest I had a soft spot for him but knowing the place, this was liable to be the quicksand at the bottom of the garden in lieu of a swimming pool as an alternative.

Never did hear if Dick Turpin made it there though.

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