Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

John Archer; FINAL SAY 54, Comedy Magician from Stockton and a Compere of South Tyneside International Magic Festival

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

John Archer; FINAL SAY 54, Comedy Magician from Stockton and a Compere of South Tyneside International Magic Festival

Article excerpt

Most magicians get into it as a kid with a magic set. I didn't get into magic as a serious hobby until I was about 19.

But I always loved magic. My Uncle Harold - he's in his 80s now - did a card trick at family get-togethers and I got hooked (although we found out later he'd been to everyone's house and marked their cards).

I think what piqued my interest was seeing something that seemed inexplicable. It's that fascination with mystery, with the unknown, that got me when I was five or six - and then wanting to show the unknown thing.

I remember in my teens I was given a book called The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay. I've got hundreds of magic books now but this was the first. When I was in the police force I lent it to somebody and he didn't give it back.

With the book I got to learn how to vanish a coin. For years that was all I could do - vanish a coin.

I was always artistic and outgoing at school, this little fat kid - and I came from this very sociable family where everyone had a great sense of humour.

I left school at 16 and became an apprentice draughtsman. I did that for three years until I got sick of drawing straight lines, basically.

When I went to London to do a degree in product design, there was a little shop across the road. It was called Alan Alan's Magic Spot and it had fake dog poo in the window and plastic flies.

When you went inside there was cigarette ash on the counter and a styrofoam cup of coffee with an eyeball floating in it.

Alan Alan was a real character but if you showed genuine interest in magic he would throw all the other customers out and talk to you.

Alan Alan - he died last year, in his 80s - really cared about magic. He was the first to get out of a straitjacket hanging upside down on a rope. Houdini did it but Alan Alan set the rope alight.

I got a terrible degree but I learned a lot about magic. I didn't want to live in London or be a designer so I came back to Stockton, worked as car salesman for about a day, a youth worker for a year and then joined the police. …

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