Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Good Magic You Can Do In The Office

Frank the Crickdancer1 has a can of hard candy that he allows everyone to nosebag from at need.

The candies are of various unconvincing "fruit" flavours, and come in a variety of colours. In any one can, about half the candies will be red and the rest made up of yellow, green and the ultra rare white ones that are everyone's favourite (naturally).

Frank pioneered this very welcome social benefit program some years ago, about the time I came back to work in this hellhole at this site, and I was fascinated at the lengths people would go to to secure the white candies, and the quality of their complaints once that colour was exhausted and they had to make do with yellow, green or red ones. At the time I was also turning my spare time to mastering some basic close-up magic skills such as the French Drop, the Gypsy Switch, the Glimpse and the Warm Frankfurter2. Mr Brain long ago throttled back all restraint when it comes to practical jokes and so the stage was thus set for merriment and amateur conjuring shenanigans, with the aim of blowing what passes for Frank's mind.

I bought three cans of the same candies, and separated out the white ones. Each day I would wait for a good moment when Frank was reading from his terminal, palm a white candy, walk over to his can and open it, fish inside and declare loudly "oooh! White one!". Frank would look over and see me pull one of the highly prized candies from the tin with seeming ease. Other people were rooting through the tin for several seconds to achieve the same result of course, but somehow I was able to open the tin and find a white candy just sitting there waiting for me.

Each night, once I had the office to myself, I would add a few of the other colours, mainly red, back into Frank's can from my collection. The effect (which he didn't seem to notice) was that the level of candy stayed about constant for over a week but that the can was gradually becoming all-red country as the other colours were eaten by our freeloading colleagues.

Frank also liked the other colours, and was himself begining to have to root in the tin for a considerable time to uncover a yellow or green candy. I however always opened the can, exclaimed "Oooh! White one!" and plucked the shangri-la candy off the top of the pile with no effort.

Frank began to take notice. Two weeks went by in which it seemed that no-one but me could get a white candy from the tin no matter how they searched it, yet all I did was open the lid to find the object of desire sitting right there. Frank began to puzzle aloud over it with the freeloaders who came to search for white but left sucking red.

Finally, Frank's can was down to eight red candies rattling loosely in the tin with plenty of empty space between them. Anyone who opened the tin could plainly see that no white candies were present. It was time for the Whammy.

I waited until Frank and I were the only two in the office, and asked him if I could have a candy. He, of course, said yes (I've never heard Frank deny anyone candy) and checked the can contents with a smile on his face. I opened the tin under his watchful stare, exclaimed "Oooh! White one!" and pulled a white candy from it. I held it long enough for him to see it really was white, and popped it into my mouth.

Frank's reaction was a thing of beauty. He jerked backwards in his chair so hard he almost fell out of it. His eyes actually bugged out of their sockets3. He spluttered. He grabbed the can from my hand and looked madly into it and then at me several times, all the time making "Wha wha wha?" noises.

Penn and Teller are absolutely right. Using cheesy magic tricks to explode your friends' frontal lobes is just about the most entertaining use of your time in the whole universe.

  1. Frank teaches people "Irish Folk Dancing". I asked him once if it was anything like "Riverdance". He said: "No, it is traditional stepdancing. Less flamboyant. Folk-dance." I said that a more rural, less flamboyant version of Riverdance would be "Crickdance". It stuck
  2. A saucy sleight of hand of my own devising that was tried once, and only once, in a darkened cinema upon an unsuspecting Mrs Stevie
  3. Although I'd read the phrase many times in books, I'd never actually seen anyone do that before. It quite turned my stomach and almost ruined the trick

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