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Saturday, October 24, 2009

I know there's a credit crunch on, but when you go out for a couple of hours on a Friday night, you don't expect to end up with this...

Famous Fiver
That's a torn and restored five pound note, courtesy of Pete Firman. As he said to me onstage last night, shortly before asking the audience to give me a round of applause, "If you show that to your bank manager in the morning, he'll tell you what you can do with it".

Anyhoo, despite costing me slightly more than expected, The Pete Firman Magic Show at the Pavilion Theatre last night was very good. The evening started well when Lisa turned to me at the bus stop and admitted that she'd never heard of Pete Firman, never seen Monkey Magic, and would much rather have stayed in and watched EastEnders. Fortunately I have the ability to ignore everything she says (particularly when it involves EastEnders), so I didn't let it dampen my spirits. And besides, I was keeping my fingers crossed for a bit of audience participation. I knew she'd perk up once she was being sawn in half.

Having arrived at the theatre, Lisa surprised me by choosing seats in the second row. Bearing in mind that on the three occasions we've been to see Derren Brown, she's hit the deck and hidden under her chair every time he's asked for a volunteer, I felt it was a bold move. So we took our seats front and centre, next to a couple who were eating a selection of sushi. Which says just about everything you need to know about Brighton.

Thirty seconds before the metaphorical curtain went up (this was the Pavilion Theatre, so there wasn't one), my Mum texted me with the good news that Amelie had settled into her weekend retreat perfectly, and made herself at home. Well, what she actually said was "Do you have a loft we can put our valuables in?", but it amounts to the same thing.

The show began at 7:30pm, but it was a full ten minutes before Lisa was singled out and invited to take part. And I was right: it did perk her up. I could hear her heart pounding a mile off. It basically involved a trick in which Pete would magically seperate two handkerchiefs which had been tied together. He needed someone to verify that the knot was both genuine and tight, and having scanned the first few rows of the audience, he spotted Lisa, and immediately realised that she'd be perfect for the job. After all, if you're going to pull the wool over someone's eyes, choose the woman who couldn't tie a knot to save her life.

Lisa was forced to announce her name to the audience, and thoroughly examine the knot. I asked her afterwards if it really had been genuine, and she told me that the whole experience was just a blur of panic and stress, so she has no idea. It's amazing how the human mind copes with trauma.

It's a kind of magic.Fortunately, Lisa wasn't the only one who got to enjoy a bit of local fame last night. Barely halfway through the show, Pete Firman suddenly pointed at me, asked for my name, and requested a five pound note from me, adding "With the money you've saved on those clothes, Phil, I'm sure you've got one". Luckily for him, I did. So I handed it over. And he tore it up.

It was an interesting moment. As Pete said to me over the sound of ripping, "You've paid good money for this, Phil, so I hope you're enjoying it". The thing is, I think he really did tear it up. If he didn't, it was a damn good trick. I suspect the fiver I got back, covered in tape, was one he'd prepared earlier in true Blue Peter fashion.

Anyhoo, Lisa and I might have been the stars of the show (I got two (count them) rounds of applause), but I have to say that Pete was very good too. He did some of the most traditional magic ever invented (the linking rings, the egg bag) but made it funny and interesting, and even Lisa, who'd started off with her mind back in Albert Square, admitted that she'd thoroughly enjoyed the show. All in all, it was money well spent. Apart from the fiver.