A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Paul Daniels. It was announced that he would be lecturing and performing at the Ipswich Magical Society’s annual convention that year and there was no way I was going to miss that. Paul Daniels! I had the Paul Daniels Magic Set when I was a kid! This was my chance to see an internationally successful stage and TV magician in action. If I worked it right, there’d be a good chance I could get to meet him, too.
Vicki and I bought the convention tickets (yes, Vicki went with me – she’s good like that. One day she might let me saw her in half!) and found that the mighty Paul Daniels had an autobiography that maybe we could get him to sign. Bingo. Our way in to meet the legend. We’d buy the book, ask him to sign it and in doing so, get to meet the great man himself.
The first problem was finding the book. It was listed in the usual places around the internet, but only if you were happy to wait two weeks or so for dispatch. It was still in print, but it seems no-one was stocking it. Not even Paul’s website.
So where could I get a copy of his autobiography? I had no idea. I chanced an email to the enquiry address at pauldaniels.co.uk, asking if they had any idea who the current stockists were. I got an email back from Paul Daniels. I’ll say that again as I nearly collapsed when it happened.
I got an email back from Paul Daniels.
Not only did I receive an email from Paul Daniels, but he said he’d bring a copy of the book along to the convention and we could personally collect it off him. Amazing. We were definitely going to meet him.
The convention was that October – Paul’s car was in the car-park, number plate MAG 1C. His lecture was brilliant and taught me the Classic Force better than any book ever has. For any magicians reading, his explanation was so good that not only did it give me the confidence to try it, but whenever I have tried it since, I’ve nailed it pretty much every time. Email me with any further questions.
At the end of the lecture, Paul announced that if the young couple who wanted the book would like to meet him backstage he had it for us. This was it. The big moment. We were about to meet Paul Daniels.
He’s a lot shorter than you think he’s going to be and looks a lot older close-up than he does on stage or on TV. He produced a copy of the book. Not magically, just took it out of a bag. At this point, the first question in my head was ‘Is he going to charge us?’ There is a reason he’s a multi-millionaire magician and it’s not because he gives his autobiography away to fans. I don’t remember how he put it, but that’d be £16.99, please. Fair enough. The guy’s making a living travelling the country and selling his wares like any other magician.
I asked if he would sign it for us, as that was the whole point of buying it, so we could ask him to sign and therefore meet him. He did so, mentioning that if he didn’t put our names then we’d get a bit more on eBay for it. Cynical? Maybe. I was slightly disappointed he didn’t find my affection (granted, it was now dwindling somewhat) for him genuine.
The next bit of the story is possibly the weirdest bit. Having handed over a £20 note for the book, Paul (I’ll call him Paul from now on, as I am one of his creditors) looked slightly sheepish as he searched for change. He asked his nephew (around 12 years old I reckon) if he had any change – he had the penny but not the £3.00. Neither of them did.
This was awkward. The legendary Paul Daniels searching his magical pockets for some loose change to give us. The moment felt so awkward that I said, ‘don’t worry about it,’ saving any further embarrassment all round. ‘No, no,’ came the reply, ‘I’m Paul Daniels I’m sure I can get you three quid. I’ll sort it for you later.’
He couldn’t. He didn’t. Paul still owes me £3.00.
We do still have the book though. Somewhere.