Ever found yourself drifting off and imagining Venn Diagrams in your head?

No? Just me then.

Well, it happened to me recently at a gig. Allow me to elaborate…

So, that thing happens when a guest insists on showing you a trick. They borrow your deck, painstakingly count out 21 cards and deal them into 3 piles. Usually, at these times, my mind wanders off into one of two tangents…

“Your hands had better be clean. That’s a brand new deck. And I’m very fussy about deck hygiene.”


“Do you realise that I charge an arm an a leg per hour? In the time that it takes you to show me this trick, I’ll have earned at least 4 fingers. Maybe even a palm. And that bride and groom over there are paying for it. I hope you can live with that.”

But this time, my mind was wandered as follows…

“This trick just isn’t very good. I wonder why that is. I reckon it’s because it’s not surprising. You know that they’ll find your card, and it’s just a little puzzling. A puzzle does not a good trick make. You need a surprise.”

Then I thought about when I was teaching the littler Strange how to perform magic.

“Make it surprising”, I told her, “Good magic is always surprising!”

Taking this on board, she placed a coin in her hand. She waved her other hand over it….Then performed a raised leg fart.


[By this point, I was now 1/4 of the way into the wedding guest’s trick, and I ‘d come to the conclusion that surprise alone was’t the key to a good trick. Entertaining that a raised leg fart is, it’s not magic. A bit of puzzlement is required too. While outwardly feigning interest in the trick, I’d constructed a Venn diagram to illustrate this in my head]

But, I continued to ponder further. There’s got to be more to good magic than this. For one; swearing. I love it when a trick elicits a profanity from a guest. A good hearty swear like, “**** off, **** you, no ****ing way!” etc. Not a bad swear like, “****ing get on with it”.

Which brought me to the point of pace. This trick was dragging. Good magic should be snappy, pacey, to the point. No unnecessary patter. No long dealing and counting. Just magic.

By the time the trick was over, I’d mentally sketched the Venn diagram of perfect trickery in my head. Upgrading “surprising” to “astounding”, and “puzzling” to “baffling” and adding a couple of extra circles to boot. It was all finished in time to feign shock at having my card revealed and joke about how my job was at risk.

And, here it is, the secret of astonishment. In Venn.

If it’s not in the central bit, it doesn’t make it into the set.


I now realise that this is a niche blog. A very niche blog. I don’t think there are many people out there who will be interested in this at all. In fact, I’ve summarised who will enjoy this blog in Venn format.

Just me then.