“Hi, I’ve got an eye test at 9:30”

“Optician’s next door mate. This is Gregg’s”


Anyway. On with the blog…


I did have an eye test the other day as it happens. And there was a Gregg’s next door. And, seeing as I was a little early, I sneaked a quick pasty in beforehand. And a coffee. And a donut. 


“Why the eye test?” I hear you asking. “Other than having eyes that are no particular colour at all, I thought they were pretty OK”


As did I dear readers. As did I. Allow me give you the details…


Now, before I get started, I’d like to tell you my views on marked cards. 


I don’t approve. I don’t approve at all. Marked cards are for cheats, charlatans and ne’er do wells.They have no place in a professional card magicians armoury. However, my favourite card manufacturer released a marked deck recently, and gave loyal customers a free one if they spent €100 on supplies. Now, I don’t approve of marked decks, but I couldn’t resist an offer like that. 


And, my goodness, they’re good! Take a look at this and see for yourselves. This is a regular red backed phoenix playing card…


And this, my friends, is the marked version. Bet it takes you ages to spot the difference. Once you see it though, you’ll be kicking yourselves. 

(That’s right. It’s the 4 of clubs. Bloody amazing isn’t it. Worth every single euro)


Now, it seemed a shame to let such a good gaff go to waste.


So, cunningly a routine was developed to utilise this new prop. And, I’ll be honest, it was devilish. Abso-freaking-lutely devilish. 


You see, mind reading with cards is quite hard. Certainly the “three spectators at once ploy”. The mathematically minded amongst you will spot that those are long odds. A 1 in (52x51x50) chance if you will. Pretty tricky if you use conventional mind reading methods. (NLP, muscle reading, suggestion, and off centre fishing), but an absolute freaking doodle if you’re using a marked deck. Mwah hah hah!


Unfortunately, things did not go to plan. In the unusually pink lighting of Hartlepool’s Magenta Lounge, could I bollocks read those markings. And there’s only so long you can stare at the back of a card without drawing attention to yourself. I had to resort to conventional means after all. (One spot on, one right number, wrong suit, and the last one as far out as is possible to be)


It was at that embarrassing moment I realised I needed an eye test. 


Anyway, the conclusion of the eye test was good. Turns out the eyes are fine (apart from the odd colour). No issues at all apparently. I celebrated with some baked goods from the conveniently located patisserie next door.


Getting home, I fished the marked deck from my gig waistcoat pocket. Thought it deserved a second chance in regular lighting. And you know what, still couldn’t read the bloody marks. Even did that thing the older generation do when they hold stuff uncomfortably far away. I just couldn’t focus on them at all. 


Long story short, it wasn’t the marked deck. Seems I’d given that away to the birthday girl in Hartlepool. There was a good reason I couldn’t read the markings, and it wasn’t pink lighting, unusually chubby corneas or defective cones. It was because like an absolute donkey, I’d forgotten which pocket had the regular deck and which one the dodgy one.


So, what have we learned?


Well firstly, stick with your principles, and don’t get suckered in by offers.

Secondly, remember what pocket you put stuff in.

Thirdly, if you’ve booked me for a gig, check that souvenir deck of cards I gave you. Could be worth more than you thought.

Fourthly, though Gregg’s vegan sausage roll trumps the regular version on ethical and environmental grounds, I think the regular one has the edge on taste. The vegan one is a little salty for my liking.

(Though to be honest, neither can hold a candle to the sausage and bean melt. Oh my goodness)

And fifthly, if you’re going to scrape the barrel with a low quality blog, at least have a decent punchline to pull it all together.


So, as my eyes are OK, and it’s still in the first half of January, it seems appropriate to say…


Happy 2020.