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Max’s big message

your memories are your destiny

​​I was asked recently to do some magic as a favour for an old friend of mine at an old peoples home. I went along and saw primarily old ladies. Many in their 80's and 90's.The first thing that struck me were the many fingers dressed with wedding rings that had been placed their once upon a time by the hands of young men. There was one lady in a wheel chair that was sat at the front. It was her birthday, her old friends had all passed away and the children's children were grown up and living in another country with little children of their own who didn't speak English.I found a piano there and began to play all the old time songs and she was happily singing along, it reminded her of a time when she wore stylish clothes and lived near Hampstead. I made a joke about it being a jolly 30th birthday, we chatted. She spoke fondly of the past, her late husband, then further back again as a child growing up in St John's wood. The past was important to her on her birthday. Her duties had been completed and now she alone was the torch bearer of the memory of joys; hardships; sorrows; marriage; children; the 1930's; war and peace time.They brought her a cake, she was smiling and a bit teary eyed. She struggled to blow it out but they helped her. I wondered how it must feel knowing that your foreign great grand children will grow up knowing about you third hand. I also realised in that moment that I too, conversely have a lineage culturally rich with Italian ancestors to whom I owe something of who I am today.Did they ever wonder if they would live to see their great-grandchildren or wonder if a future generation would be grateful for their sacrifice?

When we often look at a family tree, we see a name and someone tells us "that was your great great grandmother/father on your father/mothers side." Have I ever stopped to think one day that could be describing me?

The legacy of this old lady in the home quietly continues on through the generations and one day someone will wish they knew more, will research, will find photo's will visit an unknown country to see a place where someone lived but until that day, she must continue to be the sole torch bearer of her own memories.

Never underestimate the memories you build around you and in your life because one day, they too will be your destiny.

A week on Television

​What an amazing couple of weeks. It all began with the idea of doing the Halloween special on Titchmarsh and with TV developers not sure about what tricks should go where and frustrated magical advisers who were suggesting certain illusions. The magical adviser was going to bring the fire cage for me to make Alan appear, the canister and budgie trick and the guillotine to chop off someone’s head.  The studio call time was Monday 11.45am and by the Friday evening before the weekend, the adviser couldn’t commit because the developers developed too late. I had lost the beginning of my show and the end of my show and one trick in the middle.

Thankfully Michael Gee had a fire cage however it would be too small for Alan to appear but he also had a shadow tent which he had never used, didn’t know how it worked and couldn’t assemble

it. I organized something else to go in place of the budgie and an idea that we could end the show by making a ‘pumpkin cake’ in my top hat. As late as Sunday night it was touch and go with the shadow tent and Michael was trying to work out how to assemble it at 11pm. I rang Mike morgana on the off chance that he knew about the illusion. Thankfully he had a few nuggets of insight and told me that we needed a workman’s torch. And the stage lights must be brought low.

I was up at 6 am working on the spooky patter about camping at Halloween and the shadows falling.  Got in the studio, saw the prop for the first time and rehearsed it with Alan as if I had known it all my life thanks to Michael’s input.

The result of all of this madness was a more appropriate Halloween trick at the beginning and more fun and airtime at the end. So the moral of the story is enjoy the journey and in true Paralympic

fashion, turn your handicaps from stumbling blocks into stepping-stones!

Max’s Big Message

Max's Big Message

​I recently had an operation on my back between my shoulder blades and it continues to take me out of action. So I sat in a cafe in Putney and watched as the world worked. I was reminded of the words of the Dalai Lama who I had the good fortune of meeting in St Paul's Cathedral when he was presented with the Templeton Prize. He reiterated that the thing that surprised him most was mankind because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

Do we ask ourselves seriously what on earth we are doing here and why we do it? It might be the question that changes our lives.

Just because we can't yet conceive of an answer to a question, it doesn't mean it's not worth asking. I often set my self tasks to find solutions to magic trick problems. I start by asking how I might for example vanish Big Ben..and I don't let it's seeming impossibility or enormity stop or intimidate me from looking for a solution. Even if I don't find an answer, to even attempt it, enriches my magical thinking and behaviour.

Today I challenge you to stare death in the face for; one day you will be dead and so will your great grand children if you have them. Do you want to leave a legacy and if so why? M Scott Peck said that we should see death as great way of putting things into perspective in the daily ordering our lives. If you only had 2 weeks to live, what would mater most to you?