Glass act more of a triumph than a trick

By Squinter

S QUINTER has no time for magicians and tricks – he thinks it was Paul Daniels who put him off them some time in the 1980s, but he can’t be sure.

That said, Squinter knows a fairly nifty trick which he occasionally does for bored children at birthday parties which involves getting a sad 50p piece to cry. Yes, cry.  As in tears. It’s good. It works every time. And, no, Squinter’s not going to tell you how it’s done. The Magic Circle don’t look too kindly on that kind of betrayal.

A quick bit of sleight of hand like that isn’t too bad – Squinter will happily put up with that for 20 or 30 seconds. It’s the long, drawn-out tricks with waving arms, lovely assistants, atmospheric music and velvet curtains that get on Squinter’s wick. Yes, the Paul Daniels kind of magic. That David Copperfield bloke too. He says he’s going to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa on his next visit to Italy. Maybe he’ll come over here and do a practice run on the Albert Clock.

Anyway, Squinter’s sitting in a pub in Canterbury – the Jolly Sailor, since you ask – doing a  crossword and minding his own business when out of the blue this chirpy Manc (see picture right) wanders over and asks him if he’d like to see a magic trick. To be quite honest, Squinter wasn’t keen. You’ve just had your lunch, you’ve got your paper on your knee and your pen in your hand – the last thing you want to do is spend time with an over-friendly Coronation Street extra. But he wasn’t to be deterred.

Doing a quick sweep of the bar, he retrieved three empty pint glasses, which he placed on the table beside his half-full (half-empty?) one. You can see for yourself from the picture what he went on to do. Squinter won’t lie – he was impressed; most of all relieved that the glasses hadn’t come tumbling down on top of him, but impressed too. First of all he had no idea that you can balance a pint glass on top of another pint glass by setting it on the rim at an awkward angle like that. Doing it with three glasses was worth seeing; placing a half-full glass on top was worth a low-key round of applause. Indeed, Squinter was so taken by the performance that he whipped out his mobile phone and took a picture. Go on, admit it – you’re impressed too.

It’s likely that Squinter was only impressed because it wasn’t actually a trick, as the bloke had claimed. It was a demonstration. Tricks, by their very definition, involve some element of cheating or deception – Squinter’s crying 50p act certainly does (it’s still no, stop asking). But this was an absolutely straightforward case of watching somebody do something unusual that wasn’t achieved through illusion or confusion. The Kent conjurer slowly and carefully placed the glasses on top of each other, and because they are obeying some weird law of physics, the result was what you see before you.

Funny the things you see in a bar. Regular readers will know that not that long ago a pal managed to get a signal on Squinter’s mobile phone by placing it in an empty pint glass. That wasn’t a trick either – it was something to do with acoustics and radio waves. In truth, the Canterbury glass trick was more like that than any of the things Paul Daniels used to do on TV on a Saturday evening.

Squinter’s not going to be attempting this any time soon, though. Doubtless some will, given the fact that it is doable and when people have a couple of jars on them they’ll have a bash at anything. Just don’t blame Squinter if the attempt ends in tears.

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