TAKE FIVE Five minutes and five questions with... a magician
Who are you?
"Alan White, 70, from Birchington, also known as Alan The Magic Man at children's parties. I'm also called "Professor" Alan White at Gordon Clarkson's music hall shows at the Tom Thumb Theatre."
What do you do?
"I'm a magician, although for many years I also ran the Newbury Hotel in Norfolk Road, Cliftonville."
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How long have you been a magician?
"About 40 years. I get fresh ideas and try them out on audiences to see if they work. If something gets a really good laugh, or applause, I'll leave it in the show. Balloon modelling is very popular with children, they love it when a twist turns a sword into an elephant.
"Even with technology, magic is still all about illusion and sleight of hand and people not being able to figure how you're doing it. It's the same principle done in a different way.
"My favourite trick is the cut and resume skipping rope trick. I let children cut it in half themselves and then knock off the knot. Even the adults love it when the rope is one again."
How did you come to be doing this job?
"I started as a boy with my first magic set and forgot it until my own children were born 40 years ago. Then I began doing parties for them and shows for hotel guests and it went on from there. In my prime I used to do about 100 shows a year, but now it's more like 30. Often two families now will combine parties to share costs.
"The magician that inspired me years ago was David Nixon, but now my favourite is Derren Brown, who combines psychology with magic."
What's the best part of your work?
"Making people laugh! I always try and put laughter into the show as well as magic. The buzz comes when you see people going "wow!" It gives a real adrenalin charge.
"You also meet such a lot of nice people. There are thousands of conventions around the country. I'm a member of the Southern Sorcerers, which is based in Ramsgate and about six of us meet up. We also put on a charity show every other year.
"It's a great job, but my advice to any young aspiring magician is get yourself a decent job and do magic part-time. When you haven't got time for the old job, that's the time to turn professional."