Twose Company | A Lesson
By Dominic Twose - Saturday, November 16, 2019
A Lesson from Brian Sinclair
This month I’m going to talk about a great magician that I’ll bet most of you have sadly never heard of. And I’ll tell you about a valuable lesson he taught me.
Brian Sinclair (professional name Brian Buzzing) was a beaded burly bear of a man with a commanding presence. His focus was on performing strong magic for real people; he performed on Friday nights at a Swiss restaurant, the Chalet Arosa in Tunbridge Wells. He would typically start with sponge balls, and perform material such as coins through the table, a wrist-watch steal, Chop cup, card in wallet, and the egg bag. While this was great material, Fred Robinson said his best trick was how he got invited to sit at the table, but gave no indication how he did this.
He was a great performer. In Pabular, Fred wrote he ranked with the best of close uppers. Brian acknowledged he learned a lot from Pat Page (like so many others).
However Brian published little, and as a result many have not heard of him. But what he did publish was superb. Hugard’s Magic Monthly has a wonderful Riffle Shuffle Force (Volume 15, p54), which is simple and disarmingly casual. Pabular published his Cards Across (Volume 5, p728), which makes intelligent use of a Toppit.
He rarely came to the Marlborough Arms, but when he did it was always a treat to watch him work. It was here that he taught me a valuable lesson. One once occasion, he and I watched the incomparable Eric Mason perform one of his routines based around one of his unique moves. Well, we all have our off-days and on this occasion, the sleight flashed. I thought Eric would want to know, so afterwards I told him.
Brian heard and pulled me to one side. ‘You ****.’ He said. ‘You utter ****. You’ve just seen a display by one of Britain’s finest magicians, and that’s all you can say? You’re a ****.’
Well, relayed so forcefully, I thought a lot about this. On the one hand, he was completely right; I was spending my Monday nights with Britain’s finest magicians; I knew it, and appreciated it, but how often did I tell the people I was with how much I admired their work? Also, it was true, I was a ****.
On the other hand, I knew if one of my sleights was flashing, I’d like someone to tell me. I drew two conclusions from this.
One was, if you are going to point out a flaw to someone, make sure you balance that with praise of what you did appreciate.
The other was, to make any criticism privately, away from others. Maybe I had been at a poor angle; maybe no one else had seen Eric’s sleight: to criticise it openly I might have been exposing the method. And anyway, no one likes being criticised in public. Besides, by doing it privately, it lessened the chances that Brian would overhear and call me a ****.
Years later, on a management course in Milton Keynes, I was told these two techniques were recommended management practice. The tutor presented them as if they would come as a surprise to us, but, sitting at the back, practicing my faro shuffle, I nodded, transported back to those wonderful evenings at the Marlborough Arms, remembering the **** I used to be - and hoped I was no longer.
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