TRAUMA – A Cautionary Tale

One day an old man was invited to a magic show to be given by a young friend who was an aspiring Magician. The old man had taken a keen interest in the Magician’s progress having seen his earlier shows and been impressed by his developing talents. A small enthusiastic gathering had assembled for the show at the Magician’s home where his mother provided refreshments as well as special-effects support. After some delay during which the anticipation was artfully directed into an almost fevered excitement the show commenced. The Magician soon had his little audience spellbound with his new repertoire and the show was quickly punctuated by gasps of awe and bursts of applause. The floating ball, the self-knotting handkerchiefs, the card tricks – all enhanced by his mother’s lighting effects and some by a pyrotechnic accompaniment - all were received with true wonderment. Children and adults alike were randomly selected to participate in the show by the use of paper darts nonchanantly launched by the Magician into the audience. As the show progressed the old man, as do all audience-members in such situations, wondererd anxiously whether the paper dart would eventually find its way to him. And then came the trick that the young Magician announced would require someone with a basic ability in maths. The paper dart then fell between the old man and a young boy - and prompted by those previously familiar with his mathematical skills the old man gingerly stepped forward. He was then asked by the Magician to sit at a small table which held a pen and notepad and then directed to think of a number, write it down, and then do some basic arithmetical manipulation. The old man had some trouble seeing clearly – the hand-held spotlighting was waving around and he didn’t have the right spectacles for writing. However, not wishing to interrupt the momentum of the show, he carried on as best he could and was finally asked to give the final number. “An interesting number” he announced “It’s 999”. “What!” said the Magician. “That can’t be right!” exclaimed the mother. The old man hurriedly reviewed the figures. “No – it’s 999” said the old man. The Magician stepped over to look at the figures: “Look at the scrawl you’ve written – how can that make any sense?” The old man looked up into the Magician’s face and saw a mixture of confusion, humiliation and rage. “No it just can’t be right – it’s always another number” the mother desperately cried. “Oh God - I’ve ruined the show and traumatised my dear friend” thought the old man, who, now that the show appeared to have come to an end, made his excuses and departed.


T.R.A.U.M.A. = The Risks Accompanying Untested Magicians’ Assistants

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