Thursday, February 11, 2010

Putting it in perspective

The other day I heard an interview on BBC Radio 4 with an elderly Londoner called Fergus Anckorn. I ordered his book which arrived in the post yesterday - a thin, self-published volume whose shipping cost more than the book itself; a dense wee thing mostly about the horrors of his wartime experiences, being captured in Singapore and forced to work building the Bridge on the River Kwai in Thailand.

But here's the kicker: he was a lifelong member of the Magic Circle and used his performing skills in the POW camps to earn extra food that kept him alive at a time when malnutrition-related disease was killing others.

See? Magic can save your life.

Ok, at its worst it can also fill up your spare room, annoy strangers, waste money and dominate your attention when you ought to be doing a proper job, but I'm willing to live with that.

Having cheated death (bombed, shot, starved, beaten, overlooked during a massacre, chemically burned...) several times, the back cover goes on to say,

"Not surprisingly, Fergus has since regarded the rest of his life as a bonus, but he still thinks every day of the friends who weren't so lucky."

The next time I have a rough gig I will think of Fergus Anckorn, and the gig will not seem so rough.

I should also point out that Mr Anckorn spent the better part of two years barefoot and clad only in a dark blue loin cloth. Style: it runs in our blood.


  1. My friend, Matthew, served for a few months in the army, but hated the basic training so much he quit. Now, no matter what he's doing, he asks himself "is anyone kicking me in the head as I crawl through mud? No? Then this is OK."

  2. Ha! I like that. That will be my new mantra.