Mandrake the Magician on the make-shift cinema stage was no American comic detective but one of our own with a local accent.
He conjured up flowers in impossible colours and hurled their sharp points into the wooden floor with the ferocity of a well-thrown dart.
He demonstrated several times and went for the big finish.
He called for a taste volunteer to confirm that magic had occurred here this night.
A burly chap flung himself forward.
Carried away with his momentary fame, he caught hold of a large sheet of plywood fronting the temporary stage to vault up into posterity. The nails gave way. The man fell backwards. A large spotlight fell and was damaged.
Mandrake, told the man he was an idiot, that the steps were for accessing the stage and who was going to pay for the lamp; a lamp that had been paid for by Mandrake himself?
While the man thought about not having a free pint, the pain in his back, his lost dignity and the prospect of being sued, a lone voice called out from the balcony.
“If Mandrake is magic, he should be able to wave a wand and fix the lamp.”
Someone else shouted that the idiot should pay for the poor man’s lamp, and pretty soon the shouting audience was happily divided into the Mandrakians and the Idiots.
A wonderful night was had by all, with the possible exception of Mandrake whom we never saw again, nor the thirsty man, neither.
A visitor from Rome might have thought he was back in the Coliseum with a crowd roaring for blood.
But it was only us on a good night of cine variety, when we were all live.
Extracted from Barking Mad Tales of Liars, Lovers, Loonies and Layabouts by Brendan Nolan
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