I have no track record in the conjuring department.
Rabbits have resolutely refused to materialise from every hat I’ve ever owned.
I stared at the Great Wall of China and watched it not levitate for the 153,000th consecutive day of its existence.*
I once took a hammer to the £10,000 Rolex watch of a stranger – I strained every sinew of my conjuring muscles in an attempt to rebuild it, but to no avail.
The owner chased me down the street flinging tiny cogs and little diamond encrusted hands in my direction. Even in mid-scarper I was attempting to conjure those diamonds into my trouser pocket, mentally calculating the location of the nearest diamond merchant.
You can’t fault me for effort.
You can fault me for my conjuring success rate.
It currently stands at 0%.
I am statistically a very poor conjurer.
I decided to lower my sights and prove my untapped conjuring talents by magic-ing something into existence that already has a reasonable probability of being in existence. With the laws of probability on my side I surely couldn’t fail.**
And so it was, on an otherwise unremarkable Sunday morning in February that I made a promise to my kids.
“This morning, we are going sledging,” I said. “Today…right now, in fact.”
They pointed out, patiently, that the ground was not covered with snow. They asked me if I’d taken my medication. They were very kind (if a little patronising).
“Leave the snow to me,” I replied, sounding in my own mind like the very definition of a conjuror.
The weather in my home town in the north of England, you see, was cold and sleety. Knowing that we lived at sea-level (I’m extremely observant like that) I deduced that the surrounding towns in Cumbria and Yorkshire, nestled into the northern hills, would be receiving snowfall as we spoke.
I congratulated myself inwardly as that Geography A-level finally started to earn its keep.
I checked my weather app and identified Ingleton, Yorkshire, as snow central. A forty minute drive away and an eighty percent chance of heavy snow. The odds were firmly in my favour.
In the eyes of my children I was about to heroically conjure up a morning of sledging.
This day would be logged in the “big book ‘o’ childhood memories” alongside the time when I let them steer the car around a local car park, and that other time when I fell into a river.
Two hours later we returned home.
From the sleet in Lancashire I had conjured into existence some sleet in Yorkshire. The sledge remained in the boot of the car. My old friend probability had let me down. I resolved to delete my BBC weather app and download one producing more favourable weather conditions.
I am no nearer gaining full membership of the magic circle.
The kids think I’m losing my touch.
As for sawing my wife in half – I daren’t even broach the subject with her
*Depending on your interpretation of the Great Wall of China, and when it was built. I’m using the assumption that the bit of wall I was staring at was Ming Dynasty. It’s the only Dynasty I’ve really heard of, to be honest. I think because of Ming the Merciless, from Flash Gordon…that’s my effective (if slightly flawed) method of remembering dynasties
**And with that sentence I reveal my fundamental misunderstanding of probability. Are you still surprised I can’t perform magic? Are you wondering how I manage to dress myself and hold down a full-time job?