PACKED LIVES

At 20 Marc Paul `retired' from banking and for the past eight years has made his living as a close-up magician
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The Independent Travel
My first professional trip abroad was demonstrating magic tricks at FAO Schwartz, the New York toy store. I now travel abroad up to 20 times a year and have performed magic for the British Tourist Authority in New York and to American travel agents in Philadelphia. So far this year I've been to Monte Carlo, Tenerife and have lectured to Italian magicians in Milan Turin and Padua.

The close-up magic that I do, right under people's noses, works best for small groups and is popular for receptions and banquets. I work from group to group so everyone sees my tricks. It takes about two hours to cover 150 to 300 people.

I can get enough props to peform a two-hour show into a small briefcase. Contents include: cards, a chain, a brass box, exploding cotton wool, three sponge balls, a marker pen, a white soft rope, pad of paper, three crime novels, and various gimmicks I won't divulge including how I get borrowed rings to disappear and appear later from a flash of flame.

I always carry this case in my hand. The only other luggage I take is a suit carrier with casual clothes, two suits with silk shirts that tend to crease less than cotton. I must be able to carry my luggage in one hand. I hate having anything on my back or shoulders.

Since I work very close to people, I need to be well groomed and make sure I have plenty of toothpaste and brushes, wet shaving gear, along with lip balm and hair gel which are crucial plus vitamin C pills, headache cure and sore throat pastilles.

It takes an hour to pack. I lay everything out before- hand so I can look at it and ask myself if I really need it. I then remove half of it, pack what's left and still find I only use half of that. I'm rarely outside, so don't need to take heavy clothing though I pack gloves for New York. I only take essentials, plus a good novel to read on the plane.

I never take a camera. I prefer to remember my experiences and I know I can always go back again. It's like being in London and never taking pictures of something that's familiar to you.

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