In Search of a Superhero
This blog is as much about superheroes as it is a tribute to my father. I write this in loving memory as it was this month, November 2005 when my father past away.
Children have always had a desire to be like their favourite superhero and as a child growing up in London the superhero I wanted to be most like was Sherlock Holmes, although Holmes never had the powers of Superman or having the gadgets used by Batman. For me, I couldn’t get enough of the stories written by the literary genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as visiting many of the locations that were described as part of Victorian and Edwardian London. I have also read many pastiche novels where my hero was brought to life by other authors. Although I could never imagine myself being anything like my fantasy hero, one can still dream. This is also what probably sparked off another obsession of mine, the search for genius and people demonstrating unique mental abilities. At the same time this led me towards developing many of the skills that I attempt to demonstrate in my shows.
One of the main skills and probably I would have to say the most important is in observing people and their surroundings. In general it is true to say everyone sees and hears everything, but not everyone makes use of the information they perceive, just like Holmes use to tell his faithful companion Dr Watson. Using observation is at the core of virtually all of my demonstrations and as an entertainer I get to meet many different people from all walks of life and from every occupation you could imagine. People of different age, race, culture, gender, social status, financial levels and backgrounds, but as far as possible I have made it my business to get to know how people act and react in many different situations, just by observing them.
Remembering back now I think it must have been my father that got me interested in reading the Sherlock Holmes stories as he did when he was a child and he told me of one or two of the episodes in his own life, while he was at school when he was able to use the skill of observation that Holmes was so famous for. One story I enjoyed hearing from my father time and time again was when he and the other boys in his class at school had a chance of winning a cricket bat. His teacher wrote down on a piece of paper a number and as simple as this was, the boy that came closest to calling out the correct number would win the bat. Obviously various numbers were randomly called out, all of them being incorrect, but when the moment came round for my father to call out the number he thought it was, he was spot on, making himself the envy of the class. Was it a lucky guess? My father never revealed to anyone how he knew what it was; it was only years later when he revealed to me the secret. He had used the observational skill of pencil reading. When the teacher wrote down the numbers on the piece of paper, my father watched the very top of the pencil to see the way it was moving. This gave him the edge he needed to get it right. Was this dishonest? No, not at all, all the other boys had equally the same chance to use their skill of observation; it was just my father taking advantage of it. With my father telling me this story of how he used this observational skill, he quickly became another one of my superheroes.
May my fathers dear soul rest in peace.