IT was Thomas Wright’s dad, a bricklayer, who told him he should become a professional magician.
“I use to work for him,” says the 27-year-old. “But it wasn’t me. I’d spend all day on site showing off tricks. I’m not sure if my dad wanted me to follow my dream or just wanted rid of me.”
He thinks a moment.
“I got my bricklaying NVQ first, though,” he notes. “So after I’ve pulled a rabbit out of a hat I can build you a wall. Still have my trowel somewhere.”
It seems unlikely he’ll be needing it in the foreseeable future.
Because 18 months after Tom put down that trowel and moved from Grimsby to Sheffield to follow his dream, business as a magician is...well, magic. And that’s no illusion.
A trend, said to be inspired by the recession, for old- fashioned entertainment has seen bookings for parties and functions go kaboom; while Tom’s growing reputation for quick, close-up card and coin trickery means an average week now includes performing anywhere from christenings back in Cleethorpes to corporate events in the capital.
Next month, meanwhile, he is to launch his own internet TV channel where he promises to show off – and then explain – one trick a week.
“I like the idea of uncles being able to watch what I do and then go and amaze their niece or nephew,” he says.
Oh, and there’s also the small matter of a wedding to prepare for – after meeting fiancée Sarah while working.
“I gave her a card and she texted me the next day asking how I’d done a trick,” he recalls. “I said I’d tell her if she came on a date.”
Not a bad 18 months, in other words, for a lad who first got into the art of hocus pocus because he wanted to fool his granddad.
That was when he was eight. His mum’s dad would show him a trick but when he showed his dad’s dad, the old fella refused to be fooled.
“He always knew how I’d done it so it became my goal to fool him just once,” recalls Tom, of Haggstones Road, Oughtibridge. “It took two years in the end.”
The youngster became a member of Grimsby’s Magic Circle when he was 12 and got a Saturday job in a sea front magic shop at 16. Then after leaving college he worked with his dad – but found himself still dreaming of wands and whispered words.
So, on the old man’s suggestion he set up The Magical Arts Of Thomas Wright.
He got some lucky breaks along the way.
“The first shop I went in to put up an advert, the owner said I could do it free if I performed a trick,” he recalls. “So I did one and she hired me for her daughter’s 18th.”
And he’s had a couple of unlucky ones too – including the evening he threw up his deck of cards as part of a routine, only to see one fall into the cleavage of an audience member.
“I pretended it was part of the magic,” he winces.
But it’s all part of the rough and tumble of being a magician.
“It’s worth it,” he says, “Because nothing beats seeing people when they’ve been amazed by something you’ve done. It’s such a thrill.”
Tom’s internet channel will be launched at www.tommymagic.co.uk in February.