Matthew St Magi
Silk Cut, Single Malt:
Second Time’s The Charm
It’s John Higgs’ fault, really.
John and I became colleagues a few years ago, when we both had work published in the same issue of the Fortean journal Darklore: his was an extract from the then-unpublished KLF biography, mine was the first of my many pieces on the subject which has dominated my career as a Fortean journalist thus far – The Slenderman.
We became Twitter pals, and he (with fellow Brightonian Jason Arnopp, who would go on to fictionalise my earlier career as a professional combat magician in his novel The Last Days of Jack Sparks – out now!) came to see me talk about Slendy at Treadwells’ bookshop in London.
John mentioned his involvement in the upcoming Cosmic Trigger shenanigans; I pledged to come along to the Horse Hospital to see the preview / fundraiser / Third Eye Opener… which, needless to say, blew my socks off. He and Daisy mentioned the upcoming event in Liverpool at the Kazimer, and that Daisy was planning a little street ritual under Jung’s bust in Mathew Street afterwards to summon the forces of synchronicity.
And my Fiendish Mage Brain nudged me to suggest to Daisy, “maybe we should put John Constantine in the mix?” – he’s from Liverpool, powered mostly by synchronicity and created by Alan Moore (whose involvement in the show had just been announced). Daisy said Yes… and that’s how over fifty of us ended up doing the 23 February 2014 Working.
(You can read up on that in more detail at my Daily Grail write-up of the event here.)
Cut to this year.
Another Darklore colleague, John Reppion (son-in-law of the aforementioned Alan Moore), invites me to speak at his one-day psychogeography / folklore event Spirits Of Place in Liverpool on 2 April. Couldn’t turn that down, especially as it puts me on the same bill as Ramsey Campbell, England’s Greatest Living Horror Author.
And it occurs to me that I need to get more of Liverpool under my feet again to do the event justice – so I arrange a day with John wandering round the town. When deciding just when to do this, my Fiendish Mage Brain spoke up again, saying “you should totally do that on 23 February, and recharge the Mathew Street Working while you’re there”. Can’t ignore an idea that good…
And so it was that, after a fine tour of Scouse urban magic with John, I met up with as many of the Trigger-Pullers as could be assembled on a weekday to do the thing.
In the end, it was eight of us there in the flesh: me, my Hebden Bridge buddy and Festival 23 hand Jamie Dodds along with F23 instigators Anwen Fryer Burroughs & Tim Holmes, plus the local talent of celebrated thespian Katy-Anne Bellis, Larry Sidorczuk, the powerhouse that is Tommy Calderbank and a perfectly timed arrival of Dave Sweeney and his flute.
Many of the 23 Current were plugged in remotely (including my padawan Richie Green, who improvised a piece of guitar music for it, called The Trigger) for a spell launch scheduled for 8:23PM.
As per the last time, we called on Herrdoktorprofessor Jung, Conjob and the Pool of Life to bring us the powers of synchronicity – but this time, to take the show all the way to Santa Cruz – and once again to blow our minds… but not too much!
As the appointed time arrived, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the rest of the gang (a circle of seven – Hail Babalon!) while they danced round me, chanting “Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz…” to the tune of “Here We Go”… as the clock hit the mark, we turned to Jung and yelled THREE! TWO! ONE! FNORD!!, launching the magic through Peace Signs.
If nothing else, it amused several drunk Scousers, who Tommy & Larry educated as to what we were doing and why (at least one of whom swore to read the KLF book later). Then Tommy kindly invited us back to his gaff for drinks round the bonfire. With his Dalek. And his TARDIS.
That, folks, is what real magic is. An idea, a place, some people. A couple of props – just like last time, a packet of Silk Cut to leave for Conjob and a ceremonial hip-flask of single malt to share with the congregation.
And the Will to do it at all.