It all started with a Wednesday Tea Talk. Drawing on the quite extraordinary variety of ex-Pats living in Andorra, I have, for the past 13 years, organised a monthly talk on subjects as varied as growing lavender for oil essence on a large, nearby cooperative in France, conserving archaeological artefacts in Kuwait and ending up being interned by the Iraqi invasion force, sailing single-handed around the world in the ’60s, running the Sultan of Oman’s army, and being the first woman to climb Everest from both sides. Stuck for new ideas, I asked my co-organiser, Brenda, if she could suggest anyone. And she came up with Jorge Jaime. (pronounced horhay haimay)
Jorge is originally from Peru and came to Andorra via the US and Argentina. As a young man, encouraged by his mother, he set out to study architecture in Lima, but his heart wasn’t in it. His real passion was magic and illusion.
Arrived in Andorra, not only was Jorge running Hunters Bar and Restaurant in Arinsal but from time to time he did magic tricks at parties and restaurants. So I asked him to give us a talk about his life. He agreed and, at the end, he indulged us with a few tricks.
Jorge’s tricks, though intimate, are nonetheless spectacular. The one that sticks in my mind most involved an ordinary paper napkin picked up from the restaurant table – and a great deal of magic! A hush fell over the room as, with typical diversionary tactics, Jorge swiftly folded the napkin into a white tulip with a single leaf sprouting out of its stem. We watched, silent, spellbound. And then he opened his fingers and let it go. But no, it didn’t fall to the floor. It stayed just where he had left it – suspended upright in mid-air. Extraordinary! I looked more carefully. He was slightly bent over so that his head was above the tulip. Could there perhaps be an invisible thread dangling the tulip from his mouth? An instant later Jorge answered that question. He swept his hand in a horizontal circle above the flower. No thread. And then what joy! He plucked the flower from mid-air and gave it to me. It is now on the mantelpiece in my sitting room but, sadly, it has lost it’s magic. If I let it go, it plummets to the floor.
I asked Jorge if he was planning to do a whole show in Andorra as I and my 102-year-old husband, Edward, were eager for more. “No!” he replied.
That seemed such a shame. And then I thought, “Why not organise a show myself, hire a room and invite friends along to delight in the entertainment?”
One of the great joys of Andorra is the ease with which anything can be organised. Jorge agreed to give a private performance and suggested a limit of 40 so that everyone would be able to see well. We ended up with 41. They were of 12 different nationalities speaking eight different languages and ranging in age from 3 – 102! Another of the joys of living in Andorra.
So what, I was asked, was the special occasion? Was it a birthday? “No,” I said. “It’s to celebrate Life and to have fun!” And fun it certainly was.
Jorge started by telling us he was going teach us a trick. “Now,” he instructed us, “the most important thing is not to take your eyes off the magician for he will be trying all the time to distract you so you won’t see what he’s up to.” As he spoke he flapped a small red silk handkerchief around in his right hand. He then stuffed it into his left fist. He opened his fist and voilá the handkerchief had disappeared and instead there was a small brown egg. He then showed us how the egg wasn’t real and that he had stuffed the hanky inside its hollow interior. He pulled the hanky out to prove it. We all laughed, enchanted. He then called to his sister, Paola, to bring him an empty glass. We turned to watch her arrive with the glass. Jorge then broke the egg into the glass – and, magically, it had become a real egg with egg white that spilled onto the floor. Remember that rule? Don’t be distracted! He had us completely fooled! But then Jorge Jaime is far more than just a slick conjuror. Let me quote from one eloquent email sent to me afterwards by a happy guest, Peter:
“Jorge is the finest export from Peru since Paddington Bear. Not only is he obviously a highly skilled magician, his inter-personal skills are of the highest quality and he very soon had us all gasping, applauding and laughing in equal measure…”
There was however another star to our show. That was young Tom from Australia. Aged nine, he is a serious young man with a charm all of his own and a passion for magic. And Jorge is exceptionally good with children. None of the humiliating teasing that some magicians use after inviting a child on stage, there to get cheap audience laughs at the child’s expense. These two made an excellent team.
One trick they did together that I particularly enjoyed was when someone in the audience was persuaded to hand over a 50€ note. It was put inside one of six identical, unmarked, brown envelopes. Then Tom numbered them one to six. Then Jorge asked someone to call out a number from 1 to 6. He picked up the envelope named and, without a moments hesitation, tore it into little bits and threw the bits over his shoulder. He did this until finally there was only one envelope left. This one he picked up and opened. Inside was the 50€ note. How we laughed! But how did he do it?
Yes, Jorge produced laughs by the magic hat full. From where I was sitting right at the side I could see a whole sweep of friends – laughing almost till they cried and applauding with gusto. A truly magical evening in Andorra.