The Zürich Incident

It started with a phone call from my sister-in-law.

When my sister-in-law calls, I am never surprised at the substance of the conversation. One time she called and asked if Anna was at home and when I answered that she was at work my sister-in-law screeched through the phone for me to contact Anna, because, and I quote, "Anna will get thrush and you have to warn her".


Not if you knew my sister-in-law.

Back to the call. Her interest was with my travel arrangements for the following week or two. She was being alerted, she said, by someone from the "other side" to an injury to me in an airport. My sister-in-law ordered me to use a luggage trolley and not to carry my luggage over my shoulder - my performance props went into a bag which I carried over my right shoulder but never if I could put it on a trolley.

She told me the person from "the other side" was standing next to her telling her I will injure myself while carrying the bag over my shoulder, so use the luggage trolley and do not carry any bags. When pressed for more information on the person standing next to her, I could hear my brother whispering to say it was Ken. Now; Ken Brooke was a well-respected magician who befriended me and mentored me through a difficult period in my life and he had died at least ten years earlier. My brother knew this, and I assume was trying to give credibility to her advice. The next day I had to fly to Zürich for a one-night booking and I promised to use the luggage trolley.

I carried the bag over my shoulder on the way into the airport where I put it onto a trolley until I handed it over at the booking-in counter. There were no incidents in the airport and when I collected my luggage after arriving in Zürich, I was careful to use one of the airport trollies until I got a taxi to the Hotel.

After studying a map of Zürich, I could see that a tram was a good alternative to a taxi, being more leisurely and so a more interesting journey. From the map I could see the journey from the hotel to the venue went straight until it got to a park then it veered off to the left. During the journey I noted places of interest and landmarks, because never having been to that part of Zürich before I was keen to orientate myself.

The tram journey took only 15 minutes.

What a gig! I was sharing a dressing room with a troupe of Brazilian Carnival dancers and a very talkative mime. At the start of my evening of entertainment, I was performing close-up magic around the tables and I always use this time to spot potential helpers. There was a variety of people to choose from, everyone was ready for a good time and a laugh.

Both the close-up and the cabaret spot went according to plan with lots of laughter and surprises but no one incident stands out in my memory.

By the time I packed up and got out onto the street it was 1.30 in the morning. The air was fresh and warm so I started to walk instead of getting a taxi – it was only 15 minutes in a tram and I had noted the route so what could go wrong?

I remembered the park but had not noticed other smaller parks along the route so at the first park I took a wrong turning. After at least 15 minutes of walking, I realised I did not know where I was with relation to the hotel. My sense of direction is hopeless, the first time I visited Zürich I went for a walk and could not find my way back to the hotel and had to get a taxi. Cities with a river running through them are always a problem for me, if I cross a bridge, I lose my sense of direction and if I cross another bridge, I may as well call for help.

Walking around a large city in the early hours of the morning can unsettle and make it easy to slip into paranoia watching out for slow-moving cars, hearing footsteps behind, jumping at sudden outbursts of noise, etc.

This experience did not concern me; it was the morning after a large festival and the streets were alive with people enjoying themselves. Drunk people and groups in traditional Swiss costume were spilling out of every restaurant, café and bar.

It took me until 3.45 to find the hotel, party goers in Switzerland have a sense of direction to equal mine and it wasn't until I found the correct park by accident that I knew where I was.

After four or five hours sleep, I knew I was in trouble. Getting out of bed was painful, my shoulder was on fire and the intensity of the pain was making it difficult to move my right arm above waist height.

So, was there any credence to my sister-in-law's phone call?

Had Ken Brooke been in contact with her?

Or was it a coincidence?

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