Deep beneath my house, behind steel doors 30 inches thick and along a concrete corridor, there is a nuclear bunker. It was built at the height of the Cold War, when Kennedy and Kruschev were staring each other down with an arsenal of doomsday missiles bristling at their backs.


The special effects are so stunning that every young viewer and a lot of parents – probably imagines that the actors really did learn to fly their broomsticks for the Quidditch match. Hermione’s wand levitates a white feather so convincingly that my mind rushed back to incredible feats of gravity-defying psi-power which I witnessed 30 years ago at the height of spoon-bending mania.

And then there are goblins, and a giant, and a dragon and in another certain cinema success to come next month, Lord Of The Rings, there are elves, hobbits and orcs. We’ll sit in the magical, darkened theatres and believe in the hobbit heroes as fully as we believe in our own cars and bank accounts.

The truth is even more wonderful than these beguiling fictions. Magic is real, and we can perform it. Magic exists in our own minds. The imagination which brings these characters to life on screen can be extended into every corner of our lives. To make it work we have only to exercise it, and this is why children are the best magicians of all.

It’s no coincidence that JK Rowling’s hero is a young boy. It would be much harder to believe in an adult who discovered the powers Harry has – harder, but not impossible. The hobbits are like children too – innocent, small and always speaking their minds. Children are born with real magical gifts, such as the ability to read their parents’ minds and even the power to defy the ‘laws’ of physics. Because our society does not encourage these gifts, or even acknowledge them, they are rarely developed very much.

But I know from countless performances of my own, on stage or at home, in parties or during visits to hospitals, that my strange effects on metal are magnified many times when I am surrounded by youngsters who believe innately in magic.

When you take your children or grandchildren to see one of these marvellous movies, remind them – magic can be real. You’ll never know what miracles you can manage until you try.


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