Still not Harry Potter

I met a magician today. I had been writing in Cafe Nero and met my son there for lunch. The place had become busy (no great surprise at 1pm). The queue stretched to the door, so we went without coffee – and food. We had been there ten minutes, chatting and waiting for the queue to shorten, when a man aged about forty came in, came over to us and asked if we were staying. Things like that don’t happen that often in real life, so we asked him why. ‘I’m meeting a very good friend here,’ he said, ‘and I was wondering if you were about to leave.’ Had the man been swarthy, aggressive, and built like a brick outhouse we might have smiled sheepishly, nodded and left. But he wasn’t. He was a nice man. ‘I do magic tricks,’ he said. ‘And I get to know my audience, I understand their mannerisms. I got the impression that you were about to leave.’ A magician, then. The fact that there was nothing on the table, that my mug and plate from earlier had been cleared away, might have had something to do with his impression. I pointed to a vacant table and suggested, in a friendly way, that he wait there for his friend to arrive and perhaps, by then, we might have made up our minds to leave. Ten minutes later we stood up and waved to him. He came over, thanked us and shook our hands. No rabbits from hats, no bunches of plastic flowers from his sleeves. No sudden, unexpected production of our own watches and wallets from his inside pocket (I told you already, he was a really nice guy). What I didn’t tell my son, but will happily admit to you, is that I had every intention of giving up our seats to this man. I know what magicians can do, I have read Harry Potter. If we hadn’t left voluntarily we might have been turned into the street (feeble joke). Seriously though, I hope his friend came. We walked up the road and bought sandwiches. When I passed Nero’s ten minutes later he was still on his own, in the comfortable leather armchairs we had vacated.
(‘NOT HARRY POTTER’ is here)

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