Last updated at 11:57 PM on 27th January 2012
Given the mess he’s made of his fingers, it’s just as well Paul Daniels wasn’t sawing his wife, the lovely Debbie McGee, in two when his hand slipped.
Instead, he was in his garden shed on New Year’s Day making — would you believe — a new safety guard for his circular table saw.
The wood snapped, the blade kept spinning and, before you could say ‘Abracadabra!’ the fingers on his left hand were . . . well, substantially smaller.
Paul Daniels with his mangled fingers and that circular saw which slashed his forefinger, mangled his ring finger down to below the nail and removed the pad on his little finger
‘the pain was terrible,’ he says. ‘Thankfully, I don’t panic. I go completely the opposite — icy cold mentally — and everything goes in slow motion.
‘I yanked my hand out and clenched my fist, slamming it to my chest just in case it was gushing blood. I didn’t look at it. I couldn’t. I thumped the off switch with my right hand and ran.
‘Coupled with the fact it hurt like hell, my first thought was: “this could be the end of magic.”’
His fear was justified. the saw had slashed his forefinger, mangled his ring finger down to below the nail and removed the pad on his little finger. Paul’s ring finger is crucial to a secret sleight of hand that makes many of his card tricks possible. Surgeons were unable to save it.
‘In some ways it’s harder now as I’m beginning to realise all the things I can’t do,’ says Paul.
‘Yesterday morning I was cleaning my teeth and said to Debbie: “oh, I won’t be able to do that trick any more.” It’s the trick I’m very well known for in the magic world of being able to make you pick any card — and knowing which card you’ve chosen.
‘that was always my best weapon in card magic.’
He looks so very sad when he says this that it’s impossible for your heart not to go out to him. Add to this the fact that he’s hardly slept these past weeks, partly due to pain but mostly worry, and looks every one of his 73 years.
Today, Paul’s hand is hideously swollen and scarred. During the days of his Paul Daniels Magic show on the BBC, it was insured for