Tony Glynn chats to Paul Daniels ahead of his appearance at The Plough, Torrington.
Iam not at all offended that while Paul Daniels is speaking to me on the telephone he is simultaneously doing his shopping, chatting to the shopkeeper and texting his wife. Multi-tasking is, after all, something he is famous for.
Well actually, as we all know, his universal success and national treasure status have been earned from doing far more than the juggling of tasks. The art of wizardry and illusion no doubt requires something other than the female-associated ability to do ten things at once. Or does it?
"I'm not Merlin," says Paul, once he's finished buying his Pringles. "Magic is not something I or any other magician has been born with. We train hard and learn it. Multi-tasking, on the other hand, may be something some people have in their genes."
He's right of course, but part of a magician's job is to make the seemingly impossible possible. The magic comes not from being able to do the trick, but in making it look easy and natural. In this regard a talent for performing to crowds is essential, surely?
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"I was actually a very shy kid," says Paul, "but I read a book when I was 11 and continued to read. It really is all learnt.
"Nowadays there's all sorts of videos and stuff you can get from the internet to teach you, but when you watch them you end up copying the magician. I'd advise reading books, because then it is yourself you imagine performing the trick and not someone else."
It's probably for the best, then, that the web wasn't around when Paul was a boy. For now, as a 75-year-old with a near-on 50-year career behind him, the "shy kid" is a prolific all-round entertainer as famous for his witty and bold personality as he is for his magic tricks.
Such charm soon made him a firm TV favourite, and he branched out from magic to endeavours such as hosting game show Wipeout and children's Eighties classic Wizbit. But first and foremost he is known as a magician, and as such cannot be complacent and has to constantly update his repertoire. In today's global village, how does he feel about the public having increased access to the methods magicians use?
"On a personal level it doesn't affect me at all," says Paul. "What most people don't know is that there's a multitude of ways to do a trick, so the performers who share their secrets are only giving themselves away.
"What does upset me is twofold. Firstly I can't understand why TV executives would want to ruin a form of entertainment when they need to provide more. And secondly, guys like yourself wrongly think there's only one way of doing a trick.
"But nothing has changed in my own career. My audience still leave as baffled and as entertained as ever."
Despite his popularity, Paul loves the more intimate venues like Torrington's Plough. The medium of television, to him, is just as intimate. Although at its peak The Paul Daniels Magic Show attracted millions of viewers, in his mind he was "performing to an audience of four, because that's how many fit on the couch and chairs at home".
And while hearing the banter with the shopkeeper as he chats with me, it's clear that social interaction is as needed for Daniels the man as it is for Daniels the entertainer.
When he isn't performing on stage or screen he's with friends or family, or giving lessons to students at his home with wife "the wonderful" Debbie McGee – the other half of one of the most enduring partnerships in showbusiness.
"Believe it or not," says Paul, "Debbie is still impressed by my new tricks. I try them out on her. But she also does her own you know.
"My mother is a different story. She's 97, she's seen it all. She certainly isn't in wonder."
As he leaves the shop, Paul tells me he is, at present, staying with his mum for a while to look after her following a fall. As he saunters down a village lane on a lovely summer day, I cannot help but feel his contentment. This man seems a far cry from an overworked multi-tasker. He may be in his seventies, but he's not stopping yet.
"I've told Debbie: if I ever become a doddery old fart on stage, shoot me. Oh hang on, let me just polish this gun.
"But no, seriously," he ponders, "I don't know. Look at The Rolling Stones: if they can do it, I sure as hell can."
And so our conversation ended, with Paul Daniels saluting his mother and brother as he reached the house. For a man who is still working flat-out when others his age are putting their feet up, he certainly has an air of laissez-faire. But is that just part of the act? If it is, that really is magic. And I like it. A lot.
Now where did I put that £20 note?
Paul Daniels: The First Farewell Tour – From Legend To Leg End is at The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington on Wednesday, October 9, 8pm. Tickets: £17. Box office: 01805 624624, www.theplougharts centre.org.uk.