A street magician who had a treasured horseshoe-based puzzle snatched from him by a drunk and flung into the River Wear has met the teenager who helped him get it back.
Alfie Hill, 73, was performing on a bridge in Durham City Centre when a drunk man approached him.
Mr Hill said, “He came along and as I was giving a balloon animal to a child, he took an inflated balloon. I took the balloon out of his hand and presented him with the horseshoe puzzle and I said, ‘Take the ring off and I’ll make you anything you like.”’
“He looked at it saying, ‘I don’t want that effing so-and-so’ and he threw it straight in the river. I just burst out crying.”
“I was devastated when it went in.”
The puzzle, which Mr Hill had been using in his act for 30 years, stayed in the Wear for some time. But Mr Hill was helped by an intelligent Durham teen.
Jonathon Lambert, 13, a keen angler from Esh Winning, along with his dad Michael and a family friend, managed to fish the puzzle out of the river using a length of rope and an extra-strong magnet.
After getting the puzzle back, Mr Hill said, “I’m so excited and pleased. It’s been all over the place with me. It’s my reputation and second love, next to my wife.”
“I’m over the moon.”
“It’s as good as new – WD40 is marvellous.”
“I tried to get another set, but you can’t get ones like this anymore. You can get cheap imitation ones, but nothing as good as mine. They’re just rubbish.”
Mr Hill wanted to meet his three helpers and thank them. Mr Hill also expressed his thanks to PC Jayne Marshall, who assisted him after the incident.
Magician Alf Hill had one of his key props – a horseshoe puzzle – thrown into the River Wear a few weeks ago by a drunken reveller… pic.twitter.com/OUUgYoJQvj
— Durham Constabulary (@DurhamPolice) November 26, 2016
Jonathon said, “It’s been really exciting to meet Alf. I’ve seen him doing his tricks a few times so I was really pleased to find it.”
Mr Lambert added, “We find all sorts of old coins and shopping trolleys and bits of scaffolding (in the river) – this is the most exciting thing we’ve found though.”
The man who hurled the puzzle into the river eventually handed himself in to the police and apologised to Mr Hill. Mr Hill said, “He explained to me how sorry he was and he was very upset about it. He apologised to me and as far as I’m concerned it’s finished.”
PC Marshall said,
“It’s a fantastic ending. To get a happy ending is brilliant.”
Alfie Hill, a great-grandfather from Chester-le-Street, has been entertaining the public in Durham for over 20 years. As well as doing his magic tricks on Durham’s streets, he also performs at children’s parties.