A YORK bobby loosened the chains for an evening at a party held in his honour - but found himself in handcuffs instead, so The Diary discovers.

PC Dave White was neighbourhood policing officer for the Micklegate ward, but is leaving to work near Selby.

When the local residents' associations threw a party for him to say thank you and goodbye, the new local bobby, PC Katherine Wright, was apparently so worried about how to follow in his footsteps that she placed him in the cuffs.

Local resident Keith Chapman told us: "She's a bit worried, but I told her we would be at the side of her the whole way."

People in the area threw the party for PC White, providing something for everyone including a buffet, and tea and coffee.

The man who taught Houdini

IT WAS a Yorkshire man, not Harry Houdini, who conjured up one of the escapologist's most notable tricks, or so The Diary can reveal.

Houdini's vanishing elephant trick was the brain child of Charles Morritt, a little-known magician, who was born in 1860 in Saxton, North Yorkshire.

Morritt's story has been unearthed by his great nephew, Norman Allen, 66, from Birkenhead, while researching his family tree.

Morritt, the son of a farmer, taught himself card tricks in his spare time and by the age of 18 gave a two-hour magic show at the Public Hall in Selby.

Distinctive looking with a long nose and waxed moustache, he also became a performer at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds.

Within three years, he had taken over the lease of two theatres and the management of several more.

At that time Houdini had made his name as an escapologist but craved more. One day Morritt appeared in Houdini's dressing room and told him how to make an elephant disappear.

The trick was to place the elephant in an empty box and hide her behind a mirror running diagonally across the box. When the doors were re-opened the audience thought they were seeing an empty box.

The trick eventually won Houdini the reputation he craved. Unfortunately, Morritt's career was plagued with problems. He drank heavily, had bowel problems and in 1927 he was arrested for fraud over a daring stunt.

The subsequent case collapsed, but Morritt, unable to work, had been reduced to begging and his health problems continued. He died in hospital from tuberculosis in 1936. None of which sounds very, well, magic.