Electromagnetic theory is difficult: it involves an off-putting combination of calculus and vector algebra. Even people with an engineering background often feel intimidated by the first few pages of a textbook on the subject. An unfortunate consequence is that it is possible to offer 'magic' antennas for sale to a gullible world. This report attempts to explain how short antennas work in straightforward terms, and concludes with a discussion of the practical problems associated with using such devices. The hope is that the reader will be able to judge the claims made for 'magic' antennas more intelligently.