Uri in COUNTY Magazine.
THE MAN WHO BENDS SPOONS
Home for Uri Geller is a large, pillar-fronted mock American colonial mansion set beside the Thames in Berkshire. Here, with his wife Hanna, their two children, and other members of the family, the man who became famous for bending spoons lives surrounded by landscaped gardens, tennis court, swimming pool, and a pond that has custody of ancient goldfish the size of salmon trout.
Sitting with him in the lounge, with its spacious sofas, elegant decor and priceless ornaments and furnishings, it’s Impossible not to reflect on how far Uri has come since his birth in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1946. Sadly his parents’ marriage ended, and he spent six years of his childhood with his mother in Cyprus.
Uri later acquired homes in Mexico, Japan, Switzerland, Italy and America. But in 1984, when Uri and Hanna came to decide on where to educate their children, they plumped for Britain.
“We never felt safe in America,” Uri explains “I already knew a lot of people in England, and felt at home here. When I lived in Cyprus I went to a British school, and I wanted that standard of education for our children.”
Additionally, Uri has never forgotten that back in the seventies, when Gellermania swept the world, he was generally well-treated by the British media. At the time he was feted like a superstar, and he charmingly admits his ego became king-size for a while.
“Basically, I couldn’t believe that I was this guy from Israel achieving world fame. It was very surprising for me. I enjoyed it. It opened so many doors. I saw the world, and met people from every walk of life.”
For about ten years, Uri lived and played hard, frequently having his powers rigorously tested and studied by various scientific bodies, and having them validated one day, and denounced the next.
“A lot of people hated me, and at the time I was hurt by it,” Uri confesses. “Today, I love the controversy. There will always be people who dismiss me as a fake, or a trickster. It
doesn’t worry me now. I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone any more.”
In more recent years, Uri’s had the services of his special powers sought by government and Intelligent agencies. He’s also enjoyed the fun of dabbling in entrepreneurial enterprises as diverse as sports clothing, health foods, books and board games. But he indirectly owes his extreme wealth to the late Sir Val Duncan, a former head of a major mining corporation, who several years ago introduced Uri to the skill of dowsing.
As Sir Val rightly suspected, the strength of Uri’s powers enables him to divine whether or not an area contains oil, gold or other minerals. It’s this activity that has made him a multimillionaire
Uri waves an arm in a gesture that embraces the house and grounds and says, “Although we have the splendour around us, we never forget where we came from. I can remember being six years old and my mother being unable to afford to buy me a toy jeep.”
“Of course, monetary success brings you some kind of peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about things like mortgages and b us. But it cannot bring you happiness and health, which are more important.
“I used to be very materialistic. All that matters to me now in life is my family. I often have to go away on business, but I try never to be away from home for more than one or two days. “Uri and Hanna first met in 1967, through her brother, Shipi. The two men had met in an Israeli youth camp after Uri had been invalidated out of military service with wounds received during the six-day war. Hanna nursed him. Two years later, Shipi organised the first public performances of Uri’s psychic powers. He has been his manager since then, and his brother-in-law since 1979.
Uri’s a very down to-earth, take-me-as-you-find-me sort of chap. But, he admits that during the crazy time when he was the world’s flavour of the month, he needed Hanna to keep his feet on the ground. At one stage, he reacted to his phenomenal success by falling victim to the psychological eating disorder, Bulimia.
Uri eventually became so thin his legs gave way under him. That was the turning point that made him see sense. With Hanna’s help, he managed to overcome Bulimia and to begin to eat properly again.
And, because Hanna is a superb vegetarian cook, the health conscious Geller family’s idea of eating properly is to keep meat and fish off the menu.
It’s Uri’s lunchtime habit to move through to the kitchen and into the adjoining conservatory to eat a huge bowl of salad and a cup of tea, served by Hanna.
“In the morning I eat a lot of fruit, and drink a lot of tea,” he says. “My aerobic exercise routine is four hours long. I run, I bicycle, I swim. I burn about four thousand calories a day, sometimes a lot more. To do that without losing too much weight, I need to eat a lot”
So, potatoes and pasta figure strongly in the evening meals prepared by the lady Uri knew for twelve years before he married her
“To me, marriage and living together are the same thing,” he says “I see Hanna and me as being on a long journey together, which started when we met Luckily, we don’t have any tremendous ups and downs” He swiftly looked around for some wood to touch “We’re very happy. But people change. I don’t know what I’ll be saying in five years from now But we’re happy at the moment, and always have been.”
One of their most unforgettable shared times was March 31st 1981, the day their son Daniel was born. The birth proved difficult and, fearing for the baby’s survival, the hospital doctors were on the brink of performing a Caesarean section when one of them told Uri, “If there’s any chance that your powers can help, now is the time to use them.”
Uri concentrated hard and amazed bystanders by shouting out, “Open! Open! Open!”
Five minutes later, Daniel was born naturally, and in perfect health. The very fact that he was a boy surprised the medics. Hanna had had a sonographic scan test that showed the child to be a girl. But Uri had never been in any doubt that his wife would give him a son first, and then a daughter. Natalie was born in 1983.
Ever since his own childhood, Uri has invented things. His inventions include gadgets that detect fake bank notes and paste diamonds; a pocket Geiger counter for testing radiation; and sunglasses that reflect what’s happening behind you. The man is also an accomplished painter, with a style that’s best described as surreal.
For all his diverse accomplishments, it’s likely most people will always dub Uri “The man who bends spoons.” Which doesn’t worry him a jot.
“That was what made me, so why should I mind?” he asks with a grin. “I will only mind if people start to forget about me altogether.”
There was no chance of Uri demonstrating his spoon-bending powers on the cutlery used in the Geller household; it’s been specially structured to ensure it doesn’t go out of shape. And I’d deliberately resisted taking a spoon to the interview. But photographer Colin Poole confessed next day that he’d had a spoon concealed in his camera case.
“Uri couldn’t have known it was there,” he said. “But when I took it out, the spoon was bent double!”
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