When New Scientist claimed I was receiving psychic messages with the aid of micro-transmitters in my molars, and that my mentor, Andrija Puharich, had implanted them himself with his fiendish skills for transistor engineering and dentistry, I thought every self-respecting skeptic would have to give up and admit that telepathy is a real human power for some of us. No one would want to admit they believed in teeth that could pick up Radio Four on long-wave.
Some people, it appears, will believe anything, though, and I had to deal with many ludicrous charges of cheating. When the claims were made in print, I often followed up with litigation. When they were made to my face, I shrugged them off, but the constant drip of baseless allegations was putting lines on my face, just as the drip of water on rock can wear deep grooves.
When I left America and landed up in Mexico, much of the attraction was the warm, open minds of the people — if you live for long in the shadow of the Aztec gods, you accept that many things are stranger than science, and usually invisible to the eye.
Mexicans are the world’s most inquisitive people, and I realised that though I don’t like to be accused (who does?) I do enjoy being questioned. It’s probably why so many of my friends have been journalists.
One who questioned me from the beginning, without ever crossing the line and making false accusations, was Andrew Neil. We were introduced by David Dimbleby, I think, and I have followed Andrew’s dramatic career across the top flight of British media with a sort of pride: I told him back in 1973 that he would be a leading editor if he stirred up enough controversy, and I was right on both counts.
After editing the Sunday Times and running TalkSport radio, Andrew currently presents This Week on BBC1 with Michael Portillo, and he invited me on the show last month (September)… to talk about cheating.
Andrew is never afraid to give offence, and just before we went on air, he told me with a grin: “You cheat on at least one count… you’ve started adding blond highlights in your hair!”
Michael overheard and burst out laughing. “You’re the last person to make comments about other people’s hair,” he said. And the two of them were off, bantering and insulting, trying to out-do each other for rudeness.
Only the British take such delight in poking fun at people they like. I believe it must be something to do with public schools.
The rapper Speech Debelle is just 26 but she was much more mature and dignified than those two overgrown schoolboys. She was celebrating her prestigious Mercury Music Award win, and told me that the prize really will make a massive difference to her life — though her album was acclaimed by the critics, it had not dented the charts until the judges picked her.
And she deserves to be the winner — I’m not a rap fan, but I was blown away by the power of her lyrics and her delivery. The album is called Speech Therapy and I’ve downloaded it onto my BlackBerry. Now I can listen to it while I’m sending emails. Is that cheating?
My designs have inspired jewelry and watches, and been reproduced on glassware, pottery and T-shirts. I even had a brilliant idea for a range of umbrellas with bent spokes.
I’m always eager to try new art-forms, and when my friend Andreas Charalambides invited me to try lithography, a technique which he uses with the finesse of a great master, I was thrilled.
Andreas lives in Cyprus, and he is with me now as I write this at a table outside a pavement cafe in Athens, below the Acropolis. I’m tapping away at the keyboard, and he is gazing in deep awe at the splendour of the ancient architecture – one of the things I love most about him is that, although he is 70, he retains the wonder of a child.
Andreas Charalambides Uri Geller
He taught me how lithography enables an artist to draw on stone, using chemicals that repel each other the way oil and water do. We made 11 pictures together, and Andreas has printed a limited edition of 250 books, all of them made by hand, which will be snapped up by collectors. My own copy will take pride of place in the foyer of our home, beside my baby grand.
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“There is no spoon!”
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“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”
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James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”