Clement Freud Andrey Malakhov, Mark Townsend
Uri with Spoonbender and trainer Toby Balding
She was a beautiful mare, and of course her name was Spoonbender. I was persuaded to invest a stake in her by my dear friend Clement Freud, who waved aside my protests that I never gambled. “This isn’t gambling,” he insisted. “It’s just having fun with money — and what else is money for?”
Clement and I had met on a jumbo jet, during the inaugural transatlantic flight of Virgin Airways — both of us were guests of Richard Branson. I was enthralled by Clement’s witty conversation, and we soon realised we were distant cousins on my mother’s side: he, of course, was Sigmund Freud’s grandson.
A connoiseur, a politician, a broadcaster and a devoted father, his love of life shone from him like a golden aura. He visited my family at our home in Connecticut, and when I explained how worried Hanna and I were about crime and drugs in the New York schools our children would soon be attending, Clement suggested we should come to England. “It’s quite civilised, you know,” he murmured in that charming, mocking way of his.
Before long, we were renting a whole floor of a block of mansion flats overlooking Hyde Park. We could see the horses trotting on Rotten Row, and it occured to me that Clement was right — it would be fun to own a racehorse.
Spoonbender was trained by Toby Balding, who was one of the most successful trainers ever — he won with more than 2,000 horses, and is one of the few men to train winners in the Grand National (twice), the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
We didn’t get off to a flying start, though. Spoonbender came sixth in her first race, and even though she was third in her next outing, I decided she needed a mindpower boost.
She was running in the 3.30 at Huntingdon, and I told journalists that although I would be using telepathy, I didn’t intend to cheat. My aim was to improve Spoonbender’s pace, rather than to force other animals to falter.
“I would never use my powers in a negative sense,” I told the Sun’s correspondent, who worked under the byline ‘Templegate’. “I will be quite happy if the horse comes in second or third, providing I believe I have heightened her performance.”
That was prophetic — Spoonbender finished second. Clement seemed delighted… I think he’d bet on her to finish in the first three places. I was pleased too: if my horse had won by a furlong, I would have been accused of putting a curse on the other runners.
One one other occasion, my gambler’s luck shocked Clement. He had invited us to his home in the country for a garden party, where I insisted on having my lucky numbers in the raffle. My first ticket, 111, won me a handsome Wedgwood plate, decorated with portraits of great Liberal leaders from Pitt to Lloyd George.
My second ticket, 121 (which is 11 times 11) scooped me the top prize, a magnificent hamper brimming with champagne and choice foods. I didn’t want to Clement to think I’d used my mindpower to fix the draw, so I insisted the hamper had to go to another winner.
I was always wary of his sense of humour: an immensely kind man, he was also capable to saying devastating things, out of cleverness more than malice. When your witticisms are razor-sharp, sometimes your friends will be wounded.
So I feared the worst when I walked into his eightieth birthday party, brushing shoulders with Kate Adie and Lord Cecil Parkinson, and heard Clement’s aggrieved bark: “Oh good grief! Who invited HIM?”
“I did,” his son Matthew replied cheerily, and Clement burst out laughing. He opened his arms to me, and I was struck by how little he had changed in the two decades I had known him. He lived a full and a good life, loved by friends and family, and I shall miss him.
What I look for above all in contestants on my shows is a spirituality, a sense that magic touches their souls as well as their performances. I was overwhelmed by the combination of spiritual depth and mentalist skill when a young conjuror named Mark Townsend visited my home.
Mark is a fully ordained Church of England priest and a former vicar, though his unease with organised religion prevents him from practising at the moment. Instead, he reaches out to people with demonstrations of magic.
“I want people to rediscover their childlike sense of awe and wonder,” he told me. “That’s what real religion is about. That’s how I connect to God. Very often, when I’m performing magic with friends, some incredible synchronicity will occur — it’s as though we’re all in telepathic contact with the rest of the world. I strongly believe that magic opens our perceptions to deeper levels of experience, and makes us more receptive to the real miracles that are all round us.”
Mark is also the author of four books, and his latest, The Wizard’s Gift, is just out. His stage show involves myth, story-telling and jokes — he’s a multi-talented guy, and I think we’ll be hearing more from him.
Motivational Inspirational Speaker
Motivational, inspirational, empowering compelling 'infotainment' which leaves the audience amazed, mesmerized, motivated, enthusiastic, revitalised and with a much improved positive mental attitude, state of mind & self-belief.
“There is no spoon!”
“The world needs your amazing talents. I need them”
“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.”
Tannens Magic Blog
“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
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”