How did that thing appear ? – The Times – July 12, 2000
July 12 2000
|“My job has been a 30-year holiday,” says Shipi Shtrang, left, brother-in-law and PA of Uri Geller
Photograph: ALAN WELLER
How did that thing appear?
Everyone who works in an office has experienced the mystery of disappearing scissors and vanishing Sellotape. It is a version of the lost-sock-in-the-washing-machine syndrome that afflicts us at home. But Uri Geller’s office, far from repelling such utensils, positively attracts them.
“Things materialise from one room to another, from one continent to another,” claims Shipi Shtrang, Mr Geller’s PA and brother-in-law. “After a while you become blasé when you see something fly into the room. You just pick it up and put it somewhere. You stop worrying about what it means.”
The office in Mr Geller’s mansion at Sonning, Berkshire, is a working environment bristling with bent spoons, crystals and talismans, yet Mr Shtrang sees nothing sinister in all the evidence of teleportation. “It’s just great fun working for someone who is telepathic,” he says.
“At Stanford we witnessed a tie-pin materialise out of thin air. Captain Ed Mitchell’s [astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon] face ashened, he picked it up and told us it was a tie-pin he had lost years ago on a beach. But I am used to such things.”
But 53-year-old Mr Geller, an Israeli who became a worldwide celebrity in the 1970s with his apparent mind-over-matter demonstrations, most famously bending spoons by thought power, is more reticent about such events. “I keep those things quiet because in a way they damage my credibility,” he says. “When you unfold a bizarre and unbelievable story to people, some think you are crazy.”
The two men met when Mr Shtrang was a schoolboy at summer camp in Israel. After camp finished, they discovered that Mr Geller’s father was Mr Shtrang’s neighbour. “I introduced him to my sisters and he became like a member of the family,” says Mr Shtrang. It was during this time, before Mr Geller married Hannah, Mr Shtrang’s sister, that he used to show the family his powers. “I would tell people about him,” remembers Mr Shtrang, “but they thought I was lying so I invited him to my school to give a demonstration. That started his career.”
It was also the start of their professional relationship. “I first joined Uri during school holidays when he was travelling in Israel,” says Mr Shtrang. “When I finished school he was planning to go abroad, so I joined him.”
In 1972 they went to Germany, then to the US. Mr Shtrang remembers it as a great time but for Mr Geller it was unsettling, too. “I had lots of secretaries, offices, a limo, a yacht but it didn’t work for me,” he says. “I had a big ego and it tarnished my outlook on life, so I decided to say goodbye to all my secretaries and I closed my offices down.
“I needed to cleanse myself spiritually, so I moved to Japan and lived in a hut under Mount Fuji for a year. I didn’t have a TV, telephone or computer.
“It was an important phase in my life. I could make more money now by having a bigger organisation around me but I am not motivated by money any more. I don’t handle money, I don’t have a wallet, I don’t sign cheques. Shipi does all that. He books aeroplanes and hotels, answers the phones. He does the organisation around me that I don’t want to do.”
In the office, Mr Geller spends hours on his exercise bike “cycling nowhere” while working from a specially designed computer desk.
For Mr Strang, there is no division between work and home life. “My job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week because I live on Uri’s estate and he is family,” he says. “I do his schedule, his diary, everything.”
Some of his duties have been distinctly un-secretarial. “I brought Hannah back from hospital after their son, Daniel, was born,” he says. “I am like a second dad to his children.”
Mr Geller travels frequently and thinks nothing of taking his family with him to an interview in Tokyo. “I haven’t been on a proper vacation for years,” says Mr Shtrang, “but my job has been a 30-year holiday.”
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