JFK, Maradona, Elvis
The phones have been ringing red-hot since my US television show Phenomenon was announced to the entertainment press in America. The time difference between here and Los Angeles is giving me jet lag in my own home — they’re eight hours behind England, so a 7pm call from a journalist on a California news station will jerk me out of bed in the small hours of the morning.
Maybe he wore them the first time he captained the team, or when he scored a scorching goal against the school’s biggest rivals.
My gaze kept slipping back to the boots as the contract talk dragged on.
I had the feeling something intensely significant was connected to their existence, but I couldn’t work out how that would link to my lawyer’s life.
There was a sense of finality about the way they hung there, too: they would never be worn again. They represented an ending.
I snuck a look at the size 11 brogues my lawyer wore. It was hard to imagine his feet could ever have fitted those boots. How old had he been — 10? Younger?
In the end, I couldn’t stand the frustration. “Can we stop talking legal business for a minute?” I requested. “I need to know — what’s the story with the boots?”
“They were Maradona’s,” my friend shrugged.
I didn’t believe him. “Maradona? When he was how old? He never had boots when he was growing up: he came from a poor family.”
“Those are his adult boots,” I was told. “In fact, they’re the last pair he ever wore, from a game between Boca and River in Argentina. Maradona is my hero. That guy survived so much — a lot of it was self-inflicted, but he never gave up and he always fought back.”
I told Hanna this story as we lingered over dinner in a favourite Lebanese restaurant that evening.
My wife enjoys football at least as much as I do — she’s been a secret supporter of Middlesbrough, ever since their charismatic chairman Steve Gibson invited me to lift a gipsy’s curse on the ground. (My exorcism must have worked, because the club promptly won its first silverware in more than a century.)
“Maradona’s boots, no,” said Hanna. “Maybe I’d hang David Beckham’s boots on my wall. Especially if they really were gold.”
“What was extraordinary was the way they radiated power,” I said. “Every office has its trophies — plaques, certificates, photos. No one notices them. But these boots — they dominated the whole meeting. It was almost as if Maradona himself was in the room.”
“Like the JFK statuettes,” Hanna pointed out, and I knew instantly what she meant.
At Sotheby’s a couple of years ago, I bid on impulse for a collection of miniature figures that had once belonged to John and Jackie Kennedy, part of a series of lots from the White House.
JFK’s desk went for a phenomenal sum — I could have bought a house for less. But the statuettes slipped under everybody’s radar, and I won them for a song.
My motives were strictly sentimental. Jackie O had been a good friend when we lived in New York, and I was deeply saddened that she died comparatively young.
One of the most treasured pieces of cutlery on my car once belonged to Jack himself, but I loved the idea of having something of theirs in our home.
We put the statuettes on our display table in the family room, and I was amazed by the attention they generated.
My collection contains some pretty eye-catching pieces — a crystal globe as big as a beachball, and a tiny blue figurine from ancient Egypt, for example. But whenever friends saw the statuettes for the first time, they immediately said, “How unusual! How interesting! What are these?”
I concluded that JFK’s own energy had become imprinted on the objects. Energy is indestructible, and he had perhaps a more vital personality than any other US president. That charisma was burned into the statuettes on his desk, and it has outlived him by almost half a century.
There’s a parascientific word for this phenomenon: “psychometry”, coined by American physiology professor Joseph R. Buchanan in 1840. It means “soul measurement”.
One probable explanation is that the energy vibrations of all inanimate objects tune in to the living world around them.
The clothes we wear, the tools we handle, even the homes where we live, vibrate in sympathy with us, according to the Victorian psychical researcher, Gustav Paganstecher. The more attached we are to an object, the more attuned it becomes.
It explains why I can sense the presence of Elvis when I hold a page from a book given to me by the King’s hairdresser, Larry Geller.
The book is the collected letters of an inspirational woman named Helen Roerick, and Elvis has underlined a passage which clearly resonated with him. It begins, “Learn to welcome every obstacle,” and teaches that our trials make us stronger.
Psychometry could also provide the link which creates hauntings — an imprint of human energy upon a building, visible to the sensitive at particular times of day, or in certain weather conditions.
In other words, Maradona’s spirit still haunts his football boots. Maybe his most famous goal, against England in the 1986 World Cup, was not the “Hand of God” as he claimed — but it could have been his own ghost!
Opera singers Yevgeny Shapovalov and Felix Livshitz are two of the Israeli Three Tenors, and they sang for me on board a superyacht in the Med last weekend. My host is shy, and asked me not to disclose his identity, so I’ll merely say that he certainly knows how to hire good entertainment!
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