Lewis Hamilton, Peter Falk, Barney

The Weekly News
Lewis Hamilton, Peter Falk, Barney
2007-07-14 11:59

London is more like Hollywood every week. You can find yourself standing next to a superstar in the chemist, as Hanna did the other day when she realised that the tall, dark, handsome stranger beside her in the queue for hair products was Chelsea’s hotshot striker, Didier Drogba.

Millionaire footballers are thick on the ground in West London, of course, but the sporting hero Hanna spotted in Jermyn Street, off Piccadilly, was a genuine one-of-a-kind — Formula One’s newest race-winner, Lewis Hamilton.

“Stop the car!” I shouted, and Shipi responded with reactions which deserve to net him a place on the Ferrari team.

If it had been any other racer — or a footballer, tennis champion or a pole-vaulter for that matter — I wouldn’t have hit the ‘emergency stop’ button. But this sighting was an incredible synchronicity, because I’d been insisting to Hanna only days earlier that I would meet Lewis Hamilton and discuss the power of the mind with him.

I don’t believe in chance or coincidence. Everything in the universe is guided by unseen forces, and one of the most powerful is the human brain. When we make up our minds that something will happen, and we truly believe it, that event becomes inevitable. We shape our destiny with our thoughts.

That’s why positive thinking is so important. By focusing on good fortune, we can make good things happen to us. Everyone instinctively knows that the opposite is true — if you worry about a potential disaster, and constantly think about it, plan for it and spend your life dreading it, you are willing it to happen.

And that’s why no one in their right mind prays for bad things. Even if you’re not religious, even if you don’t send up positive prayers, you never pray for catastrophe.

When I told Hanna that Lewis Hamilton and I would cross paths, I believed it implicitly. I visualised his eyes looking into mine. I heard my own voice saying, “Hi Lewis, I’m Uri!”

But even I didn’t expect imagination to be transformed into reality so swiftly.

The first thing that struck me as we shook hands was that this young man is thoroughly down-to-earth and genuine. It didn’t matter that his companion was Pharrell Williams, the rapper and award-winning music producer — the only visible effect of that was Lewis’s jacket, which was one Pharrell had designed himself for his clothing range.

He was open and relaxed, with no hint that he’d been in the paparazzi’s lenses every day since he exploded onto the F1 scene in Australia with a place on the podium in his first race — followed by top-three finishes in all of the next seven races, including wins in Canada and the USA. It’s the most phenomenal start to a racing career ever seen, comparable to a footballer scoring 20 goals in his first eight Premiership matches.

I know he’s put in a phenomenal amount of hard work over the years, winning races in the lower leagues and training on the most sophisticated computer simulators. But I also believe he has an instinctive component which is almost magical — the power to create success in his head.

“If you can go there in your mind, you can go there in your body,” I told him, and he nodded enthusiastically. I’ve tried to teach this essential mindpower lesson to many people — some grasp it instantly, some nod politely but don’t understand, and some look at me sideways as if I’m cracked. Lewis, I felt strongly, was nodding because he already knew the truth of what I was saying.

“Thoughts become things!” I said. “What you visualise will materialise. So think positive!”

We exchanged mobile numbers, and he was gone before I had a chance to congratulate him on the other aspect of his life which impressed me deeply — his positive attitude to disability. Lewis’s younger brother, Nicholas, who is 15, has cerebral palsy, and Lewis’s attitude to that seems to be exactly the same as his take on celebrity: he doesn’t let anything get in his way or stop him from being himself.

I understand, for instance, that the brothers race remote-control cars together at track events — it can’t be easy, especially now that everyone knows Lewis’s face, but the attitude of both young men is the same: they enjoy a challenge.

“You’d never guess,” Hanna said later, looking up from the evening paper, “that Lewis Hamilton was at a party last night thrown by the rapper P. Diddy. Or that the bill for champagne alone came to £100,000.”

“He won’t let it turn his head,” I said confidently. “And the only use he’s got for champagne is spraying it over the other drivers!”

We were in Los Angeles, 30 years ago, when I predicted to Hanna that we’d bump into Peter Falk sooner or later. He was in my thoughts because his face was everywhere — Columbo was the most popular cop show in America, and Falk was a brilliant chat-show guest. It was an irresistible combination.

Five minutes later, as we drove past the Hilton, Peter Falk walked out of the main entrance. He was even wearing his trademark raincoat.

That night, we switched on the TV to see him presenting an investigation into the paranormal. He launched the show with a direct reference to me, holding up a fork and demonstrating how hard it was to bend even with both hands. The human mind, he said, is more powerful than any muscle.

Here’s me and my best pal with our arms over each others shoulders. We’ve just come back from a long walk across the meadows, chasing rabbits… Barney’s better at it than I am, of course. Photograph: Hanna Geller, who was giggling so much she could hardly hold the camera steady.


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