My first painting, bus depot

When the Weekly News editor emailed to say this week’s issue was going to focus on nostalgia, I knew that a synchronicity would occur. It was as if I’d heard an echo in advance — something was about to connect me to my past.

That day, a parcel arrived from Budapest. My friend David Merlini, the escapologist, had sent me… the first painting I ever did. And as I tore away the wrapping, I was filled with a rush of sheer nostalgia.

It’s a picture of a Cypriot goat herd, resting on his haunches with one hand on an amphora. I painted it from life during art classes at school, and when it was finished I was incredibly proud of it.

 On my next visit to Tel Aviv, to see my father and his new wife, Eva, I took the painting as a gift. I had never created anything that I loved so much, and naturally I wanted Aba, as I called my Dad, to have it.

 Years later, when I was recovering from bullet and shrapnel wounds after the Six Day War, I created another artwork — a table with a kidney-shaped top, carved from mahogany. I gave this to Aba too.

 I was with Hanna in Rome when my father died. A call came through from New York, from my secretary Trina, to break the awful news. We flew to Tel Aviv for the funeral — and by another strange synchronicity, the flight changed at Athens.

 I’m writing this in Athens now, with the painting propped beside me. Eva took it with her to Hungary when she re-married, to a lovely man named Bandi. She passed away last year, and I asked Bandi whether I could have the table and the painting back.

 Naturally, he agreed, and we arranged that David Merlini, who lives in Budapest, would look after them. Which is how David came to send me a message from my past… on the day that I was asked to write about nostalgia.

 I’d like to think that Aba had a hand in this. Human beings live after death, of that I am certain, and I believe this synchronicity was a communication from my father, promising me that we will meet again.



 It’s been a week of photoshoots, for the Greek editions of Hello!, Esquire and Playboy. I’m going to be on the covers of at least two of them, and as for the third… please don’t panic, because I did keep my clothes on.



I’ve been trying to get a really good photo of the Uri-bus, the coach that is plastered with my face and ads for the TV show, from its windscreen wipers to its wheel arches.

 The difficulty is that Athens traffic is deadly, and I don’t want to be dodging across lanes to get a picture. I’d be mown down by scooters before I’d taken three steps.

 So we called the bus company, who told us to visit the depot at midnight, when all the buses came off the routes for a wash and brush up. The supervisor even promised to give the Uri-buses an extra shine.

 But when we arrived, I was taken to a gleaming, polished double-decker that was advertising mobile phones.

 “Sorry, wrong number,” I said. “Where are the buses with the Successor To Uri Geller paintwork?”

 The supervisor looked worried, and pointed to the depot sheds. “We have 500 vehicles,” he said. “Yours is in there somewhere.”

 I have dowsed for gold, buried treasure and sunken wrecks, but as I pulled a crystal from my pocket I knew that I had never dowsed for a bus before. Within seconds, the warmth of the crystal was telling me where to look, and a couple of dozen drivers strolled after me as I strode through the sheds.

 They cheered when I walked up to my bus — and I was amazed at how many of them had brought teaspoons for me to bend.



Daniel and Natalie have been here this week — to have the whole family together is a golden pleasure. Nat brought me a caseful of new T-shirts from Los Angeles, and Dan is sporting some designs he found in San Francisco that make mine look tame. I think a father-and-son T-shirt war might be on the horizon.



We all had to stand outside the studio for over an hour on Saturday night, shivering — Athens in November is blissful during the day but freezing after dark.

 For the second week running, the studio had to be cleared after a bomb threat. Of course the sniffer dogs found nothing dangerous, but it is essential to take every precaution.

 I have no idea who is making these hoax calls, but at any rate they haven’t stopped our show from topping the viewing figures and winning the ratings battle once again.




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