Tatler Jan. 1998
I was once having my picture taken in dank twilight on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. ‘Don’t bend it,’ the photographer said. As if I’d want the bridge to flip when it was the only thing between me and a 300-foot drop.
The photographer couldn’t get his flash to work. I warn people that technology gets temperamental around me, but no one listens until it happens to them. So I started pacing on the bridge to keep the shivers away, and as I turned around for the third time, I saw a girl.
She had not been there a moment earlier. She stood in the centre of the scene, with the cloud blowing around her. For all I could tell, she might have been floating there. Her waistlength hair was of a blondeness so bright it looked like polished silver.
I was scared. What was she doing out in the middle of the bridge, wearing no coat on a cold, wet evening like this? The bridge is a notorious spot for suicides. Surely she wasn’t… ‘Are you OK?’ I yelled out. I twisted round to call for Martin, the photographer. When I turned back, the girl was gone.
When I was warm and dry, and my wife had talked some sense into me, things seemed better. She was probably just out for a walk. Maybe there was a boyfriend two steps behind, invisible in the mist.
At any rate, no body like hers has been pulled from the Avon. But since that night I haven’t stopped thinking about her. I gave her a name, Ella, because in Hebrew it means God Unto Her. I told myself stories about her – how she possessed paranormal powers like mine, how she was bullied and abused and treated like a freak. In the end I had to write it all down. A whole novel, just to get a fivesecond glimpse out of my system.
My new persona as a novelist began to frighten me. Ideas for stories started clustering inside my head: stories about stalkers, footballers, twins, circus acts, alien abductees, presidents and psychic spies. But these weren’t just vague projects – they were living things growing in my body.
There is a paranormal phenomenon called ‘transmigration of the soul’. When a person dies, their soul flies to a new-born body. Very rarely, a departed soul enters a fresh corpse, reviving it with a new personality and a new set of memories. Suppose, without knowing, while I slept, I’d had an out-of-body experience? Could the soul of a forgotten writer,
At a meditation at the
Albert Hall, 28 members
of the audience had to call
out mechanics because
their car keys had bent in
frustrated by decades of enforced silence, have entered my abandoned body?
My favourite teacher from school came to visit, and a remark of hers ended these ghoulish fears. She said: ‘When you were a boy you could tell a tale like no other child I ever taught. Sometimes I would ask you to invent a story for the class – do you remember?’
I did. And I realised that as I grow older, I become more like the child I used to be.
I have been meditating with the help of some good and holy friends. Meditation is hard for me, because when I sit still, my energy gets pent up, and then strange things happen. After a meditation at the Albert Hall last October, 28 members of the audience had to call out mechanics because their car keys had bent in their pockets.
Meditation has made me confront the word ‘love’. We apply it blandly – love our neighbours, universal love, love to all mankind. I am coming to understand that real love is a violent, vicious emotion. The love I feel for my children is ferocious – protective, vehement, consuming. The love I feel for my wife grips behind my ribs and turns me inside out.
When men’s love is misdirected towards nationalism and sectarianism, wars start. Peace comes from goodwill. Goodwill is a balm – love is a high explosive. Do not confuse them.
Uri Geller’s novel, Ella, will be published by Headline in the spring.
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“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
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