VENUE interviews Uri Geller
20th March – 3rd April 1998
Nightmare dinner party guest.
Charismatic, Berkshire-based, Israeli spoon-bender Uri Geller shot to fame in a series of high-profile TV appearances during the ’70s. Since then, he’s applied his controversial talents to devising psychic games, advising govemments and multinationals, marketing inventions and security devices, and acting as “psychic coach” to Reading football team. His latest venture is a “psychic thriller” called ‘Ella’ (Headline Feature, £9.99), which is set in Bristol.
Your publicist tells us that the story for ‘Ella’ came to you during a mystical experience on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. What exactly happened?
I saw a girl, just a glimpse caught through thick mist. I saw her for only a few seconds. Almost two years ago. And I’ve thought about this moment so much, it has changed my life. The tale would be more dramatic if I had seen her in an instant’s blaze of lightning, with a peal of thunder shattering my senses. But the reality is I saw her only when the clouds parted for a moment, and the full impact of the vision did not strike me for a long, long time.
I was having my picture taken, a daily occurrence, though it’s usually a more pleasant experience when I am not expected to stand for half an hour in dank twilight on the edge of a cliff with low clouds looming wetly. The venue was Bristol, the event a book promotion, and the evening newspaper wanted shots of me on Brunel’s Suspension Bridge. “Don’t bend it!” they said. Yeah, sure, like I’d want the bridge to give a sudden twist and a flip when it’s the only thing between me and a 300-foot plunge into the gorge.
I pulled on a sheepskin jacket for the shoot, and it still wasn’t warm enough. 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 pass the time and keep the shivers away, and as I turned for the third time I saw the girl.
She had not been there a moment earlier. She stood at the centre of the span, with the cloud blowing around her, and for all I could see she might have been floating there. Her hair was long, waist-length, and of a blondeness so bright it could have been polished silver. For just one instant, that instant of confusion when you’ve seen something you do not recognise and you are trying to fit it into context, I thought she was my daughter, Natalie. Nat is 15, and this girl was about the same age. But Nat doesn’t have hair like that.
The next thought to hit me was fear. 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, and when she didn’t look at me I twisted round to call for Martin, the photographer.
When I turned back, the girl was gone.
I set off at a run across the bridge, hoping desperately that a burst of cloud had come down and I would bump into her at any second. But I didn’t. So I prayed. Please God please please don’t let her have jumped. Let her be a figment of the light. Say my mind was playing tricks on me. I’ll even believe she was a ghost. But don’t let her be a suicide.
When I was warm, and dry, and my wife had talked some sense into me, things seemed better. She was probably just a girl out for a walk. Maybe there was a boyfriend two steps behind, invisible in the mist. Maybe she heard me yelling, like a nutcase, and decided it was time to head back home.
At any rate, no body like hers has been pulled from the Avon: I asked my cuttings agency to check. So I must be thankful my prayers were heard.
But since that night, I haven’t stopped thinking about her. I gave her a name, Ella, because in Hebrew it means Girl of God. It seemed to fit. And I gave her a family, the kind of family that might provoke a teenage girl into long, cold, mysterious walks on wet nights. 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 all of it down. A whole novel, just to get a five-second glimpse out of my system.
But she’s still there, like a taste of the truth while we make gluttons of ourselves with lies and falsehood all our lives.
The truth always is that way. For a few moments, we see it clearly. The mist rolls back and our senses lock on to the vivid image. Afterwards, we doubt those senses. We accuse them of fabrication. We prefer to linger in our comfortable mists, and reject the occasional, inconvenient instants of clarity. Perhaps, as Moses was too weak to see anything of God but a hint of the hem of His cloak, we are too feeble to look at the truth. Except through mists, and from the corners of our eyes.
Did you know that you’re not the first person to claim such an experience? In the ’20s, a Daily Mail journalist called William Comyns Beaumont was walking across the bridge when he suddenly realised that the British were God’s chosen people and that all the action of the Bible had taken place here but had been disguised by a sinister Jewish conspiracy. After years of careful study of the Old Testament, he worked out that Edinburgh was Jerusalem, London was Damascus and Bristol was, er . . . Sodom.
Could he be right?
In everything a madman says, there is always a seed of truth. Our challenge is to find that little seed among all the weeds. I have never heard of Beaumont, but he sounds an interesting sort of madman.
Is Bristol like Sodom? Well, I’ve walked through the Centre at 11.30pm on a Saturday, looking for a taxi – and all I can tell you is that if I had possessed the paranormal power to turn people into pillars of salt, I would have used it.
You obviously feel a deep spiritual connection to Bristol. Why?
Not just Bristol, but the surrounding country too. This part of Britain is charged with a terrestrial energy transmitted through a lattice of ley-lines more thrilling and complex than I have ever sensed anywhere in the world – even at the Aztec temples of Mexico.
The cliffs of Clifton gorge are riddled with immense deposits of rock crystal. Crystal grows – it is living rock, and a dynamic amplifier of every kind of energy. Computers rely on minute fragments of crystal – so do quartz watches. Imagine how vastly more powerful the latent energy of the gorge must be, compared even to the world’s biggest computers.
This combination of crystal and ley-line invigorates me without fail. A walk across the Suspension Bridge powers me up like someone has clamped a generator to my ankles.
‘Ella’ seems to contain many autobiographical elements. Do you expect to turn into a angel when you die?
Angels exist. Of course you’re joking, and you think angels do not exist, but try to look at yourself objectively for a moment. You are a product of a materialist culture, where even the Church values possessions more highly than the spirit, and burglary is accounted 1,000 times worse than blasphemy. Naturally you do not believe in angels.
But mankind has spoken of a higher intelligence, an intermediary between us and God, ever since the first apes used the first words. So, objectively, which is more likely to be correct – the instincts of our entire race throughout history, or the prejudices of the affluent Westerner in the late 20th century?
For my part (and I confess I must be regarded as an affluent 20thC Westerner also) I believe death is a moment of metamorphosis. Our hearts cease to beat, and our being is resolved into another form. It might return in another human body – either as a new birth or as a possession of an existing body. It might take an animal’s form (I would like to come back as a wire-haired fox terrier – lots of food, lots of exercise and a capacity for unlimited, unconditional love. Alternatively, I would be happy to be a rabbit, for obvious reasons.)
The metamorphosis of death can also take the spirit onto another plane. There is a level beyond ours, where the disembodied soul continues on its course of learning. There is a plane of ecstasy, for the truly enlightened soul. There is a plane of suffering and repentance, for the unenlightened soul. And there are angels.
Angels are our spirit guides. Often they are departed friends or relatives. Sometimes, if we are sensitive, we can reach out to them. Sometimes, if we are insensitive, we drive them away. All children have guardian angels.
I could not pray for any better blessing than for my spirit to carry on as an angel.
Some years ago it was reported that a woman was suing you for bending her IUD, causing her to become pregnant. Is this true? Did she win? And have you attracted any other unusual litigation?
I remember her story very well, but I have no idea what the outcome was. I don’t even know if she had the baby. Her coil certainly bent inside her, according to her doctors. The case never reached court – as a matter of fact, I have never been sued through the courts. I am a very affable man, and I never set out to make enemies. On the other hand, I have a reputation for being litigious, because I am also a proud man and I will not cower when others abuse their position to libel me.
How would you explain to a Darwinist the adaptational advantages of a paranormal ability to bend spoons?
Hardened Darwinists are like fundamentalist Christians or brainwashed Stalinists – they regard anything that threatens their enclosed belief system as a heresy spawned by the devil. So I would not attempt to use logic with a Darwinist.
To a friendly journalist, on the other hand, I would point out that metal-bending, while generally trivial, has been of terrific import in the adaptation of one particular example of the species – me! So in a solipsistic universe, one created for my own personal benefit, metal-bending assumes a central function…
For the rest of the world, it is an entertaining diversion, and there aren’t enough of those. It is also, in the expression of Professor John Hasted of the University of London, “important because it cannot be explained”.
Wasn’t Ken Russell making a film of your life? Whatever happened to it?
It got made, it got released in 60 countries or more, it sold tens of thousands of copies in Britain alone, and I get eMail daily from people win the Far East and America and all over Europe, who have seen it and loved it. It seems to appeal particularly to teenagers. Myself, I can’t stand it, but then I saw the original life-of-Geller and the Russell version is only a remake.
Is it true that you’re directly related to Sigmund Freud and a close personal friend of Fergie?
Freud is a relation through my mother’s side. Incidentally, I saw him described this week by JG Ballard as “the great novelist of the 20th Century”. So maybe that’s where I get my writing talent. Not to mention my gift for reading minds.
On my Mexican passport, which requires me to go under both patronym and matronym, I am Uri Geller Freud.
I’ve been delighted to receive the Duchess of York as a guest at my home, and that’s about all I want to say on the subject.
Do you consider yourself primarily a psychic or an entertainer?
Both. Just because something is entertaining, it does not become invalid. Why are people so anxious to denigrate what they enjoy? Paul McCartney writes great tunes – he must be lightweight. Wagner sounds like four cats going through a mangle – God, what a talent.
You’ve been credited as the psychic adviser to Reading football club and the England squad, neither of whom have been conspicuously successful. How come?
The England squad unsuccessful??? You mean the England squad that topped its World Cup group last year, and dominated the friendly Tournoi? The England squad that fought the Germans down to the last penalty in the Euro 96 semis? The England squad that thrashed the Dutch, the Spaniards, the Scots and the Swiss – with my crystals embedded in the goalposts. (I was prevented from placing crystals in the goalmouth for the Germany game.)
I mean, granted, the England squad had a rough time under Graham Taylor, but Graham Taylor never called on me. Glenn Hoddle, on the other hand, has been another very welcome guest at my home. Incidentally, the World Cup was brought to my house a few weeks ago, so I could energise it for England. As a matter of fact, I also bent it very slightly, on purpose, and made a pledge to myself that I would straighten it out… just as soon as Alan Shearer has raised it aloft in victory.
Regrettably, I had a falling out with the chairman of Reading FC at the beginning of the season, and had to walk away. With my support, the team reached Wembley for a Premiership place play-off. I was convinced I could help them into the Premier League this season. Sadly, I have been forced to watch from a distance as they slide towards relegation.
You’re 51 years old and look younger every year. Is there a supernatural explanation we should know about?
It’s about ten per cent supernatural, but you would have to pay me a stupendous sum to get the secret. Suffice to say, I have a picture in my attic… and it is also getting younger.
The other 90 per cent is exercise, vitamins, positive thinking, prayer power, healthy living and faith.
What would you do if your powers deserted you tomorrow?
Go into shock. Mope. Spend a lot of time forlornly twiddling teaspoons. Buck up and look for work – probably something media based.
Do you have to eat with plastic cutlery?
Only pret a manger.
You’ve taken part in some pretty cheesy TV shows in your time. Have you ever turned any of them down for being too naff?
You don’t understand. You’re applying those affluent Westerner values again. In centuries to come, cheese will be appreciated as the highest achievement of 20th C art. The new perception is already coming into focus, with all-night Burt Bacharach raves and The Avengers on telly every night and Mike Flowers covering hard rock.
If you met me in the supermarket, and I was 100 per cent deep-intellectual quantum-physics meaning-of-life serious, you’d think I was a bit of a pillock. So why expect me to be that way on TV?
I’d much rather do a really wince-making show like The Basement on Bravo (now that was naff, none naffer) than be the subject of a 90-minute South Bank Show.
Does it bother you that so many people think you’re a fake?
No, because they don’t. The vast majority of people I meet are believers. Sceptics are a tiny minority.
Everyone from sportspeople to the military, big business and royalty come to you for help. If we asked you nicely, could you see your way clear to doubling Venue’s circulation and substantially increasing its pitiful freelance rates?
Put my eyes on the cover. Print an energising orange circle below them. Sales will double.
As far as freelancing goes – in one month’s time, I will put this interview on my web-site. Until then, you’re free to sell it to whoever you want, and keep all the money. I hope you make a fortune. You might like to start by offering the remarks about angels and reincarnation to the tabloids, but of course the choice is up to you.
Do remember to mention, in bold capital letters, that my new novel is called Ella, and it’s about a mistreated child of 14 with awe-inspiring powers who teaches the world to use the power of prayer. It’s published by Headline Feature at £9.99.
Motivational Inspirational Speaker
Motivational, inspirational, empowering compelling 'infotainment' which leaves the audience amazed, mesmerized, motivated, enthusiastic, revitalised and with a much improved positive mental attitude, state of mind & self-belief.
“There is no spoon!”
“The world needs your amazing talents. I need them”
“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”
Tannens Magic Blog
“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”