Seriously, not a lot of Uri Geller news to report on.
Any interesting news you would like to share?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, August 09, 2009
When the news came through that Michael Jackson had died, I simply did not believe it — even though I have been warning for years that the appalling crises that rocked his life were causing him unimaginable stress.
He was a gentle, vulnerable man, who shied away from every confrontation and was prey to a succession of bullies and manipulators who cared nothing for the man or his music, only for his millions. It was inevitable that he would be driven into debt: as a businessman, he was unable to tell the dolphins from the sharks.
They say that when a shark strikes, you can lose a limb without feeling a twinge. All the predators that circled Michael down the years took a bite from him, and I knew he could not endure it forever.
After the financial maelstrom and the global frenzy surrounding his court case, Michael’s decision to stage a comeback was the right one — but he should never have contemplated doing so many shows.
At the Hit Factory studios in New York
One would have been enough. Instead, he allowed himself to be persuaded into an extravaganza that even Elton John or Madonna would struggle to pull off. For Michael, with his health in tatters, and after so many years away from live performance, it must have been a terrifying, nightmare prospect.
His sanity had been buffeted. There were rumours of skin cancer and drug dependency. But in the end it was his heart that gave out. I should not have been shocked — but I was, so appalled at the news that I slammed the phone down on the first journalist after calling him a hoaxer.
The succession of calls that followed left me in no doubt. As all the news agencies, Fleet Street papers and TV stations started to demand instant quotes and tributes, all three of our house phones and the mobile were ringing simultaneously.
All through the night, I felt numb. It wasn’t until the morning, when I had already gone more than 24 hours without sleep, that the real grief kicked in. As I talked to Carla Romano on GMTV by live satellite link, I was on the verge of breaking down in tears.
What I remembered most vividly was Michael’s devotion to his fans. He drew on their love for strength, and his gratitude for their overwhelming affection was bottomless.
I remember watching him in a New York hotel room, searching through every drawer and cupboard before he checked out. “Have you lost your passport?” I joked.
“I don’t want to leave any gifts behind,” he told me earnestly. He took a soft toy from a paper bag that a fan had decorated with hearts, and clutched it to his chest in a gesture that had become familiar to me — Michael hugged every gift he was given, as though he wanted to absorb the loving energies into his heart.
“Everything I was ever given, I’ve kept it,” he said. “I treasure them all. It’s the truth — I have packets of M&Ms from 30 years ago, when I was a kid. Some day, I’ll build a museum for it all.”
For such a loving man, one of the biggest strains of all was being separated from his children. When he flew to England to visit Exeter football club with me and David Blaine, I knew he desperately wanted to bring his children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. And he could not: he knew the paparazzi would have rioted to get pictures of him with his sons and daughter.
I believe Michael envied what John Lennon did when Sean was born — he wanted to drop out of the showbiz firmament and become a fulltime Dad. But Michael was a bigger star even than the Beatles, and it was impossible for him to become ordinary, even for a day.
That caused him agonies of frustration. The loss of his own childhood wounded him deeply, but even more painful was to be ensnared in court cases and health battles when all he wanted to do was share their most precious years.
Michael in my wedding wearing a Kippa (Yarmulke)
As the calls kept flooding in, and I gradually became hoarse from all the interviews, I was astounded at the reaction of the media. Many journalists seemed devastated to realise that such a symbol of our times had gone. Every music-loving reporter in London was hoping to cheer Michael on his comeback — now none of us will ever see him perform again.
For a decade, I have been accustomed to the hostility of the press, who have attacked Michael mercilessly for his eccentrities, his appearance and his friendships with adolescents.
In my wedding with Dave Stewart and Justin Hayward
Now, the controversy is ebbing away. Less than a day after his death, his legend is being redefined, in a positive light. It is his music which shines.
We will remember Michael Jackson for his heart-lifting songs, for his breath-taking dance moves, for his achingly poignant lyrics, for his magnetic, mesmeric charisma.
With Nigel Mansell
We will remember how he could draw love from millions of fans and turn that into pure music energy. We will remember him as an icon, an idol and a unique phenomenon. Most of all we will remember him as the greatest Prince of Pop the planet has ever seen.
At The Oxford Union
Michael Jackson had a probing mind, and many times we talked about life after death. Once we discussed Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity, which states that energy cannot be destroyed. My friend has died but he is a pure energy source now, and that will live forever.
I believe he is shining as brilliantly as ever, in another life, with Lennon, and Presley, and Sinatra, and a twinkling of other supernovas. He burned brighter than any of them.
With David Blaine at The House of Commons
With David Blaine and Matt Fiddes in Exeter
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I didn’t know that a quadruple heart bypass was even possible. I thought the maximum number of grafts was three. But when a friend of ours was told his angina had become life-threatening and that he must undergo one of the most serious operations possible, I realised there’s only one person more important than a brilliant surgeon — and that’s a responsible heart owner.
Shipi and I dropped in to the London hospital where our friend, a lawyer we’ve known for over 20 years, is recovering. It’s a good thing Shipi never became a doctor — his bedside manner is appalling.
“I bet when they cut you open,” he announced, “the surgeons discovered you didn’t have a heart at all. I always said that’s what makes you such a great lawyer.”
In fact, the surgery cannot be carried out while the heart is still pumping. It has to be stopped while the new arteries are grafted into place: in order to save the patient, the doctor must first kill him.
Many of my legal friends tell me the biggest problem they face is stress. In a high-powered career, where the stakes are high in every case and clients can face ruin if their lawyer isn’t 101 per cent committed to his work, physical tension can destroy the body.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-smoking vegan who jogs to the office every day and never touches more than a half-glass of chianti: stress is a killer.
That’s why I’m delighted that my son, Daniel, has quit his work as a barrister in London chambers to retrain as a Californian lawyer. All that sun and surf will help him to relax.
My own health regime is focused on keeping fit. I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life, I have no resistance to alcohol and couldn’t be a boozer even if I wanted, and I’m lucky enough to be able to afford full check-ups when it suits me — the National Health Service is a marvellous institution, one Britain is rightly proud of, but it’s no good if my appointment for a scan comes through when I happen to be on the other side of the world shooting a TV series.
Since a healthy diet is built into my lifestyle, the chief role I can play as a responsible heart owner is to take plenty of aerobic exercise. That doesn’t mean I have to don a pink leotard and dance round the gym to the sound of Wham! I only do that on Mondays.
Aerobic exercise is the kind that makes the body increase its oxygen intake. For best results, it should not be too intensive, and it should last at least 20 minutes. I always warm up before starting, to avoid straining my muscles, and I always cool off with stretches for the same reason.
My favourite work-out is on my static bike — I try to cover about 27km in 20 minutes, bringing my heart rate up to around 120 beats per minute and keeping it there while I work up a sweat. I also use a cross-trainer which works my arms, and I like to use weights for ten minutes or so: I could never get a Schwarzeneggar body if I trained 12 hours every day for life, but all muscle helps burn fat and the weights help keep my own weight down.
If I’m in a hotel, I might use the pool — swimming is great exercise, though I don’t like sharing the water with a crowd. And I usually find a flight of stairs to help keep me supple, even if it’s on a jumbo jet.
It’s important to know when to stop — and when I first discovered work-outs, moderation was a word that wasn’t in my vocabulary.
By my late twenties, soft living had made me overweight. My favourite foods were hamburgers, salami and especially brie, which is about 80 per cent saturated fat.
I wasn’t obese, not the way my American friends understood the word. Some of them couldn’t see their own feet, even if they lay on the floor with their feet propped on a sofa.
But I stood on a speak-your-weight machine in Manhattan one afternoon and realised I had motored smoothly past 85 kilos and was heading for 90kg... which means I was approaching 14 stone. As a former paratrooper and basketball player, I suddenly felt I’d turned into Orson Welles.
I got hooked on dieting, and that became bulimia. I also got hooked on exercise. Without taking medical advice, I started jogging for at least two hours a day, covering ten miles at a stretch. Then I’d drag myself to a bike and pedal for another 90 minutes. The flab evaporated, but I felt dizzy and depleted all the time.
My glycogen levels never climbed above a trough, and I was constantly tired. At the same time, my blistered feet and burning legs gave me constant pain.
In combination with my eating disorder, I could easily have given myself a heart attack.
My message to anyone who is reading this and who isn’t taking regular aerobic exercise at least three times a week: whether you’re 18 or 80, make an appointment to see your GP right now. Get your health checked over, and find out what levels of exercise you can safely target.
And if disability makes aerobics impossible, make sure you raise your fitness and reduce your stress in other ways, such as regular meditation. The mind is the most powerful exercise machine in the universe, and there’s no charge for using it to the max. Above all, liaise with your doctor, and make a pledge to keep fit... because whatever you’re doing today, I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t want to swap places with my friend and his quadruple heart bypass.
when I look at this publicity shot of myself aged 62, and think back to the chubby youth I was at 28 in New York, I know which of us looks more in control.
Friday, May 29, 2009
*It’s an international phenomenon. Phenomena are my business. I should get involved. Right now I’m brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush.
*Everybody’s doing it. It’s the future of the internet. Facebook is yesterday’s news. I left my old toothbrush in a Moscow hotel bedroom.
*It’s free publicity. Although, at the moment, I have less than 100 followers. And four of them are Hanna, Daniel, Natalie and Shipi.
*You don’t get many words into 140 characters, do you? Still, it’s a good excuse to play with my Blackberry. Like I need an excuse.
*I must stop in at Boots the Chemist and get an electric toothbrush. Either that, or fly back to Russia and collect the one I left there.
*If anyone in Moscow is following my toothbrush saga, please call at the Hilton and ask them to send mine back. I am now walking my dog.
*I am standing in an English field, typing on a tiny keyboard. My greyhound is chasing rabbits. This is a typical morning at home for me.
Twitter account: GellerUri
I’m Twittering. Or Tweeting. I’m not quite sure of the jargon, but the concept is simple: I can send updates from my beloved mobile phone to a webpage called Twitter, and anyone who signs up can instantly see what I’m saying. It’s like sending a text message to countless fans, instantaneously.
Every day I send texts to my children in America, just to let them know I’m thinking of them. Now I can do the same for everyone who watches my TV shows and reads my Weekly News column.
Some of the most popular Twitterers have millions of followers. When Barack Obama was on the election trail, his off-the-cuff observations were beamed via Twitter technology to voters from Cape Cod to San Francisco Bay, generating a wave of excitement and publicity which helped the first Hawaiian president surf into the White House.
Messages have to be ultra-brief, and are supposed to be answers to the question, “What are you doing?” Each one must contain no more than 140 characters, including spaces.
That’s about 25 words which, when I’m worked up, is about as many words as I say every three seconds. Space is a major drawback, but it also forces people to stay focused. If everyone was publishing five-page rants, most of us would never have time to read the Tweets, never mind write our own.
It’s the biggest sensation on the internet right now. Millions of new users are signing up. If you want to read my posts, my username is gelleruri — somebody has already registered as urigeller, without asking me first.
That’s a common practice — the rapper Kanye West went ballistic this month when he discovered that more than a million people were following a Twitter imposter who had hijacked his name. The account was quickly shut down, but it shows the power of the phenomenon: if a million or more sign up to read instant messages from a pretend pop star, the potential for real celebrities must be unlimited.
Who needs TV adverts for a new album or a television show, when you can reach a seven-figure audience with a Tweet?
Unlike most internet sensations, this one isn’t dominated by teenagers. MySpace, Messenger, phone texts and music downloads were all powered by adolescent excitement, but Twitter seems to be an adult obsession. Maybe if it can’t capture the imagination of the very young, it will be short-lived — most internet crazes burn out fast. I’m going to have some fun with this one while it lasts.
*Barney the greyhound is now out of sight. He smelt a rabbit in the next county. This is going to be a long walk. I’ll keep you posted.
Ace pilot Julian Murfitt
My daredevil friend Julian Murfitt put on a display of acrobatics above my home this week, for a party of children from Israel who were visiting Britain with the Ezer Mitzion charity.
All of the youngsters are suffering from very serious illnesses, and the courage and determination they display in the face of frightening and painful treatments is inspirational. I always try to give them a day which will be just as much an inspiration.
I emphasize to the children how important their medical treatments are, and urge them to work hand in hand with their medical team, because the danger is that some might lose their faith when treatments become too painful. The sickness caused by treatments and, for instance, the loss of hair during chemotherapy, can be very traumatic for youngsters.
After Julian’s stunt-plane, an Extra 230, touched down, he explained to the children how he piloted it and what he experienced in the cockpit — and as he used his arms, his face and his whole body to demonstrate the extraordinary strains and stresses of acrobatics, he looked like he was dancing.
Next time, I’m going to film him and set it to music!
When the children leave, I give all of them my private phone numbers, including my mobile, so they can call me any time they need encouragement. It’s not unusual to get a call from a child about to go into the operating theatre, and some of the most moving conversations of my life have come like this, out of the blue.
What matters most is that the children take strength and hope from our words — I’m less concerened about the science of what is happening during inspirational moments. I used to think that I was sending an energy flow, but now I’m convinced that the healing power is latent in everybody, and I am just a catalyst, a tool the children can use to trigger their own inner energies. Next week I hope to reveal the incredible experiment which opened my eyes to this universal power.
This spectacular chair was designed by the Israeli genius Ron Arad. We spotted it in the Timothy Taylor gallery in Mayfair, where Ron’s work is on show. If I’d ignored spoons and concentrated on chairs, maybe all furniture would look like this.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It’s an unforgettable romantic moment when the pianist dedicates a song to a couple. Memories like those can define a love affair — that melody becomes ‘our tune’.
These special moments are usually set in intimate restaurants or secluded bars, at family gatherings or on the last night of a magical holiday.
It was different for Hanna and me — the setting was the packed auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall and we were serenaded by one of the most celebrated concert pianists in the world, Tamas Vasary.
But as I told Hanna when the applause died down, Tamas once joined me in one of the most unusual requests of my life, and it was only fitting that he should dedicate another, 35 years later, to us.
In the early Seventies, I was invited to take a cruise from Bordeaux to Naples on board a liner called the Renaissance, with my friend Byron Janis and his wife Maria. Byron was one of the most successful pianists on the planet, an unparalleled interpreter of Chopin: he was to be performing on the musical voyage with another celebrated musician... and that is how I met Tamas.
Anyone who thinks classical pianists must be stuffy and serious has never met one. They’re just as riotous as any saloon-bar piano player in a movie starring Maria’s superstar father, Gary Cooper.
Egged on by Byron, Tamas and the other boys in the orchestra, I decided to recruit the passengers for a mass mindpower experiment. We were out on deck, in the blazing Mediterranean sunshine, off the coast of Spain, when I urged everybody to focus their minds on halting the liner.
All of us clenched our fists, screwed up our eyes and shouted, “One, two, three... STOP!!” Tamas shouted louder than anybody. Maybe it was his psychic energy that tipped the balance — he was an experienced conductor and well used to imposing his will on the elements.
Within two minutes, all of us felt the ship was beginning to slow down. Secretly I suspected the captain was in on the joke, and some of the passengers clearly thought I’d bribed the stokers. But as the liner drifted to a complete standstill, I decided to find out what was going on, and stopped one of the ship’s officers.
He had no idea why we’d stopped — and that was when I knew our experiment had been simply too successful.
It was nearly an hour before the engines shuddered back into life. Later I discovered that one of the metal fuel pipes had buckled, cutting off the supply.
For metal to bend spontaneously, at the precise moment that we were chanelling all our energy into halting the ship, was one of the most conclusive demonstrations of mindpower I have ever experienced.
I didn’t board a cruise liner for another 15 years, and when I did — in Bermuda, on the SS Britannis — I kept my thoughts away from the fuel lines. I noticed, though, several unmistakeable secret service types were watching me (this was at the end of the Cold War, when I was involved with the US delegation to the SALT II nuclear peace talks, so I’m not being paranoid... the surveillance was very real).
I didn’t give the dark-glasses-and-radio-headset brigade any demonstrations of how to halt a ship on the ocean — it might have given them ideas, and I had no intention of becoming a secret weapon against nuclear submarines. But on another cruise ship, in the English Channel, I did put mindpower to dramatic use — by revealing an eclipse of the sun.
It was the 11th of August, 2001, and a total eclipse was due at 11.11am. The day was overcast, and to everybody’s frustration we hadn’t glimpsed an inch of blue sky all morning.
I ordered everybody to focus their thoughts on burning away the cloud cover — and sure enough, the sun burst through, moments before the moon’s disc began to slide across it. We witnessed the whole of the eclipse, though across most of Britain it was wholly hidden by the grey skies.
The Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank looks a lot like the bows of a cruise liner too. Perhaps that was in Tamas’s mind when he called a halt during a concert by the London Schools Symphony Orchestra last month to dedicate Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 15 to us.
Scientists have always been eager to know if my metal-bending ability is latent in many other people, and the late Professor John Hasted at the University of London carried out comprehensive tests on a host of promising youngsters during the Seventies and Eighties.
Christine and Robert Wilde
One of them, Christine Wilde, visited my home with her husband Robert this week, and told me how metal still bent unexpectedly around her. I sent them off to one of my favourite restaurants on the banks of the Thames, and told her to mind the cutlery.
That evening, Robert emailed to say they had experienced two extraordinary phenomena after leaving my home. As they drove to the restaurant, Christine was holding the bent spoon I’d given her, and another straight one which I’d suggested she could use for practice. Without warning, it twisted in her hand — “in a downward direction,” Robert said, “with the bending stopping at precisely the same angle as your bent spoon. The two spoons were truly symmetrical... amazing!”
And as if that wasn’t enough, a key on Robert’s keyring bent during lunch. Christine must have a remarkable gift.
at 6:04 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis hasn’t left the building yet. But he’s on his way.
Hanna and I have been in a frenzy of spring cleaning since we came home from Amsterdam last week. Usually we’re glad to see the back of even the most luxurious hotels when a series is over — it’s great to be in a real house again.
But Amsterdam was different. The TV company rented a canal-side apartment for us, so that the sight which greeted us every morning when we turned back the wooden shutters was the barges and the bicycles and the herons on the bridges.
There was no room service, but there were also no noisy guests, or chambermaids with vacuum cleaners, or dining room odours. The place became so much like a home to us that we talked of buying it and popping over for weekend breaks. The airiness and simplicity were right.
We kept it clear of clutter. Instead of stacking up the newspapers and magazines, we chucked them out. Instead of filling the rooms with new suitcases, we used the wardrobes. And instead of buying mountains of clothes that would cost as much again in airline baggage excess, we dressed simply.
That’s nothing new. It’s decades since I shopped like a professional. Paris Hilton probably blows more in one outing than I do in a year.
But in Amsterdam, I experienced the pleasure of living in an apartment that, for a few weeks at least, was a real home — and enjoying a minimalist lifestyle.
Our real home, beside the Thames, has been our spiritual base for 24 years. We love it more than anywhere on earth. But no one could call it minimalist. And when we walked into the family room, with its cushions, its crystals, its clutter and that lifesize wooden figure of Elvis, Hanna and I knew without saying a word: there’d be some changes made.
We hired a skip. Into it went everything we didn’t need. At first I started small — in the bathroom. All the creams, lotions and shampoos that hadn’t been opened for years went out. Most were long past their use-by date... and though some of the products had cost me a walletful of dollars in New York or LA, I didn’t like the thought of rubbing Nineties chemicals into my skin.
Then I tackled the mountains of papers. I’d been ruthless in Amsterdam and I could do it again here — if I really want to find some article from a three-year-old Sunday Times, I’ll Google it. And my shelves were stacked three deep in books, which meant I could never see what I was looking for: now 80 per cent of my reference library has been packed into boxes in the shed.
As Shipi and I carted the books down the garden steps, I said a prayer of gratitude that I hadn’t let my old friend Marcello Truzzi talk me into buying his library of parascientific research before he died. That collection comprised 15,000 volumes.
Four or five exercise machines went into the skip, with tables, chairs and a pile of bric-a-brac. It was time to order a new skip. Some of the debris might have been salvaged, some of it could even have been worth a tenner on eBay — but who wants to pay the postage on a rowing machine?
My heart ached when we reached the rooms that had been my mother’s. I picked up her glasses and realised they were lying where she had placed them for the last time, almost four years ago.
Hanna put her arms around me. “Muti is in your heart,” she said, “not in this room.” She was right — we cannot keep it as a shrine. It’s strange to touch her clothes, her ornaments, her letters, and realise they are nothing but a cast-off skin, left behind when the spirit goes to a better life.
We took the clothes to Oxfam, because I could not bear to throw her possessions in a skip. But I am relieved to have begun the clear-out, because I don’t want to carry the past around with me in a furniture van.
So I packaged up his collection of model planes, all 150 of them, delighted that I’d had the foresight to keep the boxes. Diecast models like these are worth so much more in their original packaging.
While I have been busy with my live TV shows around the world, my children have both moved to California. It was easier to clear out their rooms, especially after I called Dan to ask if there were any books or toys from his childhood that he would like freighted out. “No way, Aba!” he exclaimed.
All my soft toys had to go as well — about 200 of them. I plan to give these away to poorly children when they visit my home, but for now they’re in five wheelie bins, parked in the shed.
We’re not clutter-free yet, and we’re a long way from minimalism. I think there’s another five weeks of clearing out before I can even think of repainting. But we’re getting there.
“It’s starting to look like home,” I said to Hanna. “Our new home.”
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The next Uri Geller is a 12-year-old girl. Even her name sounds like mine — Yelle. With her father, Ghani, she cast a magical, mystifying spell across the finale of my Dutch show, and mesmerised the audience.
The viewing figures shattered all records and the phone system went into meltdown as voters demanded this composed, charming child was crowned our winner. Rival channels threw on everything they had, including The X Factor and the movie Borat, but at one stage we had a whopping 44.8 per cent of the viewers. And Yelle was our trump card.
Ever since the birth of spiritualism, 150 years ago, it has always been young women who prove the most natural “sensitives”. That is the word coined by parapsychologists to describe the mentalists and mediums who seem to possess the mindpower to read thoughts and even move objects.
Poltergeists, for instance, almost always materialise around adolescent women, and it is teenage girls who are most likely to see religious visions. More ominously, the KGB’s massive research into parapsychology in the Sixties and Seventies focused heavily on young women as the Kremlin tried to subvert gifted sensitives for espionage and Cold War surveillance.
I loved Yelle’s performances. She could make feathers float and sand move, hear whispers trapped in a wineglass and exert total mental control over the people round her. It was breathtaking.
The studio was silent — and I must have been holding my breath, because I could hear my heart beating — as the Mask was unmasked. He was revealed as Hayashi, who had been the first contestant on the first series. The rules forbade him from returning, but by adopting a new identity as the Mask, he outfoxed us.
Hayashi’s love of danger sometimes went too far, and I was forced on one occasion to halt the Mask’s act because I believed our celebrity guests’ lives were at risk from the razor-edged swords he wielded. And I made no secret of my disgust at the vampiric Vincent, who ate leeches and drooled blood.
I’m delighted that the audience at home shared my misgivings. It’s interesting that my production team, who are investigating the possibility of taking the series to the Far East, say that in many Asian countries the more gruesome contestants would be banned. And in some places, including China, it is illegal to screen performances by mediums who claim to be in contact with the dead.
Pure telepathy, on the other hand, is guaranteed to fascinate Asian viewers — which is just one of the reasons I predict that my successor, 12-year-old Yelle, is on the brink of becoming a major international sensation.
My German series also reached its climax this week — Jan Becker was the winner, and my protege David Merlini, the escapologist, joined us for a memorable show. But my European adventure wasn’t quite over...
Oliver Pocher, the German comic who caused a sensation on YouTube with his parody of me, was filming a new DVD in Berlin, and invited me to join him on stage at the O2 arena in Berlin. The last time I played to such a vast audience was in Rio de Janeiro during my Brazilian tour in the Seventies.
With the presenter of Germany’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Gunther Jauch, seated beside me, I introduced Oliver as “Mortadeller the mentalist”. There
were camera crews all round us, and the comedy was beamed onto Imax screens: every one of the 15,000 spectators had a perfect close-up of our faces from hundreds of feet away.
The next night we were in Rotterdam for a show with Rob and Emil, the mentalist duo, in front of a capacity audience of 1,500 at the Luxor theatre, where Bill Clinton recently lectured.
Only then could we fly home. It’s been an adventure...
I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
The outrageously funny magician Ali Bongo was one of my early detractors — he even went on Blue Peter in the Seventies claiming to be able to bend spoons, thoughwhat he did best of course was raise laughs. Kids and adults both loved his act.
Ali passed away earlier this month, and I was amused to read in his obituary that he once tried to visit me at my London hotel. He claimed I refused to see him, with the m
essage: “I have no time for magicians! What do they know about my powers?”
I don’t remember the incident, but I have to admit it sounds a lot like me at that time!
What the obituary didn’t reveal is that Ali and I became friends in later years, and he greeted me warmly when we met in December at the 37th International Magic Convention in London. The event was hosted by David Berglas, who presented me with a special award.
Ali, who was President of the Magic Circle, congratulated me heartily. When I heard, a few weeks later, that he had suffered a stroke at the age of 79, I contacted his niece and asked to speak to him over the phone.
Ali sounded weak but content, knowing that he had been so lucky to devote the whole of his life to the magic he loved. That’s the greatest trick of the lot.
Caption: To promote the German series’ finale, I joined interviewer Stefan Raub on his chatshow. Other guests included Dr Eckhart von Hirschausen, whose book on positive thinking has topped the bestseller charts, and the children’s entertainer Willi Weitzel.
at 7:24 PM