Thursday, September 27, 2007

X-teacher, Prince Naz

Prince Naseem Hamed, the former world champion boxer, was famed for his flamboyant ringside entrances, and I was secretly hoping that when he visited my home this week he'd arrive on the back of a gold-plated elephant, draped in a cloak of peacock feathers. For Naz, even that might have been low-key — he once had an elevator built at the Manchester Arena, to convey him to the ring, and for the demolition of another opponent he strutted up a catwalk runway.

His smile was so broad, as he stepped from their car with his family on our driveway, I couldn't be disappointed. Naz is such an infectiously charismatic character, with a charming wife and three delightful children, that he doesn't need the razzle-dazzle — it's all in his personality.

We first met more than a decade ago, at a TV studio, and I was so impressed by his star quality that I picked our photo together to be the icon for my website's gallery of celebrity photographs. Throughout my career, I've always kept a camera close at hand, and it could have been a rock star, from Elton John to Alice Cooper, or a movie hero, a political leader or even a great artist such as Dali who symbolised the cavalcade of famous names.

I chose Prince Naseem, I think, because his pose radiated confidence and positive energy. One flash of that thousand-watt smile was like being hit by a bolt of inspiration. He wasn't simply the world champ — he believed he was the very best that ever had been or could be.

His left-hand punch was so powerful, it frequently knocked out opponents with a single blow. But that was only half the story — he was credited with the fastest reflexes that had ever been seen in the ring. Naz dodged punches the way Superman dodged bullets.

I told him of my training sessions with Muhammad Ali in the late Seventies, when we worked on visualisation techniques which the three-times world heavyweight champion had evolved instinctively. "Ali saw punches coming in slow motion," I told Naz, "because he believed he could literally slow down time. It was the power of his mind, not his fists, which defeated opponents."

"That's exactly what I do," Naz replied, his brilliant smile giving way to a moment's seriousness. "That's why I'm the Greatest too."

I'd love to take the confidence that bubbles out of Naseem Hamed and bottle it. We'd be trillionaires, because he'll never run dry. At its source is an unshakeable faith that he can be the very best at whatever he devotes his life to being, whether it's a boxer or a father — he's a dedicated family man.

It can't be bottled, of course, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to go without. Every human being is born with a well of self-confidence. Believe in yourself, and it starts to flow. The more it flows, the more you believe, until you're standing in a deluge, a cloud-burst of super-confidence. To start it gushing, all you have to do is create that first drop, with the magic words: "I believe in myself!"

My former teacher Joy Philippou, who taught at my school in Cyprus back in the Fifties, celebrated her 80th birthday with a party at Los Toreros, a fabulous Spanish restaurant in London. She had a great deal to celebrate, because as well as clocking up eight decades (she makes me feel so young!) Joy was also basking in the afterglow of a brush with fame... on the X Factor.

Dr Philippou, to give Joy her proper title, is a multi-talented woman: president of the Body, Mind and Soul International society which promotes holistic health, and the author of more than a dozen books. But as she demonstrated to the TV judges, she can also play the violin, the mandolin and the Hawaiian guitar — without instruments. Joy is a musical mimic, and like the best ventriloquists she doesn't even move her lips: the sounds come through her nose.

She was one of a record 150,000 applicants to try out for the show, and she made it through the first rounds to the X-Factor 'Boot Camp', at Haythrop Park Hotel, Enstone in Oxfordshire. That wasn't a happy experience, though — the organisers admit this part of the show is "an endurance test," and Joy felt that she and other older contestants should have been warned how tough the conditions would be.

With 200 other hopefuls, she spent four hours waiting in line on a Sunday night, and three-and-a-half hours more under a hot sun the next day, without so much as a toilet break. "There was no talking allowed," Joy said — "it really was scary."

I know from my experience presenting Successor in Israel, and from my intense discussions with the producers of the forthcoming US version, Phenomenon, that it's essential to generate levels of tension and rivalry between performers on talent quests. That's what helps to make them such compelling viewing. But I believe it's going way too far when elderly ladies are subjected to hours of physical discomfort.

Luckily, Joy is well able to stick up for herself. She concluded her performance by asking the judges if they thought they were running a concentration camp, and then told reporters that Simon Cowell was a "sadistic psychopath".

Good for you, Joy! Any teacher who could keep me in line during my teens has got nothing to fear from television tyrants.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Arts & Cushions

Sometimes I sit down to write this column and an idea hits me for something completely different - a song, a piece of jewellery, an unbreakable umbrella. Or, in today’s case, a book.

It’s a detective thriller about an Elvis impersonator who doubles as a serial killer. Every victim is murdered in a homage to one of the King’s hits - trampled to death with Blue Suede Shoes, garotted with a Good Luck Charm, or All Shook Up in a concrete mixer.

Unless the editor gives me another 100 pages or so, I don’t think I’ll have room for a whole book today. If you can find a copy of my novel, Dead Cold, in a second-hand shop, you’ll get a taste of something similar, though - the psychic detective is a Sinatra fanatic and the blowtorch-wielding villain is Too Close For Comfort!

As I was writing the book, Sinatra’s greatest albums were blasting from my stereo, providing the soundtrack. And that fabulous music came rushing back in my head when I saw Ol’ Blue Eyes staring at me from a window in London’s Wigmore Street.

The shop specialises in art fabrics, with cloth painted in the style of geniuses like Dali and Warhol, or embossed with images of screen icons such as Marilyn Monroe. As soon as I saw the cushion decorated with a stark, black-and-white portrait of Sinatra, I had to have it.

“That’s why they called him the Chairman of the Board,” joked Shipi, testing the cushion for softness.

He started us all off. “Sinatra was the godfather of Lounge music,” Dan declared. “You Make Me Feel Sofa,” I said.

Hanna trumped us all, though. As I settled onto my new cushion, she nudged me and said, “It Was A Very Good Rear.”

There’s a marvellous restaurant, the French Horn, close to my home, with a reputation for extraordinary cuisine which brings visitors from all over Europe. I was introduced there to a energetic and visionary man, Richard Tibber, who told me over dinner that he was managing director of Zeon watches.

“I’ve been in the watches business my whole career,” I exclaimed - “stopping them, starting them and making them spin. I’ve even halted Big Ben twice. Maybe I should be designing watches for you.”

Richard loved the idea, and now the Uri Geller Positive Energy range is about to go into production. These are exceptional timepieces, powered by the kinetic energy of the owner’s body, with a piece of crystal embedded in the back which will be in constant contact with the skin.

I have decorated the faces of the watches with symbols that focus on time’s infinite, unending power - the infinity sign, the 11-11 pairing and Einstein’s formula e=mc2 which defines all matter as energy.

Even the glass cover of the watch is unique: some are encased in transparent pyramids. I chose that design for two reasons, the power of pyramids and the resonance of ancient Egyptian motifs.

No one knows how a pyramid of the correct proportions, such as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, on the Giza Plateau outside Cairo, focuses energy, but there is no doubt of its extraordinary effects. The pyramid of glass and steel in my garden is constructed to exactly the same ratios, and everyone who steps inside it is struck by the sense of serenity and rejuvenation which floods through them.

The potency of Egyptian symbolism has been at the front of my mind this week as I work on my latest line of jewellery. It’s going to feature brooches, earrings, necklace pendants and bracelets modelled on hieroglyphics.

One of the most sacred symbols of orthodox Jewish worship are the tefillim or phylactery, boxes containing holy Hebrew scripture which are worn bound to the head and arm, especially at prayer time. I was delighted to meet a shy young Jewish man, Solly, who visited my home with a gift of the tefillim from Rabbi Elvaz in Jerusalem.

The rabbi was a fan of my show, Successor, earlier this year, and wanted to send me a thank you gift. It’s a good thing he sent Solly along too, to help me tie it properly.

Annie Kevans is one of the most prominent portrait artists in Britain, whose career took a leap up when the noted collector Sir Charles Saatchi bought out her last exhibition, lock stock and barrel. Saatchi, who is married to the domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson, has often been criticised for his policy of buying art with a JCB digger, but there’s no doubt he can make a young artist’s reputation with one flash of his chequebook.

The dynamic Flora Fairbairn, founder of the Collect Contemporary consultancy, contacted me to say Annie had completed a portrait of me. I explained that I have a policy of rarely buying art (I didn’t mention the Sinatra cushion) but I was always happy to exchange pieces.

Annie and Flora were intrigued, and when they brought the portrait over I fell in love with it. They selected a piece of hand-decorated Poole pottery in return. The painting went straight on my wall, and it’s causing fewer problems than the sculpture by Gavin Turk which was delivered this week - it’s the rear bumper of a car, and at the moment it’s in our garage. I’m having some trouble persuading

Friday, September 14, 2007

Weekly News : Auras

The secret of success is energy. When you focus your mental energy into your actions, you can achieve anything — whatever your mind can imagine. And the more focused your energy becomes, the more visible it is.

I call this visible energy an ‘aura’. If that word sounds too fanciful, call it a ‘glow’. Think of a bride on her wedding day: the words that spring to mind are radiant, glowing, luminous. The joy and excitement literally shine out of her. That is her aura, a psychic energy so obvious that no one could deny it.

With a little practice, it’s possible to see the auras around many people. At first, you will probably be able to detect the faintest shimmer, like a colourless heat haze, along the contours of the head and hands. As your ability develops, the haze will be more sharply defined, and you’ll start to pick out colours within the patterns.

Seeing auras is a skill. Like any skill, it’s available to anyone. Some find it easier than others, but no one can achieve it without trying. And like any skill, practice makes perfect.

Find a quiet, well-lit room – and make sure the light source is above or behind you, not shining in your face. Lay out some brightly coloured objects on a neutral background, such as a pink sheet of newspaper from the business section.

Relax. Breathe steadily and rhythmically. Let your mind drift – don’t focus on your desire to see an aura. Daydream. Meditate if you wish. Let your eyes rest unfocused on one of the objects.

Don’t stare directly at the edges, though this is where the aura will be – like the faint light of a star, the effect is brighter in your peripheral vision, so let your eyes wander. After a few seconds, you’ll see a band of coloured light around the object. This is a simple aura, an emanation not of the object but of its colour.

Practice. When your mind is relaxed and you feel day-dreamy, let your eye seek out auras around animals, trees, furniture – anything. Once you start seeing auras, they will begin to appear more easily. It’s a knack – and it only seems difficult until you’ve mastered it! Look for the etheric aura, a gaseous, colourless glow like heat haze. The etheric aura is not generated by colour energy – it reflects the energy in the object itself.

The most dramatic auras surround living creatures, especially people. Learn to look with a partner — it is a deeply bonding experience, to see each other’s aura.

A good time to view your own aura is in the bath. Lie back and daydream. When you are relaxed, rest your feet on the rim and gaze towards them. The first sign of your aura will be a shimmering around the outline, like rippling heat. Colour will build up around this – probably green or blue, because you will be physically and mentally at ease.

A century ago, one brilliant and unorthodox scientist produced research that proved the aura was a biological fact. Dr Walter J Kilner invented a device for viewing ultra-violet light through eye-pieces dyed with dicyanin which made the human aura hazily visible. The electrotherapist at St Thomas Hospital, London, published a book in 1911 expounding his theories: healthy males had similar auric patterns, but women varied and children’s auras lacked refinement.

Kilner identified three aura bands: the etheric, the inner and the outer. The inner aura displayed the densest, most consistent colours, while the outer flared and shimmered. Other experimenters found his eye-pieces caused inflammation and were uncomfortable, and after his death in 1923 Kilner’s work on medical diagnosis using the aura was largely forgotten.

To keep your energy levels topped up to the max, you need to be surrounded by bright, vibrant eye-catchers. Colours are created when light vibrates on different wavelengths, and our minds respond vigorously its energy.

Dynamic reds and yellows are great motivators, filling the mind with the impulse to act. White can be energising if it’s clean and shining — think how your heart lifts at the sight of fluffy white clouds on a blue background (but not at grubby grey clouds!)

My favourite is orange, a fiercely active colour that supercharges the psychic senses. I have orange circles, some as big as bicycle wheels and others the size of satsumas, hung around my home to inspire me.

One of our hidden human abilities is to see colour shimmering in the energy that radiates from every living thing — the aura bands of shining light that glow around the body. Some people even see numbers as shapes, melodies as rainbows or taste music on their tongues.

A team from University College London, led by the eminent neuropsychologist Dr Jamie Ward, believes at least one per cent of humans do this instinctively — and many more of us could learn. In one experiment, Dr Ward asked a 70-year-old schools inspector named Dorothy Latham, who sees colours when she hears music, to describe the hues of a series of notes, starting with deep bass tones and ending with tinkling high ones.

Dorothy saw rippling, dark colours at the low end of the scale, and shimmering light ones at the top. Next, Dr Ward asked his research group, who didn’t consciously associate colours with music, to imagine they could “see” the notes — and they too matched dark hues to low sounds, light colours to high.

“We all seem to do this, even though most of us are completely unaware if it,” Dr Ward said.

Dorothy thinks many people repress the ability. “I imagined everyone would be exactly the same as me, until I spoke to schoolfriends and they said, ‘You’re a weirdo!’ So I shut up about it and kept quiet.”


Everyone sees auras diffently, but there are some meanings in the colours which are common to many observers. How do yours compare?

• Red: Indicates physical energy, capacity to work hard, sexual appetite, generosity, vitality.

• Pink: Selflessness, compassion, capacity for loving, attention to family.

• Orange: Emotional power, inspiration, leadership. Becomes yellow as spiritual nature develops.

• Yellow: Joy, childlike enthusiasm, intellectual power, spiritual energy and freedom, focused and positive emotion.

• Gold: Very deep spirituality, enlightenment, inspired teaching gift, psychic.

• Green: love of nature, healing energy, restful mind, methodical.

• Turquoise: Dynamic personality, psychic power, restless mind, wide interests, easily bored, keen to delegate.

• Blue: Highly spiritual, infused with life energies, at one, self-disciplined, healing ability.

• Violet: Clairvoyant, inward-looking, visionary, changeable.


Rod Stewart was wearing a vivid, purple-striped jacket when I met him at David Frost’s garden party. His energy is electric, just like the colours of his favourite clothes

Chris Tarrant chose a vibrant red shirt to the garden party. His energy is practical, earthy and forceful, and he radiates colours which express that.

Gillian Anderson, star of TV’s X-Files, has a natural innocence. Her open mind and trusting nature are the keynotes of her energy, and she chooses white clothes which complement her aura.

Vanessa Feltz has a vivid nature with rapidly changing moods. Her aura energy is turbulent and powerful — the colours change rapidly, just as they do in her multi-hued clothes.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weekly News: Tokyo, Sony, David Berglas, Shinzo Abe, Bao Xishun

Tokyo looks like no other city on earth — but when I flew in on a lightning business trip recently I decided to put some of my other senses to work. Instead of seeing the city, this time I wanted to experience it through my ears, my nose, my palate and my skin.

I stood with my eyes closed for 20 minutes outside my hotel — with Shipi at my side, in case any passing thief decided I looked like a man who needed his wallet removed!

The sensations were phenomenal. The noise of feet slapping on the sidewalk sounded like waves. The melee of voices — and I speak a little Japanese — was a babble washing over me. The whole experience was like being immersed in a human sea.

Later I ate with my eyes shut, which left my companions helpless with laughter — chopsticks are hard to handle at the best of times! The crisp distinction between dry and oily foods was like bright colours on my tongue.

I explored my hotel room in the dark, fingering the delicate paper wall dividers and the light silks of the cushions. The mental images I brought home of Japan are far more vivid than anything I have known before, even though I lived in the country for two years.

We neglect all our senses in favour of our sight. For many people, taste and smell almost dry up. But our intuitive sense is worst neglected of all. Most adults simply ignore it.

The Japanese are more open to mind energy than most Westerners. I will never forget an encounter I had with Masaru Ibuka, founder of the Sony Corporation, two decades ago. He looked like an ancient master of martial arts as he stared into my eyes for fully two minutes — leaning forward, with his knuckles resting on an immense mahogany table, gazing silently at me. As though he could read my soul.

I felt my collar clinging to my neck, and a pulse trembling in my forehead. I dared not avert my eyes or break the silence.

At last he straightened, and spoke: “I believe, Geller-San, that truly you possess the abilities which you claim. But what I am asking is this – what use are they?”

This was a question I had heard many times before. “Spoonbending and telepathy have made me world famous,” I smiled.

“But.” Mr Ibuka repeated, speaking very slowly, as though to a stupid child. “What Use Are They?”

The same question was torturing Sony researchers. Japan’s foremost electronics company, which pioneered miniaturisation and invented the Walkman, had set up a psi research unit of five scientists to test the reality of extra-sensory perception.

They carried out tests with psychics to find hidden objects, to see colours blindfolded and to sense which glass of water among a tray of ten had been infused with healing energy. After thousands of experiments, the psychics were scoring impossibly better than mere guesswork could ever do, with a 70 per cent success rate.

And the scientists were in despair. What use was this power? They couldn’t distill it into batteries (though how they had tried!). They couldn’t use it in market research or recording studios. Sony were stumped.

When Mr Ibuka died in 1998, the corporation was quick to shut down the psi unit. Company spokesman Masanobu Sakaguchi announced: “We have found out experimentally that yes, ESP exists, but that any practical application of this knowledge is not likely in the foreseeable future.”

Many people possess powerful mental talents without knowing it. That can cause chaos, because the energy needs to be channelled if it is to be kept in check.

Maybe your computer crashes when you’re under stress — journalist friends tell me that often Fleet Street newsrooms are bedlam as deadlines approach, with PCs which have behaved perfectly all day suddenly developing mysterious glitches.

Or maybe street lamps flicker on and off as you walk down the road — this is such a common phenomenon that Dr Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire ran a research project to discover what is happening.

Parapsychologists call it the SLIde effect — Street Light Interference. The energy isn’t always human, as a family in London, Ontario, discovered not long ago. All the children’s toys sparked into life, buzzing about the bedrooms and chattering at full volume, after lightning struck the house.

There was so much electrical energy in the air that fires started spontaneously, and neighbours had to use garden hoses to prevent a full-scale blaze.

I’m glad my own energy focuses on metal objects and not soft furnishings!

It was a joy this week to have dinner with our old friends, the magician David Berglas and his wife Ruth. Incredibly, David had his 81st birthday this year, though he looks 20 years younger. He and Ruth celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last year — David tells me their best man was his beloved dog, Tricky, who carried the ring on a ribbon around his neck.

I first met Shinzo Abe, a brilliant man from one of Japan’s leading families, in 1973, when he was 19 years old. His father was then leader of the Liberal party. Now Shinzo is Japan’s youngest ever Prime Minister. He is also a best-selling author, and I’m enjoying the copy of his chart-topping book Towards A Beautiful Nation... though it’s hard work for me to read Japanese.

Bao Xishun, the world’s tallest man, has featured in news stories around the world after he was photographed with He Pingping, the smallest man on the planet. Incredibly, they were both born in Mongolia. I met Bao in Tokyo, but I don’t think his friend was there... unless, of course, I simply didn’t notice him.


| More