Cinema in Istanbul is a spine-tingling experience. Turks have no inhibitions about displaying emotions — Hanna knows that I can’t watch an old-fashioned tear-jerker without a box of mansize tissues, but she has never seen me weeping, wailing and blubbing like the audience in the multiplex tonight.
And it wasn’t even a romantic movie. This was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The audience only wept during the soppy bits, of course. The rest of the time they were punching the air, whooping, cheering and threatening to leap at the screen and attack the villains. The next movie I see at the Piccadilly Odeon is going to seem very tame in comparison.
I left the cinema with my hat brim over my eyes, cracking an imaginary bullwhip. It’s been the same ever since I was a boy, sneaking into the Tel Aviv movie-house with my friends to see John Wayne movies: I imagine for days that I am the hero. I even used to try and copy Wayne's walk and his drawl.
But this time I had a good reason to play the leading role. I once embarked on a quest for a crystal skull of my own — and only turned back when I became convinced my family was in danger.
Regular readers will know I have a passion for crystals. They energise me, and my home and garden are filled with them, some taller than I am.
About ten years ago, I purchased a lorryload of crystals from a Yorkshire warehouse. When the delivery driver threw open the rear doors of the truck, I felt like Ali Baba at the mouth of his treasure cave.
Heaped across the floor of the Transit were glittering crystals. Thousands of them. Some as wide as tree trunks. Two of them were too large to go through the front door – we had to struggle around the house and throw open the patio windows.
I tried to count them, and to sort them. I gave up. I found 50 agate slabs, and 120 amethysts. There were five vast amethyst bowls besides, hewn hollow and electric with purple. At least 200 quartz spurs were more than four inches, and the pebbles and semi-precious chippings numbered thousands. Maybe tens of thousands.
Crystal conducts energy, and amplifies it. Sceptics who scoff at this idea ought to read about the use of crystal in Nasa’s space program, which on later missions used stones that had been exposed to low-frequency vibrations – the rocks would store the energy and slowly release it, batteries of vibrations, imitating the Earth’s natural energy field.
These crystals helped astronauts’ bodies to maintain a physical memory of Earth while in zero gravity, and so to remain safely in orbit for long periods.
I did not want my crystals to take me into space. I needed them in the grounds of my house. Between the swimming pool and the River Thames, I had designed a waterfall to flow under a Japanese bridge. The grotto is shaded by a willow, and it is here I come when I am drained of energy and lost for words. It is my haven. I stock it with all the energy I can lay my hands on.
By this pool, I began experimenting with my mountain of crystals. I laid fifty of them in the pool, in a circle. I made a pyramid in the circle. And then I lifted out the stones and rearranged them in a Star of David. There are at least 150 crystals in its 12 sides.
News of my purchase must have made waves among crystal traders, because a few days later I received an offer through a Mexican friend who knew where I could buy one of the fabled Crystal Skulls of the Mayans.
The Central American priests who worked with crystal up to 12,000 years ago have been forgotten – along with their religion. But their artefacts still retain power.
One skull, discovered at Lubaantun, Belize, in 1927 by the explorer FA Mitchell-Hedges, was tested by Hewlett Packard at their Santa Clara labs in California. Scientists reported the artefact, apparently sculpted from a giant rock crystal by craftsmen who rubbed it with sand for an estimated 150 years, emitted inexplicable lights, noises and scents.
The skull that I was offered was said to be even larger and more powerful. It had a million dollar pricetag, and I was prepared to pay that, if it could be proved genuine. But a series of nightmares, over three nights, made me uneasy. I rarely have bad dreams, and when I do they are usually about my war experiences. These nightmares were vague, with their meaning out of my reach.
I decided to find out more about the myth of the crystal skulls, and was horrified to realise that all the Mayan icons were reputed to be guarded by a curse that slays any who mock it. Archaeologists who treated the ancient religion with disrespect sometimes met fates as gruesome as the doomed explorers of the Tutenkhamun expedition.
Crystal stores and amplifies energy, and if priests 12,000 years ago had locked curses into the skulls, I knew I did not dare bring one into my home, where it could fix its baleful glare upon my family.
Our whole planet could be built around a crystal skull, as big as the moon. Any alien civilisation which could construct a world must have engineering powers that are beyond human imagination, but many serious scientists are open-minded enough to accept that the Earth’s core may be crystalline, even if it is not skull-shaped.
Iron becomes a hexagonal crystal under immense pressure. After observing that waves travelling through the planet on its north-south axis moved faster than waves traversing east-west, seismologists Lars Stixrude and Ronald Cohen reported in the journal Science: “The very strong texturing indicated by our results suggests the possibility that the inner core is a very large crystal.”
This crystal also appears to be rotating slowly, suspended in liquid metal. And if that notion isn’t strange enough, consider the findings of a group of Russian scientists in the Sixties who mapped the world’s paranormal focal points and discovered a network of connections which formed a giant crystal pattern over the surface of the planet.
The USSR’s parascience budget was colossal — the Kremlin believed they could win the Cold War with mindpower. And they took the findings seriously: the USSR Academy of Science’s journal, Khimiya i Zhizn, demanded, “Is the world a large crystal?”
They published diagrams showing the world was criss-crossed by a 12-sided geometric shape, called a dodecahedron, containing 20 equilateral triangles – a perfect crystal structure.
The key points included the Bermuda Triangle, areas of high solar radiation, temples and holy sites of ancient peoples, such as Easter Island, places with unique wildlife colonies, such as Lake Baikal, exceptional mineral ore deposits, earthquake faultlines, including western California, and the central African site of a spontaneous atomic explosion, 1,700 million years ago.