Friday, May 29, 2009

Uri Geller: Twitter, Ezer Mitzion

*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.

Maestro pianist Uri Geller

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.


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