Passed/Failed: An education in the life of of Uri Geller paranormal cutlery bender and author

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The Independent Online
Uri Geller, 52, paranormalist and author, is famed for his spoon- bending skills. His novel `Dead Cold' has just been published and `Ella' is out in paperback. `Uri Geller - Magician or Mystic?' by Jonathan Margolis is out in July

Primary colours: I showed my abilities at a very early age. At around six I started at Ahjaad Haam (United People) school in Tel Aviv. I was bullied. I was beaten up one day in the changing-room by someone who thought I was a freak because I demonstrated my prowess of bending metal: the keys that children carried and the bracelets that the girls wore, which I could demolish - almost melt them. But I also became a minor hero: I was a great storyteller. The teachers would put me up in front of the class, and I would make up stories about astronauts, rockets and extraterrestrials. I was there until I was 10.

Secondary characteristics: When my parents divorced, I was put into a kibbutz called Hazor in the south of Israel, and I was thrown into the kibbutz school, which I hated. I was an outsider. I was lonely; every night I used to look at the moon, knowing my mother and my dog could see the same moon. I continued my stories, but I hid my powers.

Boarder country: Then my mother remarried and took me out of the kibbutz and suddenly I found myself in a foreign country, Cyprus. My stepfather owned a little hotel, Pensione Ritz, and music shop in Nicosia. The Greek Cypriot [Eoka] partisans [seeking union with Greece] were at war with Britain. I've seen British soldiers shot in the back; Greek throats slashed by Turks. That island changed my life. I went to school as a boarder in Larnaca. The American Academy, adjoined a hospital, and I remember that at 12 we would gather at the end of the yard and see the blood oozing out of the morgue's drains. Now they all liked me, but home-sickness overpowered my joy.

Further education: I went back to Nicosia. Our hotel gradually became a safe house for Mossad [Israeli secret service] agents. At 13 I became a little courier for letters sent there from Arabic countries and I would bicycle with them to the Israeli embassy.

My stepfather wanted me to go to the best school in Cyprus, Terra Santa College, a Catholic school. As we were Jewish... churches and crosses were taboo. I'll never forget the first thing I saw at the college was this huge - 50 metres long - cross cut out of the flowerbeds. I thought I was being taken to some medieval place of torture!

I panicked but the monks made me very comfortable. Jonathan Margolis [in his book on Geller] tracked down people at the school who remembered me bending spoons and moving the hands of a clock on the wall. The teachers were amazed, fascinated. There was for me a major shift, a gateway to knowledge.

One day the head called me into his room, locked the door and began unbuttoning his shirt. He pulled out a chain with a cross and other Catholic symbols - and a little star of David was tucked away behind them. "Why are you wearing a Jewish symbol?" I asked. He said: "Because I believe in one God." All the fear melted away in me.

University challenged: The [Eoka] war [in Cyprus] was so intense that when I was 17 we had to close down the shop and hotel and go back to Israel.

I didn't go to university. My childhood in the kibbutz, the American Academy and the Terra Santa college taught me more than a thousand universities.

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