Tilting Ship

David was giving a lecture on the Nif.uw Amsterdam cruise ship and nearly five hundred people had gathered to listen. He had already mystified them with his cabaret show the previous evening and now he was giving a lecture on Personal & Mind Development that included positive thinking. The lecture was almost finished and David was reiterating: "The mind really is an incredible thing."

And then, as if it was an afterthought, he added, "If you all concentrate on something, it will happen. Should we try it?" Enthusiasm was universal. "For instance, we are sailing in very still waters but we can make the ship lurch. Would you like port or starboard?" A show of hands made port the choice. "Then concentrate," said David, "concentrate."

"Imagine you can influence the ship." Encouraged by the lecture and spurred on by memories of David's show, everyone began to furrow their brows in concentration. "Don't look left, don't even tilt your head. Just concentrate on port. It'll only work if all of you will give me your cooperation. Concentrate, concentrate hard, you can move the ship." And if the looks on their faces were anything to go by they surely believed they could.

"Harder, harder," said David as five hundred people shared a common thought, that of influencing the huge vessel by the power of will alone. "Now!" he shouted and suddenly the ship lurched to one side, an unexpected violent motion that brought the passengers out of their relaxed meditation. A woman screamed, crockery crashed to the floor and frightened passengers ran into the lecture theatre. Everyone took a deep breath. What had they done?

Then they looked at David and saw him smiling. "Don't believe everything you hear or experience when I 'm around," he said and the panic quickly turned to applause. For years to come David would be known as the man who made the ship tilt.

David's television fame in Holland made him a favourite with the Dutch cruise ships. They paid him top money and treated him royally which, as David points out, was a little strange because the cruises were usually in the Caribbean and the passengers mostly American. For the same money they could have got themselves an American star, someone the passengers would have heard of. But they were very happy with David and booked him year after year. The work suited him well. Cruises were usually just ten days to two weeks long and he only

Aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam in 1971, working with the Casino staff.

Off the beaten track in Manilla, Phillipines.

had to perform one cabaret show and give one lecture during each trip.

However, ship life did have its drawbacks for an entertainer who dealt in areas of psychology. Passengers asked an endless series of questions and David rarely got a moment alone. He never ate before a show but looked forward to a meal from the midnight buffet. Ic was a rare evening if he managed to lift a coffee cup to his lips without someone asking his advice. He looked forward to the day when the passengers would finally disembark amid promises (or threats) to keep in touch.

On that day the ship would be cleaned from top to bottom and readied for new passengers none of whom knew David. For the first few days he was free to move around among them, invisible, eating and drinking and swimming and enjoying all the amenities the ship had to offer. But with his first show would come recognition and he'd spend the rest of the cruise answering questions about telepathy and magic and psychology, knowing that he'd soon have people banging on his cabin door eager to have his opinion on this topic or another.

The Nieuw Amsterdam was one of Holland's finest ships. The lounge resembled a gentleman's club with big leather armchairs, brass fittings and a ceiling three decks high. It was a legacy from an age of luxury that has sadly passed. David was very fond of the ship

despite its tendency to break down from time to time, its steam engines sometimes failing miles from any port. He got to know it and its crew very well and sometimes entertained them below decks with a version of his show. It was during such a visit that he uncovered a bit of information that would make what became known as the Tilting Ship stunt possible. It was a crazy idea and he hoped to get some kind of official sanction before he could perform it.

When the ship stopped at one of its cruise destinations David usually hired a motorcycle and drove to isolated spots that were free of tourists. It was something he liked to do on every cruise. The captain had the same idea and by coincidence they met on a secluded beach. David told him about his proposed stunt. "I think I can make the ship tilt," said David, "but 1 want your permission before 1 do it." He discussed the method with the captain so that he was fully appraised of the situation. The captain laughed and thought he was joking. When he realised he wasn't he said, with a wink, "David, I haven't heard you tell me any of this." That was enough. David couldn't involve the captain in any chicanery but he as good as had permission to go ahead.

He had already decided that the perfect forum for his new stunt would be at the end of his lecture on Personal Development. 1'he first half was a serious discussion on the benefits of

Visiting Mexico, at the pyramids of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan.

positive thinking but finished, as usual, with a lighter tongue-in-cheek item that, on this occasion, paved the way for the stunt. The passengers concentrated as David suggested, expecting little to happen but hoping for more. What the audience didn't know was that among them was a woman who had been briefed to scream on cue and outside the door were two members of the crew prepared to smash some old crockery and rush in apparently panic stricken.

Down in the engine room was an engineer listening to David on a walkie-talkie system, the other half of which was upstairs in the lecture room. He stood by a raised hatch set deep in the engine room floor, a hatch he had shown to David only a few days before. I nder the hatch was a set of controls, two levers that could be operated manually. These worked the ships stabilisers, two large fins on cither side of the hull that were normally controlled electronically and gave the ship the ability to counteract rolling in rough seas. As soon as the engineer heard David shout "Now!" he pulled one of the levers and the ship tilted swiftly to one side. In the lecture room above, hundreds of people were convinced, if only briefly, that they could move objects with the power of thought. Somewhere, a captain gave a wry smile and a new yarn was added to the tall tales of men at sea.

Positive Thinking As The Key To Success

Positive Thinking As The Key To Success

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