Whales Cats Plants

D«id vppe \rf.d on Eamonn Andrews' television chat show, in the early smcnmcs». he «cm there with a plan in mind. A plan that if carried out successfully would resnltnnianlvinasceiimd appearance on the show but also a tidy bit of newspaper publicity.

It depended on David being able to manipulate the conversation and turn the usual inacifciun session into a seemingly impromptu challenge. The show began with a discussion aim— Dwifsdog. Tricky, and how he had been trained to do all kinds of unusual things. Pet tdkiuiajivpopifarofl television shows and Eamonn was happy to talk about this remarkable hound. ""Cam you (rain other animals?" asked Eamonn, hoping for an unusual answer. "Yes. of couscl9 said David and proceeded to talk about his work with doves and how he could lay a dorcon its hack and have it stay there, in a trancelike state. The bird wouldn't move until he £rnrffcr mmmiml "It works with chickens too," and he described how one would go about Ircpnnrisingf a chicken bv pointing its head at the ground and then using a finger to draw an iraagpearr Bsc ak>n« the ground just in front of its beak.

"Is there any limit to the kind of animal you can hypnotise?" Asked Eamonn. "No." said DkvidL sensing his moment was approaching. "A lion, a bear, a tiger?" asked the host. "It didniraaraez.' said David.

"An* jxunui at all?" said Eamonn, pressing the point, because he knew of an animal thai no Hugcun had ever worked with and was anxious to introduce it into the conversation. David knew k too. which is w hy he announced with great bravura that he could control any animal at J, 'Any animal. I'd stake my life on it."

Eamonn took him at his word and threw down a challenge, "What about Winston at the Windsor Safari Park?" David appeared surprised but in fact Eamonn had fallen into his nap. He had intended all along that that this particular creature would enter the conversation.

Wbtssoa was a "killer whale" and his recent arrival in England had given rise to lots of newspaper stories. His new address was Windsor Safari Park, located just outside of London, wheae a special pool had been built to accommodate the mammal ready for his first public appearance David had known about the whale for some time. Windsor Safari Park was owned bv two of Bilh Smart's sons, the owner of one of Britain's leading circuses. One of them.

David with a feathered friend; over the years he's worked with doves and a wide range of other animals.

Ronnie, a fellow member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, the charitable show business organisation, had already invited David down to the park to look at the whale and it was at this meeting that he discovered an unusual fact. A fact that he would, just once at least, be prepared to stake his life on.

During the visit he had witnessed an astonishing event. The whale was swimming around in his new abode, cutting his way through the water at great speed, when his keeper came in with a bucket of fish. It was feeding time. Abruptly the whale came to a halt. One minute it was gliding through the water, the next it was as still as one of David's entranced doves. No one had said anything. The keeper was far from the water's edge and had not even reached into the bucket to remove a fish. Nevertheless the huge whale had stopped swimming and now lay motionless near the tank's edge, waiting, presumably, for its meal. David was curious and asked the keeper what had happened. That's when he discovered the secret of bringing a killer whale to a halt. A secret he would put to the test on Eamonn's next show.

When the day of the recording arrived David appeared in his swimming trunks and calmly climbed into the tank with Winston. The whale seemed unconcerned and continued to swim around at speed. The public, however, knew little of a killer whale's behaviour at that time and only the foolish would have thought of climbing into the pool with this shark finned giant. They must have thought David was mad. As the camera rolled and photographers snapped publicity shots, the killer whale continued to circumnavigate the tank perhaps wondering who its new pool mate was. David, by now possibly having second thoughts, managed to maintain an air of showmanship and readied himself for the demonstration. With the massive whale swimming around him he had already decided that it was the first and last time he would ever try this feat.

He adopted a magical stance; cast some mesmeric passes and waved his hands in the direction of the whale. Quite what everyone expected we do not know. Maybe they thought David was going to get eaten alive on air. What they did not expect was that the whale would come to a sudden stop, which is exactly what it did. The huge creature ceased its tour of the pool and started to tread water or whatever it is that killer whales do when they are not swimming. It also probably wondered what the applause was for. The stunt made great television and garnered much useful publicity. For David it was the animal trick to end all animal tricks.

How was it done? Well, what the keeper told David was that Winston was trained to respond to a dog whistle. Like dogs, whales can hear the high-pitched sound but humans cannot. It was the trainer's dog whistle that brought the whale to a halt when David first saw it. It was the signal for mealtime. When David climbed into that tank he made sure the same keeper was standing nearby, his whistle at the ready. David also had his fingers crossed throughout the whole episode. Sometimes knowing the secret doesn't make the trick any easier to perform.

David's penchant for arcane knowledge led him to try several other animal stunts including the resurrection of a dead fly, an old item that has recently come to the fore. His presentation was different though. Instead of bringing a dead fly to life, he would take a captured fly from a small transparent specimen box, lay it on his hand and hypnotise it. It must have been hypnotised because it didn't fly away. Instead it lay on its back, quite still, with its legs in the air, apparently in some kind of trance.

Any thought that it might have been dead was quickly dispelled because when David was talking to the spectators he inadvertently took his mesmeric gaze off the insect. The fly flipped itself upright, crawled a little and then flew away. The secret, as you may know, is that the fly is actually in a cryogenic state, having been frozen alive in an ice compartment of a refrigerator. This was the fly that David apparently removed from the specimen box, and not the fly they saw moving around. Timing, the heat from the hand and the ability to tell a good story accounted for the fly's unexpected revival. Once or twice the specimen box wasn't used. Having already established that a fly or two was buzzing around the room, David would "catch" one. The rest you can imagine.

Another stunt he has used at parties and on television involved a domestic cat, a borrowed one, of course. The cat was friendly enough and purred comfortably as he was stroked. The topic of mind control and animals was raised and David promised that just by concentrating he could make the cat obey his mental commands. "For instance, I could make the cat wash itself." The host of the show listened, intrigued. "Tell me when you want me to do it," said David. "How about now?" said the host.

David moved away from the cat and began his concentration. Sure enough, after a few moments, the cat began to wash itself, licking its fur all over, again and again without stopping. Another piece of little known information made the stunt possible. David had a little butter on one hand and stroked the cat with the other. Just before he left the cat, he stroked it with his buttered hand. Naturally, when he moved away, the cat, being the neat creature that felines are, started to wash itself. And didn't stop until all the evidence was gone!

Having demonstrated his powers of "psychic control" over animals, birds and insects David wondered what else a master magician might be expected to do. Could he, for instance, exercise some kind of "psychic control" over plant life? Visitors to David's house have already marvelled at one stunt, performed when the conversation turns to the paranormal. Did you know that plants sense energy fields? That they grow better when treated kindly? Some green-thumbed experts swear that talking sweetly to their plants and flowers makes them flourish and bloom. This is the kind of talk that lays the foundations for what is to follow. That and the fact that you're now at David's office window, looking down upon the beautiful garden, admiring the flowers and fruit trees. "Ruth's a wonderful gardner," says David, praising his wife who even now can be seen pruning some rose bushes. "She chooses all the plants," he adds, pointing out the potted ferns on his window ledge.

You take a seat by David's desk and the conversation continues. "How can I demonstrate?" he says. "I know, do you remember the plant by the window?" You do. It was tall and spindly with green ferns and purple flowers. "Watch!" says David. He brings his hands to his temples, concentrates a moment and then gestures mystically towards the plant. "It's done." You turn around and are astonished to see that the plant is dead! You go up to it for a closer look. You're sure it's the same plant, you remember the purple flower at its peak, but now the leaves are all closed up and shrivelled and it looks as if the life has been sucked right out of it.

Impressive? Certainly. And the secret is given away here for the first time. The trick is in the plant itself and that combined with a little misdirection makes for a novel demonstration of psychic power. His son Marvin discovered the plant many years ago. It's called Mimosa Pudica and it has a very peculiar property. If you stroke it, the fernlike leaves will suddenly close up and the plant looks as if it has suddenly died. The plant then recovers after 10 or 15 minutes. When the conversation turned to the psychic world of plants David makes sure you get a good look at the fern by the window. When you walk away to take your seat, he quickly runs his hand along the plant. It shrivels up and he follows you to the desk and takes up the thread of the conversation. The rest is showmanship. So incredible is this effect that David has been known to take a Mimosa Pudica along with him to parties! He gets there early and hides it among the host's other plants. No one seems to notice one more pot. At some point in the evening, you can be sure the conversation will turn to the paranormal and the psychic energies surrounding plants. And once again Mimosa Pudica will perform her favourite party trick.

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