Psychic who is seeing stars
The fascinating love life of Angelina Jolie, Arnie in the Governor's mansion and a fleeting glimpse of a slim, attractive red-head. Maurice Amdur says he has seen the future and he's been busy telling
By Tom Spender
Maurice Amdur is a long way from his native Hendon as the camera zooms over the audience and directly onto him.
It's Entertainment Tonight and its hard-bodied, platinum-blonde hostess is preparing to give Maurice - introduced as Princess Diana's personal psychic - a prime-time American TV grilling.
She doesn't waste much time: "How often do you get it wrong and does it bother you?" she fires.
"I don't," says Maurice.
Such bullishness is typical of the man, and just what you would expect from someone who has made his name in the US of A (although as a Leo, he would argue calling him bullish is the astrological equivalent of a mixed metaphor).
But at his mews home in St John's Wood, Maurice is looking less certain as he struggles with my star sign.
"You've got an interesting thing going on with your eyes, brows and face. It's a bit like mine, but you are a lot skinnier than usual for a Leo. There's a chance you could be a fire sign but there is also a strong pull to earth. Your hands are slim, which is a pull to air, and you have Aquarius-type hair. Hmm - Pisces? Aries? Sagittarius? Taurus? I'm not going to get it," he says.
Maurice was on the verge of getting his own show in America when ill-health forced his return to the UK.
He grew up in Tenterden Grove, in a bungalow that has since been knocked down after, he says, developers offered his father too much money to resist.
He has made countless celebrity predictions - perhaps his most glittering was forecasting Catherine Zeta-Jones would marry Michael Douglas six years before they tied the knot.
Maurice is a Leo and he looks the part - round flattish face, brutal cheekbones. But his lair is no palace - it's a mews house, with smaller dimensions than most houses, and the furniture is old-fashioned, almost antique.
"I'm a Leo and my moon is in Aquarius, which tends to make people a little bit weird and wonderful. But physically I look correct for my sign," he says.
Maurice is doing my reading in his small, ground-floor office, containing a desk, two chairs and a set of bookshelves. On the desk is a collection of objects which lend the proceedings a mystical air: a burning candle; tarot cards; and a dish for aromatic oils. We have by now established that I am a Gemini and Maurice has some surprising news.
"People may find you eccentric. But you yourself have psychic capacity because of your age and astrology. You may not yet be aware of how it works, but it's there. You have a powerful personality and you should really have been a businessman.
"You are a pure Gemini, with strong mercurial influence. You live inside your head and can't stop thinking. You seek harmony and balance and the more effort you put into it, the less you get," he says.
"I sense you are dealing with a lot of house needs [I am moving] and there will be an opportunity for a serious love affair this year but I'm sorry to say it may not last.
"I see a girl with reddish hair. She will come into your life and you will go with her. She's slim and in shape, probably a Virgo or a Libra," he says.
Astrology is a controversial - and lucrative - business. A recent scientific study of 2,000 people born at the same time claimed their diverging lives disproved astrology once and for all. But that hasn't stopped more and more people turning to those with 'the gift' in an attempt to escape the bleak tyranny of the rational world.
"As you come out of your mother and they slap your bum to show you how painful life is going to be - that's when astrology hits. Like any religion there are no proofs for clairvoyance. All you have is faith. But it's incredible how often it's right.
"I never know what I am going to get, information comes in different ways. Sometimes it's like a screen. It's not there, but it's like watching a movie. Other times I just hear a soundless voice.
"I can tell from the tip of someone's nose what is going to happen to them but I've also done readings down the phone. Sometimes it's all a blank but then I use hardware such as books to come up with a reading."
So I'm a psychic with a powerful personality and a sexy redhead on the way - I could hardly have asked for anything more flattering. Presumably Maurice's clients pay handsomely if they are buttered up a little. But everyone must have a dark side.
"I have a problem when I read people, particularly in LA. They don't want to hear the truth. I tell them as much as I can and then I slip in a bit of the negative. Many of them are emotionally damaged and just want to hear how best to ruin their ex-partners.
"As for you - you are born to be a businessman but you are fearful of taking risks, particularly in relationships where you lack commitment. You have a good mind and you are not using it," says Maurice, who himself studied at Albany College in Hendon Way, Hendon.
Maurice's claims about people looking like their star signs seems an easy target - looks are surely inherited genetically rather than astrologically. I resemble my brother, who was born in January.
"That's Capricorn. He would have a different build, maybe a bit stockier [true]. Next year he will have a nice career windfall," says Maurice.
By his reckoning I should therefore resemble actor James Belushi, with whom I share a birthday, as well as former New York governor Mario Cuomo and Xaviera Hollander, who wrote the Happy Hooker stories for Playboy magazine.
"Belushi has strong eyebrows, a narrowing frontal hairline. He's a lot heavier than you but he's also 30 years older remember. He certainly has an answer for everything.
Having your fortune told is fun and comforting - everyone likes to be the centre of attention and told they are special. It's hard to know how much to believe - a determined sceptic can always claim coincidence and indeed the distinguished Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins has written an entire book (Unweaving the Rainbow) on the subject. But that doesn't necessarily detract from the experience of spending an hour or so with Maurice.
For the record, Maurice has 'seen' that Arnold Schwarzenegger will become Governor of California and we shouldn't be surprised if actress Angelina Jolie announces she is getting married, even though she claims she will never walk up the aisle again.
As for me, I'm paying a lot more attention to those around me with red hair.