It was a moment that doesn’t happen too frequently in life.
In Berlin at the Amdocs-hosted Experience 2017 event – a conference that did its best to break away from the dreary normality of niche trade fora – your diligent correspondent was nearing the end of a very long day which began at 4am in a dark and dreary South West London.
15 hours later, after planes, trains and automobiles got me over to the glitzy Waldorf Astoria down by the Zoologischer Gartens, I was nearing the end of the opening conference session and the growing desperation for a shower, room service and a bit of kip was starting to take over.
With the need to chillax becoming more of an all-consuming fixation than a nice-to-have, I happened to bump into Gary Miles, the Amdocs CMO, on the way back to my quarters. We had a quick natter about heavy metal and the mentalist stylings of Lior Suchard, the trickster Master of Ceremonies who oversaw the afternoon’s proceedings. Then Gary made the very compelling argument that going to bed early wouldn’t be a good idea – mainly because turning in would ruin my body clock.
Valid point, but I knew what he was really saying: “come on mate, don’t be a loser, come out!” Also, journalists have a rep for being up for all kinds of larks, and there was no way I was going to let my profession down.
So I stuck on the Nespresso machine in my hotel room (great touch, by the way), had a shower, took an extra strong dose of man-up pills and headed straight back out the door to embark upon what turned out to be a unique and overwhelmingly baffling night out at the Classic Remise.
On arrival: 5.8% strength German beer, Currywurst and an exhaustive array of classic cars – the Jeremy Clarkson wet dream. After some milling around, schmoozing, boozing and some bizarre performing arts; everyone was hurried into the main dining area for the evening. It wasn’t long before aforementioned mental-abuser Lior Suchard made his return to the stage, having earlier promised more surprises and excitement.
In the article linked to nearer the start of this post you can see a 3 minute sample of Lior in action earlier that day. That clip was 8 minutes long, but Lior caught wind of my not-so-secret recording and kindly requested that I trim it to remove some parts of the vid that could reveal the magic of his magic to his dastardly competitors. This led to a proposal of sorts:
Lior: “OK, here’s a deal. You trim that clip, and we’ll play a game during the show.”
Tim: “Go on…”
Lior: “Write down your credit card pin number on this bit of paper, don’t let me see it. Fold it in half and pass it to me.”
[Tim does what he’s told, Lior rips the card up – still not looking – and returns the pieces to Tim]
Lior: “OK, see you later”
And so after some grub and a couple more drinks, all the while my head preoccupied with daydreams of what the next hour will have in store, the show began. There was lots of showmanship, comedy and dramatic performance, and it’s a thoroughly entertaining show. And then came the moment.
Lior: “OK, I need to get a couple of people from the audience for this bit. Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok…. YOU. UP.” – obviously that’s me.
Up I went, along with another member of the audience, to play a drawing-based guessing game, in which he asked the two of us to each contribute to a large but simple drawing he was developing throughout his routine. I added a big-eyed smiley, a Skinner classic. Oh it’s also worth noting that earlier in the evening he made a point of leaving a locked box on one of the tables, but we’ll get to that later.
He held a coin up to my eye and asked if I could see through it – obviously I couldn’t. He did the same with a blindfold – obviously I still couldn’t. He then ripped off a ton of duct tape, stuck the coins over his eyes and just started wrapping up his face like some sort of do-it-yourself S&M mask.
Then came the clever stuff. I was asked to start drawing something, anything that comes in to my head, so I got going—
Lior, looking the other way: “Oh, but whatever you do don’t draw that pig with the pointy ears. That’s terrible”
Tim: [Raises a singular eyebrow]
Lior: “Show the audience, then start drawing something different….. NOT A HOUSE!”
Tim: “Oh come on!”
Lior: “Show the audience…”
Lior: “Ok, one more go. Start drawing something a bit different; simple enough, but one that should be hard to guess.”
You’ll see the evidence of what happened shortly, but after creating my masterpiece Lior asked me to put a pen in his hand, and guide his hand to one of the lines I drew on the card. Again, I obliged.
Lior, who starts drawing with a blue pen: “Ok so I’m feeling there are some diagonal lines here…. and a sort of rounded bit here, oh and up here in the top right too… Then— oh there’s something up in the top left corner as well, a bit removed from the rest. Interesting.”
Tim: [Raises eyebrows, trying to keep jaw from hitting the floor]
Lior removed his blindfold and examined at his work. He had almost perfectly traced the outline of the guitar, strings and double quaver I’d put on there a couple of minutes before, as evidenced in this picture.
Aghast, I clambered off stage trying to figure out how this absolute sorcerer completely carved his way into my mind, my personal space, my Fortress of Solitude. But my disbelief was temporarily cut short.
Lior, chasing after me: “Oh, Tim! I almost forgot, your pin code is two, five, two, [redacted]”
Tim: “Get out of my head you alien!”
Finally, he remembered the locked box – remember that? He brought up the collaborative effort four members of the audience, myself included, contributed to throughout the show.
He then had the box opened for him, which had been locked and in plain sight for the entire duration of the event. Lo and behold, an identical replica of our collaborative efforts had been predicted well before anyone even set foot in the room.
I was trying to figure out how to justifiably write this up, and came to the conclusion that because it’s an Amdocs event on work time, I’m allowed to. [Top stuff – Ed]