Usually described as Scotland’s foremost mind reader, he lives in Polbeth and is in great demand all over the country as an entertainer, having made many TV and radio appearances...
Drew McAdam is an entertainer whose shows include mind reading (telling total strangers what they are thinking and describing events from their past), stopping his pulse (he’s managed to freak out medical doctors with this technique) and bending spoons by gently stroking them. I met Drew in the Gallery Coffee Bar [now Thistles] in West Calder, along with my husband Dan, to learn more about his tricks.
But don’t call them tricks! Drew points out straight away that they’re not tricks, but skills that he has gained from many years of training and practice.
So the burning question is how does he do it? Drew makes it clear that there is nothing magic or psychic about him. ‘‘I’m as psychic as a teapot’’ he says firmly. Things seem like magic when you don’t understand how they’re done, or more importantly, believe that they’re impossible. ‘‘We all naturally read body language all the time’’, explains Drew. ‘‘It’s a very human function’’. When you walk into a room and greet someone you can tell straight away whether or not they are pleased to see you - before a single word has been spoken. What Drew has is an extremely finely-honed sensitivity to this. He is able to see and interpret the thousands of signals that your face and body send out, and the minute subconscious movements over which you have no control - but which reveal what you’re thinking. ‘‘Unlike a magician, I can’t practise in front of a mirror’’ Drew says, so he has perfected his skills by studying a wide variety of people and situations. He is fascinated that despite the incredible complexity of the human mind we are more alike than we are different - meaning our behaviours can be largely predicted.
‘‘I’m as psychic as a teapot’’
Drew originally came from North Berwick but has lived in Polbeth for many years. As a kid he was interested in the paranormal and loved trying ESP tricks with his friends. He detested school; he was, he says, the kid with his nose to the window wondering why his teacher has him at a desk learning about frogs when he could have been outside catching one. His father was a hobbyist conjurer, but magic didn’t interest Drew much. It wasn’t until he saw Uri Geller bend a spoon in the 1970s that his interest was really piqued. A month after seeing this for the first time, Drew bent a friend’s key at a youth club Christmas party. (Uri Geller has been a major inspiration in Drew’s career, and they remain close friends).
Drew trained as an intelligence officer in the British Army. He put his ‘‘clients’’ at ease by telling them, ‘‘I’m not here to interrogate you; I’m here to read your mind’’. By the time he had told them several things that he could not possibly have known without being told, they knew there was no point lying to him.
Time for a practical demonstration. Drew pulled five of his business cards out of his pocket and drew a symbol on the back of each one - square, triangle, circle, star and plus sign. He handed them to me to shuffle, asked me to select a card, look at the symbol then place it face down on the table. Drew couldn’t possibly have known which card I had selected; his task then was to guess which symbol it was. He asked me to visualise the symbol and studied my eyes as I did so. I knew that he was looking at my eyes for small movements that would tell him which symbol I was visualising, and I wasn’t aware of giving anything away. But he got it right every time!
Drew is aware that his skills have enormous potential application in many fields from commerce to medicine. There are plenty of companies who would pay hansomely to have Drew train their sales staff. But he’s wary of seeing his skills applied to possibly dubious ends. ‘‘I know that I’m not infallible’’, he explains. And besides, Drew loves entertainment - he enjoys it as much as his audience does. He wouldn’t want to spoil the ‘‘magic’’ by getting too serious! Almost all of Drew’s work is for corporate entertainment events. ‘‘I just love the look of child-like wonder on the faces of hard-bitten business people when I tell them what they’re thinking.’’ He summarises his outlook by saying ‘‘If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing.’’
‘‘If it’s not fun it’s not worth doing.’’
And he certainly has a lot of fun. In the past few years he has cycled from London to Paris to raise money for a schools project in Nambia (he would have disputed the ‘fun’ side of this if you’d asked him part way through the ride...) He has bungee jumped over Victoria Falls; he likes paragliding in his spare time. In fact, he says, ‘‘I have achieved every one of my childhood ambitions, with the exception of being an astronaut.’’ He has gone down in a submarine, swam with sharks, driven James Bond’s Aston Martin, and flown off the North Berwick Law.
And if he has a tip for young people, it’s believe your dreams. With self-belief and positive thinking what seems impossible becomes possible. He cites the four-minute mile. It was considered scientifically impossible to run a mile in under four minutes, until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Within a short space of time many others had done it! This kind of mind-over-matter is another one of Drew’s techniques and he has repeatedly proved to people that they can achieve things simply by believing that they can.
Drew loves life. He’s one of that rare breed of people who is extremely content with his life. His lively interest in life and in people is as fresh and infectious today as it was when he decided not to go to university as a young man because he couldn’t face the repetitive nature of a timetable every day. He distils this outlook today into his ‘secret of life’ - do something different in every 24 hour period. ‘‘I came along to this interview today to meet two people I’d never met before,’’ he says to us.
Drew concluded our interview by bending some spoons for us. We left the table in the Gallery scattered with broken and bent teaspoons, including one very artistically twisted at the neck.
See Drew’s website www.drewmcadam.co.uk
Many thanks to Drew for a most entertaining interview.