David Blaine and Westlife
Golf balls! It was the golf balls that really freaked me out. When I heard that people were throwing eggs, bananas, chips and bottles at David Blaine’s Plexiglass prison, suspended above the Thames from a crane, I was angry but not too shocked.
That’s how Britain is these days. The yob who admitted hurling eggs at the transparent box that is to be David’s home for more than six weeks admitted: “I wanted to break him and get him down.”
Brainless, wanton destructiveness. Vandal mentality. There is more of it in Britain than ever before, and it’s not even a stupid youth thing – this pathetic idiot was 34 years old.
The girls who bared their breasts and flung fish and chips at David are just as common a sight – we can all guess they holidayed in Faliraki this year. If a red-top tabloid can track them down, the blonde duo will probably earn themselves a page of colour pictures.
But the vicious sensation-seekers who teed up on Tower Bridge and cracked golf balls at the case deserved to be prosecuted. Their intention can only have been to smash the Plexiglass, risking serious injury or even, God forbid, death to David.
Within a few days of his captivity, my friend was looking pretty down. Nightclubbers had set up an endless racket to keep him awake: “Watching a man sleep is pretty boring,” said one 23-year-old from Lewisham. “We are making an effort to try and wake him up.”
They succeeded, and managed to wake up families on both sides of the Thames as well, banging drums, screaming and shrieking.
But it wasn’t just tiredness and hunger that gave my friend’s face a haunted cast. He was scared. The displays of animosity and, especially, the golf balls had left him shaken.
“We were all pretty horrified,” his friend Harmony Korine told me. “We didn’t anticipate this.”
Harmony, a feted underground film-maker, is shooting the entire 44-day ordeal on 35mm cine film.
“Security got beefed up after the first few days. The guards have been doubled to eight and there’s a six foot wire fence up too. It makes me feel happier.” David’s gorgeous girlfriend, Manon von Gerkan, is suffering too. She’s very much in love with the illusionist, and 44 days is a long time to be apart for anyone. It’s far worse for Manon, who is forced to see people trying to torment her lover as he suffers.
I simply do not believe he would have met this reception in his native America. New Yorkers have a reputation as the toughest city dwellers on Earth, but they’ve got more common decency than to mock a man as he puts on an extraordinary, free and unique show for them. Indeed, when David was encased in ice on Times Square, and when he balanced on a high platform in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, the press coverage was pretty much positive and the crowd reaction was awesome. I know that David hoped for even better from Londoners.
“It’s a historic place,” he told me. “So much tradition. I want to be part of that.” This is how he is repaid. I can’t imagine he will want to perform in this country again. But David is immensely strong in his mind, and I know he can not be forced to quit by anyone. He did manage one smile for me, the day after the golf balls – “Where’s Nat?” he mouthed. Nat is my 20-year-old daughter, whose smile can brighten any room. She knows how to make David laugh. So I returned a day later with my whole family, and Nat gave David her biggest, brightest, beaming smile as she waved up at him. And David grinned back. He’s going to have the last laugh.
Hey! Whatever! Da da da-da da-da dah! I can’t get the new Westlife single out of my head. It’s got the best beat and the catchiest tune since … well, since Kylie sang “Can’t get you out of my head!” So when I was booked on GMTV on the same morning as the band, I knew I had to go and meet the boys. Backstage at GMTV it’s a maze of corridors and dressing rooms, and I was just knocking hopefully on doors and sticking my head round, when five Irish voices yelled: “Oh my God! This is not happening!” See, while I was searching for Westlife, they were conducting a paranormal experiment. With hands linked around a table, the boys were chanting, “Uri Geller, we summon you. Come to us, Uri Geller.” And then I did. They were seriously mindblown, particularly Mark Feehily, who believes deeply in the supernatural. “I bet you could levitate or anything,” he said. I couldn’t resist. “Hey,” I told him, “Whatever!”
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