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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 00:44 GMT 01:44 UK
Friday night cheers for Blaine
By Mick McGann
BBC News Online, near Tower Bridge, London

As David Blaine ended his first week without food suspended in a plastic box above the River Thames, BBC News Online joined hundreds of people who turned out to watch him.

It was hardly a normal pastime for Friday night revellers.

David Blaine in box on Friday night
Blaine has now survived eight nights in his new home
But as magician David Blaine marked the end of his first week in his strange, temporary home, the crowds came to see him.

There were no signs of the antics earlier in the week, when several people threw eggs, bananas and chips at the US showman.

Instead, the onlookers cheered every time he stood up and groups of children tried to get him to wave by simultaneously screaming his name.

And he didn't disappoint the fans. Dressed in black pyjamas, Blaine regularly waved to those gathered below, although he could not hide a look of total boredom.

'Genuine'

But the crowd were loving it.

Caroline Frasniqi, 32, had come with her husband Sheetim from Dartford in Kent because she wanted to see Blaine in the flesh.

She told BBC News Online: "I've been watching on TV but I wanted to come here and see it for real.

David Blaine looking bored
Spending 44 days in a box can get boring
"I think it's great. I reckon it is genuine. It has got the crowds coming to see him, whether it is real or an illusion.

"I wonder what he does all day. How does he cope with it, the boredom, and how does he keep track of time?"

Suddenly a huge cheer goes up as Blaine gets to his feet and does a few gentle exercises, touching toes and a couple of knee-lifts.

Mind control

"He looks in good condition. He's obviously done a lot of preparation for this," said Mr Frasniqi.

Duncan Hypher, 36, of Finsbury Park, north London, was also impressed.

If someone did this in China, I don't think people would be interested... they've got better things to do
Ke Chen,
student

"It's pretty much like looking at a wild animal in the zoo. I think the challenge is not to do with giving up food. It's putting up with boredom

"I think he's genuine. I think he has enough control of his mind to get through it.

"It's good we're able to come and see it, usually this sort of thing happens in prison and you can't watch it."

But his friend, Ke Chen, a 30-year-old Chinese student living in London, was not impressed.

"I don't like it. It's rubbish," she said.

"If someone did this in China, I don't think people would be interested. They've got better things to do."

City workers Sally Elliot, 26, and Andrew Peat, 30, both of Hertford, said they wanted to see how Blaine looked at the end of the first week so they could make comparisons when they return at the end of his final week.

'Lucky'

But they were not that impressed with the challenge the 30-year-old has set himself.

Ms Elliot said: "I was reading somewhere that a man has been doing this for a month at a time for medical research and that to do an extra two weeks would not be a big deal.

"He's lucky all these people are here cheering him on. It would really unbearable if he was up there and all alone.

"He must be really tired pretending to be interested in waving to people."

Andrew said he would happily go without food for 44 days if there were a few million pounds in it, a view shared by many watching Blaine.

"It's not that difficult really. We've come down to see the spectacle of it all rather than just to see him."




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