Tales Of The City: The crazy world of modern magic

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The Independent Online

"If people think that I'm nuts, then that is great," says David Blaine, the ever-so-slightly irritating illusionist who tomorrow begins his 44-day incarceration, with water but no food, in a glass box suspended over the river Thames near Tower Bridge.

No, David, people do not think you're nuts. They think you're the greatest attention-seeker in the history of the world. I long to see what will happen to traffic on the bridge, as drivers look out to see the swarthy prestidigitator suspended in mid air - a fantastic sight, only slightly spoilt by Blaine's having to struggle in and out of giant nappies in full public view.

Although the dangling-and-starvation feat is Blaine's main reason for being in London, he passes up no opportunity to display his talents - going round the London Eye for an hour, standing on one of the pods, or pretending to slice off his ear at a press conference. He is always, it seems, switched to the ON button. He never allows himself to be ordinary. What, you have to ask, is it like being David Blaine, and having to be him all day long?

9am: Wake up. Practise holding breath for 13 minutes. Wash. Brush teeth. Remove two (2) large back molars and insert up nostrils. Breakfast - 14 Weetabix, magically ingested through stomach lining. Black coffee. Read paper. Note that Concorde being taken out of service. Poss. volunteer to go on last flight, strapped upright on nose cone? Note that 100mph typhoon due to hit Hong Kong Wednesday. Poss. arrange to be strapped to large sign saying "Welcome to Kowloon", and be blown all over city, ensuring max. visibility.

11am: Go for walk. Post letter to agent requesting double fee for lying-in-front-of-speeding-Tube-train illusion at Moorgate. Wait beside pillar-box until member of public appears with envelope in hand. Cause blizzard of 12,000 letters to fly out and orbit his head. Gets 'em every time. Continue bracing walk beside Thames, to inspect arrangements at Tower Bridge. See large grey battleship, HMS Belfast. Make appointment to see purser, with view to being discharged from one of huge guns, be sent flying over central London, ensuring max. visibility.

1pm: Lunch. Claridges Hotel. Ordered pan-fried sea bass with shallot purée and pommes de terre Dauphenois, then brought sea bass back to life, until flapping on plate, singing "Take Me to the River" in style of Big Mouth Billy Bass. That left only spuds and onions for lunch but wasn't hungry anyway.

3.30pm: Visit St Thomas's hospital for discussion re medical insurance. While there visit X-ray dept. Poss. trick of being X-rayed 24 times, showing bones, internal organs etc amusingly reconfigured each time. Visit intensive care unit, to cheer up patients. Elderly woman on life support machine seemed delighted to see me. "How does this thing work?" I asked her, seizing machine's electrodes and plonking them on own chest. "Maybe I could use it in my act?" She nodded vigorously for several mins, before lapsing into coma. Poor thing. Obviously doesn't have my powers of supernatural resilience.

5pm: Seeing tourist sights. In Madame Tussauds, tried to show world I could remain more immobile than any waxwork. Remained spookily still and silent for 1 hr 30 mins while people came and looked on in amazement and said, "Who's that man, Daddy?" etc. Decided to take tourist bus in Trafalgar Square. Too cool to sit on seats, so suspended self from upper deck, outside and upside down, with noose round neck and black mamba snake coiling up leg. Putting self in incredible danger, you see, just to entertain public.

9pm: Go to celebrity party, Trocadero Centre. Greet each guest with completely different illusion - handshake with electric shock, bunch of flowers, flags of all nations, outstretched hand turns into cauliflower. Met Susan Sontag, fellow American in town, pretended to cut off her ear, fake blood etc. No sense of humour, SS. Made elephant materialise in kitchen, guests enraged because couldn't get to drinks tray. Thrown out by hostess. Wonder if still time to make the 10pm News by skiing down Canary Wharf singing, "California, Here I Come"? Must ensure max visibility...

The car that has it all

Japanese inventors at the Toyota car company have stunned the automobile world by launching a car that parks itself. No really. You just drive into a car park, press a button, and an electrically operated combination of power steering and distance-gauging sensors will reverse you snugly into an available place. I drove something vaguely similar in France a couple of years ago - a Fiat Multipla which, as you're reversing into a tight spot, doesn't actually help you out, but does a brilliant impersonation of a nagging girlfriend, setting up a crescendo of bleeping noises, as if saying, "You're going too close, you're going too close, youregoingtooclose."

Toyota's new invention will, I'm sure, be a boon to all. But some of us have a strange feeling that we've owned one of these devices for years. We've looked at our car one morning and thought: "How did the car manage to park there?" Closely followed by the thought: "How in the name of God did the car manage to drive home last night?"

'I can't talk darling, I'm on the horse'

Am I alone in finding jockeys a very strange breed of men? So short, so egotistical, so garishly dressed in primary colours, so full of attitude - they're like a gaggle of bonsai supermodels. Their current dispute with the Jockey Club about their right to use mobile phones on racecourse property is, I'm sure, a serious business involving the good name of the British professional rider. But I can't quite block out the central image of a jockey with his Nokia 5310 clamped to his ear, saying, "Hi, Gordon. Look, I can't really talk right now. I'm just rounding Tattersall Corner."