He's a Blaine in the Glass; Illusionist David Blaine Is Taken Seriously in the US, Where His Stunts Are Seen as Something Truly Significant. but His Latest Trick -Sitting in a Box -Hasn't Captured the British Imagination, and That's No Bad Thing Says JOAN BURNIE

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Byline: JOAN BURNIE

BRITAIN took one look at David Blaine and decided he was either a conman or mad or possibly both.

Neither did we buy his line in that daft documentary put out by Channel 4 before he climbed into his perspex box: ``I'm a great artist, nothing more, nothing less.''

But then we never bought much snake oil or for that matter, George W Bush either.

In the meantime, Blaine is adding greatly to the gaiety of the nation as we have turned him and his self-proclaimed, ``toughest endurance feat yet'' into the equivalent of an old fashioned fairground's bearded lady or spider baby.

Roll up, roll up and laugh as the fat man in nappies shrinks and shrivels before your very eyes. Look at his tattoos.

Be amazed as he drinks from a real bottle of real water and attempts to relieve himself behind a sheet. See him scratch. See his beard grow. See him die.

Ooh. Aah.

Meanwhile, Blaine's minders and his girlfriend, one Manon van Gerkan -allegedly a supermodel, although I fear that may well be an illusion -are awfully angry and dismayed that we are treating him like an Aunt Sally rather than an all-American hero.

We are not being ``respectful to the challenge'' and they have been forced to protect the ``Above the Below'' stunt with barbed wire and beefy security men.

This, fortunately, hasn't stopped the continual barrage of eggs, golf balls, rotten fruit and cat calls.

In fact, as the ``challenge'' continues into its second week, we Brits have also upped our game and beneath David's glass box, it's party time.

The bongos play, night and day. The smell and smoke of barbecues rises into the air and up David's nostrils. They kindly chuck him fish and chips as if they were throwing a banana at some chimp in the zoo. …