Dear David,

I hope you remember me — I saw you last Sunday. You may not have seen me as I passed by on a riverboat with my family. We were quite far away, and you may not have seen us, but we had a great day out, as we had talked about taking the trip for years, but just never got round to it. To us you were a lonely speck in a small transparent box, but we could tell when you changed from being a lying-down speck to a sitting-up speck, which you did as we passed by, and for that I thank you. You might remember us because we didn’t throw eggs or chip golf balls or even bare our breasts at you.

I had to write — to explain, apologize — hell — just to make sense of what’s going on around you down by the Thames. Incidentally, I noticed that you’re not actually suspended “over” the river so much as over a patch of ground quite “near” the river. I appreciate that David Blaine: Quite Near the Below is not much of a title for a TV special, but if you build up people’s hopes only to dash them, they will wave hamburgers on sticks at you and bang drums at night to keep you awake. I guess you realize that now.

You’re probably wondering what you’ve done to deserve this horrible treatment. It never happened when you did the ice thing, which I thought was pretty brave, although I did wonder how you managed to keep putting your t-shirt on and taking it off inside the ice. You were so cool (a pun!), and in great shape too. I can’t help noticing you’ve let yourself go recently — you might want to think about a few sit-ups while you’re in the box?

So why? Why now? Why eggs? Why shouts of “David Blaine is a wanker!” Do you even know what that means, being American? It’s not good, trust me.

I don’t think they hate you, even if it seems that way. I can only offer simple theories and not excuses.

Some people want you to fail only because we British are not keen on communal displays of emotion, except at football, by which of course I mean “soccer.” We are a confused people. Yes, we cried when Diana died, and we threw flowers in the street, but we don’t like to be reminded of it. We let ourselves go and now we’re ashamed.

To hide our emotion, our sense of child-like awe and wonder, we don the mask of cynicism. We will not allow ourselves to gaze with joy at marvelous things, so we buzz them with remote controlled helicopters dangling hamburgers in tiny nets.

Others want you to fail because they don’t like President Bush, which is ridiculous because you don’t look anything like George Bush, although you do look a lot like a guy I know called Frank. Frank says hi, and that he was the one waving at you last Friday at about 7.00pm, although you probably spotted him and thought you were looking in a mirror.

I’ve been a fan ever since I saw your TV special with Leonardo DiCaprio (who has been noticeably absent recently — don’t trust him David!). You did a card trick where you threw a pack or cards at a window and the correct card was stuck inside the glass. I watched that trick and thought you were a God, until recently when my boss’ fifteen-year-old son did the same trick at dinner one night. Now I think he’s a God. I’m sure you understand.

I hate seeing what’s happening to you. I want to come down there and stand in front of the box and protect you from the missiles like Clint Eastwood in the film In the Line of Fire, but I’m scared of both the crowd and your security personnel, so instead I decided to write this letter.

I pray that you survive this terrible ordeal. Be strong. Be wise. Be careful. Remember that when you say in a press conference that, “there’s a real possibility I could lose my mind,” some people will interpret that as a challenge.

You are a brave and strange individual, David. There is a silent majority of people like me with you in spirit. In the box.

Your ever-watchful friend,
Ian Petrie
London, UK