THEY weren't ideal conditions to spend a night inside a plastic tube on Bideford Quay. But despite heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and the occasional problems with passing drunks, Merlin Cadogan s bid to spend three days inside a giant Christmas cracker

THEY weren't ideal conditions to spend a night inside a plastic tube on Bideford Quay.

But despite heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and the occasional problems with passing drunks, Merlin Cadogan's bid to spend three days inside a giant Christmas cracker is still going strong.

The start of the Torridgeside escapologist and entertainer's 72 hours holed up on the square at the bottom of Bridgeland Street has not been without incident.

"It was pretty bad last night with all the thunder and lightening," said Merlin, speaking to the Gazette from inside his cracker this morning (Friday).

"Two drunken women tried to roll me down the quay at 1.30am but thankfully, the cracker is secured to the ground. Then at 3am, a load more drunken people tried to actually get in with me. I got to sleep but was woken up by a couple of lads at about 5.30am.

"I've also had a few problems with condensation and am having to constantly mop up all the water.

"But the cold isn't really a problem as my body heat has warmed the inside of the cracker up; in fact it's warmer inside for me than it is for the people outside talking to me!"

But despite problems with condensation and drunks, Merlin, from Northam, said he was amazed at the response he'd had to his endurance stunt, inspired by American illusionist David Blaine's London attempt in 2003.

And he also said he planned to stay inside the cracker until he is officially released when the Bideford's festive lights are switched on at 5pm tomorrow.

"I'm going to go the distance," he said. "The response has been fantastic so far; people are constantly stopping by to say hello and have a chat and cars are going past beeping their horns.

"It certainly seems to be creating quite a lot on interest and hopefully, the stunt will raise quite a bit of money for the North Devon Children's Holiday Foundation."

Merlin is encouraging people to stop by and say hello and make a donation to the charity in a collection box situated in Café Life.

He is also inviting members of the public to write jokes, which he plans to use during his appearances in the forthcoming pantomime Cinderella at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple.

For a full story and pictures of Bideford's Christmas lights switch on, read Wednesday's North Devon Gazette.