Glasgow proves tall order even for daredevil

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IT WAS a high-rise case of one step forward and two steps back. Didier Pasquette, the French acrobat, who strolled across the Thames and between Wembley Stadium's towers on an inch-wide steel wire, was foiled yesterday in his attempt to walk the tightrope between Glasgow's famous Red Road flats.

What felt like a mild summer breeze to the thousands of spectators on the ground was evidently a dangerous gale 300 feet above, for no sooner had Mr Pasquette set off on his 328-feet journey between the three blocks of flats than he began to backtrack to the safety of the roof.

Aided by a balancing pole, Mr Pasquette completed around 33 feet of the first of two planned walks, each 154 feet long, between the three towers. However, the way the wind began to shift his balancing pole as he moved further out across the void caused him such concern that he was forced to abandon the stunt.

As a crowd of several thousand watched from below, he stopped, then slowly began to move backwards, which he has never done before in public.

Once back on the safety of the roof, Mr Pasquette waved to the crowd who cheered his valiant, if unsuccessful, attempt. It was a disappointing conclusion to what had been advertised as Mr Pasquette's highest tightrope walk to date.

The event was to be filmed for a video art installation to be premiered at next year's Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art (Gi). The project, entitled High Wire, was directed by Catherine Yass and Mr Pasquette was fitted with a camera on his head to allow the audience to appreciate his unique point of view.

A team of specialist engineers had spend almost a week preparing the tightrope, which was locked in place by guide wires which ran up from the ground. The event had been scheduled to take place on Saturday but was cancelled because of poor weather and last night it was announced there would be no further attempts.

A spokesman for the organisers, Artangel, and the Glasgow international Festival of Contemporary Visual Arts, said: "As he walked out towards the centre-point of the wire, he decided that the conditions were not safe. Didier felt that the wire was moving too much due to occasional and unpredictable gusts of wind. He is deeply disappointed not to have been able to complete the walk, but was very clear in his mind that it was not safe to continue.

"There are no plans to restage the event. The organisers are confident that they have some remarkable film footage and the thousands of people present witnessed an unforgettable event today."

Mr Pasquette, 39, is considered to be one of the world's top high-wire artists.

His previous feats include ushering in the new millennium by walking above the Greenwich meridian in northern France.

Yesterday, Malcolm Reilly, 59, who lives near the flats, was watching with his wife and three children. The gardener said: "One minute it is calm and then the next there are gusts of wind down here, and it will be a lot worse so high up.

"I think he did the wise thing, and no-one wants to see him get killed over this."

The younger spectators were more willing to express their disappointment. One little boy being led away by his parents was heard to say: "It is that it?"

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