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Sticks and stones

25 January 2001
George is more ancient than you can imagine.

Ellery James Willerbang was born on December 17th 1931 in Willerbang, Lancashire, to Mary and Jacob Willerbang. The family had founded the small farming community some 400 years previously, yet by the time of Ellery's birth; he, his parents and his maternal grandmother were the only remaining Willerbangs in the community. The remainder of the clan had over the year migrated southwards towards the porcelain industry in Stourbridge.

At seven, Ellery had already made a name for himself in the village. Andy Harmwell, who lived there at the time recalls "He was obsessed with the pregnant women in the village; he would stroke their tummies and always ask when they were due. He seemed happiest when they were only in their first trimester; the closer the time came to the birth, the more the interest wore off." Yet this fascination, harmless and sweet in a tot became more sinister in a teen. By the age of fifteen Ellery was shunned not only by his peers but also by the women of child-bearing age in Willerbang; on meeting these women he would frequently ask whether they were "glowing with life within". This continuing behaviour meant that, by the time that Ellery left for Edinburgh University to study architecture, he was ostracised by the majority of the village.

Little is known of the Edinburgh years, as Willerbang described them in his autobiography. Few of his tutors remember his work, and fewer still of his peers can give any insight into Ellery's student life. "Quiet", "unobtrusive" and "obsessed with pregnant women" are the most common responses found. More telling are the comments from the junior medics at the time, who recall Willerbang loitering near the Gynaecology department constantly, and sitting in on lecture course entitled "Hormone fluctuations in the first three months of pregnancy" before his non-medic status was discovered and he was asked to leave. Given how unexceptional his course marks were, the news that he had been employed as an apprentice to Jerebohm Cartilage, the eccentric Bristol architect came as a surprise. Barely a week after submitting his final piece of coursework, Ellery had cleared his room and moved from Edinburgh to a small beds in the loft of Cartilage's house.

"Unfinished 7b/8 (Darker than it was)" was completed eighteen months later, and is regarded by critics as the first Cartilage/Willerbang creation. Standing twenty feet tall, this charcoal-grey brick igloo dominated the Somerset hills on which it was built. The only entrance to the "house" was through a small opening on the south-facing side of the building. Entering required the visitor to crawl in on hands and knees. After the progressive atmosphere of the 1960s "Unfinished 7b/8" was not well received. Art and architecture critics uniformly reviled it as a council housing throwback, an unimaginative carbuncle on the Glastonbury landscape. Inhabitants of the area were equally unenthused. A mob party attempted to pull down the structure but, unaware of the iron rods within, only succeeded in bruising their knuckles.

Undeterred, or perhaps inspired, by such criticism, seven further Cartilage/Willerbang buildings were created in the following five years. These included "Unfinished 5x (Lighter)", "Unfinished 2z/9 (Lighter still)" , and finally of course "Finished (Bright)". This last creation was built on the Yorkshire moors, the grey brick having given way to rose pink stone by this time. "F(B)", unlike its igloo predecessors, had no entrance. The thirty-foot high dome stood, impenetrable, on the hills for fifteen years before being torn down by police. At this time, Jerebohm Cartilage moved to a secluded region in the hills surrounding San Diego. Shunning all contact, he left Ellery in charge of his house and possessions, and left the bidding that he should continue Cartilage's business.

Again, sources backing up this information are minimal, but Willerbang seemed unperturbed by the sudden departure of his friend and mentor. Indeed, his output became only more prolific. All of the buildings designed by Ellery from this time until his death still remain standing and intact, and all show a clear departure from his earlier collaborative work. Although the hemisphere structure remained, the buildings increased massively in size, with the infamous "I thought but could not (7c)" towering over the houses in the village green in which it was built. Whilst the pink of "F(B)" remained, the construction material changed, becoming ever stronger and more reinforced. His last completed building "Never have (5s)" had concrete walls four feet thick and reinforced with steel ropes; yet this was nothing in comparison to the building plans for the never built "Now I can", found by Ellery's deathbed. Reinforced concrete walls ten feet thick and covered with iron spikes, the structure would have stood a full 120 feet high if ever completed. Yet the events in the summer of 1999 prevented this from ever happening.

Suspicion of the location of Jerebohm Cartilage were aroused when a bank clerk noticed that regular withdrawals from Cartilage's account were being made, despite the fact that, at that time the architect would have been well past his 100th birthday. Further investigation showed that there was no record of Cartilage ever having lived in the USA and that in fact, the records of his true whereabouts stopped a fortnight after the completion of "F(B)". In initial questioning, Willerbang stated that he had no idea as to where his former mentor could be, and that Cartilage had lost contact with him a few years after his move to the US. Bristol police admit that, had it not been for the persistent efforts of WPC Charmers, no further investigation into Ellery Willerbang would have been made. Susan Chalmers remembers her doubts: "It seemed too neat. When I went back over the bank statements I noticed that several purchases had been made at a Bristol bookstore; one, which supplied course, books for students. When I went in to check it out, the bookseller remembered the purchases being made. He said that he found it puzzling as to why such a prominent architect would want a copy of 'Advanced Research in Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology' ".

The arrest of Ellery Willerbang was swift. He didn't protest, or try to proclaim his innocence. After being held in cells for a mere thirty hours, he let them know the whereabouts of Jerebohm Cartilage. As the members of Special Branch made their way up to Yorkshire, Ellery, unsupervised, took the bedsheets from his cell, tore them and hung himself. The officer on duty, who looked in to see whether Willerbang could provide help with his crossword, found him.

Jerebohm's desiccated handcuffed and gagged body was found in "Finished (Bright)" after police demolished the east side. The note left by him in the tomb was in Willerbang's hand.

I'm right, as you'll see.This may not be a womb with a view but rebirth will be swift. Stay put until the waters break.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
10 November 2003. George writes: Dead beat
20 October 2003. George writes: Shortening
29 September 2003. George writes: Manhattanites are Cleavage-Starved
11 September 2003. George writes: How to Bring Us in Line With the Future
18 August 2003. George writes: Slashtastic
28 July 2003. George writes: Underground Independent Small Press Comic Fight Club
7 July 2003. George writes: Careering
16 June 2003. George writes: Choose your own adventure
26 May 2003. George writes: Revelations
8 May 2003. George writes: Picture Perfect
14 April 2003. George writes: MetaPirate
24 March 2003. George writes: Preparation X
3 March 2003. George writes: F of x
13 February 2003. George writes: Three is the magic number
23 January 2003. George writes: Recorded Delivery
30 December 2002. George writes: Meat Bingo or Death
12 December 2002. George writes: Royal Inquisitor
21 November 2002. George writes: This Clown is Cancelled
28 October 2002. George writes: Shopping with God
3 October 2002. George writes: SaferSpoony
16 September 2002. George writes: Supercalanthropomorphicexpealidocious
26 August 2002. George writes: The deformed animal menagerie
5 August 2002. George writes: Plaice that Funky Music, Whitebait
15 July 2002. George writes: Safe as Houses
24 June 2002. George writes: Two Lions (DB/DS)
30 May 2002. George writes: Series 8
9 May 2002. George writes: Market Stall
11 April 2002. George writes: I, the Enlargened, Crunchy Product
18 March 2002. George writes: Cakexterminator
21 February 2002. George writes: Fiction Suit
28 January 2002. George writes: Spunk Gunk
31 December 2001. George writes: Fairytale of New Pork
10 December 2001. George writes: Circular
15 November 2001. George writes: A Man With No Ass Is No Man At All
22 October 2001. George writes: One Night in Heaven
27 September 2001. George writes: Uncut
3 September 2001. George writes: Porn Pants
9 August 2001. George writes: Names of the Roses
19 July 2001. George writes: No Fun Here
21 June 2001. George writes: All Your Elections are Belong to Us
28 May 2001. George writes: Pierced as Fuck
3 May 2001. George writes: My Lovely Horse
9 April 2001. George writes: Eight Hundred and Forty-Three
12 March 2001. George writes: Kill 'Em All
19 February 2001. George writes: Formal
25 January 2001. George writes: Sticks and stones
11 January 2001. George writes: A Thought on Morality
11 December 2000. George writes: You can't put that into a soufflé
13 November 2000. George writes: Lyrical Genius
19 October 2000. George writes: Wet wet wet wet wet
25 September 2000. George writes: Built on an Indian burial ground
31 August 2000. George writes: This Way
31 July 2000. George writes: Runt of the Litter

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