* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Bigger, Better, Brother

26 July 2001
Dan is watching us, watching you.

Portillo was probably the deciding factor. He always was a smart boy. Little too clever for his own good, in some ways. He was bound to be the first one to go for the young, stupid or housebound vote.

Asked to explain certain inconsistencies in different accounts of his life, from himself and others, he it was who leaned back in his chair, took a big suck on a doobie big enough to stone the Israeli police, and, eyes dilated, croaked:

My adult life has been lived like I was an international pop star.

Robbie Williams presumably, commented one wag, but the damage had been done. Big fucking Brother had permeated the one area of British culture generally immune to this century, or indeed or the latter half of the previous one - the Conservative Party.

After that the air sort of went out of anybody trying to keep themselves aloof. Seemed easier, on the whole, just to throw in their lot with the madness and follow the swell to the bottleneck. After all, they reasoned, be over soon.

Well, except...

Except that once an idea is demonstrated to sell ad space, it never dies. We never quite knew what we were in for. The Americans got off lightly - Americans being so fucking dull that a program dedicated to ten of them sitting around watching television and eating pies was never going to be a goer. Not when Survivor provided the tempting vista of a gang of equally stupid people slowly starving to death. But we were doomed.

At first there were attempts to add some kind of interesting new spin on the formula. One of the guests is a plant. One of the guests is a vegetable. One of the guests is just an irremediable shit. None of them worked.

Then, the desperate quest for novelty started to set in. Five symbolist painters, two L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E poets and three professional wrestlers. Eight manic-depressives and the Bulger killers. An armed policeman, nine paedophiles and a backyard full of chickens.

And meanwhile, among the chaos and collapsing ratings, Helen and Paul continued their glacial process, a decerebrated Charles and Diana for the twenty-first century. Sure, they had some lucky breaks. Big G, it turned out, was in fact a big letter G - limbless. Moving by puling himself along the ground through muscular contractions, the only clear sign of humanity or feeling in the big cartoon eyes and downturned mouth hovering in front of his downward curve. Asked why she had never thought to mention that her boyfriend was a human-sized cartoon letter, "Hel" just giggled and said that she had forgotten. Things got a bit hairy when Big G's mate, the letter K, made it known that if Paul ever showed his face on Sesame Street he was fucking claimed, but it all blew over.

Even now, nobody really understands why the glow of celebrity, so swiftly dimmed on the brows of the other likely lackwits, stayed with the couple whose incompetent, fumbling romance entrapped a nation's heart. Perhaps, in an age of renewed protest, it was restful to have figureheads on whom any person of any ideology could hang their hats. Literally, sometimes, if they were distracted by a particularly challenging piece of fondue at a top showbiz party and froze into immobility.

But this level of adoration for such a dangerously dim duo was always bound to end in tears. One day, interviewed by a leading fashion rag to complement their article on "The Helen Look - How Lying in Used Teabags can Give you that Healthy Permatan Glaze". Gazing up, those pallid circles framing the vacancy of eyes deep-set in her Orangina face, she pronounced, "It's just a shame that everyone can't do it, you know".

Well, that was it. The people's princess had spoken. And, deep down, everybody wanted to be like her. Well, except possibly in some cases a less startling colour. By the end of the month the cameras had gone up in every room of every house in the country. CCTV was extended to every street and every field, and, within the year, every nation on Earth. The British Empire restored by a nation's hollow desire to deprive people of the chance to nip off to Mauritius for a crafty wank and a bit of privacy.

Eyes in the sky, eyes in the bathroom and underneath the stairs, the stares, eyes everywhere. Genetically modified human eyeballs harvested for real cash prizes, hooked up to the Big Brother network. Clusters of eyes like grapes or jellied wasps' nests hanging from traffic lights, eyes on stalk in the botanical gardens questing blindly for the light. Cats eyes, Gecko eyes set into bedsteads and headboards for those low-light moments. Nictating membranes wiping clean. The sound of damp cicadas in the night. Blinking, blinking. And everybody after the ultimate prize - sole ownership of Planet Earth.

So I for one am nominating myself. Nobody does anything anymore - they just watch and wait and hope that somebody will do something on screen. The same gang of fat perverts have sex every night, and everyone else just sits around and watches them. Nobody's written a book for three bloody years, except books about what its like to be on television, writing a book about being on television.

Well, fuck it. I'm sick of the lassitude, sick of the despair and the heroising of banality. Fuck this, and fuck you all.

To nominate Dan, call 0898 471 9612. Executions will be carried out at 9pm on Friday, with the glowing, Christ-like astral form of Davina McCall.


This is the fucking archive

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:

11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
30 October 2003. Dan writes: My only goal
9 October 2003. Dan writes: The Knot
18 September 2003. Dan writes: The Engelbart Elephant
28 August 2003. Dan writes: The Amity Index
7 August 2003. Dan writes: This Sporting Life
17 July 2003. Dan writes: Touch
26 June 2003. Dan writes: Metadata
5 June 2003. Dan writes: Street Mate
15 May 2003. Dan writes: Usher's Well
24 April 2003. Dan writes: Medicamenta
3 April 2003. Dan writes: Weapons of Mass Construction
13 March 2003. Dan writes: David Sneddon, Bukake Secret Agent
20 February 2003. Dan writes: Mary Sue
30 January 2003. Dan writes: Bait and Switch
9 January 2003. Dan writes: What Never Happened
19 December 2002. Dan writes: Sermon on the Mount the Face
28 November 2002. Dan writes: Ballroom Blitz
7 November 2002. Dan writes: The Photographer
17 October 2002. Dan writes: Diaphragmatic
26 September 2002. Dan writes: A life in the day
5 September 2002. Dan writes: Different Class
15 August 2002. Dan writes: Story and sequel
25 July 2002. Dan writes: Fellatious
4 July 2002. Dan writes: Skin Mag
10 June 2002. Dan writes: The Ibizan book of the Dead
16 May 2002. Dan writes: The Sissons Situation
22 April 2002. Dan writes: UpsideClown and Out in Hollywood
28 March 2002. Dan writes: Nereus' Daughters
4 March 2002. Dan writes: Diomedes
7 February 2002. Dan writes: Text Only
14 January 2002. Dan writes: Civil Engineering
20 December 2001. Dan writes: Nativity
26 November 2001. Dan writes: The Wedding Band
1 November 2001. Dan writes: what dreans mecum?
8 October 2001. Dan writes: Stop me if you've heard this one before
13 September 2001. Dan writes: Mother of the Muses
20 August 2001. Dan writes: I say I say I say
26 July 2001. Dan writes: Bigger, Better, Brother
2 July 2001. Dan writes: Hecatomb
7 June 2001. Dan writes: Dispassionate Leave
14 May 2001. Dan writes: Small Town Boy
19 April 2001. Dan writes: Maintaining the Driving Line
26 March 2001. Dan writes: Cut and Paste
1 March 2001. Dan writes: Redemption
5 February 2001. Dan writes: Blyton the Face of the Earth
8 January 2001. Dan writes: Smoke Signals
18 December 2000. Dan writes: The Loa Depths
23 November 2000. Dan writes: The Limits of Melissa Joan Hart
30 October 2000. Dan writes: Shiftwork
5 October 2000. Dan writes: Dawson
11 September 2000. Dan writes: Testing Times
17 August 2000. Dan writes: Onanova
3 July 2000. Dan writes: Roboto il Diavolo

Let meeeeeee entertain you

We are all Upsideclown: Dan, George, James, Jamie, Matt, Neil, Victor.

Material is (c) respective authors. For everything else, there's

Never come here again

And weeeeeee can entertain you by email too. Get fresh steaming Upsideclown in your inbox Mondays and Thursdays, and you'll never need to visit this website again. To subscribe, send the word subscribe in the body of your mail to (To unsubscribe, send the word unsubscribe instead.)


... On this page: ... Archive ... About ... Subscribe ... ... Upsideclone