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

An Escape, In Sonata Form

6 August 2001
James wants out.

"You can't hold me here any longer", I said, "You just can't". The only sound I could hear over the ringing in my ears was the steady tempo of sweat dripping of my nose onto the floor. They'd held me for I don't know how long, occasionally moving me blindfolded from one camp to the next, carried like an unwilling deity on a rough hewn sedan chair from the old days. If only I'd bothered to learn some of the language before, I could have attempted to reason with them. Since my capture I hadn't heard them speak one word of English. I suppose it would go against all they believed, fought and died for.

I had only recently finished a good university, and had been a well-paid pinstripe temp-slave for long enough to afford to travel for a while. Followed a relatively worn track across South East Asia, and found that I had gone half way across the world, only to meet most of the pre- and post- university population of Great Britain. Only with better tans. No one seemed to have learned anything, and much of the conversation revolved around pining for Branston Pickle and Eastenders. And so I decided to go, by myself, that extra mile in each place I went, desperate for that sense of adventure, to actually achieve something for once.

The results of my escapades suddenly made it to the fourth page of the papers back home, when the Rebels captured me, and demanded the standard release of some of their comrades, and the usual autonomous and self-determined nation. With me stuck in the middle, the focus of all arguments between the two parties, and yet having absolutely no power to control events at all. It amused me to think of myself as the ball in a football match between two mis-matched sides. Well, it amused me, anyway.

In actual fact, it did not take that long for the Embassy to negotiate the terms of my release. I was to be taken to the nearest safe village where an escort was waiting, and the rebels were to receive amnesty from persecution, and free satellite TV for a year. They were pleased, and even gave me a necklace made from their previous hostage's teeth to remember them by. I still wear it to meetings now.

It took me a long and luckily paid for by insurance stretch of counselling to come to terms with my experience and re-adjust back to everyday life in the West. After all, I had spent a whole four and a half weeks in the jungle being carried around, not knowing what was to become of me - surely enough to rattle any normal person's self-awareness. Well, mine anyway.

I emerged a renewed man, and ready to launch headlong into the thrills of responsible adulthood. Given my background, it seemed logical to me and those around me that management consultancy was my calling. Varied work in varied places sounded attractive to me, not to mention and certainly very compelling salary and benefits package. And that is what I did.

My work did indeed take me to many places. By the end of my second year there, I'd travelled to most continents, and my air miles account was truly bulging. The firm looked favourably upon employees who were willing to travel, and as I had no strong attachments at home, it certainly worked well for me. While spending most of the year out of the country sounds thrilling to most and is a dream for some, I began to realize that it is not the life I had imagined it would be.

In a job like mine, you are trapped. Your prison cells are business class cabins, hotel rooms, conference centres, and client meetings. You are constantly jet-lagged, knackered or hung-over. And this time there is no Embassy to bail me out. Sometimes I even cried. Well, once.

But that is how I used to feel. Now I've been promoted, I can get my underlings to do the grunt work for me. I get to clinch most deals on the phone, and the clients now come to me, rather than me crawl to them. And afterwards, I like standing on the pavement outside a crowded bar with the other managers and a pint of Stella, eyeing up the hardbodies. I am the now the lord of my domain. The old feelings are gone now. I have escaped.


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:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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