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

The Church of Mrs Bins

13 August 2001
Praise Matt.

It used to be just my own fingernails I bit. I'm not sure why. It wasn't like an addiction, but it was compulsive. I'd chew them down to the quick, at any spare moment, and given a few more minutes they'd be red raw and sometimes bleeding.

(That's the funny thing about spare time, you never know what to do. I don't mean hobby time, or odd ex-hobby time when you do it anyway because you've bought the kit and you're bloody well going to use it, even if it does mean diving in that freezing water. I mean that half an hour waiting for the bus, outside so you can't even pop off for a crafty wank or cup of tea or something. Proper free time. Nailbiting time.)

That was how it started, before I joined, and left, the Church of Mrs Bins.

I'd seen an advert on the Underground. Packed in on a Saturday, wedged between the Belgian Offical Oblivious Society and Mr Stinky from world of the Crap Beards, I caught a glance of a beautific face, printed eyes passively resting on me. This of course was Mrs Bins, and I needn't describe her, but she drew me away from the pain and irritation I was feeling as Junior Oblivious slammed into my legs every time the train changed speed.

Children in public places: why? Children demanding to know about boats and pretending they're being sick. And I quote: "Why lat boat id sinkin? Whoooi? Why lat boat id why it whooooooi?" Fucking hell. "Whor it pirate boat id boat id sinking? Whoi?"

My rough feelings about children can be summed up by the following points in human history when the attitude to children has somehow been correct: Minoa (sacrifice); North Korea (eat); wartime London (send them hundreds of miles away to "be safe" and get jobs); the classic children's novel The Water Babies (pop them in a river).

Mrs Bins cured me. Or rather, the Church did. Mrs Bins herself had been dead a good thirty years, having founded the sect in the days when Charlie Parker the masked jazz vigilante was still swinging round the city. But the Church - or to give it its full name, The Church of Mrs Bins and her Nine Lovely Daughters - the Church lived on.

Oh, those daughters. They represent everything that was, everything there is, and everything that is to be. You recall, naturally, the tune: "Mrs Bins's daughter three/ is the Holy Trin-it-y" -- if you don't hold the last word it doesn't scan. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, rolled up, plump and sunny. To celebrate our god: Once a year we kill her. Once a week we eat her. Metaphorically, so we don't really, but once it happened. "One down, eight to go!" said Mrs Bins, mouth full. But she was only kidding.

Daughter number five cured me of my hatred of children. Five is the great machine, cogs and chains, loops within loops within loops; the engine, the clockwork, the tick-tock of life. Oh, beautiful daughter five. I prayed to her night and day. From her I understood. She showed me life, educated and illustrated, put me in charge of the community creche.

Which was where I picked up my taste for the younger fingernail.

It was all downhill from there. The first time they saw those toddler's bloody fingers, they tried to be understanding. The second time these weren't so pleased. Daughter number six is the Leopard, the judgement of humankind by the universe, the objective morality. Six snarled, judged me, booted me out.

I was desparate then. I stood outside the vast oak doors, invoking Mrs Bins, begging daughter Two (Mercy) to let me in. They didn't. For two weeks I stood there, alternately chewing my fingers and beating on the gate. But they turned away. Turned away from their son.

Daughter number nine is Death.

Sorry, did I say Death? I meant Deaf. She closed her ears to my calls. That door never opened, no matter how much I wailed.

The police picked me up from the streets, a scrawny bloody mess. I don't remember any of that time, but I'm told I'd chewed my fingers almost to the first knuckle, and was searching bins for nailclippings. When they took me in, I'd leapt on a passerby, lips pulled back, teeth fierce.

I was deprogrammed in only a month or two. Now I understand that the Church of Mrs Bins is little more than a cult, and no matter how voluptuous her daughters, they don't represent the Nine Figments of Reality. If only I'd known that before. As a side-effect, I was also cured of my desire for self-abuse, and my craving for fingernails.

I work in a shoe-shop now.


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:

4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
23 October 2003. Matt writes: Topology
2 October 2003. Matt writes: Haunted
8 September 2003. Matt writes: The Gardener's Diary
21 August 2003. Matt writes: The Starling Variable
31 July 2003. Matt writes: Two stories
14 July 2003. Matt writes: What is real?
23 June 2003. Matt writes: Mapping and journeys
29 May 2003. Matt writes: Extelligence
5 May 2003. Matt writes: Religious experiences
17 April 2003. Matt writes: Seeing the Light
27 March 2003. Matt writes: Flowering
10 March 2003. Matt writes: Climax state
10 February 2003. Matt writes: The Role of Cooperation in Human Interaction
20 January 2003. Matt writes: The same old subroutine
2 January 2003. Matt writes: New beginnings
9 December 2002. Matt writes: Packet Loss
18 November 2002. Matt writes: Wonderland
31 October 2002. Matt writes: Having and losing
10 October 2002. Matt writes: Trees of Knowledge
19 September 2002. Matt writes: The online life of bigplaty47
29 August 2002. Matt writes: Divorce
8 August 2002. Matt writes: How to get exactly what you want
18 July 2002. Matt writes: Eleven Graceland endings
27 June 2002. Matt writes: Listopad, Prague 1989
3 June 2002. Matt writes: Engram bullets
6 May 2002. Matt writes: Sound advice
15 April 2002. Matt writes: How it all works: Cars
21 March 2002. Matt writes: Proceeding to the next stage
25 February 2002. Matt writes: Spam quartet
31 January 2002. Matt writes: Person to person
7 January 2002. Matt writes: All for the best
13 December 2001. Matt writes: Life
19 November 2001. Matt writes: Giving is better than receiving
25 October 2001. Matt writes: Ludo
1 October 2001. Matt writes: Gifts, contracts, and whispers
6 September 2001. Matt writes: The world is ending
13 August 2001. Matt writes: The Church of Mrs Bins
16 July 2001. Matt writes: Things I Don't Have
25 June 2001. Matt writes: Fighting the Good Fight
31 May 2001. Matt writes: Code dependency
7 May 2001. Matt writes: Up The Arse, Or Not At All
5 April 2001. Matt writes: The increasing nonlinearity of time
19 March 2001. Matt writes: Hit Me Baby, One More Time
22 February 2001. Matt writes: Space, Matter, Cities, Sausages
29 January 2001. Matt writes: Truth in Advertising
1 January 2001. Matt writes: Six predictions for tomorrow
7 December 2000. Matt writes: You must reach this line to ride
16 November 2000. Matt writes: The truth about the leopard
23 October 2000. Matt writes: Shopping mauls
28 September 2000. Matt writes: Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia
4 September 2000. Matt writes: Sixty worlds a minute
17 July 2000. Matt writes: You, Me, and Face-space

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