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

Stop me if you've heard this one before

8 October 2001
Dan invites you to choose your own adventure

And this time, you are finally nudging your way into Victoria Underground station, which as usual has kept you waiting outside its gates for a good ten minutes, processing people through the tubes of tunnel and escalator like so much sausage-meat. You're wondering if there will be enough room even to hold your book at arm's length above shoulder level and squint at the small type on the train. May as well stash the newspaper in your briefcase now. No fucking way is that going to work. Not unless you can find a rotund dwarf to use as a rest.

It's a scandal. The ranks of people waiting are five deep along the whole platform and as soon as the train arrives, forward motion flattens them into rough semicircles around the opening doors. Nobody can get on unless people get off, but people can't get off because the motive force of the desire to get on throws up an irregular but impermeable barricade. There may be a ragged five seconds where some sort of passageway, or at least a slightly looser bunching of commuter flesh, is held open, but God help anyone who is still checking their bags and pockets when that evanescent grace passes. Knees, elbows, push and shove. You'll never get onto this one; there's no point even trying, so you let yourself back off slightly, gently but firmly bracing yourself against the people behind you to get a little breathing space. Which gives you a certain perspective on what happens next.

The funny part - peculiar, rather than ha-ha - comes when the doors open. Instead of the usual opposition of forces, everybody seems to be falling backwards at once. You are knocked off-balance by the unexpected wave of politeness, which is thinning out the crush enough to see

in the hole left by this set of automatic doors, and the next one, and the next one

some sort of holdall, green and bulky

with knife-wounds across the front and top.

And that's it You're out of there, turning and running, thankful for the hours in the gym which help you to push fellow travelers out of the fucking way. Twinge of guilt as you kick a girl, not more than 10 or so, out of the way, but, well.

Heavier. Bad stuff is heavier, always, surely. So going up will make it OK. Going up is safe. Unless your natty business shoes slip on the runnels of the escalator steps as you try to take them three at a time, and pushing through at the same time. The motion of the steel steps carries you up, towards the upper air, but when your throat is athwart the serrated edge and there are a good few hundred people with better footing but exactly the same idea.

Funny thing. You always thought it would be green and billowy.

Don't tell me you haven't thought about it. Or maybe you should. Maybe this is just a me thing. Maybe you live in Trondheim, and as such any potential campaign of mass terror would get sick of asking for directions and fuck off home in a strop. Possibly I just need to stop and get a little perspective. More dangerous crossing the road. Which I do anyway, so thanks a lot for those sleepness nights.

Sudden, clean and alone, or with time and the company of those you love? She's been holding his hand tightly, listening to the cracks spreading through the concrete supports, spider-webbing good, solid cuboids into abstract art. She wants to time this right.

The building screams.

"Before it happens, I want you to know....I've been sleeping with John."

He wipes a thread of blood from the shallow cut in his forehead out of his right eye, almost distractedly, already instinctively using the hand without the broken finger.

"I don't forgive you."

The sky falls in while she is trying to think of a reply.

Born-again Christians with bumper stickers - "millions now living will never die". Cool. Unfortunately, I checked it out, and what they mean is that their death will be preempted by the end of the world. I'm sort of hoping we don't get to the end of the world stage, myself.

I was holding out for indestructible suits of life-support armour, like Maniac 5 only more deeply religious, in which case I would have converted like a shot. The idea of a fleet of Iron Men of God patrolling the skies had a certain comfort factor. Angels above us, but not too far above.

But no luck. At a pinch we can use them as sandbags or food, and that's your lot.

And yes, incidentally, I do know that it's ignoble and cowardly and pusillanimous, but I'll swap you for a decent night's sleep.

Stopping to light a cigarette, you suddenly feel something catch in your throat. Something tells you it wouldn't be a good idea to cough it clear. There's a taste at the back of your mouth like steak, or liver. When the police interview possible witnesses, nobody will have seen anything. Many will comment that you should really have been a bit more careful, dressed like that in times like these. Noone seems to be in a position to point out the ironic fact that you're not even a fucking Muslim.


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

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