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

These Are The Days

11 March 2002
Neil knows that he's special.

The hissing limps into a spluttering dribble, the shower's last gasps, and the damp footsteps of the flatmate I haven't seen for six days down the hallway provide my ritualised cue to flop forwards out of the warm covers for a couple of painful instants as I hit the power button on the radio and then fall back down into comfort. We get on fine, it'd be nice to catch up, but this is the city and we both lead busy lives. The Today programme floats soothingly around me and I set my mind focused on processing world events. My eyes are drifting shut, I still haven't made up for the four hours of restlessness on my mate Mikey's sofa over the weekend, but the front door slams and I force myself out of this trance of luxuriation and onto my feet. Poor bastard lives all the way over in Stratford.

Most of us can cope with the journey, arm around a pole we've learnt the survival skills and how to best manipulate the pages of Metro in a confined space. World events are processed and I stare at the cryptic crossword, no chance to fill in answers of course but I check I can solve a couple just to be reassured my intellectual faculties are still intact. A clump of gelled and scrubbed schoolboys provide a soundtrack, chattering away oblivious, swinging book-laden rucksacks in dangerous arcs. We're not bothered by taking a couple of blows, however, relieved not to be the greying man in the corner with whom the morning crush has forced an apologetic Arabic guy into uncomfortable proximity; he smiles forbearingly at the embarrassed grimaces but in his head fucking immigrants fucking immigrants chunters like a chant.

We negotiate our paths through a minefield of colleagues, happy to be caught up in the eddy of Suzi Dalston's fluttering enquiries, anxious to avoid Bernie from accounts and another torrent of indiscriminate self-revelation, and swerve around Phil Newton's desk, conspicuously still empty, like a rock in a stream. Not mentioned since the initial round of platitudes and reminiscence was over with, the bad smell and awful chain e-mails have gained endearing qualities since we last ignored him sloping home on a friday night; we all knew that he ate the stalks off broccoli but none of us knew about the cancer eating away his liver.

At lunch we flee, escaping to the familiar haunts of crammed little outfits where spreading gloop between slices of bread is charged for as a professional skill. A stocky guy in his thirties recognises a chap he went to school with and hollers across the shop; there follows hearty hand-shaking and an exchange of progress reports for the last fifteen years before they eventually part: the first smiling at the serendipitous arousal of nostalgia, the second without having a clue whom his interlocutor had been. I hurry through the crowded streets, unloading lorries and clacking shop girls, ducking into a wilfully disordered vinyl heaven, losing myself in forty minutes of flicking through records, shimmying around its cramped confines with the half dozen other young guys in unironed shirts and half-mast ties to exercise the passion that puts me on another level to all the rest.

Afternoon and a motorcycle courier passing down the hallway catches a glimpse of the side of my head through the open door and gets a hard-on but, staring at the page, I am consumed with fantasies of DJing to underground acclaim and don't notice him go by. Diane Marfoot and Richie Jenks consult intently about the Daiwood takeover, her unaware and him forgetful of last night's groans as he lay naked between bachelor sheets, wanking at the thought of being enveloped by her thighs.

And on the train home we all start in unison at the unexpected electronic trumpeting of the boom box brought into the carriage and sit stiffly through the yells of the drunken white rasta as he inches the volume dial further and further up the more we ignore his shouting. "Look at all the sad faces, why you all got such sad faces?" Papers shuffle and paperbacks are studied more intently than ever as the code of silence is preserved even though in our heads each one of us is humming along to the beat in a hundred private rebellions.


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:

17 June 2002. Neil writes: Cockfosters
23 May 2002. Neil writes: Siege Mentality
29 April 2002. Neil writes: Oh So Pretty
1 April 2002. Neil writes: Lost
11 March 2002. Neil writes: These Are The Days
14 February 2002. Neil writes: Bedtime Story
21 January 2002. Neil writes: Said She Was An Artist
24 December 2001. Neil writes: Here's All the People
3 December 2001. Neil writes: On Antibiotics
8 November 2001. Neil writes: Private Schooling
15 October 2001. Neil writes: Morning After
20 September 2001. Neil writes: Flightpath
27 August 2001. Neil writes: Tsarina
2 August 2001. Neil writes: Family and Friends
9 July 2001. Neil writes: My Fabulous Weekend
14 June 2001. Neil writes: The Sound of Music
21 May 2001. Neil writes: Lethal Injection
26 April 2001. Neil writes: Voter Apathy
2 April 2001. Neil writes: ET
5 March 2001. Neil writes: The Shadow Over Brunswych
12 February 2001. Neil writes: Bibliofile
18 January 2001. Neil writes: Suburban Gothic
25 December 2000. Neil writes: Many in Body, One in Mind
30 November 2000. Neil writes: Urban Regeneration
6 November 2000. Neil writes: In Extremis
12 October 2000. Neil writes: Obituary
18 September 2000. Neil writes: Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell!
24 August 2000. Neil writes: Parent Power
7 August 2000. Neil writes: Love Letter

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