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

Where have all the spastics gone?

4 November 2002
Long time passing, Victor.

The question occurred to me Friday morning on the train. On the local news not a day goes by without a suitably concerned human interest report on an unfortunate little girl with a hole in the heart, a teenager in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, a jaundiced dialysis enthusiast. But what about all the mencs and vegetables? Where are the spaccers?

Inflammatory and politically incorrect, I know. You'll take me to one side and advise me that we're not allowed to use those terms anymore, just as I am forced to call Big Issue vendor scum "accomodationally challenged". The most effective playground insult is "Refugee". No-one is disabled; the formerly disabled now either have learning difficulties or are "differently able"; most of them work in Starbucks or the British Library.

How powerful is the terminology? If you call someone one thing, and then call them something else, are they transformed? Does a menc find things easier now that he has only learning difficulties? Can words alone turn a dribbling sack into someone who has trouble adding up? It's an attractive concept.

Let's revolutionise the healthcare system, then. Rather than wasting money training doctors, researching cures for cancer and HIV, purchasing expensive respiratory equipment, pay hundreds of thousands of people like me to grab hold of both whimpering hypochondriacs and the genuinely afflicted, tell them that they're already better, and frog-march them out of the hospital.

The alternative is that they haven't got better at all, and that thought is far too unsavoury even for someone with my imagination. It begs the question, "If all the spastics haven't got better, what's happened to them all?". The word doesn't exist anymore, so neither can they - right? So the next question is, if the signifier isn't powerful enough to transform the signified, where does the signified go?

Probably down a laundry chute on the Uttoxeter ring-road. Certainly I haven't seen so many of them on telly.

In the Eighties channels battled for ratings with stories of triumph over mutilation. Simon Weston's burns fascinated, the Boy David's face and PC Philip Olds' attempts to walk again titillated. We no longer see that much even of Stephen Hawking. On Jim'll Fix it there was always some kid with cerebral palsy who wanted to meet Shakin' Stevens. The most up-to-date technology allowed them to bang a computer keyboard with a metal rod clamped to their head. Where have all that lot gone? Have they all got Hawking's software now? Not bloody likely.

Come to think of it, all the kids who wanted to meet Shakin' Stevens had cerebral palsy.


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:

8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
27 October 2003. Victor writes: Our Tune
6 October 2003. Victor writes: Sucking face (in a public place)
15 September 2003. Victor writes: You got any ID?
25 August 2003. Victor writes: Blood on the Boulevard
4 August 2003. Victor writes: In (paren)theses
10 July 2003. Victor writes: Island Fling
19 June 2003. Victor writes: Back (back) and forth (and forth)
2 June 2003. Victor writes: 300 clowns, 13 eight-year olds
12 May 2003. Victor writes: The swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune
21 April 2003. Victor writes: ...just sitting there quietly contemplating suicide
31 March 2003. Victor writes: Victoria
6 March 2003. Victor writes: Relevant experience
17 February 2003. Victor writes: You will eat chips and go nowhere
27 January 2003. Victor writes: A bushy fish for fishy Mr Bush (after Juvenal)
6 January 2003. Victor writes: The Accidental Voyeur
16 December 2002. Victor writes: Gripper goes bang
25 November 2002. Victor writes: Bediquette
4 November 2002. Victor writes: Where have all the spastics gone?
14 October 2002. Victor writes: An Immodest Proposal
23 September 2002. Victor writes: Fastscan masterplan
2 September 2002. Victor writes: Dry Humping Social Club
12 August 2002. Victor writes: Beat the Mongol
22 July 2002. Victor writes: What life is not
1 July 2002. Victor writes: Stupor heroes
6 June 2002. Victor writes: Dry
13 May 2002. Victor writes: Muppet Suite
18 April 2002. Victor writes: gingermingeninja
25 March 2002. Victor writes: Sodomize with Pukka Pies
28 February 2002. Victor writes: Dave's problem
4 February 2002. Victor writes: King of the Aisles
10 January 2002. Victor writes: Here come the decorator gimps.
17 December 2001. Victor writes: Make war, not supper.
22 November 2001. Victor writes: Cough
29 October 2001. Victor writes:
4 October 2001. Victor writes: Green Gauges
10 September 2001. Victor writes: Blind weed
16 August 2001. Victor writes: Snout!
23 July 2001. Victor writes: You're not going to put this in a clown are you?
28 June 2001. Victor writes: What is a droll?
4 June 2001. Victor writes: Burt Pakamak
10 May 2001. Victor writes: Board to Death
12 April 2001. Victor writes: Tricolon with anaphora?
22 March 2001. Victor writes: Point of View
26 February 2001. Victor writes: Goth's Dinner
1 Feburary 2001. Victor writes: Les Miserables
4 January 2001. Victor writes: Flat-packed furniture
14 December 2000. Victor writes: Deliverance
20 November 2000. Victor writes: Bottomry: Exorcising Ghosts
26 October 2000. Victor writes: Body Art
2 October 2000. Victor writes: Disney must die
7 September 2000. Victor writes: Ice-cream in Offworld
14 August 2000. Victor writes: I like sweets that taste of medicine
26 June 2000. Victor writes: I've seen the future, and it's feathered

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