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


27 March 2003
Matt is heading north

-Where is it? she's shouting, and it's really distracting to see her back half out of the corner of my eye while I'm trying to drive.

-What the hell are you doing? I shout back, even though she wasn't really talking to me in the first place. -Hang on, hang on, she says.

A minute later she's squirmed back into the passenger seat and is holding a box of TicTacs triumphantly. -Have one?

Well, yes, obviously, why not. She pops a mint in my mouth; the tip of her finger is warm. I bite it, she squeals. I drive.

Yesterday a man on the radio said diplomatic relations were breaking down and there was a possibility London may be attacked, but not seriously. We should, he said, make sure our emergency kits were up to date.

It's easy to translate when you've been following the progress of the talks on the internet, from leaks and rumours. That a minister was risking panic by explicitly mentioning London, that the deadline would run out by the end of the day -- we knew what it meant.

The M25 - and it's funny how nobody calls it the London Orbital anymore - the M25 was at a standstill. A dilemma: to stay in the car and not move, or to leave the car and not get far enough away from London before the bombs?

We stayed, as did everyone else.

Slowly, slowly, round the motorway. Other drivers remarkably polite, given the situation. All in the same boat.

A knot in my chest. Nerves. I felt acid at the back of my throat, nerves again. When I held her fingers over the gear stick they felt cold, almost clammy. I guess mine must have done too.

We listened to the collapse in negotiations live on the radio. There can't have seemed much point for propaganda any more.

Now we're still driving. The cities are too radioactive to return, there's no point trying to find more food and petrol until the troubles die down. So we continue on our original route, using up what's left of our fuel, now into the highlands of Scotland, finding somewhere to mark time.

Yesterday evening: We'd cleared the jams and were racing outside London. It was dusk, the city an orange glow on the horizon, and intermittant bursts of static on the radio. I think another twenty or thirty miles and we might have made it. But we were unlucky, the wind was behind us, and the fallout blew up and settled over the car during the night.

The next morning, this morning, I woke with a stiff neck and looked at the radiation tag in the kit.

- Do you think we'll be able to feel them yet?

I don't think so, and I shake my head. It's liberating. Whatever happens, no matter how many more bombs they drop or whether we can't find any food: it's going to be over for us in a couple of weeks.

My stomach does feel heavy, but I think that's still the knot of nerves from yesterday. Not a tumour, not yet. We'll have a week, at least.

At camp, the view is glorious. We've driven down a track at the bottom of a valley cut between mountains. At the head of the valley there's a spring. Behind us: rock. Ahead: sky, brown-green land.

We're not bothering to ration our food, there doesn't seem much point. We stretch out beneath the sky. I pretend I can see the cancers flowering inside her, luminous like fireworks. I poke her side with my finger, pointing at where they bloom. -Oooh! she says, laughing. -Aaah!

In the late afternoon the sun passes behind the mountain-top and my skin suddenly cools. I pass through that temperature where you can't quite tell the difference between the warmth of your body and the warmth of the air. For a microsecond I lose track of the size of myself and I feel like I'm filling the valley, as wide as the floor, as tall as the sky. Then it goes as suddenly as it came, and I feel very very small indeed.

We hold hands, me and her, both looking up at the blue, sunless sky; both with the grass under our backs; both wondering who will be the last to go.


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

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