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

Rock Opera

8 December 2003
Victor discovers you're only as old as the band you see

The lights go down, a cheer is raised to the roof of this hall which could be attached to any swimming pool or ice rink in the world. I am relieved to find that I still get a shiver down the spine. We have already looked excitedly at the ceiling, wondering when the large black heart balloons will be released. The lead singer shouts, "Good evening, --------!", and, inanely, "Is everyone OK?"

We now bear witness to the power of music: the lighters come out - or rather, 3G 'phones and Glo-sticks. Before too long the Glo-sticks run out, and two hundred kids suddenly realise that they would have been much better off buying lighters.

The noise is impressive, vibrating not, as expected, through my feet, but in my ribcage and the fabric of my trousers, a sensation hardly matched by the gestures of my fellow fans. One arm in the air, they make horned fingers at the stage, in scathing pastiche, I assume, of my evangelical chemistry teacher's stance when singing his praises to the Lord. Maybe not. But there's definitely something of the dervish in their pogo-ing.

Looking around it dawns that I'm one of the oldest people here. For the most part the demographic is adolescent to young adult, the age when ginger boys go goth so they can dye their hair. A Punkyfished schoolgirl nicked my pint of beer-flavoured water in the foyer; in an hour's time parents will start gathering there to pick up. I am as aware as the next man that the gods of music are - and always were - twenty, but I hadn't expected to feel quite so out of touch.

Columns of kids shouldering past me in the crowd rouse feelings in me hitherto unknown. I want to offer my services to Neighbourhood Watch, become a Church Warden. A 16-year-old Piltdown Man has barged his way in front of me, obscuring my view with his white boy's dirty afro. I consider assaulting him with a hair band.

He bears more than a passing resemblance to a man at a gig a couple of weeks ago. He had the same hair, and a long, matted beard with it. There was no light in his eyes as he rocked backwards and forwards for two hours. Half-way through the set he put his head in his hands, still rocking. At the end of each track he extended a hand to sprinkle invisible fairy dust over the crowd. He must have been in his early fifties, and had clearly never come out of his first trip in 1968. The rest of the crowd, signed off from pogo-ing by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, bobbed up and down out of time to the music. Piltdown Man 51 was a "rocker", alright; just not in the right way.

Piltdown Man 16 also is off his face. I can't be bothered to wait for the encore, so I join the steady trickle of those desperate to be first out of the car park. He's in the bar area, topless, being helped into a wheelchair by two burly St John's Ambulance women. Around us can be heard the usual euphoric post-gig froth:

"I got right near the fucking front and held on - like that - as long as I could."

"As soon as you fall over, someone else picks you up".

Our boy in the chair had obviously been unlucky. And so, children too short to see become olds too fucked to stand. Such is the transformation of Piltdown 16 into Piltdown 51.

A voice from the auditorium cuts in: "Is everyone still OK?"


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

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