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

High-Rise Rhapsody

24 January 2002
James won't keep you long.

Did you know you can tell time from cracks on the pavement?

From seventeen floors up, grapes make a loud cracking sound as they hit hot hard concrete. There's no-one around down there because no-one's been seen around here for weeks. They all moved out quick when they heard - they said I was mad for staying. But it's a beautiful day, it's hot, and I've got enough spare grapes to keep this game going for another couple of hours.

At the start of the game, I released a grape at the moment the previous hit the ground. With a little practice, this was easy, and the barren urban desert reverberated with a regular pulse. Sad, like the pacemaker that keeps ticking over, even after the old man is brain dead.

This regular beat gets into your head, and after a while you can leave out alternate grapes, dropping on one and three, and being echoed with a rock steady off-beat. And you've invented jazz. Real city-folk music. All from grapes being dropped off a tenement block balcony.

By far the hardest part of this game is to resist throwing the grapes - they must be dropped. If they are thrown even only slightly up or down, that will spoil the regularity of the beat, and make what is a pure one-city jam session into just some loser dropping his grapes from on high. Well I'm no loser. And this empty town is rocking.

The song goes bad after a while. No more good solid cracks, but deadened mushy splashes. If it was cloudier, would the puddle of grape juice start to turn into wine before it dried up into a scab of skin and pips?

Swirlsniffmmm, I'm getting traces of kiwi fruit and citrus tempered by the clear nose of social policy and a lingering aftertaste of impending doom. Ideal accompaniment for army ration biscuits, carrion and bitter resentment.

A few birds pass overhead and I watch as their shadows climb up the wall of the opposite tower. Re-assuring myself that I'm not in denial doesn't really help when you think about it. Like saying "I'm not lying" when someone thinks you are.

A few faces flash past. My old boss the day I got sacked ("...James, it's your fault we've got a culture of blame..."). Stuffed fucker in a tie. Showed him in the end though...

The sun seems to have got to me so I stop the game and go back inside the flat. My song is finished, and the empty city, once miserable but full of life, just then resounding to my grape-groove, lies quiet once more. I decide to leave.


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:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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