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

The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins

20 May 2002
Jamie rediscovers his plectrum...

We thought we were going to be part of something much bigger. You tend to at that age, when you've spent your whole life in a bubble, from the tight confines of your family semi in Welwyn to those first days at boarding school, always sheltered and shielded by those that love you and the people they pay to look after you. All the Falklands meant to us was that we got to stay up late to watch the news on BBC One; we never imagined anything infringing on our perfect existence. Then, when we hit seventeen, there was a Damascus moment when we saw a glimpse of a bigger world for the first time, and we wanted in. Or out, depending on where you were sitting.

It was a surreal beginning, in a lot of ways. I'd be disappointed if the likes of Radiohead had started off the same way; the glamour, the mystique would be nastily tarnished. It was some time around the end of '86, two-thirds of the way through some shitty excuse for a party (total headcount twelve, of which the four girls and their three boyfriends had already left) and most of the way through the contents of Al's parents' drinks cabinet. We'd made it as far as the cherry brandy, and were singing out of tune to the Clash as Jon bashed away at the piano. Rock and Roll.

How we got from there to the idea of putting together a band got lost somewhere in the dregs of the Polish vodka. But when we all collected ourselves in the early afternoon, draped across various pieces of furniture, the floor was covered in scraps of paper full of barely legible lyrics, most of which had seemed clever at the time, and The Septic Foreskins were born.

The name had been the only source of creative discussion the whole evening. We knew we wanted to sound angry, but we weren't that bothered about anything in particular. Fucking Thatcher's Arse was an early favourite until we realised that we agreed with all she stood for and were sat in a country house she pretty much helped to build. On top of which, it was a better name for an album anyway.

The next hour was spent sticking drawing pins in every book in the house on the off-chance of hitting on something apt. Then Al caught his cock in his flies, and Rob made some comment about gangrene. One of those great epiphanous moments, you might say.

We trundled along for a month, the four of us. The minor problem that we were shite was dwarfed by the fact we had no place to practise. But we still knocked up some corking numbers - my favourite was the seasonal 'I Believe in Father Christmas', with its stunning opening lines 'Santa Claus is coming / His balls are in his sack / Santa Claus is coming / Up your anal crack'. Went down a treat with the pupils at the school open air concert, I can tell you. But it took the intervention of Jon's older brother, Sam, to take us to the next logical level. He was the only one with a garage, after all.

He could sing, too, which was clearly going to help. So I had to step aside and concentrate on playing rhythm guitar in the background. I was more relieved that bothered, to be honest; I found that playing and singing at the same time wasn't as easy as people made it look. No, the real problem was that our clever name (there were four of us - geddit?) was now royally fucked. Until we just decided to sod it and go with the Fiveskins instead.

And it worked, for a while. That whole summer holiday, we played gigs in pubs and clubs in our various hometowns and round Sam's uni. There was never any chance of hitting the big time, we realised that soon enough, but there was still a certain buzz in getting up on stage and even supporting the odd slightly-famous band that happened to be playing in town that night. Seeing their fans going mad as we played was one of the highlights of our time.

And as always, it all stopped as quickly as it had begun. Three of us were at the same uni, but we were far too busy making new friends and drinking away our maintenance grants to get together that often. So we unofficially called it a day, with nothing but a couple of dodgy recordings from Sam's garage to remember our time together.

And that was it, until a few weeks ago. The news came as a bit of a shock, but we knew Rob hadn't been exactly well. The biggest surprise was that his parents asked us to play at his wake. Apparently he'd kept a big box full of memorabilia from our time - photos, flyers, all the tapes from every gig we played. They said he'd never been happier than when he was on stage with us. So, fifteen years on, a collection of early thirtysomethings (one accountant, a chef, and two suits) squeezed into the old outfits and put on a show for friends and loved ones of the deceased.

We opened with Father Christmas. It was beautiful.


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:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

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