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

Different Class

5 September 2002
Dan is struggling with the pressure of being much better than you.

It is probably worth noting that it was already a very tender and awkward situation. I have always been a bit diffident in matters concerning the opposite sex, perhaps due to a lack of female role models.

Mummy died when I was six, and my nannies generally lasted about three months - those that did not sleep with my father sent away for obduracy, those who did for clinginess. Of course, it took me some years before I realised that this was the pattern; during the summer holidays of my twelfth year I stumbled upon him bending scrawny, nervous Nanny Julia over the Aga, in a horrible travesty of the far more delicate act only hinted at between rounded female buttocks and denim-clad domestic groins in the magazines we passed around by torchlight after lights out. The sight, though not without a certain mechanical interest, provided me with a sudden and shocking revelation of my place in the world and my father's place in my female role models. We never spoke of it, of course, but that sort of thing does tend to stay with you. Nanny Julia met my eye not once in the next two days and shipped out before dawn at the weekend.

In a moment of drunken honesty years later, my father confessed that he had maintained an affaire, although by no means an exclusive one, for some years after that with Nanny Julia, or Julia as I might have come to know her if he had ever thought to allow her back into the house outside term time. He felt that the danger of a possible scene outweighed the possible benefits of continuity. Perhaps he was right. This was when I was around twenty-six, and the old man, some years retired and somewhat becancered, was making a last-ditch attempt to settle our differences and introduce some "emotional honesty" into our relationship. For this flight into Californianism I blame in part his dotage but primarily his second and last wife, Trudi, an American barely ten years past my age, who must have been decidedly put out to find that her faithful nursing, stalwart companionship and willingness (I suppose) to indulge in some or all of the hunnish practices that the locked room attached to his study was devoted to had failed completely to secure her so much as a charitable mention in his will. I suspect that, once he lost the ability to derive even intellectual pleasure from watching her going through motions intended to inflame a desire no longer physically possible, her conversation and canasta let her down at the final hurdle.

But forgive me; I digress. Let us return to my thirty-fourth year, and the aftermath of a sexual encounter, which had begun with a friendly conversation over a double-booked seat at the Lyttleton, and had grown through a mutual desire for a drink afterwards, several subsequent drinks and some awkward fondling in a shared taxi back to Fulham. She had intending to go on from there, but exercised her prerogative and changed her mind.

The next morning, this morning, as I was trying to think of some polite way to ask her to leave without actually asking her to leave, she propped herself on one shoulder, not quite the woman I remembered from low light and white wine last night, and commented with vulgar amusement, "I think you're the poshest bloke I've ever shagged."

Mortification. Utter, complete mortification. Followed by anger. How dare she write off more than thirty years of personal development with a single adjective? My father may have been "posh", but I was a complex individual, with no intention of being reduced to some convenient stereotype to fill out a box on a slattern's list of conquests. I didn't say anything, of course, but I think even she could detect that the mood had changed, and gathered up her belongings. We kissed chastely as the door, but did not exchange any personal details, as is generally traditional after an accident.

I was seething at the exchange, and badly off my game at the Exchange - the boys were asking after my health at lunchtime, and I left on the stroke of five, without a slapped back or a cup of good cheer to be seen. It had been a thoroughly diabolical day, and I resolved to call a friend to vent when I got home. Driving back, the seething continued.

It was easy, too easy, to write somebody else off as "posh", "poor", even "rude" or "over-friendly" or "stupid". Generalisations are the enemy of all meaningful interaction. Yes, my voice had a certain cadence - would it be right to call a man with a Devonshire accent a yokel?

Upbringing, heredity - all chimaeric at best, clumsy indicators of who I was or was not. My voice and manner were symptoms, not causes - to be who I am, to be successful, I had required the best schools and the best college and, while natural ability had been enough to see me there and through, I could hardly have emerged unchanged. That was all it was: poor understanding of cause and effect.

This resolution and self-mastery lasted precisely as far as the address book on the mantelpiece, which revealed not a single person who would have the faintest idea what I was talking about. The boys from the Exchange, so recently escaped. Hearties from the boat club and portly sybarites from any one of a dozen wine-bibbing societies. A couple of firm-thighed rower girls, perpetually gasping for breath or gasping for beer. And a handful of pale, shy girls touted as potential brides. Those still unmarried would be attentive, sympathetic and empathic, without understanding a word. The wed (surely all of them by now? A bachelor of thirty-four was no disgrace, but a spinster...) would most likely hang up without even saying a word.

And what did that leave? My mother's family in Cumbria? My father's friends? It was hardly -

And then it struck me. So obvious. Incredible that it took an unwise comment from a one-night stand to bring it home. A few tiresomely indirect enquiries to relatives and relatively untiresome Directory Enquiries later, I was ready.

My story was that it was time to discuss her ill-treatment. Water under the bridge, settling of accounts, always a good friend to the family, sure my dear departed mother would have adored her, simply adored her. And so on. And so on.

And then the next. Ill-treatment. Water. Accounts. Always a good friend to the family. Dear departed mother. Adored. Adored. And so on. And so on.

With the right accent and the scent of money, you can persuade almost anyone to do anything.

Making good time out of London, I reached the old house around ten. The room off my father's study was just as he left it. I blew the dust off the surfaces while I waited.

And now I don't know which will arrive first. I don't know what will happen when they do. I have a chequebook, my PDA, my father's driving license and a letter opener from Corinth, these last two taken in something of a fugue state from the study. The contents of the room should cover most other eventualities.

Whether out of whimsy or perversity, a portrait of my mother and father, stiffly posed sometime in the late 1950s, was hung on the far wall of this room. When I came here after the funeral I turned it to the wall, but now I turn it back. She seems so young, too young, and too beautiful. I look down and realise that the letter opener's tip has sunk into my left palm, about half an inch. I am muttering, saying something I cannot quite hear, then I scream at my father, tell him that if he is looking down at me from Heaven, if Mummy got him in somehow, if he played cricket with the doorkeeper, he'd better stick to looking down at, because if I get a hint that he is looking down on, then the family name is going to come in for quite a kicking. It takes longer to say than to tell.

I am yelling "at not on, at not on", when doorlock rattle and bellring silence me. Keeping one toe inside the room, I use the intercom in the study to invite her up. I don't know which has arrived first. There is no chance for her to speak. Throwing myself back into the room, I bleed and writhe on the dusty floor, imagining the tools on the walls against my flesh, inside my skin. I don't know what's going to happen. I can smell him on her as the stairs creak nervously - tobacco and whisky and dried semen and anger. I think I may have made a terrible mistake.

Water. Accounts. The Family. My dear mother.

A door.

This is this moment. This moment now.


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:

11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
30 October 2003. Dan writes: My only goal
9 October 2003. Dan writes: The Knot
18 September 2003. Dan writes: The Engelbart Elephant
28 August 2003. Dan writes: The Amity Index
7 August 2003. Dan writes: This Sporting Life
17 July 2003. Dan writes: Touch
26 June 2003. Dan writes: Metadata
5 June 2003. Dan writes: Street Mate
15 May 2003. Dan writes: Usher's Well
24 April 2003. Dan writes: Medicamenta
3 April 2003. Dan writes: Weapons of Mass Construction
13 March 2003. Dan writes: David Sneddon, Bukake Secret Agent
20 February 2003. Dan writes: Mary Sue
30 January 2003. Dan writes: Bait and Switch
9 January 2003. Dan writes: What Never Happened
19 December 2002. Dan writes: Sermon on the Mount the Face
28 November 2002. Dan writes: Ballroom Blitz
7 November 2002. Dan writes: The Photographer
17 October 2002. Dan writes: Diaphragmatic
26 September 2002. Dan writes: A life in the day
5 September 2002. Dan writes: Different Class
15 August 2002. Dan writes: Story and sequel
25 July 2002. Dan writes: Fellatious
4 July 2002. Dan writes: Skin Mag
10 June 2002. Dan writes: The Ibizan book of the Dead
16 May 2002. Dan writes: The Sissons Situation
22 April 2002. Dan writes: UpsideClown and Out in Hollywood
28 March 2002. Dan writes: Nereus' Daughters
4 March 2002. Dan writes: Diomedes
7 February 2002. Dan writes: Text Only
14 January 2002. Dan writes: Civil Engineering
20 December 2001. Dan writes: Nativity
26 November 2001. Dan writes: The Wedding Band
1 November 2001. Dan writes: what dreans mecum?
8 October 2001. Dan writes: Stop me if you've heard this one before
13 September 2001. Dan writes: Mother of the Muses
20 August 2001. Dan writes: I say I say I say
26 July 2001. Dan writes: Bigger, Better, Brother
2 July 2001. Dan writes: Hecatomb
7 June 2001. Dan writes: Dispassionate Leave
14 May 2001. Dan writes: Small Town Boy
19 April 2001. Dan writes: Maintaining the Driving Line
26 March 2001. Dan writes: Cut and Paste
1 March 2001. Dan writes: Redemption
5 February 2001. Dan writes: Blyton the Face of the Earth
8 January 2001. Dan writes: Smoke Signals
18 December 2000. Dan writes: The Loa Depths
23 November 2000. Dan writes: The Limits of Melissa Joan Hart
30 October 2000. Dan writes: Shiftwork
5 October 2000. Dan writes: Dawson
11 September 2000. Dan writes: Testing Times
17 August 2000. Dan writes: Onanova
3 July 2000. Dan writes: Roboto il Diavolo

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