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


24 April 2003
Dan has a big day ahead.

Skin is being prepared, treated, analysed critically. This is the most important bath, perhaps, of her life.

In one sense, this is untrue; today is arguably at most a formality, a capstone placed on something that has been carefully built, stone by stone, first considered, then expected, assumed and finally organised. The end of the long push uphill, the beginning of the long roll down.

Cleanse, tone and moisturise; the holy trinity. Not least because nobody really gets what the middle one is for. Upward strokes of the cotton pad, to prevent wrinkles. Massage in the thick scentless liquid, promising as it does to challenge all seven of the seven signs of aging (the first is wrinkled skin, the third through sixth remain obscure; she assumes the seventh to be heart failure), in small circles, again upward. That is for the face. The body is a different matter.

After a brisk exfoliating scrub with another miracle substance, this one purporting to contain both charcoal and Vitamin E, the lotion is applied in larger circles. There are so many things that wither and devour the flesh. Sunlight, which can be and is avoided or repulsed, chemicals, not least the harsh, oxidising soup of London's air, this to be resolved by a house in the Home Counties. Finally, the passage of time, and the seven deadly signs of aging. As yet no efficient way to roll this back exists. Already the first fleeting thoughts of cosmetic amendment, emendation, or, some would argue, mendacity have begun to intrude into the still taut and peachy-fresh expanses of her mind.

Twenty-six is, after all, recognisably closer to thirty than to twenty, and thirty is the point at which at which she is really going to have to start taking care of her appearance.

A hundred strokes on each side; her hair was so much less hassle in that boyish French crop, but boyish is hardly the look to be aimed at today.

Technically speaking, appearance should really not be an issue. The long roll downhill. The expectation management that occurs over the course of a shared life. Country walks. Dinner parties and local history. This is the thinking, ultimately, of a previous generation. Greater personal and professional mobility carries with it the penalty of insecurity. With the traditional power of the society of gossips etiolated by the externalising force of Hello, OK, and a legion of scandal rags leading down to Jade Goody's VPL (monthly), it has become the responsibility of individual contractors to keep building their skills and refreshing their relevance. And it may only be skin deep, but without skin one is very cold, very unhappy and very dead.

The first two are, she feels, eminently avoidable. The third has yet to be conquered by a strict regime of moisturising, but she has caught herself eating less of her own delicious home cooking. Lower calorie consumption has been shown to extend life, not to mention the mortal rewards of making an hour of pilates about the tone rather than the burn.

The maid of honour can be heard fretting near-inaudibly outside, but there is plenty of time, and the beautician outside is being paid by the task rather than the hour. This powder, a formula of Japanese herbs and minerals held in trust by the Body Shop until such time as the Japanese can be trusted with the secret, is intended to soften the skin, render it pliant and agreeable. When they spent the first night together (in fact, although neither would admit it, the second night, the first being driven by a happy hour-induced seasickness that forbade such finer speculation), the near-natural softness of her skin astounded him. It felt as if his fingers might leave runnels where they stroked, pools where they rested. This sense of wonder has stayed with him, and will do so while she has the strength and dermal elasticity to ensure it.

Somewhere in the double helices of DNA wrapped around the histones of their respective bodies lie the codes for this soft and yielding skin, this stomach kept flat and thighs trim with two trips to the gym a week, this brow unfurrowed still and in his the no less vital capacity to appreciate all such. Through genotype, through phenotype, through coiling body, the same curl and curve that will soon be added to each eyelash in turn will twist through the day and maybe through the long roll downhill.

Smiling is a dangerous business, leaving as it does a network of fine lines round the nose and mouth, but she figures she can risk it; this is a special day, after all.


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

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