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


17 July 2003
Dan has a knack.

It's maybe a family thing. That I can't tell you, nor why I might have come into this estate, if estate it is, at the age of twenty-five. Perhaps it was some traumatic event - although, when I think about how exactly life has unfolded, I can't help but feel that twenty-five was about as "how can you stand it?" and about as "do you ever stop whining?" as any other year there or thereabouts, or in fact back as far as college; plenty of angst and Leonard Cohen, not much actual physical injury, and what there was of that tiresomely self-inflicted.

Other options....bitten by a radioactive darkroom? Not so much. Shuttered four-fifths of the brain hurled open like the shutter cap of Heaven by a careful process of meditation, study and semen retention? Not hardly. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered at the very least the semen retention. As of early May, when you left, thus ruining both an apparently perfectly good relationship and a potentially very good line, the semen was, if not exactly being put to good use, yet unrestrained. So that wasn't it. Nor initiation into dark rites, unless I was very drunk indeed.

And I certainly haven't been selected for a mysterious team of specialists working to protect a world that doesn't understand us. Oh no. I suppose that if you tried really hard you could maybe think up some tiny strategic or espionage application for it, but it would no doubt be more than balanced out by my absolute lack of ability in every other direction. For a while, after that first hushed confession to somebody I really, really wanted to sleep with, I was expecting some mysterious agency to turn up either to recruit or dissect me, but if it ever has got back to the high masons, it seems they can't be bothered to do anything about it.

Maybe it's like being double-jointed or able to remember the Peking phone book; rare enough to make seeing it surprising, but not enough to make it genuinely intriguing when you deal with large enough blocks of people.

But anyway, you hardly care what the origin was; it's the effects that cause little ripples to go through parties, that makes me seem somehow more interesting and dangerous and generally fun to be around.

I think that's because it gives people the feeling that they are in a TV miniseries. Seriously. It's a really cheap-looking effect, but it's just far enough out of the ordinary to suggest that something is going on here that renders the generally rather drab civil servant flats of my friends startling and transgressive. Ironically, it makes the world seem a little less grey. I'm popular at parties now; I think you might have appreciated that.

Here's how it works. Somebody presses me to show them. I am reluctant, droop my head, claim to be tired/unwilling/sick of being a showpony. Eventually, I am prevailed upon. Somebody produces a photograph, usually from an album in the other room and as such probably of the host by hostess, or the hostess by host, or of both by some third party. I reach out to it, furrowing my brow and thinking just so, and the very tips of my fingers disappear into it.

Everybody gasps. The image on the photograph bubbles and glows, then fades, until nothing is left but a dull, dirty white space. This works only on actual photos - don't ask me why. The advent of the digital camera might make the whole parlour trick obsolete.

So, everybody gasps again, and shivers and I answer the same questions over and over. No, I don't know how it happens. Yes, I can still feel the tips of my fingers, even though they are manifestly not protruding from the reverse of the photographic paper. They feel like they are in cool water.

And yes, when I do it I get a rush. Specifically, I get a rush of emotion - the emotions, it seems, although there has never really been any way to corroborate this, when the photograph was taken. Of course, if you say something like "I feel love, warmth and tenderness", then people are going to make big eyes and nod seriously. Usually it's drunkenness. Sometime love and affection, quite a lot of the time boredom. For some reason, people tend to fall out of love on holiday - I feel it from smiles in front of the amphitheatre to thumbs-up in front of a sign with an amusing misrepresentation of written English.

It's a trick, although I don't know how I do it, and I've never managed to teach it. Maybe it gives me a little bit of power, but it's just emotions, not PIN numbers or true confessions.

Besides, you don't get profound emotion from the kind of photographs people don't mind being destroyed for a little sip of the spooky bottle over liqueurs.

But the pictures I took, the pictures of us, are very different. It took me five days to assemble them all in date order, and it's been a guilty pleasure; maybe one a night, maybe two. Happy, sad, drunk, jocose, horny, horny, horny...and in love. That's a weird one. I'm trying not to think how synthetic, how tinfoil that feels; not a bit like some of the mellow flowerings dripping off the odd cute couple's duplicate wedding snap, or even the little sniffs in group photos featuring forgotten lovers.

My sense of touch isn't sure it was love at all. And we're into the mudslide now. The long downward trajectory to pancake on the ground of early May. The rain saving itself up for that one long argument. Sometimes I want to pull the photos I took of the receding bumper of your Beetle out of sequence, but that would be cheating.

Another three months, I reckon, and I'm out. I'd like to leave a few, for old time's sake, but you know how it is. It's like a loose tooth.

So, I was wondering. I've got a bit of a sideline going, now - it's quite successful, but mostly done with slow exposures and black and white film rather than any real flair right now. It'll come, I hope, but it doesn't hurt to have a gimmick. And I was wondering - would you like to come and pose? No charge. And maybe we could have a drink afterwards.

Just think about it, 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:

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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