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

Safe as Houses

15 July 2002
George is pretty sharp.

And when I woke up that early that morning, they'd not yet finished removing all of the sharp objects, which is how I found out what was going on. Not that I wouldn't have noticed something amiss (as shall become apparent) but I learnt the who's and the why's quicker than most. Coming down the stairs, half dead in my dressing gown I saw the last of the men in orange rifling through the kitchen drawers, presumably searching for a tardy lemon reamer or rogue potato peeler.

I coughed. One of the younger orange men jumped, nearly dropping the clattering bag he was holding. His senior shot him a filthy look then snapped to attention. With a swift vicious salute he barked "Sir, good morning, sir! Apologies for our presence sir - we should have been finished by oh-four-hundred hours, but our team contains youthful and inexperienced workers sir, not yet able to remove at full speed. Sir!"

Pulling my gown tightly around me I asked "And you'd be...?" The senior tightened his posture and salute even further and bellowed "Sir! Health and safety executive sir! Operating stage one sir, removal of sharp objects sir!" As I blinked, trying to focus on their neon shapes and perky berets, they rushed out of the house leaving me leaning against the banister. I went back to bed.

Getting up again two hours later I saw fully what they'd done. Getting into work two hours after that and seeing the unshaved members of the sales-team, I realised I wasn't alone. "Dammit Jim" my buddy Paul moaned "I had to use my Jennifer Rush CD to spread marmalade with. Chrissakes".

A week later I woke to find my dressing-gown cord gone, along with Elaine's stockings, my cufflinks and all of my spare change. "Choking hazards" muttered Elaine furiously as she boiled tea to paint her legs with, "I'll give them choking hazards". At work there were ingenious combinations of paperclips, origami folding and long, tied-together socks holding up trousers (the belts, ties and braces had gone that morning too). Rumour went round that Alan in accounts had come in a paisley-bedsheet toga and within five days we had all followed his lead; the firm resembled a Laura Ashleyfied ancient Rome.

I'd started getting up earlier and earlier, trying to catch the orange men. Thirteen days after the belts incident they came again. I was huddled in a chair in the lounge, cold cups of strong coffee by my feet. I had a volume of Encyclopaedia Britannica on my lap, the largest weapon I could find out of my reduced, safety-conscious household arsenal.

I spasmed awake as the team moved in, silent and stealthy as ninjas. Before I'd had time to raise the book above my head a flashlight beam was pointed in my face followed, seconds later, by the muzzle of a raygun. "Sir!" came the same voice as previously "we must apprehend you sir! This is the health and safety executive sir, and this is for your own good."

The men were scavenging through drawers. I lowered the book. "Matches, sir" the senior said before I could ask. "Fire hazard sir, dangerous to children. Burning babies sir. And lighters". I watched as my precious silver zippo was dropped into a sack. Without lowering the ray-gun he saluted, then left.

The next time I didn't bother with the Encylopaedia, just the coffee. When the team came in and the flashlight slid around the room there was quick gasping noise. Then an orange hand reached from the light, took my mug and poured it away. "Mugs?" I asked. "Caffeine sir" came the reply, "very dangerous, causes jitters and breakages, sir!".

The week after that it was mugs. And the rest of the crockery ("Breakages sir! Sharp pieces of pottery sir!"). Then the heavy books. Then the light books and magazines ("Fire hazard sir!") After that the removals happened so quickly that I didn't note what was taken and when.

Elaine bleakly joked about killing herself to end the constant demolition of our home and life. When she went to the medicine cabinet and found that, actually, all of the aspirin, paracetemol and sleeping pills had gone she became hysterical. I had to throw cold water over her. Using my hands - the buckets had gone a few days after the mugs. I tried to call the helpline that had been installed for those requiring assistance with their "new, safer lives" but the telephone wasn't there either. Radiation damage.

That was the turning point. That, and the rumour from Paul that in Bristol there were trials involving intravenous drips - choking hazards of eating presumably outweighing infection from needles. Until then, I'd assumed I could quietly stop it all by reducing the calories in my diet to a healthy safe minimal and slide out of it all. Elaine has been scratching plans and designs into the floor of a double-rig for the bath; both of our weights pressing down into the "safe" two inches of water for our faces to be covered.

Of course, this only works if the bath is still there by next week.


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:

1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
10 November 2003. George writes: Dead beat
20 October 2003. George writes: Shortening
29 September 2003. George writes: Manhattanites are Cleavage-Starved
11 September 2003. George writes: How to Bring Us in Line With the Future
18 August 2003. George writes: Slashtastic
28 July 2003. George writes: Underground Independent Small Press Comic Fight Club
7 July 2003. George writes: Careering
16 June 2003. George writes: Choose your own adventure
26 May 2003. George writes: Revelations
8 May 2003. George writes: Picture Perfect
14 April 2003. George writes: MetaPirate
24 March 2003. George writes: Preparation X
3 March 2003. George writes: F of x
13 February 2003. George writes: Three is the magic number
23 January 2003. George writes: Recorded Delivery
30 December 2002. George writes: Meat Bingo or Death
12 December 2002. George writes: Royal Inquisitor
21 November 2002. George writes: This Clown is Cancelled
28 October 2002. George writes: Shopping with God
3 October 2002. George writes: SaferSpoony
16 September 2002. George writes: Supercalanthropomorphicexpealidocious
26 August 2002. George writes: The deformed animal menagerie
5 August 2002. George writes: Plaice that Funky Music, Whitebait
15 July 2002. George writes: Safe as Houses
24 June 2002. George writes: Two Lions (DB/DS)
30 May 2002. George writes: Series 8
9 May 2002. George writes: Market Stall
11 April 2002. George writes: I, the Enlargened, Crunchy Product
18 March 2002. George writes: Cakexterminator
21 February 2002. George writes: Fiction Suit
28 January 2002. George writes: Spunk Gunk
31 December 2001. George writes: Fairytale of New Pork
10 December 2001. George writes: Circular
15 November 2001. George writes: A Man With No Ass Is No Man At All
22 October 2001. George writes: One Night in Heaven
27 September 2001. George writes: Uncut
3 September 2001. George writes: Porn Pants
9 August 2001. George writes: Names of the Roses
19 July 2001. George writes: No Fun Here
21 June 2001. George writes: All Your Elections are Belong to Us
28 May 2001. George writes: Pierced as Fuck
3 May 2001. George writes: My Lovely Horse
9 April 2001. George writes: Eight Hundred and Forty-Three
12 March 2001. George writes: Kill 'Em All
19 February 2001. George writes: Formal
25 January 2001. George writes: Sticks and stones
11 January 2001. George writes: A Thought on Morality
11 December 2000. George writes: You can't put that into a soufflé
13 November 2000. George writes: Lyrical Genius
19 October 2000. George writes: Wet wet wet wet wet
25 September 2000. George writes: Built on an Indian burial ground
31 August 2000. George writes: This Way
31 July 2000. George writes: Runt of the Litter

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