Thursday, 3 January 2008


I was listening to the radio yesterday lunchtime and caught the tail end of a piece about clowns. Specifically, people who have a phobia about them.

The basis for the story was a recent study* showing that many children (and adults, I assume) were frightened by the depiction of clowns in children's areas in hospitals. On the walls, in pictures, and most of all when they arrive in real life, trailing clouds of glory. And inevitably, there was a phone-in, with people calling to share their experiences.

So far so good.

Then the clowns started calling**.

First up, there was a female clown who had lots of positive examples of how her work had helped cheer up children in hospital. She was even mildly engaging, not something I expect from clowns.

And then it got interesting.

An angry clown ("30 years experience!") called. He was furious that there were all these untrained, unprofessional clowns just turning up at hospitals and frightening children.

He was vehement that "proper" clown makeup is not scary. And that a real "experienced" clown, with at least, oh, 30 years behind the whitewash bucket is a good thing, and wouldn't terrify anyone. Least of all a sick child, possibly suffering under the aftermath of hallucinogenic pain relief drugs. No, not at all.

I love the idea of all these unqualified clowns, with their slapdash balloon animals and half-arsed unicycle riding, bumbling round hospitals.

Accidentally pulling IVs out of people, dropping heavy weights on people who just had their appendix out, tripping over the guy with both legs in plastercasts, giving the psychiatric patients the heeby jeebies just by sitting quietly in the cafeteria.


If only they'd been to clown college.

*If I was a better writer I'd have found the study and linked it. Couldn't be arsed. Sorry.

**And isn't that something you never want to overhear said by the person sitting next to you on a train?

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