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12:24pm on Sunday, 30th October, 2005:

Conflux of Coincidences


It's easy to see how people who are ignorant of statistics can come to believe that the world is run by a higher power, but that doesn't mean that those of us who aren't so touchingly gullible can't find coincidences freaky.

Yesterday morning I was wandering around Austin and discovered some kind of children's book festival going on in front of the state capitol building. There were maybe ten or a dozen large tens erected on the road (hmm, I should have looked to see how they were pegged down), and as I meandered among them I all of a sudden heard the unmistakable tones of a female clown talking to 8-year-olds.

I don't know about you, but I find female clowns super-creepy. Male clowns are creepy too, but at least they exhibit some variety; female clowns have the added creepiness factor that they're all the same. They all have short, spiky hair, they're of noticeably below-average height, they have an unnerving intensity in their eyes, and, perhaps most compellingly scary, they have no sense of humour whatsoever. They've been to clown school to learn what's funny, and by the gods they're going to make you laugh whether you want to or not — they follow the fun formula to the letter. Kids love them, as indeed they love all clowns, but adults? Well, as I said, there's no other word for them than creepy.

At the airport for the flight home, I bumped into my friend Betsy Book, who had also been to the Austin Games Conference. We were both drawn to the same power point block where we could plug in our laptops... Anyway, we chatted about this and that for a couple of hours, and I brought up my theory of female clowns. All evidence suggests that there's only one actual female clown, who has been cloned by a laboratory in Switzerland and used to populate the world of street entertainment. Furthermore, every female clown you see is as a consequence telepathically connected with every other female clown, so you can talk to one in Covent Garden and continue your conversation the next day outside the Louvre, and then she'll remember you again a week later when you encounter her at the State Fair in Seattle.

Yes, well, there has to be a rational explanation for it.

OK, so I'm back in the UK and I've survived waiting for 30 minutes on the tarmac at Heathrow having drunk a litre of water and two cups of tea an hour earlier, and I'm now on the Metropolitan line from Paddington to Liverpool Street. Who should get on at Baker Street but, yes, you guessed correctly, a female clown. I was filled with an icy dread beyond that which I experience anyway when I find one in my vicinity. She was identical in every way to the cold-eyed, miserable, authoritarian, calculatedly unkempt, short-but-bouncy individual I had seen hectoring children the day before. It was as if the original had been teleported into the carriage. Worse, she looked at me with the kind of contempt that, if it weren't for the fact that she probably hates all of humanity, I would otherwise have had to attribute to her having overheard my outlining of my theory to Betsy. It was very alarming. Now I'm going to have to be careful when I go to Colchester near Christmas and they have street entertainers around, because the female clown they'll inevitably produce is sure to recognise me now. She might Do Something. I'm a marked man.

She got off at Barbican.

Referenced by She was There!.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).