If anybody is in need of a good image makeover right now, it is the everyday, common or garden, clown.
I’m not talking about Donald Trump, although his public relations team have also been required to perform miracles, but the actual traditional ‘red’ clown.
The wheels have fallen off (parp, parp) the public persona of this traditional, red-nosed, bumbling , slapstick, jester whose genial presence at childrens’ parties has taken a unintentional prat-fall into darkness with the internet-inspired craze of the ‘killer clown.’
Clowns have always been divisive figures, inspiring terror in some with their sad-faces, water-spouting hats and overly large shoes and hilarity in others with their physical theatre, invitation to ridicule and only occasionally successful juggling of objects.
Now the face-painted, onesie-wearing, entertainers have been lumped with a terrifying reputation after the emergence of pretenders filmed leaping out at the unsuspecting and terrifying the very life out of them.
This cult of fear has moved from quite funny, to eye-rolling, to the police being forced to threaten would-be clowns with arrest for harassment and worse following a spate of unpleasant incidents.
Meanwhile McDonalds are re-thinking public appearances of their previously criminally-unblemished Ronald and children everywhere are developing either coulrophobia ( i.e fear of clowns) that will blight their adult lives, or criminal records for scaring the wotsits out of old ladies for fun.
I was personally ‘killer-clowned’ in broad daylight on Saturday by a masked 16-year-old hiding inexpertly behind a sparse bush at the entrance to a railway bridge. This experience merely triggered the giggles on both sides.
But if I had been elderly, not seen him a mile off, and it was dark….
Needless to say this trend has come to us via America, where professional pranksters take things too far for fun and a You Tube video.
Now, ‘killer clowns’ are popping up everywhere in the UK, while genuine clowns sadly draw more painted tears on their chalk-white faces, their rosy cheeks no more.
Here’s hoping the craze wears thin after Halloween but in the meantime Americans, no more clowns please and keep Trump to yourselves.
Our children are traumatised enough.
This column first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post and associated titles HERE
Pic copyright Johnston Press. Photographer Neil Cross