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Concerned Clowns Call For End To Copycat Crime wave

Britain’s clowns fear their good name has been tarnished after police forces around the country revealed incidents of people in costume scaring members of the public.

The copycat craze – believed to have been started by a man known on Facebook as the Northampton Clown – involves people dressing as clowns to surprise passers-by in public places.

Several police forces have issued warnings after reported sightings and now details released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed the extent of the trend.

These include reports to Derbyshire police of a clown carrying a knife and incidents in South Yorkshire of a clown staring through the windows of people’s homes. Those two forces recorded 29 and 28 clown-related incidents respectively.

Tony Eldridge, secretary of Clowns International which represents the entertainers in Britain, said the situation had escalated beyond harmless fun. 

Eldridge, whose clown name is Bluebottle, said: “This is doing clowning no favours and is harming society.

“The people behind it might see it as a bit of a laugh, but for the victims it can be a horrible experience.

“The fear of clowns – coulrophobia – is a real thing and some people will react very badly to this. Not to mention people who are elderly or vulnerable.

“This has nothing to do with clowning, it’s a small group of people with stupid views and it spoils the fun for everybody else.”

Most legitimate entertainers followed a code of clown conduct which included not wearing their costume in public, he said.

“We have to reclaim clowning as a positive thing which brings happiness.”

The trend first emerged when the Northampton Clown rose to prominence over the summer, gaining nearly 200,000 “likes” on Facebook.

The person responsible posts photos of himself in public places. He most recently uploaded a photo taken outside a brewery in the town on 13 December.

He defended his behaviour, writing on Facebook: “Yes, there have been copycats, but that’s not me.”

The craze has spread with police in Lancashire reassuring the public after speculation about sightings involving a Stephen King-style clown.

A force spokesman said: “We have had no first-hand reports of any incidents of violence or intimidation.”

Last month Norfolk Police told members of the public to ignore clowns in the street after a number of sightings around King’s Lynn.

These included a person in a “full clown outfit” with a red suit and red hair chasing members of the public.
Superintendent Carl Edwards said no one had been injured or assaulted.

Dressing as a clown was not illegal, he said, but the force would offer those behind the make-up “strong words of advice”.

Sally Beadle, also known as Crazy Bananas, works as a clown in the King’s Lynn area.

She knows somebody who was chased by a clown in Downham Market, Norfolk, and said they were left shaken by the experience.

“Before this happened I would pop into the petrol station in costume on my way to a job but now I can’t do that,” she said. “Even my own children who grew up around clowns have been scared by this.

“It’s more than just a job, it’s something we love, but people’s reaction to us has changed – I was getting messages on Facebook asking if I was responsible for scaring people.

“This is my business and I don’t like frightening people.”

Responding to the freedom of information request, South Wales police confirmed it had received a report of somebody acting suspiciously while wearing a clown mask.

Derbyshire police received 29 reports of clown sightings after social media claims that a man in the Nottingham area was dressing up and carrying balloons and a knife.

One report read: “Caller scared as someone had tried to get in to their house – posted on Facebook that a clown had been going around village trying door handles.”

Another said: “Caller reported having received numerous calls from concerned parents about a clown going up to the windows of houses brandishing a gun and knife frightening the residents.”

South Yorkshire police recorded 28 incidents involving people dressed as clowns.

These included a clown standing in a park, jumping out at somebody in the street and staring through the window of a house.

Other police forces also recorded incidents involving people dressed as clowns, although not all were linked to the craze.

Sussex police received reports of three incidents involving the characters, including a speeding offence involving a motorcyclist in full clown costume.

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Almanac – June 09

1915 – Les Paul born. American jazz, country and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier and inventor.

He was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, which made the sound of rock and roll possible, and is credited with many recording innovations.

Although he was not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with overdubbing, delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording were among the first to attract widespread attention.

 He recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, selling millions of records.

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1934 – Jackie Wilson born. American singer and performer.

Wilson was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was considered a master showman, one of the most dynamic and influential singers and performers in R&B and rock history.

Gaining fame in his early years as a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes, he went solo in 1957 and recorded over 50 hit singles that spanned R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening.

Wilson’s powerful, electrifying live performances rarely failed to bring audiences to a state of frenzy.  His live performances consisted of knee-drops, splits, spins,back-flips, one-footed across-the-floor slides, a lot of basic boxing steps (advance and retreat shuffling) and one of his favorite routines, getting some of the less attractive girls in the audience to come up and kiss him. “If I kiss the ugliest girl in the audience, they’ll all think they can have me and keep coming back and buying my records.”

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Almanac – April 25

1599 – Oliver Cromwell born. English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

He entered the English Civil War on the side of the Parliamentarians. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to become one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I’s death warrant in 1649, and as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–53) he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Hume,  but a hero of liberty by others . In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time.

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2005 – Hasil Adkins died. American country, rock and roll, and blues musician, though he was frequently considered rockabilly and sometimes primitive jazz. He generally performed as a one-man band, playing guitar and drums at the same time.

With his 45 recordings of “Chicken Walk” appearing on Air Records in 1962 and “She Said” on Jody Records in 1966, his  original, frenetic sound meshed with demented lyrics ushered in the genre known as psychobilly.

Recurring themes in his  work include love, heartbreak, police, death, decapitation, hot dogs, aliens, and chicken. He often noted in interviews that his primary heroes and influences were Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Little Richard, and Col. Harlan Sanders, the inventor of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Adkins had a strong influence on The Cramps,  and his cult status is kept alive  by the growing appreciation of, and demand for, outsider music and primitive rock and roll.

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2008 – Humphrey Lyttelton died English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio comedy programme I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

 As a performer, he is perhaps best-remembered for the hit single “Bad Penny Blues” ,  the first British jazz record to get into the Top Twenty, and which  stayed there for six weeks.

Its success was very much due to the very catchy piano riff, played by Johnny Parker and brought to the front by the producer, the legendary  Joe Meek.

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