Happy, jolly clowns a more recent invention

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Down The Mall notes that clowns have actually been known as dark, even violent characters throughout much of history.
NO LAUGHING MATTER: Down The Mall notes that clowns have actually been known as dark, even violent characters throughout much of history.

We note with a sigh of exasperation that the silly, scary clown thing has reached Bendigo, with concerns about people apparently being targeted.

But here’s an interesting thing: throughout history, clowns were more likely to be scary. 

It’s now thought the image of the happy, jolly clown is a fairly new invention – perhaps from the middle 1800s. It helps explain coulrophobia, a phobia of clowns. Early clowns were often mischievous, drunk and violent. Such as the trickster Loki from Norse mythology, Punch from Punch and Judy, even the Jester from the Wizard of ID cartoon strip, the fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear.


Down The Mall is a dedicated fan of creative headlines. In fact, there was even a bit of a seminar in Bendigo last week on the dark art of headline writing.

You’ll recall the recent one in which an odd woman in northern Australia waved off a four-metre saltwater crocodile with her thongs.

Just one headline saw the opportunity and declared this was an end to the long-running argument: “Thongs are better than Crocs.”

Well, the latest example of a headline just waiting for the facts to fit took place yesterday morning. A major Queensland mushroom producer had been severely underpaying its pickers by paying them piece rates, without telling the workers there was no way they could make a living on the meagre deal on offer.

You know what the headline should have said, don’t you? So far, the only one we’ve found which came close was the Sydney Morning Herald: “Mushroom workers say they were kept in the dark and dudded.”


And just for the record, our nomination for the greatest headline ever goes to the Armagh Gazette in Ireland. It was over a story of outrage about the cost of a new railway line. It went like this:

OVER £100M!

Is this the rail price? Is this just fantasy? Caught up in land buys No escape from bureaucracy


Google Maps’ Street View car – the one with what looks like a flying saucer on top, which captures 360-degree views of our cities and towns – was seen in Bendigo on Thursday. In View Street, actually.

But puhleese tell us its visit wasn’t quite so bogan as it was in 2010, when some local lads got to the plastic cover and daubed an image on it with green felt-tip pen. For the next few years, the Street View image of Eaglehawk Road was framed by the blurred sketch of, ummm, a  gentleman’s department. We note they changed it last year.


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