HERALD readers may have noticed that the UK is experiencing a fearful pandemic of coulrophobia – the fear of clowns. No, it is not our democratically elected representatives in Westminster who are the problem this time; it is a spate of sightings of so-called ‘creepy clowns’. Police have warned that the pandemic could get worse as we approach Halloween. They have warned clowns that they could be committing an offence, saying that seeing a clown ‘can leave people feeling scared, anxious and intimidated’. Across Wales, there have been sightings of ‘creepy clowns’ and police have warned that clowns could be arrested for scaring people. Dyfed-Powys and South Wales forces each report receiving about 30 reports last weekend.
McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald has denied being involved and is keeping a low profile, which is not easy when you have a big red nose.
UNI ISSUE CLOWN WARNING
Responding to the terrifying pandemic, Pro Vice Chancellor/Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Davies took time out of an obviously hectic schedule to send an urgent message to students and staff at Aberystwyth University:
You may be aware that across the UK, there have been a number of reports of people wearing clown outfits. Although many of these may be good-natured pranks, they can also be seen as sinister and scary – and we are therefore asking our community of students here in Aberystwyth not to be part of this clown-dressing trend. Further, several UK Police forces have issued a warning that even though people dressing as clowns may not be committing an offence, their behaviour could be breaking the law. This is what Sergeant Rhys Williams of Dyfed- Powys Police had to say yesterday: ‘Dressing as a clown is not an offence, but deliberately scaring someone, causing harassment, alarm or distress could lead to arrest. There is also the possibility that you could attempt to scare the wrong person and they could retaliate. Please be mindful that what seems like a bit of fun to you, could not be seen the same way by those on the receiving end of this prank. Dealing with reports of these incidents may also of course prevent the police from being able to attend genuine emergencies’. As a university, we will also investigate any reports of such incidents and take further action where necessary. I hope you understand our reasons for making this appeal but if you do have any queries, please get back to me.
A spokesperson of Byddin Boncars Clowniad Cymru (BBC Cymru), the Clown Army of Wales, told The Herald – in mime – that they had their own concerns about the scare stories. On numerous occasions over the last decade, BBC Cymru have stepped up to the plate to fight alongside the people of Wales, for instance opposing open-cast coal mining. BBC Cymru have also supported a number of national and local campaigns. In Aberystwyth, for example, BBC Cymru supported the campaign to save services at Bronglais Hospital. The spokesperson for BBC Cymru wiped away an enormous imaginary tear, signing that people should not be afraid of all clowns; some of them only wanted a revolution, not to scare people.
An alumnus of Aberystwyth University, who now works at Loughborough University and who shall remain nameless, posted on Facebook: “Saw a clown. Rang campus security. Was genuinely on his way to a children’s birthday party. Then late. Could not apologise any more to the bloke if I tried!”