2003: The Year In Blog.

(NOTE: If you’re looking for that dramatic Farewell Speech, then you’ll find it here.)

No, I’ve not started blogging again; think of what follows as an act of closure. Alternatively, think of it as an alternative to those “…Has Left The Building” splash pages, for which I lack the graphic design skills. Or there again, you could always think of it as the Troubled Diva Christmas Holiday Annual.

And yes, I know it’s ridiculously long, and that I needn’t have put so much effort into it. But you’re forgetting: this is Troubled Diva. This is how I’ve always done it. Remember me this way.

Or failing that…buy one of my lovely mugs.

Click on the quotes to read the original articles in full.

This article is also available in a printer-friendly MS Word document: THE TROUBLED DIVA CHRISTMAS ANNUAL 2003.

January.

January 8th.

Thus it was that, sitting on my bedroom floor aged seven or eight, I first learnt one of the cardinal rules of fiction. Namely, that happiness is almost impossible to write about for any sustained length of time. Effective fiction needs conflict, struggle, and a fair measure of suffering and misery along the way. Goodness, kindness and happiness are all boring. Evil, cruelty, pain and sorrow are all much more interesting.However, while happiness may be a poor subject matter for fiction, I would contend that rather different rules apply when it comes to the maintenance of personal weblogs. When writing a personal weblog – where you, the writer, are the central figure – then happiness is a perfectly acceptable – perhaps even desirable – state of mind with which to contend.

January 8th: The Church Of Me.

January 10th.

Shiz intshi?
Am I right in assuming that person over there is a homosexual?
Aya gorreneh?
I would like to avail myself of some of your recreational stimulants.

Shent fookin gerrin enneh.
Either: I do not wish to have sexual intercourse with that person.
Or: I have grown tired of supplying that person with recreational stimulants.

Get kokkart!
This stripper is taking far too long, and I have to catch the last bus in ten minutes.

January 13th – Uber.

My Top Ten CDs of the Year That I’ve Rarely Listened To and Only Bought Because I Thought They Would Make Me Look Like I was Cool and Had a Sophisticated Knowledge of Music1. Sigur Ros ( )
The title alone told me that this was coolness incarnate because, as all cool people know, ambiguity and mystery are the foundations of being cool. (Smelling terrific helps too, of course.) I bought this the day it was released as I’m wont to do with new, hip, releases from Iceland. I listened to the beginning of track number three while flossing once, haven’t heard a lick of it since. I leave the CD lying around in well-trafficked areas of my apartment so it’s easy for a guest to find and remark on how cool I am for owning it.

January 14th.

My consultant dermatologist is a brusque man, who crossly barks orders at me from behind his desk. Unbidden and unexpected, the Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter flashes through my consciousness.Show me! Turn round! Stop! Drop trousers!

At the sight of my bare bottom, the consultant says something to the assembled cluster of underlings who are standing behind him, in rather lighter tones than he has been using towards me up till now. Everybody in the room chuckles – except me. I have no idea what is being said. Nobody has ever laughed at my bottom before. The humiliation is considerable. However, it is also tempered by the knowledge that this will make a good story for the rest of the group. Minting entertainment from embarrassment has always been one of my coping strategies.

January 15th.

January 17th: The World, Backwards.

January 21st.

January 22nd.

January 29th.

January 30th.

February.

February 1st.

February 3rd.

February 5th: Blogjam.

February 10th: Ftrain.

Selections from My Name is Blanket, © 2046 Blanket Jackson.… I spoke about going to college and having a life of my own, like my brother Prince. I wanted to study veterinary medicine. But my questions fell on dead ears. Finally he erupted. “No one else is leaving the ranch! No one!” His legs were shaking, but he steadied himself and walked across the room to a statue of Apollo, flipped open its marble head, and pressed a keypad hidden in its neck. Sirens went off. The sound of deadbolts locking echoed throughout the room, and great mechanical noises came through the window. In the distance, a hippo lowed.

At the end of the clanking, a moment of total silence. Finally, my father said, “We are a happy family, Blanket.”

February 11th.

February 12th: Hydragenic.

Marsyas.… To view the third opening – which is horizontally aligned, unlike the two vertical end hoops – you return to the middle of the hall and go up the steps to a small mezzanine level. On Mike’s advice, we had left this to the end and it was truly the most memorable part of the experience. As you stand on the mezzanine level, you can see up into the structure and along the most narrow part back to the original hoop by the entrance. This is when it struck me: this sculpture has so much sheer presence that it’s almost alive.

This is where I lost the plot completely and started rambling on about it having an organic energy that made me feel like I’d come into contact with an alien intelligence. It truly is like being in the presence of a benign life form, maybe a similar vibe to standing next to a five hundred year-old tree in a quiet, deserted wood. More specifically, the lines running across the structure that accentuate its shape convey the somewhat less benign feeling of being inside the stomach of a large animal (Jonah and the whale?).

February 13th.

February 14th.

And so – in something of a fit of “I’ll bloody show you!” defiance – it came to pass that those tired old tits of mine got flopped out one more time, for the benefit of the whole tavern. Which was, of course, deeply liberating, and blah blah blah blah blah.Let’s leave me there, shall we? Pissed up, topless, with yet another fag on, arranging myself around the dancefloor of a shabby South London pub, in the company of some of Britain’s finest online diarists – and increasingly dear friends, I might add – beaming from ear to ear, lovin’ it lovin’ it lovin’ it.

Apotheosis of Blog. Re-connection with the Mothership of Queer. Not forgetting a joyful re-acclimatisation with the unsubtle pleasures of Cooking Lager.

Mission accomplished, then. Take me home.

February 15th: Here Inside.

February 16th: meish.org.

On the tube on the way to the demo.“I dug out my old CND badge for this, look!”

“Oh, that’s marvellous. I found an old ANC badge. It’s not really relevant, but I thought it was in the spirit of things, you know?”

“Oh yes, absolutely”

“I found this one at home, ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ – Jane modified it with a permanent marker this morning, see?”

“I added an exclamation mark, just there.”

“Certainly makes it a bit more relevant! Ha ha!”

February 18th.

K: (with earnest enthusiasm) This course is like a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. It can’t be taken at face value. You have to read it between the lines.(Mike grunts in agreement and carries on eating.)
(Then pauses, catches himself, puts down his fork and looks up.)

Mike: (slowly, deliberately) You do not know what an effort of will it’s going to take for me not to put that on the weblog.

February 26th.

1993: I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston. (62)When you’re heart-broken, to the point you’re actually quite enjoying it, shameless wallowing in this track is understandable. Ten years on, you finally see it for what it is: an insincere, self-promoting, over-indulgent, flaccid, fifth-rate imitation of the Real Thing. Bit like the one who broke your heart in the first place, really. (Nigel R (the UK one))

Decade scores so far (after 7 days).
1= (1) The 1970s (28) — Medallion men! Bra-burning libbers! Shut that door!
1= (2) The 1980s (28) — Red Wedge! Nouvelle cuisine! There is no such thing as society!
3 (3) The 1990s (23) — Monica Lewinsky! Black Wednesday! I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts!
4 (5) The 1960s (21) — Grosvenor Square! Arts labs! I have a dream!
5 (4) The 2000s (20) — Ring tones! Retro-modern wenge sideboards! I love blinking, I do!

February 28th.

February 28th: FunJunkie.

The Great Goose Egg Experiment.So, yesterday I asked you lot how I should prepare my most enjoyfully anticipated Goose eggs. It seems I made a mistake in telling you that the most popular method would be employed by me, for my dinner.

You all voted that I should cook them with a hair dryer. You bunch of bastards…

March.

March 3rd.

Which decade is Tops for Pops? VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. All five decades are sitting anxiously in our Green Room, waiting for the first of the final eliminations to take place. By the end of today, four of these decades will be going home disappointed, while one of them will be officially declared Best! Decade! Evah!

Obviously, the mood backstage is very tense – although there has been the most marvellous cameraderie between all the decades. Well, all except the Eighties, that is. The “Me Decade” has been keeping noticeably aloof from the proceedings, disappearing into the toilets at regular intervals to re-apply its make-up and re-lacquer its hair.

Ah, there are the Sixties, handing round the cocktail snacks. Over there are the Seventies, slumped into bean bags and, er, mellowing out. Meanwhile, the Nineties seem to be hugging everyone and telling them how much they really, really love them, and how these friendships are for life, yeah? Are you looking forward to the results, Nineties?

“Yeah, nice one, top one, sorted. We’re mad fer it!”

And how about you, Noughties? Feeling tense about the first elimination?

“Well, at the end of the day, one of us has to go, right? Which is obviously really sad, but those are the rules of the game, and we all knew that we when we came in here, but at the end of the day, it is just a game show, and we’re really lucky to have got this far, so…”

Yes, thank you Noughties. Love that freshly ironed hair, by the way. My compliments to your stylists.

March 5th: My Ace Life.

And now, for your delectation – the my ace life bathroom cabinet of wonder.Come with me as I share with you my secrets of how I manage to stay so radiant, so beautiful…

March 14th.

Thursday, 13:00. A lightbulb flashes on in my head. Yes, why not try for the longest ever comments box discussion – but make it a sponsored attempt for charity? Hang on – tomorrow is Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day! Now that my job is secure once again, what could be a more apposite way of repaying my karmic debt? OK, let’s investigate further. The current record holder for bulging boxes must surely be the American super-blogger Wil Wheaton. I take a peek at the front page of Wil Wheaton Dot Net. Good grief! There’s a posting there with 234 comments! (It’s a flame war about “freedom fries”, incidentally.) Right then: 235 is my target.Thursday, 13:13. Comment #38 introduces the project. 235 comments by midnight on Friday, and I’ll pledge £100 to Comic Relief. But there’s going to be one key feature: I’m not going to come out of hiding to promote this in any way. Too obvious, too easy, too – well – desperate really. I’m not about to start whoring myself for hits. No – I’m going to test the possibilities of effective meme propagation instead. The only allowable publicity for this caper has to come from my readers. In other words: I’m comment-whoring by proxy. I’m comment-pimping, with my readers as my bitches. This is the sort of dysfunctional relationship which appeals to me. God, but what if nobody bothers? This could end up looking really pathetic, couldn’t it?

March 14th: World Of Chig.

March 15th.

Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974.In 2003, nothing made me laugh harder than this.

March 18th.

Saddam Hussein is a brutal, corrupt dictator. He isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. We are not generally given to overthrowing brutal, corrupt dictatorships by bombing their countries to pieces, and nor should we be.The war will further provoke anti-Western sentiment in the Arab world, thus increasing, not decreasing the risk of future terrorist attacks against the UK and US.

Thousands will die, and many thousands more will suffer.

If the US succeeds in this action, then a terrible precedent will have been set, which I believe will form the basis for future unilateral actions against other regimes, in order to further equally illegitimate interests.

Plus all the usual conspiracy theories and amateur psychology, obviously. Obviously.

The only hope I have left: that I’m proved completely and utterly wrong, and end up feeling like a complete twerp in six months’ time. Frankly, nothing would bring me greater pleasure.

March 19th.

March 23rd.

March 26th.

How to blend with the English – a bluffer’s guide. 2. Sartorially, either go for anonymous muted tones from Marks & Spencer (you will think of this as your “classic” look), or else adopt a suitable street-style which “expresses your individuality” in some way.

3. Your sense of humour should be evenly divided between gentle self-deprecation, wry observation and bitter, withering sarcasm.

3a. If you consider yourself to be a person of breeding, then you should also add “hilarious” impersonations of regional dialects to the above list.

March 27th: Anna, guest-blogging.

The main differences between roses and spoons.11. Spoons don’t smell nice. Unless they’ve been somewhere nice.
12. Roses always smell nice. Unless they’ve been somewhere horrible, like up an animal’s bum or something.
13. At the end of a ballet, people don’t generally throw spoons at the stage.
I think they should.
14. People don’t wander from pub to pub, selling ‘a spoon for the lady, sir?

April.

April 3rd.

You know how people keep banging on about “A-list bloggers”, like the A-list is some sort of abstract concept – a mere figure of speech? Well, these people are wrong. The A-list is – of course! – a real list, written down on a piece of paper and kept under lock and key in a secret location. Because why on earth would the A-list be an imaginary list? That would be just stupid.So, (now gather round closely, and not a word to anyone, and if you do then I’ll only deny it) get this: our intrepid little group had managed to discover the location, sneak in, pick the lock, and steal the A-list. Look, here it is! Except…it’s not the A-list any more. Oh dear me, no. We have replaced it with a new list. Our list. Ahahahahaha!

April 7th.

Yes! At last! Thanks to the efforts of my mate Rob and his team, who have been working late to meet the promised go-live date, official Troubled Diva merchandise is now available.Because we’re no longer just a weblog, you know. Oh no. We’re a fully fledged Global Marketing Concept now. And this fine range of exclusive quality goods (T-shirts, mugs and mousemats, in a choice of two designs) is the cornerstone of our Brand Awareness Campaign.

April 10th.

April 16th.

April 22nd.

April 23rd: Invisible Stranger.

April 29th.

American Life. (from American Life)Even more stark, even more stripped-down, and only not what we were expecting because, frankly, we were expecting something rather more unexpected than this. Inspiring more accusations of being another unimaginative reduction/re-tread (and the stylistic similarities with Music are indeed undeniable), this is by turns awkward, stroppy, pissed-off, cryptic, confusing, mocking, self-obsessed and just plain daft. As album openers, Erotica said “Let’s indulge ourselves” – Survival said, “I’m still here and I’m still smiling” – Drowned World said “This is the new me” – Music said “Let’s all party” – and American Life says, flatly, “F**k it”.

May.

May 2nd.

May 7th.

May 12th: Diamond Geezer.

May 20th.

May 21st.

May 28th.

May 29th.

Before we know it, two strapping young firemen have jumped out of the vehicle. Oh my God, Latvian firemen!They have stripped down to their underwear. Oh my God, Latvian fireman in their pants!

Ordering us to stand well back, and with one of them clutching a thick grey blanket, they wade out into the waist-deep water. Oh my God, Latvian firemen in wet pants!

(Meanwhile, just as a little side-show to the main action, their driver is, with much languid stretching – ooooh, it’s just too hot to be wearing this sticky uniform one moment longer – slowly stripping down to the waist. I scarcely know which way to look.)

May 30th – June 2nd: Naked Blog.

June.

June 3rd.

After a few more minutes of general banter with the throng, The Wogan announced his retreat.
“Well, at least you lot will be spared from having to listen to my commentary tonight.”
Oh, the twinkly-eyed gentle self-deprecation! Eurovision wouldn’t be Eurovision without!
Last year, I gave you a detailed song-by-song critique of every entry, as performed on the night. This year, I fear such a task is beyond me, with the 26 songs passing by in a delirious vodka-fuelled blur. For this is how I see it: if the rehearsals are for chin-stroking, connoisseur-style evaluation of each song’s chances, then the finals are for putting all critical faculties on hold, going stark staring bonkers, singing and dancing in the aisles (there was a pleasing lack of heavy-handed security, and the aisles were nice and wide this year), flag-twirling, whooping, screeching and generally Surrendering To The Madness. I expect that you get much the same sort of thing at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. (Yes, it’s to time wheel out that hoary old chestnut, The Strange Cultural Affinity Between Teenage Girls And Gay Men. See Juile Burchill columns passim.)

June 5th.

June 12th: Wherever You Are.

June 13th.

June 16th.

June 24th.

June 24th: prolific.org.

July.

July 2nd.

July 10th.

July 16th.

July 22nd: Frizzy Logic.

July 23rd.

I loved watching Cameron’s squirming, wriggling reaction, when asked to give his views on gay relationships.It said:

Shite. Shite. ShiteshiteBOLLOCKS. If I answer this question truthfully, then I will be throwing away any chance I ever had of winning this game. All those WEEKS of suppressing my opinions, of biting my lip, of trying to fit in without selling myself out – all come to NOUGHT because of this ONE wee question.

July 26th-27th: The Search For Love In Manhattan.

Gay dating haikus.How is it you knew
I wasn’t faithful? Oh, yeah.
Bite marks on my ass.

You’re cruel and petty
And you like to make me cry.
When can you move in?

“I need time away,
To figure out who I am.”
I can tell you that.

It’s our second date,
And I’m not sure I love you.
It’s time to break up.

“Let’s have a drink first.”
Excuse me? I didn’t join
Men4talk.com.

August.

August 1st.

August 2nd.

August 19th.

Your life is being made into a Moulin Rogue style musical. Which songs would be used to emote your life?Cue Ewan, cue Nicole, cue orchestra, hankies out, and we’re off…

This “Zbornak mini-interview” is probably my second favourite post of the year.

August 20th.

Interviews and photo-shoots.The readers of Menstrual Moments might be ready for Challenging New Design Concepts Which Successfully Fuse The Period And The Contemporary – they might even be ready for Swanked Up Poofs Flagrantly Sprawling At Each Other’s Feet – but they were clearly not ready for Cutting Edge Casual Footwear. The horror!

Meanwhile, this post probably generated more reaction than anything else I wrote all year (until the Big Farewell Speech, that is). It’s the one that people always remember, at any rate…

August 26th.

September.

September 2nd.

September 2nd: Scaryduck.

September 4th.

September 8th: Baghdad Burning.

September 8th.

– So you’re not into singles, then? What about the Top 40 – do you follow that?(with authority) I think the Top 40 is really silly. Because there are only about 2 or 3 people in our class who buy singles, and they’re all the same sort of person anyway. What’s that CD you’re playing? Can I take a look?

[picks up Yes CD (“Fragile”) and examines booklet]

– Eurgh! They’re all really ugly! (amused) Did you really listen to that stuff when you were young?

September 15th.

Gracious in defeat.I’m sorry, but having only sixty people who LOVE ME is a bitter blow indeed. Some might even go so far as to say that it is a paltry reward for the major contribution which I have made over the years. I, of course, could not possibly comment.

September 18th: Uborka.

September 19th.

September 23rd.

September 23rd: Fauxhemia.

September 23rd: Kill Your Boyfriend.

September 25th.

Effects.· Each player in turn will experience a sudden sensation of euphoria and light-headedness, possibly accompanied by a giggling fit, and repeated exclamations of “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…”
· If these effects are not judged to be sufficiently powerful, then the player may optionally move on to Emergency Stage Two.

September 27th: k-punk.

September 30th.

October.

October 1st.

October 7th: Robin, guest-blogging.

Divorced Beheaded Died,
Divorced Beheaded Survived.
My son thought it referred to two queens, both cruelly treated but one luckier than the other. I suppose that is what got me thinking about the poem again and marvelling at its balance, brevity and utility. Six famous women who, albeit unconsciously, gave us a classic of school literature. Think about it. If just one of those six queens had failed to play her part we never would have had that poem. I take inspiration from that.

October 11th: Mr.D., guest-blogging.

Rantwords e.g.Restaurant – an eaterie where you complain endlessly about the poor service (after you’ve left)
Colourant – a whinge peppered with salacious adjectives
Vagrant – a moan which meanders aimlessly
Expectorant – a very vocal grumble where the topic eventually coughs up at the end
Tolerant – a tirade which is nonetheless considerate of its subject’s sensitivities
Immigrant – a foreign diatribe

October 13th: Aunt Cyn, guest-blogging.

October 15th: quarsan, guest-blogging.

October 20th: Fiona, guest-blogging.

October 21st: Zena, guest-blogging.

October 26th.

October 28th: Danny, guest-blogging.

October 29th: Asta, guest-blogging.

November.

November 4th.

November 11th.

November 16th.

November 17th.

November 17th: londonmark.

November 20th: orbyn.com.

November 21st.

November 24th: Acerbia.

“Were you watching this?”Of course I wasn’t watching this, it was only the news. I’d rather exist in a misinformed guess-world composed of my own flawed perceptions of the events that surround us gleened from my intuitive methods of reading tealeaves! By all means lets watch four idiots with a nailgun rampage through a house with floral wallpaper and abominable taste in furniture in a race against time to see who can cause the most hideous case of color-blind MDF drive-by interior devastation.

November 25th: Zena, guest-blogging.

November 30th: Mad Musings Of Me.

December.

December 1st.

December 2nd: It’s Funny Because It’s Shit.

I drift off, accompanied. The disc ends. I sleep on. So far, so good. Some 13 minutes later, I am horribly startled by an entirely unfamiliar hooting and scraping: it is The Hidden Track. What in the sweet and blessed name of ARSE is the point of these things? They are the musical equivalent of…. no, they don’t even deserve the creative effort of a decent simile. They are a shit idea, shitly executed, of invariably shitious music. This was no exception.“Ok, that’s the mix nailed down. I think we’ve done great work here”

“What about the hidden track?”

“Aww, man… do we have to have one of those?”

“Yeah. People LIKE surprises. It’s cute and fun, and we’ll probably make it onto some list in Q Magazine.

“What do you suggest?”

“Well, something shit, obviously. No point in hiding good stuff. Let’s do a cover version of the 4th movement of Bruckner’s 7th, with Ginster’s pasties instead of instruments. It’ll be hilarious.”

December 2nd: Rogue Semiotics.

December 7th.

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“…through the bad times and the good…”

In the autumn of 1987, I attended a book reading given by Armistead Maupin, author of the Tales Of The City novels. After the reading, whilst taking questions from the audience, Maupin made the standard “everybody should come out of the closet now pitch” – as was customary in those dark days of overt establishment homopobia (Clause 28 was mere weeks away from kicking off) and tabloid-fuelled AIDS-scare paranoia. We all nodded approvingly.

The next questioner stood up. Considering it something of a public duty to be open about his sexuality, he had come out of the closet at work – only to lose his job as a direct consequence. Undeterred, he came out once again in his next job – only to be fired for the exact same reason. Since then, unwilling to jeopardise his livelihood any further, he had decided merely to equivocate about being gay, carefully skirting round any difficult subjects, while maintaining a suitably liberal “I think there’s nothing wrong with it myself” line where called for. A quiet flutter of pained winces and sympathetic headshakes passed around the room, our ideological bravado momentarily checked by the depressing reality of his situation.

For most gay people of my generation – born before decriminalisation, reaching puberty during an age where being gay was viewed as either sinister or ridiculous, coming out against the background of the emerging AIDS epidemic – this kind of artful semantic equivocation was learnt at an early age, and quickly became second nature. For me at least, coming out to workmates always felt like a deliberate kick against this instinctive urge for self-preservation. It always carried a vague sense of risk. It never came easily.

Just over two months ago, the unequivocally homophobic Section 28 was finally repealed by royal assent, the law no longer treating homosexuality as something that could be “promoted” to vulnerable young people, and no longer regarding gay partnerships as “pretended family relationships”. At last week’s state opening of parliament, the Queen’s speech announced that new legislation will give legal recognition to registered gay partnerships. And from today, it will no longer be legal for employers to discriminate against workers for being lesbian, gay, bisexual – or even heterosexual, for that matter.

I cannot remember that last time that I felt the need to be equivocal about my sexuality. I will say “partner” and “he” in the same sentence, in any situation, with no more than the slightest “so now they know” flutter in my stomach. I no longer watch what I say on the street, in shops, or in bars. I greet gay friends with a kiss in public places, without first checking around for potential trouble. OK, so I don’t actually skip down the street with my hand in K’s, but I’m not altogether sure that either of us would ever want to; some behavioural patterns are so established that it would feel false to attempt to change them. In short: we’ve come a long, long way, baby.