Guest Blogging Dream Team: Member #2

(Posted by Ben)

(If you’re wondering what this is all about, click here.)

In many ways a counterbalance to D H Lawrence, but also perhaps a complement, the second member of my Guest Blogging Dream Team is Alan Bennett.

Whilst Lawrence fluctuates in his work between humanism and misanthropy, Bennett’s writings retain a basic warmth and reverence for people, but one which never lapses into nauseating and false Hollywood schmaltz and sentimentality.

In contrast to Lawrence’s heated prose, his would be a more restrained and comforting voice.

And, whereas Lawrence frequently professed an antipathy towards the general public and popular cultural forms, Bennett, as someone accustomed to working on screenplays for TV, would be more inclined to credit such forms with artistic value and significance in the way that the majority of bloggers do.

The foibles and idiosyncracies of English life – whether presented sympathetically or critically – are very often Bennett’s subject matter, and, as a keen observer and commentator upon human interactions and the minutiae of daily life, he seems ideally suited to the job.

I can picture him charming readers with amusing anecdotes from the present, poignant tales from the past and beautifully delicate and proportioned fictional vignettes from the imagination – a sort of amalgamation of I Don’t Believe It, Joe. My. God. and Londonmark, if you will. Just think how good that would be.

So, the Guest Blogging Dream Team so far: D H Lawrence and Alan Bennett.

Member #3 to be unveiled on Monday.

In Which I Give A Tour

(Posted by Miss Mish)

There are five of us here in the guest room at Troubled Diva and frankly darlings it’s a bit of tight squeeze. Even though I’ve bought the MINIMUM of luggage  for these two weeks I still have to apologise anytime someone trips over a  hatbox or two.  We’re queuing for the bathroom most mornings  and  obviously being female I don’t even get a LOOK at the remote control but  I’ve got the radio alarm permanently tuned to Radio 4 to make up for it. Everyone is being oh-so-polite to each other  and trying to keep their elbows in but  mark  my words, there’ll be Tears Before Bedtime.

However, I have the place to myself this morning so  in true, “Hello” style I’d thought I’d throw open the doors of  this Lovely Home and show you the delights  within.

First of all,  the hallway.  Traditional black and white chequered 1930s style floor tiles.   Green baize door leading to servants’ quarters off to the left.  We have no idea what happens there apart from a couple of times a day, food comes out.

Opening the wide double doors to the right,  we move to the ballroom. A magnificent Louis Vingt-et-un style of rococo marvelousness. Polished marble floor with the odd  chip in it caused by cornering too fast during the tango. Beautiful French doors leading to the gardens. Now frankly, these are a  bit of a disappointment. Just the usual terraces, peacocks, espaliered  peach trees,  kitchen herb garden, a Ha Ha  (so last year) and the same-old, same-old formal gardens  with fountains and gravel pathways.

Moving on up the stairs we pass the   portraits of Divas gone by and some of them seem actively Untroubled to me. However, you can still notice the family  resemblance.

The first floor drawing room contains a  comfortable grouping of sofas, occasional tables,  frequent tables and sporadic tables. Scattered about are footstools and cushions all in that early Nash Interior style.

The dining room is Spartan and appears to contain nothing except a variety of telephone hotlines and   a comprehensive collection of menus from Merchants, World Service, Harts etc.

On this floor is also a snug. A small cosy room with   just a few tables and Knowle sofas, centred on a large TV. To the right of this, is a  large cabinet, which upon further inspection contains possibly the UKs finest collection of Eurovision videotapes.  Going back as far as Wogan pre-wig and with the first appearance of Katie Boyle it is  the collector’s collection. Neatly arranged below are  photographic evidence of  the famous Eurovision parties along with a guest list, menu and party favours.

On the wall are  framed  pictures of ‘The Tufts’,  K’s amusing alternative theatre work along with a few of his more virulent ties.

The third floor is more ambient. A more relaxed lighting suffuses  the corridors, gently illuminating the  master bedroom suite. Exactly how you would imagine it – only with less  strapping and mirrors. I shall not reveal the contents of the bathroom ( apart from to say that a natural waterfall makes its presence known) likewise with the dressing rooms. One must have some privacy after all.  But let me just say that you couldn’t make it up. Honestly you couldn’t.

Moving past our guest room, (I’d better open the window to let the fug out)  we come to the part of the tour that everyone has been  waiting for.

The Playroom. Huge in proportion yet still cosy, massively pillared it contains…..
Oh hang on. That’s someone coming back. (Whispers)  I’d better leave it until next time

Some Nottingham Vignettes – Part 1

(posted by Alan)

Ok, time to go ‘native’ and regale you with some Nottingham vignettes that have entertained or amused me over the past 8 months since arriving here. This will be the first; there will be a few more to come over the next few days.

My first introduction to Nottingham, was the far from salubrious establishment, the Clarence Hotel, in Alfreton Road. Before arriving here, I’d been unemployed and was staying with my sister-in-law in Surrey. I’d been there just over 2 months and was rapidly approaching a state of ‘skint-ness’ so whatever place I was to stay in would have to be cheap, really cheap. And, the cheapest place to be found on the net, at £25 per night, was the Clarence so the Clarence it was to be. I arrived there late on the Sunday evening before my first day at work.

The first thing that strikes you about the Clarence is the blast of stale cigarette smoke that hits you on entering the place. After that, the smell is a nagging presence that never quite leaves you, even to someone like myself who is constantly reaching for the next fag. The smell of fags, patterned carpet, décor that combines mock Victorian with Seventies bric-a-brac and an out-size TV screen, and the bar which seems constantly occupied by hardened drinkers could put the Clarence in almost every town and city found in the UK. The taciturn landlord, never quite friendly, usually acceptably civil and occasionally helpful, must be a type specially bred to run such places. I was given my keys and I lugged my cases up two flights of stairs.

Naturally, the room came equipped with a small TV bolted on to a strange contraption that swivels high above one’s head, almost out of viewing reach, and a tray was present with kettle, cups, tea and coffee, and biscuits that hardly ever got replenished. But, to my great amazement, the sheets and pillow cases were pure cotton – I’d been prepared to catch hives or some hideous rash from exposure to the dreadful synthetic bedding one usually finds in such places. And, even better, it had its own private bathroom (the size of a small cupboard) with a ‘power-shower’. I had arrived…

At work, the following day, my new colleagues asked me where I was staying. They were absolutely horrified to hear that I was staying in Alfreton Road – ‘Someone was murdered there two weeks ago…you can’t stay there!’ There was such a commotion about it that I started to feel quite embarrassed as if I had committed some cardinal sin against the consultants’ code of conduct – thou shalt  stay in well-appointed, middle-of-the-road, safe places like a Moat House or Holiday Inn. My constant retort was, ‘I come from South Africa so it will make me feel like I’m back home.’

I stayed there for 3 weeks (barring one Saturday night when I had to move somewhere else for the night as I’d cocked up my booking) without incident and became a regular at Daddy C’s, the Jamaican takeaway across the road. Actually, there was one incident on the Friday before I left the place…

I’d been out and got back late to find an incredibly gorgeous man sprawled across the stairs. He had the face of an angel and the body of a Greek god, much of it exposed by a shirt that was rucked up under his armpits. I tried to wake him up but he was incapable of anything but shift his legs and utter a few undecipherable words. I went down to the bar and asked if anyone knew who he was. A group of men, hell-bent on conquering some ladies of the night that seemed all cleavage and nothing else, said that he was a friend of theirs but to leave him be. I returned up the stairs and tried to get the guy to move again.

This time, with lots of help from me, he managed to stagger up and muttered a room number. Both of us staggered down the corridor, me bearing most of his weight, very conscious of his very muscular frame, despite the slackness induced by too much alcohol. He managed to find his key and I helped him into his room where he collapsed on to a bed, murmuring something about me helping him out of his clothes.

Now, it isn’t that often that I am faced with undressing someone quite so delicious. So, I didn’t hesitate and after much tugging and pulling, managed to get him down to his boxer shorts. All sorts of bad thoughts were flashing through my head and I was sorely tempted to let my hands do some wandering, testing the waters, so to speak. At this point, some of you may be thinking that there is some sort of exciting ending to this story? But, alas, some long-buried sense of morality surfaced itself and I left him there, un-molested, looking back longingly as I left the room. I couldn’t get him out of my mind for hours after that.!

The next time I saw him was at about 10am the next day when I saw his friends helping him into a taxi headed towards the city centre. Oh well, another missed opportunity….

Guest Blogging Dream Team: Member #1

(Posted by Ben)

(If you’re wondering what this is all about, click here. I’ve reworded and updated the post since yesterday to make it clearer – thanks to Alan, Paul and J for pointing out the potential confusion.)

Given the current Local flavour of Troubled Diva, it seems fitting to make D H Lawrence the first member of the Guest Blogging Dream Team. Admittedly he’s a bit of a personal hero, but there are plenty of objective reasons to think he’d make a brilliantly engaging blogger.

Born and raised the son of a miner in nearby Eastwood, Lawrence spent most of his writing life abroad, however, living in Europe, America and Mexico as well as stopping off in Sri Lanka and Australia. He never forgot about what he called “the country of my heart“, though, and whether he was reminiscing about his childhood or being scathing about the region – on occasions he’d be inclined to agree with our very own Nixon that Nottingham is a “horrible city where the sky is always grey and the people eternally miserable” – he continued to write about this part of the world right up until his death, a keen analyst of English society and culture to the end.

At the same time, Lawrence’s travels and experiences of life in so many different places and cultures – the result of an innate restlessness – furnished him with the raw material for numerous novels, stories, essays, poems and newspaper articles, as did friends and those he met, who found themselves appearing thinly disguised in his work. Individual blog posts could have provided a verbal snapshot of wherever he was, and whoever he was with.

The fact that, though his career was short, he was nevertheless remarkably prolific would suggest that Lawrence would never need much encouragement to post. Though not a diarist, many of the thousands of letters he wrote almost read like blog entries – succinct summaries of his state of mind and views at any one point.

The sort of figure who polarised opinion in his own time and continues to do so, he was never afraid of speaking his mind, proud of the fact that he was like pepper up people’s noses. He always had a view on everything, even if it changed almost by the hour – he could never be accused of being a fence-sitter – and as someone who relished a good argument, he’d warmly welcome the opportunity to engage in direct debate with his readers through a comments facility.

Admittedly he had a regrettable tendency to lecture and preach at times, but even at his most cantankerous and distastefully un-PC, there’s a passion and vigour in his writing that can’t be denied.

Last but not least, as an author who throughout his career had constant difficulties finding publishers for his fiction, Lawrence would I’m sure embrace the internet as a medium which he could use to avoid having to compromise himself or his work.

Member #2 to be unveiled tomorrow.

The Guest Blogging Dream Team: Introduction

(Posted by Ben)

A few days in, and things seem to be shaping up rather well, don’t you think?

Which is just as well.

If I was in Mike’s position, preparing to hand over the keys of Diva Towers, I imagine I might have been haunted by the thought of that scene from seminal celluloid masterpiece ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ in which Ferris’s buddy Cameron leaves the keys of his dad’s prized possession, a gleaming red Ferrari convertible, in the hands of a wide-eyed car-park attendant. Cue car-park attendant and friend roaring out of the garage and recklessly racing off down the road at breakneck speed, screaming.

Which brought me to consider who, in an ideal world, I would be only too happy to entrust my own blog to – people who’d post regularly, who’d have plenty of interest to say, and who’d say it with passion and wit.

I’ve come up with a crack Guest Blogging Dream Team of six, to be unveiled member by member (oo-er) over the course of the next week-and-a-half, starting tomorrow.

But I wouldn’t feel I’d done my job on here if I hadn’t set a competition. So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to suggest a seventh member and to justify your choice. It can be anyone, whether alive, dead, real, fictional, famous, infamous, current blogger or not – anyone you think is or would be a potentially brilliant blog writer.

No suggestions just yet, thanks – not until the team of six has been revealed. The best suggestion and justification as adjudged by moi will receive a real genuine prize, the nature of which will be revealed in due course.

So, thinking caps on…

My Rugby Dream

Posted by Buni

Let me take you back to Nottingham Trent University circa 1997-99 and we’re at the Student Union Bar. I used to go there quite often as it was only £1 a pint and the young undergrad guys were nice to look at. I myself was a mature student, as I’d decided to attend at the not so tender age of 24. However, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the company of guys a few years younger than me. After some time there developed a few favourites; some I even managed to ‘have’; some became friends; some I simply distantly longed for. Specifically, there was one such guy who really got me hot under the collar. At the time I had no idea what his name was though if there was some function held within the union he was always on the door, checking our credentials and allowing entry.

He was a really handsome fellow. He was quite tall, taller then myself and had mousey blonde hair that was in that floppy university / jock style. The most important feature though was his body. He was so obviously on the rugby team as he was just enormous and always wore a rugby shirt in the union colours. He had huge, muscular arms and the thickest legs that possibly required trousers that needed special tailoring to accommodate them. I would always enter the union bar and give a little smile over my shoulder to see what his reaction would be. Though to no avail.

Now lets all fast forward to the beginning of this year and I’m at work. I enter the deli one lunch time where I work and there he is, my rugby dream. Immediately I’m getting hot under the collar again and for some strange reason, I’ve got butterflies that are moving around my stomach like a herd of elephants. I’ll be honest in that I was excited at the thought of him starting work at my place as the guys already working there weren’t really much to look at. Thus, if nothing more then it made a pleasant change. He has his lunch about half an hour before me though on occasion these times have overlapped and I’ve had the opportunity to make a few furtive glances his way. On some occasions he’s even gently smiled back.

So time has passed and on rare occasions I have either passed him in the corridors or as he works in finance, I have had to consult with him two times regarding a specific report that I have to produce. So yesterday just before I left work I ran the said report. After rather a busy morning I finally got round to completing the report and sent it off to S. Then something strange happened. He emailed me back starting conversation. Then these emails just started flying back and forwards between us. There wasn’t anything rude or flirtatious in them, just conversation. The thing I did find a bit strange and at the same time exciting was that these emails were going back and forwards for 3 hours.

Now, tell me if I’m wrong but when there’s a getting to know you conversation going on between two guys non-stop for 3 hours, that kind of indicates to me that it’s not just my report he’s after!

All comments and advice graciously welcome.
The writer of this post will not hold the advisor responsible for any kicks, punches or disciplinary action he may receive.

Update: He’d left our conversation yesterday with “Talk to you tomorrow.”. . . 
I waited but there was no email forthcoming. Hurrumph!

The Mother-in-Law

(posted by Alan)

It’s approaching mid-week already and I’ve not done my guest bit yet. I had hoped to have something ready on Sunday but, like Buni, had to recover from my weekend. Unlike Buni, however, my weekend was not a long roll call of debauchery (barring Friday night) as I travelled down south to deepest, darkest, rural Surrey and saw my mother-in-law for the first time in five years.

Why would I inflict that on myself, you may all be asking? More to the point, why should I inflict it on those of you reading this? Various reasons, I suppose, the most immediate one being family obligation, one of those useless motivators very much like guilt. And, despite her being the epitome of a kugel, the South African version of a Jewish American Princess, and being stereotypically racist in a white South African way, I actually like the woman.

S is in her early seventies and has lived a life virtually free of want. She is the youngest of 8 siblings, all dead but one, grew up in a rather grand hotel in Johannesburg in the forties and fifties and was married to a doting husband for almost fifty years until he died 3 years ago. And, for the past 20 years she has been faithfully served by a very large, genial, Zulu woman, Chlorine who, in many ways, is more than capable of holding her own when it comes to verbal sparring, something that S excels at. Are you getting a picture of this rather spoilt woman yet?

S’s father was Jewish as was her husband. Her two sisters also married Jews but, unlike S, converted to Judaism. S, despite having led such a cosseted life, is very independent and strong-willed but, I suspect, the main reason why she didn’t convert was to annoy her mother-in-law, a woman she loathed and detested. So, while bringing up her family (including my wife) as gentiles, S has spent most of her life surrounded by a large, extended Jewish family and Johannesburg’s Jewish community. Now, you wouldn’t think that such a woman would be anti-Semitic, would you? Um….wrong!! Although, don’t get me wrong, she isn’t anti-Semitic in a BNP sort of way; her brand of anti-Semitism is a much more benign sort, sort of along the lines of the brand of homophobia exhibited by a lot of gay guys. That may not be the best analogy (or perhaps it is?) as gay homophobia can be pretty unpleasant at times. Another approximate analogy to describe this is how it is acceptable for Jews to tell anti-Semitic jokes, blacks racist ones, etc but not quite on for WASPS and whites to sprout such stuff. But, nevertheless, to a pale goy male like myself, initial exposure to such attitudes was all a bit shocking.

Now, while her ‘jewishness’ possibly absolves her from some of the opprobrium heaped on anti-Semites, her racism towards black people, a symptom of the time and place where she grew up, cannot be viewed with anything else but loathing, right? Wrong! Well, right, actually, but there are some redeeming features to her attitudes. I refer to her as a ‘benign racist’ but, I know, like many benign tumours, there is scope for malignant growth. Let me explain…

Having come from a particular time, place, and class in South Africa, there are many reasons for S’s racism but her racism has been informed by a certain liberalism and compassion that distinguishes her from the very ugly, naked racism exhibited by many white South Africans. So, while of course, ‘Blacks are lazy’, ‘Blacks have too many children’, Blacks can’t govern a country…look at the rest of Africa’, and a whole host of other very predictable beliefs, S will treat Black people, on a one-to-one basis, politely and with respect, and feels real compassion for people blighted by poverty and disease. To many black people, S’s attitudes are almost worse than the very obvious racism that they have experienced at the hands of some white people because they prefer the much more naked, ‘honest’ variety than the paternalistic, patronising type of liberalism that puts a façade on a mass of beliefs that would still relegate them to an inferior position in society. There is a lot of truth to that but, to me, her attitudes still show a softer side that takes off a lot of the harder edge to her attitudes.

Ok, now that I’ve put that side of her character in perspective, you must be wondering why I like the old bat? Well, to put it bluntly, she has all the incisive qualities of an iconic bitch, a la Joan Collins. She has the same sense of presence, similar good looks (although her glamour and style are much more of the understated variety), sharp wit, a loud, dirty laugh, perfect mastery of the perfect put-down, an overwhelming confidence that makes it seem that the world revolves around her, and the rest of the qualities that make a grande bitch. Oh, and did I tell you that she loves gay men? But, please, god forbid, don’t mention what they get up to in the bedroom!

This is a woman who routinely resorted to slapping her teenage daughters across the face in a fit of pique until that stopped when they retaliated one day. This is the woman that would daily retreat to the cool confines of her bedroom complaining of the agony of her migraines. This is the woman who embarrassed me by trying on every pair of frames at the opticians, leaving a mound of them before an exasperated optician, and, then using their phone, rang her detested mother-in-law to say, very loudly, ‘Doris, I’ve just tried on all the frames here and they are absolutely bloody awful, what is the name of the place you go to?’ This is the woman who, in relatively frugal earlier days, would spend most of the household budget on a new pair of Ferragamo shoes. This it the woman who, on hearing that her other daughter had been trying, unsuccessfully, for months to conceive a child with her husband, said, in reference to their large sizes, ‘Of course, it won’t happen, their bellies get in the way.’ This is the woman….

Mmmm….I think that I may still not have portrayed her with any redeeming characteristics but, really, there is something very likeable about her and she can be great fun. Oddly enough, however, despite all those characteristics that place her in the Joan Collins camp, she is a total health nut and has never smoked and rarely drinks more than a glass of wine with a meal. Ok, now I have really done it – that puritanical killjoy streak in her, coupled with everything else must be painting the picture of an ogre rather than someone one could feel affection for.

Um, I’m beginning to wonder what it is about her that I have ever liked? Is something wrong with me, I wonder? Well, I know the answer many would give if presented with that question but that’s not the point. But, really, what could it be? Oh well, never mind, it’s hardly important. However, I did enjoy seeing her again. Really, I did!

I’m sure you must all be wondering what it is that made me write about her? I suppose I could blame it on the bossa nova (does that actually mean anything to anyone these days?), I mean Buni, as he chose to prattle on about recovering from his weekend and my renewed exposure to S did require that I recover from mine. And this could be described as a cathartic purging exercise designed to rid me of foreign influences or some suchlike. Also, perhaps, as Mike suggested that we choose Nottingham themes in our guest posts, I just felt like being contrary-wise? No, no, I would never do such a thing! Well, actually, yes I would, but that’s not really what motivated me. I think it all boils down to the fact that this past weekend was almost the first one spent away from Nottingham since arriving here 8 months ago so, rather than my usual debauched blur, I was faced with a scenario radically different from the norm. Unfortunately, for those of you reading this, you are bearing the brunt of it.

So, no comments on Kevin’s tufts or lack of them but, when I next see him, I promise to report on them and give an impartial assessment. To tell you the truth, I’ve never really been aware of them but, being the unobservant sort, I’m unreliable in such things.

Addenendenumdemum (Or however you spell it)

(posted by Miss Mish)

Further to Ben’s Tuftwatch update, I’d just like to point out that the tie that K is pictured  wearing – amusingly referred to as a Richard Whitely cast-off – would clash horribly with the decor in the Cock & Hoop.

I assume they hurried him out quickly in case he caused incipient migraines in the staff.


(Posted by Ben)

In Mike’s absence, I feel that it falls to one of his guests to keep regular readers up-to-date with regard to The Tufts, and I’m more than happy to shoulder this responsibility.

You might recall that on Thursday Mike alerted us to a feature which was due to appear in the following day’s Nottingham Evening Post, in which K would be bigging up the Cock & Hoop pub on High Pavement. Those of us lucky enough to be able to purchase said newspaper were promised a sighting of the aforementioned Tufts, and in colour too.

Well, when I duly bought my copy and flicked through to find the appropriate page, I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed.

(Lacking access to a scanner, I’m afraid I’ll just have to describe to you the photo accompanying the piece.)

K is pictured leaning on the bar, pint in hand (ale of some kind, if I’m not mistaken), beaming straight face-on at the camera, with the consequence that The Tufts are as obscured from view as they possibly could be (at the photographer’s suggestion, perhaps?).

HOWEVER, we are afforded a tantalising glimpse of some rogue hair jutting down behind the left ear and looking as though it may encroach over the shirt collar. Frustratingly, there are no other photos taken at different angles by which this suspicion could be confirmed.

More impressive than any hint of Tuftage, though, is K’s choice of tie – a marvellous dark brown number with diagonal criss-cross pattern which I can only imagine was stolen from Richard Whiteley’s wardrobe.

Incidentally, I have to commend K on his choice of pub. Though I’m not a regular, the Cock & Hoop is a fine establishment – not a swanky and pretentious bar like most of those around it, but a proper pub which nevertheless manages to be smart and stylish at the same time. Good beer, good food and lots of rich wood panelling which makes you feel like you’re in a coffin. But in a good way.

My Peaceful Weekend

Posted by Buni

I was going to make my first entry sooner but things didn’t turn out as planned. I’d planned an exceptionally quiet weekend, just doing domestic chores, eating comfort food, maybe sort out the rubbish that my friend J had left in my spare room while he was making his move to London, eating comfort food and watching weekend TV, oh yes, and eating more comfort food.

5pm Friday couldn’t have come sooner; the working week had been especially demanding and I was totally looking forward to the activities listed above and not much else. I headed straight to my local Co-op to stock up on wine and comfort food; a rich full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, mushroom pate, houmus and pitta bread, Doritos and Salsa dip, quorn goujons and BBQ dip; you get the picture.

So there I am that evening chilling out, drinking my wine and enjoying the peace and tranquility of one’s own residence and I decided to go on Gaydar to see if any friends fancied a chat in-between cruising for their weekend trade. A few guys messaged me; “Nice profile and pics mate! Fancy hooking up?”, “Read your profile, you sound a nice guy. What are your plans for the weekend?” Basically the usual lines. I opened up the java applet that allows me to enter the chat rooms and I scanned the guys in the room (you can do this without actually entering the room), and after a while I notice him; height, body, profile description everything, just what I’m looking for. Mr Right now.

I enter the room and he’s gone, so I send him a message: “Isn’t that just typical; I see a nice guy with an interesting profile online and when I enter the bloody room you’re gone! Message back if you’re up for chat.  Cheers B x” Two minutes later and ‘defined fit lad’ is in the room and we get to chatting. Seems he’s a really nice guy with interesting things to say, discrete questioning to fathom me out, and a sense of humour. Oh, and he’s a damn hunky chunky to boot! After a couple of hours chat we decide to meet up the following evening and head out for a few drinks. I call up J1, a friend who’s just opened a new nightclub and organise entry and VIP passes for B + 3; just in case there are any unforeseen additional guests.

Saturday comes and by 7.30 I’m at the station awaiting the arrival of my new found friend. He arrives and I’m pleasantly impressed by his welcoming smile and laughter at something that had happened on the train. We get back to my place where he drops off his things and we crack open a bottle of wine and get to know each other. The phone goes and it’s J2, another friend, who wants to know what I’m up to that evening. I tell him I have a date but if he wants to come to the club with us later I have guest list for an extra couple; namely him and his girlfriend, A. He’ll call me later after he finds out what A wants to do.

The evening goes really well with the wine flowing, conversation not stalling or uncomfortable in any way, and he has this way of paying me attention while not being overly attentive. We leave my place at about 11.30 and walk the 10 mins to J1’s new club. We go in and are immediately given complementary drink tokens to get the evening even more socially lubricated. By midnight I get a text and J2 and his girlfriend A are standing outside as the guy on the door doesn’t understand that they’re on my guest list. It turns out that J2 has bought his brother and a couple of his mates; good lookers too! We head for the VIP lounge where I bump into J1 again and this time it’s not drink tokens but a couple of pills to ’get the evening pumping’. I took a couple for my date and myself and thanked him for his generosity, after buying him a drink with one of the drink tokens he gave me! Then J2 and A come off the dance floor and also hand me a couple of pills for getting them all into the club. Then J2’s brother comes over with S, whom I already know and he passes me a couple for old times sake. By now the evening is well and truly oiled, as are we, and we all retire to the VIP lounge for drinks and a cool off. I’m in the middle with J2 on one side and J2’s brother and all his muscles on the other side. My date is over the way chatting to J2’s girlfriend and having a great time. I chat to J2 about my date and I’m informed that he doesn’t think he’s good enough for me and that he’s ugly. I kind of guessed this already but I was so up for it that I didn’t care.

I then turn to J2’s brother and all his muscles for a quick chat before going off to the loos. I’m in there for a while queuing when in comes J2’s brother with all his muscles. By now we’re standing in our own queue, just the two of us and he’s going on about his girlfriend and why she’s not out that night. Turns out they’ve been bickering and he fancied a break. It’s now my turn to go in the loo but as it turns out, someone has a different idea. I go to head into the loo and J’s brother pushes his way in too. I stood there waiting to see what he was up to then he leans over and kisses me. Needless to say I’m a little stunned. The moment passes, J2’s brother mentions I can’t tell about this to anyone, leaves me and I return to the lounge where everyone is still sitting about chatting with no idea of what’s gone on.

The evening progresses some more and after a while I’m standing in the corner chatting to S. He’s a nice enough fellow; a little immature sometimes and quite rude to his girlfriend when ‘the lads’ are about. He starts to tell me about things that are going on, the ecstasy fuelling his openness, he starts to say how much he enjoys being around me and would I like to come back to his place after the club (he doesn’t know I’m out with a date) for……………..? This, I wasn’t expecting as I’d know S for quite some time. By now I realise that the evening is becoming quite fuelled and strange. My date is also beginning to look over as he’s feeling left out of it a bit. We agree to leave the floorshow and head back to mine.

I sleep in until stupid O’clock, get my date scrubbed up, fed and off home and settle down to write this, feeling ever so floaty. So, that my dear readers is why I hadn’t had my peaceful weekend and why I hadn’t made my first entry as earlier than planned.

Je me presente

Well hello there. Apologies for my tardiness, but I gather it’s fashionable to be late these days.

Anyway, without further ado, in the words of Austin Powers, allow myself to introduce myself. I’m Ben, author of the lesser-spotted blog Silent Words Speak Loudest. A native of the North-East, I moved to Nottingham in 1997 in the pursuit of enlightenment through education, and have been resident in Robin Hood’s fair city for the last seven years, thus just about qualifying as a Local.

Ever since my own illegitimate and malformed blog offspring popped into this world coughing and spluttering nearly two years ago, Mike has been like a benevolent uncle, always on hand with a kind word or a Werther’s Original.

However, and despite being a regular reader of Troubled Diva, I must confess to being only an infrequent commenter here. For some reason, leaving a comment to one of Mike’s posts always feels like trespassing on an immaculately trimmed lawn. And now he’s only gone and left myself and my fellow Locals the keys to the manor house!

So, for the next couple of weeks, while Mike’s away in search of small bears with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches, I’ll be squatting in these palatial environs, leaving grubby fingerprints on the furniture, running up an enormous phone bill, drinking all the wine in the fridge and producing the occasional brilliantly witty post. (Though I’m less confident about being able to manage the latter.)

What fun!


In Which We DO Things – Posted by Miss Mish

We have a weekend guest. Mr H, who has taken a sabbatical from the hard slog of the civil service to visit pre-historic sites, standing stones, circles, underground chambers and the like around the UK. (We offered him the chance to look down the cellar  here in Nouveau Basford but he declined).   Attempting to be good hosts, we asked him what he would like to do while he was in Nottingham.

And so Saturday afternoon saw the three of us upon top of the Castle walls, looking out over the city. It seemed ages since we’d been up there.  Despite it not being particularly old, or castle-like anymore (Ducal Palace with Victorian restoration) it still has an air of grandeur and despite the hordes of badly dressed tourists wandering around and the detritus of the open-air Shakespeare productions on the castle green, I enjoyed the visit. It somehow seemed … fitting… in a nice, middle-class genteel sort of way to wander  up and down the shrouded shrubbery walks,  to wander through the Museum and for  the three of us to eat ice creams,  on a bench, in the  slight chill and the drizzle.

The two of them decided to round off the visit with a trip down Mortimer’s Hole. No, darlings,  not a euphemism for smut at all but one of the secret passages  with which the castle is riddled. And the one that Roger Mortimer, lover of Queen Isabella  escaped through when wanted for the  heinous murder of Edward ll. Ohhh yes, that  particularly nasty murder. But really, they should have seen it coming. That marriage was never going to work from the beginning. She being 14, Edward  being gay…..

Being dressed in heels and a silk frock, I’m not quite dressed for wandering up and down cramped sandstone passages and steep crumbling steps and so I arrange to meet them in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem (I’m sorry about the extra ‘e’,  but it really is there….) the pub carved into the  walls underneath.

They arrive, buoyant with the  trip and the history,  although our visitor, being more used to Bronze Age tunnels and passages,  is inclined to dismiss this 600-year-old  antiquary as a mere parvenu.  But all in all, Nottingham gets the official  seal of approval from him.

But then he does live in Birmingham.

Hello Divalings

(posted by nixon)

Hello Divalings! So Guest Week is off to a slow start. I was waiting for the other guests to make the first move although it seems they were doing the exact same thing.

Perhaps I should introduce myself- my name is Nixon and I’m unemployed. I spend my days contemplating bankruptcy and swallowing a twice-daily drug regimen of Prozac and Effexor.

(that was my attempt at a dramatic opening- good eh?)

Nottingham is horrible city where the sky is always grey and the people eternally miserable. I’ll be telling why I hate it over the next few days.

Bring on the guests.

OK, I’m done.

(Christ, why am I even SITTING HERE?  This is CRAZY.  There are SHIRTS TO BE FOLDED.)

In my absence,  please welcome a crack team of five guest contributors – all of them “local” – whose names you’ll find listed above.

I’ll let them introduce themselves, shall I?

Actually, given the appalling lateness of the hour, there isn’t really any alternative.

See you all again in early August.

That Magic Band/Wreckless Eric gig, then.

Introduction is here.

Because I said that I’d review it, even if it killed me.

Bollocks.  What did I go and say a thing like that for?

OK.  Wreckless Eric: started worryingly.  Looked terrified, guitar badly out of tune, opening number very bleak and scary and confrontational, crowd more or less totally ignored him, continuing to talk loudly over the top of the music.  K and Buni escaped for a drink outside, as I worried even more about K’s capacity to last the evening.

Thereafter, a sudden and welcome improvement.  Eric finds form, swaps guitar, relaxes, tells great anecdotes, makes us laugh – and plays some bloody marvellous songs, most of which I’d never heard before.  I particularly liked a new song called 33s & 45s.  (Actually, it brought an unexpected lump to the throat.)  So… not the washed-up deadbeat of my worst imaginings, then.  Far, far from it.

Leaving the stage to rapturous applause from a newly converted audience, Eric’s parting shot: “It’s going the be the night of your lives.  If only you knew it.

He knew, you see.  He knew just how f***ing fantastic The Magic Band were going to be.  And just like all the very best gigs, I am at a complete loss as to how to explain to you just how and why they were quite so f***ing fantastic.

Masterful musicianship, authentic feeling, real love for Beefheart’s still astonishing and utterly timeless compositions (for this was no cosy nostalgia-fest; the songs still felt as fresh and as vital as ever).  Oh, it’s no good.  There are thousands of ways of slagging something off, but so few ways of gushing about something so special and so perfect.

Tell you what.  Take a listen instead: to the encore, Big Eyed Beans From Venus.  The absolute highlight of the night, this completely tore the roof off the place.

(The version you have here was recorded live on the John Peel show, on the night after the Nottingham gig.  It is therefore as accurate a representation of the gig as you are ever likely to find.)

So, more importantly, how did K cope with the mayhem?

There was only one word to describe his expression, every time I looked over at him.


Totally wrapped up in the performance.  Scarcely aware of the hot crush around him.  With a level of concentration that I frequently struggle to achieve.  All anxieties rendered irrelevant in the face of such uncontestable genius.

Honestly, I was that proud.

He’s going back to see Gong in September, at the same venue.

What forces have we unleashed?

Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards.

This week on Uborka, we have all been asked to contribute songs to a forthcoming Official Uborka Mix CD.  After a surprisingly brief period of consideration, I have chosen this criminally undervalued single from 1980.  You can read about it (and listen to it) here.

Continue reading “Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards.”

Es un mundo pequeño.

A former-colleague-turned-good-pal of mine (yes; the one does occasionally convert into the other) has been on a teaching sabbatical in Chile for the past three months. Given our impending holiday, it only seemed polite to drop her an e-mail.

Passing your way (kind of…)


Well, I guess you’ll be coming to the end of your time in Chile by now – and here’s me with my first proper e-mail. God, I’m crap…!

Hope it’s all been a blast – I imagine you’ll be travelling around the place by now, so maybe you’ll be picking this up at some tiny Internet cafe in a tin shack in some obscure one-horse town in the depths of the Andes. (If the Andes can be said to have “depths”, that is. Geography was never my strong point.)

As the title of this e-mail suggests, K & I will indeed be passing your way very soon. Although I use the term in its most comparative sense: we’ll actually be holidaying in Peru from this Saturday (July 17) for two and a half weeks. Well, Peru is almost Chile, innit? Well, same continent at least!

Anyway, we can hardly wait… to stock up on ponchos (they’re back!), to immerse ourselves in the beautiful, timeless of sounds of the pan-pipe, to feast on succulent llama burgers, and to get blasted (*) on coca leaf tea (“good for altitude sickness”).

What I certainly hadn’t expected was this reply:

Hola !

Well then, I’ve just hopped on in an obsure wee place and the keyboard is an absolute mare… [snip]

I am in Peru at the moment and for the next 2 weeks. I am doing the Inca Trail tomorrow for 4 days, and will be in Cusco on Saturday 17th, moving on swiftly to Ariquipe on Sunday I think for some kulture and some canyon exploring, so my god if you are about I’ll check my mail on Saturday.

So. Can you guess where we’re staying on Sunday and Monday?

That’s right. Ariquipe.

Let me recap. In the entire continent of South America, I know precisely ONE person. (Unless we count that guy from… no, perhaps we won’t.) And that same person is going to be in the SAME town as us on the SAME night, in just three days’ time.

My life never fails to astonish me.

See you on Sunday, Fi!

(*) Or, um, maybe not. Thanks for the info, Meg.

Impending sparseness alert.

Oh, great timing.

On Saturday morning, we fly to Peru for two and a half weeks. You can therefore picture the flurry of preparatory activities, as we feverishly draw up To Do lists, and audit our entire wardrobes for suitable all-weather clothing.

I wasn’t therefore best pleased to discover, just four days ago, that my presence would be required in Paris this week. Don’t they know I’ve got T-shirts to iron? But needs must, and I am nothing if not 101% committed to maintaining optimal levels of client satisfaction, hem hem.

I’ll be flying out to manky old Charles De Gaulle this afternoon, and flying back in to dynamic, thrusting Nottingham East Midlands tomorrow evening. (I guess that’s what they call a “flying visit”.) We then leave for London on Friday afternoon, in readiness for a Saturday morning flight from Heathrow to Lima, via Miami.

Naturally, this means that blogging will be taking something of a back seat this week. You know how it is.

(Although fear not: I’ll be writing up that Magic Band/Wreckless Eric gig before I go, even if it kills me.)

While I’m away, there may be guest blogging; I have a notional team in mind, but still need to get the invites mailed out. As none of these people know that I’m about to invite them, it does all rather depend on the uptake.

Up and away, then. The dizzy glamour of the departure lounge beckons.

Oh. So it’s like that, is it?

K has just returned from the hairdressers.

In recent days, the Tufts had actually begun to settle down, their combined length and weight having morphed the ‘do into a comparatively less offensive latter-day Mullet. “Business on top; party round the back.

But now… they’re back. Tuftier than ever. Like the snakes in Medusa’s hair, one glance could turn a man to… OK, inapposite metaphor.

This means WAR, you know. Where are me fookin’ fags?

See also… Tufts and chuffs.

Xylophone Man, R.I.P.


(image via

Sad news. Frank Robinson – better known to the citizens of Nottingham as Xylophone Man – passed away on Sunday, at the Queen’s Medical Centre.

Full story – BBC.
Full story – Nottingham Evening Post.
2003 interview.
Tribute page.

Most importantly of all: Nixon of Popdizzy (who has written his own tribute) has started an online petition, calling on Nottingham City Council to erect a statue in Frank’s honour, and calling on Nottingham Express Transit to name a tram after him.

You can sign and view the petition here. If you’re “local”, then please tell everyone. Thank you.

(Update: As of Friday afternoon, the petition has collected 1215 signatures.)