Homage à Spellcnut.

Like him (but unlike her), I’m bored of August now. It’s been dragging on for far too long. Not nearly enough going on. OK, nothing going on. This office: a hub of inactivity and empty desks. (We’ve just done a head count: eight, in an office which has been known to hold forty.) My clients in Europe have all buggered off for the duration, as Europeans are wont to do. What’s the Cost Code for Thumb Twiddling? Can’t do much until the Big Database Cheese comes over from Holland next week. In the meantime, I’ve perfected my “don’t interrupt me, I’m concentrating on something VERY IMPORTANT” look… whilst all I’m really doing is hitting Refresh on this thread and this thread on I Love Music. Or else beefing up my Freecell stats (21 wins in a row and counting, I’ll have you know). Although my neighbour has just told me about the double-click thingy on Minesweeper, so I might be shifting my allegiances. August and January are K’s favourite months, as the streets are all empty and he can enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the city. I’m with him on January, but not on August. Especially as September is possibly my favourite month of the year: every sunny day feels like an unexpected bonus, and there’s a feeling of rebirth and renewal in the air, as everybody gets stuck back into their lives and the world begins to move on once again. Plus the blogs stop being crap, obviously. At least, this one does. Severe prolonged mojo-loss, in case you hadn’t noticed. Beyond tedious. But then there’s no point pushing it, if the words won’t come. I spent about an hour last Friday fiddling around with an attempt to describe last Thursday night’s goings on in George’s bar (and beyond) – at least, the publishable stuff – but had to give up, which I almost never do. Brain like concrete. Mind you, stopping up after 3am on a school night hardly helped. (Give you a clue: there’s that evergreen gag which we ‘mos never tire of telling, which bears the punchline “five pints of lager“. A convenient fiction, I’ve always thought. Note past tense.) Anyway, Mish described the first half of the evening far more ably than I ever could: go take a look. We’re doing it all over again this Thursday: the guest blogging dream team, that is. Minus the elusive Nixon, although he’s more than welcome to join us (20:30 onwards in George’s). And thence to Stealth, where The Fiery Furnaces and Sons & Daughters are appearing at Club NME. He‘ll be there, and he‘ll be there, and he‘ll be there. K still hasn’t chopped those bloody awful tufts off, so I’m still intermittently chuffing… but I sense we are moving onto some sort of endgame at last. His parents celebrated their Ruby Wedding last weekend, so the extended family were on a three-line whip; we all met up for lunch in a pub in Cheshire, which was full of a very particular type of flash git, of the sort which you only really find in Cheshire. The lunch was lovely, though; I had sirloin of roast beef, and it was Yum. K and his sister handed over a bottle of Burgundy as a present, thus following the Ruby theme – except that the Burgundy wasn’t really the present, but more of a Big Clue, in the style of 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers . It was fun watching their faces when they realised they had actually won a Luxury Holiday For Two! In beautiful and historic Burgundy! With wine tastings galore! And lots of Daily Telegraph readers for company! Meanwhile, the cottage garden is looking fookin lush after all this rain, especially the lawns, which have never looked greener or thicker. Although I’m sick of pruning the sodding geraniums all the time. The bottom’s much better though (yes, you CAN ask) – I can even walk down the twelve flights of steps in this office, which is the ultimate test as far as I’m concerned. Not so much as a twinge since the back end of last week. I’m back on the SJW’s though – as of this morning, in fact – but only after careful and prolonged consideration, so don’t all go wagging your fingers at me. No further background info, as it’s not that sort of blog. (Misery is not my muse, etc – see Troubled Divas passim.) Athough I will share with you my Quote Of The Week, courtesy of that veritable fountain of considered wisdom, Ms. Julie Burchill, in last Sunday’s Observer: “Depression is the most extreme form of vanity.” Which, once you filter out all the surrounding layers of deliberately provocative Burchill-ese (and there are plenty), contains a useful nugget of truth. No? You don’t think? Well, suit yourselves. K’s slides of Peru are back from the developers, and they look lovely, but they haven’t as yet been transferred to CD. When they are, I’ll publish the best ones on here. Who knows, I might even get round to writing up the whole trip. Stranger things have happened. While we were away, Chig read on Ceefax that dozens of people had died of extremely cold temperatures in the Peruvian Andes – not mountain climbers, ordinary people, including tourists. So he texted both of us immediately, but got “undelivered” messages 24 hours later, and so seriously thought we might actually be, you know, DEAD. The reality: my mobile isn’t Triband so doesn’t work in Peru, and although K’s does work, he had it switched off to avoid business calls. I ought to upgrade my mobile, but phone shops scare me; I’ve only ever been in once, to get the original phone. We’re not always as quick on the technological uptake as people might think; we only rented our first DVD last week. Touching The Void – absolutely fantastic, including the DVD extras. First time I’ve ever watched extras on a DVD; yes, I thought you might be shocked. Last night we rented Secretary, which is a little bit too stiff and stylised (the dialogue in particular), and faintly naff round the edges – but which, like Eyes Wide Shut before it, somehow worked for me, against all the odds. In my London clubbing heyday, I met quite a few S&M queens, and I found myself wondering what they would make of it; I suspect that most would basically approve, but then I’ve never exactly Entered The Mindset. Sometimes I think that I credit S&M with too much false mystique. I wonder what long-time Damned fan Gina Snowdoll makes of the track on the new Dizzee Rascal album (Dream) which samples Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk? Because I thought I was immune to being surprised by unlikely musical combinations, but this one has really thrown me. Do we like last week’s UK Number One single, Baby Cakes by 3 Of A Kind? I’ve only just caught up with it, and find myself strangely charmed; I think it’s that certain gormlessness in the vocal delivery. Couldn’t find the Fierce Girl single in Selectadisc or Virgin, and I badly NEED to hear it, because – on paper at least – it sounds like My Sort Of Thing. This afternoon’s rain storm has stopped, and there’s a nice – no, make that a beautiful – rainbow hanging over the Victoria Centre, starting at the Cornerhouse and dropping back down into the Lace Market. Ooh, such positivity all of a sudden! It must be the placebo effect.

Bent Copper Bean Count.

From the Public Agenda section in The Times:

In an attempt to improve inclusiveness, the police are to ask all officers and civilian staff in England and Wales to declare their sexual orientation by the end of 2004. They will be sent questionnaires in which they can say whether they are heterosexual or gay ***, or decline to give a preference.

Read the full article here.

*** Yes, I’m wondering about bisexuals and transsexuals as well. Not to mention my concerns about well-intentioned but misguided attempts to codify sexual preferences into rigid, immutable categories. But let’s not even get into all of that for now; we’ll be here all day.

The cynic in me is first to pipe up. Surely this is nothing but shallow window-dressing, merely designed to re-assure those troublesome gay lobbyists that Something Is Being Done. After all, how difficult can it be to knock up a questionnaire and feed the results into a spreadsheet? Talk about following the path of least resistance.

Where my inner cynic leads, so my inner Irrepressibly Chirpy Little Pollyanna is sure to follow. For is it not also perfectly conceivable that the results of this survey might usefully reveal a significant under-representation of gays in the police, thus furnishing a powerful justification for introducing more pro-active recruitment drives, and more challenging anti-discrimination initiatives? (My inner Pollyanna can be quite the jargon-spewing tub-thumper when she wants to be. You dismiss her at your peril.)

Sadly, my inner Pollyanna is in sore danger of blinding herself to a major potential flaw with the whole initiative. Namely, that the recipients of the questionnaire are still at liberty to “decline to give a preference”. This threatens to skew the results in two directions. Firstly: many closeted officers will surely balk at answering truthfully. (After all, what’s in it for them to fess up?) Secondly: those rather more antediluvian elements in the force who are bound to view the questionnaire as intrusive PC nonsense (sic) are liable to refuse an answer on principle – and one cannot help but suspect that their number might be significant. In these ways, the survey is in danger of being rendered utterly meaningless.

But what are the alternatives? Making the question mandatory? Or proceeding from the perfectly justifiable assumption that yes, gays and lesbians are under-represented in the police force, so let’s get on with doing something useful to redress the situation, rather than fannying about with silly pieces of paper that are only liable to needlessly scare some and irk others?

My inner Pollyanna will get back to you on that one.

The PDMG: a (somewhat overdue) clarification.

In case you were wondering otherwise (perish the very thought!) – no, of course our esteemed cottage garden designer had nothing, repeat nothing to do with the ill-fated Puddle Of Doom in Hyde Park. (Sadly, complications over funding meant that his proposed garden never went ahead.)

All of which leads me to wonder whether K & I should stake a claim to being the only safe, fully functioning, family-friendly PDMG left in the land. Just imagine the coach parties! The ensuing boost to the local economy would surely be immeasurable.

On the other hand, one simply shudders to think of all that ghastly cellophane from the Floral Tributes, stacking up outside the egg depot and gusting into the paddock over the road. An ecological minefield, to be sure. So, upon mature reflection, perhaps not.

Advance notice. Coming soon to a residential district near you: PDMG #2 – The Urban Remix. More details as they happen.

Four-fifths of the Guest Blogging Home Team bid you a fond farewell.


Left to right: Ben, Alan, Miss Mish and Buni. Sadly not present: the elusive Nixon.

More pictures are here (courtesy of Mish), and full write-ups of the evening are here and here.

Continue reading “Four-fifths of the Guest Blogging Home Team bid you a fond farewell.”

In Which I Nervously Limp Back Into The Blogosphere, Clutching My Bag Of Souvenir Alpaca Finger Puppets.

I’m back. But still a tad lagged, my chickens. Lagged like an old boiler, indeed. So please bear with me, as I slowly find my bearings.

Peru was… an Experience. As opposed to a “holiday” in the more conventional sense of the word. In fact, “endurance test” might be nearer the mark. But more of that as it comes, no doubt. I’d hate to spoil the plot.

My warmest thanks to Alan, Ben, Buni, Mish and Nixon for keeping the place spick and span over the last two and a half weeks (although I’m sure I don’t remember those particular fag-burns on the carpet). I’ve been keeping a watchful eye from various Peruvian cyber-caffs along the way, and have been mightily entertained. Especially by Alan’s “gay rut” (been there myself, several times), Ben’s “dream team” (my vote would also have gone to La Burchill), Buni’s “lost weekend” (or should we make that fortnight?), Mish’s “grand tour” (actually, Ha Ha’s are retro-chic these days; you mean to say you didn’t know?) and *cough* THAT Nixon piece, and its ensuing comments (I might return to this subject in the near future).

Small steps for now, though.
(In a literal as well as a figurative sense, but we don’t have to go there.)

It’s good to be back.

In Which (whispers) we haven’t gone yet…..

(Posted by Miss Mish)

Just a teeny little aside here.

We’ve just taken a lot of the cushions down into the wine cellar and are hiding out, drinking our way to freedom.

There’s already a squabble as we can’t decide if we should be drinking alphabetically (absinthe, bacardi, brandy, cointreau etc) or chronologically (the 1953 Chateau Lafitte, the 1954……)

We thought we’d leap out upon them and shout “surprise!” when we they get back all jet-lagged and fit and toned. And also to get first dibs on the souvenirs and duty-free.

Now excuse me, but I think we’re upto to the 1963 Gordons. I really, really must go……….

In Which It’s Time To Go……..

(posted by Miss Mish)

Picture the scene:

An aging Drama Queen is standing by herself in the ballroom of Troubled-Diva Towers. It is late, her luggage is piled up by the front door and she is already slightly drunk.

Dressed in her going away outfit of travelling suit and hat, she meanders, gin in hand, dropping cigarette ash upon the marble flooring. Stumbling ever-so slightly, she tearfully bids farewell. Taking a deep breath, she approaches the door and begins to sing …………

“And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
and more, much more than this
I did it myyyyyyy wayyyyy”

“Oh to hell with this. I’m not going”

(Seriously, gentlemen, it’s been great fun and I love you all. Now if only people had actually read it while they were away……… Mwah! Mwah!)

And, now it’s time to leave…

(posted by Alan)

While I’ve read a lot of ‘professional’ blogs before, Mike’s was the first personal one that I read and what a great one it is too. And, through his links to other excellent personal blogs, I’ve become quite an addict. So, being asked to guest-blog here has not only been great fun, but it’s been a privilege too. Now that my time as a guest-blogger at Troubled-Diva has come to an end, I’ve come to realise two things, one of which is a ‘good thing’, the other, probably not.

Firstly, I’ve come to realise that I really like Nottingham.

Until recently, when asked what I feel about Nottingham, I’ve always said something along the lines of, ‘It’s alright’ or some other non-committal comment lacking in enthusiasm. The main reason for that is my bias against most English cities and towns that developed after having fallen in love with Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a place where I spent 2 great years until January last year. Contrary to all expectations before arriving in Newcastle, I grew very fond of it within 2 months of arriving there. So, rather irrationally, all other places that I’ve been to in England, have been compared with Newcastle and they’ve all compared unfavourably – Nottingham just didn’t have a chance! But, writing about the place over the past 2 weeks has opened my eyes a lot and I can now admit that despite its failings/short-comings, I’ve really enjoyed myself here and I can honestly say that I’ve grown very fond of it.

However, in case you are wondering, Newcastle is still my favourite city in England!

Secondly, the blog-writing bug has bitten me.

This can’t be a ‘good thing’ as not only will it make me spend more time at the computer at the expense of ‘real life’ but it’ll also mean inflicting myself on a larger audience than the poor souls that know me already. Actually, while liking the idea of having my own blog, thinking of how to approach it isn’t that easy as most of the best personal blogs seem to have a theme/topic around which the personal stuff hangs. In Mike’s case, it’s music; in Ben’s, football. But, there are others like Mish’s that are just as compelling without having a definable topic that brings it together. For the moment, I can’t think of a theme/topic that I’m sufficiently interested in so my blog would have to rely on something much less definable, an altogether more difficult approach, it would seem, to interesting blogging.

But, watch this space – you’ve been warned!

Anyway, it’s been fun being here and I really look forward to meeting the other guest-bloggers tomorrow night. And, as it will be my second meeting with Mish, we may yet cohabit.

Mike, thanks for letting me soil your pristine home with my ramblings and, once you’ve picked up the pieces, washed the sheets and glasses, and cleared the rubbish, I hope to see you soon.

And now, the end is near…

(Posted by Ben)

Well, my stay at Diva Towers is coming to an end, and I’d just like to thank my fellow guest bloggers (with whom I will be rendezvousing tomorrow night), you the lovely TD readership, my producers, my parents, God, Allah – but above all Mike for entrusting me with a set of keys in the first place.

A couple of bottles of Dom Perignon have gone walkies from the cellar and there’s a dubious stain on the drawing room chaise-longue, but apart from that I hope you’ll find the place pretty much as you left it, Mike.

So, without further ado, adieu.

Guest Blogging Dream Team: Competition Result

(Posted by Ben)

So, decision time…

Four excellent suggestions, all of whom are potentially brilliant bloggers, but only one winner…

Is it to be Julie Burchill (Alan’s choice, after some deliberation)?

Or Lily Savage (Miss Mish)?

Or Christopher Isherwood (la Byd)?

Or Dorothy Parker (Paul)?

How to choose between them? Oh well, here goes…

For the sake of the team dynamic, I’m inclined to go for another woman, which rules Isherwood out – sorry la Byd.

Lily Savage and Aunt Cyn would certainly get on famously, but I can imagine them forming something of a hareem – guzzling cooking sherry together and taking great pleasure in tweaking D H Lawrence’s beard and upsetting Alan Bennett with all manner of lurid suggestions. Perhaps not the best appointment in the interests of team morale – sorry Mish.

Which leaves Dorothy Parker and Julie Burchill. Cynicism and bitchiness v plain bitchiness. Though cynicism is a trait I admire, with the likes of Lawrence, Morrissey and Will Self already onboard, choosing Dorothy Parker could be overkill – sorry Paul.

So, the seventh member of the Guest Blogging Dream Team is Julie Burchill – congratulations to Alan! A copy of Will Self’s ‘How The Dead Live’ is yours to treasure.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the competition – and to everyone who read the posts.

In Which I Am Amused

(posted by Miss Mish)

Last night, I heard a tiny news item on R4 concerning Alton Towers. No, not the sister-mansion of T-D Towers, but the amusement park here in the East Midlands.

It appears that a couple living near-by have made an official complaint about the noise and Alton Towers now has to Do Something About It.

Now this has left me with a couple of surreal images. One, of the couple in their pajamas attempting to get an early night, whizzing round to bang on the windows and shout: “Will you keep the noise down in there!” The other, of a crack team of librarians being bussed in to police the park, being placed on the roller coaster and turning round to sternly say: “Shh!” when people start screaming at the top…..

Nottingham Vignettes – Part 4

(posted by Alan)


It appears that I’ve been missing out on a little treasure when it comes to Nottingham despite it being within spitting distance of the Broadway Cinema and the Lord Roberts, both places I frequent a lot, especially the latter.

It may be small and cosy, but George’s bar can certainly fit a lot of people in as Saturday night turns into Sunday morning. The décor is an eclectic collection of objects lovingly collected by George in the 11 years that she’s owned the place. Small Christmas lights festoon the drinks in the bar area, Barbie and Ken dolls make love to the Vodka bottles, Ken bonks Ken, pictures of long dead movie stars and Ethel Merman dot the place. A ‘Frida Kahlo’ portrait of George looks down over everyone. And Ethel Merman belts out her disco songs.

George, herself, is quite mad but completely engaged in everything that is going on and with everyone there. But, later, when there is a sudden influx of people just before official closing time and the glasses have reached a stage where they need to be recycled, the wheels come off and chaos reigns – several customers offer to wash glasses, others clear tables and order is restored after George has told the newcomers, in no uncertain terms, to leave. Those left behind, settle down, knowing that they can stay until George runs out of drink. Her customers, just like her décor, are an eclectic bunch that encompasses all ages, all genders, all sexual persuasions and the rest. And, as Mish said, ‘They are so much better-dressed than the crowd you find at the Lord Roberts, darling!’ Well, not only that, they make for a much more interesting bunch too.

And this is the place where I first meet the fabulous Mish and her bearded friend R. Mish, I’m sure, is always a picture of loveliness but I was most taken by her sitting there, swathed in pink, cigarette smoke curling up from her cigarette-holder, and a glass of wine in hand. Unfortunately, having arrived late, I didn’t get to see her wearing her hat but it was there, next to her pink handbag with its subtly protruding nipples. Mish ordered me a gin and tonic and we began to talk and drink. Drink and talk, talk and drink…Some time later, R left to go to Rock City and Mish and I drank and talked and drank and talked and…

At some point the Australian cello player that I’d spent the night with before entered the bar and sat down behind us with a friend – I was glad to see that he smiled very happily when he saw me. Some time later, it appeared that he was really very happy to see me – I do so love feeling liked and wanted! Next, a Scotsman that I’ve known a while arrived with two of his friends. I chatted to them for a bit but they didn’t stay long. Mish and I joined the cello player , his friend and the lovely young man that Mish later took an enthusiastic shine to. Later, just Mish, George, lovely young man and myself were left, still talking and drinking.

I was ready to sit there all night but several text messages from the Scotsman got me into NG1 just as last entries were going in at 1.45.

Only two days to go until Wednesday and I’ll be there again. This time, Ben and Buni will join us.

In Which I Have Lost Something*

(posted by Miss Mish)

Now just a minute, just a minute. I distinctly remember there being a weekend around here somewhere. I just took my eye off it for a second and it has vanished.

I remember seeing the new Woody Allen film with The Husband on Friday night. Not a classic Woody, but ticks all the right boxes, well told and for once you don’t get the embarrassing sight of Woody dating a gorgeous woman 30 years his junior (unlike his real life). Then we had dinner together and were tucked up in bed by midnight.

On Saturday I remember reading the papers, doing the laundry and then getting ready to go out to meet one of my fellow blog-sitters. The Lovely Alan turned up and we talked and drank and talked and drank anddrankanddrank and managed to stop in time before we fell over. We met lots of other people too and I distinctly remember kissing a young man rather enthusiastically after Alan had left but it all seems to have happened in an hour or two.

Sunday I remember doing nothing but reading the papers and cooking dinner (and thinking about that charming young man a little guiltily) and then before you know it, I’m back at my desk again!

So come on, which of you lot nicked my weekend?

* I also appear to have left my mobile in the bar, my lipstick in the ladies and my reputation down the back of that comfy sofa in George’s. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.