Write Like A Diva: the results.

In joint third place, with 3 votes: Entry #1 – the Judy Garland contest.

  • …can’t imagine K doing a Judy Garland impression in pink, however drunk (Waitrose David)
  • Number one bemoans the lack of italics too often, and there’s not enough detail about the competition. (asta)
  • I’ll go for #1. All those italics…. (Rob)
  • Runners up: number 1, because I so want to believe it… (sarsparilla)
  • Oh, I don’t think any of them sound exactly like you. maybe 1? (mimi)
  • #1 C @ CS (chav gav)
  • A Judy Garland lookalike competition for gay men? That is just too obvious surely- the sort of thing I might have dreamt up, as a hetero man trying to put myself in your dancing shoes….. but the style is convincing (if with just a few too many phrases in brackets to be absolutely so..) and, as you can see, we have ruled out all the other entries, so…. #1 it is! (jonathan)
  • i think 1 – NB (zed)

OK, let’s examine the evidence.

Plenty of “meta” waffle at the beginning, before even starting the story: yes, that’s very me.

Actual use of the word “meta”: oh yes, absolutely.

Using the word “meta” twice in the same post: actually, not me at all. Ever since I spotted D.H. Lawrence use the same “interesting” word twice in consecutive paragraphs at the age of 14 (thus dismissing him as an overrated writer from that point onwards – sorry Ben, but teenagers can be harsh in their judgements), I have been especially wary of ever doing this.

Placing an entire paragraph in brackets: yup, got me there.

Double parenthesising (i.e. brackets within brackets): actually, I never do this. A dangerous little touch of parody creeping in there, methinks.

There remains in my heart, I freely admit, a small kernel of bitterness which pains me whenever I think of that night.” Now, that’s a quintessential Troubled Diva sentence if ever I heard one. Colour me spooked!

The idea of K and I impersonating Judy Garland is, I agree, a little too gay-cliché even for us. But then – and this is what some people might have glossed over – we were actually impersonating Judy Garland impersonating a gay man. Clever, huh? But possibly a bit too clever for the likes of the Part Two nightclub, even at its height. And besides: whereas I might be something of a thesp manqué, you would never catch K doing anything so overtly flamboyant in a public place. (He’d rather die.)

Verdict: Very close – but on balance, probably not me.

Shall we find out who wrote it, then?

Actually, one of you has guessed it already – well done, chav gav – but then, she did leave rather a massive clue on her own blog, didn’t she?

Clare Sudbery of Boob Pencil: ’twas you all along. Many thanks for taking part. I’d hand you a Troubled Diva pencil at this point, but we’re not doing consolation prizes this time.

So how about an unsolicited plug instead? Clare is a bona fide published author, whose first novel – the splendidly titled The Dying Of Delight, published by the equally splendidly named Diva Books – can be ordered from here (UK) or from here (US).

Also in joint third place, with 3 votes: Entry #4 – And Baby Makes Three.

  • And from what we have been told I can’t imagine […] that you would ever buy anything from IKEA. Although maybe 15 years ago …. (Waitrose David)
  • Number four, to quote someone I’m familiar with is ” just takin’ the piss”. (asta)
  • I’m torn between the playground tart and the designer baby. I would have gone for the designer baby, but I’m not sure at the choice of name. It’s not very Mike. But it could be very K. […] No girl, go with your instinct. Designer baby. (Gert)
  • I’m going for number 4 because it’s the least likely and therefore probably Mike having a laugh. (Pam)
  • 4 is naked blog. (dave)
  • anyone who shops at ikea gets my vote. i say number four! (IKEAfan)
  • #4 P @ NB (chav gav)
  • #4 I think we can safely discard. I am sure there are elements of your life you don’t tell us about, Mike, but if you and K had taken delivery of a little bundle of joy, I think you might have let it slip by now. Kylie-Louise indeed! (jonathan)
  • I’ve been trying to decide…and failing. Definitely not 4 though, because you did say it’s a true story. (Blue Witch)
  • Oh I do love number four. but then, THEN, I had to scroll past all these posts, and they all said 2 or 3, and I *also* thought two and three, although I loved four, and now I don’t know what to think as I never made a decision in my life. (Anna)

Waitrose David: actually, you’re wrong. IKEA does have its uses from time to time – although dramatically less so than in days gone by, I will admit. And yes, we have bought IKEA mirrors in the past.

Blue Witch: actually, you’re right. I did promise that mine would be a true reminiscence. So let’s sift through for clues, shall we?

Again, we have an entire paragraph encased in brackets. And three sentences beginning with “Oh”. But possibly a certain paucity of adverbs. Then again, I could be double-bluffing.

The Paul Smith pyjamas are more than plausible.

As for Marrakesh: more extraordinary how-did-they-know spookiness here, as K has been trying to persuade me to take a holiday in Morocco for many years. (I’ve always been worried about the street hassle, but have been getting progressively less worried.) There was even one occasion where he brandished a brochure in front of me, announcing that he’d found a bijou little tent in the desert for us. By an oasis. With broadband internet access. And your own private chef. Nice try, I’ll grant him that.

The juxtaposition of class (Harvey Nicks crockery) and trash (the Trisha show) is also highly characteristic – as is the way I seize upon the arrival of a baby as an opportunity to burn yet another compilation CD.

However. K can’t drink coffee (acupuncturist’s orders), and I almost never do crosswords, and our cleaner’s name is Joan, and my BT/Yahoo spam filter blocks all the viagra/cialis adverts, and I never call myself lower-case-mike outside of comments boxes (although I find it rather sweet that you all do). And I don’t separate sections of posts with rows of asterisks, either.

But rather more importantly than that: although breaking the news to you by means of a blogging competition would have been the most fantastic way of doing things, we don’t actually have a newly-delivered surrogate baby called Kylie Louise. Come on, do we look like that ghastly couple off the telly from a few years back? Aspen and Saffron indeed! (And that bungalow!)

So, contestant number four – who the devil are you?

Once again, chav gav nails it – as does dave. Peter of Naked Blog: ’twas you all along. (I also have my suspicions about the vote from “IKEAman”, but we’ll let that one pass.) Commiserations on your joint third place, and thank you for taking part.

In second place, with 16 votes: Entry #2 – Where d’ya want taking?

  • The real diva is #2, even if it isn’t. But it is, anyway. Clearly. (djg)
  • …the “trucking incident” seemed unlikely somehow – do you or can you use taxis in the Peak District ? Mind you, the snigger quota could have been upped by a mention of Snake Pass. (Waitrose David)
  • Number two has too many yesses. (asta)
  • Number two gets my vote. Lots of believable occasional detail, although I don’t believe a word of the actual story. (sarsparilla)
  • #2 has its merits. In fact it is very persuasive indeed. But ‘amiably friendly’, I think, is stretching your penchant for the superfluous adverb just a little bit too far. I am going to discard the truck driver story on that basis alone. (jonathan)
  • It’s either 2 or 3 but, purely on the grounds that I am not convinced by the introduction segment of no. 2, I’m going to have to go for no. 3. (Alan)
  • No.2 just doesn’t sound gay enough….I’m sure you’ve had gayer moments than that. (clair)
  • I’m going with 2 is you, and if it isn’t, it’s the most like the usual you, and you’ve tried to write not like you usually do. If you see what I mean 🙂 (Blue Witch)

Well, it was a two-horse race right from the start, wasn’t it? Usually with #3 fractionally in the lead – but even as recently as yesterday evening, #2 and #3 had exactly the same number of votes.

Let’s take a good, hard look at #2, then.

Waitrose David: this may shock you, but yes – we do have taxis in the Peak District. And electricity! And running water! (OK, so there’s no digital TV or broadband in our village just yet, but it’s just a matter of time.) Because drunk people need to get home in the countryside just as much as they do in the city.

As for the stylistic tics: I call you “people”. I start sentences with “Well”, “Yes”, “So” (twice), “But” (twice), and “And” (a whopping SEVEN times). There’s a whole paragraph in brackets, obviously. And there are certainly plenty of adverbs.

Including two uses of “thrillingly”. Hmm. Remember what I said?

But – most damningly of all – there is this:

(A confession. We were, actually, in the front of the lorry. But that last sentence just seemed too good to leave out). Read on.

Do you see what I see? Yes: a full stop outside the closing bracket, even though there is no “exterior” sentence for it to close. Rightly or wrongly, I would never have done this.

Unless I was double-bluffing, of course.

So what about the story itself? Plausible, isn’t it? Astonishingly so, even. Particularly the “Where d’ya want taking?” punchline, and K’s response to it. How could anyone else have nailed his sense of humour so precisely?

On the other hand, there’s the Tammy Wynette song. Notice how contestant #2 doesn’t actually tell you the name of the song in question. And ask yourself: would Mike have let a musical detail like that slip by?

Time to reveal the real identity of Contestant #2, then.

Which none of you guessed.

Not one of you.

Which makes his achievement all the more impressive. JonnyB, will you step up to the platform please. Now, let me take a good look at you.

My God! The resemblance is uncanny. Peas in a pod. People will think we’re sisters!

JonnyB: when I read your entry out loud to K, and got to the “Where d’ya want taking?” punchline, he a) howled the house down and b) said “Does he ever visit Derbyshire? We must have him over!”

(Actually, I’m starting to get a little worried. This guy starts his blog not much more than a year ago – with finely honed and witty tales of village life in a period cottage – and builds his links and traffic up to the point where he’s actually more popular than Troubled F***ing Diva, if you please – then he writes a suspiciously accurate “gayest moment ever” blog entry which comes perilously close to beating me in a competition to be myself – and now my own Long Term Life Partner wants to “have him over”. It’s all a bit Single White Female, isn’t it?)

Congratulations, JonnyB – and thanks for taking part. You may leave the stage now. That’s right, carry on walking. Yes, thank you. Exit at the back, please. (Security: make sure he leaves the premises.)

In first place, with 19 votes: Entry #3 – the playground tart who couldn’t stop pulling.

  • Number three strays just far enough from the expected to be just right in my books. (asta)
  • So I went for the playground tart as being more believable. but somehow, when I was told that Ken was wearing Carnaby Street fashions, I had to conclude it was slightly the wrong era, and I have declared the designer baby. (Gert)
  • 3 is joe my god. (dave)
  • It’s #3, because surely nobody else would have thought to write about teenage snowball yearning. (diamond geezer)
  • Number 3 is the longest so it must be you, Mike. (Amanda)
  • #3 M @ T-D (chav gav)
  • I’m voting for number 3. Just because I love the idea of you pulling Ken all night long….. (MissMish)
  • Number #3 almost, almost gets my vote. But Mike, I don’t imagine you being quite so… flamboyant as a child, if you don’t mind me saying so, and (this is the clincher) I have just re-read story number one of your marvellous ‘forty in forty’ and see that rather than ‘a string’ of Scandinavian au pairs you had just the two- the other three were all Austrian or French. So I am going to have to discard this story of Ken and his broken string…. (jonathan)
  • I think Number 3 is “Joe.My.God.” (Alan)
  • My vote is with no.3. That poor poor ken doll. (clair)
  • I think #2 is you, and #3 is Vaughan. (Karen)

Yay! Congratulations to ME, for being the most convincing at being MYSELF! Just! By the merest of whiskers!

Of the above commenters, asta had it spot on. Having listed my most common stylistic tics for the benefit of prospective contestants, I then proceeded to abandon them as much as possible, opting instead to write more in the style of the old 40 In 40 Days Project from three years ago. My “writerly” voice, if you like. (Comparatively speaking, at any rate.)

However, as the piece progressed and I moved into the actual Ken story itself, I found myself thinking: this is the sort of thing that Joe.My.God. might write. And so I found myself quite deliberately bending my style more towards his. The one sentence paragraphs. The simpler language. The sense of immediacy. The suspense-building. The sheer perversity. There was even a direct quote: the one-word paragraph HOT, which formed the repeated punchline to one of his series from last year. So how gratifying it was to have pulled the wool over at least two sets of eyes.

Regarding Gert‘s comment: Carnaby Street’s heyday lasted until at least 1968-69, when this story would have taken place, so the story is indeed accurate. And yes, Jonathan – I really was that flamboyant as a child, before the self-conscious agonies of adolescence put paid to such gaiety. But as for your detective work on the au pairs: OK, you got me there, fair and square. (It’s called “artistic licence”. I’m not proud.)

I shall now award myself with the luscious six-CD set of Bloggers’ Disco megamixes. About time I won something in one of these competitions, anyway.

That was fun. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to impersonated, and now I know. You should try it some time!

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