Write Like A Diva: your votes, please.

So, which one of our four contestants is the Real Me?

Is it Contestant Number One, the prancing, preening Judy-wannabe?

Is it Contestant Number Two, stranded on an open road and throwing himself at the mercy of passing truckers?

Is it Contestant Number Three, the playground tart who couldn’t stop pulling?

Or is it Contestant Number Four, inspired by a Trisha Eureka Moment?

The choice is yours. Please leave your vote in the comments box beneath this post. When a suitable period has elapsed, I shall then announce the winner.

And no psychological second-guessing based on the order of the contestants: the draw was decided by an online random number generator.

And no peeking in the comments box before casting your vote; you should come to an independent decision before opening it.

Have fun. And may the Gayest contestant win!

Update: Please cast your votes by Tuesday night (April 5th) at the latest. All will then be revealed on Wednesday.

Write Like A Diva: contestant #4.

(Click here to view the rules of the game.)


I could tell K was feeling grumpy the moment he sat down to breakfast. Just one glance in the new full length mirror we’d bought at IKEA last weekend would have assured him that Paul Smith pyjamas could never, ever be seen with that fabulous dressing gown number he’d picked up for a song in Marrakesh last year.

(Thailand was always our main little holiday love-nest in the past, but darlings – it’s just so dangerous these days, what with tsumamis and disgraced former pop stars and so on. A boy doesn’t know who he’s rubbing shoulders with on the beach any more.)

So no – it’s Marrakesh for us… ever since we fell in love with The Man Who Knew Too Much – you know that movie with the divine Doris Day and James Stewart. Oh – you can never go wrong with Technicolor!

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” I asked, concerned – as I poured him a cup of delicious steaming Fair Trade Organic Arabica.

“Oh, I don’t know, mike,” he replied, looking more and more crestfallen. “Do you ever get the idea that life’s lost some of its zing these days? That the only zest we see is when you grate a lemon?”

I sat back, and pretended to do my Guardian Crossword. When K is like this there’s no telling what might come up. Even after he’d crashed out of the house en route to his office, and Molly the housekeeper had cleared the breakfast crocks (two years ago from Harvey Nick’s spring sale) – I could still sense his looming, brooding presence around the house.

What was up? What mystery might the day hold yet? Idly I glanced through my wardrobe, fingering my favourite shirts… thinking back to that fabuloso “shirt off my back” project. How we’d laughed! How the punters had flocked to play! Some of the shirts are looking a little threadbare now, I decided. Oxfam time, maybe.

“Will that be all, sir?” Molly shouted from the kitchen. “My youngest’s got a doctor’s appointment in twenty minutes, and if it’s OK with you I’d like to be at the surgery with her…”

“Yes, sure, Molly – I replied, distracted. “Take as much time as you like. There’s nothing urgent about here today.”

So she left. Another one looking concerned. Empty house now. Even the mobile had no messages. Oh, there were a few spam emails… viagra this, cialis that, my mortgage application already approved… but apart from that sweet rien.

Trisha was on the telly and I knew I shouldn’t – but hey! If she’s good enough for la Burchill, then she’s certainly good enough for me. “Why have I got two daddies?” was the title of today’s show, and I sat in front of it entranced – fascinated by this new-style family. Son. Daughter. Dad. And Dad.

The revelation, when it came, hit me like a tsunami. “That’s it!” I screamed. “That’s it! That’s exactly what K and I need… now where the f**k do we get a family?”


Well, all that was nine months ago, and only yesterday we were delighted to take delivery of the sweetest baby girl you ever did see. Kylie Louise we’ve decided on. That’ll give her some choice when she grows up. You truly can get anything you want in Marrakesh. We mixed our sperm, you see – so in a very true sense she belongs to both of us.

Next year we’re going to try for another one! And watching Trisha like that was my gayest ever thing.

Now excuse me folks while I go and make up a lovely CD of nursery rhymes and lullabies for Kylie Louise. (Just between you and me – I want her to grow up more like this daddy than the other one! )


Write Like A Diva: contestant #3.

(Click here to view the rules of the game.)

Looking at things from a certain angle, you could say that I was at my gayest as a child. Not sexually gay, of course; that goes without saying. But innocently and instinctively gay, before I even knew what “gay” was, or that there was any stigma attached to gay behaviour. Playfully gay. Shamelessly gay. Gaily gay.

It came out in so many ways. Intense schoolboy crushes, but with none of the unrequited agonies that would come with adolescence. These were crushes in which I sought nothing back; I was merely content to idealise, to idolise, to bask in the glow. Fantasies of a twin brother, who could be soulmate and playmate – or of having au pair BOYS around the house, rather than our regular stream of Scandanavian sixteen-year-old girls. (In this respect, I realise with hindsight that my father was a very canny man.) Sighing over cute boys on the telly: Cliff Richard, Fraser Hines as Jamie in “Doctor Who”, Derek Fowlds on the Basil Brush show. Just wanting to BE with these people. To be included in their gang. To have them smile at me, take my hand, whisk me away to a land of fun and freedom.

But oh dear God, I could be such a little tart with it. Chasing boys round the school playground for comedy kisses, mouth puckered, arms outstretched. Or grabbing them by the waist and forcing them into a waltz routine: da da-da da daah, deet! deet!, doot! doot! It gave me a bit of a reputation. But not unpleasantly so; my antics were observed with bemused good humour rather than overt hostility. Somehow, I always got away with it.

“Michael, have you ever heard of homosexuals?”, a classmate once asked. I would have been nine or ten years old by then.

I shook my head. It was a new word.

“Well, you’re definitely one of them.”

I didn’t even bother to ask what one was. Just grinned and shrugged, then wandered off to do something else. The nearest I got to any conception of a separate sexual identity was with my recurring marriage fantasy: just imagine if they changed the law just for one day, so that boys could get married to boys! Because if they did, then I’d ask T.N. to marry me. Then we could be together for ever and ever, ah-men.

Although come to think of it, there was also my “male-only town” fantasy. A special town, which would only admit men between the ages of… well, I forget what the exact ages were, but I do remember the rule which said that men who reached a certain age would be obliged to move out of town. Oh, and I’d only admit good-looking ones.

Very Brave New World. Very Logan’s Run. Very circuit-party body-fascist. The clues were all there, should I have chosen to disclose them; but even at that age, I knew it was best to keep certain thoughts to myself. Male-only towns? Come on; that’s weird by anyone’s standards.

(It had a name as well, my sexy town. Shall I tell you? Don’t laugh. KIRBY. Yeah, I know.)

And then there was the snowball incident.

My grandmother’s sitting room had a large, three-paned bay window, looking out onto her small back garden – and, adjacent to the right, the playground of Doncaster Grammar School for Boys. One mid-morning break time in January (they must have started term earlier than me), I was sitting on the floor next to the window – all misted over with condensation – when I became aware of a commotion from outside. Wiping away a small patch of condensation at the bottom of the right hand pane, I peered through.

All across the playground, dozens of laughing and leaping teenage boys in blazers and ties were pelting each other with snowballs, in one almighty snow-fight.

Fun. Freedom. Inclusion. Contact. Anything-goes delirium. I had never seen anything more exciting in my life.

This is where it gets really gay.

After the break was over, I felt the most churning sense of loss. I needed to see more of this. Badly.

And so I stood up, stretched out my index finger, and wrote the following message in the condensation on the right hand window pane.


(In reverse lettering, of course. Come on, I was a bright kid.)

It didn’t work. Begging never does. I’d learn this much later in life.

But even that wasn’t my gayest moment ever.

That would be the Ken incident.

My cousin from Essex was a keen collector of Barbie dolls. She had loads of them in her room, all arranged in fun little tableaus; I particularly remember a groovy little bunch of them discotheque-dancing together. I was a bit jealous; you couldn’t do that sort of thing with my boring old wooden guardsmen, all featureless and identical in their drab little fort.

On one of her visits up North, my cousin brought a new doll with her. A boy doll! I had never seen such a thing, and was thrilled to the core; this was something new and exciting. I didn’t know you could have boy dolls!

His name was Ken, and he was Barbie’s boyfriend. Ken was dressed in the latest Carnaby Street fashions: intricately patterned salmon-pink jacket, cream slacks, and a matching cream cravat, in lurex. He also had a string attached to his back. If you pulled it, he said “Hi, I’m Ken!”, in a bright American voice.


I played a lot with Ken that afternoon. That clingy bitch Barbie scarcely got a look-in.

At bedtime, I sneaked Ken away with me, and placed him on my bedside table for easy access. That way, I could pull him any time I wanted.

“Hi, I’m Ken!”

“Hi, I’m Ken!”

“Hi, I’m Ken!”

I pulled him, and pulled him, and pulled him.

“Hi, I’m Ken!”

Pulled him with the lights out. Pulled him all night long.

“Hi, I’m Ken!”

Pulled him “just once more, and then that’s it”. But extra-hard this time. Yeah, YANK that string.


Oh dear.

Oh dearie dearie me.

I turned the light back on and examined the doll, his cream lurex cravat now somewhat awry from all the exertion.

The frayed and severed string told its own tale. I had broken Ken. And now I would have to ‘fess up to my cousin in the morning.

My first moment of Gay Shame. There would be many, many more.

But none that would ever be quite so gay again.

Write Like A Diva: contestant #2.

(Click here to view the rules of the game.)

So, I guess you’re agog to know. So agog, people, that I sense you didn’t want to delay things by spending too much time on my little competition.

Mea culpa. Was it a good idea? A bit of collaborative fun, or a monumental act of hubris? Should I indulge in one of those Hissy Fits that so brighten up the Land of Blog from time to time? Yes? No? Well here’s the story.

But first – and foremost – what were you expecting? Clubs? Saunas? I ask you (at our age!) No. Our story takes place on the open roads of Derbyshire and – most thrillingly – in the back of a lorry.

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

A breakdown (of the automotive variety) in what passes for a minicab in those parts. A main road. A lack of mobile telephony. And a pressing need to get home.

Let me make something quite clear: neither K nor I are the hitchhiking type. Try as I might, I can summon no enthusiasm for the sport. However, it was getting late, K was somewhat tipsy and November is such an inappropriate time to be stranded on a peak with a mere thin linen shirt and anorak. We’re such townies at heart, you know.

And there’s the rub. After twenty minutes of delicate, measured thumbing at passing traffic, could we get a car to stop? Could we?

Enter Gary, our cabbie. Yes, he was possibly upset with us for leaving him ineffectually mending the engine, and yes we may have been a trifle – short, shall we say? – as we realised we were going nowhere in his clapped-out old banger – yes, banger. But yes, also, he was in the same boat and so strode out into the road in front of an approaching juggernaut.

(It was massive, I tell you. What do they put in these things?)

“We need a ride”, he explained to a welcoming face through the window. And all of a sudden – and this happened to both K and I simultaneously – we started to find the situation funny. Ha ha, not peculiar. “We need a ride!” “A ride!” Kids, eh?

Readers: I kid you not. We hoisted ourselves thrillingly into one of the cabs of one Mr Eddie Stobert – long-distance lorry driver to the stars, I think you’ll find. Nothing but the best, you know. Was that a zing of electricity as we helped each other mount the step?

Our driver was amiably friendly – but perhaps hadn’t expected a cargo quite like K and I. Have you been in the cab of one of those things? I should explain for clarity – despite their apparent humungousness they seat three thin best friends in comfort. We were (by now) all friends, but not best, and Gary was certainly not thin. We squashed together deliciously. The driver – whose name I forget – and Gary seemed to press themselves against their respective doors to avoid knee contact. Not in a nasty way, you understand. Just in the embarrassed English hetero fashion. Physical contact. It’s soooo not done.

“Where d’ya want taking?” asked our driver. And that did it. K started to laugh. And I started to laugh. And K started to laugh some more. The driver did not laugh. Gary smiled weakly.

“Drop us in Bakewell?” I requested, through teeth gritted with red-jowled embarrassment and juvenile glee. Because what was tuned in? Radio 2. The artiste? Tammy Wynette. It was perfect, I tell you. Perfect. And so we started to sing.

A journey to treasure; I expect they remember us well.

Write Like A Diva: contestant #1.

(Click here to view the rules of the game.)

I expect to be seeing many entries making reference to such things as Yohji Yamamoto and Martin Margiela, boutique hotels and crab tortellini. Come on: surely you don’t think that I’m that predictable? Strewth, you’ll be telling me next that you know my taste in music.

No, we’ll be putting such things as impeccable taste aside for now. My gayest moment cannot be reduced to such superficialities. Oh no, dear reader, it’s so much more meta than that.

(My, but I do wish I hadn’t demanded that html tags be omitted. I so want to italicise every second word. I’m learning about myself already.)

So, yeah: my gayest moment. Let me take you back to the summer of 1985. Regular readers will already know that K and I met that year. What you cannot possibly know, because I haven’t yet told you, is this: we entered a competition, K and I. A gay competition. A gay Judy Garland (damn that lack of italics) competition.

Hosted by Part Two, Nottingham’s gayest club, the object of the exercise was not just to mimic Judy Garland, oh no. For here is where it becomes such a marvellously meta concept.

We were being asked, and I swear this is not a word of a lie, we were requested, nay, exhorted (by friends who shall remain nameless, but are to this day waiting (in vain, I might add) for forgiveness), to mimic Judy Garland mimicking a gay man. What twisted gay fluffy-pink mind came up with such a concept, I can only dream at. And thankfully I never had to suffer their company. (For the progenitor of such an appallingly misconceived fiasco must surely have been an insufferable little twerp.)

However, despite the absolute and incontrovertibly pointless (and naturally, were I able, I would have italicised the word pointless) nature of the event…

….we rather enjoyed ourselves. We pranced. We preened. We screamed at each other from either side of the small student bedroom in which we rehearsed this madness. We wore pink. Yes, pink. And finally, we sallied forth into the centre of Nottingham in all our finery. We were ready, we two, to take Part Two by storm. We minced, dear reader, oh how we minced. Such mincery has never been seen.

Did I mention that we wore pink?

We didn’t win. There remains in my heart, I freely admit, a small kernel of bitterness which pains me whenever I think of that night. For we, not to put too fine a point on it, were robbed. To my mind, a gay man with a beard is simply not capable of presenting a convincing facsimile of a female gay icon, whomever she may be mimicking. But there, what do I know?

After all, I’ve never been terribly gay.

My granny always said it was bad luck to play April Fool’s Day pranks after noon.

I must confess to feeling a little sheepish and shamefaced when checking my Inbox this morning, and finding the kindest, sweetest, most supportive e-mail from a regular reader of this site who was concerned by my apparent toys-out-of-pram hissy fit.

So sheepish and shamefaced, that I swiftly added a Care Bear to the bottom of the page. Because that would make everything crystal clear, right? Such are the workings of my hungover early-morning mind. And you wonder why I rarely blog before noon?

Anyway. Ruling a line and moving on (as our dear Prime Minister is so fond of doing), entries for the Write Like A Diva competition will appear later today. And just in case you’re the sort of person who has all their best ideas after a deadline has expired (that would be me then), I am going to extend the deadline for entries until 17:00 today (UK time).

Oh, and just in case you’ve missed them: genius and genius. These make my own scraggy, half-assed effort wilt by comparison.

Update: Two stories from The Register:
Bush twins to join Air Force tech unit in Iraq. I like ’em when they’re as dry and pointed as this.
Apple founder Jobs joins IKEA. This actually had me fooled for the first three paragraphs.

Continue reading “My granny always said it was bad luck to play April Fool’s Day pranks after noon.”