Those MBIAT guest posts in full.

I spent some of last week hanging out at Zoe’s place. These were the results.

1. Troubled Twat, or My Boyfriend Is A Diva.

In which I celebrate K’s birthday by decking him out in pistachio and germolene.

2. Popping out for meat.

A gentle country stroll, with carnivorous intent.

3. Quick, Name A Queen Song – The Results.

A predictable reversion to type. (And to think that I originally saw this guest-blogging gig as a chance to stop banging on about pop music the whole time. Ah well, at least I lasted for two whole posts.)

4. Things I Was Going To Tell You About This Week, But Never Got Round To.

Dancing horses, Japanese horror, and the return of Beefheart’s boys. (I shall be returning to the dancing horses in the near-ish future.)

Troubled Twat, or My Boyfriend Is A Diva.

(posted by Mike)

It was my boyfriend K’s birthday yesterday. (If you can still legitimately call a grown man of 46 your “boyfriend”.) He’s not an easy person to shop for, being possessed of a very exacting set of aesthetic standards that few could ever hope to grasp – including a pronounced and unfathomable fondness for beige.

Not wishing to pander, I gave him a nice striped shirt from Paul Smith, in arresting shades of pistachio and germolene. Design features include a satin-effect finish on the pistachio, and a vividly contrasting “secret” floral pattern, tucked away on the reverse side of the double cuffs.

He was thrilled.

“But the best present of all”, I explained, as K examined the garment – stroking the yoke, fingering the placket – “is agreeing to go out with you tonight, instead of insisting we stay in to meet the new housemates on Big Brother 6. I hope you appreciate what a sacrifice this is.”

Give and take. It’s the secret of every successful relationship.

“I’m going to be guest blogging on a site called My Boyfriend Is A Twat”, I announced, as we prepared ourselves for the evening. “Whatever do you suppose I shall write about?”

He flicked me a nervous glance.

“Look, what I need is for you to behave like an absolute arse for the next few days. You know – source material. If you could see your way clear to getting steaming pissed tonight, that should give me a few column inches for starters.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Mike.”

He’s a sweet man.

For the purposes of this little exercise, we’ve been considering re-branding options. I thought of going for My Partner Is A Prat, because “partner” is so much more grown-up.

K favours My Boyfriend Is A Saint, but we’ll have none of that. He can write his own blog, if that’s the way he feels.

We could have settled with My Future Registered Civil Partner Is A Symphony In Satin-Effect Pistachio And Germolene, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, and would have necessitated a site redesign (it clashes with the cerise). So we’ll deliberate further, and get back to you.

Fuck, I’m going to miss Doctor Who. Hello Belgium! I’m here all week.


Popping out for meat.

(posted by Mike)

Warning: contains gratuitously explicit references to carnivorous activities. Ethical vegetarians should proceed with all due caution.

The walk to the Traditional Independent Local Butcher’s Shop takes about forty minutes, across the rolling fields and valleys of Derbyshire’s beautiful and historic Peak District National Park. Granted, it’s a bit of a hike – but it sure beats trundling round Sainsbury’s car park in search of a parking space, like all those Poor Repressed Townies who know nothing of our Country Ways.

(Not that we don’t trundle round Sainsbury’s as well, and not that the butcher’s isn’t perfectly accessible by car – but we do like to indulge our Intrepid Hunter Gatherers Trekking Through The Wilderness In Search Of Prey fantasies from time to time. Particularly on a Bank Holiday weekend, when the weather is nice.)

Off we trot, then. Lightweight Brashers upon our feet; but in contrasting styles, so as to avoid sliding into Matching Outfit Hell. Lightweight waterproofs slung into a knapsack (fawn Berghaus for me, navy Patagonia for him) – just in case, because You Never Know At This Time Of Year. Up hill … down dale … over the stream, on the little wooden footbridge … and back up again, past all the frisky young lambs, a-gambolling o’er the lea.

At the sight of all the frisky young lambs, my saliva glands leap straight into serious juice-making action: an automatic response, which sends confusing signals to my brain.


Most of the lambs are still firmly at the skipping and gambolling stage, all of their eager playfulness and curiosity stll intact. But looking at their mothers, apathetically chowing down alongside them, you wonder much longer this will last.

“Oh, Mummy! Yesterday was such fun! We learnt how to eat grass, and everything! So what are you going to teach us today? Tell us! Tell us!”

“Well dear, I thought we’d just stand around and eat some more grass, basically…”

“Oh… okay…”

Poor lambs. You can almost feel the life-spirit being suffocated out of them. If only they had access to more positive role models, who could help them achieve their full potential.

It’s such a waste. I blame the parents.

“Let’s see… we’re having barbecued beef burgers tonight… so I suppose I’d better have some fillet steak, please.”

“Well, if you’re having burgers, then you can’t get better than these.”

The kindly, silver-haired, twinkle-eyed, rosy-cheeked, stripey-apronned Traditonal Local Butcher (and Qualified Slaughterman) points out the ready-made “Texan burgers”, stacked up in the display cabinet in front of us.

“They do look very good, I must say. What do you put in them to make them Texan?”

“No idea. But the rep told us they were good, so we ordered some in.”

Our fond illusions are shattered. You bought them in from a rep? We’d rather you hadn’t told us that. We want to think of you doing Traditional Butcherly Things with them, using the knowledge that has been handed down to you through the generations.

K sticks to his guns, and orders the fillet steak.

Admittedly, there aren’t that many people who would insist on buying prime organic fillet steak, merely in order to grind it down into beef burgers for the barbecue. But that’s my K for you: a perfectionist through and through. My boyfriend is a treat.

We stuff the knapsack full of fillet steak, and chicken breasts, and lamb cutlets, and head off for sandwiches at the Traditional Tea Shop.

The Traditional Tea Shop is full of Bank Holiday trippers, decked out in full serious walking gear. We are very worried that the people at the Traditional Tea Shop will mistake us for Bank Holiday trippers as well, instead of Proper Indigenous Local People. By such distinctions do we define ourselves.

I briefly toy with the idea of saying “As a resident of [neighbouring village], I would like two coronation chicken baguettes, please.” But this might be construed as social one-upmanship, and I wouldn’t like the trippers to feel uncomfortable in our presence. So we let the matter pass.

Actually, the whole village is teeming with trippers. (Or “grockles”, as my grandfather used to call them, as they peered in through his net curtains. “There are people actually living there!“, we once heard someone exclaim. And another time: “Yes, but imagine not being able to have any Contemporary Furniture… I don’t think I’d like that.”) It’s the sort of village where you can’t buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread, but where there are two different places selling scented candles.

We start heading back.

Standing just ahead of us, on the other side of the cattle grid, are a small welcoming party of young lambs. With their pink ears cocked, and friendly expressions on their faces, they are still too young to know fear.

As we cross the cattle grid and draw nearer, their expressions change. Quickly, they scamper off, scattering to different corners of the field, until they are once again at a safe distance.

I think they must have caught a whiff of our knapsack.

“But that’s… that’s… COUSIN KEVIN in there! RUN! RUN FOR THE HILLS!”

Nature can be a cruel teacher.

The barbecued burgers are delicious. As are the lamb kebabs. Ah, the sweet joys of rural life.


Quick, Name A Queen Song – The Results.

(posted by Mike)

Yeah, so why did I get you all to name a Queen song in the first place?

A fair question, to which there are several answers.

1. Weblog interactivity! This is always a good thing.

2. It’s good to take a roll call every once in a while – just to see who has turned up, and who has skived off down the shopping precinct. In this case, 119 of you nominated a song, in the space of just over 24 hours. (The rest of you had better produce your sick notes, or else you’ll be staying behind late tonight.)

3. I’ve been conducting similar exercises over at my place over the past couple of weeks – for The Beatles, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones – and Zoe wanted me to do Queen next. To refuse her would have been a shabby abuse of her hospitality – and I’m trying to be such a good guest this week. (Little things, mainly: washing up the breakfast things, plumping up the cushions, making regular trips to the off-licence, stepping outside to smoke, holding in my farts; that sort of thing.)

4. This will provide the source data for a detailed breakdown of the relative “recognition factors” of songs in the Queen canon. Will everyone think of different songs, with no clear favourites (as they did with The Beatles), or will a small number of songs hoover up most of the votes (as with The Rolling Stones)? Sociologists, phenomenologists, musicologists (and just plain Queen-ologists!) everywhere will be fascinated by my findings. Dissertations will be written; reputations will be made.

5. Oh OK, the real answer then. I am an incurable stats geek, with an Excel obsession which is rapidly spiralling out of control, and an insatiable need for time-consuming displacement activities.

So, is anyone actually interested in reading the results?

Crikey, don’t all rush for the door at once. Single file, class! Health and safety!

OK, perhaps the rest of you could shuffle up to the front row? Yes, that’s better. Saves me having to shout. Now, would anyone like to hazard a guess at to what was the most frequently nominated song?

Anyone? Come on, don’t be shy.

I’m still not seeing any hands.

It’s not a trick question!

Small clue?

“Is this the real li…” Yes, that’s RIGHT! Bohemian Rhapsody!

In fact, Bo Rhap was nominated by 20 out of 119 people (17%), making it the runaway winner.

34 different songs were nominated in total, meaning that each song was nominated 3.5 times on average. That’s a significantly higher average than for The Beatles and David Bowie, both of whom polled a much wider “spread”.

16 songs (47%) were nominated more than once. Here they are in order.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody (20)
2. Fat Bottomed Girls (13)
3. Killer Queen (11)
4. We Are The Champions (10)
5. I Want To Break Free (7)
6. Another One Bites The Dust (6)
7= A Kind Of Magic, Bicycle Race, Radio Gaga (5)
10= Don’t Stop Me Now, Somebody To Love (4)
12. We Will Rock You (3)
13= Flash, Princes Of The Universe, Seven Seas Of Rhye, These Are The Days Of Our Lives (2)

With the top four collectively grabbing 45% of all your nominations, this is further evidence that, unlike The Beatles and David Bowie, Queen are most readily associated with a fairly small number of key songs.

(Or maybe the readers of MBIAT spend too much time thinking about fat bottomed girls. But let’s not over-analyse.)

Er, sorry? Did I say I’d finished? Return to your seats! I’ve barely started!

Breaking down the nominations by year, it’s clear that Queen are mostly associated with the 1970s (69% of all votes). The most popular year was 1975 (25 votes, 6 songs), followed by 1978 (22 votes, 3 songs), then 1974 and 1977 (14 votes, 3 songs). Every year from 1973 to 1980 picks up at least one vote – after which there’s a gap until 1984, and only a small trickle of votes after that.

Of Queen’s 15 studio albums, A Night At The Opera has easily the highest recognition factor, with 6 out of its 12 tracks being nominated. The only album to poll no votes at all was that staple of the bargain bins, 1982’s Hot Space. (Which I actually quite liked, because they went all disco-funky in a rather odd sort of way. But then I’ve always had weird taste.)

Comparing singles with album tracks, 24 singles were nominated (out of a total of 46), versus 10 album tracks. The most popular album track was We Will Rock You (so long as you forget that dreadful re-make with the boyband 5ive, from a few years ago). The only other album track to poll more than a single vote was Princes Of The Universe – better known as the theme from Highlander.

(Nearly there now. You’re doing very well.)

You successfully managed to recall 15 of the band’s 24 UK Top 10 hits, including all 10 of them from Seven Seas Of Rhye (1974) to Flash (1980). However, things change dramatically from that point on, with only 5 of the remaining 14 being mentioned – another sign that you remember their 1970s work much better than their 1980s work.

Of the songs you ignored, the two biggest omissions are Under Pressure and Innuendo, both of which reached Number One – and I’m surprised to see that no-one mentioned One Vision, either.

Lastly, I should mention the two spoiled ballot papers. “Freddie Mercury” is not a Queen song, and neither is “Do The Freddie”. Tsk, really.

Thank you for participating, and for keeping me happily mired in pointless trivia for, ooh, longer than I care to think about.

Coming up soon: Quick, think of a song by the Goombay Dance Band.


Things I Was Going To Tell You About This Week, But Never Got Round To.

(posted by Mike)

  • Being asked to compile a DJ mix CD… for a dressage event. Bring on the dancing horses! (The prototype is in the burner right now. It’s quite heavy on Mylo, Lemon Jelly and The Gotan Project. Because I’ve been specifically instructed to drag the dowdy old world of dressage kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s the sort of mission which I relish.)
  • The absolutely rubbish “cult” Japanese horror DVD we watched last night. Dark Water, it was called. Horror my arse. I’ve had more frights at lights-up time down the local gay disco.
  • The really good gig I went to on Tuesday: Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, sans Beefheart. Almost as good as when my boyfriend K and I saw them last summer. (K hadn’t been to a rock concert since walking out of The Smiths in 1986, owing to claustrophobia from the screaming crowds… and he conquered his fears admirably, even rushing up to one of the band members after the show, like a complete groupie. My boyfriend is a tart.) However, K wimped out this time round – “too tired, stress at work, blah-di-blah” – opting to stay at home and watch Dame Judi and Dame Maggi cavorting about in Ladies In Lavender (or “Ladies In Lav”, as it said on my ticket stub at the arts cinema last autumn). Much more appropriate to a man of his age than exposing himself in public to a loud atonal scratchy guitar racket… but I was still a tad disappointed. My boyfriend is a…

Bugger, I’ve run out of T-words. Time I was off, then. Cheerio, Belgium. It’s been real. And see you next week for Big Blogger 2005, hopefully – when Zoe and I could well find ourselves going head-to-head in a viciously competitive bout of Reality Blogging. We shall see! A bientot, mes copains!

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