Big Blogger update.

Over in the Big Blogger house, I have particularly enjoyed the two most recent tasks: devising a new festival (The International Festival Of Blog), and inventing a new sport (The “Last To Be Picked” Champions League).

I also had fun dreaming up a lonely hearts advert. Come share my bubbles!

Meanwhile, Miss Mish has explained the rules of Extreme Shoe Shopping, and JonnyB has told us about the time he met Peter Andre. So, you see, it’s not all vast acres of free-form wibble. Oh no. We’re quite the Quality Destination Blog Of Choice these days, I think you’ll find.

Back in the real world, fellow Big Blogger housemate Alan found himself caught up in what sounds like some unpleasantly heavy-handed policing tactics, whilst wandering round Edinburgh in the middle of the G8 protests. The comments at the end of his piece reflect a wide range of views: some of them critical of his judgement, but all of them (to date) expressed in a remarkably (and refreshingly) even-tempered manner. (via)

Originally posted on Big Blogger:

16 June 2005: task 3.

big blogger is taking the mick
by making me look really thick
for is anything worse
than half-hearted verse
from this barely competent hick?

i’ve never been able to rhyme
i have neither patience nor time
it’s such a big faff!
it’s really quite naff!
and not worth a nickel or dime!

oh christ, is there still one more verse?
this task gets progressively worse!
i’m under duress
and i’m not built for stress
so big blogger, please send for the nurse!


17 June 2005: mini-task: five rules.

1. No more holding in of farts, please. We’re all in danger of rupturing ourselves from the strain. So let’s just collectively let rip and have done with it, eh?

2. No more of this “ooh, I’m not really a smoker but could I just nick one of yours?” nonsense. Yes, I know it’s stressful in here. But there are other methods of relief. (See #1 above.)

3. Much as we all adore our dear little Quickos, I do feel that puppets should be seen but not heard before noon. There’s just something fundamentally wrong about morning chirpiness, don’t you think?

4. Bottled lager should never be poured down the side of a glass. You should pour it vertically – i.e. straight down the middle – then let the head settle, then pour a little bit more, and so on. Yes, it does require a small degree of patience. But what are we, savages?

5. No more “ironic” plays of the Crazy Frog tune off my iPod, please. That joke is like so OVAH. (And the same goes for “Is This The Way To Amarillo”. What is this, February?)

21 June 2005: mike’s dilemma.

Big Blogger rules stipulate that the most popular blogmate in the vote, which is Mike, has the opportunity to reverse the decision if he so wishes.

He would simply have to substitute another blogmate of his choosing (Mike excepted) for Dr Rob.

Dr Rob or another? Mike decides.

Oh, within the hour. Starting ..NOW!

Big Blogger. 2:50 pm

Oh. My. God.

Mike had completely forgotten about this twist in the rules. Lost in thought, he turns off his iPod, makes himself a cup of tea, and wanders off to the garden.

Such power in his hands. But how should he exercise it?

Mike doesn’t believe in free rides. With this in mind, he would have voted off the almost entirely silent Grocerjack in the blink of an eye. However, Big Blogger has already beaten him to it.

Have any of the other contestants fallen perilously silent? Mike checks the archives.

It quickly becomes apparent that neither Clair nor Vicus Scurra has spoken since last Thursday. And five days is a long time in blogging.

On the other hand, Dr Rob has barely shut up since he entered the house. The place would certainly be a lot more peaceful without him. But then, who signed up for a “peaceful” house in the first place?

On the other hand, isn’t it a long-established truism that the “characters” always get voted out first in these sorts of contests? And wouldn’t it be a better game if the “characters” were allowed to stay?

On the other hand, the people have voted – and who is Mike to overturn the popular mandate?

Mike stares into the tea leaves at the bottom of his now empty cup… and gasps. Has the oppressive heat got to him, or have the tea leaves settled into the shape of… a heart?

Follow your heart, thinks Mike. The leaves have spoken.

And with that, he strides purposefully back into the living area, and addresses Big Blogger.

“Big Blogger, this is Mike. Although loquacious at times, Dr Rob has nevertheless been a valuable asset to the house. I therefore wish to save him from eviction, by substituting the person with the second highest number of votes. That person is…”



(Mike understands the value of dramatic pauses at times like these.)



(The housemates hold their breath.)



Mr Hair.

And on that bombshell, we cut to the commercial break.

June 22 2005: task 4: lonely.

bb-advertStruggling through college? Then come share my bubbles!

Successful IT consultant, early 40s (going on 19!), seeks fun-loving companions to help me enjoy my champagne lifestyle.

Daytime only Mon-Fri. Discretion assured.

Towels provided. ALAWP. No fatties, femmes or freaks.

June 23 2005: the giddy whirl, condensed: a summary of the first week’s activities in the big blogger house.

(A summary of the second week’s activities will follow at a later date.)

Thursday June 9.

15 blogmates have entered the house: Mr Hair, JonnyB, Grocerjack, Miss Mish, Mike, The Girl, Vitriolica, Alan, Zoe, Dr Rob, Peter, NML, Clair, Vicus Scurra and Gordon.

Peter lies comatose on his bed. No-one is able to wake him, until Mike brings out his “special” smelling salts. Clair is the first to try the jacuzzi.

Big Blogger announces the start of the contest, and sets the first task: a general introduction.

JonnyB, Zoe, Dr Rob, Miss Mish, Vitriolica, Vicus Scurra and Clair introduce themselves. Peter mumbles in his sleep.

Friday, June 10.

The Girl (“resident sex fiend“) introduces herself. Vicus Scurra attempts to start a religious debate, and complains to Big Blogger about the absence of Boris Johnson from the house.

Gordon and Mr Hair introduce themselves.

Dr Rob continues the debate, to Vitriolica’s amusement, as Peter stumbles about in his dressing gown.

Alan and Mike introduce themselves.

Big Blogger defends the house from low-flying pr0nographers.

Clair initiates a game of Twister, which continues in the comments box.

In one of his few communications with the outside world, the enigmatic Grocerjack introduces himself.

Dr Rob provides a picture, and (not for the last time) wibbles on for a bit.

NML is the penultimate housemate to introduce herself, while Zoe flashes her arse and Vitriolica provides an artist’s impression of the Twister game. The second day finishes with a picture of Alan, nostrils flaring.

Saturday June 11.

Peter has a nasty turn, and returns to bed. While the other housemates sleep, Dr Rob takes a solitary early morning stroll. Miss Mish has an unpleasant surprise on the way to the bathroom.

In a shock development, Quickos (a stowaway glove puppet) announces his presence in the house. At the end of a vicious anti-celebrity tirade, Vicus Scurra admits to a fatal fondness for Christine Hamilton. Grocerjack rises, ablutes, and has an Irn Bru for breakfast. We never hear from him again.

Peter is the final housemate to introduce himself. JonnyB introduces his “special friend”: a sock puppet called Mr Mitt. Vitriolica provides an illustrated explanation of Irn Bru, for the uninitiated. Clair provides a signed photo.

The puppets are multiplying, with the addition of Dr Rob’s “special friend”, Socky. Where will it all end?

The Girl bids the day farewell with a candid tongue-job.

Sunday June 12.

Quickos learns all about being on the radio, and turns up as a tattoo on The Girl’s backside, during an impromptu Eurovision Thong Contest. Apples are served by Clair for breakfast; Peter chows down.

Little Blogger introduces himself, and opens The Diary Room for the first time.

In the garden, Socky has a shredded wheat for breakfast, while Gordon frolics in the nude, Mr Hair reveals himself, and Clair discovers a secret stash of booze. It’s all too much for Alan, who stays in bed with his Cillit Bang-induced hangover.

Big Blogger reprimands Gordon for snoring. Vitriolica inspects various body parts, and discovers Zoe’s tattoo. Having sneaked out of the house to buy a newspaper, Miss Mish sneaks back in again, and tries to get a game of Scrabble going.

Monday June 13.

In his sleep, Dr Rob duets with Davina on eviction night, in a surreal update of R.E.M’s Losing My Religion. At the unholy hour of 7:44 am, Quickos launches his Special Breakfast Radio Show. Peter rewards him by arranging a dental appointment. However, before this can happen, a tearful Quickos is given his marching orders from the house.

Big Blogger announces the second task: a “Dodo sighting” e-mail to the BBC’s Springwatch programme. Alan, Miss Mish, Vitriolica, Gordon, JonnyB, Dr Rob, The Girl, Zoe, Clair, Vicus Scurra, Mike and NML complete the task. By posting his reply from the BBC, Mike gains immunity from the forthcoming public vote.

Angered by the eviction of Quickos, Mike stages a rooftop protest. Big Blogger points out the architectural dangers of continuing his protest. Failing to win the support of his housemates, Mike descends from the roof, giving Clair a nasty shock in the process. However, he is at least supported by the fourth mascot to appear in the house: Alan’s “special friend” Spike.

Headed by Socky, the remaining mascots start to hatch a plan to save their evicted friend.

The day ends in controversy, as Peter decides against doing the “Dodo sighting” task, choosing instead to be evicted. To calm the situation, Little Blogger provides a film, and teacakes.

Tuesday June 14.

Under the cover of darkness, Alan sneaks out for a secret rendezvous with a top celebrity (to the chagrin of Vicus Scurra). Indeed, as Vitriolica documents in some detail, it is an altogether busy night. And what’s that, stirring in the undergrowth?

A bleary-eyed Dr Rob has an unpleasant encounter with a bathroom mirror.

Something is definitely stirring in the undergrowth, as the mascots prepare to smuggle Quickos back in the house.

Little Brother gets serious, and moves in for the kill. The mascots disappear, in a massive explosion of furry body parts.

Mr Hair completes the second task. Dr Rob forges a reply from Bill Oddie at the BBC.

Vitriolica spots NML flirting with Little Blogger in the corner of the garden. Zoe requests a swimming pool, as all the housemates can’t fit into the jacuzzi. Dr Rob, um, wanders about the place, not making a great deal of sense, and hallucinating an encounter with Julie Burchill in the garden.

Still in a conciliatory mood after “fight night”, Little Blogger supplies the house with snacks, drinks… and a swimming pool, filled with Pimms. This inspires Miss Mish (channelling the spirit of Joyce Grenfell) to throw a garden party.

In another shock plot twist, Quickos re-enters the house, this time at Big Blogger’s specific invitation.

Dr Rob expands further on the subject of the house’s new favourite tipple, Cillit Bang.

At the end of the evening, Little Blogger opens the first eviction poll.

Wednesday June 15.

In the shower, Zoe is joyfully reunited with her beloved Quickos. Attempting another secret early morning assignation, Alan blunders into the new swimming pool. Once again (but to no avail), Vicus Scurra attempts to raise the tone of the house by suggesting some debating points. Lying in bed, a scheming Gordon decides to raise his game plan.

In a homage to Hunter S Thompson, Dr Rob reports on the eviction campaigns.

Meanwhile, the female housemates confer in the Pimms-filled swimming pool. Clair disappears into the shed with a selection of tools, and starts making loud banging sounds. Nobody quite knows what she is up to. NML distributes biscuits. After 50 laps, Zoe has a “transparent swimsuit” crisis, and calls for a towel.

June 27 2005: task 5: hi ho…


Name: Mike Troubled-Diva.

Age: 43 (going on 19!)

Marital Status: Same sex civil partnership registration pending. We’re envisaging matching white suits, turtle doves, and a minimalist gazebo. I have been working on the mix CD for months.

Dependants: 1 cleaner; 1 contemporary ceramics collection; 1 Princess Diana Memorial Garden; 2 Agas; 1 newly arrived Belgian glove puppet (photographic evidence pending).

Summary: A highly committed and motivated individual, with excellent emotional intelligence and inter-species communications skills, Mike will be an asset to any zoological incarceration establishment.

Qualifications: HND, Animal Husbandry. Founding member of Itwatch. Regular contributor to the popular Radio 4 series, That’s My It!

Career history: 20 years’ experience in It consultancy. Regular volunteer work for Itline: a telephone counselling service for troubled zoological professionals who have been affected by post-It trauma (or “the sticky yellows”, as it is known in common parlance).

Other interests: self-aggrandisement, self-deprecation, self-abuse, the Eurovision Song Contest.


June 28 2005: the relentless wibble, compressed: a summary of the second week’s activities in the big blogger house.

Thursday June 16.

Just after midnight, Big Blogger announces the third task: a poem from each housemate, starting with the words “Big Blogger is”.

Vicus Scurra is the first to complete the task, less than an hour after it was announced.

Quickos talks of sunbathing, helping Clair in the shed, and helping Mike to set up a special disco.

Gordon, Dr Rob, Clair, Mike, Zoe and Alan complete the task.

Little Blogger surveys the scene in the house, and announces a “question and answer” session in the Diary Room. Vicus Scurra is the first in the Diary Room, followed by Zoe and Vitriolica.

Vitriolica completes the poetry task, apologises for its crapness, and provides an oil painting by way of recompense.

Friday June 17.

Quickos is up first, with an early morning report. Noting a certain degree of hostility to the little fella, Big Blogger canvasses opinion: should Quickos stay or go? In the comments box, opinion is mixed.

Miss Mish completes the poetry task twice over, in both haiku and limerick formats.

In the Diary Room, Mike, Miss Mish, JonnyB, Dr Rob and Alan submit to the “question and answer” task, with many housemates expressing concern at the volume of posts.

The tasks are coming thick and fast, as Big Blogger announces a mini-assignment for the weekend: a set of five house rules from each housemate.

Gordon sneaks out for the weekend. JonnyB provides poetry. Mike and Dr Rob (or “Stalin Incarnate”) lay down some rules.

Saturday June 18.

A quiet day. Dr Rob writes a second poem, for Fathers’ Day. Vitriolica and Miss Mish make some rules. NML completes the poetry task, Michael Jackson style.

Sunday June 19.

Another quiet day. The Girl answers questions in the Diary Room. NML and Zoe make rules. The Girl and Mr Hair are the last housemates to complete the poetry task, with Mr Hair scraping home just six minutes before the deadline.

Vitriolica has an explanation for the lack of activity in the house over the weekend…and it ain’t the heat.

Monday June 20.

Alan and Mr Hair make the rules. Gordon sneaks back in, and answers questions in the Diary Room. Dr Rob photographs some of the sunbathing housemates.

Tuesday June 21.

After three quiet days, Tuesday brings a swarm of activity, with plot twists, evictions, and huge lashings of controversy.

On one of his customary early morning strolls, Dr Rob prepares for eviction. The “rules” task ends with JonnyB’s contribution, while NML brings up the rear with the Diary Room “questions and answers” task.

Just before midday, Vitrilolica wakes the still slumbering house, noisily. A demob-happy Dr Rob joins in.

Big Blogger announces the first evictions, ordering Grocerjack and Dr Rob to pack their bags. Grocerjack gets the boot for not completing the second and third tasks, while Dr Rob is voted out by the public, with 19% of the popular vote. Downing his last cup of Cillit Bang (the house tipple), Dr Rob says his farewells.

Big Blogger announces the fourth main task: a lonely hearts advertisment.

In a shock plot twist, Mike exercises his special prerogative, granting Dr Rob a last minute reprieve from eviction, and substituting the housemate with the second highest number of votes: Mr Hair. His claim that “the tea leaves made me do it” falls on deaf ears, as uproar breaks out in the comments box. All that remains is for Big Blogger to confirm the decision.

As if a double eviction wasn’t enough, Quickos also announces his departure: he has decided to visit Mike’s partner K, in order to keep him company in Mike’s absence.

In the midst of this pandemonium, an arachnophobic Zoe freaks out in the toilet.

Little Blogger returns from surgery, and marvels at what he has missed.

Vitriolica kicks off the “lonely hearts” task.

Wednesday June 22.

A reprieved Dr Rob (literally) turns over a new leaf, and places an illustrated lonely hearts ad.

Other lonely hearts ads are placed by Mike, Gordon and Alan.

In the Diary Room, Gordon requests an extension to the task deadline, which is granted by Big Blogger. Big Blogger also asks the housemates to provide secret nominations for this week’s public vote.

The lonely hearts task is continued by Miss Mish, Zoe, Vicus Scurra, JonnyB andThe Girl.

In the evening, Dr Rob treats the housemates to a film.

Clair is still in the shed, where she has been since the previous Wednesday. What is she building in there?


June 29 2005: as there seems to be some confusion…

…let Davina-Mike explain today’s multitudinous plot twists to you one more time.

Yesterday was the expected eviction day. However, Big Blogger didn’t show up.

Today, Little Blogger stepped into the breach and announced a triple eviction:

1. Dr Rob, who received the highest number of public votes.

2. Vicus Scurra, who didn’t complete the “It” task. A few days ago, Vicus indicated in one of the comments boxes that he had become indifferent to the contest. He also hasn’t posted since last Wednesday.

3. Gordon, who escaped from the house on Sunday, and has indicated on his own blog that he doesn’t wish to return. This may have something to do with the fact that Gordon is just about to go off on his holidays.

Dr Rob said his farewells, and prepared to leave the house.

Little Blogger was just about to re-introduce last week’s controversial rule (the most popular housemate has one hour to overrule the eviction), when…

…Big Blogger swept back into the house (having been shamefully absent since last Friday), and promptly overruled Little Blogger’s decision.

As it was only ever intended to evict two housemates this week, and not three, Big Blogger decided to reprieve one of the three evictees.

As Big Blogger could hardly grant a reprieve to a contestant who had already resigned from the game, he was left with only one choice: to save Dr Rob from eviction for the second week running. This effectively rendered this week’s public vote null and void.

Now that Vicus Scurra and Gordon have left the house, the remaining ten housemates are: JonnyB, Miss Mish, Mike, The Girl, Vitriolica, Alan, Zoe, Dr Rob, NML and Clair.

Davina-Mike respectfully asks Big Blogger to pay a bit more attention in future… and that days-old sidebar won’t update itself, either. Come on! We’re doing our bit! You do yours!


June 30 2005: task 6: festival of blog.

Good afternoon! Mike here, reporting live from the first ever International Festival Of Blog: an “awareness-raising” event, which aims to highlight all that’s best about our colourful, vibrant, multi-talented community. Let’s take a stroll round the site, shall we?

Heavens! What’s all that shouting, coming from the red-faced man on the orange crate with the megaphone in his hand? Why, it’s our very own Speakers Corner, hosted by the political bloggers! This has certainly drawn a large and attentive crowd. Let’s move a little closer, and find out what the red-faced man is shouting about. An end to world poverty? Social justice? Human rights? Global warming?

“This morning, Glenn Reynolds linked to an article by Andrew Sullivan, which examines James Lilek’s reaction to Perry De Havilland’s critique of Robert Fisk. Meanwhile, Stephen Pollard answers Melanie Phillips by quoting Natalie Solent’s reply to Nick Barlow, who…”

Er… right on! Keep kicking over the statues, political bloggers!

Over to our left, we have the Dance Tent, hosted by the MP3 bloggers. What “phat tunes” are they “dropping” in there, I wonder? Let’s ask the slightly grumpy looking man in the corner, busily stroking his goatee.

Well! Who knew that minimalist Patagonian electroclash was so popular? Good work there, MP3 bloggers! Put the needle on the record, and pump up the jam!

Over to our right, there’s a smaller looking tent, shrouded in darkness, whose walls appear to be wobbling all over the place. What’s going on in there, then? Shall we lift the flap and take a peek?

Goodness gracious! Lick my quivering quim, it’s the Orgy Tent, hosted by the sex-bloggers. Ouch! Who did that? Making our excuses, let’s move swiftly on.

Ah, here’s the Sports Arena, where a group of rather officious-looking bloggers with clipboards and calculators are attempting to host the Most Popular Blogger Ever In The History Of Blogging contest. Unfortunately, they’re being picketed by the anarcho-syndicalist collectivist bloggers, who are holding up placards saying “Down With Elitism!“, and chanting “We just do what we do! And if anyone else happens to like it, that’s a bonus!” Something tells me they’re going to be at it all night. Much like the sex-bloggers, in fact.

Our tour continues past the Livejournal Field (where thousands of glum-looking teenagers dressed in black are standing on their own and mumbling to themselves), past the tug-of-war race (where Movable Type are taking on Blogger), past the Practical Trackbacking workshop, the lottery stall (sponsored by Technorati), the photo-booth (sponsored by Flickr), the legal advice drop-in centre (“What to do if you’ve been Dooced”) and the official merchandising stand (where Tom Coates will be signing photos at 5pm sharp)… and ends on a solemn note, as we stand in reverent silence in front of the Tomb Of The Anonymous Hiating Blogger, and offer our prayers for a swift return.

All that remains is for us to sign the official comments book (“Woo! You rock!”), as provided by the lovely folks at Haloscan. Oh dear, it looks as if the pages have already been filled up by adverts for Generic Viagra. Well, no matter. Let the festival continue! Blog pride!

This is Mike, live at the International Festival Of Blog, returning you to the Big Blogger house.


July 5 2005: task 7: introduce a new sport.

In solidarity with all those silently suffering schoolkids who are as crap at football now as I was thirty years ago, I propose that we turn our shared affliction into a competitive advantage. Presenting: The “Last To Be Picked” Champions League.

Objective: To be the last person to be picked for the football team, on the maximum number of occasions.

Scoring: One point for every time you are picked last. Points are accumulated over the school football season, with the winner being announced at the end of the season.

Tactics: To be picked last, it is important to demonstrate your absolute crapness at football, at all times. Ball avoidance is therefore critical. You should aim to place yourself strategically around the pitch, ensuring maximum distance from the ball wherever possible.

On those unavoidable occasions where the ball does come your way, the best tactic is to grimace and flinch. Turning yourself away from the ball is an excellent manoeuvre. Out of sight, out of mind! If in doubt, simply deny the ball’s existence.

If the ball hits your foot, then get rid of it immediately. Direction is immaterial. Don’t make an overt show of always passing it to the opposition, as this smacks of latent skill, and might lead to your being found out.

(Yes, this is a secret mission. It is crucial that you should appear at all times to be making no effort whatsoever.)

Those who are picked last are traditionally placed in defence, as it is reckoned that they will do less damage this way. This is an excellent position for you to be in. Whenever the ball is up at the other end of the pitch, you should consolidate this position by standing stock still and staring into space, with a vacant, slightly gormless expression.

Alternatively, you can crouch down and either re-tie your bootlaces or search the pitch for four-leafed clovers.

At this point, you may also care to sing softly to yourself. Our recommended song is Bohemian Rhapsody, as it is quite long and comes in several sections. The experienced player can actually measure his remaining time on the pitch in Bohemian Rhapsodys, or BRs. (“Only 2.5 BRs to go, and then I’ll be safely back in the changing room.“)

An alternative strategy is to strike up a conversation with your fellow defender(s). This should be disconsolate in nature, and whining in tone. (A classic opener: “My ears are really really cold.“) This has become known as the Mothers’ Meeting gambit. However, you should be aware that your fellow defender may well be playing the same game as you – so be careful not to play into their hands.

Bonus points. Once you have been selected for the team, a bonus point will be awarded for every fellow team member who greets your inclusion with the traditional groan: “Oh no, we’ve got [insert surname] again.” Bonus points will also be awarded for own goals, hand-balls, injuries (real or feigned), and audible sobbing.

Points will be deducted for whooping, cheering, successful tackling, goal scoring or any other overt displays of competence.

This is a concept whose time has come. To all those who, like me, were born with the special gift of two left feet, I say: throw off your shackles, stand up tall, and celebrate your crapness.

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