So, yeah. It does rather look as if the Consequences thing has reached its natural conclusion.

“And I can only wonder…if it was now, I could have sued the bitch.”

Thinking about it, this final sentence of Vitriolica’s brings our little game of online Consequences almost full circle, with its echoes of Rob’s piece, in which he named and shamed his wicked singing teacher.

So let’s leave it there. My thanks to all who took part. (No, there aren’t any prizes this time. Souvenir mugs are on sale in the lobby.)

Readers of yesterday’s Independent newspaper might have come across a two paragraph extract from this blog, as part of a two-page spread on “Citizens of the internet”, in which Troubled Diva rubs shoulders with online diarists such as Boris Johnson, Barbra Streisand, Moby, Jamie Oliver, Salam Pax, Belle De Jour, Gillian Anderson and Rosie O’Donnell. Nearly four years after starting the blog, this was its first ever mention in the printed version of a national daily newspaper – and so, naturally, I was thrilled.

Except for just one teensy-weensy thing. The excerpt in question wasn’t actually written by me at all, but by the lovely and talented Vitriolica (who is also about to whup my ass by winning Big Blogger). This led The Independent, in their wisdom, to credit the authorship of Troubled Diva to “Anonymous Woman”.


And relax.

So, yeah, sorry about the lack of updates this week, but it has also been the final week of Big Blogger, where I have been devoting all my energies to the final week’s task: seven posts, in seven days, on the theme of the number seven. Here’s what I came up with:

#1: the seven ages of Mike. A potted autobiography, in seven year intervals, which finishes up in 2011 with a suspiciously happy ending. I like to think of this as an “aspirational” piece.

#2: seven deadly sins of blogging. When inspiration runs low, there is always meta-blogging to fall back upon. Regular readers will know of what I speak.

#3: Where are they now? We catch up with seven of the former Big Blogger housemates. Glory for Peter, but ignominy for Zoe. Riddled with in-jokes, this was still my favourite of the seven posts.

#4: twenty questions. (an interactive post). Actually, this one turned out to be a total flop. But hey, it worked in rehearsal.

#5: seven stonkers and seven honkers. The inevitable music-related post. Eight weeks into the contest, and it’s a wonder that I managed to hold back for so long.

#6: seven reasons why i don’t want a dog (in the face of enormous pressure from my partner). This has been something of a “live issue” in recent months.

#7: seven things to bear in mind when casting your vote, if you haven’t already done so. A desperate last-minute pitch for votes. Truly I have no shame.

Anyway, with Vitriolica on the verge of being crowned Big Blogger 2005 (she really is streets ahead), I shall be returning to this site full time. I’ve enjoyed the Big Blogger experience: chaotic, informal, daft, mostly good-natured, and with something of the feeling of a summer camp for bloggers about it. No idea how many people have been reading it, but that was part of the fun; I think we were basically just performing for each other’s amusement, and I enjoyed the “off duty” feeling which that engendered.

Right then. Time for an al fresco luncheon in the PDMG: melon and serrano ham, washed down with a glass of apple juice. Did I mention that we’ve been on holiday all week?

And finally: because he asked nicely in the village pub yesterday evening, then got all embarrassed and nobly withdrew his request, and because he’s a regular reader and a good mate, and because I’ve never, EVER done this sort of thing before… this next link is for “Bob”.


One does what one can do oil the wheels of industry. My melon calleth. Good day to you.

1 August 2005: #1: the seven ages of mike.

1969: 7 years old.

Obsessed with comics: Sparky, Whizzer & Chips, TV Comic, Beano, Dandy, Cor!, Beezer, Topper. Capable of holding elementary conversations in Finnish, and relatively sophisticated conversations in French. Much time spent with an ever-expanding cast of imaginary friends, many of them middle-aged women: Mrs. Hayfries (pleasant and sensible; husband a bit of a drip, with his cardigan and pipe and all), Mrs. Albertine (sent to prison for hitting a policeman on the head with a rock cake, chucked from her kitchen window), and Mrs. Checkerbocker (who came over from Poland after the war, don’t you know). Bit of a crush on Cliff Richard. Favourite TV programmes: Basil Brush (“That’s all we’ve got time for this week, Basil.” “But you CAN’T leave him like THAT!”), Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!), Blue Peter (Val, John & Pete, natch), Wacky Races (yay for the Arkansas Chugabug), Scooby-Doo (bit of a crush on Freddy).

1976: 14 years old.

Obsessive, horribly debilitating crush on a boy in the year below, whom I had to admire from afar because getting too close made me too self-conscious to cope. (Looking back, I think he probably knew, and found it quite sweet, and handled me really rather considerately.) Equally obsessive fascination with punk rock, as also observed from afar via the weekly music press (NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, Record Mirror, National Rockstar). Concentration slipping at school, as the combination of puberty and the long hot summer of 1976 sent my hormones racing. Hideously bad acne; hideously poor personal hygiene and dress sense. Traumatised by my father’s rapid courtship and re-marriage, bringing a flamboyant stepmother and three boisterous new step-siblings into my quiet, ordered, fiercely private world. Much time spent in floods of tears: of loneliness, self-pity, bewilderment, inadequacy, frustration, humiliation and despair.

1983: 21 years old.

First boyfriend, chosen simply because I was desperate to have one, and he was the first to ask. All previously cherished romantic idealism flies straight out of the window, as I struggle to cope with his own obsessive nature and overblown, unnervingly intense devotion. As a result, I discover that I have it in me to be something of a cold, hard bastard. Hair died blonde, in a vague attempt to look like Kirk Brandon, and slathered in gloopy fistfuls of Boots “Country Born” hair gel (turquoise and sticky, leaving my hair with the look and texture of dried straw). Wednesday nights at the Asylum, dancing to Blue Monday, Buffalo Gals, Let’s Go To Bed. Saturday nights at Part Two, attempting to pull without the aid of my over-sized Trevor Horn glasses (or “cruise shields”), and making some wildly optimistic misjudgements in the process. Move to Berlin in the late summer, ending up in an idealistically communal flatshare with a cheery, easy-going bunch of hippy-ish schoolmistresses, ten years my senior.

1990: 28 years old.

The Social Lynchpin years kick off in earnest, as our pool of friends expands at an almost exponential rate, and our Edwardian terraced semi becomes everyone’s favourite weekend hangout and late night bar. Recently promoted at work, to a position of considerable technical responsibility; but the new role is a poor fit for my skills, and I’m finding it a struggle. My partner of five years’ standing is spending at least one week in three overseas, as his new job takes him all round the world; our drinks cabinet is bulging from all the duty-frees. The flourishing social life keeps me going in his absence, but adds to his stress when he’s back in the country, and craving some personal space between trips. (Some Sunday afternoons, we gaze around the sitting room and wonder how all these people even got here.) Sick of all the Proclaimers jokes, I replace the cruise shields with contact lenses, get a sharp new haircut, and see my stock rise accordingly, becoming quite the belle of Nero’s in my Keith Haring T-shirt and white jeans. Apparently, I am a swan. Let’s just say that I am not slow to grasp the opportunities which this affords.

1997: 35 years old.

After seven wasted years in a job which I refused to admit that I hated and was no good at, I have shifted sideways; despite the perceived drop in status, I am vastly happier, with a renewed sense of purpose. Two years of intense, full-on clubbing mayhem reach their zenith in the summer; having taken things to their logical conclusion (and several points beyond it), I slowly start to turn the corner. But it’s small steps, and it will be quite a while before I give up entirely on those mad Sunday mornings at Trade. With the swanky labels swapped for Ben Shermans, 501s, biker boots, and that petrol blue Schott bomber jacket, I am every inch the card-carrying urban faggot; each issue of Gay Times is studiously ingested from cover to cover, as my sense of gay identity strengthens and deepens – but also, in a wider context, obscures and reduces. I’ve got big gay blinkers on, and I don’t much care.

2004: 42 years old.

Two changes of employer later, I’m travelling extensively in Europe, and understanding for the first time just why my partner found it so stressful, all those years ago. Having mercilessly pruned our social life in the city (barring those decadent, bohemian midweek nights at the Dorothy Parker round table in the local tranny bar), priorities are now firmly directed towards our weekend lives in the country, where a whole new identity is establishing itself. It’s no longer the “weekend cottage” bolt hole; it’s now a real home, within a real community. A holiday in Peru turns into an endurance test, as a whole sequence of health problems besiege me throughout, and for several weeks thereafter. As the physical problems subside, so mental ones take their place, as I enter my first sustained period of depression since the mid-life crisis of 1999. By the end of the year, I have stabilised; a week of unparalleled, blissful luxury in a magnificently appointed spa resort signals my full recovery.

2011: 49 years old.

Freed from the necessity to earn a regular income, my life has developed and enriched itself in ways which I could never have forseen in the dark, lost, chemically addled years of my thirties. In early middle age (hell, I’m not f**king fifty yet), I have reconnected with those talents which childhood had signalled, and adolescence had buried. Success (as measured on my own terms and nobody else’s) is no longer a freaky, unsettling headf**k; I have learnt both to accommodate it, and to build on it. It feels like waking up from a long sleep. Best of all, I have finally shaken off the low-level fatigue which had held me back for years; energies flow easily through me now, both mental and physical. The final vestiges of Neurotic Boy Outsiderism have also fallen away, leaving me able to sup at the table of the great and good without losing my core sense of self. Freed from distracting desires which could never be adequately fulfilled, I pass through life with confidence and purpose, the multiple identities of my past consolidated into a unified whole. The thirty-four inch trousers remain, however, a considerable source of regret.

1 August 2005: #2: seven deadly sins of blogging.

Disclaimer: the author has, at one time or another, committed most of these sins himself, and will doubtless do so again. However, we can at least strive for betterment.

1. The dashing of raised expectations. “Wow, I’m really excited: I’m off to see the Snotty Throttlers tonight! Hope it’s a good gig!” Darling, we are all positively thrilled for you. Now, would you mind coming back and telling us what the gig was actually like? Or has your fickle little brain already leapt onto the next forthcoming engagement in your enviously packed social diary?

2. Laboriously detailed blow-by-blow transcripts of unsatisfactory telephone conversations with service suppliers. However irksome it must have been to have been stuck on hold for fifteen minutes before being palmed off with another feeble excuse from a call centre dweeb, this does not give you carte blanche to turn into some sort of fearless investigative consumer journalist. (“Today on Mikey’s Idiosyncratic Witterings, we EXPOSE the CANCER at the heart of British banking! When will Barclays/HSBC/NatWest SIT UP AND LISTEN?”)

3. And, on a similar note: “Last night, I spent TWENTY MINUTES deleting spam comments! When will these SCUM learn? Something must be DONE!” Or in other words: I have suffered for this blog; now it’s your turn.

4. Wryly addressing one’s audience as “Dear Reader” does NOT confer you with an attractively arch, playfully ironic authorial tone. Now straighten those eyebrows immediately.

5. Those bloody CSS-based table layouts which send sidebars crashing down to the bottom of the page, if you’re not browsing at maximum screen size: sort it out, why cantcha? HTML <table> tags might be fearfully passé – but they also have the advantage of actually, you know, working.

6. Similarly, designing blog layouts that look like crap in Internet Explorer, then haughtily abdicating all responsibility on the grounds that the reader should have been using a “proper” browser like Firefox. Listen up, tough-talking crusader against the arrogant might of “Micro$oft” (oh, my aching sides!) – not all of your readers are afforded the choice.

7. Falsely assuming that, just because you’ve been blogging for two years or more, this gives you some sort of “elder statesman” authority to make superior-sounding pronouncements upon acceptable standards of blogging. Who died and made you queen, Miss Thing?

8. Blogging about blogging, because you can’t be arsed to come up with any original content. (See also #7 above.)

9. Not being capable of editing blog postings properly, instead letting them drift on and on, way past their original brief, because once you’ve started you just can’t bear to hit that Publish Post button.

2 August 2005: #3: where are they now? we catch up with seven of the former big blogger housemates.

For Grocerjack, Big Blogger was an ordeal that he is trying to forget. “It was awful!” he says. “All the noise, the constant activity, the blatant showing-off… I knew by Day Three that I had made a terrible mistake. Now, all I ask is to be left alone, away from the public eye, so that I can resume a normal life.” But life has not always been easy for the reclusive shopkeeper. “I keep getting stopped in the street, by people who recognise me from the show. They all seem to want something from me – like I’m public property. Why can’t they just leave me be? I’m even thinking of leaving the country for a few weeks, until the fuss dies down. So you can put that camera down right now, do you hear? Now, out of my shop!”

Not lying. “Evict me!” Who can forget that immortal moment when Peter stood up to the might of Big Blogger, sacrificing his place in the house as he did so? Certainly not the thousands of people who voted it their favourite moment ever, in Channel 4’s recent Top 100 Reality Blogging Moments Of All Time. (“It was, like, he’s not! And then he did! Mental!” – Vernon Kay.) And for Peter, the phone has hardly stopped ringing since, as the media offers have come pouring in. “Such a giddy whirl,” he smiles. “You couldn’t make it up!” At the time of writing, rumours that Peter will be replacing Natasha Kaplinksy on BBC1’s breakfast show could neither be confirmed nor denied.

It’s the “must-have” gadget that has been flying off the shelves this summer: Clair‘s revolutionary (and totally organic) cat/toast cocktail shaker has taken the country by storm, with reports of scuffles breaking out at department stores as desperate punters squabble over the rapidly dwindling stock. A shrewd businesswoman, who looks set to become blogging’s first ever millionaire, Clair now admits that her sole reason for entering the Big Blogger house was to promote her invention. “Winning was never my intention”, she explains. “Getting the product to market while the recognition factor was still high, in order to maximise the return on my initial outlay, was always paramount.”

Another former housemate who has successfully capitalised on his experience is the ever-controversial Dr Rob, whose self-help manual Wibble And Win! is now into its third print run in as many weeks. With his groundbreaking “Wibbling Workshop” support groups springing up in every major city, demand for the Doctor has been high – despite the growing groundswell of opposition to the movement. (“A duplicitous charlatan” – Germaine Greer. “Total crap!” – Julie Burchill.) When approached for a “soundbite” quote to accompany this piece, Dr Rob insisted that all of his remarks should be printed in full; regrettably, for reasons of space, we have been forced to excise his contribution.

For the past few weeks, it has been impossible to open a newspaper or periodical without encountering yet another opinion piece by Vicus Scurra, slamming the whole “reality blogging” phenomenon. (“Erudition shunned: why a learned gentleman had no place amidst the caterwauling vulgarity of the Big Blogger house.” – Daily Telegraph. “This witless bedlam must cease!” – The Spectator. “I have seen Armageddon, and it has a comments box.” – The Catholic Herald.) Speculation as to the income generated by these pieces has been rife, but reports have been emerging that Scurra will be seeking fees “in the region of five figures” on the after-dinner lecture circuit.

Despite the success enjoyed by so many of the housemates, Lady Luck has not smiled upon all of them. The case of The Girl has been particularly distressing, with the abrupt cancellation of various lucrative “glamour” modelling contracts (including the front covers of FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo) in the wake of some shocking revelations from members of her family. (“STILL A VIRGIN! BB’S SAUCY GIRL RAPPED BY OWN MUM.” – The Mirror. “A DEVOUT CHURCHGOER WHO IS SAVING HERSELF FOR HER WEDDING NIGHT” – Daily Mail. “KILLJOY GIRL KEEPS TITS UNDER WRAPS!” – The Star.)

But perhaps the saddest story of all belongs to Zoe, the former Golden Girl of European blogging, who has been so badly traumatised by her shock eviction from the house that she has started a desperate “Vigil For Justice” outside the offices of the production company, sleeping rough at night and living off donations from sympathetic readers of her weblog. “I know where you all LIVE!”, she snarls, before taking another hefty glug from her third bottle of Piat D’Or. “And I’m coming to get you, each and every one… yer BASHTARDS!”

And what fate awaits Vitriolica this year’s eventual winner, whoever it might be? Riches or ruination? Immortality or ignominy? Easy Street or Desolation Row? Crowning glory or poisoned chalice? Time alone will tell.

2 August 2005: #4: twenty questions. (an interactive post)

Who or what am I?

Hint: The answer has seven letters.

Please deposit your questions in the comments box.

Each commenter may ask a maximum of three questions.

1. Are you living? (Megan)

It’s a moot existential point. Some would say yes; others would say no. But I’m reluctantly going to have to say… no. (Heh, that’s got ’em foxed…)

2. Are you a blogger? (Lost)

Yes. (Uh-oh…)

3. Have you been blown up recently only to be resurrected a few days later? (Vitriolica)

(Oh CRAP. My partner still hadn’t guessed the answer after twenty questions, having got himself tied up in the most almighty existential/metaphysical muddle. I thought this was going to be TOUGH…)

The answer is yes, of course.

4. oooo I know I know…. Quickos! Do I get a prize? (Lost)

Is the RIGHT answer.

(Ah well, there you go. Look, it worked in rehearsal!)

3 August 2005: #5: seven stonkers and seven honkers.


1. Seven Nation Army – White Stripes.

Featuring that seven-note riff: the one which launched Jack and Meg White into mainstream success, and the one for which they will always be remembered.

2. Seven Seas Of Rhye – Queen.

Unrepentantly baroque to the absolute max, this was Queen’s first hit – and, for my money, still their best. It was all downhill from here, you know. (I sense I might have lost the Belgian vote at this juncture.)

3. Seven Seconds – Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry, and nobody had better mention Dido or else there’ll be big trouble.

I like that bit near the beginning where it sounds as if Youssou N’Dour is singing “Don’t f**k me up” – although he’s doubtless trying to tell us something extremely Wise and Important and Universally Significant about the nature of our existence. Actually, come to think of it, I have absolutely no idea what this song is supposed to be about – but hey, it sounds suitably anthemic and meaningful, and that’s all that matters, right?

4. Seven Days Too Long – Chuck Wood.

“Seven days is too long without you, baby – come on back to me.” A plea which is so compellingly, passionately, fervently delivered that – just this once – I am prepared to overlook the grammatical error. Dexys Midnight Runners also recorded it, but Chuck’s “Northern Soul” original is the only one you need.

5. Seven Deadly Finns – Brian Eno.

“The first is a freak with a masochistic streak
And the second is a kitten up a tree.
The third is a flirt with a bottle print skirt
And the fourth is pretending to be me.”

“The fifth wears a mac and never turns his back
And the sixth never shows his eye-eye-eyes.
But the seventh deadly Finn is so tall and slim
He should have never been with those guys…”

Also contains yodelling. Which is always to be encouraged, I feel.

6. The Magnificent Seven – The Clash.

Located at the precise co-ordinates where punk met funk, white met black, uptown met downtown, art met street, Kingston met Manhattan via Ladbroke Grove, and revolt bled into style. “Brrrbubbllbrrbll! Cheese boiger!”

7. 007 – Desmond Dekker.

I was so glad that the ska revival came along just at the time that I started dancing in public, as there is no move that is easier to learn than the herky-jerky 2-Tone skank. (At halls of residence discos, even the people who didn’t normally dance could muster up a shy little bop to this sort of thing.) I saw Desmond Dekker & The Aces live once, sandwiched between Madness and the Go-Go’s. Absolutely no memory of whether they were any good or not. But this was.


1. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat – Bombalurina featuring Timmy Mallett.

We all remember their immortal rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, but everyone always forgets Bombalurina’s other hit. Can’t imagine why.

2. 7 – Prince and the New Power Generation.

It was around this point (in 1992) that Prince suddenly stopped being a universally acclaimed genius, and turned almost overnight into a tedious, self-indulgent irrelevance with a bloody stupid symbol instead of a name. (And if I had a pound for every dud album thereafter that purported to be a “major return to form”, then I’d have, ooh, about twenty quid by now.)

3. Big Seven – Judge Dread.

With lyrics that were judged too naughty for Radio One, Judge Dread chalked up a whole run of unutterably puerile “comedy ska” hits in the 1970s, which presumably sold on their “scandalous” word-of-mouth reputation alone. Sadly, they were about as funny as the “Confessions” films were erotic. A strange decade, the 1970s.

4. Seven Tears – Goombay Dance Band.

A major hit-making force in Germany, if only a mercifully brief annoyance in the UK, no amount of distracting fire-eating stunts on Top Of The Pops could compensate for the total and utter rankness of the track itself. What were you all thinking, Great British Record Buying Public? A strange decade, the 1980s.

5. 7 Days – Craig David.

From Craig David’s Livejournal:

Sunday July 31.
Mood: chilled.

Saturday July 30.
Made love.
Mood: still horny!

Friday July 29.
Made love.
Mood: very, very horny.

Thursday July 28.
Made love.
Mood: very horny.

Wednesday July 27.
Made love.
Mood: horny.

Tuesday July 26.
Took her for a drink.
Mood: mildly inebriated.

Monday July 25.
Met this girl.
Mood: proper bo!

Painful to admit it, but I actually liked this one at the time. Sometimes, perspective can be a bitch.

6. Sailing On The Seven Seas – OMD.

They had stopped being interestingly arty a long, long time before this one creaked out of the starting gates. Forgotten it already, have you? There’s a reason for that.

7. Seven And The Ragged Tiger – Duran Duran.

Oh, take those rose-tinted glasses off this instant! Duran Duran were always a bit crap, and you know it. “Union Of The Snake” my arse!

4 August 2005: #6: seven reasons why i don’t want a dog (in the face of enormous pressure from my partner)

My partner seems to be labouring under the delusion that any dog he buys will be as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, perfectly formed and lovably sweet-natured as either a) a Crufts finalist or b) an Andrex puppy. To my mind, such over-inflated expectations rather resemble those of the lardy-looking ordinary bloke who assumes that his next girlfriend will look like a supermodel.

(Not that I am for one minute suggesting that my beloved is either a) lardy-looking or b) an ordinary bloke. But the comparison stands.)

Indeed, this whole romanticised notion of dog ownership strikes me as bordering on the delusional. Here are just seven of my many (so far doomed) attempts to prick his bubble. If you can think of any more good ones, then please let me know; it will all be grist to my mill.

1. As someone who values his personal space, and who is not much given to over-demonstrative displays of emotion (at least not since he stopped chucking empathetic catalysts down his neck on Saturday nights), the last thing I need when I walk through the door is some great hairy lump jumping up and slobbering all over me, with all that disturbingly limitless love and affection. I prefer such emotions to be subtly, tacitly, economically conveyed. Also, I prefer it when love is earnt, rather than arbitrarily assigned to whoever you happen to be sharing a roof with.

2. I like things to be clean and tidy. Call me prissy, but piss and shit are not my friends. Call me shallow and materialistic, but I derive a genuine sense of spiritual well-being from possessing furniture which has not been chewed up at the edges, and which doesn’t carry the faint whiff of miscellaneous canine secretions. I also have no wish to put our contemporary ceramics collection into permanent storage; and all things being equal, I’d quite like to be able to carry on wearing black. (And let’s not even start to think about the piss-stains on the lawn.)

3. I value a certain spontaneity in life; or at least the sense of freedom which springs from knowing that spontaneous acts are always possible. I therefore do not want to have to worry about getting home to put the dog food out, or having to trek off to the kennels before jumping on the train. This boy’s style is not for cramping.

4. I don’t do early mornings at the best of times. Still less would I be prepared to do early morning “walkies”. In the pissing rain. With a “poop scoop” and a plastic bag. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a more perfect definition of human misery and degradation.

5. They do have this awkward habit of getting ill and then dying on you: a tragic, pitiful, agonisingly drawn out ordeal which will leave you grieving for months. So why sign yourself up for such misery in the first place? It’s like a contract for heartache, and I’m just not buying into it.

6. I have a basic difficulty in forming a meaningful connection with any living creature who cannot communicate in coherent sentences. “Ooh, she knows what you’re thinking.” Bollocks she does. What if I’m mentally running through the UK chart positions of the Pet Shop Boys, in chronological order? I have the same issue with children under the age of seven. Once I can hold rational conversations with them, then we get along fine. But until then, spare me your sentimentality.

7. The deal-breaker, and the only argument which sticks: we both work in offices during the daytime, where dogs are not allowed. Tell me: what kind of cruel, selfish, heartless bastard would leave a dog all on its ownsome, all day long? Not I! In this respect, I speak as a true animal lover.

The trouble is: he’s playing a long game. Whittling down my resistance over not months, but years. Subtly moving the debate on, from jokey repartee (the very idea!) to smiling yet intransigent persistence. In my heart of hearts, I feel my days are numbered. Seven years from now, expect to see me covered in hairs, smelling of shit, and smiling the daft, soppy smile of the convert. “Don’t be scared, it means she likes you!”

What an alluring prospect. I can scarcely contain myself. But then, in this brave new world of devil-may-care slovenliness, I won’t really need to.

5 August 2005: #7: seven things to bear in mind when casting your vote, if you haven’t already done so.

1. I have written all of this week’s “seven” posts whilst on holiday, on an ancient laptop which takes ages to boot up, with a dodgy screen which keeps flickering on and off, and using a rather erratic 38.6k bps dial-up connection which frequently stuffs up for no reason, sometimes forcing a complete re-boot. As a result, and because there is only so much torture that one can reasonably put oneself through, I have been forced to abandon my own blog , which hasn’t been updated for nearly a week. I feel that this demonstrates my desperate urge to win selfless commitment to the project.

2. The last time that I came first in anything was in 1974, when I won the school Scripture prize; and so, thirty-one years later, it would be wonderful to savour the sweet scent of victory just one more time.. You have it in your power to grant me that simple wish. Is that too much to ask for?

3. Vitriolica has been streets ahead in the poll all week. As the current runner-up, this makes me the Plucky Underdog – and we all know how important it is to support the Plucky Underdog, right?

4. In the last week or so, Vitriolica’s blog has been bigged up by both the BBC and the Guardian. Naturally, I am thrilled for her. But consider this: hasn’t she now had her time in the sun? Does she really need yet another accolade? And isn’t it time to make way for fresh blood?

5. Yesterday, my own blog (Troubled Diva) was granted its first ever mention in the print version of one of our national daily newspapers, as part of a two-page spread (“Citizens of the internet”) in The Independent, and in the illustrious company of other famous online diarists such as Boris Johnson, Barbra Streisand, Moby, Jamie Oliver, Salam Pax, Belle De Jour, Gillian Anderson and Rosie O’Donnell. However, the two paragraph quote that was lifted from the blog was not actually written by me at all, but by… guess who? Yes, that Vitriolica woman! Again! All of which left me with an authorial credit of “Anonymous Woman”. HELLO! MY NAME IS MIKE, AND I AM A FULLY BE-PENISED AND BE-TESTICLED GEEZER! There is one way, and one way only, of writing this great wrong, and I think you know what I’m talking about.

6. Didn’t I make you laugh, with my laconic, self-deprecatory wit and easy facility with the well-placed bon mot? Didn’t I make you cry, with my heart-rendingly honest “confessional” pieces? Didn’t I let you into my heart, as we shared our hopes and fears? Wasn’t it good? Wasn’t it fine? Isn’t it madness that you can’t be mine? Was I not fragrant?

7. What, am I to be allowed just one more point? But which shall it be? That I completed all my tasks on time? That I played fair with the voting, not casting multiple votes and not pimping for them on my own blog? Or should I perhaps remind you of those helpful “Davina-Mike” summaries, which explained the wibble of the first few weeks? Or how about my principled (if doomed) rooftop protest, which added gaiety to the nation in those early weeks? But, no. My last point shall be this: I may not be able to draw pretty pictures, but I do wear the most sublime hats.

Have I said too much? There’s nothing more I can think of to say to you. But all you have to do is look at me to know…

…that every word is true.

Ciao, kittens. It’s been real.










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