Triple Meta.

Calling all bloggers! Or at least the ones who decided to shell out for their own domains, rather than relying on “dangerous”, “unstable” services like Blogspot! Have you backed up your sites recently? Or do you simply place your trust in your hosting companies?

If you fall into the latter group, then might I strongly urge you to back up your site at the next available instant, and then to continue doing so on a regular basis? Because, let me tell you, when your hosting company experiences a server crash, losing every single one of your files in the process, then you really don’t want to have to trawl back through a whole year’s worth of archives, carefully piecing your site back together from various directories on three different computers. Because it’s very boring. And it takes hours. And even then, you still won’t be able to find everything.

(What? You thought that hosting companies took regular backups of their own? And why, pray, would they bother to do a thing like that? Let the scales fall from those innocent, trusting eyes!)

Still. When life deals you a lemon, then why not turn it into another promotional stunt?

Yes, that’s right. It’s Win A Troubled Diva Mug time! Again!

Your task is a simple one. Of the small number of files which I have been unable to locate since July’s server crash, there is but one whose absence significantly troubles me – and I’d like to enlist your help in finding it.

The file in question is called forest2.jpg. As its title suggests, it was the laboriously hand-crafted photo-montage which illustrated my lovely “Kissing Forest” posting, in which such up-for-it celebrities as Cate Blanchett, Rene Russo and Brad Pitt were to be found lurking in the greenery, ready to offer transgressive Not The Gender I Usually Fancy snogs to the readers who had nominated them. It took me ages to put together, and it was really rather beautiful, and I’d really rather like to have it back, please. (The schoolboy error was to save the file to my USB drive, forgetting to copy it to any of my hard drives before deleting it.)

Please sally forth and search your caches. The first person to e-mail me with the file (mikejla at btinternet dot com) wins a mug. Can’t say fairer than that, can I?

Media = me, dear.

As if the excitement of appearing in The Independent wasn’t enough, last Friday saw me gather mentions in two more daily newspapers.

Firstly, the whole How Dare They Call Me Anonymous Woman hoo-hah was deemed worthy of an extended (and charmingly catty) write-up in the Essential Gossip column of the Nottingham Evening Post’s weekly arts & entertainment supplement, in which I am outed as “a fortysomething gay man named Mike”. (I’d love to link, but it doesn’t appear in the online version.) Many thanks to Miss Mish for saving me a copy.

Secondly, while reading an article in the Guardian Review about musical offspring of famous musical parents, I came across a quote from Stylus magazine, describing Kelly Osbourne’s recent hit single One Word as “rather like Ms Osbourne herself … utterly preposterous and strangely captivating at the same time”.

Ooh, varda them adverbs, I thought to myself. That could almost be me who wrote… hang on a minute. And lo and behold, it was. (Original source here.) Except that The Guardian had made two significant alterations: changing Miss to Ms (they’re not The Guardian for nothing), and omitting the phrase of which I was most proud, in which I referred to Kelly as a “pouty-faced strop-pot”.

So, with The Independent naming my URL but quoting Vitriolica’s words, The Guardian quoting my words but not using my name (*), and my local paper loyally quoting all three, my sights are now set on the ultimate accolade: an article in a national daily newspaper which also delivers the grand slam of name, address and accompanying self-penned copy. How about it, Daily Telegraph? (And blimey, gift horses: what huge mouths you all have!)

Whilst younger people spend their summer holidays getting all too publicly plastered in Faliraki, San Antonio or Ayia Napia, homosexual gentleman couples of a certain age prefer to get discreetly plastered in the comfort of their own weekend cottages, night after night after night, as they fondly gawp upon the endlessly entertaining antics of the Big Brother 6 housemates. However, such easy delights have their price. In our case, this meant having to watch (gasp!) terrestrial TV, in (shriek!) real time, far removed from the comforts of our Sky Plus box back in Nottingham.

This meant that, for once in our lives, we had no option other than having to sit through the adverts. (Goodness, but aren’t there a lot of them these days?) This experience also made me confront yet another sad, inescapable truth of middle age: that I didn’t understand where half of them were coming from. Time was that I could cheerfully fire off sneery armchair-pundit deconstructions of the lot of them; no longer is this so. But then, that’s how they work: by ensnaring people who are young and impressionable enough to still be forming their brand loyalties, using techniques which are overtly designed to drive a wedge between the generations, thus fostering the illusion of a personal/tribal identification between consumer and brand. Or something. I am, as I say, a little rusty in such matters.

So, tell me this; because we have both been wondering. Why is it that cosmetics adverts are always recorded with some sort of slight out-of-synch quality between the actresses’ mouths and the sound which comes out of them? It’s a subtle effect, and easily missed – but once you spot it, you realise that it’s ubiquitous.

Also, tell me this: what’s with this new obsession for sticking the word “nitro” into adverts for male-targetted products, and “fructose” into those for female-targetted products? Is nitro butch, and fructose femme, or what? But WHY? What do they MEAN? Does anybody KNOW? I mean, it must WORK, or else they wouldn’t do it, but what kind of weird meeting did I miss, where nitro and fructose were introduced into the popular consciousness as desirable elements in grooming products?

I know, I know: save it for the letters page of The Daily Mail, Grandad. But if you were wondering why I had retitled the blog troubled nitro-diva power plus 4 (with active fructose micro-ingredients), then there’s your answer. To reel in the youngsters, by means of a series of subliminal yet powerful affirmative signifiers.

I missed my calling, didn’t I?

(*) Update: On a more serious note, and lest there be any confusion, I should perhaps just clarify that the Guardian piece did correctly attribute the quote to Stylus; I didn’t mean to suggest that the journalist was trying to pass it off as her own. So, all comedy glass-half-empty Drama Queen rants aside, I wasn’t actually pissed off in the slightest. Quite the reverse, in fact.

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