Open Mike #3.

I’ve got some time on my hands, so please fire away in the comments box. Any question, any topic. Trained operators are standing by to take your call.

By the way, I still need two judges for Post Of The Week. Please e-mail if interested.

1. Girl asks: Any nice plans for the weekend Sir Mike?

Why, indeed we have. We’re travelling to Cambridge tomorrow morning, to visit my mother, to exchange belated Christmas presents (both of us having being abroad on the day itself), and for me to receive an early birthday present (it’s a fortnight today).

I have two presents for her:

  • A nice spice grinder from the David Mellor factory shop, which looks similar to a pestle and mortar, but with more of a hem-hem sculptural appeal (and can I just say, before you all faint at the price, that the factory shop offers a substantial discount). Incidentally, I wrote about the trip to the factory shop last November. Although the trip was rather overshadowed by the purchase of The Bobbly Fruit And Pillows.
  • An amateur watercolour (dated 1907) of the house in which she grew up, which I bought off eBay and have had framed. This was meant to be a fantastic surprise – except that I foolishly blogged the painting, thinking that she wouldn’t see it, as she doesn’t own a computer. Of course, what I forgot about is that she has friends who own computers, and sometimes looks at her blog on those computers. Quelle twit. (One day, she’ll stumble upon this place. Once she hits that sidebar, I fear my days will be numbered. Parents: always the last to know, aren’t they?)

2. Lynne asks, with spooky synchronicity, just as I was adding a few extra sentences to my previous answer: Aren’t you a bit buggered if your mum reads this, Mike?!

Indeed I might be. But only if she pops round to a friend’s house between now and tomorrow lunchtime, asks to use their computer, works out how to use one, discovers Google, types in my name, finds this site, and reads it. I walk such a narrow tightrope.

3. Dymbel asks: How’s the f**s* ***e* coming on?

T***i***. P***r***i***i** *n* **a* **i** *o** *e ** *h*** d***l* **b***e, *** g***t ***n* ** n** *n***h ** *r** *y***f ***m **. *h* **s***, o* **u***, i* ** J*** D* **. B** *h** *h**’* t** *n***r ** *o ***y ***n**, *n* ** a***e* **i** * h*** s***t ***h ** *y ***e ***e***d** *a***n* ** h***. H***e *** t***a**. *e**, *o* **d ***.

Update: Major respect to Clare for decoding the above, and only getting four words wrong.

4. Making his first visit to my comments box since April of last year, A Reader asks (with a certain degree of thematic consistency): What’s your favourite Take That song?

First of all: welcome back to Troubled Diva, A Reader! You have been anonymously with us almost from the start, haven’t you? Loyalty: we like that in our readers.

It’s an easy and obvious one. My favourite Take That song is Back For Good, followed by Pray, followed by Could It Be Magic, followed by Relight My Fire. (“Cue Lulu!”) Roll on April 26th at the NEC…

5. The newly relocated Jack of Pandemian (née Green Fairy) asks: Interesting ways to die: would you rather be smothered in plum jam and buried up to the eyebrows in a termite nest or stretched flat and squeezed very slowly between two ginormous weights?

Strewth, do I have to choose? Is this a case of: you choose or you die?

I’d opt for the quickest method, but I can’t decide which it is. Do termites eat flesh? There’s nothing on Wikipedia which suggests that they do, so maybe I’d just be tickled while I suffocated.

Yes, rapid suffocation trumps slow squashing. I choose the jam and termites.

Also, I’ll make a better corpse: either fully intact (if a trifle sticky, but that would wash off), or else neatly bio-degraded, depending on dietary habits of said termites. I wouldn’t wish my weight-squished carcass upon any funeral director. Far too undignified.

At least I’d die with a nice taste in my mouth. Mmm, plums.

6. MissMish asks: What will you be wearing on your birthday m’dear?

Oh, do you mean my birthday that takes place exactly two weeks from today? That birthday? The one I mentioned earlier? Lovely!

My daytime wear will depend upon the dress code of my new clients, down in London’s vibrant Canary Wharf district, where I shall have been working all week. It has not yet been confirmed whether this dress code is “smart casual” or “business casual” – and yes, Virginia, there is a difference. Mainly in the trouser department. However, we can safely assume that a nice smart shirt will be a given.

As for my evening wear: what does a self-respecting middle-aged homo wear to a gay/bi/trans gothic/industrial night, without risking cries of “Mouton!” from the pierced-and-tatted throng? Last time, I stuck my glow-in-the-dark Camembert Electrique T-shirt over my vintage 1991 Paul Smith leather kecks, mainly to hide the fact that I could no longer fasten the top button of the kecks. This is not a look which I am prepared to risk a second time.

Probably the same T-shirt (as it’s my one remaining sartorial concession to “rock and roll”), teamed up with some dark jeans and my nice Prada shoes. (Five and a half years old, and they still look box-fresh. Best swanky designer buy EVER.)

7. Apropos the previous question, Siobhan asks: Ooh, and have you any fashion advice for a young-girl-about-town who wants to tag along?

Goodness. How do you dress an almost award-winning Lancastrian transvesite for an “nite” in the upstairs function room of a real ale pub down the bottom of Hockley? I am quite out of my depth.

In lieu of a useful answer, can I give you a Fun Fact about the night in question? Last time I went, the organisers had laid out little Occasional Bowls on each table (white plastic, nothing fancy), each bowl containing a lollipop and a sachet of lube. Now, that’s what I call thoughtful.

8. Martin R asks: Far be it from me to question your divine status. But why “troubled”? You seem to be a pretty happy man these days!

Yes, but would Self Satisfied Diva work so well on a coffee mug? No, no, brand consistency is all.

9. Waitrose David asks: How have the fellow bloggers whom you have met in person differed from your expectations ? You don’t need to name names of course. I suppose water will be muddied if you have exchanged e-mails with them separately as well.

I’ve just been trying to locate my favourite observation on this subject, which I think was left by Gert in an old comments box, circa February 2003. (But I might be wrong.)

Anyhow, the observation went something like this. When you meet a fellow blogger for the first time, they’re never exactly as you imagined – but on the other hand, they’re only slightly different. It only takes a few moments to re-align your expectation with the reality, after which you can continue as normal.

I’d also say that, in general, you can sidestep a few of the usual tentative getting-to-know-you stages and checking points which occur on first meetings. You will often (but admittedly not always) end up feeling as if you have known each other for ages. It’s a weird but pleasant sensation – and the more often you experience it, the less weird it gets.

Have I ever met a blogger who has been nothing like I imagined they would be? I’m concentrating very hard here. Yes, I can certainly think of one. No, two.

(That’s not different-in-a-bad-way. Just different.)

As of now, there are no more outstanding questions to answer – so that’s it for this week.

(Oh dear, did we only make it to nine questions again? I guess those Shanghai stories will have to wait a while longer.)

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