We may be eschewing the matching white suits…

…the turtle doves, the marquee, the gateaux, the watered silk meringues, the weeping great-aunts, and the list at John Lewis…

…but, with our Civil Partnership registration “ceremony” less than five weeks away, I find myself suddenly desirous of nicking, ooh, just one of the great heterosexual traditions. Namely the stag night.

The question is: where to go?

Nottingham’s out, purely on the grounds of over-familiarity.

Birmingham’s a strong contender, but there’s one major snag: on the weekend in question, K will be attending a vets’ conference in the same city. Now, call me old-fashioned, but one simply CANNOT stagger back from one’s stag night into one’s own partner’s hotel room. It’s sick and it’s wrong.

Manchester’s looking good. I can see potential there.

Blackpool’s a possible, but I’m not sure how far I’m willing to stretch the “ironic” aspect of the experience.

London: too big and impersonal?

Amsterdam: too far and impractical?

What do we think?

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That Osmonds live review in full.

Well, I say “in full”; this is actually the sub-edited version, which slices off the last couple of sentences.

I only wish that I could link to the following Friday’s letters page, in which a couple of outraged Osmonds fans gave me a right old mauling. (That’s one street in Hucknall which I’ll never be able to walk down again.) K says that the experience has “blooded” me as a journalist.

Yes, I know I’ve been quiet. I’d have caught up at the weekends, but the recurring Man Flu keeps rendering me incapable. Every Saturday morning, I just seem to… collapse. Funny how I’m always better by Monday morning.

Four more days left in London, and then normal life resumes. It’s been fun – hugely so – but after six solid weeks of socialising, I must confess to feeling somewhat conversationally burnt out.

Or maybe I’ve just grown tired of myself as a subject. Which would also partially explain the blog-silence. Hmm. Well, fear not; normal levels of self-obsession are sure to return before too long. It’s the way I’m made.

In which train-blogging makes its Troubled Diva debut.

Right then. Time I made a bit of bloody effort.

Do you know, I’ve never used a laptop on a train before. It’s making me feel awfully professional. If only my fellow passengers knew what drivel I was typing, sitting here in my Business Casual drag, my face screwed up in a suitably plausible expression of deep concentration.

The guy opposite is rather dishy looking. But then, I chose my seat carefully. He’s unusually well groomed, and kitted out in a very natty shirt-and-tie combo, in daring shades of plum and pink, teamed up with a light tan belt which matches the shoes to perfection. Close cropped hair, smart “directional” specs. Wonder if he’s….?

Then again, he sounded Dutch on the phone, or maybe Belgian. Few Englishmen would be turned out so smartly, but this sort of thing is rather more commonplace in the Benelux nations. A hung jury, then.

While I was typing the above, he nipped out to the loo and back. Knowing that he’d be passing this screen on his way back, I opened another document in readiness for his return, so that I could stage a quick tactical Alt-Tab. Well, you can’t be too careful.

The other document in question happens to be a live review of The Osmonds, which I wrote yesterday evening, and which should be appearing in today’s Nottingham Evening Post. A 250 word piece, with a 500 word piece bursting to get out. (Editing does not yet come naturally.) There’s one really good line – about being beaten around the head by a Hallmark greetings card – but sadly, the original observation was not my own. My thanks to MissMish, my companion in the Royal Concert Hall on Friday evening, for granting me copyright clearance. (We like it when our Plus Ones feed us killer copy.) If it goes online, then I’ll link it.

The intention behind this posting was to give a blow-by-blow summary of the past four weeks in London – as a lot has been happening, and I’ve wanted to record it as much for my own sake as anybody else’s. So let’s see how much I can scribble down between here (just south of Leicester) and St. Pancras.

Week One.

Sunday. Horsemeat Disco, with Ian, Marcus, Janne and Pano. I’ve heard a lot about Horsemeat, most recently from my ever-clued-up club promoter mate in Nottingham, who raved about it at the ADULT. (sic) gig a few days earlier. The venue is a gay bar in Vauxhall, just up the road from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which used to be a spit-and-sawdust joint called Dukes. It was never anything special, but we used to toddle up there in the old days, when the crush of nipple-to-nipple trollied dollies at the RVT got a bit much, in order to relax in relative peace and quiet over a pint and an agreeably rubbish stripper.

Now reborn as South Central, I was expecting a complete makeover – but no, this is basically still the same old Dukes, with a small dancefloor where the stripper used to prance about, and with a heated patio area out the back. However, the music is great (classic funky disco and 1980s electro-pop) and the crowd is a delight: relaxed, diverse, mature (cough), and as attitude-free as gay London is ever likely to get.

As I walk in and head for the bar, I can’t figure out why heads are turning my way. Oh! Ha ha! I’m being “checked out”! I’d forgotten that happens! (It has been over a year since my last appearance in a gay London venue, and I am a little rusty on its habits and conventions.)

Horsemeat gets busy around 9pm, and stays open until 2am. As it’s my first night in town, I play it sensible, heading off for the last tube connection to Canary Wharf at around 11:30.

Ah, playing it sensible. I remember that. Gosh, was that only four weeks ago? It seems like a lifetime away.

Monday. My first day at The Major Financial Institution, whose London headquarters are a quick five-minute hop from my hotel at Canary Wharf. As in Nottingham, where I can make it from my front door to my desk in just over ten minutes, I am spared the horrors of the daily commute – for which much thanks.

It’s a typical first day. Piles of “induction” literature, health and safety blah, large amounts of new information to ingest in a short space of time, ghastly photo taken for my pass card, general culture shock (everybody seems so damned slick and professional!), lots of getting lost on the way to the toilet, forgetting people’s names, pushing doors marked PULL, basically the usual Mr Bean Goes To The Office syndrome with which I have become so familiar in recent years. (This sort of thing stopped fazing me about five new offices ago. It simply goes with the territory.)

In the evening, with no particular social plans, I head for Leicester Square. There are plenty of films that I’d like to see, so I’ll just turn up on spec and choose spontaneously.

As I turn the corner by the Hippodrome, I become aware of a vast crush of cheering bystanders, interspersed with press photographers standing on stepladders, bulbs a-popping. Really, darlings: I know I mentioned my impending arrival in London on the blog, but there was no need to go to such lengths.

With nothing better to do, I squeeze myself into the throng, who are arranged around the entrance to one of the big cinemas. Turns out that we’re witnessing the stars arrive for a charity premiere of “Casanova”. Cool, never done the whole Leicester Square premiere thing before. Should be a laugh. So, who do we see?

Jeremy Irons, rocking the Daddy Bear look in a big bushy beard. Give him a couple more years and he could be the new Brian Blessed. Those winsome Brideshead Revisited days seem like half a lifetime ago. Oh, so they were.

Sienna Miller, whom I admittedly wouldn’t have recognized had I passed her on the street. Happily, there are hordes of snappers on hand, urging her by name to cast her stellar gaze in our direction. “SIENN-AAAAH! OVER HERE! CAN YOU TURN THIS WAY, SIENNA?” Oh, she’s big box office alright – and the only one of tonight’s celebs whose photo I see in the following week’s press. Which isn’t too surprising, as she looks ravishingly gorgeous, radiating a honeyed glow in her Marc-Jacobs-at-Louis-Vuitton flat-fronted, drop-waisted ivory frock with a hint of 1920s flapper about it.

Natasha Kaplinsky, who gets the highest name-recognition factor from the crowd. Not the biggest star, but certainly the most familiar face.

Some well-preserved middle-aged blonde whom no-one can quite place, until one step-laddered snapper calls out to her. “OVER HERE A BIT, TWIGGY!” Ha ha, yes, of course! Iconic English institution! That Marks and Sparks advert! Doesn’t she look good for her age! Living legend! We all love our Twiggy!

Kelly Osbourne, looking positively svelte. David Frost, comfortable in his natural habitat, strolling down the the middle of the red carpet, doing the whole smiling-and-waving grandstanding thing with the practiced ease of a senior politician. The It Girls: Tamara Beckwith and Tara P-T, working the cameras so thoroughly that poor old Heath Ledger (the actual star of the film, Casanova himself) barely gets a look-in. (Mind you, he doesn’t look his best. At least, not if the Brokeback cowboy look was your thing. Hair’s too long, coat’s all wrong, and he’s chewing gum with his mouth open. Jake wouldn’t have made these mistakes.)

Ah, that would be St. Pancras, then. Smart Benelux dude and I never made eye contact, more’s the pity. Goodness, I’ve changed a lot in the last month. Anyway, more drivel when I next get the chance. Don’t hold your breath or nuffink. (London vernacular, ‘cos I’m all acclimated like that.)

The Osmonds, Royal Concert Hall, Friday March 10.

(An edited version of this review originally appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post.)

Having thrilled the Arena last summer on the “Once In A Lifetime” tour, former 1970s idols The Osmonds returned to an equally rapturous welcome. Were all these respectable (if rather flushed) ladies in their forties (with the occasional sheepish husband in tow) really the screaming, fainting teenyboppers of nearly 35 years ago?

As for the four brothers, each had aged differently.

“Joker” Jay, goateed and tightly waistcoated, bore an inescapable resemblance to Jeremy Beadle. “Crazy” Wayne, his parting shifted noticeably leftwards, was the most visibly elderly – but also the most energetic, radiating enjoyment throughout. As for “Distinguished” Merrill, his sleek silvery mane and thick beard brought Kenny Rogers to mind.

With older brother Alan retired through ill health, and with chief heartthrob Donny enjoying a revitalised solo career, the line-up was completed by the artist formerly known as “Little” Jimmy, who hammed gamely through his hokey childhood hits.

Despite a varied stylistic repertoire – from Motown to country, pop to rock, funky soul to schmaltzy balladry – the brothers’ performance style remained essentially pitched at the same level throughout. The smiles never let up for a minute – and, yes, those famous teeth glowed as brightly as ever.

However, this lack of emotional range meant that at times, especially during the challengingly hit-free second half, the effect was rather like being beaten around the head by a Hallmark greeting card. These guys may briefly have been pop stars – but with 49 years of experience behind them, they remain anchored in traditional showbiz values.

Over dinner in an Islington gastropub, a long-buried memory resurfaces.

Picture this. Berlin, 1983. Aged 21, I’m living in a hippy “Wohngemeinschaft” flatshare with three nice lady schoolteachers in their thirties, who have a radically different concept of personal privacy from my own.

Give you an example. One evening, a couple of weeks earler, the lock broke on the bathroom/toilet door, leaving me trapped inside. Having rescued me, my flatmates treated me to a stern finger-wagging lecture about how I have obviously been living at home for too long, and hence am far too “repressed” about toilet issues. Since none of them ever lock the door when they’re on the bog, why should I be any different?

As a result, my morning dump is now regularly interrupted by Ele, Ulli or Gabi, who have a habit of walking in on me – invariably stark naked – and then lolling in the doorway while they pass the time of day. I’m not a great morning conversationalist at the best of times; still less so when I’m trapped mid-crap, being forced into small-talk in a foreign language.

My university friend J is staying in the flat for a couple of weeks, while she sorts out her own accommodation in the city. She has difficulties with the whole toilet-chat issue as well, her worst moment being when Gabi walked in and gave her a big hug, totally oblivious to her half-undressed defecatory state. It’s just not cricket, is it?

On this particular evening, we’re all sitting around in the small kitchen, nattering over cups of herbal tea. I’m not quite following the conversation, bluffing my way through with nods and smiles. As a result, I’ve not yet twigged what we’re talking about.

“Also, Mike – wieviel wiegst du?”

Ele, Ulli and Gabi are looking at me with polite curiosity.

The question translates as: So, Mike – how much do you weigh?

Except that, to my green ears, the word “wiegst” sounds remarkably similar to the word “wichst”. Which means something very different indeed.

Nervously, I stutter a bashful reply.

“Er, zwei oder drei mal pro Woche…?”

Translation: Er, two or three times a week?

J and the flatmates look baffled. I am forced to qualify my answer. Slowly, the awful truth emerges.

I thought they were asking me how often I masturbated.

Au weia. Thanks for reminding me, J!

The ten minute blog post.

Oh cripes. Tonight, I’ve got ten minutes. Let’s go.

Yesterday’s amateur strip night at the White Swan exceeded all my expectations, chiefly due to the extraordinary performance given by “Viola”, a scrawny sixtysomething tranny from Latvia with a limited grasp of English, and indeed reality. Despite being initially received by a more or less stunned silence from the punters, by the time it came to the public vote we had all recovered our bearings enough to give her a massive, sustained ovation.

Disgracefully, this was not enough to prevent Viola from being eliminated from the final vote. Oh you should have heard the boos. This travesty was solely due to the dictatorial whim of Liam Behind The Bar, who decided that, as a former winner, Viola should make way for the Brazilian classical music singer (furry, cute) and The Obliging Straight Lad Who Had Been Put Up To It By His Gay Mates (skinny, endowed).

The final vote being too close to call, the Brazilian and the Straight Lad ended up splitting the 100 quid winnings down the middle, before reprising their acts à deux. The crowd rapidly thinned, and I made the 1:45 night bus with a few minutes to spare.

I just know I’ll be back next week, and the week after, and the week after that, and the week after that. It’s the Reality TV fan in me, you see. Dancing On Ice was never like this.

Right then, I’m off for a posh meal at the Conran joint above the Canary Wharf Waitrose, where I shall be meeting qB (of Frizzy Logic) and her fella for the first time. Once again, vive la difference.

Update (1): Ian from Blogadoon – my fellow voyeur, and weekly White Swan regular – has seen Viola in action before.

Update (2): The password “WHITE SWAN”, when used in the presence of certain members of the serving staff at Canary Wharf’s ultra-swish Plateau Bar & Grill, will guarantee an extra-attentive level of service for the remainder of the evening. More details (plus a photo of the magnificent view) over at frizzyLogic – to which I have appended further comments.