The Five in Five Days Project – Part Three.


November 2003.

Guest Month ends – with a “best of” round-up – as the weekly business trips expand from Paris to Cologne and (best of all!) Barcelona. Consequently, and after an extraordinarily prolific work-rate over the past 18 months (looking back at it all now, I’m actually quite astonished that I ever wrote so much) Blogger’s Block begins to bite, and signs of work-related stress start to mount up. It’s a tell-tale sign…

I Can Pick ‘Em Department, Part Four: ahead of her victory in the second Guardian competition, an early link is made to Belle De Jour.

A good month for culture: Mariza in Birmingham (and I know for a fact that she has read my review), challenging installation art in Barcelona, DV8 Physical Dance Theatre in Paris (with ex-pat Parisian buddy Sarah, my regular dining companion of the time), the Turner Prize exhibition in London (we liked the Grayson Perrys)… and an audience with lovely Kevin McCloud (sigh!) at an interior design exhibition.

K leaves the company which he founded seven years earlier, and starts from scratch all over again with his canine cancer venture.

Guest blogger Zena turns up, with a series of posts detailing all the “w@nkers” she has ever slept with. As soon as the series is completed, the posts vanish into thin air. (“Think of it like a fascinating woman you met at a cocktail party who left before you got her phone-number.”)

In parallel with Zena’s posts, a new competition is launched: Who’s The W@nker? (“Tell me the story of a relationship in which you were the w@nker.”) The competition is won by Sarah, with this story.

December 2003.

I Can Pick ‘Em Department, Part Five: an early link is made to PB Curtis: then at It’s Funny Because It’s Shit, now at Monkey With A Typewjkl;.

When satire falls flat: we still don’t talk about the which recreational substance am I on? project. Some people thought I was doing it for real, you know…

F**k off, I’m dead. Now go outside and look at the f**king flowers.” During another wild weekend in London (actually, it was on the dancefloor of the Two Brewers in Clapham), and just ahead of yet another a business trip (this time to Zurich), a major decision is made. Troubled Diva is put on hold for an indefinite period, and an emotional farewell speech is made…

January 2004.

The weekly business trips continue. The blog remains closed.

February 2004.

An article about a trip to Barcelona is published in the Nottingham Evening Post, and re-printed on the blog.

On February 23rd, the silence is once again broken, with The Great Troubled Diva Shall I Or Shan’t I Start Blogging Again? Potential Act Of Monumental Hubris Comprehension Test. Across the blogosphere, knowing eyeballs roll heavenwards.

March 2004.

The hiatus having lasted less for not much more than two months, full time blogging re-commences on March 8th.

In the meantime, I have become a regular on the I Love Music message board, and a tireless advocate of the Scissor Sisters, whom I go to see live at every opportunity.

The Nottingham house is taken off the market, and a decision is made to stay put for the forseeable future. Goodbye, architect-designed dream home! We were never worthy of you in the first place!

Midweek boozing sessions are back on the agenda, thanks to my new friend (and future blogger) Alan of Reluctant Nomad.

I’ve been to paradise… but I’ve never been to Bulwell.” Nottingham’s tram service is opened, and a bunch of local dignatories board it for an inaugural ride. Finding myself in their midst, I record the experience. (“Do you think they’ll have white wine in Hucknall?“)

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? returns, to cheers all round.

Simultaneously with this, an anonymous employee of News International attempts to “out” Belle De Jour in my comments box, ahead of a would-be exposé in The Times. (The comment is swiftly deleted, even though the “outing” subsequently turns out to be inaccurate.) The enusing intrigue and kerfuffle drags on for days, as I find myself thrust into the middle of all the fevered press speculation regarding Belle’s identity. Why, I even come up with an amusing (if highly fanciful) conspiracy theory of my own. As a result, March 22nd becomes the busiest day ever on Troubled Diva, with nearly 2000 page views. Way to make a comeback!


K goes public for the first time about his new business venture.

April 2004.


A hand-drawn version of the front page appears on April Fool’s Day; allegedly, I am testing a new handwriting recognition package. (But how did he do those links?)

Troubled Diva picks up a mention in Simon Garfield’s feature on blogging in The Observer. In brackets. In the middle of a list. On the second page of the article. But still, eh!

The Which Decade project, which has been dragged out for a few weeks on account of all the Belle-related excitement, is won by the 1960s.

A reader-compiled “Songs you have to hear” track listing is assembled.

At a “swanky do” in a Nottingham hotel, I experience my first – and, to date, my last – panic attack.


Arboreal porn alert! A walk through the Manifold Valley leads us to a spot which we christen Harlot’s Nook.

F**k off, you vaseline-arsed fairy.A scathing review of one of the Scissor Sisters’ support acts earns me my first (and hopefully my last) piece of hate-mail.

Easter is spent in Lisbon with Dymbel and Dymbellina, soaking up the fado.


Window Into My World: The Troubled Diva Pointlessly Detailed Journal Theme Week starts well, until midweek illness calls a swift halt to the venture.

A performance MP3 of the Boutique Hotel Casual Shag post is published. In many ways, this remains my favourite piece of work on the whole blog.

May 2004.

Blanket Eurovision coverage re-commences, with detailed song-by-song breakdowns of the finals and the inaugural semi-finals alike.


An attempt is made to live-blog the Eurovision semi-finals, in front of the telly, with a laptop. This proves to be tougher than it looks. The coverage starts well enough, before descending into drunken bitch-queen one-liners. (“State of ‘er!“)

The Eurovision finals are watched from the comfort of the cottage, with friends. Spookily, Zoe of My Boyfriend Is A Twat blogs the event before it takes place…

June 2004.

In the first of what would prove to be a spate of such ventures, I spend the week guest-blogging at Karen and Pete’s Uborka. The week ends with the hosting of Krissa and Stuart‘s online engagement party. Not a dry eye in the house…

A camp-as-knickers Bollywood MP3 (“One Two Cha Cha Cha” by Usha Uthup) gets Troubled Diva linked by mega-blog BoingBoing. The enusing traffic spike is well lush. More exciting still is the revelation that Usha lives on the same street as one of my regular readers.

There is speculation as to the mysterious privately pressed acetates which my stepmother used to keep under the bed. Could they really be lost recordings by The Beatles?

Regular daily traffic to Troubled Diva peaks. It has stayed at more or less the same level ever since.

A nasty run-in with the Hosting Company From Hell sees become permanently unusable. While the site is down, I guest-blog over at Sashinka’s place. A hyphen is added to the URL, which is re-launched under its new domain on June 29th.

I Can Pick ‘Em Department, Part Six: Become one of the first bloggers to plug Joe. My. God.

July 2004.

K and I experiment with different hairdos. While my hair is re-styled for the first time since the late 1980s, K decides to dally with the dreaded TUFTS. After vocalising my loathing for the TUFTS, a hideous pact is made…

K attends his first rock gig for 18 years – Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band at the Rescue Rooms – and survives the ordeal unscathed.

All of Nottingham mourn the passing of city centre busker Frank Robinson, better known as Xylophone Man. Over 3000 people petition Nottingham City Council (unsuccessfully) to erect a statue in his honour.

The foreign business trips are slowing down, but there is still the occasional jaunt to Paris to contend with. Annoyingly, my presence is required there only a couple of days before disappearing to Peru for two and a half weeks.

During my Peruvian absence, the blog is maintained by five guests, all of them local: Alan, Ben, Buni, MissMish and Nixon. Just as an earlier guest week had spurred the creation of Aprosexic, so does this fortnight eventually lead to the creation of Reluctant Nomad.

August 2004.

Directly upon returning from Peru, K and I crash the get-together that the guest bloggers have arranged during our absence. It is our first meeting with Ben, with Miss Mish – and with Nottingham’s last outpost of true Bohemia, George’s Bar on Broad Street. A new social era begins…

I Can Pick ‘Em Department, Part Seven: Become one of the first bloggers to link to Petite Anglaise: specifically, to this post. Although I am not yet to know it, I have already made my last business trip to Paris.

As is hinted, the Peruvian trip turns out to be more of an endurance test than a relaxing break. I arrive back in poor health, and remain in poor health (and off work) for some time thereafter.

This period of ill-health provides the trigger for my worst period of depression since 1999. Posting on the blog is severely curtailed, with posts generally appearing once or twice a week, if at all.

“Dog tired of the damnable persona, the expectations, the limitations, the repetition, the pop-up chorus line (sorry, nuffink personal like, luvyaloads), the dead weight of accumulated history.”

Less than six months after my last blogging “comeback”, is it now curtains for Troubled Diva again?

September 2004.

A very quiet month – although I am secretly blogging elsewhere, deliberately in a very different style, under the assumed character of “Neil”. The writing is stark, confessional, and fairly high on scandals and misdemeanours. Although the original host blog is still on hiatus, some of the main posts can be viewed here. (The stories are true, but the narrative voice is invented. Give a man a mask, etc.)

October 2004.

With the mental wobbles intensifying, I finally start to talk openly about the matter – although not on the blog – and pay a visit to my GP.

Some hand-drawn guest-blogging is accomplished at Guild Of Ghostwriters. This is the best one: a full page comic-strip, detailing my past as a child cartoonist.

K authors his first and last guest post: a guide to maintaining crisp lawn edges.

Compensation for mis-sold endowments is obtained, to the tune of over £8000.

Returning from a business trip in Amsterdam, news of John Peel’s death reaches me. He has died in Cuzco (Peru), where my physical ailments were at their most debilitating over the summer.

The wobbles show their first signs of abating.

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