Pride and shame.

Over in the Big Blogger house, we’re down to the last six contestants. However, with two of them (Alan and NML) already having won immunity from next week’s eviction, there are only four of us who are up for the public vote: myself, Miss Mish, Vitriolica and Zoe. This gives each of us only a 50% chance of survival of making it into the final week. Such tension!

As for our tasks: they are getting both more frequent, and more challenging. Which is as it should be, at this advanced stage of the game. Our most recent task has been to give detailed accounts of”a) the moment in your life you are most proud of, and b) the moment you are most ashamed of”. The collective results have changed the character of the game entirely, and I recommend all of them to you. (As of today, they are all available on the front page of the site.)

My own contribution was split into two sections. The “pride” entry basically riffs upon a familiar theme, but the “shame” entry tells a significant childhood story which I’ve never told before. It also features a rare appearance by that most elusive of figures on this blog: my mother.

Continue reading “Pride and shame.”

Failed experiments in fancy dress.

Big Blogger task #9 required us to select a costume for a fancy dress party, along with a suitable piece of music. This led me to ruminate upon my unhappy relationship with the whole concept of Dressing Up Daft, and also to post a choice selection from the astonishing Ethel Merman Disco Album (which soundtracked the entire second half of 2004, in the late lamented George’s Bar on Broad Street).

The post also contains the only documented photographic evidence of myself in drag, circa 1991. Yes, I thought that would get you clicking.

Continue reading “Failed experiments in fancy dress.”

Yesterday’s outage.

Apologies for the extended break in service yesterday; this was apparently caused by a wonky server at my (normally faultless) hosting company.

While the site was down, I amused myself by compiling a “state of play” round-up of life in the Big Blogger house, six weeks into the experience. My character over there has been showing occasional signs of going a bit “panto villain” (see also the recent “party manifesto” task), and I’m wondering whether to build on that further (for the sake of entertainment), or whether to rein it in (for the sake of gamesmanship). We shall see.

K and I are relieved to hear that our newest friend Quickos made it back to Belgium safe and sound. He has already started telling his readers all about his exciting adventures with K in the Princess Diana Memorial Garden, and his Daddy tells me that there will be plenty more to come. We are already missing his cheerful little face around the place. No, seriously, we are: it’s the weirdest thing, but we have never before met a glove puppet with so much natural charisma.

Finally, don’t miss the excellent “Consequences” guest post below, from brand new blogger on the block, (and Kevin Ayers fan, woo!) Rob of Eine Kleine Nichtmusik. A full day later, and I’m still quietly seething…

Continue reading “Yesterday’s outage.”

Big Blogger update.

Over in the Big Blogger house, I have particularly enjoyed the two most recent tasks: devising a new festival (The International Festival Of Blog), and inventing a new sport (The “Last To Be Picked” Champions League).

I also had fun dreaming up a lonely hearts advert. Come share my bubbles!

Meanwhile, Miss Mish has explained the rules of Extreme Shoe Shopping, and JonnyB has told us about the time he met Peter Andre. So, you see, it’s not all vast acres of free-form wibble. Oh no. We’re quite the Quality Destination Blog Of Choice these days, I think you’ll find.

Back in the real world, fellow Big Blogger housemate Alan found himself caught up in what sounds like some unpleasantly heavy-handed policing tactics, whilst wandering round Edinburgh in the middle of the G8 protests. The comments at the end of his piece reflect a wide range of views: some of them critical of his judgement, but all of them (to date) expressed in a remarkably (and refreshingly) even-tempered manner. (via)

Continue reading “Big Blogger update.”

Big Blogger update.

Over on Big Blogger, voting has commenced for the first set of evictions. Happily for me, I’m exempt from this week’s vote, having earnt my immunity by being the first housemate to complete the (somewhat controversial) “dodo and bacon sandwich” task. However, I have a nasty feeling that this might turn out to be a poisoned chalice, as everybody decides that it will be “only fair” to vote for me en masse when next week’s vote rolls around. We shall see.

Much as I’m enjoying the experience, I can’t help feeling that, as a group, we’re all at that early stage in the contest where – just as with the TV version – half the occupants are still bouncing excitedly round the place in full “performance” mode, while the other half are quietly biding their time until the numbers settle down a bit. Consequently, it’s still all a bit frantic over there – and not all that easy for the casual visitor to make much sense of. (K visited yesterday, and pronounced himself quite baffled.)

On the other hand, I’m personally enjoying the borderline-hysterical “cabin fever” aspect of the experience. We might currently be playing more to each other than to the outside world – but we’re having loads of fun while we’re doing it, so why the hell not?

Oh, and my tip to win the thing? Vitriolica‘s fantastic illustrations should ensure that she goes far, but (as ever!) the smart money has to be on Zoe: a woman with “winner” stamped all over her. (Having shared a jacuzzi with her, one gets to know these things.)


Originally posted at Big Blogger:

June 9th 2005: mike has a plan.

In the absence of smelling salts, Mike reaches for the little brown bottle that he has stashed away in the secret compartment of his Samsonite Executive Premier Plus Trunk (with built-in Vanity Unit).

“If this doesn’t bring the silly old queen to her senses”, he mutters, unscrewing the cap and wafting the bottle underneath Peter’s nose, “then nothing will.”

The housemates hold their breath. Which is just as well, considering the fetid aroma of old socks that is now permeating the bedroom.


A faint growling noise begins to rise up from the bed, as Peter’s face assumes the colour of a particularly fine Chateauneuf Du Pape.


With this keening howl, Peter’s body suddenly snaps into an upright position. Wild-eyed and flailing, his howls grow ever louder.


The housemates look at each other in consternation.

“Darling, is he all right?”, asks Zoe, anxiously.

Mike smiles, knowingly.

“Laura Branigan. Gloria. Got to Number 6 in December 1982. One of Peter’s favourites. She thinks she’s back in Fire Island, dancing on a Saturday night. Give her a couple of minutes, and she’ll be as right as rain….”

June 10th 2005: big blogger asked us for a picture…

…and so here is mine. Hello housemates! Hello viewers! My name is Mike. Goodness, but these posts are flying thick and fast this morning. I do hope you’re all managing to keep up.

As mentioned yesterday, I have somehow managed to squeeze all of life’s bare essentials into my Samsonite Executive Premier Plus trunk (with built-in vanity unit). Yes, I know that Big Blogger stipulated a small suitcase only – but believe me, this constitutes “travelling light”.

Not being one of life’s natural packers, I asked my partner K for some assistance in choosing my outfits for the next seven weeks (should I survive that long). It took us a while to “theme” my look, but we’ve plumped for Classic with a Contemporary Twist. So expect plenty of crisp whites, hot pinks, cool candy stripes, and bold, funky checks in wittily contrasting shades. And that’s just the shirts.

Oh, and not to be outdone by Miss Mish in the millinery stakes – I’ve brought my new hat. (John Galliano, but we don’t go by the labels.)

Other items include:

  • A comprehensive selection of Molton Brown grooming products, including a bottle of “Arctic Birch” bath and shower gel (with pump action dispenser) which is my gift to the house. Please feel free.
  • A 40gb iPod, with headphones (for private contemplation) and speakers (for early evening cocktail jazz, and late night disco dancing).
  • Several slabs of Green & Blacks chocolate (very good for the heart), which I shall be divvying out after dinner each night.
  • A mysterious little brown bottle, labelled “room odoriser” (not so good for the heart), which I shall be keeping in the fridge. This has already come in handy.
  • A hand-made “Big Blogger” mix CD, which I shall be leaving behind as a prize for the eventual winner.

As for personal qualities: I would like to make one thing clear, right from the start. There is far too much nonsense talked on these sorts of shows about “being yourself”, with everyone singling out “being two-faced” as the greatest of all possible sins. To which I say: phooey. For what you might call “being two-faced”, I call “having good manners”. For that reason, I shall be conducting myself like any normal, civilised human being: bitching about people behind their backs (but only to trusted confidantes, as and when the need arises, and never gratuitously), whilst continuing to be courteous and respectful to their faces. It’s the way of the world, people. Don’t knock it. After all, I’m just being myself

Looking around at my fellow housemates, I see some old friends (Miss Mish, Gordon, Zoe, JonnyB, Vitriolica and the perpetually recumbent Peter), some familiar acquaintances (Clair, Alan and The Girl), and some brand new faces (Grocerjack, Mr Hair, Dr Rob, NML and Vicus Scurra). As is usual in such situations, I have so far been clinging to my familiar little clique, whilst gazing nervously over at the others. Who is going to make the first move and break the ice? Do we need some “getting to know you” games? And why is The Girl licking her lips at me like that?

Finally, to those of you who have been wondering how we’re all going to cope over the next few weeks – cooped up in our own little space, cut off from outside reality – I say: hey, we’re bloggers, remember? Welcome to our world!

June 13th 2005: save quickos!

Mike is awoken from his slumbers by a gentle, furry tap on his shoulder. And is that the sound of muffled sobbing that he can hear in his right ear?

Pausing only to wonder why he still appears to be referring to himself in the third person, Mike levers open his sleep-filled eyes… only to see a moist-eyed, trembling Quickos, gazing mournfully down at him.

“Goodbye, Mike. Quickos has to go now.”

“But… Quickos! You can’t leave now! Mike was looking forward to playing so many games with you today!”

“Quickos has no choice, Mike. Big Blogger has told Quickos that he has to leave the house NOW.”

But WHY, Quickos? WHY?”

“Quickos doesn’t know why, Mike. But he’s sure that there must be a very good reason. And Quickos always does what he’s told, even when it makes him sad. So good luck, Mike. And remember: Quickos will always, always love you.”

NO, Quickos! STOP!

Not wishing his little puppet friend to see him in the nude (for if there’s one thing he doesn’t do, it’s pyjamas), Mike reaches for his dressing gown, hanging on a hook behind him. But when he turns round, Quickos has vanished.

A tight knot of anger begins to form in Mike’s stomach. Quickly wrapping his dressing gown around his slender naked form, he leaps out of bed, and – without so much as checking his hair in the mirror – makes straight for the garden.

Within seconds, and before anyone can stop him, Mike has clambered onto the roof of the Big Blogger house.

(Standing directly below him, Clair makes the mistake of looking straight upwards as Mike performs his final leap, the tails of his dressing gown billowing in the breeze. Clutching her hands to her mouth, she dashes straight back indoors, visibly blanching.)


The other housemates look at each other in consternation. Should they join Mike’s protest, or should they try and talk him down from the roof? And whatever will Big Blogger say?

June 13th 2005: faint heart never won fair glove puppet: mike’s rooftop protest runs aground.

The story so far: In a last-ditch bid to save Zoe‘s so-called “stowaway” housemate, the irrepressibly lovely Quickos, from eviction (and possible incineration), Mike has been staging a rooftop protest all morning, calling upon his fellow housemates to support him in his struggle. Now read on.

Immediately upon hearing Big Blogger’s stern warning, Mike stops performing his energetically improvised “Save Quickos” freedom dance. Gathering his robe carefully around his rapidly chilling loins, he crouches cautiously at the roof’s edge, and addresses his fellow housemates.

“Er… guys? Are you… um… with me, or what?”

The housemates (except for Clair, who is still being treated for post-traumatic shock in the Diary Room) shuffle nervously, staring at their feet (for reasons which have already been made abundantly clear).

After a long pause, Alan is the first to speak.

“Obviously Mike you have our full support. Er… moral support that is. Yes, yes, definitely lots of moral support.

Oh, and you can have my athletic support as well, cos the wind keeps doing a Marilyn on your dressing gown and it’s making Miss Mish a bit overly frisky.”

“What about the rest of you?”, Mike demands. “I’ll ask you one more time: ARE YOU WITH ME?”

After receiving an curt nod of assent from Vicus Scurra and Grocer Jack, Dr. Rob pipes up.

I would be with you of course, being once almost a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and practically a card carrying revolutionary, but first I need to call a meeting, get down the pub, have a few beers, discuss the dialectics of the whole action, put it to the vote, declare the vote illegal, discuss it some more, then have it ratified by Castro and then, only then dear comrade will we join you in your glorious struggle.

“I see. Does anyone have anything else to add?”

Gordon can hold himself back no longer.

Oi mike, while you’re up there… gonna throw down that frisbee… cheers!!

“Very well. On your own consciences be it, but I cannot fight your battles alone. Instead my protest shall continue, um, indoors. After I’ve showered, dressed and eaten, of course. Now, can someone give me a hand down? If I can just get my leg across this… hang on, where’s everyone gone?”

Finding himself suddenly alone in the garden, all Mike can hear is muffled sobbing from the Diary Room, and muffled giggling from the living area. And was it just the rustling of leaves in the trees beyond the perimeter fence, or did he hear someone inside the house mutter the dreaded words “attention seeker”?

The very thought.

June 13th 2005: task 2: extinct

Dear Springwatch,

My ten-year old daughter Katie tells me that she saw a strange bird on our back lawn on Sunday morning. It was a rather plump and clumsy bird: about 9 inches tall, with blue-grey plumage, a black bill, small wings, and a tuft of feathers on its rear end. According to my daughter, it was showing great interest in the discarded remains of her bacon sandwich!

I have tried to find some information on this bird, but all my findings would seem to suggest that this is the long extinct “dodo” bird, last sighted in the C17th. A ridiculous proposition? Or have you had other similar sightings?

Many congratulations on your excellent show.

With kind regards,

Mike Troubled-Diva.

Update: Does this count as WINNING?





Those MBIAT guest posts in full.

I spent some of last week hanging out at Zoe’s place. These were the results.

1. Troubled Twat, or My Boyfriend Is A Diva.

In which I celebrate K’s birthday by decking him out in pistachio and germolene.

2. Popping out for meat.

A gentle country stroll, with carnivorous intent.

3. Quick, Name A Queen Song – The Results.

A predictable reversion to type. (And to think that I originally saw this guest-blogging gig as a chance to stop banging on about pop music the whole time. Ah well, at least I lasted for two whole posts.)

4. Things I Was Going To Tell You About This Week, But Never Got Round To.

Dancing horses, Japanese horror, and the return of Beefheart’s boys. (I shall be returning to the dancing horses in the near-ish future.)

Continue reading “Those MBIAT guest posts in full.”

Umlauts: we like the Europop and we’re not afraid to say it.

Umlauts is the new music-blogging venture from Edward O, who was responsible for last year’s widely admired Enthusiastic but Mediocre. As before, Edward will be running a regular feature: The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge of Death, in which fifteen different European countries have their singles charts evaluated by a panel of pundits.

Ever eager to trot out a pithy capsule review or two, I have now joined the panel, whose verdicts on the current Top 10 singles in Belgium are now available for inspection. Having spent the last few days immersed in Belgian pop (when I’ve not been immersed in Eurovision), all I can say is that I will never complain about the UK singles charts again. Take it from me, kids: we just don’t know how lucky we are.

Having said that, I can wholeheartedly recommend a wonderful piece of Schlager-pop by Laura Lynn, called Je Hebt Me 1000 Maal Belogen. How reassuring to know that stuff like this, which I thought had died out years ago, is still being produced and enjoyed. Interested? Then take a good look at the end of the article.

Continue reading “Umlauts: we like the Europop and we’re not afraid to say it.”

Tranniefesto: Conversations of an Email Variety.

Following our recent friendly exchange of jumbo-sized e-mails, Siobhan of Tranniefesto has put together a dialogue-style posting, in which she offers point-by-point replies to my nervous experimental musings on various aspects of cross-dressing culture (a subject which I have only just started thinking about in any degree of detail).

Unless I’m very much mistaken, Siobhan has coded her blog from scratch, using a content management system of her own devising. This gives the site some interesting individual features, including the seamless incorporation of comments into the main body of the post. Siobhan’s replies to these comments are then displayed as if they were a continuation of the original post, thus making each entry much more of an open-ended dialogue. Having been following Tranniefesto for the last week or so, I have become increasingly taken with this way of doing things; it suits Siobhan’s relaxed, conversational blogging style very well.

At the end of this particular piece, a lengthy, considered and thought-provoking comment has appeared from someone called Kelly, which adds a lot of value to the original dialogue. I’m beginning to sense that there is quite a lot of debate taking place on some of these issues within the TV community (on the whole subject of what is referred to as “passing”, for instance), and I am finding it fascinating to be witnessing some of this debate for myself.

The Professionals.

From 1977 to 1978 (The Boarding School Year Zero Maoist Punk Rocker Walking Oxymoron Years), I kept a series of diaries in small hardback notebooks, written in a light-hearted, semi-public manner. Proto-blogs, if you will. These I referred to, in an early flash of the faux-pompousness that would in later years become my defining global hallmark, as my “memoirs”.

Since, like so many other of the Chaps in the Dorm, I was still BIG on clever-clever Python-esque surrealism, the fourth volume of the memoirs bore the Deeply Satirical title The Exciting World Of Accountancy.

(Yeah! People with jobs = brainwashed sheep! Of course, I didn’t know then that I would end up working for 13 years in local government IT. Ah, how the heady idealism of youth is dashed upon the rocks of the pragmatism of adulthood. Or something.)

Round about this time, the British army was running a series of recruitment advertisements with the slogan: The Professionals. If you’ve got it, we’ll bring it out. This provided all the inspiration I needed for the back cover art of The Exciting World Of Accountancy.

Despite being thrown into the garbage by my wicked stepmother in the Great Cultural Purge Of The Early 1980s, the memory of this back cover has for some reason remained with me ever since. Having recently reconstructed it for Demian’s Guild Of Guestbloggers Fortnight, I am surprised – and somewhat disconcerted – at the accuracy of the resulting image. Like looking at an apparition from a bygone age.

This is FAR too long a build-up for a piddling little doodle. But then, to my eyes, it’s a rather poignant little doodle.


Guild of Guestbloggers.

Over at Guild Of Ghostwriters, Demian is running a quite wonderful Doodle-Blog Guest Fortnight. Contributors range from leading lights of The Hand-Illustrated Weblog Movement (oh yes) to those who “claim they can’t draw”.

Into which latter category I would firmly place myself. Well, why not judge for yourselves?

(There’s also a full-sized version here, if you can handle a 250k image with no problem.)


Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards.

This week on Uborka, we have all been asked to contribute songs to a forthcoming Official Uborka Mix CD.  After a surprisingly brief period of consideration, I have chosen this criminally undervalued single from 1980.  You can read about it (and listen to it) here.

Continue reading “Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards.”

…and we’re back. AGAIN.

Welcome back to what will henceforth be (hopefully) a stable, uninterrupted service, here at troubled HYPHEN diva dot com. Now with added hyphen. Which I can’t help think it should have had all along.

(The RSS feed is here, by the way.)

Warmest thanks to Sasha for inviting me to squat at her place for the past week; I have enjoyed it immensely. If you didn’t manage to track me down at Sashinka, then the guest posts start here, and continue upwards. These include:

So, you know, a quiet week.

Right then – it’s back to trawling through the site for broken links, and other similarly enthralling chores. (Although actually, after all the recent excitements, I’m finding the comparative banality of site maintenance strangely soothing.)

Don’t you go forgetting that hyphen, now!


Sashinka: Dry your eyes, mate

I tried, I really tried.


We had just finished watching the so-so Michael Douglas thriller on Sky. As I needed to check the progress of the match before heading out to meet A in the pub, I successfully negotiated a lightening-quick flick over to BBC1, in the few available seconds before Big Brother.

Only to witness, at that precise moment, Portugal’s extra time goal.

“Oh my God!” we shrieked.

“That’s it then”, I authoritatively declared, still labouring under the delusion that extra time operated on a sudden-death principle. “England are out of Euro 2004”.

And texted A in the sports bar:
I'll get my coat. 😦

And finally looked up again, and realised that the game was still going. A-hum.

“I feel like we’ve jinxed the match”, I wailed.

“Better watch the rest of it, then.”

Within seconds, the last two effete footie-phobes in town had metamorphosed into standard issue Come On Englanders. Why, I could hear our very vocal chords hardening over, even as our vocabulary contracted into guttural monosyllabics.

Shoe-horned into the collective consciousness. Helplessly abased before the Higher Power of Speuuurght.

As Engerland equalised, some deep-seated Pavlovian impulse caused us to rise up off the sofa as one, making those tight little fist-stabs as we did so.

“It’s going to penalties!”

I text A again:
Cheadling hell! 🙂
He texts back:
My heart!
We’re not built for this.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Striding into town to make it to the Roberts for last orders, deftly weaving my way through the shell-shocked crowds spilling out of the sports bars, I am struck by the weird, subdued atmosphere that prevails. It’s so… quiet. Everywhere I look, lads are perched on the edge of the pavement; or stretched flat out on it; or slumped against walls, absently texting. Directing my own video-montage, I start mentally overdubbing the soundtrack.

Dry your eyes mate / I know you want to make her see how much this pain hurts / But you’ve got to walk away now / It’s over.

Snatches of conversation:

“I wanna see Sweden f***ing smash them in the semis. No, even better; I wanna see them get to the f***ing finals, think they’re gonna f***ing win, then…”

“Can’t believe they just played that Britney Spears song at the end. Like that’s gonna cheer us up…”

“Yeah but, you gotta admit, it takes a lot of guts to come back and equalise like that, right at the end…”

I give K a quick call, just to bear witness.
“Honestly, you’d think Princess Diana had just died.”

Even in the Roberts, the queens are all a-twitter. At the bar, I tell the story of how my Nokia – the gayest mobile in the whole world, like, ever – had changed footie to ennui. People start checking their own.

“No, it just comes up with foothe.”

“Darling! Ennui simply isn’t in my lexicon!”

As the beers kick in, a sort of refractory queeniness has begun to steal over us. A necessary corrective process, no doubt. Excitedly, A starts to tell me all about his new bit-of-rough builder friend.

“Darling! Lucky you! How rough exactly?”

“Well, just before Euro 2004, the police called round to his house and confiscated his passport. I think he must be on some sort of List.”

“Darling! The sex must be fabulous! But does he know that you’re a native Portuguese speaker? He doesn’t? Oh, I don’t think you should tell him. At least, not unless you’re up for some extremely adventurous role play…”

In the late bar over the road, the mutual healing continues until stupid o’clock. Even the regular Thursday night trannies are bitching about that silly Swiss hem-hem of a ref. As ever, the more slurred and messy everyone gets, the more fulsomely articulate I become. (Why is this?)

It’s the landlord’s last night, so the final rounds of drinks are on the house. The wiry little skinhead in the corner has hitched his T-shirt up, his beltless waistband down, and is distractedly stroking the area in between, over and over and over again; the effect is quite mesmerising. Pints are sloshed onto the carpet, nonchalantly; arses are grabbed, inappropriately; no-one can understand a word that anyone else is saying, but no-one seems to care.

Good grief. We’re not even like this over Eurovision.

As you were, sisters. As you were.

Online Engagement Party.

Please join me over at Uborka, where I am taking orders for the regular Friday afternoon cocktail hour. This week, we will be toasting the engagement of Blogland’s Cutest Couple, Like, Ever:Stuart (from the Isle of Wight) and Krissa (from the island of Manhattan). Hands across the ocean, and all that.

Quickly, now – I need your orders in the next three hours (it’s currently 14:00 UK time). Oh, and there will be Rare & Endangered Species canapés to boot. Yum!

Continue reading “Online Engagement Party.”

The Troubled Diva Fame Academy.

Guest Weeks. Dontchajustluvvem?

I know I do. Over at Uborka, I’m having a high old time, and enjoying the challenge of coming up with postings that will, at least to some degree, fit into Pete and Karen’s house style.

(Incidentally, to fully understand my third Uborka posting (Recipes of Yesteryear), you will need to be familiar with the second posting, including the comments. Meanwhile, the fourth posting (YAHNET Acronyms) is something of a world exclusive, which will hopefully be of particular interest to Internet historians. Overseas readers may struggle with this one, I’m sorry to say.)

In the meantime, Peter has been assembling his cast for the first ever Naked Blog Guest Week, which kicks off on Monday June 7th. I can scarcely wait.

Today, upon reading some marvellous news in one of my favourite blogs, I had a sudden realisation. Namely, that of the five contributors to my inaugural Guest Week in March 2003:

I am beyond thrilled. Just call me Richard Park.

There only remains one thing for me to say: YOO-HOO! COO-EEE! OVER HERE!

Continue reading “The Troubled Diva Fame Academy.”

Channel 4 script editors can kiss my sweet ass goodbye.

For the next few days, my output will be split between this place (where I’ll once again be answering some more of your probing questions) and Uborka, where I’ll be guest blogging alongside Mad Gert (she’s really Mad!!!) of Mad, Mad Musings Of Mad, Mad Me.

Hop along to Uborka now, to read all about my recent authorial debut on Channel 4.

Continue reading “Channel 4 script editors can kiss my sweet ass goodbye.”