Bee-doo bee-dee-doo!







Bee-doo bee-dee-doo, bee-dee-doo, bee-dee-doo,
bee-deebee-deebee doo doo doodoo doo!

That’s the only way to summarise the embarrassment of riches which constituted Guest Week Three. A week in which – as a flurry of occasionally quite anxious e-mails and phone calls confirmed – my esteemed contributors collectively pulled out all the stops, pushed themselves to the limits, and devoted extraordinary amounts of time, energy and commitment into producing some quite magnificent pieces of writing.

(Can I say that about content on my own site without sounding bumptious? Yes, I think I just about can.)

Buni spoke of being raised by Bunny Girls, of unrequited longings, and of new directions in his life. Fiona wondered what the world would be like if we all had tails, cruised strangers in traffic jams, and slavered over her shoe collection. Melodrama dicussed jute production with taxi drivers, met a dodgy guru on a train, and did the whole dutiful daughter bit for Diwali. Zena took us on a nightmarish white-knuckle ride of dope-induced paranoia, and yet was still able to draw positive and life-changing conclusions from her experience.

And then there was Mark, with his jaw-droppingly superb “Science Of…” series: elegant, droll and profound in equal measure, an utter delight to read, and (as Peter intimated) clearly of publishable quality. Respect, dude!

My heartiest congratulations and warmest gratitude to all concerned, for delivering a truly classic week.

On to Week Four, then. Our guests for the next seven days are:

Asta, a regular reader/commenter of well over a year’s standing, and the proud winner of last year’s epic Shirt Off My Back Project. Asta lives in Canada, in a city, by a lake, which may or may not be Toronto. (If my old PC was still working, then I’d be able to tell you exactly where she lived. How perfectly blush-making of me to have forgotten.)

Danny, an old mate of – what is it now? – some fifteen years’ standing, who lives in Birmingham with his partner Paul. Having finally submitted to my repeated cajolings to “read my bloody blog for once in my life, why don’t you?”, Danny now proposes to break something of a major blogging taboo. Yes, readers – he’s going to be talking about sex. Eek! Brace yourselves for some Adult Content…

Gordon McLean of Something, one of Scotland’s most popular weblogs. Gordon works in Technical Communications, and his no doubt honey-drenched tones have regularly soothed the sick and the suffering on his local hospital radio service.

Martin Gale, formerly of Embra Nights. Martin is 25; he lives in Edinburgh with his boyfriend; he has recently retired from blogging; and he works in the Internal Audit department of a financial company. And he writes a lot about sex. Martin – meet Danny. Danny – meet Martin. Hands on the top of the table where I can see them please, boys…

Venus Kensington of Something Sparkles – a blog which has only been running since the middle of last month. Venus lives with her husband in Vancouver, and we look forward to making her acquaintance.

So, to recap: that’s two Canadians, two Scots, and two filthy fruity sexpots. Yes, it’s Scottish-Canadian Sex Week on Troubled Diva! Guest Week Four starts…NOW.

8. Is That All There Is? (Peggy Lee, Cristina)

(Posted by Buni)

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again

(Richard Ashcroft 1997)

My first outing to a nightclub, back in 1985, was a turning point in my life. I was 13 and had been going out with a guy, much older than myself, for a few months (he didn’t know my age). On this particular night, he took me to two clubs; Heaven, which at the time was owned by Richard Branson; and Propaganda, which was frequented by the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, Malcolm McLaren, and the rest of the 80’s London set. Also at this time, disco was changing its course and becoming a whole new animal. Those were heady days for me back then and I lapped it all up with pleasure and delight. I really couldn’t get enough of it.

As such, I kept on doing it for years. You name a year and I’ll tell you which club I was going to; 1985-87: Heaven / Propaganda / The Sound Factory; 1987-89: Triganomatria / Skipper’s / Mirage (all in Portugal); 1989-94: Heaven / RVT / Love Muscle – The Fridge / Trade; 1994-present: The Garage / The House / Deluxe / Essential / The Bomb / NG1. All those years defined by where I was clubbing at any given moment.

The moment of decline was back in about 1999-2000. I can even remember the moment; I had been out with friends and, as per usual, got totally plastered and well and truly off my face on all sorts of things. There I was, surrounded by friends, dancing away, smiling ‘the smile’ and having a great time. Though, I wasn’t having a great time. I slowed my dancing and had a really good look about me, looked at the people, listened to the music and everything around me. I started to think about what I was really doing there, why I was there? It had all become so standard, so uniform. It was the same thing every weekend. I was bored. I said good night to my friends, got my coat and walked out of the club. Never to return.

Instead, I focused my attention on the gay scene in Nottingham and getting a man in my life. NG1 club had just opened up and the old Admiral Duncan had just undergone a drastic refurbishment, from a right dirty little hole (that we all admit we loved) to a more contemporary designer bar. I was out now to have a few drinks, a few laughs and if I meet someone, all the merrier. However, things didn’t quite turn out that way and it wasn’t long before I was back to my old ways, just in a different club.

This takes us up to about 3 or 4 months ago, when I was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolaemia. To be honest, I thought that something like this diagnosis might happen; my grandfather died of a heart attack at 56 and my father is just slightly younger than that and beginning to get palpitations and has had some 6 strokes now. The only difference is that my diet is the polar opposite to my father’s. He will eat all kinds of crap and I don’t. So for the last few months I’ve been making little tweeks to my life, like I’ve turned veggie, stopped smoking, curbed my drinking and up to about a month ago, I was calming down on the clubbing again.

Then I met ‘him’ and started to go out clubbing again. We’ve had an absolute ball, a real giggle and he’s been like a breath of fresh air to my life. I’d have liked it to go a step further but he’s not having it. I’m hurting. As such, I don’t really feel like going out now and doing the same things again. It’s been quite strange but this week, answering T.D’s questions, I’ve been forced to think about all these things and I’ve come to the conclusion that ……that’s it; that is all there is

As of this moment I officially retire from hardcore clubbing, here on Troubled

Most of you will probably be thinking, “What on earth is he on about?” I cannot underestimate the gravity of my conclusion. In Nottingham I am defined by my social being, it is who Bob is. But alas, no more. Knocking this on the head is just part of the subsequent changes I’ve made over the last few months as a result of my diagnosis. It’s up to me now to find new and wonderful things to do at weekends. I have a few ideas and I won’t be quiet for too long. I have a couple of book ideas that I might just play about with and I enjoyed my climb up Mount Snowdon so much that I might expand on that experience.

On another note, that is all there is of my guest week. It’s been a demanding week emotionally and mentally. I’m just going to crawl back to my little blog that nobody reads, that doesn’t link to anybody and few people link to.

Thanks to Mike for giving me the opportunity to rant like a mad man about these things, you’re a gem, a very brave gem at that. And finally, thanks to those who read (and commented on) those rants.

Apologies to the Welsh.

More travels with a God-man

(posted by Mike, in response to Melodrama)

Two posts below, Melodrama describes an encounter with a Hindu “God-man” (viewers of the popular Asian-British comedy series Goodness Gracious Me probably have some idea of the type of person she describes), and reminds me that I might once have met a Thai Buddhist equivalent.

We were changing planes at a smallish airport, on the way back from Koh Samui to Bangkok. The God-man entered the departure area with an entourage of maybe twenty or so acolytes, his entrance met by a general fluttering of awed recognition from all the other passengers and airport staff.

He was dressed in the orange robes of a Buddhist monk – except that these immaculately arranged robes were clearly of a far superior quality than the norm. I placed him in his mid-to-late forties – quite possibly a decade older, but carefully preserved. His hair was neatly groomed; his facial features were dark and pronounced, exquisitely chiselled, softly masculine, old-school matinee-idol handsome, and curiously untypical for a Thai. His one facial expression – a sort of beatific half-smile – never wavered for a second. His whole demeanour was one of calm, authoritative wisdom, of the sort that required no further outward manifestation; it was tacitly assumed. Without saying or doing anything, his whole being radiated the most extraordinary charisma. True star quality. I had no idea who he was, but I could feel it just as strongly as everyone else around me.

Oh-so-humbly, the God-man eschewed the dangerously materialistic luxuries of airport seating, placing himself instead on the floor, against a wall, facing out towards a large open section of the building. His acolytes immediately arranged themselves around him, in a semi-circular clump, all facing towards him. Gradually, more and more passengers added themselves to the outside of the group, which fanned itself further and further out into the hall. Nobody seemed to be doing anything much. They simply looked at him – or at the ground in front of him – in a suitably supplicating fashion, and he smiled back. This seemed to be enough for all concerned. To my secular European eyes, the scene was intriguing, mystifying, baffling. Who was this guy, anyway?

A year or two later, as I was browsing a copy of Esquire magazine (yeah, me neither), I came across a long article on a recent series of sex scandals involving various highly regarded Thai monks, who had been systematically abusing their power and influence over some of their female followers. Apparently, these discoveries were rocking the foundations of the religious establishment over there. (Does this sound at all familiar?) A lengthy mention was made of one particularly well-known tarnished guru, and his spectacular fall from grace. A small photo accompanied the relevant paragraphs.

It was him.

7. What does it take (to win your love?) (Junior Walker & the All Stars)

(Posted by Buni)

“I don’t ask for much in a man. He only has to be tall, rich, funny, sexy, single, strong, good-looking, smart, romantic, charming, warm, sweet, sensitive, athletic, warm, kind, generous, punctual, sincere, and of course he has to feed me ice-cream in bed every night for the rest of my life.”

As a younger man, I have to admit that the above was pretty much the case; I would have all these criteria about men and if they didn’t match those criteria then they were history, or didn’t even get a look in. There are young guys that I know at the moment and they are exactly the same, so idealised. They have their own criteria and standards, some are similar to the above and some are not, but there is the general gist of having this ideal man in their life that they think is going to bring eternal happiness. If they have found the above, good luck to them.

As I’ve become older, I’ve become more relaxed with myself as a person, I’ve noticed that I’m not such a fascist about these things. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my standards and high standards they are too, but the men who come into my life don’t have to have all of the above criteria.

There are many guys that I like a lot; guys that I’ve met over the years that I find are likeable, respected, admired, and having maturity and good judgement. As I said these are guys that I like a lot and where I’ve thought about taking things a step further. However, something has held me back. In my analysis of ‘taking things further’, I’ve thought to myself about attachment, “Would it be hard for me to get along without……..?”, a sense of caring for the other person, “Could I do almost anything for……?.”, and in my eyes, the most important aspect of a sense of trust, “Do I feel I can confide in >>place name here<< about virtually everything?”

I’ve been carrying on carrying on, doing my thing and getting on with life; not particularly looking about for anything serious where men are concerned. This has gone on for about 2 or 3 years (I’ve been single for 5) and I’ve recently, finally met a guy where I have found myself thinking long and hard about the attachment, sense of caring and trust and I have to admit that he has met all of the above criterion and standards, and more. I felt love again. However, the feelings are unrequited, it’s a shame but I’ll get over it. He is a cracking guy with a good head on his shoulders, and, he is likeable, respected, admired, mature and possesses good judgement. However, he’s a lot younger than me and so his criterion is that the guy he’d like would be tall, funny, sexy, single, strong, good-looking, smart, romantic, charming, warm, sweet, sensitive, athletic, warm, kind, generous, punctual, sincere, and of course they have to feed him ice-cream in bed every night for the rest of his life.”

Maybe it’s all down to timing or something? I have no idea. You just can’t win them all can you?

This entry may be revised in two or three years time.

Travels with a God-man

(Posted by Melodrama)

I’m posting from my parents’ home today. After working half-day, I rushed to the railway station and settled in my seat for a hopefully peaceful two hour ride to my parents’. Ten minutes after I settled in, I heard an announcement that all trains were delayed due to a minor derailment. How could I expect otherwise with my luck this week? When finally the train started, I looked around and noticed I had a God-man and a subdued looking fellow, apparently his disciple in the next seat.

I mostly ignore my co-passengers, and I buried my nose in the magazines I carry solely for the purpose of avoiding co-passengers. When the train finally started, the God-man started making conversation with everyone and I purposely tried my best to avoid conversation.

Finally, the God-man asked me where I was headed and I muttered something inaudible and looked away. The Gm (God Man) finally started making conversation with people sitting across the aisle and started lecturing about the virtues of Hinduism. Then he started a flirtatious conversation on his cellphone with someone. Well! Things were getting interesting. I don’t know whether any reader on this blog has ever seen an Indian Gm or not. Most dress in orange or white robes, have sandalwood paste smeared on their foreheads, wear loads of long rudraksha beads or gems and spout pseudo Hindu philosophy while subtly mentioning their ashrams anywhere outside India. This guy was pretty much like that and very curious about everyone else and flashy to boot.

If being a God-man is anything like what this fellow was, its not such a bad idea being a God-woman. I just need to work on getting some rich, decadent disciples first!

The science of mistaking

(Posted by Mark)

Whatever you think you know, however well you believe something corresponds to another, the promises or hearts you’ve broken, the games you’re playing, your timing, what you want or what you worry about, the gifts you give and the ideas and motivations you’ve been trying to second-guess, the one common thread through them all is that you will make mistakes.

We all make a mess of our lives from time to time,
It’s part of the process that you stumble as you climb.

We can’t help it because to err is human. With every intention of being accurate, honest, responsible, caring or diligent, we will nevertheless make mistakes because we are intrinsically imperfect creatures. It is how our mistakes are made, the consequences of them, their frequency and their nature which are the real issues rather than any debate over whether they are made. Because, and it’s really simple, we all make them.

Making mistakes
Mistakes are made for many different reasons. We may not know exactly what we are doing or what was expected of us in a particular job or function, we may be unwell or tired and thus less able to concentrate fully on the task set to us, we may have been attempting to do too much, resulting in many jobs done less well than a few tasks completed successfully, we may even have introduced deliberate mistakes in an attempt to test or discredit someone else. All these are recognised, if not exactly acceptable, ways of explaining why our mistakes have been made.

One of the most frustrating occasions is when you are challenged as to your mistakes with the question, “Well, why did you do that?”. If you explain that you are overworked or ill or unsure of your task and they accept this, then you can get on with correcting the error and all will be well, only in a slightly longer amount of time than anticipated. It is when the other person refuses to accept your explanation that matters get irritating. “I don’t want your excuses” has been a line used on me, which is guaranteed to annoy: asking why and then not listening or refusing the answer is a colossal waste of time which could be better used in remedying whatever is deficient. Suffice to say, I have tried to avoid doing work for that person ever again.

Other, more personal mistakes can be made because we have blinded ourselves as to what we want, where are heading in life, or simply because we don’t want to know what the real situation is. We make these mistakes in the belief that we are doing what is for the best or at least what we want to believe is the best, and then allow ourselves to be drawn deeper and deeper into confirming that mistake, which in turn deepens the hurt we feel and which we cause others.

Admitting mistakes
“I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken” is the polite way of telling someone that they are plain wrong. What they claim to know or have understood is somehow faulty. This can be accidental misunderstanding: a difficulty with an accent, two words which sound similar to each other, a bad telephone line, a concept not quite fully grasped; or it can be a deliberate misunderstanding, in order to be humorous, heighten tension, intentionally mislead or twist words and meanings to suit the respondent’s own purposes. This is the first mistake and leads most often to an immediate second mistake, which is denying that any such misunderstanding went on.

Some people really hate having to say they are sorry, don’t they? Admitting your mistake and acknowledging this to someone else is very, very easy but for some it seems to represent something far more serious like a character flaw or a signal that they have fallen slightly shorter than the Olympian ideals which they have set themselves. I don’t exempt myself or anyone else when I say that there are certain situations where we all hate to say we are sorry, because we hate to admit we are wrong. If there is a subject upon which you consider yourself the expert and you get a detail or fact wrong, when challenged by someone who claims to have superior knowledge, it can be difficult to admit your mistake. We like to feel that we have certain talents and gifts, and don’t necessarily like being contradicted or corrected. A slice of humble pie is often the dish of the day when we take our self-importance too far, and occasionally the odd person demonstrating that we are imperfect can do wonders.

One difficulty is the devaluation of the word ‘sorry’, which can be used for anything between accidentally detonating a nuclear device and having someone tread on your foot on an Underground train. While wailing “mea culpa” at the top of your voice and committing hari-kiri may seem an excessive way of apologising, so too does a mumbled “sorry, I ‘spose” seem a minimal and less-than-heartfelt was of expressing your regret. It is the sincerity of the apology and the promise that such a mistake will not be repeated which indicates the real force of meaning behind the word, and not simply the use of the word itself.

Forgiving mistakes
To continue the Alexander Pope quotation, “to err is human, to forgive, divine” but forgiveness can’t occur until that little two-syllable word has been uttered. The scale of the absolution correlates directly to the scale of the transgression. Minor mistakes and the ensuing apologies are easily waved away as their significance is little and the effect they have had on the other person is hardly important. More serious errors of commission or omission will be far harder to excuse as their direct consequence will be felt more keenly by those who have suffered.

The hurt – the real hurt felt can sometimes make you think that nothing could ever let it go, erase the memory of the distress, of the heart-sickening, stomach-aching distress which stays and stays and stays, lingering as though it’s a physical part of your body, your memory attaching the mistake committed against you to all the things you hear and see, despoiling what you love and have loved, crying dry tears and turning away from mirrors – may preclude forgiveness. God may be all-forgiving, but we are far from gods and our ability to forgive is more limited, bounded only by our capacity for love. Forgiveness can be the benchmark of love or its absence: do you love me enough to forgive me? Can you love me enough to forgive me? They are questions we should hope we never to need to ask.

Sing for absolution,
I will be singing and falling from your grace.

But if we are forgiven, then doesn’t that open up just a little ray of light? A tiny corner of a painted-out window to look through and see what we nearly missed, what we nearly threw away, what we nearly destroyed? Isn’t it the understanding that mistakes will be made, that they can and are regretted, that they are not inevitably to be repeated, and that lessons have been learned – isn’t that worth forgiveness? I believe so.

Shit Happens, I Know

(posted by Zena)

But I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over realising how superficial most (men) of the world is (are). People who have looked through me for years, suddenly want to go out with me. People offer me seats, parking spaces, all manner of fine things, and I know that I’m exactly the same now as when I was heavier. More, so, perhaps.

And what happens if I meet someone, and we get together, and then I get fat?