Post of the Week: taking it to the next level.

Following a suggestion by Vaughan, patita has kindly registered for the next 12 months.

Now then. I think this could work really well as a separate entity, administered by a small and enthusiastic group, with the work spread out so as not to get too onerous.

If you’d like to get involved, then I suggest we use this comments box as a place for volunteering and discussion. We’re thinking WordPress or Movable Type, and we’ll definitely need some input on the design side of things – this needs to look nice and distinctive, and not just some bog-standard template.

Things to consider: Who’s up for it? How will nominations be raised? Will all nominations automatically go forward for judging, or will there be a pre-screening process to weed out obvious crap and dubious self-promotions? How will nominations be displayed on the blog? How will the current Post Of The Week be displayed? What about previous Posts Of The Week? What size team is needed, and how will responsibilities divide? How will the judging work: new volunteers each week, or a rotating team of regulars, or a bit of both? Who’s going to do the design? Where’s the site going to be hosted? What happens if the site gets really popular and we get shedloads of nominations? Am I over-thinking this already? And so on, and so on.

OK, the comments box is all yours.

Post of the Week: Week 10 results, and a hiatus.

Some weeks, you just know what the result is going to be. This was one of those weeks: a landslide win, with our Post Of The Week scoring 14 points out of a maximum 15. As one judge said:

A well-researched post which skewers the current fanatic obssessions of Muslim extremists with humour and intelligence, with several delicious sideswipes at the Saudi royal family. It’s topical, educational and funny.

As another said:

This posting has it all: good writing, ridicule of oppressive rulers, ridicule of religious fundamentalism, and relevance to a Scandinavian like me.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. Post Of The Week #10 is hereby awarded to:

The Religious Policeman: A Memo.

Thanks to Looby and Martin R for helping out with the judging, and thanks to Gert for alerting me to the post in the first place.

Alas, it is now time to bid a fond “Au revoir” to Post Of The Week, which goes into indefinite hiatus from today. The reason is a practical one: as I shall be working full-time in London for the next four weeks at least, there will be precious little spare time to perform the necessary administration during the week, and equally little spare time to oversee the judging process at the weekends.

Au revoir, Post Of The Week. You’ve been educational. Let’s look back at your best bits, shall we?

Update 1: Mind you, if Post Of The Week was still running, then this would stand a good chance of winning it.

Update 2: If you’d like to take over the Post Of The Week franchise, then e-mail me.

Post of the Week: Week 9 results, Week 10 nominations.


Oh, are we on-air? Right then. Not much time, so let’s crack on with this week’s results.

Some weeks, there’s a clear consensus amongst the judges; other weeks, votes go flying all over the place. This week was firmly in the latter category; so much so, that – for the first time ever – only one post picked up votes from all three of us (myself, Ms Boob Pencil and Ms Stressqueen). Happily, this post also scored the most points numerically. And the name of that post is…

forksplit: F**k You, Barbie.

“Engaging”, said one judge. “A tale many of us can identify with; it is
delightfully written and contains a sting in the tail”, said another. Quite so, quite so.

Please place your nominations for Week 10 in the comments box below. This week’s judges areMartin R and Looby.

1. Open Book: Stories.
(nominated by Sarsparilla)

They held each other tight, seeking, one from the other, refuge from the storm. And in their tangled limbs, their slowing breaths, their resting hearts beating in rhythmic sync, they took, one from the other, shelter, comfort, and peace.

2. Stupidity hurts
(nominated by Rob and asta)

Pootle about, wash, make-up, some vague form of breakfast, some vague form of tidying, check everything is in bag, check again, check again, run around in circles, leave the house.

3. Blogadoon: Say what you like about Simon Hughes…
(nominated by asta)

Say what you like about Simon Hughes’ dramatic retraction of his claims to heterosexuality, but it’s certainly kept the homophobes in column inches.

4. Stephanie Sparer: “I’m spreading my eggs too thin.”
(nominated by Looby)

And then the real reason we were actually there with full face make up and styled hair at 10:30 AM on the dot walked in. Our professor. Names aren’t important. Played by George Clooney.

5. this too: Pop.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

After thirty years in London, they still seemed country people, he and my plump rosy Gran, as short as him but twice as wide, her eternal respectable hats firmly anchored with a huge pin. Over their broad voices lay a soft measured primness quite unlike their city neighbours, learned, I suppose, from the land-owning family with whom they’d been ‘in service’.

6. Bonanza Jellybean: Boys Will Be Boys.
(nominated by Hana)

Men like to look at naked women. A lot. Asses, boobs, legs, all parts combined, you name it. They like it. IT MEANS NOTHING. And yet their women freak the f**k out about it. All the time.

7. GUYANA: the enemy.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

I hear a crick crack snapping sound…and the rope bruk in two…and the second half o’ the rope turn into a snake, a two foot snake with a small, small face and thin, thin tail. Was a pale snake, sort o’ light grey-brown, pale, pale with really light markings. The snake wriggle past me and disappear under the old house.

8. diamond geezer: I’m up for a Bloggie!!!
(nominated by martin)

But it’s not the prizes which matter, it’s the acclaim of being voted for by thousands of random Americans who’ve never read my page before. Hello Wyoming!!!

9. The Religious Policeman: A Memo.
(nominated by mike, via Gert)

From: Royal Press Secretary
To: His Majesty
Date: 1st February 2006

Subject: Cartoons

As Your Majesty requested recently, in order to divert public attention from the regrettable demise of a small number of pilgrims in Makkah during the last Hajj, Saudi newspapers were instructed to revive the four-month-old story of cartoons about the Prophet (PBUH) in a Danish newspaper, and turn it into an attack on Denmark, together with a “spontaneous demand by the people” for a boycott of Danish goods.

10. Latigo Flint, Quickest Quickdraw in the World: Alternative Energy Sources
(nominated by Rob)

Benefits: Makes millions of hippies giddy with joy.
Downside: Sure, today it’s corn oil, but tomorrow it’ll be baby oil (the oil of smushed up babies) and soon it’ll be the oil from the eyeballs of endangered birds–we all know how these things go.

11. Rachel from north London: Clean skins.
(nominated by mike)

The change looks innocuous enough. Wives, parents, friends may even be pleased that the young man seems to be getting so deeply interested in matters of faith and spirituality. What can be more harmless and praiseworthy? Thus the fact that the young man is becoming interested in an extremist, violent ideaology slips under the radar. ‘At least he is not taking drugs, getting into trouble’.

Post of the Week: Week 8 results, Week 9 nominations.

After the marathon catch-up session of Week 7, Week 8 yielded the smallest number of nominees to date: just seven in all, which lightened the load for our guest judges: D from Acerbia and Tokyo Girl. This also meant that every nominated post picked up at least one vote, which is nice isn’t it, yes, I thought so too.

In amongst the pet birds, minor league football matches, Bush-bashing fantasy games, blog performance reviews and multi-coloured “slabs of control and stability” (oh yes!), two winners emerged, both polling the same number of votes. Rather than exercise a casting vote, I have decided to award this week’s POTW jointly to:

Waiter Rant: Treasure.
GUYANA: Cane-cutters and their wives.

Here’s what our judges said:

I just loved the bitchiness of [Waiter Rant’s post]; giving the guy the plastic cork was pure evil. The waiter was too nice to the wife. She married the guy, and she is still married to him. She must be getting some sort of a platinum-card advantage out of the arrangement. I hate going to a restaurant with a dieter, and if they are going to fuss around, counting calories, then I would be only to willing to help them out by drinking all the wine. The wife was too subjugated* for a woman of the affluent first world, shameful.

*(This word, in this context, is new to me, see below, and I am going to use it to death.)

[Guyana’s post] gave me a feeling of a totally different way of life, an alien society, a world in which the women are “subjugated” (I had to look that word up in the dictionary). I loved this post.

Both superb little episodes offering perspectives into other people’s lives. The waiter acts as silent and practically unoticed observer to the brash man and his timid wife and the cableguy as raconteur to the author’s audience. These glipses, these anecdotes are exactly what I love about catching odd posts on other people’s blogs, no back-story, no linking out to other sites, they’re self-contained slices of life, momentary digressions that transport you.

Please leave your nominations for Week 9 in the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here.

This week’s judges are Clare and Stressqueen.

1. Twenty Major: Shut it you fat c***s.
(nominated by stressqueen)
(WARNING: Very strong language, very opinionated “rant” style, may offend.)Lazy c***s sitting around eating more food every day than your average African child eats in a lifeitme is not a disease. It’s greed. It’s gluttony. IT. IS. NOT. A. DISEASE.

2. forksplit: F**k You, Barbie.
(nominated by patita)
I love lonely sad sacks. I love losers. Love them. Probably because I am one, although I don’t really look like one anymore. That’s what junior high was for. But looking like a pudgy, four eyed beaver throughout my formative years gave me a little insight into the painful reality of being ugly and awkward and undesirable. Thanks to puberty and contacts and braces and restrictive dietary practices, I’ve just learned to hide it better.

3. Nutgroist: Tuesday 3rd January – Saturday 14th January.

(nominated by JonnyB)
I call the promoter. It’s very simple – they have a packed night with top quality comedians but I can do 5 minutes and it must be 100% clean and NO mentions of sex, NO swearing and if he doesnt like what he’s hearing he’ll flash his light to either get me to move onto the next joke or to get off the stage entirely. Apparently the audience will all be religious jews who can get easily offended. Jerusalem, ladies and gentlemen. Who’d have guessed it?

4. light from an empty fridge: Two things that you see.

(nominated by Sarsparilla)
(Short post; too short to quote here.)

5. a beautiful revolution: Self-mythologising (near) stream of consciousness (guest post by Vaughan)

(nominated by JonnyB)
when andre asked me to do a guest blog entry i was only too delighted to accept but i did say i did warn i did suggest that as i havent blogged properly for nearly four months thats nearly four bleedin months i might be a bit rusty i said a bit out of practice i said what is this blogging of which you speak that’s what i said and andre replied oh that’s alright mate write anything you want and i said are you sure and he replied i’m sure of course well of course we didn’t really have this conversation because we’re both too nervous and shy to have such a conversation but i wanted to build up the drama ot this entry a little bit and make it sound like we are blogging gods in a secret cabal as if i said as if stop(and breathe)

6. Silent Words Speak Loudest: “If nothing gets challenged, nothing gets changed”

(nominated by Pete Ashton)
The best book about punk rock and pop culture ever“. Thus reads the NME critic’s appraisal on the cover of Jon Savage’s ‘England’s Dreaming: Sex Pistols And Punk Rock’. Perhaps it’s just an idiosyncratic tendency of mine, a function of my cynicism, that leads me immediately to view such pronouncements with suspicion and spend my time hunting out and dwelling upon perceived faults. Anyway, more of that later.

7. The Tool Shed: Tool of the Week: 01.22.2006

(nominated by patita)
I finally met with my GP after two weeks of making internal decisions like “When I tell my friends about my cancerous cojones, should I make a joke about it to break the tension? How about stoic with just a hint of quivering jaw and downcast eyes? Maybe milk the Spiritual Genius angle, like that kid who had MD and wrote poetry?” I even, friends and neighbors, had planned to blog the treatment process, and I devised a title for the project: My Mutinous Manberries.

8. ambainny: breaking bounds.

(nominated by guyana-gyal)
The school was obsessed with controlling girls, by not allowing them out of bounds, a bit like the purdah, zenana system. Boys on the other hand, could do what they liked and go anywhere, except where the girls were.
The girls dormitory would be locked from outside at night, by the matron. This was a huge fire hazard, all of us could have got singed, unable to escape. The priority was protection of our virginity rather than our safety.

9. meanwhile, here in france: survival.

(nominated by Clare)
It is quite a challenge to maintain one’s own lyricism next to a pneumatic drill in chamber music. It is even more of a challenge to maintain one’s confidence. We are all struggling to stretch our limits, facing the roots of habits that have been fed like weeds during months of orchestral playing. My personal weed has grown mighty strong and having it pulled at by someone who cares both about the music and about me is quite enough to leave me feeling about seven, raw and blushing with shame, hiding behind my cello and not wanting to come out…. I don’t need this.

10. Diary of a Goldfish: Love is real, real is love.

(nominated by Vaughan)
It was getting kind of late, so Johnny suggested that they head back to his cave for a coffee.Jane pointed out that they were on the wrong part of the continent for coffee, even if they could work out, within the space of an evening, how to process the seeds of that plant into a stimulating hot beverage. As you can imagine, without language, this took the best part of an hour to get across.Johnny averted his eyes and twiddled his thumbs as if to say, “I know, but I just invented the euphemism.”

Post of the Week: Week 7 results, Week 8 nominations.

With nominations accruing over the period that I spent working in China, we ended up with a bumper crop of 22 posts this time round. As no-one in their right mind could be expected to plough through 22 posts in one go, I duly whittled this down to a shortlist of 12 for the benefit of my co-judges: Martin and patita.

As it’s an untypical week, I’m going to break with convention and list the top three – because in any typical week, any one of these could have been the winner.

In third place: qarrtsiluni: An Indian Scale. To a backdrop of cellos, stinking shit, crap hotels, street vendors, Indian scales, cookery classes and Ayurvedic massages, the story of a deeply personal journey is beautifully spun. As one judge commented, this was a great examination of a critical transitional time.

In second place: feeling listless Review 2005: Gary Hollingsbee. This is a piece about an anxious father who is trying to do the right thing, a young son who might (or might not) be struggling at school, and an education system which might not (or might) be working in their best interests. Here’s another comment from one of the judges.

He keeps talking about guilt, but it’s the gnawing sense of inadequacy that chases him through the events described that’s so gripping. It’s a story I want to follow to the end.

So, who is our winner? Why, it’s Zinnia Cyclamen, with Real E Fun: Sam and Felipe. Originally published on the day when the first same-sex civil partnerships could be celebrated in the UK, this is a timely reminder of a recent past in which things were not always so straighforward.

When you read this – and read it you should, if I might be so very bold – please don’t do that horrible short-attention-span skim-reading thing, which can so easily affect our enjoyment of good writing on blogs. This one deserves to be read at a steady pace. You know, like a good book or something. Remember books?

Onto this week’s nominations, which can be placed in the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here. In particular, please remember the following: you can’t nominate your own posts, you can’t nominate any of my posts (but bless you for the thought) – and while it’s OK to nominate more than one post, please don’t get carried away.

I’m also going to introduce a new rule, to lighten the load for my judges. From this week onwards, you’ll only have to vote on a shortlist of ten posts, which I shall select at the end of the week. (This won’t be made public, to spare any blushes.)

Our guest judges this week are Tokyo Girl and Acerbia D.

1. Waiter Rant: Treasure.
(nominated by mike)
Now you might think I’m being a little hard on this woman’s hubby. Maybe the guy’s closing the biggest business deal of his life and he’s a bundle of nerves. Maybe he’s madly in love with his wife and I just caught him on a bad day – we all have ‘em. I only get to see a small slice of a person’s life when they’re in The Bistro. I’m well aware there are other slices that I don’t see. But what I do see is often very revealing.

2. Hobo Tread: Barrow 1 Cambridge City 2.
(nominated by Ben)
Being like a pencil mislaid behind England’s footballing ear, Barrow are able to attract a decent size crowd for their level, with no pro club within a 50 mile radius (particularly in that wet bit to the left).

3. defective yeti: Xyzzy.
(nominated by mike, via Rachel)
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

4. Boob Pencil: Unlocked.
(nominated by Rob)
Sometimes people tell you to close your eyes and imagine a time when you were happy. It’s the meadow you think of, and it never works. You know the sky was blue, the grass was green, the sun was warm. You know you felt euphoria. But all you can see is CLICHE CLICHE CLICHE and all you can think is that even if you were lying in a topaz-skied emerald-carpeted field right NOW you would probably be complaining about an itchy back, a lack of sunglasses or just a general fidgetiness. And anyway, you’re not. You’re in some boring grey room and you feel like shit.

5. diamond geezer: Performance Management Appraisal 2006.
(nominated by mike)
It’s that time of year again. Your blog performance review is now due. This important annual procedure encourages improved achievement by identifying key objectives and core competencies against an agreed framework of developmental targets.

6. thought intersect: On keeping birds, or a ramble about love.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)
I didn’t know that a creature that weighs barely 100 grams could make such a loud noise. I didn’t know that he would be afraid of every new thing he saw, and screechily skitter in terror when the new object would be brought near him. I didn’t know that a bird could look into your eyes and listen, nodding after everything you said like it was important.

7. GUYANA: Cane-cutters and their wives.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen and Clare)
He stop twiddling with options and connection settings and turn to tell me, “Those women are the most subjugated in Guyana. They are cane-cutters’ wives. People say that suicide in Berbice high but they don’t stop to examine why.”

Post of the Week: Week 7 nominations.

OK, so picking up where we left off before Christmas…

Post of the Week nominations have steadily been accumulating over the past few weeks, and judging will take place over this weekend.

However, as there are so many posts to consider, I shall be making things a little easier this time round.

This week’s nominations will close earlier than usual, at midday on Friday (UK time). I will then select a shortlist of twelve posts for judging, and will e-mail this list to my two fellow judges within the next few hours. (The contents of this shortlist will not be made public, as I don’t want there to be tears before bedtime.)

The judges will have until Sunday night to make their decisions, and results will be posted by Monday morning.

Next week, we shall revert to the usual way of doing things.

Now, all we need are a couple of judges! If you’d like to take part, then please e-mail me at Previous judges are welcome to re-apply.

For the sake of completeness, here is the full list of nominees. To make your own nomination, please use the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here.

1. The Mark of Kane: All You Need Is Love.
(nominated by mike)

We played this record over and over that weekend. In our enlightened states, we studied the passed around album jacket, searching for clues. The back cover featured a picture of John and Yoko, posed on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. They look fit and prosperous, facing east and an unknown destiny. Or was it? I was most unsettled by this picture, and still am to this day. Their expressions are grim, almost determined. What were they thinking? What did this photograph portend?

2. Loobynet: 2006 Flogged.
(nominated by mike)

What’s been so heartwarming about the whole experience is how people have immediately understood the way that this is beyond publishing – reflecting the paradigm shift that is blogging and its neo-punk underground ethos. That is, no-one is actually getting paid. Even if I were to share out the royalties amongst the contributors, there’d be so little to distribute to individuals that it’s better that the small sums are all consolidated into one bank account.

3. feeling listless: Review 2005: Gary Hollingsbee.
(nominated by Ed)

Whenever I leave a parental interview like this, I feel that there’s been a sleight of hand played on me. I come out bewildered and being less sure about how my son is doing than when I went in. I feel it in other situations, too, like the doctor’s, dentist’s – even the hairdressers. I always come out with a completely different hair-cut than I intended having. But meeting with my son’s teachers is the worst.

4. the house of d: dark times.
(nominated by Karen)

And the book was perfectly fine and good, very well written now that I come to think of it, but there was just something a little bit…wrong with it. Something not quite right. And it got less and less right, the deeper I read. And I remember sitting in the airport lounge about halfway into the book when the suspicion turned into a conviction. I looked up from the page I was on (in which Hermione was about to fellate Harry) and realized that, well, this surely couldn’t be possible.

5. Counago & Spaves: Babelfish does its thing.
(nominated by Rob)

And with this Manchester appointment it trusts surpassing to Birmingham as tourist destiny and moving away more to Liverpool, with which it maintains a ferocious rivalry historical. Of course, also it hopes to dilute the image of gray and declining city that drags from the industrial time, of when the textile factories and cotton estigmatizaban the urban landscape. Painful it is, in this sense, a famous phrase of Mark Twain: “I would like to live in Manchester. The transit between Manchester and the death would be imperceptible”.

6. Boob Pencil: Potted Autobiography v2.
(nominated by Rob)

First kiss: Rubber gloves. Second kiss: Broom handle. Third kiss: Hoover. Fourth kiss: Mop.

Youth Theatre Yorkshire; backstage excitement. Touching willies in grandmother’s spare bedroom. Finally understand Rocky Horror.

7. defective yeti: Hola, Amigos.
(nominated by Rob)

“There was, like, a gallon and a half in the can,” said I. “If you’re car’s still not starting, you might have a bigger problem.”

“The needle was way below E,” explained Jim, as if he had run the vehicle beyond “empty” and actually managed to create a quantity of anti-gasoline in the tank, which my fuel had only served to negate.

8. Silent Words Speak Loudest: Right To Reply #6.
(nominated by mike)

There’s only one pub for miles. It hasn’t applied for a new license. We locals are worried that it will ruin the secret illicit enjoyment of sitting in the dark after hours. Not that we do that. Never.

9. Rachel From North London: Dance, they said.
(nominated by Paul)

His brother walked in. ‘Ma’s socks!’ he said, looking pleased.

‘How much?’ I said.

‘Um. Five pounds’ said the brother.

‘Nooooooooo…’ said the shopkeeper, squirming.

‘Look at them’, I said, ‘they are lovely. And I will always remember your mother when I wear them.’

10. Acerbia: Impetus Catus.
(nominated by Green Fairy)

We immediately went out and bought a cashmere wool carpet inlaid with gold filigree. Probabilities of buttered toast landing on the carpet were increased beyond 99.9% and cat-spin entropy in the buttered cat scenario was reduced to negligable levels.

11. neil writes the blog: The Holiday Party.
(nominated by Pam)

To the person asking permission to cross dress – NO cross dressing allowed. We will have booster seats for short people. Low fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food so we suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the food first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for diabetics; the restaurant cannot supply “No Sugar” desserts.

Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!?

12. Sunshine on a Spoiltless Mind: Cheer Up.
(nominated by rachel)

…I casually announced that the Cubs had turned me gay. Of course this random verbal statement made everyone laugh, and someone questioned how that was possible, to which I replied that I had gone on a Cub’s Summer Camp for a week and came back gay and with a certificate to prove it. Well once the mocking laughter had died down, I was asked to expand on my peculiar statement, so…

13. meanwhile, here in france…: Five friends, five cellos.
(nominated by Rob)

Still in South London where I was born, I climb into the taxi to catch the 05.34 Eurostar from Waterloo. The grime from the bonnet has smeared itself all over my fingers as I placed my case in the boot and I accidentally wipe it on my Hobbs jumper. In my new attempt not to try and control the entire universe I do not ask the cabbie to turn off his loud music, but rather lean into it. It is a live recording from around what seems to be a Nigerian campfire. It is very beautiful. The cabbie can hear me listening.

14. feeling listless: Review 2005: Vaughan Simons.
(nominated by Clara)

It began, all too poetically, last New Year’s Eve. Not being able to enter into the social whirl and increasing paranoia of trying to find myself with some people, somewhere, celebrating, I was at home in bed. Admittedly, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind because, well, we all know that New Year’s Eve is one of those dates when being alone hangs heavily over one’s head, don’t we? However, as I lay there and listened to fireworks going off and the sounds of drunken revelry in the hours around midnight, I began to ponder my lengthy obsession with disappearing. My dreams of leaving. Getting the hell out. Vanishing off the face of the Earth.

15. Real E Fun: Sam and Felipe.
(nominated by mike)

The trouble was that Felipe’s visa was running out and he was facing the possibility of having to return to Argentina. He couldn’t bear to leave Sam, worrying in particular that Sam might become ill when he wasn’t there to look after him. They didn’t want to move to Argentina either; Felipe described it as ‘horribly Catholic and homophobic’, and Sam was receiving good health care here. After much discussion they decided the only realistic option was to find a British woman who was willing to marry Felipe. They had a few thousand pounds in savings, and hoped this would be sufficient incentive. So, discreetly, they began to ask around.

16. Burningbird: Year in Pictures.
(nominated by mike)

Following are my photos (or image, in one case) that Flickr designated the most “interesting” based on feedback and number of views…

17. Sarsparilla: I Want.
(nominated by looby)

I want a fixed price. I want grey boredom. I want the land of eternal rain and eternal sarcasm. I want a world where no one goes to church, where no one listens to the queen’s speech, yet they go out on the BBC once a year, regardless. I want my cats to puke on my bedclothes, I want to rifle through my own records. I want my dad to start snoring halfway through the movie. I want curry and peshwari naan. I want money whose colours I recognise and count without really seeing. I want a world where it’s okay to make a prat of yourself and just laugh about it. Where you know which streets are the dodgy ones.

18. This is this: Bad Backing Vocals.
(nominated by Karen)

Gilbert: “OK, I’ll meet you at Drury Lane Theatre for my show which starts at eight.”

Chorus (in his head): “He will meet you at Drury Lane Theatre for his show which starts at eight!”

Gilbert: “The traffic will be murder so you better not be late.”

Chorus (in his head): “Murder! Murder! Murder and hate! The traffic will be murder so you better not be late!”

19. Tiny Pineapple: La Dolce Vitamins.
(nominated by Rob)

“So remember, dear, only one Vitaball a day…unless, of course, you want to experience the same severe irritability, vomiting, blurred vision, hair loss, large-scale peeling of the skin, and agonizing death as those intrepid arctic explorers.”

20. Popular: THE BEATLES – “Eleanor Rigby”/”Yellow Submarine”.
(nominated by mike)

The brisk orchestral arrangement of “Eleanor Rigby” is tense and fussy, with something of Eleanor’s spinsterish neatness: the strings bring to mind sewing, or sweeping the steps, one of those little daily things you do unthinking, or instead of thinking. They also sound a little like a horror film soundtrack, and “Eleanor Rigby” is cinematic, and it is about horror. It’s Paul McCartney taking one of pop’s smooth-rubbed words – “lonely” – thinking it through, and recoiling.

21. qarrtsiluni: An Indian Scale.
(nominated by Rob)

On previous trips I had always travelled with my best friend. Having each other as a point of reference had been, I now discovered, the key to staying sane whilst in culture shock. A mere: “Oooh, look at the taxis! Aren’t they weird?!” or “I guess that must be a potato curry of some sort” had been enough to translate the concept of ‘car’ or ‘food’ from one culture into another. Now however, alone and with no reference point for the very first time on my adventures, I panicked.

Survival instinct took over, and I did something I had never done: I rushed to the nearest three star ‘Western’ hotel. There, defeated and ashamed, I ran up to my suite, ordered dal and rice from room service and listened to the manic beep of Indian city nightlife.

22. Undissembled verbalization 101.
(nominated by Karen)

I know that apostrophes are the bugbear of many, but this is my ‘bear – people who use over-inflated, high-falutin’, overblown twaddle for language, when everything they mean to say can be communicated so much simpler using little, podgy, Anglo-Saxon words, or something like.

Post of the Week: week 6 results.

With seventeen posts up for consideration (nine of them nominated by myself, in a sudden rash of enthusiasm), we had something of a bumper crop last week. My thanks to asta and Gordon for wading through them; we all agreed that this was a particularly tough selection to rank.

So, what themes cropped up this time? Inevitably, Christmas made its first appearance: trees were chosen, compilation CDs were marketed, and an unexpected wish list was made for Santa.

Celebs had a rough time of it: we bitched about a duck-faced actress and a podgy crooner on the verge of a comeback, and got an insider’s lowdown on the perils of shagging movie stars.

There was a strong showing from the Comedy Lobby, with tales of arsey hair salons, sexually incontinent students, and a comedy club audience with Other Things on its mind – not to mention a full dramatic reconstruction of a well known nursery rhyme.

We fell in love – or did we? We conquered stress – but in a way that you won’t find in any self-help manuals. We bade farewell to a much-loved London institution. We established ground rules for reading in public. And we saw red, gold and green in the queue at the Post Office.

As for the winner, it was neck-and-neck between the two posts which picked up votes from all three judges. In second position: Etcher’s fine, almost dream-like depiction of a day spent wandering the streets of a big city, which reminded me of similar days spent in West Berlin, many years ago.

However, just one point ahead, we have one of two nominees from the superb selection of “Review 2005” guest posts at feeling listless, which are running all the way through December. (Introduction and full list of contributors thus far is here.) So let’s hear it for this week’s winner…

feeling listless: Causality and the Invisible Girl.

And that’s your lot for now: Post of the Week is taking a break for a few weeks, as I’ll be flying to China next weekend and will have limited web access thereafter.

The next round of nominations will commence on Monday January 9th. So if you spot any exceptional posts between now and then, please hang onto them – as posts from the entire intervening period will be deemed eligible.

Post of the Week: Week 5 results, Week 6 nominations.

The predominant theme for Week 5 was the family. Christmas-loving fathers, neurotic mothers and cutely chirruping toddlers all had their parts to play – whilst elsewhere, two families became awkwardly linked by loss.

Meanwhile, other bloggers were risking jail sentences, dodging panthers on the hard shoulderwelcoming the gays to the neighbourhood, humping white goods around the Norfolk countrysidewatching performance artists ramming things up each other’s arses (*), and rigorously dissecting the snogging technique of one of Middle England’s best-loved heart throbs.

(*) Watch that one rise to “Most Popular Outgoing Link” over the next view days. I monitor these things; I know what you’re like.

As for this week’s winning post, it distinguishes itself from its predecessors in two notable ways, being the first to be written by a male author, and the first to receive maximum points from all three judges (myself, patita and Daisy). According to one judge:

“…it sums up the insanity, humor and discomfort of NYC in winter–things of which I have intimate knowledge.”

Oh, and this is also the first winner to be taken from a site which was already on my blogroll. It therefore gives me particular personal pleasure to award Post of the Week #5 to:

Joe. My. God.: Pray Lady Day.

Please leave your nominations for Week 6 in the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here. This week’s judges are Gordon and asta.

1. etcher: Destination:Anywhere.
(nominated by Vaughan)Somewhere in the middle of the day it hits me like a brick wall. On the corner of Christmas-crushed Regents Street it occurs to me that all this frantic activity doesn’t change the fact that I am alone, and feeling somewhat lost. The walking and my aching feet might push away the feeling but it still follows me around like an unwelcome cousin. The fairy tale dissolves around me like a puff of smoke.
2. Boob Pencil: Love.
(nominated by mike)Hangovers are a crucial part of this mental cementment. The day after the night before has always induced a strange wistfulness in me. Combine this with a cosy self-snugglement, subtle horn and an unusual capacity for moments of disconnected joy, and you have the perfect conditions for Falling In Love. I blame sleep deprivation.
3. Betty’s Utility Room: A Million Love Songs Later.
(nominated by mike)Christmas Day, 2005. Gary Bartlett, the organist off of Take That, has spent the morning shooting pheasant in the grounds of his 2 gazillion acre stately home with pals Gary Neville and Stan “The Jairmans, The Jairmans” Boardman…
4. feeling listless: Review 2005 – Lilly Tao.
(nominated by mike)Want to worry about whether we bought the right car? No time. The car runs fine. It has a baby seat in it. That’s all we need. Like to spend time overanalyzing that stupid comment I made in a meeting last week? I can’t even remember what it was anymore.
5. feeling listless: Review 2005 – Robyn Wilder.
(nominated by mike)I have been easygoing, undemanding and on the periphery; not wanting to appear too interesting in case someone asks too many questions and realises that I’m not anyone really – I have no opinions, I’m just a cipher that experiences pass through for grammar and editing, and become anecdotes. I have made being superficially agreeable and emotionally distant an art-form. This year, all that changed.
6. DCverR’s Twlight Zone: Lesson from a 4 year old!
(nominated by guyana-gyal)Too short to quote here. 

7. Head Notes: Kiss the day good bye, & cut my hair tomorrow.
(nominated by Daisy)I really like getting my hair cut. No, I mean I really love getting a haircut. It borders on fetish with me. it’s one of the few times I will just sit back and just allow things to happen. Pretty much.
8. Geese Aplenty: Paltry.
(nominated by Pam)I don’t really think of Paltrow as an actress. She’s just someone who looks like a duck and occasionally annoys me by wandering onscreen and reciting lines.
9. Acephalous: My Morning: A Play in One Uncomfortable Act.
10. Girl with a one-track mind: Celebrity.
(nominated by mike)Over the years whilst I’ve been on set, I have been approached by various actors trying to get in my knickers. From Hollywood A-list to no-name extras, they’ve all tried the come-on; from grabbing my arse to handing me their phone number. And to each and every one, I’ve smiled sweetly and declined.
11. ‘Tis the Season: Everything you need to know about the tree.
(nominated by asta)It can be difficult to tell the difference between a fairy and an angel (unless you want to talk theology): both have wings, both tend to be female, both have nice frocks (generally). They are, however, differently-accessorised according to the requirements of their particular profession. Angels have halos, while fairys wave wands.
12. GUYANA: One Bright Tooth.
(nominated by Clare)He is not a real Rasta, I thinking, real Rastas don’t eat meat and other fatty, salty things, he too plump to be a real Rasta. “Pardon me?” I say to he.He repeat it. I still ain’t hear.

I still ain’t hear ‘cause I did too busy staring at he One Bright Tooth.

13. Wyndham the Triffid: Reading Books: The Rules.
(nominated by asta)I am a book-snob in many ways. Everyone has habits they fall into, little neuroses that eventually rule their lives, and I’m about to reveal to you, if you have the time, my own shabby rules that I always follow when reading a book in public or, indeed, private. I hope I’m not alone in having certain unpleasant and stereotyping predilections…
14. ‘Tis the Season: That f**kawful cavalry song.
(nominated by mike)At the root of the problem is one plain fact: market conditions are such that it’s simply uneconomical to record Christmassy songs in 21st-century Britain. Ballad production has now generally migrated to Eastern Europe, and whilst there has been some success in outsourcing rhythm and basic backing vocal tracks to the Indian sub-continent, results have been erratic at best.
15. The World of Jill Twiss: My comedy career has hit rock-bottom.
(nominated by Girl; comments also good)Oh, I thought that my comedy career had hit rock-bottom before, but I was clearly mistaken. Who knew that during all those other horrible, horrible shows, I was actually hovering somewhere around rock-middle?My show last night was different.

16. This is this: True Stories – Rhymes And Misdemeanors.
(nominated by mike, who also liked Ad Vent Calendar)(Video Tape: Narrator to camera, walking)
Dateline Never Never Land, and a day when the future nearly pailed (brief pause) into insignificance.(VT: Jack and Jill out walking their dog)
(Voice Over)
Local sweethearts Jack and Jill had it all. Two ordinary kids with hopes and dreams, but this day turned into a nightmare.

17. diamond geezer: The Last Routemaster.
(nominated by mike)The bloke in the grey anorak conformed to every stereotype you might expect of a serial bus spotter. His anorak was weatherproof and toggled, his spectacles were thick and functional, his rucksack was that special Milletts shade of beigey-grey and his camera was the size of a small child. I carried out a quick subconscious check to make sure that I was wearing nothing similar.

Post of the Week #5

With nine out of twelve (or 75%) of last week’s nominations penned by female bloggers, this is the first time that the gender split has been anything other than more or less equal. God, that’s not an easy sentence to write at 8:30 on a Monday morning. Let’s quickly crack on, shall we?

From the under-represented male wing, we’ve had sharp and timely political metaphor, a raddled former beauty-queen, and a football hero with feet of clay.

Meanwhile, from the ladies (hello ladies!), we’ve had cellos pushed into sternums (enigmatically), pianos dragged into the jungle (heroically if uselessly), rages so fierce that they have seen off tropical storms, murders in the neighbourhood and drugs busts in the home. We’ve eloped to London with lesbians, we’ve woken up with toddlers in Paris, and we’ve been out on a photo shoot with a disorienting new lens (discovering in the process what the word “bokeh” means).

All of which leaves the only post this week to have picked up votes from all three of our judges (myself, Anna and Green Fairy). Yes, this week’s winner – the fourth out of four from a female writer, and a piece which speaks for itself, without need of further justification – is:

Baghdad Burning: Conventional Terror.

Please leave your nominations for this week in the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here.

Patita will be helping with the judging, but there is still room for one more judge: if interested, please e-mail All applications welcome.

1. Boob Pencil: Transportmentally Challenged.
(nominated by guyana-gyal)The AA told us to get out of the car and wait on the other side of the barrier. They didn’t know about the panther either. Luckily we decided it was too cold for such nonsense, and we stayed in the car. After all, the AA said they would be at least an hour and a half, and it was the middle of the night for God’s sake. And cold. And foggy. Did I mention the fog? It was very foggy.

2. petite anglaise: singing in tongues.
(nominated by Rob)This is an audio post.


3. Boris Johnson MP: Bush and Al-Jazeera.
(nominated by mike)If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies.

4. Joe. My. God.: Pray Lady Day.
(nominated by mike)The air in the car is getting a little stuffy. I’m already overdressed for this entirely-not-caused-by-global-warming 70-degree-almost-December morning, but I don’t even have the room the pull my arms out of my jacket and hold it. I can feel sweat running down my sides, in little sticky Pray Lady-hating rivulets. Of all days to be iPod free, it has to be today. On Pray Lady Day.

5. Izzle pfaff: No Parking.
(nominated by patita)Environmental theater, you see, eschews such pedestrian trappings such as audience seating. No, in environmental theater, you, the audience member, wander like a bedouin around the spaaace, maaaan, being careful not to f**k with the actors who are totally right there begging to be f**ked with or to kick over their water bottles or anything. Exploooore the spaaaace! Whoops, not that space or that space or that space, though, because those are for acting.

6. Waitress Dreams: fear dot mom.

(nominated by Pam)Later, while washing her big blue sweatshirts, some covered in teddy bears, others in Christmas trees, I thought about how numb I’ve become to my mother’s emotional outbursts. I couldn’t remember where I was when I stopped feeling anything when she started her pointless praying, chanting, bitching, moaning. I couldn’t remember what triggered, or didn’t trigger, my flat response.

7. JonnyB’s private secret diary: Friday, November 25, 2005.

(nominated by Rob, who has also nominated the comments, even though that’s not really allowed, but they are rather funny comments, it has to be said)”I’ve backed the Land Rover right up,” says Short Tony, as I stand in the old kitchen, my bent finger covering my mouth in that particular way that has been scientifically proven to help you think. I decide that if I stare at the washing machine for long enough then it will become a bit lighter.

8. A Sorry Existence: Voyeurism.

(nominated by mike)I am considering baking a basket full of morning goods and popping over to the new residents, you know, just to do the neighbourly thing. I’d quite like to make friends with some gays, as they can be such fun.

9. Londonist: SCOOP: NME Album Of The Year.

(nominated by mike)
It has come to our attention that this year, NME may have chosen to publish a doctored version of the aforementioned poll. According to our source, the list of albums printed in this week’s publication does not reflect the opinions of its writers, as you might expect. Instead, we’re told you’ll find a heavily edited version which, we have on good faith, takes some commercial and political factors into consideration.

Post withdrawn: background here.

10. Spaghetti and Truthballs: Santa Claus is coming to town.

(nominated by Pam)His christmas CD collection now takes up a 200 disc CD changer… and I kid you not, they broke an artificial tree because they overweighted it with ornaments. We don’t just have one advent calendar for our household…. We have one for every room.

11. Tiny Pineapple: Colin Ithn’t a Firth-Rate Kither.

(nominated by Rob)…in this case, the director appears to have pulled Mr. Firth aside and said, “Look, Colin, your agent just called to remind us about the ‘no mandible movement’ clause in your contract, so in this scene just try to keep everything else moving, OK? Open and close your jaw, turn your head from side to side, clutch her skull in ever-more-awkward ways. Just do whatever you have to do to disguise the fact that you kiss like a haddock.”

12. A Hand Full of Stars: toxic parents.

(nominated by Green Fairy)It is 1976. I saw a man regretting his past actions and attempting to correct the course his young life had taken. I saw him cruelly desert his English wife and three children. For a few moments, he had taken a risk and stepped out of that circle his ancestors had drawn around themselves. He had married for love, the riskiest of all. And he deserted her for comfort, for tradition. For safety.

Post of the Week #4

Bloody hell, Monday mornings. This is another Breakfast Time Special post, written at precisely that time in the week when my mental processes are at their foggiest. (It’s that 6:25 am start what does it. Not natural, I’m telling you.) Still, there’s work to be done, so let’s crack on with this week’s results.

In this absence of an obvious show-stopper this week, it has been more difficult to predict which way the votes would fall. Consequently, we’ve had the widest spread of opinion so far, with most posts picking up votes along the way, and only two posts receiving votes from all three of us (myself, JonnyB and Zinnia Cyclamen).

In this week’s batch of nominees, we’ve sampled the cuisine of East Dulwich, feasted ourselves upon The Gayest Cake Imaginable (with pictures!), and investigated the properties of albino ketchup (not a euphemism, but a Soho burger joint reality).

In our international section, we have photographed morgues in Kyiv (eww!), and gone for wee-wees in rural Zambia whilst being covered in termites (double eww!).

We’ve examined our priorities in life, had a damned good rant about NaNoWriMo, and have surveyed the visual evidence of what too much love can do to a neon-coloured bear.

At this point, it’s worth giving a special mention to an entry which, realistically, was never going to qualify – as it’s actually a series of fourteen consecutive posts in which Pete Ashton attends fourteen consecutive gigs by small bands in his home town of Birmingham. The resulting “Going Deaf For A Fortnight” project is a wonder to behold, and I commend it to anyone with a bit of time to spare.

This leaves just two posts, separated by just one vote. In the runner-up position, we find Mimi in New York, “dodging the slap” in the strip joint. As one judge said:

This is a beautifully written post. It writes of important issues and writes of them well, brings them to life. It’s also a fascinating glimpse into an alien (to me) lifestyle.

But nudging ahead by a whisker, we have this week’s winner:

The Marvelous Garden: THE ART OF SEDUCTION: A Short True Story.

As one judge commented:

This does something I think blogs do best: it documents a few minutes of someone’s life from an unusual angle in an entertaining, thought-provoking way.

Speaking for myself, I’m pleased to see something lighter and more amusing/observational sitting at the top of the pile this week, after two winners from the heavier end of the spectrum. I’m also pleased that, for the third week running, the winning post comes from a blog which I wasn’t reading before.

Here we go again, then. Please place your nominations for Week Four in the comments box below. Rules of engagement are here.

Our judges for this week are Anna out of, and Green Fairy out of Green Fairy.

1. Rafael Behr: Nation to Tony: ok mate, I think you’ve had enough.
(nominated by JonnyB)

But after a few more drinks he’s crossed the line. Instead of being funny, he’s just being rude. He’s bumping into people and spilling drinks. People start to peel away from the group. “It’s getting a bit late”; “Gotta be at work tomorrow.” But Tony hasn’t noticed, he still thinks the party is in full swing.

2. This Is My Body, This Is My Blood: Reefer Madness.
(nominated by daisy)

I’ve decided it’s not worth the trouble to score a little weed. Besides, the adrenalin rush ought to last for at least another week.

3. Making Light: The story’s in the NYPost.
(nominated by patita; mike suggests that you read this bit first)

How I found out it was murder: One of the detectives asked me whether I’d heard anything that sounded like someone playing with a cap gun. I looked at him for a moment in polite disbelief, then said, “You mean, someone popping off with a .22.”

He ducked his head and mumbled that yes, that was what he’d meant. “We recovered a fragment,” he said—that’d be the bullet lodged in the tongue—then added, “We still haven’t ruled out suicide.”

4. Real E Fun: Sophie – Part Three.
(nominated by Clare; mike also recommends Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.)

Marianne said we would never live apart after we left London, and we’d tell everyone we were sisters. I said that would never wash because we looked so different. No problem, she said, we’ll say I take after father and you take after mother. She always had an answer for everything.

5. meanwhile, here in france…: peace.

(nominated by Clare)

When will I stop marking out my territory like a cat on heat?
When will I be able to share a breakfast table without clenching my teeth?

6. Musings from Middle England: Football Memories.

(posted by asta)

It so happened that the Captain was a family friend so always greeted me by name. If the term ‘street cred‘ had existed in the early sixties, mine would have shot off the graph every time this happened. Despite the fact that I could have got his autograph whenever he visited my parents, I still made him sign my book at the Players’ Entrance every Saturday afternoon. It was as rigid and meaningless a ritual as going to church on Sunday.

7. GUYANA: How the piano got into the jungle.

(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

They play it for a while, but in the end, the piano sit silent in the wooden church at the top o’ the hill. Some folks in Guyana now call it a white elephant, a big useless thing, sitting silent and deaf, can’t sing, can’t hear, can’t do nothing.

8. Reluctant Nomad: Mad Dogs and Englishwomen…
(nominated by mike)

In 1932, she was crowned Miss England and was the toast of London’s high society when she came out at that year’s annual debutante’s ball. Two years later she’d married a South African doctor, my grandfather, and was living in Livingstone, Zambia, a colonial backwater. What a grande old bitch she was – I loved her unreservedly!

9. Mimi In New York: The Rage.
(nominated by guyana-gyal)

I flame-thrower those I care about like kebabs, caught in the electric frazzle of this fury. All f**ked up, screwed, twisted beyond redemption – you’re losin’ ’em, but you can’t explain this suicidal hell-bent mission of destruction. It’s not personal, you gotta understand. Not about you anymore.

10. Baghdad Burning: Conventional Terror.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

Few Iraqis ever doubted the American use of chemical weapons in Falloojeh. We’ve been hearing the terrifying stories of people burnt to the bone for well over a year now. I just didn’t want it confirmed.

11. petite anglaise: waking.

(nominated by mike)

Familiar knots tighten in my stomach as my mind predictably turns to the office. Will it be a neutral day, or a stormy one? Weather map symbols swim before my eyes. Where once every day was dry with light cloud and sunny intervals, nowadays there are, at best, ominous grey clouds gathering; at worst, a violent storm.

12. Sneeze at your peril.

(nominated by Pam)

Should I just carry around the contents of my under-sink cupboard so I can clean the living hell out of anyone who has the audacity to cough in my vicinity?

(Sorry: Anna’s a judge this week, so I’ve had to disqualify this one.)

13. Paula’s House of Toast: Through The Looking Glass.

(nominated by asta)

Today, back at work, I was buried by an onslaught of tasks and demands. Late afternoon, sitting at my desk and writing, I suddenly came to. There I was, sitting there, looking at my hands as they wrote. What were they ? Who was I ? It was one of those awful, disorienting moments of Sartrean nausea, keener than usual. I felt poised and teetering on an abyss; a small panic fluttered inside. The Big Lens — the wild, wide, all-seeing, goitrous eye of the Beast — had turned inward.

Post of the Week #3

Disaster averted! With Pam’s votes having mysteriously gone astray over the weekend, a last minute plea for a substitute was kindly answered by Ann Pixeldiva. Having pooled her votes with mine and Clair‘s, I can now reveal that the new Post Of The Week is…

Coming up after the break.

But first, let’s look back at last week’s other nominees.

We visited karaoke bars in North Korea and Saharan vomitoria (not to mention damp sand-pits) in Tokyo.

We learnt about gold carving in Guyana, and acts of altruism in Jordan, over cups of coffee in Washington DC.

We left answering machine messages in New York, swapped broken German with Swedish chefs, and inadvertantly flashed our bits at VIPs.

There were meditations on peace, angry rants at Texan voters (more background here), and – following directly on from last week’s winning post – an intensely moving personal testimony of the hurt that families can mete out over the decades.

In the midst of so much internationalism, this week’s winning post comes from closer to home. From North London, to be exact – where a survivor of the 7/7 tube bombings voices her opposition to the recent attempts to detain terrorist suspects without charge for up to 90 days, and lays into the idea that the Blair government were somehow acting in her name. As one of the judges put it:

…saying something that really really needed to be said, and saying it a way that will hopefully make people pay attention.

The second Post of the Week therefore goes to:

Rachel from north London: 90 days and 90 nights.

Please leave this week’s nominations in the comments box below, by Saturday morning at the latest. Rules of engagement are here.

This week’s esteemed judges are JonnyB and Zinnia Cyclamen.

1. The Marvelous Garden: THE ART OF SEDUCTION: A Short True Story.
(nominated by Sarsparilla)Beside me, an elderly woman gave new meaning to the term “stationary”, as she flipped noisily through the pages of Glamour, grunting and snorting despite her obvious lack of movement. Occasionally, she spun the pedals around for effect, so no one would think she hadn’t dressed up in gym clothes and slung a towel over her shoulders in order to carry on a loud argument with the editors of Glamour.

2. Acerbia: Burger Me.
(nominated by mike)”See? Albino tomato. Probably the runt of the litter. Struggled and fought to be like its brothers and sister and finally acheived its dream of being a ketchup dispenser despite its rough upbringing and a world full of superficial values.”

3. infinity: de-tox.

(nominated by Clair)This journey, this relationship has been wonderful because it has forced me to look at my life. Review my priorities and strip away the things that I don’t really see as success. Too often I have taken on other people’s ideas of success. People look at bits of my life, the bits they see and project from there to how successful they think I am. People think I am successful. But what if I have a different set of values? What if I don’t count success the same way?

4. frizzyLogic: Baby Bear.

(nominated by mike and Hg: don’t forget to play the movie)Obviously the risk of losing BB was too terrible to contemplate. So early on we bought an understudy. This unfortunate creature has spent all his life so far in the back of my wardrobe since he’s never been called upon to take centre stage.

Despite living entirely in the dark he has not become pale and etiolated. Quite the opposite. He has retained an enviable youthful vibrancy and vigour. So much so that, were he called upon to make an entrance, he would give a very unconvincing performance.

5. Geese Aplenty: No no.
(nominated by Pam)Okay, hold. Stop right there. Does that sound like a recipe for a good novel? When’s the last time you saw a cover blurb that read “Shortlisted for the Booker Prize because of its seat-of-the-pants writing style”? Try “A slapdash exercise in verbal logorrhea that made me physically sick.”

6. Neeka’s Backlog: Monday, November 14, 2005.

(nominated by looby)As I was taking yet another picture of something ugly, a man called out to me from behind a broken-down fence; he looked like someone who rides around in an ambulance all day. At first, I didn’t hear all that he said. But I thought I heard the word ‘morgue.’ The building behind him, which I had just photographed, could’ve been a morgue, I thought. He repeated: “Devushka [miss, girl], is that a hobby of yours to take pictures of morgues?”

7. Speaking as a parent: Give My Compliments To The Cashier.

(nominated by mike)It’s a very English thing, not complaining. I’m sure if I had been on the Titanic and a steward from the White Star Line had rowed alongside our lifeboat and asked “How’s everything for you, then?” I would have replied “Fine, thanks” and left it at that. Mel would have undoubtedly muttered something about sending a stiff letter to someone, a letter that would have hit a snag somewhere in the planning stages and never darkened a letter box, let alone anyone’s desk.

8. Pete Ashton’s Weblog: Going Deaf For A Fortnight.

(nominated by Ben)…a 14 day series of posts… in which I go to a gig in a small venue in Birmingham every night to see bands I mostly have never heard of before and then write about them here. By the end of it I expect to have attained a good overview of the Birmingham small gigs scene, to hopefully have discovered some good tune-smiths and to probably have descended into a nightmarish Gonzo-style meltdown. We shall see.

9. 360 Degrees of Sky: Termites.

(nominated by guyana-gyal)
IE users beware: DON’T click on any pop-ups or ActiveX windows – it’s fastusersonline trying to get you to install a porn toolbar.The torrent of water makes me want to pee, but when I look up from my page my exit is blocked. A wall of termites is between me and the door. Well, actually between me and everything else. But I need to pee.

10. Mimi In New York: The Slap.

(nominated by mike)The rot spreads, mould covering the sheen of life, dragging it down with cloying, asphyxiating stealth. Little Sasha, blonde and beautiful, six years old, laughing as Daddy heaves her onto his shoulders. Sasha, eighteen, sweet and clean, moving to New York to be a model and actress, excited, overwhelmed by the Big Apple. Sasha, 30, pawed by managers, sucking dick for approval, seeking out compliments like an eager puppy, but waiting, just waiting, always waiting, for the slap.

11. Glitter For Brains: The Gayest Cake Disaster Imaginable.

(nominated by Pam)And remember – baking goods also respond well to music. So if you’re baking The Gayest Cake Imaginable, why not start off with the new Madonna album? Oh, you can taste the glitter in the air!

Post of the Week #2

Jeepers, you guys! On launching the “Post of the Week” wheeze last Monday, I was certainly hoping for at least a modest amount of reader participation… but never in my wildest dreams did I expect for us to end up with 18 nominated posts by Saturday morning. Not that I’m complaining; you came up with some stunners, both from names which are already familiar to me, and from blogs which I’ve never heard of before.

We had below-stairs revelations from transatlantic liners in the early 20th century. We had exposed genitals on the London Underground. We had flirtatious glances over the organic vegetables (the latter two posts combined into one, for the purposes of voting). We had mythical beasts and holy grails, patently shit strippers and questionable intimate hygiene. We had bewildered kiddies at the door, and dizzy Miss Lizzies on the tube.

Over here, a token straight man attends a Eurovision party. Over there, a single man tries to assess whether or not the grass is greener on his side of the relationship divide. And way over yonder, a good-natured orgy in the middle of an industrial estate makes for the first blog post ever to give me the horn, good and proper. (But then, I lead a sheltered life.) Oh, and there was something which I think was about boats, only having read it three times I’m still not quite sure. (Anyone?)

And then there was Anna from, who earnt herself no less than three nominations. (I’d say “record breaking”, if it didn’t feel a little previous.) Which did we like best? The bossy crisp packet, the sneaky hour-thieving bastards, or the lovingly “prepared” birthday meal? Or would we all feel differently, thus fatally splitting the vote?

As it turned out, my fellow judges (Karen and asta) and I all plumped decisively for the birthday meal post, making it a clear runner-up to…

this too: When last we met.

A worthy winner indeed. Here’s what one of the judges said about it:

“The history of a relationship summed up in a few raw and yet stylistically elegant paragraphs. Staggering.”

And here’s what another judge said:

“It reminds me of the famous Frizzy Logic post, The hurt of not-knowing. I know it’s sad and most of the nominees are more light-hearted, but it is rare to find a from-the-heart post that is also well-written, and this is it. I like it.”

Now, who’s going to tell the author? After such a moving, intensely personal piece of writing, I scarcely like to bounce into her comments box, whooping and shrieking and waving my hands. (“CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE A WINNER!!! MIKE AT TROUBLED DIVA IS GOING TO LINK TO YOU ON THE TOP OF HIS BLOG FOR THE WHOLE OF THE NEXT WEEK! THINK OF THE TRAFFIC! ISN’T IT FABULOUS?!!“)

No, methinks not. But Jean, if you do find your way here, then your post was much appreciated by all three of us, and hopefully by quite a few more besides.

Right then. On with the nominations for Week Two. The rules of engagement are here, and this week’s judges are Clair and Pam. Nominations in the comments box please, and all nominees will be appended to this post as they appear.

1. SHANE: The Body – Part II: Blind.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)Later, I found Marie pottering over a smouldering grill-pan.
Shane: Ah. How’s things?
Marie: Recently extinguished.
Shane: Mm, I see. And the Very Important People? They were ok? Nothing too intense?
Marie: (pause, at which Shane begins to feel a tad uncomfortable) Well, they were very sweet-
Shane: Good.
Marie: -considering.
2. greavsie in blogland: Greavsie is understanding Language and Life.
(nominated by annie)‘German!’ came a hush whisper as my Boss covered the phone, making a slitty throat motion with his hand and offering me the receiver with the other.
I’d take the receiver and set off with my best Nuremburg pronunciation. ‘GUTEN ABEND, HIER IST HERR DOCTOR SMITH. ICH MOCHTE GERN MITT HERR SCHMIDT SPRECHEN BITTE.’
3. GUYANA: the hollow gold bangles.
(nominated by asta)“You can tell when a goldsmith is lying if he says he can carve on gold,” the whistling doctor tell we. “You look at his toe near the big toe. If it is straight, he does not carve, he engraves. If it is twisted, he carves.”I laugh, thought was a joke. But was no joke.

4. In and Out of Confidence: Breaking it.
(nominated by Natalie)As I lay down I sensed a large, dark, thick, pungent, pale green cobweb cloud above my head, spreading out over the ceiling and layers falling down and around to hover just above my body. I was terrified and lay awake, trembling and keeping my eyes fixed on that imaginary cloud until the morning light drove it away.
5. Synchronicity Or Just A Coincidence: How do you want to live your life?
(nominated by guyana-gyal)He paused for a second and then proceeded to tell me how he was in the Jordian military. How sitting here on the sidewalks of DC on a nice day people watching reminded him of the markets in Jordan. How the family he is renting a room from are like strangers. He talked at length about how people here are always moving so fast, they forget how to sit still. I agreed.
6. Rachel from north London: 90 days and 90 nights.
(nominated by mike)How I wish I had the strength and the freedom to break ranks and embarrass you properly. But I know I will be eaten alive by the media if I am the ‘dissenting victim’s voice’. I get enough calls from journos as it is at the moment.
7. blogjam: North Korea – Day Three.
(nominated by mike)Another song follows, then a third girl gets up to sing. This tune has a more strident beat, and pretty soon all the Westerners in the room are clapping gleefully along. And then the visuals kick in on the big screen. It’s all missile launches, marching soldiers and mushroom clouds. Christ knows what she’s singing about, but it ain’t Scaramush, Scaramush will you do the Fandango. Immediately we’re all exchanging ‘WTF?’ looks and trying not to look like it’s the most surreal moment of our lives, but the atmosphere in the room has just been cranked up several notches.
8/9. Tokyo Girl: EITHER Overconfidence OR Ostrich gizzards at the vomitorium.
(nominated by mike – who can’t quite decide between, not to put too fine a point on it, piss and puke)EITHER:
“Oh look, you did need the toilet,” I said in the calm matter-of-fact manner advised by the book, stifling my inner harridan behind a forced smile. “Let’s go home and get some dry clothes.”OR:
“Oh shit, disgusting,” I said loudly. The two Japanese men leaning against the wall looked at me blankly. Fortunately my Japanese runs to: “Puke, shocking!” The two men giggled and nodded in acknowledgement.

10. mondrian’s neon fantod: Today I Am Not Proud To Be A Texan.
(nominated by patita)Today I am deeply disappointed in approximately 75.5% of the voters in my home state. Today I am bewildered, confused and saddened. See, I don’t know what happened to the occasionally difficult but always decent frontier mentality of my people.
11. Autoblography: Shades Of Peace.
(nominated by Karen)Today I remember the people sitting around tables at the end of every war. I remember the beginnings of peace. I remember the efforts of those working to maintain peace. Instead of remembering the fighting and the death that grew out of differences, I am trying to think of the years people around the world have lived without war.
12.londonmark: Leaving Messages.
(nominated by Pete)I realise we haven’t spoken in something like four months, not since you skipped the pond and set up in New York. Hope things are going well for you, I don’t see you around anymore buddy, guessing you’re okay and just, y’know, adjusting to new life and settling in and making your way in the world and looking for that special bar where everyone’s gonna know your name. Life’s different without you.

Post Of The Week.

In lieu of the annual “Troubled Diva has been going for x years today” post (four years yesterday, as it happens), I thought I’d commemorate the happy occasion by, um, shamelessly ripping off another idea from someone’s else’s blog.

This time, I’m going to revive the much missed “Post Of The Month” feature, which used to run on Uborka (now sadly in stasis). Except that, in what may prove to be an act of reckless over-optimism, I’m going to re-title it Post Of The Week.

Here’s how it’s going to work.

1. If you come across a great post which you’d like to big up to the Troubled Diva massive, then please supply details in the comments box below. The deadline for submission will be Saturday morning.

2. You can nominate any post from any weblog, providing that it’s recent, ie. no more than a couple of weeks old. (There’s no restriction on subject matter, so if you really think that a 5000 word deconstruction of the “Scooter” Libby scandal will interest the readers of TD, then be my guest).

3. Please feel free to nominate more than one post during the course of the week. (But don’t be greedy.)

4. You are not permitted to nominate one of your own posts.

5. Voting will take place over the weekend, and the winner will be announced on Sunday.

6. The winning post will be linked at the top of this page (and at the top of all the archive pages) for the following seven days.

7. Once the week’s winner is announced, nominations will start all over again in a brand new comments box.

8. Voting will take place in a secret sealed chamber, using a judging panel of myself and two guests. The guests will change every week.

9. If you’d like to be a guest judge, then drop me an e-mail at mikejla @ btinternet dot com. Your duties will involve a) reading all the nominated posts and b) e-mailing me with your choices some time on Saturday or Sunday.

This might all flop horribly. On the other hand, it might be an entertaining and worthwhile exercise in “online community building”, or some such pompous piffle. Up to you!

I’ll be listing the nominated posts as we get them, along with short excerpts from each, in a series of little boxes… like so.

1. Musings from Middle England: My First Trip
(nominated by mike)

“I had been shown how to turn the ribs of beef in the huge ovens and I was to replenish the three sauce boats for serving with the grouse. The larder chef had carved from ice an aeroplane with the caviar in the cockpit for the table of a famous airman. Assistants were arranging garnishes and supplementary sauces. The soup chef was exercising his large vocabulary of obscenities – his consommé had not clarified.”

2. Blogadoon: Parallels between the Cinderella myth and my regular Sunday jaunts to Horse Meat Disco.
(nominated by mike)

“After a very pleasant evening involving, amongst other things, friends’ revelations pitched at a degree of surreality so extreme that I propose to wipe them from my mind plus a live demonstration of traditional Japanese men’s underwear (no, really), I willed myself off the premises at 11.30 sharp.”

3. Captain Crisps and FagEndBoy
(nominated by guyana-gyal)

“How am I supposed to take you seriously?” Said the litterbug. “You’re a crisp packet”
“I’m a crisp packet who’s about to fine you £50”, said the crisp packet.

4. JonnyB’s private secret diary: There is a knock on the door!!!
(nominated by anna)

“It is important to avoid a scene. Much as I like the foxy Vegetable Delivery Lady, we must both keep a stiff upper lip about our parting. I hope that she does not do anything foolish that we will both regret later.”

5. Vegetable Delivery Lady: I knock on the door!!!
(nominated by anna)

“It is important to avoid a scene. Much as I loathe delivering vegetables to this pervert and would love to tell him what I really think of him on my last day, I just want to get out of here alive and not end up locked behind a bookcase or something.”

6. Symbolic Forest: The creature
(nominated by Clair)

“You should watch out for them, and be particularly wary if you hear their distinctive hunting cry: ‘Arrg kxrrt!'”

7. (yes, her again): cometh the hour, cometh the confusion.
(nominated by Clare)

“I now realise why the summer is short. It is short because some bastard has been rifling through my hour-drawer and has made off with what, let’s face it, could have turned out to be the most important, most pleasant and summarily most summerlicious hour of the whole summer.”

8. Ramblings of a Yidchick: Warning: adult themes.
(nominated by JonnyB)

“Usually I have the luxury of showering before my appointment, but today I am too busy rushing to doctors to manage it. So I do what wise streetwalkers have been doing for generations. I spurt a bit of perfume on my knickers so that my hoo-ha doesn’t hum when the waxer is doing her thing down there.”

9. Mimi In New York: Queen of the Night.
(nominated by Tokyo Girl)

“There’s one in every club. You know – the patently shit stripper, the girl who can’t talk English, gets on stage and goes red, covers her breasts, mutters Hail Marys under her breath, prays Daddy can’t see her now.”

10. GUYANA: The holy grail.
(nominated by mike)

“Abroad got glittering malls. Abroad got streets that sparkling clean, and Abroad got bright, bright street lights. Abroad got jobs that put shiney money in you pockets, and you can buy all kind o’ fancy things that don’t cost you house and land, arm and leg.”

11. what’s new, pussycat?: fright night.
(nominated by asta)

“Just when you think you ken everything there is to ken about living in Scotland, you get a rude awakening.”

12. RudderPosts: Accessibility.
(nominated by asta)

“Now I protect myself from contributing a “running plug” to some yahoo by making sure there is a good bit of tumblehome in the stern of my little skiffs. Most chopper gun artists don’t want to have to fool with a split mold so they pass up my boats for something a little cheaper to “produce.” From the examples I see all over the place, it doesn’t make any difference how plug ugly the plug is.”

13. Diamond Geezer: Single life.
(nominated by Girl)

“If it’s quarter past seven on the morning of the first Wednesday in November then I’ve been single for exactly six years. (Yes, I know I posted this particular post last year, the year before and the year before that, but I have updated it a bit, and I intend to keep posting it every year on this date until my situation changes. Not that I care if it doesn’t, you understand.)”

14. Gay Nazi Sex Vicar In Schoolgirl Vice Knickers Disco Lawnmower Shock!: Friday 28th October 2005. (scroll down a bit)
(nominated by stressqueen)

“I like Kendal. Lots of reasonable people talking in RP to their little girls, who wear moss green tights and have those old-fashioned metal grips in their hair. I had four halves (that’s meant to indicate how restrained I’ve been, by the way), and two massive doorsteps of that grey “artisan” bread, with some Stilton. It was old people and oddbods mainly, so I fitted in well.”

15. (you know, I’m beginning to suspect some payola scandal here): I make a birthday tea!!!
(nominated by Clare and Karen)

“A lot of cooking happens in this flat, but not much of it is done by me.

This is not because our household subscribes to outmoded gender role stereotypes dating back to the second-wave new man movement of the late 1990s, oh no.

It is instead because I am bad at cooking. I might go as far as to say “very” bad.”

16. Trouser Browser: Should I stay or should I go?
(nominated by ian – WARNING: this one’s quite rude)

“We all breathed out, stretched, sighed and eventually giggled. Guys shift from absolutely deadly seriousness to silly hysteria so quickly. We introduced ourselves”

17. greenfairydotcom: Tube tips for women.
(nominated by annie and anna)

“London Underground have published a new guide for women on using the tube. I am sure you, like I, have been simply yearning for someone to explain to us how the fundamentally different way we use the underground from men can be best coped with. And this leaflet has been produced ‘by women for women’, so it is sure to be packed full of useful ‘tips’ on how us girls can ‘get the best out of the tube’.”

18. this too: When last we met.
(nominated by Karen)

“I am angry with myself for agreeing to this. I shut myself in the bathroom with a bottle of whisky. Keep warm by staying under water. Get very drunk, then very sick. Alarmed by this – I don’t usually drink a lot – my wife tries to be pleasant, but cannot. She opens her mouth and the frogs and serpents of a lifetime’s bitterness rush out. Her sister, who looks depressed and clearly wishes we hadn’t come, cooks an inedible Christmas dinner. When not snowing, it rains. I walk on the long grey beach. It is a nightmare.”

OK, your turn. Share the love! And don’t be backwards in coming forwards!

Update: This week’s guest judges are asta and Karen. Next week’s judges have also been appointed.