Thursday, August 18

Big Blogger 2005: The Official Soundtrack.

Here's the tracklisting for the triple mix CD that will shortly be winging its way to Vitriolica, as part of her prize for winning Big Blogger 2005. Click on each song title to find out why it was selected for inclusion...

See you in 2006, darlings!


1. All That Jazz - Chicago Soundtrack
2. Gloria - Laura Branigan
3. Jilted John - Jilted John
4. U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
5. Losing My Religion - REM
6. Theme From The Goodies - The Goodies
7. The Tra La La Song - Banana Splits
8. Pink Panther Theme - Henry Mancini
9. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
10. Pusherman - Curtis Mayfield
11. Ride On Time - Black Box
12. If I Had A Hammer - Trini Lopez
13. Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
14. Cloudbusting - Kate Bush
15. Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group
16. Mr. Writer - The Stereophonics


1. Don't Close The Post Office - JonnyB & MC Mr Mitt
2. Axel F - Crazy Frog
3. Dragostea Din Tei (Numa Numa) - O-Zone
4. I Predict A Riot - Kaiser Chiefs
5. The Thong Song - Sisqo
6. Take Me To The Mardi Gras - Paul Simon
7. Insania - Peter Andre
8. Bohemian Rhapsody - G4
9. Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov) - 101 Strings
10. This Is It - Melba Moore
11. Black Or White - Michael Jackson
12. Give Peace A Chance - John Lennon
13. Theme From Shaft - Isaac Hayes
14. 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
15. Primavera - Amalia Rodrigues
16. Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) - Abba


1. There's No Business Like Show Business - Ethel Merman
2. It's A Sin - Pet Shop Boys
3. Gecko - The Creatures
4. Seven Nation Army - White Stripes
5. Seven Seas Of Rhye - Queen
6. Seven Seconds - Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry
7. Seven Days Too Long - Chuck Wood
8. Seven Deadly Finns - Brian Eno
9. The Magnificent Seven - The Clash
10. 007 - Desmond Dekker
11. Bless Your Beautiful Hide - Howard Keel (from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
12. Do-Re-Mi - Sound Of Music Soundtrack
13. The Puppy Song - David Cassidy
14. Loser - Beck
15. The Winner Takes It All - Abba
16. Big Brother UK TV Theme - Element 4

Friday, August 5

The End. Finito.

Well there we have it my little fluffy Big Blogger viewers. The end of Big Blogger 2005. No it is - honestly. Who said 'thank God?'

It's been a Long and Winding road, it's been a Helter Skelter, it's been Back to the USSR and it's been a Yellow Submarine. There really have been many ups and downs, and I'm not talking about Girls mattress. There have been many peaks and many troughs and lots of tears shed and hugs given - from the very first week when Peter threw one toy too many, landing on Big Bloggers head to the last week when Mike was under investigation in a music for votes scandal.

We've seen the walkouts, we've seen eviction controversy, we've seen the very start of the wibble phenomenon, heck we've even seen pools full of pimms, inventions and extinct birds. How did we all pack it in?

I know, I know. Please don't cry, but good things always come to an end. Didn't your disciplinarian primary school teacher beat that into you after you'd won the egg and spoon race aged 6? No? Just me then. Again.

For all those worried about how they will manage to live their lives fully without their daily Big Blogger fix, Little Blogger and I have set up a premium rate phone line for all you refresh clickers out there desperate for more.

Big Blogger must really patronise and commend all blogmates for the quality of all their posts. 348 of them to be precise, it's kept Big Blogger and his harem entertained on the quiet nights in. And what nights they were. There really has been some outstanding contributions. The last week especially has seen some top quality responses to Little Bloggers, frankly, evil task.

Big Blogger also must thank Little Blogger for stepping into the breach over the past few weeks.

But enough about me, lets talk about me.

What are we waiting for?

The results. Well the worst kept secret in blogland is just about to be revealed.

All 4 remaining blogmates passed this weeks task with flying colours. All 4 of them wrote 7 posts in 7 days and they all managed to keep off each others territory - 28 different posts about the number 7. So no extra points for anyone effectively as all the bonus points were cancelled out.

So in 4th place with 5% of the popular vote is the sassy NML.

In 3rd place with 17% of the popular vote is (the other) Alan. Now to be renamed as THE Alan.

In 2nd place is Dial-up Mike with 22% of the popular vote.

And the inaugural winner of Big Blogger 2005 is everyones favourite expat drawing machine, ladies and gentlebeings I give you Vitriolica.

*fights to be heard through the rapturous applause*

And that's Big Blogger 2005. Big Blogger will be in touch with all blogmates to give them the address of which to send their prizes. If they would all like to make their way to the diary room to be grilled and seasoned by the Littlest Blogger.

And that's it from me.

Remember the date: 5th August 2005 - it's the date you'll remember for wishing that you were somewhere else

Stay safe. Don't have nightmares. And don't forget to tune in next year for Big Blogger 2006.

Lots of hugs

Biggity Blogger.

Go home. There's nothing more to see.

#7: seven things to bear in mind when casting your vote, if you haven't already done so.

1. I have written all of this week's "seven" posts whilst on holiday, on an ancient laptop which takes ages to boot up, with a dodgy screen which keeps flickering on and off, and using a rather erratic 38.6k bps dial-up connection which frequently stuffs up for no reason, sometimes forcing a complete re-boot. As a result, and because there is only so much torture that one can reasonably put oneself through, I have been forced to abandon my own blog , which hasn't been updated for nearly a week. I feel that this demonstrates my desperate urge to win selfless commitment to the project.

2. The last time that I came first in anything was in 1974, when I won the school Scripture prize; and so, thirty-one years later, it would be wonderful to savour the sweet scent of victory just one more time.. You have it in your power to grant me that simple wish. Is that too much to ask for?

3. Vitriolica has been streets ahead in the poll all week. As the current runner-up, this makes me the Plucky Underdog - and we all know how important it is to support the Plucky Underdog, right?

4. In the last week or so, Vitriolica's blog has been bigged up by both the BBC and the Guardian. Naturally, I am thrilled for her. But consider this: hasn't she now had her time in the sun? Does she really need yet another accolade? And isn't it time to make way for fresh blood?

5. Yesterday, my own blog (Troubled Diva) was granted its first ever mention in the print version of one of our national daily newspapers, as part of a two-page spread ("Citizens of the internet") in The Independent, and in the illustrious company of other famous online diarists such as Boris Johnson, Barbra Streisand, Moby, Jamie Oliver, Salam Pax, Belle De Jour, Gillian Anderson and Rosie O'Donnell. However, the two paragraph quote that was lifted from the blog was not actually written by me at all, but by... guess who? Yes, that Vitriolica woman! Again! All of which left me with an authorial credit of "Anonymous Woman". HELLO! MY NAME IS MIKE, AND I AM A FULLY BE-PENISED AND BE-TESTICLED GEEZER! There is one way, and one way only, of writing this great wrong, and I think you know what I'm talking about.

6. Didn't I make you laugh, with my laconic, self-deprecatory wit and easy facility with the well-placed bon mot? Didn't I make you cry, with my heart-rendingly honest "confessional" pieces? Didn't I let you into my heart, as we shared our hopes and fears? Wasn't it good? Wasn't it fine? Isn't it madness that you can't be mine? Was I not fragrant?

7. What, am I to be allowed just one more point? But which shall it be? That I completed all my tasks on time? That I played fair with the voting, not casting multiple votes and not pimping for them on my own blog? Or should I perhaps remind you of those helpful "Davina-Mike" summaries, which explained the wibble of the first few weeks? Or how about my principled (if doomed) rooftop protest, which added gaiety to the nation in those early weeks? But, no. My last point shall be this: I may not be able to draw pretty pictures, but I do wear the most sublime hats.

Have I said too much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you. But all you have to do is look at me to know...

...that every word is true.

Ciao, kittens. It's been real.


Well this is it then. Big Blogger draws to a close.

Fifteen of us entered the house just two months ago, and now we have been whittled down to four, and by this afternoon we will have been whittled down again to Vit one.

But there is one more post to go. My seventh and final post on the subject of the number seven. What topic will I choose. Well, for me this one was a no-brainer.

You see, of the four folks left in the house, I am the babby, in blog-terms at least. Mike has been at this game since Jesus was a boy, and Vit and NML have both been thrusting their thoughts and opinions on the world for over a year now. But I’m just a simple newcomer, pleased to have been able to hold my own in such august company.

Because my blog has been running now for just…..

….wait for it, wait for it….

Seven Months!

(Actually six and a half, but we’re going to say seven for the purposes of this post and if you don’t like it, well tough titty and yah boo sucks to you!)

And seeing as everyone else has been busy making lists, in a final act of shameless self-promotion I give you…

My Seven Months of Blogging

Month 1 - My book was published on 7th February. A signed copy of it will shortly be winging it’s way to Vit the winner of this competition, where it will undoubtedly sit gathering dust on the shelf until she they decide to hawk it on ebay. I ranted for the first time (but nowhere near the last) about British public transport, wrote an obituary for one of my all-time heroes Arthur Miller, and celebrated, as a former hunt saboteur, the introduction of the fox hunting ban into Britain.

Month 2 – I began tracing my family history and introduced everyone to my friend and fellow mountaineer Grania Willis who was about to set out on an attempt to climb Mount Everest. I wrote another obit for another hero, this time Dave Allen, and was hoping things didn’t really go in threes like my mum always said they did. I went climbing in the highlands and posted some photos of me on snow covered mountains. I ranted about public transport again. Then I posted some nice photos of Edinburgh and for some reason that seems to have been the turning point which started to bring me some regular readers.

Month 3 – Began rather well with me being invited to speak at a conference in Baltimore next year, and asked if I would agree to be interviewed on camera for a documentary feature while I was there. I introduced everybody to my family through the medium of casting the movie of my life. I posted my obligatory list of things you probably didn’t know about me, and got all excited because Zoe left a comment on one of my posts! The pope died and I decided it was all my fault. I went to the dentist. My mum came to visit and tell me all the things that are wrong with the way I live my life. I decided to go on a diet.

Month 4 – This began with my threatening to have colonic irrigation and telling an exciting story about climbing mountains and runny poo. A few days later began what would become the bane of my blogging existence. I wrote a post about Paula Radcliffe pooing on the London Marathon. I still get at least five visitors a day googling on that search string. This Monday Graham Norton mentioned the incident on his program and within ten minutes I had received 20 hits from people searching on it. Will they ever just give it a rest??? I ranted about public transport. Again. There was a little matter of a general election. A bizarre Hungarian female came to stay for a few days and didn’t leave for a month, and I met a whole bunch of bloggers in a pub in Edinburgh, among them two of my fellow Big Bloggers.

Month 5 – I met another fellow blogger, this one all the way from France! My friends Sam and Ann-Marie come to stay while cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, precipitating the departure of the bizarre Hungarian. Grania Willis reached the summit of Everest (as the aforementioned Sam had done one year earlier). I ranted about public transport. No surprise there then. I discovered that one of my photos had been published in a Chinese newspaper. Then I ranted about public transport again.

And the big news of the month, as a last minute replacement, I entered the Big Blogger house!

Month 6 – I began a series of reports on the G8 protests in Edinburgh. As a consequence, I got detained under a section 60 order and became an enemy of the state. The post in question was quoted on the Channel 4 news website. More rampant egomania ensued. My G8 posts came to a crashing halt when bombs started exploding in London. I took my daughter to a rock festival and began to realise what an old fart I am.

Month 7 – I sit quietly and await the result of Big Blogger. May the best Vit blogger win!

sete variedades de treta

This final week of Big Blogger... what a whirlwind! Golly. I'm exhausted. And I'm supposed to be translating something REALLY boring this week. So it was a welcome distraction. And I'd better do it today. Cos this girl doesn't like REAL work. She likes writing twaddle and peddling it to the blogosphere. I think we could safely call it "wibble".

So let me take this as an opportunity to give you "The Guided Tour To Vit 'n' Madge Stylee Wibble"

seven chickens

Type 1. The Half Truth Approach. The Seven Chicken Women. Wibble based on real stones somewhere in the world, I dunno where, maybe in Portugal, maybe in Outer Mongolia. However the bit about the Portuguese being desperately socially aspirational and their taste for chicken was entirely true.


2. The Desperate Internet Search for something to do with Seven and Portugal Approach. Seven Groans. Thankfully yielded true, though legendary, if that's possible (true AND legendary?), results. Even the "photograph" was genuine.

jane austens arse

3. Iconoclastic Rant against Great Literary Hero in Contemporary History After Very Helpful Email From Parents Suggesting Some "Seven" Topics Approach. Seven Years, Seven Days. Well, how they remember these little tiny quotes from bloomin' Jane Austen books is a mystery to me, but I am very grateful for the mystery.

seven brides

4. The Cheese Approach. Seven Brides, Seven Brothers. Find something really cheesey and take the piss out of it. Easy.

vault runes

5. Overdose on Coffee and Small Children and Stress And Invent Something Extremely Silly Approach. Seven Symbols. Well, all I can say is, turn around so you've got your back to the screen, bend over and look through your legs. Read what it says. :)


6. The O-Crap I can't think of a Thing, Draw A Silly Picture and Make Up Some Old Twonk as You Write It Based on the Picture. Seven Flames. So, I have a Bulgarian cleaning lady. And she went on holiday yesterday. That much was true.


7. The Hopeless Nice Person Underneath the Awful Liar Approach. Seven Varieties of Crap. I just can't tell complete fibs for long (we all remember the Quarsan suing Zoë debacle don't we?.... half an hour of emails of solidarity to Zoë and I couldn't take it any more and came clean. Still, it was bloody funny...but I'm still making it up to Keith)... so I have to come clean so that no-one is in any doubt that the Seven Chicken Women of Migalha (Migalha means Crumb) do not in any way exist and that the runes in Marwood are just a good excuse for me to put rude words on the screen upside down.

Thursday, August 4

sete chamas

I was talking to my Bulgarian cleaning lady this morning, before she abandoned us for a whole month to go home to Bulgaria, and I was explaining to her what this Big Blogger thing was all about. Our conversations are all held in Portuguese, so an awful lot of what I say gets lost and an awful lot of what she says gets lost, but we stumble through our two mornings a week and I haven't yet accidentally instructed her to burn the house down (I'm really REALLY bad at telling people what to do in any language).

Anyway, I tried to explain that I had to write a post ("Vot iss a post?") about the number seven ("VY? I'm nott seeink ze point of zizz Big Poster Blogger Seven zink"... okay I'm paraphrasing... well, do YOU understand Portulgarian?) and she got rather irritated that I was trying to tell her about this while she was melting all the elastic in all the household knickers with the iron (I have told her a dozen times not to iron the knickers, because it's mad and she agrees, and says, "Zose bluddy portugese, zey are SO mad and wanna iron everyzink, because zey zink zey knows everyzink and, you knows, zey don't, zey mad and rheally shnobbs" but still she irons the knickers) and as I got the message that she was irritated I started to leave ze room... when she suddenly plonked the iron down on my knickers (on the IRONING board, not ME) grabbed my arm and said "SEFEN!"

"SEFEN!" (take that para break like one of those ad breaks you get on US tv shows, but where we don't put ads in, so it fades out on a minor cliffhanger, only to fade straight back in again on the same cliffhanger, thereby duplicating the cliffhanger... ... ... or is that just me?). "I got a story for yous, iz very old bulgarian story and is very cute... you lizzen."

(I'm going to paraphrase this in straightforward English, portulgarian is too tiring)

"There were once two elephants and they ran away from some gypsies who were taking them to sell to a circus.

"It was winter and the elephants were very cold and hungry and didn't know where they were going to get their next meal... for as you know, elephants need a lot of food every day or they die real quick!

"After three days, they had eaten only snow from the forest floor and were getting very weak.

"They were desperately cold and though they had blankets, they only covered small parts of their backs. They saw a clearing in the forest which was big enough for them both to sit it... don't forget, they are elephants, they are big blokes.... and sat down. They felt that they were going to die there from the cold, so they said their goodbyes to each other and both lay down. As they lay down, the SEVEN (see.. I told you it was about a seven, didn't I, honestly you inglish, so impatient) trees that surrounded the clearing broke at the same time, collapsing and making a hut over their heads. The trees were fruit trees and as they fell, seven different fruits fell down, enough to give them their strength back. And as they broke, the splinters from the trees started a great fire, enough to keep them warm till the morning.

"But the elephants wanted to cook the fruit, so they chucked it all straight on the fire. The fruit put the fire out. The elephants died of the cold.

"They say that the moral of this story is that you must never count on an elephant to make the right decision."

I politely smiled, said thank you and went off to do something else.


# 7 - Loser

I've been tapping my fingers wondering what the hell I should write about for my last post. This seven mallarky and the rules that surrounded has meant that rather than risk doubling up on a subject, I've pumped out lists with gusto. Figuring I might as well stay true to form, and confident that it doesn't mean jack anyway, my last list will be in honour of losing, which is what 3 people will do in this game, and what 1 person moi, can for the final, call herself 'Loser'. (I'm singing Becks 'Loser' to myself as type this!)

Fortunately I've had more experiences of winning than I have of losing, but I'm a firm believer that in order to appreciate what you have and what you've won, you must experience losses. How do you know what it feels like to win, if you've never truly lost?

Fortunately, I have several experiences of losing:

1. I was in the final 20 for a girl band that actually never made it (female version of a famous boy one). It wasn't because I couldn't sing (on the contrary I must add) but because they'd already picked the winners anyway. Before it had started. I kid you not - I was one of the people that they approached to audition weeks before hand but I refused with my naive and honorable self and said that I would audition with the rest of them at the proper time. My poor little 16 year old heart was gutted. My ma was delighted as she didn't want me doing a duff 'career'!

2. I was runner up for an art competition on the long defunct Childrens Channel. I was delighted when my name came on the screen across England and Ireland, but I'm still bloody livid at the fact that my prize (I think it was about 25 videos) has never arrived. Where is my prize you f*ckers? Hee hee...

3. I came second in a decent sized karaoke competition back home in Dublin (not liking this runner up theme) belting out my favourite Killing Me Softly by The Fugees. It killed me softly to watch the £500 get handed over.....

4. I have lost at countless games of strip poker....

5. I came runner up to my brother in another art contest. I was a gracious loser and didn't wack him about the head with the Girls World.

6. I came second in the 100m sprint at the Community Games (like Dublins little Olympics) when I was about 12. And 13. I took up social smoking at 14 and funny enough, I lost my interest in sprinting around about then.

7. And of course I couldn't forget Big Blogger. Fortunately I don't take these things to heart! I have told my knight in shining armour and one of my bezzy blogmates Alan, and also Mike (sweetie) that I've been half tempted to pack it in as it can feel like peeing against the wind (never tried it myself). Actually that's not what I said to them at all! It has been quite good fun and I met some really lovely people in here and had a lovely flirtation with Little Blogger. You can't ask for more really. Well actually, you could, like winning, but the best person has won/is winning and it has been a delight to look at her illustrations and be entertained by her.

Seven Things To Say Goodbye To

I've been told that I need to either remove or completely cut a number of things out of my diet today by my doctor in an attempt to aid my immune system. Naturally, I can find seven of these things. How handy.......

#1 Chocolate - Are they mad? I nearly wept when she said it. It's not that I eat it all the time, after all, I'm only lickle, but seriously, has my doctor lost her marbles? The thought of not eating a Mars/Galaxy/Twirl/Terry's Chocolate Orange...I'm swooning. Oh f*ck - How am I going to wrestle the big boxes of Quality Street and Roses off my brothers at Christmas time?

#2 Dairy Products - Fortunately I had already cut down my dairy intake but what about my refound love for a lovely cup of medium milky tea? She asked me what I had for breakfast this morning. 'Well I forgot my I got scrambled eggs on granary toast...' Yeah, that's got to go too. Something about hormones and all sorts of weird things in dairy

#3 Meat - Well, actually I'm only allowed to have it once a week. Now all I can think about is tucking into a big juicy steak every day.....

#4 Fizzy drinks - I don't drink them that much but I did become a coke fiend when I went to Sharm el Sheik a few weeks ago. Despite being at a 5 star place, the mineral water tasted as if someone had drunk it, swished it around in their mouth...and spat it back in the tank. I became addicted to coke and loved the feeling of the cola, coursing through my veins.

#5 Alcohol - I have completely cut down my alcohol intake after being on steroids for a year, so keeping it down won't be hard.

#6 Junk Food - Fortunately I'm not a junk food fiend but I have had the occasional sneaky McD's (desperation I swear) and Nando's (does that count?) However this does include biccies and crisps. Sweet baby Jesus and the orphans - what the hell am I supposed to live on?

#7 Sex - Well I haven't been getting that on the regular for ages so why change the habit of the year. Just joking......I could probably do with some more of it to 'boost' my immune system. I do have to avoid cooked oils, processed food, and most of the things I like on top of the other things I've mentioned though.

I popped into the shop when I left the doctors, and when I got on the bus I polished off a small bag of Maltesers. It was just to make me feel better!

#6: seven reasons why i don't want a dog (in the face of enormous pressure from my partner)

My partner seems to be labouring under the delusion that any dog he buys will be as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, perfectly formed and lovably sweet-natured as either a) a Crufts finalist or b) an Andrex puppy. To my mind, such over-inflated expectations rather resemble those of the lardy-looking ordinary bloke who assumes that his next girlfriend will look like a supermodel.

(Not that I am for one minute suggesting that my beloved is either a) lardy-looking or b) an ordinary bloke. But the comparison stands.)

Indeed, this whole romanticised notion of dog ownership strikes me as bordering on the delusional. Here are just seven of my many (so far doomed) attempts to prick his bubble. If you can think of any more good ones, then please let me know; it will all be grist to my mill.

1. As someone who values his personal space, and who is not much given to over-demonstrative displays of emotion (at least not since he stopped chucking empathetic catalysts down his neck on Saturday nights), the last thing I need when I walk through the door is some great hairy lump jumping up and slobbering all over me, with all that disturbingly limitless love and affection. I prefer such emotions to be subtly, tacitly, economically conveyed. Also, I prefer it when love is earnt, rather than arbitrarily assigned to whoever you happen to be sharing a roof with.

2. I like things to be clean and tidy. Call me prissy, but piss and shit are not my friends. Call me shallow and materialistic, but I derive a genuine sense of spiritual well-being from possessing furniture which has not been chewed up at the edges, and which doesn't carry the faint whiff of miscellaneous canine secretions. I also have no wish to put our contemporary ceramics collection into permanent storage; and all things being equal, I'd quite like to be able to carry on wearing black. (And let's not even start to think about the piss-stains on the lawn.)

3. I value a certain spontaneity in life; or at least the sense of freedom which springs from knowing that spontaneous acts are always possible. I therefore do not want to have to worry about getting home to put the dog food out, or having to trek off to the kennels before jumping on the train. This boy's style is not for cramping.

4. I don't do early mornings at the best of times. Still less would I be prepared to do early morning "walkies". In the pissing rain. With a "poop scoop" and a plastic bag. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a more perfect definition of human misery and degradation.

5. They do have this awkward habit of getting ill and then dying on you: a tragic, pitiful, agonisingly drawn out ordeal which will leave you grieving for months. So why sign yourself up for such misery in the first place? It's like a contract for heartache, and I'm just not buying into it.

6. I have a basic difficulty in forming a meaningful connection with any living creature who cannot communicate in coherent sentences. "Ooh, she knows what you're thinking." Bollocks she does. What if I'm mentally running through the UK chart positions of the Pet Shop Boys, in chronological order? I have the same issue with children under the age of seven. Once I can hold rational conversations with them, then we get along fine. But until then, spare me your sentimentality.

7. The deal-breaker, and the only argument which sticks: we both work in offices during the daytime, where dogs are not allowed. Tell me: what kind of cruel, selfish, heartless bastard would leave a dog all on its ownsome, all day long? Not I! In this respect, I speak as a true animal lover.

The trouble is: he's playing a long game. Whittling down my resistance over not months, but years. Subtly moving the debate on, from jokey repartee (the very idea!) to smiling yet intransigent persistence. In my heart of hearts, I feel my days are numbered. Seven years from now, expect to see me covered in hairs, smelling of shit, and smiling the daft, soppy smile of the convert. "Don't be scared, it means she likes you!"

What an alluring prospect. I can scarcely contain myself. But then, in this brave new world of devil-may-care slovenliness, I won't really need to.


What now?

I’ve done the Magnificent Seven, the Secret Seven, the seven Von Trapp chidren, the Seven Wonders of the World and seven notes in a scale. I know what I’m doing tomorrow. So just today then. One more seven. What can it be.

I’ve got it, how about…. just Seven.

I mean, think about it. It’s a pretty impressive number. It pops up all the time, all over the place.

Take a dice for instance. Any two opposing sides of a dice will always add up to seven. Look up in the night sky at the most instantly recognisable constellation, the plough (or great bear), how many stars do you see? That’s right, seven. You’ve got the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology, seven days in a week, the Seven Deadly Sins, sailing the Seven Seas.

Rome was built on seven hills. Actually so was Edinburgh. And Sheffield. But Sheffield never ruled an empire which stretched across the known world.

The world is made up of seven continents. The whole world. You can’t get a much bigger seven than the whole world, can you? And when you come to the end of the world, the Book of Revelations is full of sevens. The seven seals. “And when He opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven… and I saw seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets.” Sevens. Everywhere!

Frank Black recognised the religious significance of seven. “If man is five,” he sang, “and the Devil is six, then God is seven. This monkey’s gone to heaven.” Okay, that’s just complete and utter wibble, but it’s wibble with the number seven in it!

And what about James Bond. Double Oh Seven! If you were writing a book about the world’s greatest super-spy, you’d want him to be number double oh one, wouldn’t you. But not Ian Fleming. Oh no. Seven was the only number good enough for his guy. Although, that said, James Bond would be a pretty crap secret agent in real life. I mean, being able to go into any bar in the world and have the barman say “ah, Mr Bond, vodka martini, shaken not stirred,” is hardly a quality desirable in the world of covert espionage.

Blake’s Seven, Seven of Nine, the Seven Little Foys, the Seven Samurai, Seven-Up, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the list is endless.

So I think we can all agree that seven is a really terrific number. It only remains for me to say, Three Cheers for Seven!!!

Wednesday, August 3

The Joys Of Being a Naughty Kid

I've found that the number 7 yields lists and so I've picked out seven acts that defined my willful, naughty ways as a child.

1. When I was 7, I called my brother a 'c*nt' at the dinner table because he kept teasing me. I have no idea where I heard the word, but I would hazard a guess at the playground because my parents don't say that word and I had no elder siblings to pick up it up from. 'NML!' my mum exclaimed. 'That is terrible thing to say! Apologise right now!' I felt really confused. 'But mum, it's not like I have said anything bad!'. 'NML, what does that word mean?'. 'A black clown.' My parents nearly wet themselves laughing...and then I got sent to bed without my pudding.

2. There was a huge hill around the corner from my house and one day my brother and I took his new BMX to the top of the hill. 'I dare you to ride to the bottom' I said with my hands on my hips like the little madam that I was. When my brother was too scared, I hopped on the bike and rode to the bottom to show him how easy it was. Still looking a bit shaky, he got on the bike and cycled to the bottom and promptly crashed into a lamppost and smashed his front teeth in.

3. The bro and I used to get big hardback story books and slide down the stairs on them. It was a brilliant game and then we got our very young cousin to do it and he sprained his arm, and we got slaps on the bottoms from my grandma!

4. We lived in Zambia for a couple of years and a few years after leaving there, we managed to convince our youngest brother, then 4, that he had been adopted from an African tribe and that his family had requested for him to be sent back to Africa. He got really upset and ran away, or so he thought, but he was only hiding at the bottom of the road. We got grounded for that one!

5. A few christmas's ago, my mum got pissed and was going on about the sofa that she had brought when we were little and she was a single parent. She loved it and was very proud...and nearly had heart failure when we drunkenly told her that we used to turn the sofa over on it's back during our games of make believe.

6. I lost my temper with my brother and walloped him on the head with my Girls World (see pic). When my back was turned he used my mums nail varnish remover on her face and took her eyes off!

7. I was playing kiss chase with the boys at a country club party in Zambia (I was 8) and ran through a gate, ignoring the sign and ended up in a swamp from which I had to be rescued. My punishment: to learn to swim. I always thought that was a silly punishment because you can't swim in swamps!

All By Myself

I've lived by myself for just over two years after spending the formative years with parents, various flatmates and even a couple of boyfriends. There is a great deal of comfort to be gained from having someone in your home with you and there are unique experiences for me as a result of living on my own.

1. If I'm in bed and hear strange sounds, despite the fact that there's a double lock on the door and I live in a relatively secure building, I freeze under the covers in fear of some mystery bloke who will come in and butcher me after he's got the 28" TV out of the flat.

2. I swallowed something the wrong way (food that is!) once whilst I was on my own in the flat. I was choking for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds and there were a few of those seconds where I automatically expected someone to miraculously appear and give me a (gentle but firm) thump on the back. I realised I was going to have to help myself and when I finally got over my choling fit, I thought : Jaysus, what the f*ck would happen to me if I keeled over in this flat?

3. I cry with laughter at TV programmes, films and blogs, whilst lying on the couch on my own. There is a somber moment at the end of the choked tears when I realise that I'm laughing on my own. Then I spoon the icecream or stuff the Haribo Starmix/Galaxy Bar in my mouth and keep laughing.

4. I live in fear of coming back to a smouldering building because I forget to turn the iron off sometimes and there's noone to phone up and say 'Be a love and turn the iron off for me'.

5. I have a bad habit of not closing the blinds properly or forgetting that the curtains are open. I was doing the washing up yesterday morning in my underwear and looked at the window at the people waiting for the 98 bus and thought 'Hmmm, must go and get dressed.....'

6. Nobody wastes as much food as a one person home. No matter what I freeze, I always end up throwing out stuff every week and it galls me.

7. I often go to the bathroom with the door open and have almost forgotten to close it when I have had people around. Oh the shame!

#5: seven stonkers and seven honkers.


1. Seven Nation Army - White Stripes.

Featuring that seven-note riff: the one which launched Jack and Meg White into mainstream success, and the one for which they will always be remembered.

2. Seven Seas Of Rhye - Queen.

Unrepentantly baroque to the absolute max, this was Queen's first hit - and, for my money, still their best. It was all downhill from here, you know. (I sense I might have lost the Belgian vote at this juncture.)

3. Seven Seconds - Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry, and nobody had better mention Dido or else there'll be big trouble.

I like that bit near the beginning where it sounds as if Youssou N'Dour is singing "Don't f**k me up" - although he's doubtless trying to tell us something extremely Wise and Important and Universally Significant about the nature of our existence. Actually, come to think of it, I have absolutely no idea what this song is supposed to be about - but hey, it sounds suitably anthemic and meaningful, and that's all that matters, right?

4. Seven Days Too Long - Chuck Wood.

"Seven days is too long without you, baby - come on back to me." A plea which is so compellingly, passionately, fervently delivered that - just this once - I am prepared to overlook the grammatical error. Dexys Midnight Runners also recorded it, but Chuck's "Northern Soul" original is the only one you need.

5. Seven Deadly Finns - Brian Eno.

"The first is a freak with a masochistic streak
And the second is a kitten up a tree.
The third is a flirt with a bottle print skirt
And the fourth is pretending to be me."

"The fifth wears a mac and never turns his back
And the sixth never shows his eye-eye-eyes.
But the seventh deadly Finn is so tall and slim
He should have never been with those guys..."

Also contains yodelling. Which is always to be encouraged, I feel.

6. The Magnificent Seven - The Clash.

Located at the precise co-ordinates where punk met funk, white met black, uptown met downtown, art met street, Kingston met Manhattan via Ladbroke Grove, and revolt bled into style. "Brrrbubbllbrrbll! Cheese boiger!"

7. 007 - Desmond Dekker.

I was so glad that the ska revival came along just at the time that I started dancing in public, as there is no move that is easier to learn than the herky-jerky 2-Tone skank. (At halls of residence discos, even the people who didn't normally dance could muster up a shy little bop to this sort of thing.) I saw Desmond Dekker & The Aces live once, sandwiched between Madness and the Go-Go's. Absolutely no memory of whether they were any good or not. But this was.


1. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat - Bombalurina featuring Timmy Mallett.

We all remember their immortal rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", but everyone always forgets Bombalurina's other hit. Can't imagine why.

2. 7 - Prince and the New Power Generation.

It was around this point (in 1992) that Prince suddenly stopped being a universally acclaimed genius, and turned almost overnight into a tedious, self-indulgent irrelevance with a bloody stupid symbol instead of a name. (And if I had a pound for every dud album thereafter that purported to be a "major return to form", then I'd have, ooh, about twenty quid by now.)

3. Big Seven - Judge Dread.

With lyrics that were judged too naughty for Radio One, Judge Dread chalked up a whole run of unutterably puerile "comedy ska" hits in the 1970s, which presumably sold on their "scandalous" word-of-mouth reputation alone. Sadly, they were about as funny as the "Confessions" films were erotic. A strange decade, the 1970s.

4. Seven Tears - Goombay Dance Band.

A major hit-making force in Germany, if only a mercifully brief annoyance in the UK, no amount of distracting fire-eating stunts on Top Of The Pops could compensate for the total and utter rankness of the track itself. What were you all thinking, Great British Record Buying Public? A strange decade, the 1980s.

5. 7 Days - Craig David.

From Craig David's Livejournal:

Sunday July 31.
Mood: chilled.

Saturday July 30.
Made love.
Mood: still horny!

Friday July 29.
Made love.
Mood: very, very horny.

Thursday July 28.
Made love.
Mood: very horny.

Wednesday July 27.
Made love.
Mood: horny.

Tuesday July 26.
Took her for a drink.
Mood: mildly inebriated.

Monday July 25.
Met this girl.
Mood: proper bo!

Painful to admit it, but I actually liked this one at the time. Sometimes, perspective can be a bitch.

6. Sailing On The Seven Seas - OMD.

They had stopped being interestingly arty a long, long time before this one creaked out of the starting gates. Forgotten it already, have you? There's a reason for that.

7. Seven And The Ragged Tiger - Duran Duran.

Oh, take those rose-tinted glasses off this instant! Duran Duran were always a bit crap, and you know it. "Union Of The Snake" my arse!

sete símbolos

I grew up in Devon (not Sunny Devon, North Devon), the most beautiful county in the world and when I'm rich enough (hahahahahahahahahahaha) I'm going back there to live for six months of the year.

Anyway, for most of my time there we lived in a valley which was overlooked by a small parish church. My parents still live there. Behind the church, right at the back of the graveyard (a graveyard I used to have to walk past in the dark with a sadistic little sister who thought it funny to say *boo*) is a tiny ruin. No-one is sure of its origins. It seems to be a viking relic, though it is believed that the vikings never quite made it as far as North Devon, especially our little out of the way village. The ruin really only consists of a few stones on top of some foundation stones, but it is discernibly a small house or hut for worship purposes and there are a few carved rune-like inscriptions worn to nothing over the one and a half thousand or so years that the stones have been there.

A couple of years ago, the vicar was pulling down some overgrown bramble bushes along the edge of the graveyard when his foot fell through a hole in the ground. He discovered a tiny vault underneath the ruined hut, which ran from the hut and along the hedge and a bit into our hilly garden. It was immaculate as it seemed to have been completely sealed for all those years, not even any spiders webs or dust. It is really just a tunnel, with a beautifully simple but clever vaulted ceiling, only high enough for a small child to stand in. It has since been sealed up again, to preserve it, with hundreds of visitors expected to visit it in the years to come, but there is a piece of reinforced glass over one portion of the vault, where its only piece of decoration is sited, an inscription of seven characters, of which no-one knows the meaning. They are reminiscent of both viking and celtic cultures and are finely carved into the Devon granite.

The vicar has written to several Scandinavian, Celtic and British historical societies with a photo of the inscription to see if they know what it might mean, but he is still waiting to hear back from any of them.

The Marwood Vault Runes
marwood vault runes

Sharps and Flats

Me me me me me me me me!!!

Sorry, no I haven’t become even more of a self-obsessed egomaniac than I already was. I’m doing my vocal warm ups. Excuse me.

Me me me me me me me me!!!

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do!!!

Why are there seven notes in a scale? I mean, who decided?

There’s no specific reason for it. There could be as many as you want. I mean, effectively there are twelve, if you include the sharps and the flats. And those are bloody confusing when you are learning to read music. You see a note on one of the five lines, forget the key signature at the beginning of the line, play it standard rather than as a sharp and end up with one of those horrible duff notes that means you have to stop playing and start from scratch. Why can’t there just be twelve notes, each with their own place on the stave, and then there would be no confusion.

And why the hell are there five lines on the stave anyway? Seven notes, five lines. What bloody genius thought that one up???

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

And why does the alphabet have to be in that particular order. Have you ever thought about that. Millions of children every year learn how to say their ABC. Would the world fall apart if they learned it ACB instead? Wouldn’t it make sense to change it now to something which would help us remember their positions on a keyboard? After all, hardly anyone ever picks up a pen and writes these days anyway.

Or maybe we could put all the most commonly used letters at the start and the least common ones at the end. I mean X and Z are there already, but they’ve got Y in between which is quite handy, so why don’t we move Q up there instead? Kids tend to learn the letters starting from the beginning, so if we did it that way, they’d know all the really useful ones first and would be much quicker to figure out how to put them to use.

There are some of these things that make sense. We work our numbers in a decimal system because we have ten fingers. (Well actually eight and two thumbs but let’s not get pedantic here.) But at some point, someone just decided that there would be 26 letters in the alphabet, and that this would be the order they would go in. There’s no actual logic to it, it’s totally arbitrary.

But really, it’s those seven notes in a scale that bug me the most. Seven notes. Plus five sharps and flats, because A sharp and B flat are actually the same note but there are rules about when you call it one and when you call it the other, and about whether you actually mark it as a flat or use a key signature at the beginning of the stave, and it just seems like whoever decided how music would be annotated decided that they would make it as bloody confusing as humanly possible just to make themselves seem really really clever because they could understand it all and no other bugger could.

What note do you get if you drop a piano on a parade ground.

A Flat Major! Boom Boom!

sete noivas, sete irmãos

seven brides

Those were the days. The nineteen fifties.

When men were men (unless they were gay and feared prosecution and persecution) and girls were girls (unless they happened to get pregnant out of wedlock and got sent to "homes" to have their babies, be treated like dirt then have the babies taken from them) and the whole world knew where it was (either in fear of being invaded by the Americans or the Commies).

When "open-mouthed" kissing wasn't allowed to be shown in films (and I spent my entire childhood thinking that that strange dry but overly passionate kissing they did was an acceptable part of sex) and it was still good to be seen as wholesome in the public eye (otherwise McCarthy would come and get you).

When women had 13" waists (and squished innards) and men still dressed like men, even when they were dressed as pirates... with manly chests (did you ever see those flabby things they called manly in those days?) and shirts tucked into tight trousers was still cool (and the big man bottoms that went with them).

And when political correctness (other than of the anti-pinko sort) hadn't even been dreamt of and it was acceptable to make a film where the nice wholesome characters, (farmboys, ruddy, with ginger hair... was that REALLY desirable, even in the fifties?) decided to get themselves some women by copying the Romans' rape of the Sabine women (that could only be a Tarantino or Scorcese flick these days).

Ah. the fifties. Ah, Howard Keel and his big bottom and pencil moustache (though no-one could top Errol Flynn or David Niven for the pencil moustache). Ah, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.