What is this? Is that grimace meant to be a smile? Britney's first official "live" performance since last year's MTV Video Music Awards (that thing with Madonna was a dry run...) hasn't exactly sent a judder of joy through her being.

We flanked the word 'live' with quotation marks there 'cause she was, in fact, miming at last night's Bambi Awards in Germany (although miming might be the mandatory execution for Womanizer; its not exactly rife with clear, melodic vocals). Please correct me if I'm wrong, but there's not much difference between this performance and her last, at the VMAs. There's the extra presence of a hat, hectic lighting to heighten beguilement, and marginally more clothing around the midriff area. She also managed to kick the lip-synching up a notch, but nothing can distract from the deadened eyes, the robotic movements going through the motions.

Will the same deployment of bells and whistle be employed on this Saturday's X Factor? Well, she's declined to give the final five a master class like previous mentors, so it's safe to assume it'll be another smoke and mirrors fuelled mime fest. So intricate must this be that her people have "banned" the finalists from watching her performance from the side of the stage and from the backstage area when Britney is about". There's more - according to The Mirror, "No one - not even the judges - can have a photo taken with her or get an autograph". A source told the paper: "It is completely silly. No one has seen anything like it, not even when Mariah Carey was on the show. Britney has ordered the use of three dressing rooms. Mariah only wanted two. But it was a coup to get Britney at all, so they're pandering to her every whim."

Yeah, it's a bit of a coup alright - she only suffered a nervous breakdown less than a year ago, shouldn't she be taking it easy? By the sounds of it, human interaction still isn't the easiest for her. Some might construe it as being a spoilt diva, but the simple fact could be that she's just not able to keep up the facade - even though everyone around her is saying she is. Like mommy, Lynne, who appeared on GMTV yesterday morning to offer these thoughts regarding her daughter's wellbeing.

Of Britney's breakdown, the resulting hospitalisation, she said: "I think there comes a time in a young adult's life where they wanna live their own life and mamma and daddy - they're not cool anymore. I think it was kind of that situation - much similar to a child that goes to college and they're really into their college life and they don't really come home a lot. If you can relate it to that." Wouldn't it be super convenient if we could, Lynne.

Of Britney's parenting skills, she said: "She's a wonderful mother. She's funny, she’s extremely affectionate. She's just a normal mother. Well, she is a normal mother but when you throw her in front of the cameras I guess everybody's going to act a little different. You're very guarded. But in the home where there's nobody around, she's very normal."

Of her daughters in general, Lynne said: "My friends and I talk about it and they go, 'What is the deal? What's so interesting about Britney? What is the deal with your daughters? I don't get it.' People that have known us all our lives, they're mystified. They go, 'What is the deal?'" Child labour infringements, breakdowns, custody battles and teen pregnancies must be all the rage in Louisiana, so.