Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 12 March 2018


I feel so privileged, yesterday I spent the day with a couple of hundred of the most awesome women in the Country. I was part of an event which should not be needed, but I fear it will have to keep going for quite a few more years yet.   Just now I won't go into all of the issues that women still face today, I won't bang on about how women are obliterated from history, how women artists, composers and writers are forgotten while their male contemporises are celebrated ~ I suspect that I may be preaching to the choir, but then yesterday the choir was all women, just like the orchestra.

Quick selfie during rehearsals
I was a little disconcerted when I first heard that I was not going to be part of the orchestra this year, then I was pleased that there were other women tuba players applying, then please to be called up, and also sorry that the original Bass Trombone was too ill to take part. All a bit on an emotion rollercoaster.

I love my Orchestra, but the WOW Orchestra for Mirth Control is something very special.   We just gather once a year for this event, but I do believe it may well be the only all female orchestra on the planet.   A mixture of Professionals, Students and Amateurs we have a wide range of experience, and age, I think my trombone was older than any of the other brass players, I am certainly old enough to be their grand mother, but we all worked together for a great musical result, and had a lot of fun along the way.

Sneaky shot of the Royal Festival Hall audience ~ My Office Today
The Brass Section and Horns walked on stage first and sat there waiting for the beginning of the evening as we started the whole thing off with a fanfare. Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman no.1, written in the 1960s as a response to Aron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man. To my shame it is the first time I have come across this remarkable piece.

We were asked to stand to play, so that did slightly restrict my choice of shoes ~ playing the trombone standing up, in front of 2,000 people while wearing stripper shoes with 6 inch stilettos felt like just too much of a risk. I also had a few restrictions on my choice of dress ~ having put on a bit of weight I found that on my first choice the zip wouldn't do up (actually it wouldn't even meet!) and my second choice made me look pregnant, I went for the classy option with my black velvet gown gold jewelry and nice shoes.   It was a good choice since I felt comfortable, but fabulous!

So pleased and proud to have been part of this truly fabulous section, I think these girls (sorry but they are all so young compared to me) show that you don't need to be butch, big or manly to play Tuba or Trombone! 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

There's always one!

This is shaping up to be a very busy few days, giving that I was not expecting to be rehearsing with the WOW Orchestra today, or playing tomorrow, I was quite happy to commit myself to stuff yesterday and Monday, Now that doesn't look quite so wise.

Yesterday afternoon was a friend's funeral, these things are never fun, but as a Christian for me they tend to be more of a celebration of a life rather than morning the loss.    My friend had a strong faith and I know he was ready, so although we will all miss him, we morn for our loss, not for his death. ~ Anyway that is not what I want to write about here and now, the thing that made it "interesting" is that it was at the Church I used to attend, led by the Minister who excludes me from activities there.   I try not to go there, there are so many memories, and so much hurt.  So I haven't been in that building for roughly a year, indeed not since this friend's wife's funeral last March.

Of course I met a lot of old friends, many people I have more or less lost contact with who were once a big part of my life, others who have made the effort to stay in touch, and offer me help, support and love through my transition.  My old vicar was there, I think I may have slightly confused him, but we had a good chat, I talked him through where I am and what's going on, after that we parted again on very good terms, knowing we had each others blessing.   The current Vicar, who has been less than inclusive, made a point of being friendly, indeed it was day when my friend and god should be the centers of attention not me, a day for remembering and sharing love. I had intended leaving straight after the ceremony, but as I was engaged in conversation I did stay fro a cup of tea and a sandwich.

Almost at the last moment one person, one I had deliberately not engaged with, made the point of coming over to me more or less forcing himself upon the conversation I was part of, thrusting his hand at me to shake, and dead named me.   Now for many there it is still new to them, they are not used to using my current name and may from time to time slip, that I understand, but this! this was a deliberate insult. Intentional undermining, sending a message that he did not value my personal integrity or my ability to understand myself or agree that I should have the right to make the choices I have made. This is the man who has whispered poison in the ears of friends, indeed the only man who has made a policy of attacking my transition.   He did all of this in a Church dedicated to spreading love, at an event remembering a friend who believed in the universal love of our God, and lived that love.

This morning I am trying to think of all the friends who have accepted and supported me, of all those wonderful Christians who may not understand, but have chosen to show love and compassion ~ not the one who has set himself the task of undermining all of that.

I believe, Week Four

I believe in the Holy Spirit

Although only getting one line within the creed this statement is a fundamental of Christian Faith.   It is through the Holy Spirit that God is active in the world.   It is the Holy Spirit who heals, who enables true worship, who teaches, who explains scripture.

To believe in the Holy Spirit is also to believe in the activity of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is the bringer of gifts ~ the charismata ~


1 Corinthians 12:4-11

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Romans 12

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

These gifts are given to us for the benefit of others.   Gifts of the Spirit do not depend on natural talents and aptitudes or developed skills, though God gave you those, too. A gift of the Spirit is something that God gives for the purpose of building up others in a life of faith. It is the experience of Christians over the years that the spirit usually harnesses one's talents in the service of the purpose for which the gifts were given. Yet sometimes, the spiritual gifts seem to work against a person's natural endowment. This is, after all, the same God who led his people out of Egypt using a stammerer named Moses, made a shepherd boy/musician named David into a renowned warrior and king, and turned rural fishermen into leaders who left a mark on the course of history. There are examples everywhere of people who don't have training, aren't highly skilled, have no particular knack, but when the time comes for them to benefit others, the gift is there. The Spirit takes pleasure in surprises and on turning the tables on the expected. It's wise to leave ourselves open for such action. You can develop a talent, but the Spirit gives the gift it's meant to go with.” Robert Longman Jnr

The spirit also brings us fruit, the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.  Throughout the Bible, righteous men are likened to trees, and Paul in Galatians 5 explains what fruit a righteous tree bears. Accordingly, these fruit are grown by those who have truly repented, or are truly followers of Jesus.   In John's account of the Gospel Jesus said, "These things I command you, that you love one another" John15:17 referred to as the New Commandment or the second greatest commandment. Paul illustrates with these attributes the kind of love that marks a true Christian life.

·        We pray to the Father and to the Son, the Holy Spirit is fully God should we pray to the Holy Spirit?

·        If we do not speak in tongues are we proper Christians?

·        As Christians should we still expect the Holy Spirit to be active, and bestowing his gifts today?

·        Are Paul’s lists of gifts exhaustive, or are there other gifts we might receive from the Holy Spirit?

·        How can we recognize these gifts in ourselves and in others?

·        Should we expect all Christians to show evidence of all the fruits of the Spirit?


It is also this statement that that emphasises the Trinity, later Creeds make a lot more of this as various heresies grew up denying the Christ as fully human, or as fully God, suggesting that the Holy Spirit was subservient, or indeed created by the Father.   This is how the fourth-century apologist and theologian Anathasius explained the Trinity, his teaching played an important role in defining and defending the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ.

“Now this is the true Christian faith: We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being. For each person -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit -- is distinct, but the deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit.

The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal, just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite, but there is one who is uncreated and one who is infinite.

In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit is almighty. And yet they are not three who are almighty, but there is one who is almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.

For just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually to be God and Lord, so the true Christian faith forbids us to speak of three Gods or three Lords. The Father is neither made not created, nor begotten of anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but is begotten of the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

And within this Trinity none comes before or after; none is greater or inferior, but all three persons are coequal and coeternal, so that in every way, as stated before, all three persons are to be worshiped as one God and one God worshiped as three persons. Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.”


Friday, 9 March 2018

WOW! ~ I'm Back!

Well I have been meaning to post about WOW (Women Of the World) for a while now, but have just not been too sure how to put it. After making a big thing here about my application to play in the orchestra again this year I was very disappointed not to be selected this time.   I am quite sure that it had nothing what so ever to do with my gender identity, or my ability as an instrumentalist, it was simply that after three consecutive years as the tuba player it was simply somebody else's turn.   While I was, as I say, disappointed I couldn't bring myself to resent them as I had such a great time each year, each was a wonderful experience, and one was quite simply the coolest thing I have every done.  

Since getting the e-mail telling me that I was not selected, but should stand by "just in case" I have been trying to decide whether I can afford to lash out on a couple of tickets for the show and take my daughter. As this is financially my worst time of year I have been vacillating, I want to go, but it is lot of money, for two tickets at the Royal Festival Hall!  Well as it happens my daughter is out on Sunday, with her Mum and her Mum's Mum celebrating Mothering Sunday. So it was looking like an evening sitting at home on my own feeling sorry for myself.

Before going to bed this evening I thought I should just check my e-mails as I hadn't since first thing this morning, and I'm so glad I did.   So often being told to be on stand by feels like a way of softening the blow, and easing the rejection, but blow me down! I had an e-mail from WOW asking me to step into the breech (not the breeches) and play Bass Trombone!   I am now really excited and looking forward to this enormously, but also with a little trepidation.   I haven't been playing nearly as much trombone as tuba recently ~ I actually think I may have even been playing the electric more than the trombone ~ and I only now have one day to get my lip back in. I'm expecting a rehearsal on Saturday during the day and then more rehearsal on Sunday afternoon before the performance on Sunday evening.

It should be a great evening hosted by the fabulous Sandy Toksvig with lots of laughs, some great music, and a few sobering reminders of just how unequal the world still is.

Monday, 5 March 2018


I know I have been a very irregular presence around here just recently, to be honest I just haven't had the "will" to do much at all.   I struggled long and hard over what word to use before I settled on will, my first thought was "energy", then I thought about "enthusiasm" but neither seemed to quite sum up how I have been feeling.

The weather and attendant lack of work opportunities haven't helped, but over the last few weeks I have really struggled to get going and get things done.   I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and then I end up sitting up late watching rubbish TV.  I know I have to go out and do something at a particular time, but still struggle to leave the flat.   In simple terms I am having a great deal of trouble over coming inertia.   Even when there are things I want to do, I have trouble stopping doing whatever else it is I am engaged on to do it.

Don't get me wrong I haven't let anyone down, when I know that I am being relied on I can get up and out, I may not be as prepared as I would prefer, but I manage. I suspect that some of this is simply seasonal, I always struggle during the winter, and this one seems to have gone on for too long! I also suspect that some of it may be my medication. I can't help wondering if some of it is also that maybe I need to make some more fundamental changes in my lifestyle! I certainly don't want to have to go through another winter like this, with not enough money to make sure I have enough of everything else.

Anyway it is now time for me to get on with some proper work! I have invoices to get out, e-mails to send, and stuff to sell!

Friday, 2 March 2018

I Believe; week three

I have not felt much like posting this week ~ for many reasons which I will not be going into just now.  But I will continue with my Lent series, this was originally designed as a discussion course, feel free to use it as you will.

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
These are the fundamental statements of who Jesus is and what he did for us.   The first and most important thing is that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Son of God, equal with the Father in eternity, majesty and power.   John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word” in a clear reference to Jesus, as the instrument of creation, a creation he then entered in order to save it.

·        Born to the virgin Mary – this is an important statement of believe, believe that Jesus is the Messiah as prophesied in the old testament.   
·        Conceived through the Holy Spirit – because Mary was a virgin, but also emphasising that Jesus is fully God and fully Man, born of woman but miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. 
·        Suffered under Pontius Pilot, why did a minor Governor of a minor state of the eastern empire get his name into the creed? This is not an exercise in placing blame but a way of placing the events securely in their historical setting.   The Romans were pretty good at keeping records and we know a lot about the Governorship of Pilot and his relationship with the peoples of Palestine.
·        Was Crucified, dead and buried ~ Jesus was really dead, He was not in a coma, he was not just body injured He was dead.   The Roman’s knew what they were doing when it came to killing, they were very good at it, and to make sure that the victims of this crucifixion were dead before the beginning of the Sabbath, the others had their legs broken ( in the situation of crucifixion this would have caused almost instant death through bone marrow entering the blood system, along with forcing all the weight to be supported through the extended arms)   Jesus was stabbed in the side, through several organs to ensure that He really was dead.   His blood was poured out in sacrifice, just like the sacrificial lambs on the alters of the Temple
·        He descended into hell ~ there has been a lot of conjecture over this did Satan have dominion over Christ between his death and resurrection? Did Christ minister to the dead, did He preach the good news in hell?   The words originally used are those common in classical language for the afterlife, rather than anything as specific as the Christian concept of a place of punishment.   This is further affirmation that Jesus was completely dead, experienced death the same way anyone fully human will, the difference is that as God he choose to die.
·        On the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, ~ Since Jesus was fully dead it was through the Fathers authority and will that Jesus was resurrected.   This was not the spirit of Jesus returning, but his body brought back to life, after being three days dead, his spirit had left the body and had been with the dead but the Father brought them back together and gave the body fresh life.   There were several occasion when Jesus was seen by individuals or groups, he spoke with them he ate with them, taught them, then he returned to heaven and joined the Father.   
·        He ascended into heaven, whether this is symbolic or he literally rose up into the sky he returned to heaven without dyeing again.   I was Jesus’ living body that rose into heaven until it was obscured from the sight of the disciples, this means that Jesus human body has now been incorporated into the Godhead.   It is in this body that Jesus will return, at a time unknown but in a way that we will all recognize.
·        and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. ~ The right hand is the place of honour, given by the host to the most important person present, the Father chooses to honour the son, above all else.   The Father has also given Jesus all authority, he and he alone shall sit in judgement, he and he alone has been found worthy to judge all of humanity

"You are worthy to take the scroll
And to open it’s seals
Because you were slain,
And with your blood you purchased
Men for God” rev.5:9

Jesus will Judge all, all those who have already died and those who are still alive at the time the Father has appointed.

When we say we believe in Jesus Christ are we fully relying on him

Thursday, 22 February 2018

I Believe; Week two.

2 . I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth

This is the fundamental statement from which all others lead, without this basic belief in the Creator God, the Father of all things, Almighty powerful beyond our imagining all the rest are just stories.   This needs to come at the beginning of any statement of faith, just as the whole Bible starts with the basic statement “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth”   

This shows the essential truth that God is independent of creation, existing before any physical matter, before the beginning of time or the universe, God was.   The existence of God the Father is the foundation of all that is created, He made it out of nothing, it is through His will all the things in the heavens and on earth are, they exist through His creative act, and they have no power over, or against Him.   He is almighty.

The creator God revealed in Genesis is very different to the pagan gods, those gods would struggle with creation, attempting to shape it, contending for control over chaos.   The God if the Bible is different, through His sovereignty He creates matter and without struggle or difficulty shapes it to His will.

1.  Do we have to be creationists to believe in the creator God?

2.  Why do we call Him the Father?

3.  We seek to be in relationship with the Creator God, what does this mean for the relationship we have with his creation?

As I have said before this was designed as a discussion course, to ask questions rather than provide answers, for me that first question was a Biggy! When I first became a Christian I could not reconcile my basic scientific understanding with a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis. I think I have now understood what God is telling us through those verses, but that would make a very long post, maybe something I could come back to another day.   For me the answer is no, but I do know people for whom it is an essential to believe that every word of the Bible is not only true, but (quite different) accurate.

Monday, 19 February 2018

My Office Today

Like most of these posts I am stretching the point a bit. This was actually what I was doing yesterday.   Most of the afternoon was taken up with rehearsal and then the concert in the evening.

It was a very challenging concert for the orchestra, and the shape of the Church coupled with the size of the orchestra meant we had a slightly unconventional lay out.   Rather than being stuck at the end of the Brass behind a pillar I was in front of the brass on a lower tier just behind and to the left of the bassoons. This actually worked really well for Elgar's First Symphony ~ the main piece for me ~ as much of the time I was playing with the bassoons rather than the trombones.

We also played Sibelius' Lemminkainen Suite, including the Swan of Tuonela with the Cor Angles Solo played beautifully by my friend John, who you can just see in front of me in the photo.   I am firmly of the opinion that in any family of instruments the larger ones always sound nicer.  The Cor Angles definitely supports this assertion!

After my last few rather introspective posts it's good to be able to recount some positive activity, and to make the evening even more special I had three very special guests at the concert, my Daughter, my Wife and her friend all came, and at the very least were polite enough to say they enjoyed it.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

What Next?

I am in the strange position of having to face up to a few life changing decisions at the moment, in some way these decisions are a reflection of a bigger question, how do I want to live the rest of my live.   What sort of a live do I want to live.   I suppose some of this is the realisation of quite a bog birthday looming later this year, when I was forty I had just become a parent, when I was fifty I decided that it was high time I started to work out exactly what my gender miss match was all about.   Now I am approaching sixty I have questions about my body, my profession and my education.

Amongst other things I revisiting a question I thought I had settled over forty years ago. At that point I could think of no subject I wanted to study for three years, and what I saw of the student life as modeled for me by both my brothers simply did not appeal.   Instead I decided to join the workforce at that point my plan had been to work my way up, getting professional qualifications on the way, and enjoy a nice suburban lifestyle, with a nice suburban wife and family, paid for through my nice suburban job.   In short I was expecting to have a life in a world that was rapidly disappearing.   The jobs I anticipated doing no longer exist, the qualifications I achieved (AIB part 2) are irrelevant and equally extinct.    It took me about 3 years to work out that retail banking was boring, repetitive, and was never going to satisfy me.   The next job was also accounts based (in those days before PCs my dyslexia prevented me doing anything word based)  I enjoyed working for that Company and expected it to be a job for life ~ alas the 80 were the time when such things just disappeared.   The office I worked in is now a restaurant I can't afford to eat in, and the Company no longer manufactures in Britain, and at least has had the decency to drop the tag line "The Great British Radial"

Maybe that should have been the point to look at this but I thought I couldn't afford to take three years out of earning.   Now I am thinking if I don't do it now it will be too late, and I will have missed what could be my last opportunity.   A few years I ago I did Theology course through the C of E and thoroughly enjoyed it, at that time I had planned to continue the studies, but other matters, like earning a living, supporting a family and then transition all got in the way.   Now I am considering the implications of dropping my business and going to university to study for a degree in theology.   This would mean that after leaving I would still have three years before state pension age in which to try and earn a living. ~ There is a lot  to weigh up, not least how would I cope in a learning environment? and would I be able to manage exams?

What I need to find is a source of information and advise, if I were still at school I would be able to go to a member of staff, but a s a potential (very) mature student who can I go to?

Friday, 16 February 2018

Fast Action

So two days into my Lenten fast and I'm already getting innovative, last night I had failed to plan what I was going to eat, and of course I know that failing to plan equals planning to fail; but I had laid in a decent stock of supplies appropriate for my new meat free diet.

I have some frozen vegetable lasagnes, cauliflower cheese grills (I really like these!) mushrooms leeks onions and of course a good stock of rice, pasta, couscous and all sorts.   I had also bought myself some oats to make some flapjacks when I get a chance.   Having had a late lunch it was a bit late when I realised that I needed to get myself something and I had little inclination to spend much time. I looked at what I had and started wondering ~~~~~ wondering about mushroom porridge!

The oats were left on the work surface next to the mushrooms and sort of thought, if Heston can do snail porridge why not mushroom porridge!   At first I thought I was going mad but the more I thought about it the better I thought the idea, a little research and I came up with this recipe from The Food Medic


Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes


·         40g of porridge oats

·         175-200ml of water or milk*

·         1 free range egg

·         handful of kale, washed

·         handful of mushrooms, sliced

·         1/2 leek, sliced

·         30g of feta (optional)

·         ½ teaspoon dried thyme

·         Pinch of salt and pepper

·         Splash of olive oil or 1/2 TBSP of butter


1.      Fry the mushrooms and the leek in olive oil or butter in a small frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2.     Place the oats and the milk or water in a pan over a medium heat. Add a tiny pinch of salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a steady simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent it from cooking too quickly.

3.     Reduce the heat and crack the egg into the oats, stirring until combined. Add the kale, mushrooms, leek, and thyme, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.  If you like your porridge runnier, simply add a splash more milk or water until you’ve got the consistency you like.

4.     Spoon the mixture into a bowl and crumble feta on top if using. Serve immediately.

Well I actually used half and half milk and water, cheddar instead of feta and I didn't have any Kale or anything to use instead, I still went ahead and gave it a whirl.

I'm not at all sure that it was a total success, indeed I don't think I will be repeating the exercise I felt it lacked piquancy and could have benefited from more contrast in texture, but I'm glad I tried.   I will be looking forward to a mushroom pasta tonight and leek risotto tomorrow. Maybe I'm missing some of the point and shouldn't really be enjoying my fast ~ after all it is meant to be sacrificial.