Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Just Surfing

While surfing earlier this evening I came across Paula's Place, which was a little confusing for me, I had not realised that there was another Paula with a place, right here on blogger, I am paula-paulasplace and she is paulasplace-paula.    Not quite the usual fare here but I found her blog interesting an entertaining.

A bit late to follow through all of her July challenge I thought I honour my name sake with at least the last couple of days.   So today's question is

What is one thing you cannot live without in your kitchen?

Not a easy one this, since I do love to cook, and I do love to eat, at this very moment I have some bread baking in my bread maker, this is a gadget I love it is so easy to use and have really fresh bread, and the wonderful smell of it baking.   Then there is my favourite 10 inch cooks knife, I use this for almost all cutting jobs, a well balanced knife with a good sharp blade is a joy to use, even chopping onions becomes bearable.   I use my cast iron Le Creuset frying pan almost daily, it is very heavy but there is something about it that makes it much nicer to use than a light weight aluminium or steel one.   The iron means that the heat is evenly spread across the whole of the pan, and keeping it properly seasoned makes it pretty non-stick.

But I think if I had to just pick one thing I simply couldn't live without, that would have to be replaced immediately if anything happened to it, would be the teapot.   I can't function until I have had my morning mug of tea, and several more throughout the day.


Monday, 29 July 2013


Doing my laundry I could see quite graphically the difference between men's and women's underwear, to fit the same size bottom the ladies' use a lot less material, but it is much more carefully cut and generally of a nicer, lighter weight nature.   Apart from any gender confusion or sexual complications I can clearly see why anyone would prefer female briefs to men's.  There are of course some "erm" containment issues with some styles, but any dedicated pantie wearer will soon learn that most thongs and many other styles simply don't work.   Boxers of course are a different question all together and I suppose it should all be about personal choice.

I understand that there are a lot of men who may well not identify as cross dressers or as trans in any way who choose to wear women's underwear.   Over the years this has been a rich source of material to comedians ranging from bar room wags to Rick Mayall, I suspect the jokes have also been a rich source of angst to the wearers and a source of the disapproval of many civilians.   Being aware of the number of men in particular who like to wear women's panties there have been several attempts to make something similar, but cut and aimed at men, somehow the results always seem to me to be somehow a little sordid (I think you can tell which are which in the pictures, which show what I mean)

I came across this article the other day and thought I would share it is it seems that many of us have an interest in this area.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tan Lines ~ Again

For reason hat are best known to myself while working yesterday I opted to wear denim shorts and a strappy top, the sun was nice and warm, not as hot as it had been earlier in the week, so this was a chance to expose and top up the tan rather than cover up and protect.

It was only after I got out of my bath yesterday evening that I realised just how much sun I had got on my back.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Because I Can

I almost inadvertently seem to have adopted a Biblical approach to work, as in "Six day shall you Labour", so today was a work day, partly so I could finish off the last few details of a landscaping job I should have completed a couple of weeks ago, and partly just so I could be out of the way while my wife does a little more packing.

I am really pleased with the completed job, it has all come together very nicely, and the bits I did today made all the difference.   I managed to get almost everything done before the promised rain actually turned up mid afternoon.   Unfortunately it was almost everything and while just tidying up and loading he van I got soaked, with a fairly long journey home and needing to stop and do some shopping I decided that I would do one of my quick changes, unfortunately all I had to change into was a short denim skirt and grey blouse, so I duly did.   Not only had I taken out most of the clothes I might have had in the van before but I had also taken out all my makeup and jewellery.

I found it interesting that walking round Tesco's with no makeup on at all I was not aware of receiving as many curious looks as I can when wearing the full slap.   I think part of this is that people see what they expect to see, and maybe the full makeup is more incongruous than the total lack.   With the weather we have been having it would be much more comfortable to feel I have to wear so much.

Tonight I will be "Home Alone" and plan to cook myself a nice dinner (I picked up some scallops on special offer in Tesco's) open a bottle of wine and sit at the table properly.   First I shall have a bath and then glam up with a nice slinky dress, hose, high heels and some sparklies, because I can.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Dirty Washing

During the time I have been writing Paula's Place I have often written on the subject of marriage, indeed I have a page devoted to it.   These writing have always in general support of the institution of marriage, and the extension of it to be equal for all.   Have my recent difficulties changed my mind?

No, not in the least, they have convinced me that it is always wrong not to be totally truthful with a partner, and that it is important to keep communicating even when it gets difficult, but I would say that on balance I am still in favour of marriage.

However as I have now calmed down and had a chance of some refection I have no intention of airing our dirty washing public, so other than general observations I will not be writing any more on the subject.   I suspect that as I explore this new stage of my life I will have more than enough material to keep me going.

In the mean time over the next few days as things get sorted out and adjustments made, I may not be posting as regularly as I have been wont, I am sure you will all understand.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The end of the tether

Well that's it, this looks like the end.    Over the last couple of weeks my wife has been working really hard at reconciling me to our breakup, by being as estranged as it is possible to be while living in the same house.   At our counselling session we agreed some ground rules and compromises, I have done my best to make sure that I stick to these, and have worked really hard at being considerate and obeying these guidelines, however despite my best attempts it has become clear that my wife never had any intention of following these, just in making sure that I was as restricted as possible, I now see that neither she nor my daughter actually give a rats arse about how I feel or how all this effects me.

Two weeks ago I was trying to save my family, now I am just looking forward to them leaving.   I know this is harsh, but is what they have worked very hard to achieve and I feel I would be a bad husband and father to deny them.   I realised tonight when my wife ignored the arrangement that we spend Monday nights together that all her hard work had paid off and that I no longer loved her.   She has accomplished much in just two weeks I have gone from optimism to total dejection.   As for my daughter I still love her, unconditionally and always will but just at the moment I find it hard to like her, I have always found it hard to deal with rejection, but when it is from those you hold most dear then it is hardest.

Practically and financially I have no idea how this is going to work out other than badly, the one thing I can be sure of is that this is the end of life as I know it, but it was not by my choice.

I am aware that from time to time my wife reads this blog, and she thinks that our daughter may also, well if that is the case at least now they know how I feel.

Not a Lot

Every now and then in the life of any blogger there are times when there is very little that we want to say.   This does not mean that nothing is going n in our lives (well in my case at least) it is ore that there doesn't seem to be much worth blogging about, nothing of any special note, and no earth shattering ideas, revelations or comic comments.

This week has been one of those occasions for me, I have lots going on, maybe a bit too much for me handle in some respects, but there is nothing that is new.   The situation with out marriage continues, I am still very busy with work, and since we have stopped rehearsing for summer little is happening on the music front.   Having said all that I was very pleased too be playing the electric bass in the worship band for this mornings service.

I like to think that I am a natural bass player, but I am not yet good enough at the instrument to play the lines that I am thinking.   I could play the on the tuba, but then the sound just wouldn't blend the same.   I think this morning is the best I have played electric bass, certainly since taking it up again this year.   It may just be the songs we played this morning but for once I could really identify the patterns an work with them.   I am by no means the finished article, but I am getting there.   When I took up the instrument again my intention was solely to play in our worship bands, but I will admit that I could now quite fancy an opportunity to play a  bit more ~ in my spare time of course.   So if any one out there is thinking of putting together a trans rock band, I could be your girl.   An interesting combination, classical trombone and rock electric bass, with a little (jazz) tuba thrown in for good measure.

So does that make me the only Christian cross dressing tuba/trombone/bass playing gardener in the UK? ~ eat your heart out Eddie Izzard!

I find I am longing for a Paula outing but life at the moment just doesn't allow the space for it, so I will just carry on working, and trying to make a little space to be me for a bit.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Odd Behaviour

I have noticed a very strange phenomenon over the last couple of weeks.   With one thing and anther in quite a lot of my gardens I have been late dead heading peonies,   this should not be a problem as they dead flower heads are not that unattractive and they only flower once, usually.   On several plants this year I have noticed a few fresh flower buds forming, this is something I don't ever  remember seeing before in around fifty years of gardening (I was very young when I started)

Sorry it's not much of a photo but then that's camera phones for you!   I think if this had just been one plant in one garden I would have discounted it, but I have seen this on at least five plants in four different gardens, in different situations.   I can only conclude that it is something to do with our unnussual weather patterns, but I can't say I understand it at all.

Something I might be able to understand a little better is the latest development in  the meaning of Lila, I think that I may have a bit of completion there.

As they might say at the BBC, "Other Blogs are available"

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Psalm like it hot

I've been waiting t use that line for ages! and even now I have scant excuse for it, other than to mention that on a Wednesday morning I meet up with a few friends for an early morning prayer group, and we always start by reading a Psalm, and just in case any of you haven't realised it's hot.
one of the gardens in question

Once again today the temperatures were in the high 20s and of course that's in the shade, so when, like me, you are working in direct sunshine, than baby it's hot outside.   when I got back from my prayer group I found it really difficult to get motivated and going.   I had to make a couple of 'phone calls and then visit my bank/Building Society, so I used these excuses to put off the start of the day's labours.

The staff at my local branch are very aware f me as a trans woman so in line with my general policy I like to make sure that I am in female garb when I visit. Today it was just "too damn hot" to want to dress up and certainly far too hot to want to wear anything substantial in the way of make up.   So by way of compromise I donned a pair of denim (fem) shorts and a strappy top with a pair of white flat canvas shoes.   I did have my boobs in, and carried a small purse shoulder bag, but apart from some lip gloss and eye makeup that was it, oh yes and of course I had to put on some bronze nail polish

I was conscious of a few more looks than normal, but some of those may well be down the shortness of the shorts.   I do know that everywhere I went I was treated appropriately.   After that I had to dash off to do some work in a couple of customers gardens, I was aware that my mode of dress was a little unconventional (I had removed my boobs and bra) but no one seemed concerned, it was only later that I realised I had not cleaned off my eye makeup or nail polish.   As has so often been observed,, people do seem too see what they expect to see.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tan lines

Determined not to have the "farmers tan" of previous years again this year I have spent a couple of days wearing singlet type tops rather than my regular polos.   These tops were originally sold as women's vest tops and have slightly wider shoulder "strap" and are better finished than most men's singlets, they are also quite a snug fit so give the effect of a "muscle shirt" as much as anything else, I have one in a sort of olive green which fits in well with my style of work clothes and a mauve one which doesn't.

I wore these all day on Sunday and Monday the two hottest, sunniest days we have had so far this year, now I appear to have tan lines, but at least they are over my shoulders so should not show in the same was as when they are half way up my arms.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

I may have to get used to this

I suppose if my wife has her way this is the sort of Sunday I will have to get used to, well that is as long as I have a garden and the temperature is in the 30 degree area, oh yes and a washing machine and plenty of time.  

For one reason and another both my ladies were out for most of the day so I took advantage of their absence and amongst other things I caught up with my laundry.   Judging by the noise coming over the fence I get the impression that all my neighbours were more interested in what was going on in their own gardens to worry about what was hanging out to dry in mine.   If there had been anyone around to care it would have been obvious that the intimate garments hanging up on our dryer were far to large for my daughter, and far to small for my wife,

In between feeding the washing machine and bouts of tidying up my study I did actually find time to actually sit in the garden and start reading a great sporting autobiography ~ but more of that later.

I may have to get used to this

Joking aside it can be a problem in a situation like mine, we all prefer our clothes to be clean, but can have very few opportunities to wash and even less to dry them.

in relationship to nothing whatsoever, Since Olive Oil is made from Olives, Sun Flower Oil is made from Sun Flowers, and Corn Oil is made from Corn, is Baby Oil made from Babies?

Drills Dresses and Delays

This morning (I wrote this last night Saturday) I had to go out and pick up a cordless drill and batteries I had bought on E-Bay, this meant a drive up into Hertfordshire, the other side of London to me, but with the M11 and M25 it shouldn't have taken me much over an hour, as it happens with a major hold up on the South Circular (broken down bus) and road works on the M25 it actually took more like 2 hours to get to Hemel Hempstead.   Since I am trying to occupy the 21st century I down loaded directions from Google, so after getting thoroughly lost in some country lanes, buying a map and working it out myself I eventually arrived at my destination a further hour later.

Since all my communications with the seller had been in the name of Paula, and since it was far too hot for trousers I got out one of my favourite summer dresses.   This is the dress I think of as my Marilyn dress, as in my mind it resembles the dress Marilyn Monroe wears in Seven Year Itch. Of course I am not the great MM but it is a nice bit of fantasy.   Interestingly I remember being told that she was a UK size 16, the same as me.  

Last year was so miserable that I don't remember having a chance to wear this dress, it is very light weight and ideal for hot summer days like today, it was so hot that trousers would have been intolerable, but somehow the light cotton of the skirt in this dress almost seems to cool the wearer, perfect.   I mostly take a size 16, however this dress is a size 18 but last time I wore it, it was a perfect fit so I wasn't worried.   I must have lost more weight than I realised as when I put it on I found that it is now a little on the large side, especially in the bodice, this leads to a bit of gapping, which could lead to a bit a gapeing!

I am now pretty used to going out, and the reactions I get, I am now used to being called Madam, Love, Dear but today I had a first, I stopped in a petrol station to buy a map, getting back in the van I was a couple of minutes pulling away the impatient ape behind hooted and shouted "Move that pile of junk you old bat" ~ I think I'll take that as a compliment.  
I have already said how hot it was today, as well as being too hot for trousers it was too hot for make up, so I just used some eye make up, lip gloss and a little concealer in the beard area.   I am under no illusions as to whether I passed or not, but I was very pleased that everyone I interacted with accepted me as the woman I was presenting as.   It is things like this that make think that maybe I live in a civilised country after all, on the other hand it could be that it was so hot no one could be arsed bothered to be rude (apart from the incontinent orangutan in the petrol station).

I had hoped to find a nice place to take a few photos while I was out in the country, but didn't find an opportunity, however getting back to London we have such great parks I couldn't help but get out my camera.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sad News

I think all British hearts will have been weeping at the news of sectarian riots in Belfast, we lived through decades of "the Troubles" and when the peace process really started to take effect it was like a weight being lifted off our collective souls.   As always there are more issues here than are being stated out loud, much of it simple old fashioned sectarianism, some of it young men with nothing better to do, no outlet for their energy and no hope of things getting better, that lot combined with to much testosterone and long sunny days is always going to be a recipe for disaster.

Yesterday 32 Police officers were injured in Belfast, meanwhile in Egypt dozens of protesters have been shot by the army, this all makes my own problems seem a little unimportant.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Concert V, Karen would be proud of me

I promise that this will be my last post about my concert with LGSO way back on the 30th June, and once again this has nothing to do with the music or indeed the performance.   This as to do with my other favourite subject shoes.

During the afternoon rehearsal and then over lunch I wore these very nice open toed sling back pumps.

Then I got changed into my LBD then I needed something a bit more formal and much more black so I also changed my shoes for these black sling backs, they are just so cute with the big leather bow on the front over the open toe.

But after a while even these began to get a bit too much and my feet were beginning to get a little sore so I changed into these flatties, they are really comfortable, and have even bigger bows than the heels.


I know I have linked to these before but I just wanted to point a few newer readers to the recordings of the LGSO on Youtube click on the link or go back to this post, all out concerts are recorded but I'm never quite sure how to get access to the recording. If we do ever release a CD be sure I will let you know.

So far I have played three concerts with LGSO and one with the band, already they have made me feel very much part of the family and very welcome, I am now wondering if Paula might spread her wings further and play with a civilian ensemble.   As "he" is quite well known in the local music scene it might involve a bit of travel, no plans but if an opportunity comes up ~ who knows

There are certainly plenty of recordings of "him" playing but for obvious reasons I will not be promoting them here.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

No sex please, we're British

Over on Femulate Stana has been answering questions.   Some of these questions have been probing around sex and sexuality, This is one question se addressed

"Paula queried, “Why does sex not appear or exist in any of your postings?” I strive to keep the blog as family-oriented as possible."

I read this and my first thought was, "That's not me" and my second was "Yes that's exactly how I want to keep Paula's Place.   Sure I have occasionally mentioned some quite personal things but there are limits and they will stay in place.

On quite a different matter I have been foolish, I needed a new cordless drill, and being sustainably minded I decided to get a second hand one off e-bay, I was very pleased to win a DeWalt professional quality drill and was eagerly awaiting it's arrival.   Yesterday it arrived, exactly as described a drill and two batteries, err yes a drill and two batteries only!   I am now desperately seeking a charger for the batteries before I need to use the drill building a deck on Thursday.

Concert IV

No don't worry I am not going to analyse whatever Berlioz was on when he wrote the Symphony or discuss the orchestration of the Villa Lobos, just a couple of final (maybe) observations from that night.

The first thought is around how comfortable I felt, bit because I was wearing an old pair of slippers, because I wasn't, no it was just tat I was very comfortable in tat environment, presenting Paula to the world.   The concert platform is an environment I now inhabit pretty naturally however to be that comfortable doing it in a dress was a bit of a surprise.   The first concert I played with LGSO I was probably more concerned about how I looked tan about how I sounded.   This time I did of course take care how I looked, but it was more about enhancing the performance, looking good, feeling good and playing well.   The initial excitement of going out to play wearing an LBD as passed, leaving a greater satisfaction, a comfort with who and what I am.   As I have at least two more black dresses that need to be shown off I a already looking forward to the next one.

The second thought is that for the first time that I can remember I felt slim.   I am aware that I weigh less than I have since I was in my late teens, and then it was only for a sort time.   I am also aware that this is down to lifestyle and the physical nature of my work, so although I am carrying very little fat, there is still a fair amount of muscle.   I will admit to having navies' arms and shoulders, but at one point during the afternoon, and then again later after getting changed, something about the movement of the fabric of my dress just made me feel slim.   I have to say that this was a truly sensuous experience and one that I hope to be in  a position to repeat.

I don't know when I will next have the chance of an outing, the Orchestra like many others takes a break over the summer, and I will not be able to get to the next support group meeting.   The weather looks set to be fine for a while so I will be making the most of that to get lots of work done.   All in all for the next few weeks Paula will have to take a back seat, and in the mean time I am calling a moratorium on any spending, clothes, make up, jewellery, whatever, any spare cash is getting put aside, with any luck we may even get a holiday this year after all.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Family fortunes

I mentioned here that I had come out in an e-mail to my brothers, I hadn't fully appreciated that they were actually both on holiday when I sent the mail.   I have yet to have any reaction from one ( he's the middle I'm the "baby") but I spent much of the weekend in Cardiff including a couple of hours with my eldest brother.   He was wonderfully accepting, understanding and reassuring.

It is good to be assured of unconditional love, as a family we are not good at expressing our emotions, or indeed much else, so it was good to hear.   It has also made me more determined than ever that I shall start to express my love more to my wife and daughter and not expect the to know what I am not saying.   I fear that I have not had good role models in this respect, I just hope it is not too late for me to be a better role model than my parents were for me.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Just Fantasies

Yesterday I wrote a bit about some fantasies, the thing abut fantasies is that is all they are.   Back in the real world we know in our hearts that they are not reality, they are not aims or ambitions, simply day dreams.   Just as I might dream of owning an Aston Martin, but aspire to one day being able to afford a not too old Skoda.   Sometimes we talk about achieving or dreams, but this is more about achieving our ambitions dreams.   So, that list was simply a list of fantasies.

Ambitions are quite a different matter and are, for me, firmly based in reality.   They also all include my family.   We all have fantasies, and that's fine, it's all part of being human.

It's just that some of us have different fantasies to others

Friday, 5 July 2013


In passing the other day I mentioned that I toyed with some fantasies about what I might do if I were not constrained by the sensitivities of my family.   Well I suppose that this is a little like the bucket list that Stana recently put together.
  • Get my ears pierced ~ not sure that I am "man enough" for this I don't like pain and I am very squeamish about piercings, contact lens and all sorts of silly things like that.
  • Dye my hair, I have felt totally liberated since I abandoned the wig, and started just wearing my own hair. I am aware that this might be a potential area of dispute in the family but in male mode I prefer my hair longer rather than shorter, so it is not that big a step.  The perm was definitely pushing at the envelope of acceptability, and may not be repeated, but my fantasy was to have it dyed.   The one thing I really, really like about my wig is the colour.   I was surprised because I thought my natural, original hair colour would suit me better but blond works, perhaps because it is about the same shade as the grey I have now naturally reached.
  • Have somewhere to hang all Paula's clothes safely, it is a source of frustration that most of my female wardrobe is stored in suitcases in the garage. This means I have to plan so much in advance, make sure that all the bits of the outfit are properly assembled, and in the right place.   I can't go through my wardrobe trying different shoes with a dress, or different tops with a skirt, because they will be in different places.   I have to keep a mental note of what is where and make sure I have everything I need with me. ~ On Sunday as I got myself dressed I suddenly realised that I only had one breast with me where I was getting changed! having returned to the van and found the missing item, and having survived the experience I can now see the funny side, but at the time I can assure you I was not laughing!
  • Getting dressed at home ~ one of our new ground rules is that I do not dress at home, so this one is right out, but it would make life so much easier, and safer if I could get ready at home and then go out, I don't want to push my luck but I am hoping that I may be allowed to come in after the others are in bed to get changed, somehow it seems even worse late at night. 
So nothing particularly drastic in the greater scheme of things but things that would have made my life a little easier and more pleasant, on the other I think that the things that we have agreed on are going to be of much more benefit so I am not sorry, and I willingly choose not to have these things that I would like in favour of prolonging our marriage, and who knows, maybe I can negotiate for some of these later.

A Dream

Last night I dreamt, that may not sound much to many of you, but if I do dream I rarely remember them when I awake.   Yet this was a particularly vivid dream and I remember much of it now even though I have been up a while now.

First I have to say that I was "him", not only was I him but I was him back in the days of employment, and I was desperately trying to organise a day off, even to the extent of going into the office and then saying I was going to go home and rest.    I think I have been overdoing it and need to take some time out, I just can't see how. I certainly still seem to have some level of commitment for the next nine days, and some of those are double booked.

I heard last night that the funeral for a long standing friend of mine who recently passed away will be on Wednesday morning.   I will be going, but that does mean I have to rearrange the work I had planned for that day.

And so it goes.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Concert III

I have said quite a lot about the music, but very little about the experience, so I will start at the beginning.   I had expected to be at home on my own on Sunday morning, I thought this would give me a chance to get ready at leisure, at home and make civilised journey to the rehearsal.   Of course I was wrong, my daughter didn't get up and my wife didn't go out, so I had to switch to plan B, I pottered about for a little, the packed my bag and left a little earlier than I would have originally.   I had paned to wear jeans ankle boots and a new purple sleeveless top I bought at Age UK a week or so ago, but it was so warm I decided to go with a nice summer dress instead.

I was very pleased that when I arrived at the rehearsal I wasn't the only girl who had decided that this was our summer and the chance to wear a light cotton dress, after last year I had pretty much forgotten the joy of a nice floaty light weight dress with no hose.   The sense of freedom, cool comfort and maybe something akin to vulnerability or exposure is actually very pleasant.   After the rehearsal I had to find a money machine to get some cash, I had to walk a bit further than I would have expected in the city of London to find a money wall, but once I had I could join y friends at Carluchios for lunch.

This feels like a bit of an extravagance but it is not expensive and is part of belonging to the group, and part of the experience.   If you haven't already picked up on the fact I like food, I like eating it I like talking about it, I like reading about it and I like preparing it; so having lunch as Paula with friends in a decent, but relaxed restaurant has become a great feature of these days for me.   I enjoyed a Risotto Verdi, something I have neither tried or cooked before, but enjoyed so much I think I will try cooking it next time it's y turn.   I was also inspired to try a cooking a new dish, one of my friends had a desert, a panacotta, but she did not want the one flavoured with fennel, as she felt that was a savoury not a sweet flavour.   Thinking about this I am sure that fennel would go well with pears and plan to have a go at poached pears with fennel, maybe served with crème fraiche.

Before going to lunch I had a bit of time while the first three movements of the symphony were being rehearsed, I used the time to "do" my nails, but I did notice one lad who was not playing kept looking at me, at first I didn't think about it, then I became a little nervous after all not all of the gay world find it easy to accept girls like us, and then I was beginning to wonder about getting cross, when he came over and explained that he liked my style, that he was working with the photographer for the next season's publicity posters, and would I mind being photographed for the posters? Would I mind?!?! Isn't this ever girls fantasy, of course I agreed, I now eagerly await an e-mail from the photographer; I will admit to being more than a little excited by the idea.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Concert II

Sunday was the first time we had the full section together, the Villa-Lobos did make a bit more sense with all the parts covered, but it is still not going on my Christmas list.   It is far too complicated, and much of it is just not natural, the notes just aren't where you expect them and they go in a different direction, the whole thing is a bit counter intuitive.   Still it was nice to have four trombones!
we even had a Piano Accordian

I have already written a bit about the Symphony ~ it really is fantastic ~ so I will say a little about the Shostakovich, this piece is normally know as the Jazz suite, but the title is more accurately translated as suite for cabaret orchestra, whatever that is supposed to be.   Again it uses tremendous forces, especially bearing in mind that it is a pretty light weight work, I'm sure that for Shostakovich it was primarily a bit of fun.   It is certainly fun to play, we all enjoyed playing it and I think that came across to the audience. interestingly something that had never struck me before until it was pointed out to me by a (straight) member of the audience in pub afterwards was how camp the suite is.   I had never thought of this before, but on reflection it is, and I don't think that was just our performance.

Now I have got over the initial thrill and excitement of playing as Paula, I am getting a real kick out of the music (as well) this orchestra can call on tremendous forces, on Sunday we had two harps, a celeste, four bassoons, saxophones, four trombones and two tubas, we even had a piano accordion, and that's not something you often get in a symphony orchestra!   It also has to be said that the over all technical and musical standard of the players is right up with the best amateur orchestras I have played with ~ and I get to wear a dress, so what's not to like!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Little Better

Well I'm pleased to be able to report that things are not quite as bad as I thought.   We have both had a chance to consider our positions and have decided that we will work at making our marriage and our parenting work, and more to the point, work together.

Having taken into consideration our financial situation my wife has agreed to some compromises and some ground rules.   This will in some ways curtail some of Paula's activities, but not as substantially as I feared, and I have also "won" some concessions.   For me the idea is very much that we can start functioning as a couple and a family again, rather than separate people who just happen to share a house.   We have also agreed to review the situation regularly.

Regular readers will know how important marriage, and therefore our marriage is to me, so I am glad that we have been able to pull back from the brink.   I will confess that when I thought we were going to break up I did have a few fantasies about what I could do if I were not constrained but sober reflections tells me that much of this is just fantasy and is left that way.

We have agreed a strategy, now we just have to make sure that we stick to it this time, we have made these sorts of agreements before and allowed them to slip and then get back into our old bad habits, not sure but this could be our last best chance.

Monday, 1 July 2013


I seem to be creating an avalanche of posts today, this may well be my last until tomorrow, but I wanted to share with you all that I have just e-mailed my two brothers to tell them about our marital problems, and in the process I have come out to them.

I am going out to work now, and will be meeting a friend tonight so I'm not sure when I will get any replies from them.   Certainly my eldest brother is away on a weeks holiday so may not respond until he gets back.   I also await their advise on what to tell our Mother.

If Only

If only it was that easy, it looks like my wife is determined to go ahead with a separation.   I am sad but not totally surprised or in many ways disappointed.   I am confused and worried, not least about how we will manage it.   At the moment we can barely afford to run one household we have no chance of running two unless at least one of us changes job, or miraculously clears all our debt, and just at the moment I can't see either of those things happening.

I have no great wish to go into details, but yes Paula is an issue in this, but not the sole one, sadly I think our marriage has just run it's course and over the twenty years we have become different people, and maybe neither of us was quite the person the other thought we were from the start.

For now my prime concern has to be the welfare of our daughter, although she seems pretty cool with the whole thing I have yet to talk with her in depth about  what her expectations are.

Concert I

Last night was in so many ways fabulous that I can't go into all of it now, and not in one simple post.   The second half of the concert was the Berlioz Symphony Fantastique.   This is one of my favourite pieces, yet one I have not listened to for some time, and one I have not played for around 30 years.  

When I have played it before I have been very wrapped up in my own part, one of the two tuba parts.   These were originally written for ophicleide but after Berlioz heard the Symphony played with tubas playing the parts he decided that he preferred the sound of newer instrument, and in the second edition of the score the parts are marked for tubas.   However the French tuba of that time was a very different instrument to the ones we use now, with a relatively small bore and pitched in the tenor C with six valves they played in a higher register than we find comfortable these days, so both parts in the Fantastique are high as well as exposed.   This all means that when I have played the work before I have been tied up with my own problems and not really listened to what was going on around me.

Last night I was playing Bass Trombone, the part is still challenging but sits nicely in the register and, knowing the work, not too difficult, so I had a bit more of a chance to pay attention to what was going on around me (I dare say that being 30 years older helps as well).   One thing that really struck me as very impressive was the writing for bassoons.

An orchestra will usually have two bassoons filling the role of bass for the woodwind section, Berlioz does something quite different here, instead of two he uses four bassoons and organises them like horns to play in two duets first and third together and second and fourth together.   Indeed in any ways the way the parts are written mirrors the way horns are used, as a separate section in their own right.   I found this very effective as well as innovative it gives the orchestra a slightly different "feel" and balance the woodwind tonality with the brass in way that doesn't normally happen.

On reflection I am a little surprised that this idea has not been picked up on by other composers and more widely used.

There are lots of jokes about bassoons my favourite is; Why is a bassoon better than an oboe? Because it will burn for longer! in that case I suppose four bassoons must be a whole furnace full.   And as an aside since the Italian term (it is Italian that is the international musical language) for bassoons is Fagotti, with four last night would that constitute a bunch of fagots?