Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

In the Zone

So this is it the final day of the A - Z challenge,, and quite possibly the hardest to stick to the plot.   There are a couple of stories in the news today that I want share.   The first is quite big news for nerds everywhere, the announcement of the cats for the next Star Wars film.

As one of those rather sad people who has watched everyone of the sequence so far during their first cinema release this is indeed big news for me.   It also looks like the original casting concept has been adhered to with some established film stars, some new(ish) faces taking on lead roles, and a proper European Actor to add a bit of class.   This time  suspect that they will be able to pay Max Von Sydow, unlike Alec Guinness in Episode IV who had to accept a share of the profits  as they couldn't afford his fee.   I think Sir Alec did OK out of that deal.   Reportedly because of the sequence of the filming he had no idea what the film was about, just that he was playing some sort of old spiritual guru.   However it was achieved I think we will have to agree that the outcome worked!

The other news item that caught my attention this morning was a small "and finally"  piece on the Today Program about the American Samoa Football Team.   I don't like football (soccer) and I didn't even release that there was such a country as American Samoa but two things caught my attention, First this is probably the worst international football team, if not the worst international sports team that there is.   But they don't want to be, they have brought in a professional Dutch coach who is helping turn them round, while everyone involved remains adamant that they stay a proper amateur set up playing simply for the love of the game. Now even when I don't love the game, I love that attitude! after being beaten 31 - 0 by Australia, Australia! not Austria or Spain or France, but Australia! they could just have given up and gone home, but they decided to fight on and to try to win a game in the World Cup qualifying rounds.

To help them win they have recruited a new player that guarantees them a world record.   Jaiyah Saelua will be the first Trans Gender player to take part in a FIFA match.

Unsurprisingly I am struggling to find a way of combining these two stories into a post that I can claim is on a Z subject.   Before listening to the news this morning I had thought about Zonal Pelargoniums; Zebras; Zebra Striped Land Rovers; Zoos; Zebata (I did actually have one once!); Zircon (with reference to Franck Zapper's Zircon encrusted tweezers); Zoot Suit, Zucchini  or even Zulu.

In the end I think I will just have to leave it to you to decide whether or not I am still in the Blogging Zone

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Sometimes I wonder who you are, you people who come and look at my ramblings, some of you I do know from your comments, and some of you I actually do know.   But most just come, read, maybe look at the pictures and go again.    It is a strange sort of relationship we have, I poor out my heart, my innermost feelings fears and hopes, yet I have little idea of who I am talking to.

Sometimes I also worry about some of you.   I get a report each day telling me how many visitors I get, where they are from what operating system they use and which site they came from.   There is also a note from Google which tells the key search words people use to find me; and I can't help feeling that some of you must be very disappointed.

So far this weeks top search is "Fictionmania" which will take them to this post I penned some time back.   I fear they may be disappointed. Another popular search was "Cross Dresser in Leather Boots" or more bizarrely "blake lively in pantyhose" I hope they were disappointed.   Encouragingly the second most popular search of all time is "Thankyou" which I assume will take you to this, one of my favorite posts (also the first time I featured Betty Boop).

It seems that most of you are from the USA (nearly two thirds) with only slightly under a third of you from here in the UK.   I also have visitors from Canada, Australia, Germany , the Netherlands and as far afield as China, we really are a truly international community.

Whoever you are, however you got here, and wherever you are from I would just like to say

"If you have been ~ Thankyou for reading"

Monday, 28 April 2014

X Marks the Spot

I suspect that many of my fellow Bloggers undertaking the A - Z Challenge will be finding today a bit challenging.   Today we have considerably fewer subjects to chose from, when I started thinking about this I felt that I basically had two choices, X-Chromosome or Xylophone.

Both of these do have a certain pertinence for my day today, this afternoon I have an appointment with my GP to discuss the results of last week's blood test and my possible referral on to the GID Clinic.   To be perfectly honest I was s surprised to get the call asking me to have the blood test that I didn't really establish what I was being tested for.   I think it is just the usual diabetes, cholesterol, and such like rather than anything more specialised, I think that will be done by the clinic in Charring Cross.   At some point some blood tests will be taken to check out things like hormone problems.   I rather hope that they find something "wrong"; it would be a great relief to be told that there is a medical reason why I feel how I do.   Like everyone else on the planet I have at least one X-Chromosome per cell, around half the population have two X and most of the other half have one X and one Y, I can't help wondering if there is something wrong with my balance or my Y.

I very much doubt if I will ever find out but it would make explanations a lot easier and save any of those blame issues.   Of course I have also just blown a perfectly good Y topic!

Later on this evening I will taking a rehearsal for a friend who is away, we will be rehearsing for a concert coming up in a couple of weeks, at least one of the pieces I will be rehearsing there is an important percussion part.   Unfortunately I have just discovered that the percussionist will not be at the rehearsal either, so what ever I do hear tonight it doesn't look as though the xylophone will be one of them.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


I went to see my customer earlier, over the last year she has become a friend as much as a customer so it was quite natural that we that we talked about all sorts of things, gardens, mutual friends, families, somehow I also ended up telling her about Paula, as seems to happen so often she was totally unphased, quite positive and very accepting.   Indeed she is already planing to come to the next LGSO concert!

As we talked and looked around the garden I couldn't help noticing a neighbour's wisteria in full glory, this reminded me that Wisley will be looking really good at the moment with really spectacular Wisteria, Camellias, Fritillaria and many others.   If the weather is decent tomorrow I may well take a little trip down the A3 for and make the most of my RHS membership.

Now I'm totally knackered worn out so I'm settled down in front of the telly with a bottle of wine before a much needed early night.


Last weekend I threw a "Weekend Wobbly" but today I am going to bask in a peaceful, restful ordinary weekend.   I do want to pop out and see a customer about some work she wants doing, other than that I have noting I have to do, or anyone I have to see at any set time.   This may sound like a normal weekend to many of you, but I can't remember the last time this happened to me.

I have many, many things to do around the house and garden, but I am going to try to be cool with them, they may get done if I feel in the mood, or I may slob out on the sofa in front of the TV.   I have a bottle of wine and a large bag of my favorite crisps and several films recorded, so I am anticipating a totally lazy self indulgent evening tonight, and tomorrow, after Church in the morning, I think I may go and visit one of my favorite pubs.

One of the reasons I am so relaxed about taking time out is that I have just received a rather nice cheque, as compensation for some PPI I bought a few years back.   It is much more than I had anticipated and I now feel rather like Billy Bunter would have if the Postal Order from his Aunt had ever actually arrived.

I have paid off some of my debts and am now going to kick back and enjoy a day or two holiday!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Verily, Verily I say unto you

"Verily, Verily I say unto you he that believeth on me hath everlasting life."   Thank you to the good old King James Bible for that quote.   Last night my daughter and I found ourselves musing on Verity, we had been discussing names, and got onto names with meaning, we have a couple of friends one named Charity, whose son used to be confused that he kept hearing of people giving money to charity but she never seemed to have any, and another called Verity, who despite being a banker I do believe.   Even with names like these my daughter said that she had never really associated the names with their meanings, just with the people who bore them.

A little later we had an opportunity to practise some verity ourselves.   We had planned a night at the movies we were going to see the new X-Men movie, my daughter is heavily into the whole superhero thing, and any film with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan can't be all bad.   I booked tickets on line and we made our way to the cinema, as no one was checking tickets we made our own way in and found our seats in a surprisingly empty cinema.   It was only when the film started that we realised that something was wrong, it wasn't X-Men!   I checked, we were in the right cinema, watching the right screen, but we were a little early, we were actually a whole month early! my tickets were for May!

Now we could have exited consoled ourselves with the thought of my stupidity, or we could stay and watch the film.  We stayed and watched the film.   It was a very good film, and one that I wanted to watch anyway. We enjoyed the show enormously, with a cast of Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Celia Imrie, and Timothy Spall, Love Punch was always going to be good, but we enjoyed the script and some nice James Bond "in jokes" at Brosnan's expense.   It was also good to see good looking people of around my age, acting their age and still being entertaining, glamorous and enjoying life.   There may also have been a couple of little morals slipped in somewhere.   Morals that my daughter and I were clearly lacking.

While I don't think that Vue Cinemas are going to miss our few pounds, yet somehow this added to our enjoyment of the evening, there was a little added thrill, a frisson of excitement from the sheer naughtiness of it all,  but I do have my suspicion that we have compromised our verity, our integrity, it is not the scale of what we do but the thing itself.   I have often opined that breaking, or not enforcing any law undermines the whole body of law, in the same way any small dishonest act undermines our own integrity.

The Bible teaches us that there are no little sins or big sins, just sin, any sin separates us from God and needs to be dealt with, and can only be dealt with through Jesus.   So like David I will have to confess that "Against you, you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight" (Psalm 51:4)

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Well, the morning news tells me that the EU have recognised the Cornish as a National Minority Group.   I'm not at all sure how this will impact on us all as a Nation, assuming we stay one Nation, but this morning my first reaction was "If it had been UNESCO I would have had a good U post".   I have a few friends who live in Cornwall and one friend in particular who considers herself to be Cornish, even though she was born in London, who I hope to go and stay with a bit later this year, I hope they will be happy now they are classified as an endangered species.

In France in 2011
We are now on the final laps of this A - Z challenge, but not yet on the ultimate, with some things as you do more the easier it gets, not with this challenge, if I am finding U difficult then X Y and Z are definitely going to be challenging.    I have been toying with a few concepts but have been uncertain which to go with, and so decided that uncertain was a pretty good U for me at the moment.    My life is at a point of flux and I am uncertain which way it is going to go.   A few days ago under my R post I said I was Ready, well I am but I am also uncertain, and just a little frightened.   I am aware that this is a one way journey, and that I am getting close to a point of no return, and I need to consider how this will affect other people as well as me.

Farmers Tan in 2012
Many of my friends are telling me that I should only consider myself, but I believe I need to consider my daughter in all my actions, how will what I choose impact on her life.   She is stridently inclusive in her outlook, but these things can often be different when they are personal, when it is your own father.   I am also uncertain about my wife, my Church, and my customers.   At some point I will need to make these decisions but not just yet.

A couple of months ago
Having said all that even a few months ago I would not have anticipated being in this position at all never mind already.   It seems incredible that it is only a matter of around five years ago that I first started to "come out" as a cross dresser, now I am a confident Transgender woman considering transition.   I am reminded of an old joke in our circles.

"What is the difference between a Cross Dresser and a Transsexual?"
"About five years"

I may well be putting the cart before the horse here as I have not even had a serious consultation with my GP. never mind had my referal to the GID clinic through.   Maybe I should just sit back, relax, enjoy the process and see if, as has happened so often in my life, the decision makes itself when the time comes.

These three photos show something of my progress during that time, who knows how the next few will start to look.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Thank God for Europe (Two for the price of one!)

I had originally planned a  rather weak post for today, as this challenge has gone on I have found some of the days to be very challenging.   T was beginning to look like on of these, so a Ten Things list seemed like a good idea at the time, when you see the ten things at the end of this post I hope you will agree that I was right to change my mind.   It was reading Meg's post here that made me change my mind, as I read this I prayed "Thank you God that I live in Europe"   Where we are protected and allowed to present to ourselves as the  gender we identify.   We do not have legal problems using the appropriate toilets, and can expect protection and respect from the Police.

Even little Malta, (the only country to have been awarded the George Cross so strictly speaking Malta GC) have recently enshrined transgender rights into their constitution.   I hope to be holidaying in Malta for a week later this year, and hope that I may be in a position to take advantage of this tolerance, after all Paula needs a holiday!


Ten things not to say

When asked by your loved one "Does my Bum look Big in This?" do not answer

  1. Well it is a small room
  2. Which one?
  3. I don't think it's the dress
  4. Well it distracts attention from your belly
  5. Hold on while take a few steps back
  6. No, have you gone for a larger size this time?
  7. It's better than the dress you wore yesterday
  8. mmm maybe you should ask yourself if it makes you feel fat
  9. No, but maybe a bit low.
  10. Honey your bum would look big in Wyoming
And what you should say is simple "No, you look lovely"

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Most of us have a complex relationship with stockings, when I wear stockings, as opposed to tights I feel quite different, it feels a little risqué, a little bit dangerous, and the combination of freedom and restriction is of itself quite exciting.   One thing I am sure of is that when I am wearing stockings I never forget them, like I can with just about any other garment.   I am constantly aware of the tug of the garter straps, the nakedness of my upper thighs, the risk of a fastening failing.   With all these issues why would I wear them?   Well I think part of it is the total femininity, part is the styles available, and I suspect that part of it is a left over from the remaining man in me who knows that they are sexy, and so I feel sexy too.

I wonder if it is the idea of availability, of exposure, I have heard it said the the combination of stockings and suspender belt frames the "area of interest".   Like many of these things it may (or may not) be quite complicated and does not really bare a lot of analyses.   I know I do have at least one (male) friend who finds stockings to actually be a bit of a turn off.

I very rarely wear stockings, so it is a special occasion when I do, it has to be said that tights are simply so much more practical, and for girls like me are much better for "containment" purposes.

A while back I bought a job lot of stockings, they are very nice and I have kept a couple of pairs for myself, the rest I have been selling on e-bay.   I have made a little profit, but the emphasis is on the little rather than the profit.   It has been both a learning exercise, and "a bit of fun".   What has interested me is that as far as I can remember every single pair has been bought by a man!

Monday, 21 April 2014

R & R

As in much of the world this is a long bank holiday weekend.   Friday and Monday are both holidays and most people will no have worked on Saturday.    It has not been quite so relaxed for me as I did work on Saturday and I was playing on both Friday and Sunday at different services.    The cumuative effects of the last few weeks ended up with me sleeping on the sofa most of yesterday afternoon, before retiring to bed at around ten O'clock, very early for me.

Rest and Relaxation should constitute an important part of our live styles.   Unfortunately for me many of the things that I do in my spare time are anything but restful.   Every now and then it seems that it is important to just STOP, sit down and take time to do nothing, to relax, veg out on the sofa in front of poor TV.   I don't find this very easy, I tend to be active too much of the time, whether it's work, music or blogging I feel as though I am constantly catching up with myself and feel guilty about time wasted.   I need to persuade myself that time spent unwinding is not wasted, it is valuably spent on restoration.

While trying to restore myself by watching the Grande Prix yesterday afternoon I had a surprise phone call ~ from of all people my Doctor.   I have never had a close relationship with my GP, indeed I would not recognise him if he was not in his office, so I was a little surprised get a phone call asking me to come in for a blood test.   My first reaction was that they had called the wrong person, but no, I need to have some blood tests done prior to my referal to the GID clinic.   Although I am not looking forward to the blood tests or indeed the fasting I will have to do first, I am at least reassured that my referral is progressing ~ however slowly.

So today my R could be renewal; renewal of self through restorative relaxation and renewal of self through Gender reconciliation, but instead my R is ready; I am ready to relax, and I am ready to start out this process, whether it leads to full transition or not.   I have even added a new label to my list, that label I have used for the first time today ~ Transition.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Today we cue Q,

Lets be honest, I have been dreading today, not because it is Easter Saturday, that odd day in the middle of the Easter weekend which we can't quite decide what to do with.   Is it part of the religious festival?, is it still part of Lent? Do I garden or decorate? for me this is not a problem because today is a working day.   I have a couple of lawns to cut and then I am off to help a friend move.   No I have been dreading today because it is Q

Yesterday I mentioned on face book that I had no idea how I was going t deal with Q and had a few suggestions from friends.

Queen [insert name]
Queens (other sort)
Quality of Life
Quantum of Solace
Quality of Mercy
Quincey Jones


Quartermaster's Stores (all together now...)
Quartet (Trombone or Tuba I presume)
Que sera sera


Quite Enough!!!

However I am doing nothing with any of these, instead I will be sticking to my guns and ignoring
the whole A ~ Z thing and have a Rant that also qualifies as a Weekend Wobbly.

I do not possess a car (I have a van for work and tuba transport) when ever I am making a journey I start by asking myself if I can walk, or if I can use public transport.   If the answer to either of these is "Yes" then I do.   I do not use the van unless it is needed.   I walk to Church and the local shops (and indeed pub), I will catch the bus or tram into Croydon Bromley for shopping or "stuff" and will often use the train to go into central London.

I don't particularly like public transport but I am conscious of the saying, "You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic"

So what is the object of my complaint? the state of the buses or trains? the stupid routes that take buses down roads that are too narrow for them? trains that don't run?, the stupid Oyster Card that works fine on Buses and trams but fails every time I use it on the train?

NO it's Bus Queues!   Why is that the people waiting for a bus feel they have the right to occupy the entire foot path, just because you are waiting it doesn't mean that other people are not walking!  Whether it is teenagers and young adults on the phone, middle aged women with shopping trolleys or older "Twirlys" ("Am I too early?") waiting till after nine to use their free pass it seems that every time there are more than two people at a bus stop they fill the entire pavement making it impossible to get past without employing the skills of an international rugby winger.   Just on my short walk to Church I have to negotiate three bus stops, they are fine on a Sunday Morning or late at night but often during the day I find that I am being forced into the road just to get past the throng of disorder that has now replaced the bus queue.

I do not object to queueing myself, but why, oh why can't we have orderly queues that form lines in order of arrival, rather than these disorderly melees which turn into un refereed scrummages as soon as the bus turns up.   Queuing used to be one of the few things the English were acknowledged world leaders in, but we seem to have abandoned that pre eminence in favour of selfishness.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Passover, Potatoes and Planting

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday a day not really celebrated these days, I think a bit of Maundy Money gets handed out and that's about it, I have certainly not been aware of much in the way of ceremonial foot washing.    As a Church we certainly do not do the foot washing bit, but last night we did celebrate Passover.   We have been in the habit of sharing a passover Seder on Maundy Thursday for a few years, now I know this is a little late for a strict adherence to the Jewish calender but for Christians it does suit much better as we believe that the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover Seder.

Sharing with around eighty other people makes it all a lot less intimate and a lot less personal, but none the less it is still both a fun, and a good thing to do.   These days I find myself a little surprised at how few Christians celebrate or indeed even acknowledge, any of the Jewish festivals at all.   I think it is important to remember that our faith is based on Judaism, and without an understanding of first century Jewish culture it is difficult to understand much of Jesus's teaching.  

Of course a lot of the Easter Celebrations have very little to do with Sacrifice and Grace, the Crucifiction and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For many people the celebrations are more about welcoming Spring, eating chocolate and spending lots of money at Garden Centers and Home improvement stores.   I too will be eating some chocolate and will be spending time in my garden over the weekend.   I have no great desire to spend money at the garden center but I do need to pick up some compost.

This year I am growing potatoes, that may not surprise many of you, but it is not something I have done for many years.   As a general principle I'm not at all sure they are worth the space in a small garden.   Potatoes can take a lot of space and effort and are so cheap to buy that I generally grow something more interesting.

This year I have decided to try growing potatoes in a bag on the patio.   Only a couple of weeks ago I planted about half a dozen seed potatoes at the bottom of an old recycling bag I happened to have hiding in the garage, now they are doing so well I have already used up my whole stock of compost earthing them up, and need more soon, very soon.

Although I bit unsightly they are tucked away in a secluded part of the garden (right by the back door actually) and by the look of them they won't be there for very long.   I think they could be ready by June at this rate.   I am also thinking of planting out my runner beans but we have had a bit of frost a couple of times this week, so I will prepare the ground over the weekend but resist the temptation to plant them out.   I may sow some carrots just to cheer myself up a bit,as  there is nothing quite as satisfying as planting and sowing.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


What a lovely day yesterday was, beautiful blue sky, warm sunshine he scent of flowers, and today looks set to be the same.   Sometimes it is a joy to have a job like mine, having to be out in gardens on days like this is more a privilege than an obligation.

A quick walk around my own garden (it doesn't take very long to walk around my garden) shows a lot more than a few bulbs in flower, although I am very fond of my tulips, they have not all flowered this year, I think I will have to repot or replace them.

Now that the daffodils and the yellow tulips have finish the prominent flower colour here is pink.   I like pink so this is no co-incidence, it will not be long before my peonies explode into colour, and they too are mostly a deep vibrant pink, I think of them as big blousy barmaids of flowers, with apologies to any big barmaids!

As well as spending time in gardens I spent quite a lot of tie slaving over my keyboard, partly work, and partly personal.   I have a good friend that for one reason or another I have not been able to spend any time with alone for several months.   This has been a problem for me as I have wanted to come out to her but have simply not been able to organise the opportunity.   Reluctantly, yesterday. I sent her an e-mail explaining about being trans gender.   As always I was nervous about how this would be accepted, this friend is also a Evangelical Charismatic Christian, and as a group we are not always known for our ready acceptance of non conforming people.   How good and encouraging it was to get a very positive reply, including the phrase "How wonderful to have a new sister in Christ"

It is things like this that confirm to me that I am doing the right thing in promoting inclusion and acceptance within churches.

As a small post script last night I had to pop out to a near by neighbour to quote for a job and give some advise.   The advise turned out to be dig it up and start again, but I will still be popping round with a lawn mower.   I went round after I had had a bath and got changed, my clothing was all fem but I would say my presentation was more androgynous, I was also sporting mauve nail polish.   The lady I met was only interested in my integrity as a professional.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Now, I reckon I'm doing pretty well so far, we've got as far as N and I've only made one small slip when I posted twice under I.   Still too much is better than not enough.

Click to enlarge
Never before have I tried anything like this challenge, I have been blogging for a while and have always just posted about either what was on my mind, or reporting on events in my life.   In other words pretty much what a blogger does.   I know some people will use their blog to promote themselves, their Company or product, some will use it to promote a point of view, a lifestyle or just to share with other like minded individuals.   I started Paula's place largely around the latter idea.   I was in a situation where I didn't know any other cross dressers and I just needed to talk about some of the issues this brought into my life.   I felt I couldn't talk to any of my family or friends so I started the blog just to have somebody to talk to.

Naturally as time went on things evolved, I find that these days Paula's place is less and less a blog about being trans, much more it's about being me.   What I get up to and what I feel about things, in other words it's about me, not about one aspect of being me.   While this makes for a more interesting blog it is also a reflection of how I have changed myself, as I have spread my wings, gone out into the world and started to have real world experiences, doing the things that I do, making music, visiting galleries and gardens, social gatherings and shopping trips that include groceries and not just clothes.

Nearly always when I first started to go out, I would create an opportunity, this would be something outside of my usual life, a special shopping trip, a visit to a coffee shop, anything.   But it was always on my own and it was never productive.   Sure it was fun, a release, a chance to express myself, but somehow not fully satisfying and not really part of the real world not least because I was also always on my own.   That meant the only people I ever spoke with were sales assistants, and although invariably friendly this is hardly the basis for serious social interchange!

Next I joined a support group, met others in similar positions or at least at a different point on the same road.   This helped to give me more confidence, to build a better idea of who I am as a woman.   As I said in my last post music has always been a key essential in my life, so I joined the LGSO and started to play as Paula.   This was a major step forward as I was not only the sole bass trombone, I was also the sole representative of the T in LGBT!  

Nonetheless all this pushing of my comfort zone, I was still very much in the closet, I was making the closet bigger all the time but I was still inside.   It is only more recently since I have stared to play with other orchestras, and to come out to more of my friends that I am beginning to get real world experience.   So far nearly all of that experience has been positive, I am impressed with how accepting the majority of people are, if they care few show it, and most of those who do are positive.

Normally going to a new orchestra all I have to worry about is how well I will play, compared to the others there.   It feels just as out of place to be much better than others as it is to be much worse.   Generally I like to be just a little worse than the rest of the section, then they will help me improve.   I am now throwing another level of acceptance / stress into the mix I do not fool myself that anyone will think that I am anything other than trans, so it is a question of how they react, at the Pelly Orchestra the one "Civilian" group I have played with so far no one cared how I looked as long as I didn't frighten the children and could play my instrument.   Having said that I did already know some of  the players and the conductor.   When I play with the Euphonia Orchestra soon I will know no one there, and I haven't warned them of my status, it will be interesting to see what sort of reception I get, it will also be interesting to see what standard they are.   I am currently resisting committing to more than one concert ~ just in case we don't suit each other.

Note; ~ I have just heard I did not get the post I auditioned for the other day, I was right they selected my friend Katrina, and I think they made the right choice, and they will suit each other very well.   I am quite looking forward to playing with the band again "under her baton".

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Music Was My First Love

They say it is better to have loved and lost, than too not have loved at all.   I'm not so sure.   When thinking of falling in love, rather than the many other uses of the term, I can say I have only done that twice.   I know some people only do it once or even not at all, but for me it is twice, and on both occasions I ended up proposing.   On both occasions the object of my love said yes! and on both occasions they still ended up leaving me.   I will not criticise, I think they both had good, valid reasons, even though I may have been troubled by their decisions these are hard decisions that sometimes need to be made and actually need to be made selfishly.   The problem I have with both of these is that in neither case have I actually fallen out of love.  If either of these ladies were to want to have me back, even as I am now, I would go.

Of course I do have other loves, I love my Daughter in a way that I never thought possible, and that is something special between a parent and child, this is the relationship I prize beyond all others, maybe that makes me a bad Christian as I should value my relationship with God higher, but I believe He wanted to be called father so that as parents we could understand the depth of His love for us.

All this is a little beside the point, my first love, the one that has never let me down and that I expect to be with me all my life, ~ Music.   Now even though I do not come from a home where music was a constant I can't remember a time when music was not an integral part of my life.   I used to sing, I started performing as a chorister went on to piano lessons and attendance at the Arthur Davison Family Concerts, little thinking that a few years later I would be playing in them myself.   As a singer I made up with enthusiasm what I lacked in talent, and I have been doing the same as an instrumentalist since starting to play back in 1970.   Playing music has become such an important part of who I am that I truly believe there have been times when, quite literally, that is what has kept me going.

I have been lucky, I have at times been able to make a living from music, and now as an amateur I get to play great music with great people in wonderful places.  As I get older I struggle to conceive of a time when I might no longer be able to play, in the mean time I intend to make the most of it, and am looking at new ways to perform, I want to conduct more, and play with more orchestras (and if some of them will pay me all to the good) I will be playing a concert with the London Euphonia Orchestra on the 10th May and another with the LGSO on the 29th June.

Sunday night's LGSO concert was a bit of a triumph, the excitement of the orchestra came over to the audience who received us with enthusiasm, personally I might have felt a little under prepared, but that just added to the excitement.   As a post script I decided to wear my silver strappy sandals, but when it came to walking across the platform with my trombone I just didn't trust myself, so stuck with the lower black courts I had been wearing during rehearsal.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Lily Beatle

The Enemy

In Hiding
I like to grow a wide variety of plants in my garden, but given that it is a small suburban garden with both limited space and heavy clay soil there are limits to what I can grow in the ground.   I have got into the habit of growing bulbs in pots, that way I can bring them onto the patio enjoy them while they are in flower, then move them to a more secluded area while the leaves die back and they are less interesting.   My daffodil are now over and my tulips are the stars of the patio.

The Damage
Soon the Lilies will be taking over, but with lilies I am fighting a constant battle against an enemy so intractable, so subtle and so devastating I have seriously considered surrender.   I am talking about the small bright red lily beetle.   It seems strange that anything that is the colour of bright red nail polish should be hard to find, but as soon as disturbed they drop to the ground and their underside is brown so they become invisible on the soil surface.   At this time of year I do a daily check of all my lilies, pick off and crush (gleefully) any beetles I find in the vain hope that I will get them before they start breeding and I get the dreaded larvae.   These are quite disgusting (follow the link for details from the RHS) but if they are found also need to be removed (yuk!).

My hunting has not been wasted I have already got rid of quite a few of these pests, but I still expect to see more, and my lilies are showing the signs of damage, not enough yet to effect the flowering, but still damage.   So far the only chemical control I have found to work is ant powder, but that needs to be applied regularly and can be pretty unsightly in itself, so at the moment I am still planing on relying on vigilance.   If it works I may get some blooms like these again.
Yellow Pixie

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Killer Heels

Thursday evening I had an audition with the wonderful (or should that be Fabulous) London Gay Symphonic Winds, of course I was more than a little stressed out by the whole experience, not least as the last time I auditioned for anything it was to play tuba in the Youth Orchestra! needless to say that was a few years ago now.   Added to the mix of problems was what to wear, I wanted to present myself well but appropriately for the situation, this meant casual, but not too casual.

I also wanted to reaffirm my femininity through my clothes.   This is not a problem that genetic females have but for some of us it is a problem,   I choose to wear a purple tee shirt top, with leather jacket, jeans and this pair of ankle boots.   Yes they are high, but not that high.   Yet after a couple of hours the balls of my feet were beginning to get quite painful, I don't often have a problem unless the heels are very high, but the soreness from these carried right through Friday and into today.

This afternoon I have been wearing these pumps, the heel is about the same height, and I have had no problem at all.

Tomorrow I will be playing at the LGSO Concert in the evening, I shall be wearing one of my favourite Little Black Dresses, this is not only an opportunity to be a little bit glamorous, it is almost obligatory, especially since I have already set my own bar rather high. During the day, including the afternoon rehearsal I shall definitely be dressing for comfort, but come the concert and it will be time to show off, so, the question is which shoes to wear?

Definitely an occasion for what we might more normally term killer heels, and I find I have all too many of these, ranging from the open toed sling-backs to the suede platform court.   I may even break out and not wear black shoes but either my outrageous but wonderful silvery sandals or my 4 inch heel bronze pumps.

I had thought of calling this post Knew Phone as I have just replaced my old Samsung with a shiny new Nokia, in the past I had always had Nokias and I pretty much understand how they operate, and I thought that it would be easier for me to have another.   Well some is easier and some not, but so far I quite like, and the camera is a whole lot better, all these shots were taken with it and the quality is fine for what I want, the only thing is Blogger seems to want to rotate the shots, I have to load them onto my computer, revolve them, then revolve them back before they appear how I want ~ most odd!

Friday, 11 April 2014


OK so I blew it, I have actually written two I posts and barely thought about J.   Since I don't want to fail my self imposed target of  managing consecutive posts themed on consecutive letters I intend to consider the previous post as a bonus for yesterday and make this today's (Friday) post.   Having said that the well is pretty dry at the moment and having had quite a few pretty "heavy" posts I do want t put up something lighter.

A balloon would be lighter but it doesn't start with J, the only "light" beer I can think of is Bud and that doesn't start with a J either. I could tell you about my day yesterday (the bits I haven't already) but that mostly involves Irises and grass and they don't begin with J.

So today's J is Jagermonster, a rather obscure link to one of my favourite on line comics.   Girl Genius has it all Danger, Romance Mad Science!   There is normally very little to no gender confusion, this drawing from the weekend is a rare exception as one of the Jagermonsers is disguised as our heroine Agatha Hetrodine as she seeks to make good her escape.   ~

No I don't understand it either, but it is good fun, and a lot better than a lot of light bulbs jokes ~ you know the sort of thing
How many Tuba players does it take to change a light bulb? ~ three one to hold the light bulb two to drink until the room revolves.
How many Tuba players does it take to change a light bulb? ~ None we don't go that high

or my favourite!

How many tuba players does it take to change a light bulb? ~ None, real men aren't afraid of the dark.


Well this IS a busy week, I'm shattered and it's only Thursday.   It's another of those weeks when I'm out on some activity or another every night of the week.   Thursday night (check diary) Audition as Co-Director of the London Gay Symphonic winds, that was certainly fun, but I don't want t do it again in hurry.   The whole experience was more than a little stressful, even though I was amongst friends, as many of the band are either members or supports of the London Gay Symphony Orchestra.   I don't expect to get the post, Karen (one of the others who auditioned) is a much finer musician than me, and the other one I heard seemed to be pretty good as.   I also suspect that their backgrounds will be easier to check than mine.

As we relaxed over a pint in the pub after the rehearsal / auditions I realised that there is yet another level of consideration and stress now that Paula is socialising and building friendships.   Now I suspect that it is pretty obvious to all and sundry that I am trans, but what is not so apparently obvious is that I am not full time, and that I have more history as a boy than as a girl.   Indeed in a way I feel as though I am incognito, I can't really proclaim the fullness of who and what I am (that would be just impolite) yet if I am to join in conversation then it is inevitable that I need to refer to experiences I have had as "Him"

Today I found myself talking about motor bikes on another occasion it might be Rugby; it is quite easy, well comparatively easy to remember to use a lot of gender neutral terms, like youngster, or child rather than boy, chorister rather than choir boy.   But girls of my age simply didn't play rugby, and nice ones didn't ride motorbikes.   While everyone may understand about my genetics, the polite ones will overlook that and accept that I wish to be treated as the girl I understand myself to be, it just becomes a little awkward when I need to explain where and how I got certain bits of my experience.   It feels a little dishonest  this telling the truth, but not the whole truth, yet in way I suspect that this is what a lot of do.

My whole truth is a little complicated, but everyone has layers of complication that there is no need to share, so I am sure I have no need to feel guilty, or indeed a fraud, it's just that other people's complications can't be seen while mine are a little more obvious.   It's all becoming a bit of a strain no being fully authentic.   Being one person one day and another on another.   I long for the time when I am once again simply me, rather than this constant hiding and half truths, to no longer be in the the closet at all, no more incognito, just me.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


The other weekend I managed to get my self ludicrously over booked, all stuff I wanted to do and enjoy but still too much, the upshot was that when I came to play in a concert on the Sunday afternoon I was knackered, rather tired.   Indeed I was so tired that my concentration flagged, something I simply can't afford to let happen I'm just not good enough to work on autopilot.   At one point I was left with a small solo to play in a selection of music from The Wizard of Oz, I had managed OK in the rehearsal, but in the performance the other tuba player decided to leave it to me, and my fingers decided not to co-operate.

One of the problems of playing Tuba is that it is not just one instrument, most of us will find we have to play two or three instruments in different keys, big ones for low parts and little ones for high parts, on this occasion I was playing my lovely big CC after not having played it for a while having done everything on my old faithful Besson EEb.   When it came to my solo my fingers thought I was still playing the EEb and used that fingering, I knew it was wrong, but when I tried to get back to where I should have been I switched to Bb fingering as the previous time I had played the piece I had been on Euphonium.   The piece that I was trying so hard and failing to play? ~ "If I only Had a Brain"!

Besson EEb
If I get a decent night's sleep tonight, and don't work too hard tomorrow I hope that I will manage a bit better when I audition for the role of Associate Musical Director of the London Gay Symphonic Winds.   I will be conducting a half hour rehearsal of two pieces, one I know (The first movement of the Holst suite in Eb), one I don't.   I gather I will have about 20 minutes to look at the score before rehearsing the piece, to a certain extent it is pot luck as to whether I know it or not.   However I suspect that this will not be the main issue, I have a bit of experience with Brass Bands but not much with wind bands, and knowing that the other Associate MD who has already been appointed is also a trombone player I would anticipate the band preferring somebody with more woodwind experience, probably a reed player.   However I am determined to enjoy the experience and learn from it.
Conn CC

On the 17th May we will be holding a major event in Croydon town centre to mark IDAHO the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the current plan is too have stands from 10 Christian organisations and stands from 10 LGBT organisations, If I can get my act together I am meant to be organising a band to play a couple of 20 minute sets, at the moment I am short of a couple of players, even if I don't get the job tomorrow maybe I can recruit a couple of people to play then.

I hope that you are all suitable impressed that I got through this post with out mentioning Rudyard Kipling's poem or Lindsey Anderson's film

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

H is for.....

A while back I wrote a little piece on some Horoscopes, it was not one of my greatest efforts. indeed it was a bit of laziness on a day when I wanted a post but didn't have much in the way of inspiration. At the time one of Christian friends gently chastised me about this post and encouraged me to write a follow up on a Christian attitude to such things.   Since then I have been meaning to revisit the subject, but have found it's not quite as simple as I first thought.   Of course most people, whether Christian or not, adopt the view that these things are simply a "bit of fun" certainly I don't think any credibility can be assigned to the basic "Newspaper Horoscope" until they actually manage a prediction that comes true.   I will quite happily eat my words if one twelfth of the population of the UK is run over by a number nineteen bus tomorrow.   And, right now I know there is somebody out there thinking "Well you're a Virgo so you would think that wouldn't you"

Serious Astrology is all about looking at the stars, their relationships with one another at particular times and the drawing conclusions about a person's character and future from them.   The Bible does expressly forbid divination, sorcery and the Occult or hidden arts Deuteronomy 18:10-14   We should be listening only to God Deuteronomy 18:15 and rejecting other forms of guidance or revelation Acts 16:16-18

So the Bible tells us that Astrology is wrong (not inaccurate but wrong!) in a couple of ways, it is a way of putting faith in something other than God, if you like, it is setting up another god in opposition.   Of course it is also a form of divination, and look where that got Saul.   I am no Roman Catholic, but I think the Catechism puts it pretty well

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honour, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

Regardless of the reliability of the predictions I think the Christian attitude is much more a question of, well, attitude.   I think it is largely a question of who you look to for guidance and what you put faith in, of course as a Christian I look to Jesus as the focus of my faith and to God for my guidance.

On the other hand if you are not a Christian, then look out for that number nineteen bus!

At another time I put together a post that at the time I called Looking Forward, although not directly concerned with astrology or horoscopes it was about a Christian attitude to the future and how we should retain hope, and Hope is another subject that I want to revisit, but for all sorts of different reasons.   Several times recently I have been talking to my Mother about life, she is pretty much fed up with it and it becomes wearying to try to keep her spirits up.   

A while ago I spent a lot of time talking with her about what it means to be a Christian and have Hope for the future, even if that Hope lies beyond the grave.   I used a couple of my lady customers as examples of people who maintained hope right to the end of their lives.   It was directly after hearing of the death of one of these ladies that while doing a little tidying up I found an old rejected ring of my daughter's, it is a simple cooper ring with the one word HOPE on it.   This seemed to either be serendipitous or a sign, either way I decided to start wearing the ring.

I am still wearing it several weeks later, not entirely out of either affection or affectation, it was the Friday after I started to wear it that I shut my hand in the van door.   Now around three weeks later the swelling has almost gone down enough to try to take it off.

So looking back at Horoscopes, and Hope, maybe H is for HINDSIGHT