Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 27 February 2015


When I put together the previous post obviously I had no idea about Leonard Nimoy's imminent death.   Although I never met or knew him I was deeply saddened to hear the news.   Leonard Nimoy played quite a big part in my life, first through his role in Mission Impossible and then of course as Spook.   I have already blown my cover as a bit of a Trecker, but I think that pretty much everyone around my age will remember the wonder with which we first greeted Star Trek (TOS) and then the films.

It seems like only yesterday but of course in reality it must be the best part of 50 years ago that my brothers and I were allowed to eat our tea in front of the TV so that we could watch Star Trek. As far as I can remember this was a first in our family, and was probably only allowed due to various other issues my Mother was dealing with around that time.

I suspect that Spock will go down as one of the great TV characters, but in a way it is a shame that he will always overshadow all of Nimoy's other work.

There's no point in saying it him now, so to you all I say "Live Long and Prosper"

Star Treking

I have been enjoying the re-runs of Star Trek TNG on CBS Action.  I'm sure that as far as they are concerned it is a bit of cheap programing, but for me it is a great little trip down memory lane.   I watched these when they first came out and loved them then, and now I find that I still do.

I am amazed that there seem to be episodes that I either have forgotten or never saw.   I was even more surprised by the uniforms.  

I remembered the jump suits and the trousers, but had totally forgotten that in series one we still had the mini dresses hanging over from TOS, the big difference of course being that in TNG the men had the dresses as well.I have only found these two examples on line and I expect that the idea was dropped very nearly as quickly as they dropped the idea of a female senior officer in the Original Star Trek.   Shame if they had continued with this idea a lot of us might have been a lot happier for a lot longer.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


For for some strange reason that I suspect has passed me by my diet seems to have changed rather over the last week or so.   I would normally consider myself to be pretty omnivorous but somehow meat seems to be making up a smaller than usual portion of my diet.

Over the last few days I have had mushroom risotto, spinach and mung bean casserole, lentil soup, pasta with pesto and a cheese omelet.   I have not planned anything of this other finishing up a few jars from the store cupboard.   I can't say I have missed meat much, so I am now thinking about deliberately cutting down on my meat intake.   Eat less but ensure that what I do eat is good quality.

The only draw back is that there can be digestive consequences to increasing the intake of nutritional fiber. Don't stand behind the gorilla.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

It's all about that Bass

On Saturday I had another visit from my friend Vanessa, who took some more photos.

 I think these three are my favorites from the day.   I love the way she has used a very shallow depth of field to focus on my hands leaving the rest of the Bass to go slightly out of focus.

Monday, 23 February 2015

A Strange Day

Sometimes it all seems to go wrong, but not necessarily for any particular reason, and I have been having one of those days.   I woke up at a sensible time and resisted the temptation to stay in bed got up made some tea and sat down at my laptop.   This was not just to waste time on FaceBook (although I have done a bit of that), no, I had a few work related e-mails to get out and a couple of things to chase up.   Then a friend popped in on the off chance that I was home, we had a coffee and a chat then I had t phone the Environment Agency.   The answers I got from them led me to search a couple of web sites and then Contact a County Council.

What had started out as a simple couple of e-mails had turned into five or six e-mails, three phone calls and amended Risk Assessment and Method Statement.   And that's how at around three O'clock this afternoon I realised that I was still in my dressing gown and PJs.   Thought I had better go and get dressed, out and doing some gardening, but before I had made it upstairs the sun had gone in and it started raining, and the rain had lumps in it!

Sometimes I wonder why I bother making plans at all!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Life's too short...................

Recently I have found that on a few occasions I have observed that life may be too short. On one occasion I found myself in a conversation about fifty shades of Grey and felt that "there are too many good books I haven't read to waste my time reading bad ones"

On another occasion that will not bear too much close scrutiny I found myself saying that life is too short to wear ugly underwear" I think the same sentiment can be applied to shoes, but simply wasn't pertinent to the occasion.

Life is certainly too short to deny yourself, to pretend to be somebody else so that other people will like you, it's just a shame that so many of us take all too long realise this.

I am working at removing negative people from my life.   While I thank God for those "Christian" brothers he sends me to allow me to practise forgiveness I am sure that life would feel so much better without them that I refuse to waste my time dwelling on their vitriol.

I also find that I have never been in so much of a rush that I needed fast food

There are many things that may appall us, but I do wonder what my readers think life is too short for, I just hope that the answer isn't commenting on my Blog.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Concert Dress V

Inspired by by Hanna and her comments on what she is planning to wear at an Oscar Party this weekend, I am once again considering what to wear for my concert on Sunday.   We have our usual dress code of smart all black, as a bloke this was simple, black trousers, shoes, and shirt, if it's cold I could add a jacket.   Now it is so much more complicated.

I may wear this dress, with a satin shrug
My natural choice is to wear a dress (I will be playing trombone) but I do have a couple of pairs of dressy trousers and some nice black blouses.   I have six black dresses, and seven pairs of black shoes, I have a satin shrug, a black sparkly stowl, and a couple of smart black jackets.   I also have a nice pair of black culottes which would look great with a satin blouse.    Then we add in the issue of legs!   I like to flatter myself that I have decent legs and so I like to show them off and present them as well as I can.   This means black hosiery (shows the shape well but hides all those veins), but that still leaves the choice of sheer, or fish net, seamed or not, maybe a pattern. I have a pair of sheer black back seamed tights with a little bow feature just above the heel, another pair with a criss cross pattern, both of these are nice and might get an airing.

A while back I played for a concert performance of an opera, this was on the unusual basis of a profit share, once the venue hire, music hire, percussion hire etc. had all been paid the remaining income from ticket sales and refreshments was split among the musicians.   I think the final share was £7:70 I decided to treat myself and bought some hosiery on E-Bay, maybe if they arrive in time I'll wear these on Sunday. By the way these are not my legs!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Get with the Program!

It's a while back now but I have finally got around to telling a bit about an event I attended last week.   It was Friday night and I had got myself double booked, a rehearsal with my Jazz/Blues band and a reunion of the schools wind band and youth orchestra I played with.   The reunion was mostly concentrated on players from the 80s and 90s and I was very much a 70s player, but was determined to be there anyway.

As I expected apart from a tutor who conducted the band from around 1975 on I think was the eldest there, however there were a few who I overlapped with.   I was very fortunate that in the 1970s music was a priority in Croydon, so I received first class teaching and an instrument on loan, all without any cost to my parents.   I was also fortunate in my choice of instrument as when I started learning there was only one other tuba player in Croydon schools and he was about to leave.   This meant that I had the opportunity to play at a higher standard than I really had any right to quite early.

As there was a bit of interest I have scanned my copy of the program from the inaugural concert of the Croydon Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.   The front cover is notable for things, the autograph there is that of Sir Arthur Bliss the composer of"Things to Come" and the Master of the Queen's Musick.  He and his wife happened to be sitting directly in front of my parents so Mum grabbed the chance and got him to sign her program.

The other notable thing is the price ~ 10p these day a program like this ( heavy bound quality print A4 ) would cost more like £2:00 -£3:00.   But then only a couple of years earlier and that would have been 2 shillings!

There were of course several interesting things that came up at the reunion, not least that I have changed rather a lot since I was playing in CYPO, yet nobody made anything of my transition.   Indeed it was with a great deal of (I hope well hidden) glee that I heard my self referred to simply as a "tall blond"

If you click and enlarge this picture you can see me behind my tuba, but you would be hard pressed to recognise me from the woman I have grown up to become.

I am sure that these old programs are fascinating to anyone who was there, but to others may seem a little "dry" so a little context might help.   The Fairfield Hall itself is the concert hall part of the Fairfield Halls, and complex including galleries and the Ashcroft theater in central Croydon.   Opened in 1962 it still felt very new in 1973 and with a sell out audience of around 1,800 it can have a great atmosphere.   Even now it is recognised as a prestigious venue with a good acoustic.

Arthur Davison lived locally and was a recognised working conductor, although he never hit the big time with any major professional orchestras he regularly worked with the RPO, and made several quite successful recordings. A few years later he was to be awarded the CBE for his services to youth music.  Lady Evelyn Barbirolli was the widow of Sir John Barbirolli they were one of the leading couples in English music and at this time she was very much a "Grande Dame", we were very privileged to have a soloist of this quality and reputation work with us.

Interestingly one of our oboe players at that concert Paul Goodwin, later went on to be a world recognised soloist and a leading light of early music in his own right.

Most if the players in that inaugural concert went on to work in music, some with greater success than others.   Certainly amongst our number there are conductors, soloists, chamber musicians, publishers,members of leading international orchestras, teachers and even the odd gigging tuba player.

It was only about eighteen months after this concert that we made our first broadcast, as the Youth Orchestra in BBC Radio Three's series "Great Orchestras of the World".

Looking at these old programs has brought back so many memories, and there are many stories from that time that I could relate, but I will try to resist that temptation.   However I do rather hope that somebody will step up and organise another reunion, only this time include all us old folks as well.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Hedging my Bets

Tax has become a subject taxing the chattering class, with more and more news of large organisations and wealthy individuals avoiding tax this has become a moral issue as much as a financial one.   The sides are forming up on a class basis as much as a political one, labour pointing to rich Tory supporters and the conservatives pointing the finger anywhere else they can to try to deflect attention.   Most recently the finger has pointed at independent small trades people ~ like window cleaners and gardeners.

The assumption is that unless a receipt is handed over for any cash payments then the might may not be declared as taxable income on tax returns.   The example that I keep hearing is having a hedge trimmed.   This just goes to show how detached from reality our political leaders have become.

As somebody who often trimms hedges I would like to point out that I always declare all my income to the best of my knowledge.   It makes no difference whatsoever whether I hand over a reciept or not, it makes no difference whether I am paid in cash, by cheque or bank transfer, I declare it all.   It would also make no difference if I choose not to declare all my income.   Small traders with low turnover are under no obligation to submit full accounts, rather we just give headline figures for turnover and deductible expenses, the difference being considered as our taxable income.   Under this system it would hardly be difficult to keep a receipt book in the van for cash payments and then just not enter any of them into the accounts.

The system operates on trust, and I must say operates pretty well.   If I make a mistake and declare £1,000 less income than I actually had then the state will lose out to the tune of around £200, this is a bit different to hiding several million pound in a tax haven, r deciding that all UK transactions are actually being made through Luxemburg.

Then they wonder why we don't trust or believe them!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

I will

When I started Paula's Place it was my confidential confidant, a place I could pour out my heart (although I rarely did) knowing I was incognito and that no one reading it knew the real me.   That is no longer the case, I know that a number of my personal friends often visit and read my musings, I also know that I am getting between 150 and 250 hits per day so there is a good chance that some of the random visits could be from people who will know or at least recognise me.

Now that I am pretty much fully "out" and more or less full time that shouldn't really be an issue however I now find myself in a position where I have been hurt by somebody and would like to express that, to vent my spleen, but can't because I know that my friends are their friends and I don't want to be the cause of pain.

This has left me feeling rather sad, rather lonely and at a bit of a loss how to act. An important part of my life has been cut off, I did anticipate this but it still hurts. Once again I have to go through a process of bereavement ~ and it doesn't get easier with practice.  I now need to trust that God will act, that He will fulfill my need, that He will be faithful. Of course I know in my mind that He will, after all He always has, it's just that sometimes what our hearts feel and minds know do not totally agree, then the mind has to make a decision, an act of will, that will take the heart and soul along with it.

Therefore I choose to say "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord"

Sunday, 15 February 2015


I listen to BBC Radio 4 quite a lot, at home, in the van and sometimes while I am working, indeed it might be said to be the background music to my life.   The other day I was listening to Dessert Island Discs with Dan Pearson.   Since Dan Pearson is a also a gardener, and a designer whose work I really like I was listening a little more closely than I do sometimes so I did hear something that made a big impression on me.

He was talking about being groomed for a profession that held no real interest for him, school and society encouraging him into a safe, clean job and I was so much reminded of my own school experience.

Our experience diverged in that when he was thinking about college / university courses, his mother encouraged him by telling him to follow his dream.   I wonder how my life would have worked out if instead of being encouraged into a safe, clean job with a pension I had been encouraged to follow my dream.   My Mother came from a pretty middle class background, my Father on the other hand was the first generation in his family to have a clerical and then managerial career.   With the best will in the world they wanted the best for me but I was always encouraged to follow other peoples dreams, not my own.

I wonder if I had been given permission, never mind encouragement to follow my dream how life would have worked out, however it would have effected my gender identity, my choice of career, big life decisions I am sure it would have made a difference.  This affected me so much that I immediately sent a text message to my Daughter telling her to always follow her dream.   Maybe the biggest opportunity we can offer our kids is to give them the permission to try.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Wiz is Right

Well ~ sort of

Looking here suggests that this may be a combination of a couple of the many, many stories that seem to have become attached to Saint Valentine.

I am actually quite surprised to find that St Valentine is still celebrated as a Saint at all in many of our most prestigious Churches.   As an Evangelical I of course believe in the sainthood of all believers, all who call on the name of Jesus and put their faith in Him are equally loved, equally blessed, and, are all adopted children of God and sit beside Jesus the only begotten Son; but that is another post, for another day.

I am more exercised by how, and what we celebrate, last night a friend of mine realised that he had forgotten to get his wife a card, or indeed anything else.   Not only that, but he realised this while she was on her way to pick him up from the pub, before getting up at four O'clock this morning to take him to the airport for a "business" trip to Germany.   There was pretty broad agreement that he was in trouble.   I even went as far as suggesting that I drop a card round for him, that was followed by the suggestion that I also address it to him and sign it.   However since he is a valuable member of one of my bands we did decide it was a little early to have him bumped off by his wife.

This is indicative of the importance that can be attached to this day

Personally I shall be celebrating the day by watching some Rugby on the television and going out this evening with my friends at TransPALS I am not surprised that I have received no cards or flowers yet, indeed I will be a lot more surprised if I do get any.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Before and After

Every now and then I do like to show little of my work, usually some nice flowers or something.   Although it is very mild and at the moment I have daffodils, crocuses primulas and camilia all in flower that is not what I am showing off about today.

This is a job a did a couple of weeks ago, and am pretty pleased with how it turned out.  

An old deck was covering a rather uneven and ugly bit of poured concrete.   First the deck needed removing.   As always I forgot to take a proper "before" photo, this one shows the situation after I had lifted the deck, well most of it anyway.

Next I had to set up the perimeter using concrete molded rope top edging before in filling with sand to lay block pavers on.

One of the issues I had to deal with on this job, was a lack of working space,so I was constantly trying not to get in my own way, working in sections, get a bit laid then turn round and stand on the bit I had just laid.

The other issue was that being a terraced house everything had to be carried through the house, I was always worried about the mess I was making in the customers house, even though they told me not to worry.  Of course I was supervised in this as I was in y work, you can just see the supervisor in the second photo above.

Once the sand was all down I could start laying the pavers, because of the layout nearly every paver on the edges had to be cut, a long, laborious and rather dirty exercise.   Weather conditions weren't always helpful either.

After the deck had been put down  the customer had built a small pergola for some climbers at the back of the house, one leg resting on the deck.   My only trouble was that the deck was slightly higher than the paving.

I managed to find a solution to this which I was quite pleased with, and I think got the approval of the supervisor as well.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


It may be Valentine's day this weekend, but next weekend it's time for the next LGSO Concert.

The Symphony is one of the best and we have a couple of other interesting and not so often played pieces with some smashing soloists, what more could you want?

If you are only going to go  to one thing this month make it this concert and you won't be disappointed.

A better Offer?

It's coming, it's not long now it's only a few days away, have you made plans? have you got a date? Do you care?

I will be meeting up with my TransPALS friends and I suspect that none of us will be too disappointed if there are no men there.

That is of course unless I get a better offer

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Visitor

On Saturday I had a visitor, apart from a group I host once a fortnight I don't actually get many visitors, and when I do they tend to just be to drop off an Avon order or something.   Saturday's visitor was the lovely Vanessa of Vanessa Lees Photography.   We have met a few times at events but have found it difficult to have any in depth conversation, so it was really nice to spend some time with her.   She is genuinely interested in our community and in our individual stories, and is putting together an exhibition featuring a few of us.

We spent a lot of time chatting and and then she took a few photos of me.   Stana has been running an occasional series of posts on favorite photos, where various girls send her a copy of their favorite photo and tell the story behind it.   Way back in November I was featured with what was then my favorite photo.  I think I now have a new favorite.  

I particularly like the one showing my hands on the valves of my beloved tuba.   The fact that my nail polish is a bit battered seems to me to show very much a real me rather than the more glamorous shots that we generally prefer.   Somehow this captures so much of my essence, my love of music, my instrument and at the same time my femininity.

Thank you Vanessa!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Truth

I recently finished reading Terry Pratchett's Disk World novel, "The Truth" there is a line in it somewhere that struck me, and I have been mulling over the idea of writing a post around this quote since reading it a week or so ago.   This morning I woke up a respectable time, and decided that I was going to stay home and get a few things done; but before that I would look up the quote I wanted.   I glanced through the book, then I skimmed through it then I looked a bit harder, until in effect I had totally re-read the whole thing still without finding the line I wanted.

Very frustrated, if a little entertained, I eventually managed to make my way downstairs to get my day properly started.   I pottered around for a while washing up, doing a couple of loads of washing and generally trying to get my act together.   It was only when I sat down with a cup of coffee and started writing this post that I even thought about looking it up on-line.

The line I was interested in is "Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove" I felt that this said something about many trans people and how we dress.   I have often observed that I have to dress to assert my femininity as it is not as immediately obvious as it is with most of my cisgendered sisters.  

Although I have recently started to doubt this a little, as I am now beginning to concentrate on what type of a woman I am rather than whether I am a woman at all.   Certainly as being female has become a dwelling place rather than an excursion the height of my heels and the length of skirts have traveled in opposite directions.   I no longer feel that I have to be "obviously" feminine in order to present a feminine image to the world, as I grow in confidence I find that I don't need to try quite so hard.

Don't get me wrong, I do still like my high heels, and my glamorous dresses, it's just that I don't feel I need to wear them all the time, sometimes jeans and a sweater will do just as well.   Maybe I'm learning to glitter more authentically as I find I have less to prove.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

This and That

At the end of another ludicrously busy week I will just make a few observations, nothing Earth shattering of course and nothing too thought out.   I am simply too busy and too tired to make the effort a well crafted thought out post really requires.

Last night after going swimming with TAGS I got home and watched the opening game of this year's Six Nations Championship.   An excellent match between Wales and England, made all the better b England winning!   Sure there were a couple of refereeing errors, or at least possible different interpretations of the laws, but overall they made no difference to the final outcome of the game.   I was pleased to see England get their campaign off to a winning start, but I think that any impartial rugby fans watching would have enjoyed the match, and come to the conclusion that Northern Hemisphere Rugby has a lot to offer.   I would question some of Stuart Lancaster's replacement decisions, but it is always difficult to criticise a winning coach.

During this week we have had a lot of political activity around business, with a group of Tory supporting business leaders announcing that a Labour victory in the upcoming general election would be a "Disaster".   This is of course pure political double speak,   Which ever party wins the election (unless it is Green, or the execrable UKIP) business along with everything else will carry on as usual.   The most we can hope for in most areas is a little tinkering around the edges, as a general principle all the major parties are so keen to occupy the center ground that they are frightened to do anything that will have much of a lasting impact.

The one area where this is not the case is our membership of the EU.   If the Tories do win with a majority we can expect another referendum on our membership with many leading members of the Conservative Party campaigning for us to leave.   Now that would be a disaster for British Business.   Membership of the EU is main thing that separates the parties and should, and quite possibly will, be the main issues of this election.

I have managed to go a whole week without any performances, something my Daughter cannot boast, This week she has played at the Fairfield Hall, an LGBT History Month event given a little impromptu speech, been interviewed by the local paper and given a presentation at her college.   I am so proud of her!   She has also been asked to take part in an LGBT festival over the summer (Pride?), and a Channel 4 documentary. ~ and I though I was busy!

Now back to the worse side of reality, I have to climb up into the attic (I initially spelt attic wrong, my spell check suggested arctic instead, it feels appropriate!) and try to fix a dripping overflow.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


Recently I have noticed a lot of people asserting that they have always known that they were trans, you know the sort of thing, "I have always been a girl, it's just that the body didn't used to fit" or "No. I'm not confused I have always known."   I can't make these assertions, I have spent most of my life confused about gender, well more accurately about my gender, I always knew that this was an area of confusion, but knowing there is a question is very different from knowing the answer.

I have always been interested in female garb, and as long as I can remember I have enjoyed wearing it.   Certainly it was made quite clear to me from an early age that this was WRONG, so I hid my enthusiasm, along with my private wardrobe.    Somehow I knew that I was stuck as a boy, and had better make the best of it.   On the whole I made a pretty good job of being a boy, I enjoyed the physical aspect of a very physical sport, and found that I was pretty good at it.   I learnt to ride a motorbike, not as some form of deep disguise, but because it's fun.   If I could afford a bike now I would buy one tomorrow!   I certainly enjoyed the physical aspects of my relationships with girls, anf never questioned my sexuality.

Yet somehow there was always this unformed question at the back of my mind.   I would fantasise about waking up female, or maybe indulge in some sort of body swap fantasy.   The common factor was that I would always be able to return to my own male body.   You see I don't think I was a bad bloke, I enjoyed many aspects of being a bloke, and I certainly don't dislike the bloke I was.   So something pretty dramatic must have changed to have made me accept  that I am in fact a woman, and now need to present myself as such to the world.   Something must, I just don't know what.

Generally I find myself happier in my own skin than I used to be, yet occasionally I am still struck with thought that all this is ridiculous, but that soon passes.   So just as I am determined to love and be proud of the woman I am, I will continue to be proud of the man I was, and to cherish his memory.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't

Sometimes I miss quite a few days blogging, others I will post something every day, maybe even more often than that!   Sometimes I will not write anything because I have nothing to write about, as life just goes through it's normal boring routine.   Got up went to work came home had dinner, went to bed, type stuff.   But my days are rarely like that, for one thing my work is very rarely the same any day to any other.   I am doing different things in different places for different people, never boring, often challenging and, rarely sufficiently remunerative.   And then my evenings are often occupied by meetings, rehearsals and, performances.

I have not posted for the last few days not because I have been living a boring life with nothing to talk about but quite the opposite.   I have been so busy I have not even had time to read other people blogs never mind trying to write up my own.   Work wise I have been engaged on a little paving job which I am actually rather enjoying, but it is quite tiring.   After work I should have been out at something or another every evening since last Tuesday (the 20th) but then on this last Tuesday (27th) I was so tired that when I got home from work I sat down and fell asleep, not to wake up till after nine O'clock, far too late for the dinner I should have been at.

Bass Face!
Lots of these engagements have been musical ones, I have played Trombone at an evening Orchestra service, and in a concert performance of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, Tuba at a rehearsal and Electric Bass at a Church Cabaret, and at St Christopher's Hospice.   I have been to a funeral and I have had breakfast with my brother.

In all these cases it now seems pointless to say that I did this or that as Paula, or "dressed" or "en femme" since that is now me.   What now feels more remarkable, and more unnatural are the odd occasions when I have to go back to being him.   I don't dislike him or regret the man I was (I may well write more on this idea latter), it's just that I am now entering fully into a new stage of my life.