Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Busy doing stuff

One of the downsides of actually having a life is that I have very little time to write about it!

I have been doing so much, been places, done things, been part of things, seen things.   Met interesting people, uninteresting people, and many in between.   I have drunk far too much beer and wine and eaten stupid things at stupid times.

I have looked, I have swum, I have marched (or walked or indeed even paraded), I have played, and I have worked.

I seem to have sold our house, but am yet to find somewhere else to live

I am worn out, tired, but entertained and feeling rather fulfilled.

All in all it's been a busy few days, which means that I also regret the things not done, like visiting friend's blogs, and seeing family.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


A couple of times I have written about my friend Vanessa and her photography.   A couple of times she has visited me and taken some shots for her photography degree course, she is a lovely, sympathetic person and I think that her photos reflect this as much as they reveal the subject.

Now you have two opportunities to see some more of her work, the Embassy Tea Gallery are putting on an exhibition of some of her work (along with the other graduates), she has also put together a Tumbler Blog on her finals project called "Altered Images" please take a couple of minutes out to go over there, and have a proper look.

In these days of a digital camera built into every phone, giving everybody the ability to take photos whenever and wherever they like we are simply bombarded with images.   Often these images are simply an entertaining or pretty moment captured, a kitten looking cute or a flower looking pretty.   With access to such high quality digital cameras we all consider ourselves to be photographers, but a true artist using photography as their medium is a different matter altogether.

The artist will be expressing something about the human condition through their images, whether the subject is a landscape or a portrait it should be telling us more than what the subject looks like.   I think Vanessa manages this, her photos require a bit of effort in the viewing, but then we wouldn't expect to understand all of a painting or sculpture at a glance so maybe we should give photographers the same respect we give to other artists.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Bits and Boobs

Not unusually for me this last couple of weeks have been pretty frantic, and the next one doesn't look a lot better.   This is, of course, a busy time for my gardening business, but I also have a lot on with my recycling activities and my music.   As well as all of this the coming weekend holds the London Pride Parade on Saturday and then on SUnday we have the LGSO end of season concert.

This is going to be a good concert with a fabulous soloist something new (to me) and a Brahms symphony ~ who could want more?

A great concert and a great way to finish the Pride weekend.

One of the easier things about this concert for me is what to wear ~ it will be one of my ever growing collection of LBDs, on the other hand I have a concert coming up where we have been invited to wear "Gowns" I now have three full length dress two of which I think can truly be described as gowns, the question will then be which on to wear?  there could be another poll coming up ~ watch this space.

I have recently started to experience something new, I have girl stuff wearing out! ~ all the time I was a closeted or semi closeted cross dresser this never happened, I was more likely to purge stuff than wear it out, that is no longer the case and I am finding that I am already having to replace some items.  In particular the other day while I was working I had something of a catastrophic wardrobe failure, only it wasn't my clothes that let me down, it was my boobs!   My chest felt a little sticky, and when I looked down I could see a damp sticky patch on my top.   Somehow both my boobs had sprung a leak ~ all very unpleasant and just a little embarrassing!

I have spares so am not bereft, but they were my favorites, they just seemed to be the right size, shape and weight.   I have now ordered some more and hope they will be as good.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Trans Polar

A baby Polar Bear goes up to his Father and asks "Daddy am I realy a Polar Bear?"
"Of corse!" his Father replies "I'm a Polar Bear, your Mother's a Polar Bear of course you're a Polar Bear"

Then the little chap goes up to his Mother and asks "Mum, am I realy a Polar Bear"
"Of course!" his Mother replies "I'm a Polar Bear, your Father's a Polar Bear of course you're a Polar Bear"

Not satisfied He goes his Grandfather  "Grandpa, am I realy a Polar Bear"
"Of course! I'm a Polar Bear, your Father's a Polar Bear your Mother's a Polar bear, of course you're a Polar Bear"

Finally the the baby bear goes his Grandmother  "Granny, am I realy a Polar Bear"
"Of course!" his Grandmother replies "I'm a Polar Bear, your Grandpa is a Polar Bear, your Father's a Polar Bear your Mother's a Polar bear, of course you're a Polar Bear" Then she asks the important question "Why?"

and the little bear replies

"Because I  blooming cold!"

Monday, 15 June 2015

A Rose by any other name is still an annoyed rose!

After yet another ludicrously busy weekend this morning failed to happen.   I was almost awake before nine but just could get myself to stir until around ten, just about time to have a it of a tidy up and manage a couple of household maintenance jobs I have been putting off for simply years before a visit from a guy doing an energy certificate and floor plan for our house sale.

That's right the house is now on the market, and unless something unexpected (like winning first prize on my Premium Bonds) happens I will have to face up to moving.   It is ironic that the house is now cleaner and tidier than it has been since we moved in around 16 years ago, and I keep seeing why we wanted to buy it in the first place.

On a different note; ~ I recently changed my name on my Driving License, this now shows my proper title and current name (even if for those who know how to read it it does still carry a male gender indicator) and I was impressed b how simply and quickly DVLA managed to make the changes and ge the license back to me.   I thought that I had better change he name on the registration document of my van at the same time, this was not so simple it took the two attempts to get the name right, and that of course meat two stamps!

Assuming that these problems were something to do with the change of name and title I expected that I would have no problems when I registered my new (to me) car, I gt the registration certificate ack in the name of Ms Paul John .... that is a pretty special mistake not least because I have never been John!

Thinking that I would be well away from that sort of grief I picked up the program for the concert I was playing in on Saturday joking that I just wanted to make sure they had spelt my name right.   When I did check I found that despite sending e-mails with my details they had still got it wrong and printed my name as Pauline! I think I felt considerably more insulted and annoyed about this than when somebody makes a slip, forgets and refers to me by my old name.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


I often hear people talk about gender confusion, indeed I often refer to my own gender confusion.   Over the years being physically male and enjoying many activities that were considered to be masculine ~ although such things as playing Rugby and Powerlifting are now considered to be just as open to women as men it was not the case in day.   Indeed even my choice of instrument was considered to be male when I was learning, it would have been hard to anticipate the experience I had last week of seeing a top notch Professional American Orchestra with a young lady playing a large tuba (from my distance it looked like a 6/4 Conn BBb)

Of course there was also the sex thing ~ for most young men most of life seems to be largely about sex ~ and that just added to my confusion, after all I fancied women so why would I want to be one?   It is only now that I have "matured" that I am much less confused, and indeed as I am now six months into living full time female it just feels natural.   On the other hand I have a couple of friends who assert that they have never been confused, they have always known that their minds and bodies did not coincide.   There is a bit of me that envies their certainty, there is another part that does not envy their situation.    They were both born too early, at a time when transition simply did not seem to be available to most us.

What prompts all this mussing is that the other day one of my friends and customers hit a whole new level of gender based speech confusion, his small dog was barking at me (simply doing his job!) so my friend said to his dog

"Come on now, you know uncle Paula"

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Work Day Out

Yesterday was a big day, I attended an all day Textiles Recycling Conference at The London Museum in the heart of the City of London.   Although I have been to a couple of Chartered Institute of Waste Management meetings this year as myself this would be the first time many in my industry would have known about my transition, never mind actually seeing me.   Naturally I was a little apprehensive so I wanted to make sure that I was looking my best, and of course appropriate.   Appropriate is always difficult for this sort of thing, some people decide that they are representing their organisation and so they dress up more than for a normal day in the office, others decide that since they are having a day out of the office they can dress down a little. Others just don't worry.

I had planned on wearing a nice dark blue trouser suit I have had in my wardrobe for a couple of years but rarely had occasion to wear, when it came to it though I decided on a nice grey body con dress with a black jacket.   I felt this looked nice, was quite formal but too much so and was in no way ambiguous.

Not a very god selfie!
Reactions were all positive, I did give one poor fellow a bit of a surprise, but by now we have a new generation of people involved in the industry, who on the whole I would say are a lot more open minded than those I used to deal with in the 90s.   It was good to meet up with some old acquaintances and to explore where our industry is going ~ it was also nice to be able, at last, to d it authentically.

The one thing I did't enjoy was the travel, The timings meant that I had to hit the London rush hour joining in with the frantic commute; there is no way I would willingly go back to that as a daily routine.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

In the Mail

It may seem a little silly but I still get a small frisson of joy when I receive a letter addressed to my correct name, of course this is often soon dissipated as I open the letter and find it is just another bill.   The other day I received a letter not only addressed correctly but from the NHS so there was some added excitement and anticipation as I tore open the envelope ~ only to find I had been given an appointment for breast screening.   I felt it best t give them a call to cancel and make the appointment available to someone who could make more use of it.   I will be called back in two years time so maybe I will need that appointment by then.

A new way to annoy the neighbours
I have bought myself a new bass amp. well strictly speaking it is not new, but one of my many pre-used ebay purchases.   It is quite a lump so when I went to collect it on Monday evening I was very pleased to be the recipient of some chivalry as the seller made a point of carrying it to my car for me.   Now I want a roady all the time!

So far I am pleased with my new toy, it has plenty of power for what I want to do, a good sound and plenty of control ~ and a major advantage over it's predecessor, it works!

Quite a while ago now I wrote about playing at the finals of National Concert Band Festival in Manchester, after we played each member of the band had a photo taken, we have just been sent them.   We had a few options from ignore and send them back, to a full package of several prints in different sizes in a wallet alongside a photo of the whole band on stage.   Since I was the only member of the bad that could not be seen on the band photo (only legs and the tuba!) I opted for just one print, it's not my favorite photo, a little more effort and I'm sure they could have framed it so that the whole instrument was in shot, but it's not bad.

Finally for today (when a preacher says that you know that there are only another three points and thirty minutes to go) I have now crossed another Rubicon and today will be burning another bridge.  I have ow come out to the final group in my life and today will be attending a Textiles Recycling Conference in London, if my recycling customers are as accepting as my gardening customers I will end up with more business instead of less.   I am quite sure that on the Local Authority side I will have no problems as diversity training is obligatory and ingrained into the structure of all our councils now.   On the commercial side I cant be so sure, but as a rule people who deal with others waste are surprised by very little.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Bits and Pieces

On a slightly lighter note than we have been enjoying here recently, I have been enjoying the seasonal sunshine rather a lot.   I have been able to work in shorts and vext quite a lot over the last few days, ~ and while I draw the line at a bikini, (after all I don't want to frighten the natives) I have been wearing very little apart from shorts and a vest.

In the bad old days when I skrivened in an office  I would have blanched at the very thought of exposing myself to the sun, Now I find I enjoy few things as much as the sun on my skin indeed the only problem I now find is that I have a tan line on my feet!

Not only have I been enjoying the sun, I have also been enjoying the work, amongst the other seasonal jobs now is the time when I am planting up containers and putting out bedding jobs I always enjoy ~ and people pay me to do this!

I have been having some fun as well as working, and I have been following up on one of my resolutions for the year and on Friday evening I went to concert I wasn't playing in!   As a member of the WOW Orchestra I got offered a free ticket to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Festival Hall.  

On the whole I would agree with the Telegraph's review but I enjoyed Nico Muhly's Mixed Messages a lot more than them.   Although it felt a little inconclusive it is a piece I expect to be hearing again I am usually a little sceptical about contemporary orchestral music and tend to be predisposed not to enjoy it, but here was an exception.

It has to be said that as well as some spectacular playing the enthusiasm and dynamic effort put in by Yannick Nezet-Seguin was impressive, if all conductors put in as much effort then none of them would be overweight.  

I was also extremely disappointed by how many people got up and started to leave during the applause, their rudeness was rewarded by missing an encore!

Another special treat for me this week was my first every manicure ~ this is a self indulgence I would not normally allow myself but since it was effectively free I thought this time I would enjoy a new experience and have my nails done properly.   I am very happy with the result although I now find that four days later there is a chip on one of my thumbnails, given that I was assured that they would last two to three weeks even with my lifestyle I am a little disappointed with that one small aspect.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Explanation and expansion

I am impressed and very pleased by all the messages of support I have received from people following my last post, however I find I need to expand on the story a bit.

First off I should say that the band went ahead with the Gig not only with my permission, but with my blessing.   They were prepared to pull out, but knowing the joy that they get from performing I wanted them to make the most of the opportunity.   They are a lovely group of people as well as being friends and my band.   As tends to happen with bands we may get a little impatient with each other at time (especially towards the end of a long rehearsal) but we are close and intimate in way that none musicians can best understand by comparing with a sports team.   We have to rely on each other and so we have to trust each other not just as musicians but also as people.   These people have my total trust and support.

The situation was always going to be a difficult one, people I knew before I started this process knew me as a man, a husband and a father.   Through my Church I was involved with several ministries -primarily musical - and was fodder for committees.   Now I was very convincing as a man, I put a lot of effort into playing the role, people believed what they saw.   I cannot now be surprised that they will still believe what I was telling them before, except that now they may well doubt everything else.   This is my biggest fear, in admitting that I have been lying, my whole life is now doubted.

There will be a natural suspicion that I was not only lying about my gender, but my faith, my love for my wife, feelings as a father and everything else.   I have to accept this and all I can do is to continue to show myself as the person I am, I hope that means a loving sensitive parent and friend.   A committed Church member and competent musician.

As Christian I can still be hurt, but I must also forgive.   I will also try to display Christ's love and the Fruits of The Spirit.   I will try to remember Paul's words that "By their fruits will you know them" and act accordingly.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Rejected! but not defeated

As a general rule I hate cancellations, I make my plans and work out how I am going to get everything done, then a cancellation throws everything out.   This last weekend though, it may have been just as well that Saturday evening's Gig got cancelled as four gigs and a full orchestra rehearsal may have been a bit too much.

I have delayed writing about this cancellation as I have been trying to work out exactly how I feel about it.   By way of explanation, my little jazz band (Cross the Line) were to play at the birthday party of a member of my old Church, this is the same Church that all the other members of the band still active members of.   Apparently it was only a couple of days when the lady who's birthday it was realised that I was a member of the band and didn't want me at her party.

This is pretty much the first time I have been subject to this type of discrimination and initially I was hurt.   On reflection I accept that this sort of thing will happen, especially from this type of person (African conservative evangelical) and I rejoice that so far this has been so rare.   While on a personal level I had mixed views as I was also glad too have a moment over the weekend to myself to relax a bit.   I think what upsets me most is the position it put the rest of the band in

Cross the Line in action
I often observe just how busy my musical life is, within the last seven days I have played with five different ensembles, each one with it's own distinctly different character, for the other members of Cross the Line that band is their only secular musical outlet, so to lose a gig is to lose maybe a fifth of their annual performance opportunities.   We discussed the situation and I encouraged them to go ahead and play without me, to their credit they were all reluctant on a moral stand, not wanting to tacitly affirm the prejudice and discrimination, but wanted to play.

I felt it was difficult for me to give my blessing but I did give my permission and was glad that they played well and enjoyed the performance ~ I just hope and pray that none of us are put in this position again.   I now want to find a really rocking gig for the band to make up for this, something where we can turn the amps up a bit and enjoy ourselves.