Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 31 August 2015

Sometimes I worry.

Here in the UK immigration of one kind or another has become a major issue, it seems that a lot of people are frightened of being overwhelmed with hoards of foreigners.   One of things that worries me most is not the immigrants, it's not the xenophobia, it's the politicians stirring it up! The very people who should be encouraging acceptance and integration are the ones who promote hate and intolerance.

We are meant to be a Christian Country, we have an established Church ~ The Church of England ~ and our Monarch reigns by right of divine anointing,   So why do we find it so difficult to abide by some basic Christian principles.   The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been doing his best, he has consistently reminded us of our duty to care for others, to be compassionate and supportive, but it seems that his, and others words fall largely on deaf ears.

I simply cannot understand what is happening in our Country, is it simply that our political leaders think that by setting up other hate figures we may not notice what they are doing to our society?

I think it is up to all of us who follow Jesus to follow his example, and in everything we do display his love ~ not just for our friends and family but for everyone, as he put it, even for our enemies.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Thank you Kelly

We are all aware of the media furore there has been recently around Caitlin Jenner ~ or have we? every now and then a little bit appears on main stream TV or radio, but other than the dedicated Kardashian fans I suspect that not a great deal of unaffected people have noticed much on the civilised side of the Atlantic.   Of course we have our own "poster girl" with Kelly Maloney her transition has made more of an impact over here, not least because she was a well known personality in the aggressively masculine world of professional boxing.

These high profile transitions, and the fictional TV series that are hitting our screens all serve to raise our profile and normalise the idea of transgender.   In my own little way I like to think that I do my own little bit of familiarising civilians with the idea, and presence of trans people.   As a performer I like to think that I do my bit in normalising contact with trans people.

However it appears that quite a few of my fellow ladies arn't so keen on some of these celebrity transitions, certainly Caitlin and Kelly haven't had the employment issues or financial insecurities that many of us have to contend with.   When asked how I am I will often reply with "no problems that can't be solved with money", well these two don't have that problem. I suspect that some of us may even be a little bit jealous of some of teh publicity (and extra income) they have been getting through their media exposure.

Until now I have been a little bit ambivalent about all of this until I received a text message from an old friend

"Just been watching Kelly Maloney on TV and wanted to send you a hug. Seriously I think I haven't been as on side as I should have."

People may be afraid to ask us the question they really want answers to, they may not know the questions to ask which will give them true insights into our situations, they may simply assume that they understand when they don't, so now I have to say thank you to every trans woman or man who goes on TV and tells their story, not least becasue it may mean that I don't have to quite as often.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Oh ~ one of those universes!

I miss Meg, she was always one of my favorite bloggers, and even though we live on opposite side of the planet, live very different lives, and come from very different backgrounds I would still consider her a friend.

One of the things I miss about her is her sense of humour, and the cartoons she used to post on Saturdays and Sundays, I think it was Meg who first introduced me to Skin Horse, I now read it every day, and just felt I had to share today's

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

With one thing and another I have been having a rather difficult time recently ~ actually challenging might be a better term. Not least amongst my issues are some medical ones, one where I am not getting the treatment I think any patient deserves i.e. prompt and polite, and one which could be described as self inflicted.   A couple of weeks ago I had quite a lot of back pain, to a certain extent this could be considered to be an occupational problem ~ the worry came when I was told that being rather rundown, and drinking too much were delaying my soft tissues healing themselves.

Since then I have been trying to cut down on my boozing, I am now trying (but not always succeeding)  to have at least two alcohol free days each week, and when I do drink to not feel obliged to finish the bottle!   I do not always succeed but at least I am trying, this week I have not had a drink since Sunday; I can't say I feel any better for my abstinence, I haven't been sleeping, or indeed waking up any better, and I haven't got any more or less energy, ~ but I will stick to my guns and keep an eye on my intake.

Another event that is proving a bit challenging is that my Daughter has now turned eighteen, for any parent this gives mixed feelings, joy that your child has made it and is such a wonderful person, and fear that she is now an adult with all that means, add in to the mix a reminder of just how old that means you are and it is clear where the challenges lie.   To take my mind off all that my Daughter is distracting me by having a party here over the weekend, and I have had instructions to make myself scarce.

I will be taking a short holiday (well a night away anyway), I plan to visit a friend, spend some time at Wisley ~ my favorite garden ~ and maybe visit the Brooklands Museum.   Since I will be away at the weekend I am going through my fridge to see what needs eating or freezing before I go away.   Having had a look tonight I will be dining on eggs, mushrooms and some salad.   Elizabeth David comes to mind, so tonight I will end my abstinence and have an omelette and a glass of wine.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Boldly Going

Today is my wonderful Daughter's 18th birthday, a very special day for a very special person.   It grieves me that I won't be with her today, or indeed at her party at the weekend.   Still we had an excellent day out together on Sunday,  We visited the Science and Natural History Museums in South Kensington. When she was younger we used to do this quite regularly, we would take a whole day and a packed lunch and spend the day pushing buttons and looking at dinosaurs. Her favorite bit has always been the earthquake zone in the Natural History Museum Earth Zone, what I used to know as the Geological Museum.

Puffing Billy, the World's oldest locomotive.
We visited a lot of old friends and saw a few new exhibits as well.  I was struck by how many of the exhibits in the science museum I remember being in regular use.   The speed of technological advance is staggering, we have gone from basic telephones to instant wireless on line communication in a few decades, from the discovery of flight to everyday use of geostationary satellites in just over a century.

What struck me was in one gallery we saw Puffing Billy, (left) the World's first locomotive from 1814, in the same gallery has a mock up of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969, just 155 years later.

My Daughter took a photo of the Apollo mock up on her new iphone, which I understand has more processing capacity than NASA had to put the real thing on the Moon.

30 years ago I could not have predicted where we are now, the dependence on information technology, the beginning of the end for oil based fuels, the way we work (I am sitting at home taking a break while working on my laptop) the way we find our entertainment.  

Watching Star Trek we already have some better toys that Jim Kirk and his boys enjoyed, I wonder how long we will have to wait for a Transporter?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Loose ends

I suspect that over the last couple of posts I have left a few loose trails, so maybe I should try to tie some of them off. In my last post I talked about marriage, and was reminded of this :~

"It is often said that as married couples get older they can grow apart as each partner wants different things, in our case the trouble was we both wanted the same thing ~ Colin Firth"

I put that in quotation marks and italics just to emphasise that It is a joke! oh yes, and an opportunity for a gratuitous photo of Colin Firth, Oh who needs an excuse, let's have another.

What did I wear to my meeting on Tuesday afternoon? I decided on sensible, formal and businesslike, the dark blue trouser suit with cream blouse and modest heels.  I did not expect any comments or compliments so I wasn't disappointed, but one of my colleagues did observe that I looked very nice, and more to the point appropriate.  For me this was another river crossed and yet another bridge burnt.

I still feel surprised when I realise that there are still people or organisations I haven't told, but over the last few days I have been going through all my utility suppliers making sure that they all have the right name.  I have had no real problems with any of them making the change - except for the one organisation that should be the most clued up, the Gender Identity Clinic.   I am sure that it is nothing personal, but it seems to me that they have serious systemic problems with the Admin there, and have had for a number of years.   This is neither the time nor the place to go into details but I have felt obliged make a formal complaint! Lets hope that does the trick and I don't need to escalate the situation further.

And finally ~ for today anyway ~ I have been mulling over the whole Pride experience.   I expect that I will take part in the same three next year, I hope to take on a bigger role at Trans Pride and will once again just do the Parades at London and Brighton.   They were all fun, but it was Trans Pride which had an edge, it still has a community feel and a protest aspect, the other two just felt like a big party nothing wrong with that but I don't think that everything is rosy, we still need to assert our rights a battle may have been won, and a lot of progress has been made over the last year, but we still have a way to go.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Who's Brave?

BBC Radio Four forms the background noise to my life, It wakes me up in the morning, it is on in the van or the car, I listen in the evening when I first get home, and then often late at night it is the soporific that sends me to sleep.   This means I hear a variety of informative shows as well as some very entertaining ones, one show recently did a very interesting piece about Divorce and Gay Adultery, ~ fascinating but not an issue that will effect many of us.   The following week they broadcast some of the responses, and I was surprised by how many people had called in to say "me too".   The response that floored me though was one woman who called from what was a similar legal position, and one she found herself feeling very unsupported in.

This hit home because she was the former wife of a transgender Woman.   She complained that there was no formal support group other than the ones run for or by trans people, that all the support went to he ex~husband, the idea that they are brave coming out and going through transition, the exciting journey of self discovery, but that the wife wa neglected and left  behind in the dust of the euphoria of transition, alone without support.

My heart went out to this woman as I could see my own treatment of my own dear wife reflected in her story.   So often people tell me I need support, that I am brave, and how they admire my honesty. ~ What is so often forgotten is that I have been dishonest with the people who most deserve honesty, that I lied to me Wife and Daughter for years, they forget that it is they ~ my family ~ who really need support after my betrayal of them, and that it is them who are being brave.   It is them, especially my wife, who has had to pick herself up and build a new life, find a new identity, and re-build her self esteem, not from her own choice but through my actions.

You may gather that I have a great fund of guilt here, there is rarely a day goes past when I don't think of them and what I have done to them. I know I had to do what I have done, yet I am amazed and so pleased that they are still part of my life.   I suspect that this same story could be told by most trans women who were married, a very special few manage to stay together, but for most of us our marriages inevitable fail.

But what struck me so hard was the lack of mutual support, I knew there were support groups, organised by the Beaumont society and the like.   The trouble is that they are all organised by Trans Organisations.   I felt so much for this woman and all the others going through similar situations that I wanted to do something to help. But of course I can't because I am the enemy.

So am I brave? no it's my wife, and all those other wives and husbands who have been left feeling betrayed, used, abandoned, questioning their own sexuality and having to deal with it all on their own~ they're the brave ones.

I won't say that our marriage would have been rosey if I weren't trans, sure we had problems, but I suspect that this was the deal breaker!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Still Worried!

I am a little in awe of StanaCrystiHanna and all those other ladies who manage to get their Blog out every day (in some cases more than once a day!) at the moment I am struggling to keep to all together, if there is a plot it emigrated a while back!

Of course as a gardener this is a busy time of year for me, add in all the stuff that goes with moving home, being a "Band Tart" (I'll play with anyone!) three major Pride events and visits to Cardiff, half the time I really don't know whether I'm coming or going.   A lot of what I do can re or less be done in autopilot, but every now and then I do drop a ball.   Most of the time I am doing things that I have done before, whether it is acting a guest conductor for a band, playing on a bandstand or laying stepping stones, I have been there before and know what to expect.   Interestingly most of the time I now know how to dress and behave in most situations.

Back in January when I finally started to live my life full time female I realised that I had only been doing the fun things fem, and therefore my wardrobe reflected that. I had lots of dresses but not jeans and tee shirts, now I have done most things have the appropriate clothes and feel pretty confident in my choices.   Yet today I have a new experience to confront.

This afternoon I will be having a meeting with one of my Recycling Customers and a Local Authority.  The customer has known me for a long time, but so far has not met Paula in person, I need to be able to go into this meeting confident and able to take charge, everybody there needs to be able to focus on the issues being discussed and not be distracted by how I present.   So once again I feel uncertain, and a bit unsure about what too wear.   Do I go with a formal dress, a dress or skirt suit, a trouser suit, or something a little less formal?

No time for a poll, I have to get changed in a couple of hours, but first I need to get to the bank, the  pick my van up from the Garage and,,,and so it goes!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Basket Case

After deciding on the title of this post I thought I would look up the various meanings, with my background I tend to think of a basket case an on ald motor bike in pieces in need of a total rebuild; i.e. it comes in a number of baskets. Chambers defines Basket Case as a person with all fur limbs amputated; a nervous wreck, someone unable to cope' a country that cannot cope economically. Well I have no intention of writing about any of that.

After all the excitement and analyses of Pride, the euphoria and the accusations it was quite nice to get back to work and some flowers.

I have a customer who is known for his hanging baskets, always colourful and overflowing with blooms, but this year he decided that it would be too much for him to prepare them so gave me the job.   We are both very pleased with the outcome.

This customer is of indeterminate age, but I have been working for him for at least 10 years now, and I know he was retired when I started.   He enjoys his garden but cannot manage all of it with his other commitments. An active member of his Church he volunteers as their administrator a couple of afternoons each week, he is also the main carer for his wife.

Despite all the things he is involved with he never pays his invoice late, he always greets me with a smile and a friendly word, he always gets my name right and his been very supportive.

In short this is the sort of man that is in short supply ~ a Gentleman in the true sense of the word. A joy to work for!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Paula Does Pride

Just in case any of you are worried, the only similarity with Debbie Does Dallas is the alliteration.    Over the last few weeks I have hit a personal record of three Prides, very different to last year when I managed to spectate one (London) and take part in one (Brighton); I missed Trans Pride last year where quite a few of my friends took part as I had a long planned gig that day.

Saturday I walked (or more accurately ran, pranced and posed) with my friends from TransPALS in the parade for Brighton Pride, and I had a whale of a time. Right up until Saturday morning I was not sure I would be able to make it.  Friday I was totally laid out with back ache, which combined with the remnants of a cold I had picked up in Brighton the weekend before made me think that Brighton Pride was the last thing I needed.

Saturday dawned and since I could (just about) move I decided to risk it and go, I'm glad I did as I was able to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones.   We were quite close to the front of the parade, as the third group we were definitely in the first wave, and were either warming up the crowd for those behind us or basking in the first waves of love and enthusiasm.   I am not sure if there were other trans groups further behind us, but we were a much smaller presence than in the London parade.

Being at the start of the parade, when we got to the end we had the chance to watch the whole thing go past us, I was struck by the sheer scale of the thing, this is now one massive parade, lots of buses and large trucks, disco music blaring out, engines revving and and barely clad pretty young things dancing.

I found myself asking what are some of the sponsors getting out of this? American Express and Barclays Bank don't part with money out of the kindness of their heart ~ not least because they do not have hearts! Large amounts of money had been spent on some of those floats, and I'm quite sure that some of those samba bands and other organisations were not LGBT.   I had the definite feeling that this Pride is no longer about LGBT rights, it's not a celebration of people finally being able to be authentic in public ~ it had more to do with Carnival than Pride.   I did not go into the park, last year I did and to me it just felt like any other festival with lots of people listening to bands I don't like and paying to much for not very good beer. I do know that I am an old fogey and that was a large part of my reason for not going in ~ that and my poor back which was beginning to to give serious pain.

I have subsequently heard on the grapevine of several Transphobic incidents, this distresses me as it is so against everything that Pride should stand for.

I was interviewed by local TV prior to the parade and asked what being part of Pride meant to me, I replied that it was an opportunity to remind people that there is a T in LGBT ~ I wonder if there is still a purpose to Big Pride.