Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Remembering my Dad

As a child I had little interest in sport of any kind, least of all soccer, on the other hand my father was passionate about all sport, especially soccer! Prior to the war he had played representative football for London and had played for Arsenal junior teams.   He had been a first class athlete, a very good cricketer and a decent golfer, any sport or game he played he played well, ending up as a bit of a demon at his village bridge club.

As a family our weekends would often revolve around Dad's sport, we would all go and watch him play cricket, or football, after he stopped playing meal times would be chosen to fit in with his tee times. When I was very young I just assumed this was the way things happened, latter it suited me very well as the timings of his sports would so often fit with my own activities. Saturday morning Rugby, and Sunday morning Orchestra rehearsals.   I also loved playing a round of golf with Dad, although he always beat me it was a rare chance to spend time alone with him, and really be together.   Having just moved I realised that I had only played golf twice since Dad died 23 years ago, I gave my clubs away ~ I hope somebody gets some good use out of them.

Back on the 30th June 1966 our family went on holiday; nothing remarkable in that, we travelled from South East London to the Kent coast near Margate by car. A journey which these days would take little more than 90 minutes, yet in those pre Motorway days would often take the whole day.   The morning would be spent loading up the car (a 1952 Humber Hawk) there would be suit cases, a hamper, rugs, picnic stuff and all sorts if things I was never quite aware of, then somehow all five, six or even seven of us (depending on the number of Grandparents joining us) would somehow be squeezed in.   On a good day we would stop at Canterbury for Lunch, on bad one it woudl eb Maidstone, certainly we would expect the journey to take all day, or at least that was how it seemed to an eight year old!

Pickles, and "Our 'Enery"
That day in 1966 Dad was very keen to get the journey done quicker, he wanted to be there by 3:00 p.m.   Up till then the World Cup had pretty much passed me by, I knew it was on as Dad and one of my brothers had been to watch a match, and I had noticed Pickles finding the stolen Jules Rimmet trophy just round the corner from where we lived, but it had not impacted on me in any way.  Well we managed to get to Birchington on time and as the flat we rented did not have a TV Dad and my Brother went downstairs to watch the England play West Germany in the final.   At some point Dad came upstairs and told us that we should come downstairs and watch, even if we weren't interested now we would be grateful in years to come.   I went downstairs and watched, my eldest Brother and Mother carried on unpacking.   Dad was right, even though I wasn't interested in the time, and now just don't like what football has turned into I am so glad to be able to say that, Yes I did see England win the WOrld Cup, I did see Geoff Hurst score his hat trick, I may have been young and not fully understood the importance  but I did see it.

So far I have manfully (!?) resisted writing about the current Rugby World Cup, I have more important personal things going on, and I have been disappointed in the lame performance of the European teams. I have watch most of the games,and there has been some wonderful Rugby played, but there has been little to light a fire in the belly of the home nation.   I shall be watching today's final, with little care as to who wins, but I expect to see a good game, I have no National bias as I always want to see both New Zealand and Australia lose!

It looks as though I will either be watching on my own, or at my new "Local" It feels a shame that very few people around here will be watching with the same enthusiasm, passion, and, national pride that we all had back in 1966.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nothing is Simple

I knew moving was going to be expensive, these things always are, I knew I would have to do some work on the flat ~ though not as much as I now find is needed.   I also knew that there would be some taxes and costs associated with changing power suppliers, council and other stuff.   I hadn't anticipated that moving a couple of post codes would put my car and van insurance up so much, nor had  I anticipated the sheer amount of bureaucracy I would encounter.  Bromley Council seem to me to want an unnecessary amount of information before they will agree that I have moved, even though Croydon are quite happy to accept my word.   However Croydon do want a copy of my Car Registration Document before giving me a residents parking permit, so until DVLA sort themselves out I have to fight for one of the very few unrestricted spaces within half a mile of my new flat.

Avon could not accept my new address over the phone and so sent my order to the old address, now I have to collect it from the courier's depot in Kent.

This morning I tried to change the address on my driving license, I was so happy when I discovered that I could do this on line; only to be equally disappointed at the end of a lengthy process, N.I. Number, Passport Number etc. etc. to be told that I couldn't make changes on line as my Passport and Drivers License don't agree.

My Passport is still in my dead name due to the wait I have had for my second appointment with the GIC, my License has my new name, but still has male gender markers.   On balance I plan to wait another few weeks get a letter from the GIC and change both at the same time ;~ 0n the bright side at least this will give me the chance of a better photo!

I had also not anticipated shelling out for a couple of new tyres and tracking on the van:~ why is nothing in my life simple.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Honey, I'm home!

Well it feels as though I have been away, but in fact I have been at home all the time, it's just that home has moved.  I have been through the pretty traumatic process of moving home, and amongst other things that has meant that I have been off line for around a week.

It was an interesting experience to have no on line presence for that time, I got on with so much stuff that would have been put on one side while I wasted spent time with my friends on Facebook and the like. in some ways it was liberating, but when the lovely Perry from BT came round to sort out my broadband there is no way I was going to stop him.

Amongst other things I realised just how dependent I have become on the internet, phone numbers, post codes, directions, all get checked/looked up on line. Forms are submitted on line, e-mails have replaced letters, and even quite a lot of my work is done on-line.

However walls can't be painted, curtains can't be hung, and boxes can't be unpacked on-line, so if I'm not around as much as I have been for a while content yourselves with thought that at least I am getting well hung curtains

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Why do I do it?

It is now less than four days until I move home, going from a three bedroom house with garden, shed, and garage into a small studio I have so much to sort, pack or dispose of.   I should be focused fully on the move and getting organised; so how did I spend the weekend? Making Music of course!

Saturday I played with the totally fabulous London Gay Symphonic Winds, we played a good variety of music ranging from Shostakovich to Lady Gaga. With only the one afternoon run through as preparation I was kept at a peak of concentration and was on the edge of my seat the whole time.   This was a special tenth anniversary concert so we had a total of five conductors as some former conductors came back to share in the celebrations.   After the concert I had a mad dash back to Croydon for a meeting of the lovely Transpals, this was a meeting I really didn't want to miss, I just about made it there before closing time.

After Church on Sunday I had an afternoon concert with the All Saints Concert Band as part of the Herne Hill Music Festival, after that it was straight up to town to rehearse for this weekend's LGSO concert.

After all this I simply had to take most of Monday off to prepare for the move of Friday; as I look around the house right now I simply can't see how I am ever going to ready to move out by Friday, the thing is I don't have a choice so somehow I will have to be ready.

So for now I am feeling a strange set of emotions, worry, sadness, excitement, but overwhelmingly, I am feeling tired

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Keeping Busy

Just in case anyone has read my last few posts and wondered if I am sitting around idling away my time dressing up and playing around, I can assure you all that I am hard at it!   I haven't been able to do as much work as I would like due to the awful weather we have been suffering here in SE England, however there has been plenty else to keep me busy.

Being in the middle of moving home gives me more than enough occupation, I suspect that I could not go to work every day for the next week, and I still wouldn't feel ready for the move.   Somehow I need to compact all the acquired ephemera of over 50 years into a studio flat, that would have been snug for me 30 years ago.   I will admit to being sad at leaving, but at the same time I am excited about a fresh start.   As Paul so often observed we have to die to teh old before we can enjoyt the new.

I have also been pretty active on teh music front with concerts with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra, New London Concert Band, and All Saint's Concert Band. over the next three weeks I have performances with the London Gay Symphonic Winds, All Saints Concert Band, London Gay Symphony Orchestra, Pelly Concert Orchestra, and, my Jazz Band "Cross the Line"

All in all I don't really know whether I'm coming or going, and am having to take things very much one thing at a time, I'm finding hard to plan much beyond tomorrow, so I am simply haveing top put my trust in God a believe that he will work all things well for me.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


A Facebook group I am part of recently put up a plea for stories of crossdressing success stories, I opined that I thought my failures would make more interesting stories, so of course I was challenged to tell more.

January 2012
Until the last year or so I was a cross dresser all my life, even before I knew that there were such things, a bit like music and gardening I cannot remember a time when this wasn't a factor in my life.  I have only stopped crossdressing since embracing the concept that I am indeed a woman, but the recipe went a bit wrong and I ended up looking like a man.   I no longer cross dress, I just dress in a gender appropriate (if not always age appropriate) manner for the woman I am.   But of course this was not always the way!

Until I was already quite old all my cross dressing activities were pretty furtive, I was very much in the closet only dressing at home when no one else was around, or indulging in those ridiculously dangerous late night walks thinking that no one would see me, without realising that if anyone did see me they were exactly the ones I didn't want to be seen by.   It was only when I got to 50 that I realised that this was not going to go away, and that I needed to explore what this was all about.

November 2014
I had a stash of clothes and a little makeup, so around my 50th birthday I had my first proper outing, I remember I wore some very nice baggy white linen trousers, canvas slip on shoes, a blue top with spaghetti straps under a white linen shirt top which I wore open. I teamed all this with a white canvas over the shoulder satchel.   It is a nice summer outfit, and I still wear it on occasion (when we actually have a summer) the only trouble on this occasion is that I still wore a beard! In my defense I will say I was trying to work out if androgyny was an option, but it was more a question that my beard had become part of my self identification as man.   I was aware that I was getting a few looks but decided to ride them out and enjoy myself. It was only towards the end of my outing that I heard a small child ask her Mother "Why has that woman got a beard?" that I realised just how wrong,or maybe how right I had got my presentation.
French Trip 2011

It must have been a couple of years later when I had removed the beard but had still not gone out in public wearing a dress and heels, I decided that my first proper outing would be a small shopping trip, to a center not too far away.   I drove down, getting changed in the car, even having gone to a different county I was still terrified of being recognised, so by way of disguise I decided to walk around without my glasses on, great idea, except that I kept drawing attention to myself by bumping into things!

I have had some bad wigs and some bad outfits, but the photographic evidence has long been destroyed!

On another occasion I found I had the house to myself for a a few days and nights, so of course I dressed, I also decided to go out and see a play at a local art house theater we still had then.   It was a very good play, apart from two distractions, a member of my band was in the cast, and my dress was a little shorter than I realised so my stocking tops kept showing. Neither spoiled my evening though!

I think one of my most worrying moments though was when I was posing for a photo shoot to advertise some concerts, I was wearing the most gorgeous black backless evening gown, the cut of the gown simply will not allow any form of bra, so I had to rely on double sided tape to hold the girls in place.   The problem came as the lights got hotter and I started to "glow" the tape gave up on the unequal struggle and my boobs slowly started to descend towards my waist

I have of course experienced the wardrobe failures that we all encounter, the stay up stockings that don't, zips which refuse to stay fastened, and on one occasion a broken heel.   But these are just dressing failures not cross dressing failures.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Swings and Roundabouts

Well that was quite a weekend! I find I am now lurching rapidly towards my new life, but I am also at exactly the same rate leaving my old life behind.   Every day there seems to be a fresh river crossed, bridge burnt, or point of no return passed.   I have just heard from my solicitor and we have exchanged contracts, so in just under two weeks I will be exchanging my comfortable three bedroom house, which I can't afford for a tiny flat which I can.   I am having to get rid of a lot of Stuff most of it is just that, "Stuff" the ephemera that gathers around a life, odds and ends that were acquired on the basis of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" books read once and then put aside, and things that were laid up as they "may be usefull one day".

I will have such limited space that I simply will not be able to afford the luxury of all this stuff, I had already managed to find homes for some bookcases, the garden furniture, some chairs and other odds and ends. I still have to arrange transport for the desk I am currently writing at, a sofa and a fridge~freezer. I will have to replace my old seperates Hi Fi system with a smaller more modern micro system; but the bits that hurt a little this weekend, were giving away our fish and the aquarium, and hardest decision selling a tuba!

I know that it is well over two years since I last played my BBb tuba but she has a special place in my heart. I bought her at a Brass Band contest at least 35 years ago. I bought her simply because I liked the way she looked, but after my first EEb Yamaha was stolen she became my prime instrument for some time.

Me and Mrs T at Expo '92
When I played at Expo '92 in Seville this was the Tuba I took, and played for a couple of hours every day as part of a resident German Band at the Bierkeller. It was flying home from this gig that she acquired her name. I only had a soft case so there was no way I was going to allow her in the luggage hold, instead she had a ticket and an allocated seat.   The way the system works to have a seat you need a boarding card, to have a boarding card you have to have name, British Airways also require a title, so I ended up with a boarding card in the name of "Mrs Tuba"   The name stuck and she has been known since as Mrs T.

Trying to squeeze three tubas, a euphonium, a bass trombone, a P Bone (my latest toy!) and a bass guitar and amp into a tiny little flat is never going to work so at least one has to go, and I'm sorry but that means Mrs T    She is now the subject of an E-Bay auction, and in a couple of days she will no longer be mine. This definitely feels like the end of an era!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Playing Dress Up

I always used think that I enjoyed "Playing Dress Up" because I was a cross dresser.  The fun of slipping into something a little less comfortable, the thrill of then seeing myself looking all glamorous in the mirror; all this was great but tempered by simultaneous sense of guilt about being a bloke who enjoyed wearing dresses ~ and the more glam the dress the better.

By popular demand
When I could suppress the feelings of guilt and self loathing sufficiently then I would make sure that it wasn't just a dress, but some skimpy undies, stockings and heels.  I suspect that the inappropriateness of some of my fashion selections may have added to the feelings of incongruity as well as the thrill.   I suspect that these are sentiments that most cross dressers can identify with, I also suspect that many trans women (whatever their stage of transition) will remember, and maybe still occasionally embrace.

However I am now developing a suspicion that it is not just trans women who enjoy dressing up, being glamorous, and indeed grabbing so attention.  It seems that nearly all women enjoy a bit of glamour, a bit of attention, and indeed a nice frock!   Prompted by my last post a couple of friends have said that they like to go out and frighten the horses occasionally as well, others have told me that they have the inappropriate items of clothing, but don't wear them out, out of a fear of embarrassing themselves.

Fear stops us doing so many things, for decades it stopped me exploring who I really am, It stops people breaking free of constricting situations and going out and doing what they want. It stops musicians fully using their talents. It stops people changing career when they are fed up.

However it also stops us walking through a park on our own at night, it stops us riding our motorbikes too fast, or walking along the edge of high cliffs, Sometimes fear stops us living, but at other times it keeps us alive.

I wasn't going to post any photos of my "High heels and hemline" outfit from the other day, because I was afraid, afraid that you might think me a bit of a tart, but by popular demand I am side stepping that fear, and here they are.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

A bit of Excitment

I was going to write a post about the Gun Culture in America, my perplexity that these things can continue to happen in an otherwise apparently civilised Country.   Surely the basic human right to life is more important than any right to carry arms. I simply cannot understand what is going on, and frankly I never want to understand the workings of a mind that thinks it is OK for anyone to be able to have assault weapons.   I was going to write all this and a lot more, but frankly there are so many more eloquent and powerful voices who are struggling with this that I see little point in my humble observations.

Instead I am going to make a, possibly introverted, observation on my own transition.

When I considered myself a Crossdresser any excursions I made were very exciting, I would worry about all sorts of things ~ most of which never happened, and the ones that did weren't as bad as I feared, yet I loved doing it. I loved the feeling of otherness, I will admit I rather liked the attention I would sometimes get. I enjoyed the sound of my heels on the floor, I enjoyed the feeling of the air on my legs, I enjoyed the swish of a skirt.   I still be able to enjoy all these things; yet they are a little more commonplace now.   I am out and about a lot and generally now just blend into the scenery.  The thrill is missing, without the fear, without the extraordinariness, without the naughtyness, the excitement has gone, to be replaced with comfort, ease, and acceptance.

Don't get me wrong, I would not go back! I am comfortable with the person I am becoming, I feel as though I have retained most of my good points, but added a few more, now I am being honest with myself and others I have more integrity, I suspect that this shows.

Having said that the other day I did feel in need of a little naughtyness, and went out to do a little shopping dressed to attract attention!  Both the hem of my skirt and the heels of my boots were high, I knew I was attracting attention I am I liked it!   I had some complimentary remarks from a few people, and even a couple of approaches from men.   I am not seeking any sort of relationship (or indeed physical encounter) but it was nice to dress up attract a bit of attention , and be noticed.

I will not be making a habit of this, but every now and then it is fun to "Strut your Stuff"