Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 29 February 2016


This weekend I have renewed, and increased my respect for singers. I have always been slightly in awe of people who can sing in tune, make a pleasant noise and cover a decent range.   Many years ago, in a past life I was a chorister, so have some understanding of just what can be involved with singing well.   My singer career ended abruptly when my voice started to change with adolescence, at that point I had little control of my voice for a couple of years and certainly failed on all three of the above criteria.    By the time my voice had settled I was well on my way as an instrumental musician, and serious singing was put back slightly beyond a back burner.   Indeed for many decades my singing was limited leading informal "choirs" in teh bar following Rugby matches!

More recently, having become a Christian I have been joining in the communal worship at Church singing hymns and worship songs.   As a member of the congregation I only have to worry about the tune, any harmony can safely be left to the worship leaders, or choir if there is one.

On Saturday I attended a day conference for RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) volunteers. During teh day we had a service, a much more traditional one than I am used to, and one which involved the unaccompanied four part singing of a Hymn and a responsive Psalm.   For the Hymn we had the music, with the four parts, on one page and the words for the four verses on another, so as a non-singer I had to sight sing a harmony part (my days of singing treble are long gone) from teh music on one page, while reading the words for a Hymn I don't recall ever singing before on a different page.   Add to this that as a bass player I can "hear" a bass line quite easily, I can also follow a tune without to much trouble, but internal harmonies I find very difficult.   I can sing Bass, but as I have no wish to make my gender situation any more obvious than it already is I have to attempt an alto line, the line that I think actually requires the greatest skill and musicianship to manage.

Then on Sunday I was playing at our local Hospice and was discussing the problems our singer has with knowing when to come in in some songs, now my glib answer to this is to count.   As an instrumentalist I count every bar of every piece I play, I have been doing this so long that is natural, indeed even when listening I find myself automatically counting.   This isn't so easy for a singer, as the counting goes on the language part of the brain, I have no idea how you can count and sing at the same time.   At least in a choir you can rely on the director, if you have one!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

I Want My Mummy

I was listening to a play on the radio the other day, an exploration of emerging feminism in the 70s, at one point a boy tells his Mother that he misses her, "But I'm here" "Yes but I sill miss you". I was missing the Mother he remembered from before a marital split and the Mother's increasing understanding of her place independent in the world, yet it still resonated me.

My Mother is still with us, I see her around once a month yet I miss her.   No longer can I phone her up for a chat; it used to be that a phone call with Mother could easily run into a second hour, then they started to get shorter and eventually became not much more than an acknowledgement that I had called.   Phone calls are now pointless as if Mum hears the phone ringing she can't hear the person at the other end and just guesses.

When I see Mum she is no longer the capable, assertive, confident person she was, age and alzheimer's have not just taken her memory, but much of what made her the woman she was. It's not just that she can no longer do the things that she used to, but with her capabilities so limited in many ways her character has changed as well.

It is strange but I do miss my Mum, there are so many things that I would like to discuss with her, but she can no longer manage it, there are things I would like to show her but I fear she will either not see them or not understand.   In many ways this dreadful disease has robbed us of our Mother while she is still alive, and we are forced to mourn her while she is still here.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Concert Dress XII

Nothing to Wear
I've got a Gig coming up, it's a big one and one I'm sure that I will be writing plenty about it, both before and after the event.

It is part of a much bigger event, and one that I am proud to be part of for a second time.   However this year I am faced with a problem that I didn't have last year.

Not really suitable
Having just got an e-mail with the details we have a dress code of a combination of Green, Purple, and White ~ the more astute of you will recognise these as the colours of the suffragette movement, and I am very happy with the association.
However it does mean that I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!

Not quite suitable either
Sure I have a green dress, and a mauve one, and a number of mauve tops, but somehow none are suitable, looks like I will have to be out hitting the Charity Shops again.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

It had to happen

I expect that a very high proportion of my readers will understand the joy of putting on new hosiery, there is a very different feel to tights and stockings which shows whether they are freshly laundered, have been worn, or best of all brand new.   This morning I put on a brand new pair of lace top hold ups, despite all my prejudices against them, my last few experiences have been quite acceptable, so I thought I would risk it.

I didn't have any work planned for today, the forecast said it was going to rain, or worse, so I thought this would be a good day to meet a new "friend" for a coffee.   We had arranged to meet up at 11:00 in a Costa in Croydon so I started to preen myself as soon as I got up, shower, lots of shaving, blow dry my hair, paint my nails,set up scaffolding, apply polyfilla and all the other essentials of trying to make myself presentable. After much deliberation I decided on my red dress with a black jacket and boots.   While not being too obvious I thought I looked smart and well presented, and so at a little after 10:30 I set off and walked into town.

I arrived just a few minutes early, got my coffee and sat down, now I expected my "friend" to turn up more or less on the stroke of 11:00 so as the minutes ticked by I began to get a little worried.   Then I began to get a little annoyed!   I did wonder if he might have gone to the wrong Costa, so I went to the others in Croydon just to check, no sign! So I visited the bank and went home.

I was feeling annoyed, frustrated, and rejected, on so many levels this was not turning out to be a good day.   Getting home I turned on my computer to find that there was  a message sent a couple of days ago letting me know that my "friend" was ill and wouldn't be able to make it.   Now I know that it is my own fault, I should have checked my messages, I just didn't even turn my computer on the previous day; and I'm not ready to give out my phone number yet!   Any way having gone online I found that a couple of other (long standing) friends were having a day out in Croydon so we met up for a coffee and a chat, it was good to see these friends, although I keep in contact through Facebook it was good to have a proper chat and catch up.

So the day I took off to meet a new friend because the weather was going to be lousy, turned out to be a lovely day for gardening, I didn't meet the friend I planned to, and, when I took off my boots I found I had laddered both stockings!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

All Change

This morning the Knackers came along to take away my old car, and this afternoon I took a little trip to pick up my new one.   For some of my wealthier readers perhaps I should define what new and old mean to me since at my end of the automotive food chain these are rather loose terms.  My old car was a Rover 25 from the first half of 2002, with a recorded mileage of 111,115; my new car is a Seat Leon from the second half of 2002 with a recorded mileage of 135,000.

Having said that, although similar ages and shapes they are very different prospects, the Rover felt like an old car, bits of imitation polished wood and acres of boring black plastic. cloth roof lining that was falling off and and a serious lack of design input. It was a reliable car, but difficult to love.   I have to say that there was nothing wrong with the Rover, it just lacked sparkle, or indeed anything to love, I suspect with very little extra effort it could well have been a great little car, maybe they saved it all up for the MG version.

On the other hand the Seat feels like it was conceived and built in the 21st Century. It has lots of nice touches, those bits of design input that make life more interesting, I am particularly struck by the variable speed intermittent wipers, a great idea for anyone living in the UK! So far I have only driven it home from Basingstoke, but am already liking it, a lot.

As I was collecting the car I used public transport to get to Basingstoke, these days I am using public transport a lot more, but not often for journeys that far, the train is great and the journey was painless and uneventful, just how I like it! It always amazes me that it seems to take longer to get to Clapham Junction than from there to Basingstoke, from my local station it seems that every train going anywhere stops everywhere.

After the train I had a short walk to a bus stop and then a short walk from the bus. It was the bus that became the challenge. Every town seems to have a different system, from the bus stops in Basingstoke I couldn't even work out which side of the road to get on! When the bus I needed came along the driver was very helpful and told me what I needed to know, so I got on and tried to pay, using my contactless bank card. Can't do that there, had to use cash. Now in London I have got used to the idea that I have to use a card as they won't take cash, so I ended up having to give the poor driver £10.10 for a £2.10 fare.  He was very helpful and very long suffering, but at least he'll have something to talk to his mates about tonight!

Life would be so much easier, and maybe more people would use public transport a bit more, if we at least had the same system for bus stops and fares across the whole country.

Now I just have to decide whether I'm going to drive to the pub and show off my new toy, or walk and have a drink.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A moving little story

The more observant of you may have noticed that I have found a new photo venue.   One of the photos in my last post was indeed in my new flat.

This means that I am finally organised enough that I have a space not occupied by boxes and random items that are still looking for a home.   Indeed there are whole rooms that are almost organised!

When I first moved in I just couldn't see how I was going to fit, where I would put my stuff and how the space could be made to work for me.   I have painted the shower room, pending complete refurbishment,

I have put some shelves up and organised cupboards, I have given some stuff away and acquired other stuff. I have got rid of nasty old blinds and put up curtains.  The place now feels like home, but there is still a lot to do.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Passing Out

I have seen quite a few posts recently about passing, there has been some particular activity on Stana's Blog Femulate, this along with some recent discussion about "stealth" have made me ponder.

Probably not fooling anybody!
When I first started to cross dress the thrill was sufficient, the snatched moments of some small femininity, after some time there then came the need to be seen, maybe the need to be seen as a woman. At some level I was still playing at being a woman, a part time woman, and as such I wasn't very good at it.   On my one or two outings a month I would glam it up and be hopelessly overdressed, and far too glamorous for the situation. My wig and my padding were all exactly in order, my make up perfect, but did I pass? I suspect not.   I thought that it was my shape and size that stopped me, the signs of facial hair that I tried so hard to conceal, my voice and mannerisms.   I now think I was wrong.

Not really bothered
I think I was trying too hard! Over the last couple of years I have abandoned my wig, I only use the essential padding, I wear less makeup (on some occasions even abandoning it all together), less jewelry and as likely to be wearing jeans as a skirt.

I have stopped thinking of myself as a man who is trying to look like a woman, or even a man who is trying to look pretty, I now think of myself as a woman, and dress and act accordingly. Do I pass now? I don't don't know, but the thing is I don't care so now I am perceived as a woman and treated as a woman and that's what matters.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


I think it must be time for an update, I seem to have been away from Paula's Place for some time, I keep thinking of great ideas for a post, but by the time I get home, or have a chance to sit down and write something it's gone.   It has to be said that I may have been lacking a bit in motivation.

I have had a couple of trips to Cardiff over the last few weeks, loads of rehearsal meetings and a couple of Gigs.    I have made some progress with the flat, and even managed to get some work done. Do I dwell on these positives, no, I just keep thinking what a nuisance!

I have just realised that this is one of my friend Sue's buzz words, and it perfectly sums up those things, or situations that although no major problem we can well do without.

On Friday morning on my way to an appointment I was involved in a car accident, no one was hurt but my car was no longer quite the shape it was when it left Cowley.   I had to drive it to Cardiff the following morning, and so wanted to get things underway as quickly as possible.   When I got home I started to write up a report of the incident, explaining everything as fully as possible including the photos I took at the scene. I feared that responsibility would be contested and I would end up losing both my car and my no claims bonus.   But before I had finished I got a call from an Insurance Company telling me that their client had reported the incident and accepted responsibility.

Since then my car has been taken away assessed, and, condemned as beyond economic repair, and now after a couple of phone calls returned to me, while I await an offer from the Insurance.

Given that I don't actually like this car much and was planning on replacing it later this year anyway, I should be glad that it looks like I may well be saved the effort of selling it, instead I just can't help thinking "What a nuisance"