Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Happy Easter!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Busy Busy Busy

I know I have been very remiss in my postings here; I have so much to share but simply don't seem to be able to find the time to put any of it down.

I have had rehearsals, performances, special events and, of course, work. I sign of just how busy I have been is the state of my flat, it looks like a clothes bomb has exploded in my bedroom and it is days since I did any meaningful washing up.

I will however share one thing that came into my mind as we were praying at Church yesterday morning, I was struck by the contrast between two girls I had some level of contact with over the previous week.

A young friend of mine has recently transitioned, on Saturday evening her church held a naming ceremony for her. Her parents and Godparents were all present as were a good deal of her Church family and friends, It was a joyous occasion with music, flowers, and prayer. At the end she reaffirmed her baptismal vows, with her new name and identity.   I was struck by the love, affection and total acceptance.

Here was a young girl, just starting out on the great adventure of life, having had to make decisions that would cause many to reject her very existence, and she was being given a public demonstration of how much she is loved and cherished. This is how Churches and families are meant to work.

As I sat there in prayer I couldn't help but compare this with a message I had received from another friend earlier in the week.  This friend is a Christian lady I know through my previous Church, she works with disadvantaged youngsters in a neighboring Borough.   Mid week a text message was sent out to all of her Christian friends asking us to pray for a girl she had been working with, rejected by her own family and with issues that put her down the priority list for local fostering she was about to be sent away to a residential unit in the midlands, would we please pray for her.

Of course we did, and I am pleased to say that a place closer to home was found for her, not ideal in way, but better than feared.

Two girls, both starting on life with issues, one loved and cherished, the other rejected, even by her own family, surely we can do better.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


The Brass Section in rehearsal
It is difficult to know where to start with the fabulousness that was my Sunday, playing with the WOW Orchestra for the second year was even better than it was the first year!   I suppose that having been here before I was more comfortable with the experience, I knew where to park and what the structure of the day would be, I knew my way around the back stage of the hall, and I knew I didn't have to worry about anybody shouting at me "You're just a man in a dress you shouldn't be here!"

The choice of music also suited me better, not least since it meant I could use my big shiny CC tuba.

The orchestra was made up of a selection of professionals, students and amateurs, we were all shapes and sizes, although we covered a range of ages, I think that once again it was an encouragingly young orchestra.   I was also impressed by the technical and musical skill of the orchestra.   We gave the premier of a new song written by Dillie Keane and Sandi Toksvig "Walk Beside Me" We had first sight of this at Saturday morning's rehearsal, we expected to rehearse with the singer on Sunday.   The singer was the fantastic Sharon D Clarke who has a great voice, but unfortunately not one that suited the key we were expecting to play in.   So we were asked to transpose the whole song up a fourth, no fresh parts could be provided in time so just had to get on with it.   I was so impressed that this orchestra managed this with barely a glitch, this speaks volumes for the musicianship of all the members as well as their technical ability.

This was the finale of the WOW Festival and had more than it's fare share of WOW moments, the winner of the Feminist Quiz (I did pretty well but not quite a winner) was presented with her prize by Baroness Scotland, just about to take up her new role as Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

Later the Orchestra played.Rissolty-Rossolty a piece by Ruth Crawford Seeger, it's a good fun piece based on folk tunes, and won her a composing prize, Sandi Toksvig gave a quick list of the composers achievements finishing with "and she also managed to raise several children, including Pete and Peggy, and here is her daughter Peggy Seeger" Peggy Seeger came out on stage with her guitar, looked up at the big screen behind us to see a photo of Ruth, and said, "That's my Mum"  I was sharing a stage with a legend, who turns out to be a lovely person as well.

Monday, 14 March 2016


Thank you all of you who voted in my little poll, the outcome was a straight split between plain leggings and the snakeskin ones, the consensus being that the tie up ones were just a little too tarty, even for me!   Well, as it happens it all became a little irrelevant, since on Friday I happened to find myself buying a new, and rather spectacular, full length red dress. It was a very good price, I will have another opportunity to wear it, and I think it suits me.

Sometimes my life seems very strange, last night (Sunday) I was on stage at teh Royal Festival Hall, playing with Sister Sledge ~ Yes, I was actually playing with the actual Sister Sledge, I'm still not sure I believe it myself  ~ Then tonight I was with the Croydon Brass Band in Thornton Heath.

Don't get me wrong, the brass band are a great bunch and I love playing with them but yesterday was pretty amazing! I suspect that over the next few days I could get quite boring about the whole event.  Yet I find that once again I have a very full week ahead of me three more performances and some rehearsals coming up, as well as a full work diary, so I don't know how much time I will be able to devote to the Blog.

I will do my  best to tell some of my WOW stories though.

Saturday, 12 March 2016


WOW 2016 supported by BloombergSunday evening I will be playing with the WOW Orchestra at London's Festival Hall. This is a BIG EVENT, and in many ways an even bigger one for me.   This is the second year I have been part of this, last year a friend put me in contact with them after seeing they were looking classical musicians of a high standard who are, or self identify as, women.   Almost as a test as to whether they would be as good as their word I applied, and got the gig!

This year I was contacted direct and invited to apply, clearly once again I have been accepted, this great on several levels, I have been accepted both as a musician and as a woman, but perhaps more to the point I have been accepted as a woman, by a feminist organisation!

I have read a lot about TERFS (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists) recently, we hear about groups who will not allow trans women into their events, feminists who deny the concept that trans women are women at all, and it would be easy to start to see feminists as the enemy.   For me this is a timely reminder that as women feminism is about us trans women, just as much as it is about cis women.   When we gave up our male privilege we became more aware than most of  way society treats men and women differently, if nothing else this mean that we should all be feminists.

A while ago when I was banging on about feminism I was asked if I became a feminist when I became a woman, no, although I think I was always sympathetic, I became a feminist when I became a parent, when I tell my daughter that she can be anything she wants, I want it to be true.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Concert Dress XIII ~ WOW

WOW 2016 supported by BloombergI wrote here about the problems I was having trying to work out what to wear for an upcoming concert. The Concert is this Sunday evening, and as some of you have already worked out it is a big deal! I will be in the WOW Orchestra at Mirth Control, the big finale to the Women Of the World Festival on the South Bank.   This is the second year I will have been part of this Orchestra, and I am still feeling very pleased to be part of something so special.   It is so very affirming of my status both as a musician and as a woman.

Leopard Embossed LeggingsSure it looks good on the CV, it will also be great when we start playing name dropping as well, as I will be able to add a few new "Stars" to the selection of names I can drop!

But just now I'm still worrying about what to wear.

Having more or less worked out an outfit in Suffragette colours, we are now told to wear something smart and brightly coloured.   Two things are for sure, 1/ I have no dresses that will fit the bill, the only brightly coloured dresses I have would do nothing for my modestly if tried to play a tuba wearing them, and 2/ I am not going to buy anything new now, there are only a few days left and I will be working all of them (weather permitting).   I have pretty much decided that I will go for a lovely bright red top, with black leggings and high heeled boots.

The only question is which leggings?

I have the embossed snakeskin ones, a pair that lace up at the back of each leg, or plan ordinary black ones.

I think any of them with my bright top will look pretty good, so I'm going to give you the chance to help me make up my mind.

By the way, before anyone gets carried away, these are NOT my legs!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mother's Day

I trust that it will not be news to any of my UK readers that today is Mothering Sunday, also known as Mothers' Day. In many ways I would have liked to have been with my Mother today, but it was not to be, I had a Gig last night, and as it happens she has been admitted to hospital, ~ yes I am worried, at her age anything that warrants being admitted to hospital is serious.

So this morning I rose bright and early(ish) and went to my own Church. This morning we had a baptism as well as our usual all age service. Baptisms are always involving, a moment where we share our joy, hopes, and faith, combining that with Mothering SUnday was wonderful.   During one of the Hymns we had a distribution of flowers, children were invited to come and get a bunch of daffodils for their Mothers, and a group of girls also collected bunches of flowers to give to the ladies who did not have children with them.

Sitting in the row in front of me was a group of ladies, I think they covered four generations of the same family. As I watched all except the eldest go and collect flowers then come back and give them to each other I could feel myself tearing up. Then when I was also given a bunch of Daffs I could barely contain my tears.   I'm not sure just how much was the occasion and how much may be the effects of my medication, either way it was wonderful to see, and wonderful to be included.

Thursday, 3 March 2016


I like to think that I don't watch a lot of television, and when I do I like to think that I am quite selective.   I like to think that I watch Rugby, especially the internationals, good quality British Drama and and the odd film.  However a quick look at the programs I record shows that I am turning into a bit of a fan of TV Detectives.

There are a lot of dangerous places in comfortable areas of England. Oxford, Kembleford, and now Grantchester all seem to be rivaling Midsomer as the most dangerous place in the UK.   Although unlike the others Oxford is a city, but it seems as though most of the murders there are amongst the august spires of the university, either way the shear propensity for murder amongst these lovely rural or suburban settings is more than a little worrying.

Easy on the eye
These settings are of course chosen to be easy on the eye, and to offer a contrast with the gruesomeness of the 'orrible murder!

All joking aside I find myself attracted to the rather rarefied tone of these dramas, the classic cars, the classy tones of the central characters, and of course the twists and turns of the plotting.   What I don't understand is the body count.   Why do they feel that in order for a good mystery in need of a solution there needs to be a body, or often several bodies.   It is now many years since I read any of G K Chesterton's Father Brown stories but I do not remember many deaths, yet in the TV series they have at least one a week. In a small Cotswold Village, with an ancient Roman Catholic Church, no Anglican Vicar, and Lady of the Manor who's husband never seems to be at home.   I am quite happy to suspend disbelieve, but please, they could at least make an effort!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Long and the Short of it

It has been mentioned by a few of my friends that I like short skirts, I hasten to say that this is not said in any bad way, there may be a little jealousy but no antipathy.   Having had a look through my wardrobe, and the photos I tend to post here it has to be said that the accusation is not without substance.   I could simply invoke Stana's excuse and plead that "It's not my skirt that's not too short, it's my legs that are too long"

Ever since I first started dressing and going out properly I have been aware that my legs are one of my better features, I also remember my Father saying that the girls with the biggest noses wore the shortest skirts, so maybe there is a subconscious thought that if people are looking at my legs they are not paying so much attention to my face. Whatever, I think I look pretty good when I "get my legs out".   However do I have to point out that I am not always in a mini skirt.   Just like real people, most of the time I will be found in jeans and a sweater or tee shirt.   I do also have a few much longer dresses and skirts which I do wear and some that indeed I quite love.

What I don't have, and indeed don't like are the ones in between, those hemlines that seem to dangle somewhere around the knee being neither one thing nor the other.   Maybe it is a factor of my height (at 5 10 I'm not outrageously tall but I'm certainly not short!) but I want my hemlines to be positively above, or below my knees, and it just seems that there are more that I like that fall above the knee than below.

I wrote the other day about the dress code for a concert I have coming up, I will be playing tuba so need to either wear trousers or a long full skirt, and try and get the Green, Purple, and White thing going as well, I now have a long, full purple skirt, and am hoping to find a green blouse to team it with, but do Green and Purple really go together?