Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Any Answers

20 bits of fluff
I first saw this post on Joey's Pad so I thought I'd steal it.

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
(as the actress said to the bishop .... sorry, where was I?)
Well since I am writing this on Saturday morning while listening to that radio and contemplating what to have for breakfast, it was a cup of tea.   If I had written this last night of course it may well have been a very different answer.

2. Where was your profile pic taken?
As far as I can remember this was at an LGSO concert some years ago, so it would have been at St Sepulchres Without Newgate This ancient Church is known as "The Musicians Church" and contains the Nation Musicians Chapel and the Ashes of Sir Henry Wood.   Sadly the current PCC (Parochial Church Council) have plans to stop renting the Church out for secular concert performances, which will sadly diminish the musical life of the City. For the full story and a chance to sign the petition follow this link!
3. Worst pain you've ever experienced?
I am so tempted to say the broken heart I experienced when my first fiancĂ© left me, it was an emotional pain I thought I would never get over, but lets be honest a broken neck really, really hurts.   The result of a sports injury in my mid 20s which gave constant insufferable pain for several month and has left me with marginal discomfort or pain ever since
4. Favourite place you've traveled?

How to choose, I have travelled in Europe but not beyond so I have a limited number of choices, but also so many special places.   Carcassonne in the South of France is a magical place, I have revisited several time since my first time there as a child on a touring holiday with my parents.

Or maybe where I will be going again shortly Malta, the climate at this time of year suits me, the capital Valletta is a world heritage site, the food is good and the people are friendly.

I could go on, my time in Seville was very important, although shorter than planed, I have enjoyed stays in France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and of course here in the UK.   But for me I think my favorite place is the RHS Garden at Wisley in Surrey.   Certainly I have told my Daughter that if I am to be cremated this is where I want my ashes scattered.

5. How late did you stay up last night?
As a musician I am often out rehearsing or performing, yesterday was a rehearsal so I wasn't too late getting home, but did stay up to watch the Cricket highlights.   Once again I find that it was not last night when I when to bed but this morning.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
I have often considered where else I might like to live, but always come back to the same basic area of South East London, whether it's actually Croydon or Penge or West Wickham it doesn't matter too much to me, I am pretty happy with my flat but I do miss having my own garden.

8. Which of your Blogger friends lives closest to you.
This has to be Joey, just as he sited me I can't think of any others who life closer, especially since many of my Blogging friends life the other side of the Atlantic. For me this is one of the joys of Blogging, a bit like having pen friends all around the World. 
10. When was the last time you cried?
I can't be sure, but I do know that I am crying much more often than I used to.   This is one of the many non-physical results of my HRT.   I am a sucker for a tear jerker movie so am careful about what I watch at the cinema so as not to embarrass myself too much.
11. Who took your profile photo?
Shamefully I cannot remember, we were having several photos taken at the concert, but I am not in may as I always seem to get hidden behind a pillar. I led this one as it shows me doing what I love most and covers up half my face.
12. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
I really don't know, . 
13. What's your favourite season?
The next one.   That's a real gardeners answer, we are always looking and planning forward, sometimes even to the extent of failing to enjoy the present.   Each season holds it's attractions, and indeed it's demerits as well, but most of all I love the changes between the season, the first growth of early spring, the fresh peonies and explosion of blossom if early Summer and the changing leaves and late blooms of late summer early Autumn.
I love to watch Cricket, but Rugby has a special place in my heart so if forced I would choose the Rugby Season, and since that now includes the changes between Summer and Autumn, Autumn and Winter, as well as all of Spring and now early Summer as well .
14. If you could have any career, what would it be?
I truly love my work, but it would be nice to have a higher, reliable income, along with paid holidays and a pension scheme. I tried being a professional musician and an amateur gardener, but have found it works better for me the other way round, I still have the uncertain hours and income, but at least I can choose what music I play now rather than always follow the money.
I hope that's true of me too.
15. Do you think relationships are ever worth it?
I will be positive on this and say yes! Certainly a friend in need can be a pain in the arse, but having somebody to share things with, to be quite with is important to me.   Like many people I have had some pretty disastrous relationships, but those that have stayed with me ~ my Brothers, Daughter and Wife, are important to me.   
16. If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would it be?
This is difficult, my first thought is my Dad, he died 25 years ago, and so never saw me married, never met his Grand Daughter, and never knew of my transition. I can't say that I think he would understand, but I'm sure that he would show his love and want me to be content in live. 
17. Are you a good influence?
I'm not sure that I'm and influence at all, good or bad.   I don't know what sort of a role model I would be for anyone, I'm not very diligent or organised, I'm lousy with money, drink too much, and don't even manage to always dress appropriately so I suspect I'm more likely to be a bad influence than a good one.. 
18. Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Not really, but I don't have strong views on the matter.

19. You have the remote, what channel?
Most likely BBC2 or 4, but most of the TV I watch these days is either sport (Cricket, Rugby or Motor Sport ~ not that other silly game) or stuff I have recorded to catch up with later. 
20. Whom do you think will play along?
Probably no one who hasn't already.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Googlewhack ~ Still leading the World

The other day I decided that I would check up on my strap line, the claim that I am the World's leading Transgender Bass Trombone and Tuba playing Christian Gardener.   I started with a google search for "Transgender Tuba Player" I should warn you not to do this if you are sensitive about your search history as some of the results are strange to say the least.

THE Transgender Tuba Player
In rehearsal at St John's Smith Square
I was happy to stop at this one search as I was actually the only result that was about a Transgender Tuba Player, I think this means that I may lay claim to be the World's Leading (out) Transgender Tuba Player even before I add in all the other qualifiers.   I thought this would make me a "Googlewhack"

Now a Googlewhack is a two word search in google that only returns one result, Dave Gorman had a lot of fun with this, making a whole series on the subject.   But since it is limited to two words I went on the check a couple of searches ~ "Transgender Tuba" and "Transgender Tubaplayer" interestingly I did not come up on either (although I do rather dominate the photo results ~ of course neither did any other transgender tuba players, just a lot of very strange stuff. This all makes me wonder about how the search engines work, and what searches they are used to.    Maybe it is best to stay in ignorance.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Turning Green

Monday night was my regular rehearsal night with Croydon Brass, with a few members away numbers were a little down, but that has to be expected every now and then; after all, even I'm going on holiday in a few weeks.   We spent most of the rehearsal running through some new arrangements I've been working on, I thought this would help me to know how the arrangements work and give the band something fresh to play.

Quite a while back I put together a simple arrangement for woodwind of Barwick Green, The Archers theme tune, it didn't work too well so I just let it sit and never really finished it.   With a bit of fiddling around I adapted it for our Brass Band, and even though I say it myself it sounded pretty good.   Now I have to finish the whole thing but on coming home and looking I can't find the original sheet music I was working from.   I suspect that it may have got lost when I moved a couple of years ago, so now I have had to order another copy and so won't be able to complete the arrangement till it arrives.

One of the reasons I am arranging specially for the band is that we are short of a few players, especially cornets, it's all a little frustrating remembering how the band used to be back it's hey day with a full compliment.   Having said that just two more cornet players would make a massive difference, we could even lend them instruments.

It always used to be quite usual for a brass band to have a set of instruments, and just before I joined the band in the late 70s Croydon Co-Op Brass Band as it was then had just bought a complete set of new Boosey and Hawkes Imperials, many of these fine instruments are still there but in the intervening years some have been sold, some updated, and some simply lost track of.   We still have some very fine instruments and are quite happy to lend them to players who for one reason or another don't have their own. Whether it's through having had to return an instrument after changing band or leaving school or maybe somebody not having played for some time and fancy having another go it would be good to hear these instruments being played again.

Monday, 25 September 2017

My Office Today

Well of course not actually today, these photos were taken on Friday, a long day, and indeed one that managed to carry on into Saturday Morning.

Maybe a quarter way through
The job should have been a simple one, scarifying a lawn, well actually three, but the two in the front of the house aren't so big; the back lawn is big, and I suspect hasn't been raked for some time, there was certainly enough work in it to be worth hiring a petrol scarifyer.  

I'm not sure what surprised me most, the amount of moss and "thatch" which I got out, the amount left, or the time it took.   "Green Thumb" had visited since I was here two weeks before to cut the grass, I had expected them to include a moss killer in their Autumn treatment, but apparently they only include that in the December treatment. REALLY! kill the moss in December, let the dead moss sit there and then regrow before I go back in March or April to start cutting the grass.

I didn't schedule any other work for the day, but had hoped I might get another job done, as it happened I didn't get through till nearly eight by which time it was way too late to take any after photos, indeed I was struggling to see at all.

The original plan was to run the scarifyer over the grass, then follow with the lawn mower to cut the grass and pick up the moss and thatch pulled up.   The debris was far too thick and heavy to be picked up by the mower, rather, I feared that the weight of the mower would push it all back in.   So instead I used my blower to get in into piles and then bagged it up, before finally going over with the mower to pick up the rest, cut the grass, and give a decent finish.

If I had had the light I would have taken a photo of all the sacks I filled, but by then I was tired and it was dark, I had nine of my large green woven sacks (see photo above) each a bit over a meter cubed, then a further 14 used compost sacks; too many to fit in the van, Saturday morning I had to return the scaryfier to the hire shop, drop a load of waste off at the recycling centre, return to the job to collect the rest of the waste and then make another journey to the recycling centre.

But apparently no need for moss killer!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Bad Mood

I have written a few time recently about fresh starts, new experiences, and indeed the passage of time.   Much of this has been without reference to my transition, and I do understand that many of you come to read a gardening, or a music based Blog, but since Paula's Place did start out as a Trans Blog I think it is now time to come clean about my latest big change, or at least currently still immanent change.

Back in August 2011 (or over half a million hits ago!) when I started out here I considered myself a "Plain vanilla cross dresser" married with daughter, my own burgeoning business, and no intentions of changing any of that.   Now I consider myself a single Trans Woman, I transitioned socially a few years ago, and have now been taking hormone therapy for about 18 months, and my whole life is very different.   But then again I am very different, I am occasionally asked what effects the hormones are having, and I'm sure that the questioner is primarily interested in primary sexual characteristics, I general choose to disappoint them.   The things that strike me most are not just a couple of physical developments, as much as my mental state.   In simple terms I am no longer angry, all the time.   I was not even aware of this underlying and permanent state.   I just thought that was how life was, a little like before I had glasses I thought everybody saw the world as fuzzy, that was simply how it looked.   Now I know better.

Sure my skin is softer, my nails brake more easily, and most fun of all my sense of smell is so much better! But the more placid me is much nicer, and I am a better musician for it.   All this has happened through more hormonal changes, yet they are still well outside of "normal" levels, so I am now having some enhanced medication.   It will be interesting to see what will change next.   I am rather excited about all this, but it is also tempered with some apprehension; especially when I consider what the next stage of this strange journey will be if I choose to take it. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Fresh Starts

In many ways it feels as though Summer is drawing towards it's conclusion here in South East England.   Temperatures are falling and day light hours are declining.   It feels as though we have had quite a lot of rain and wind, and some of the leaves are beginning to turn ~ don't be fooled by the horse chestnuts, their leaves having been turning very brown very early over the last few years due to the attentions of leave miners ~ this all makes me feel as though Autumn is about to be come in.   I shouldn't be surprised, I always used to think of September as the beginning of Autumn, the new school term starts, the Cricket season ends and the Rugby season starts, but over the last few years summer has extended well into September and even October, certainly at the moment I am still doing Summer jobs (dead heading, grass cutting, weeding etc.) and haven't started with Autumn pruning, planting or leave clearing. Long may it last, I enjoy every season in the garden, but I certainly earn more in Spring, Summer, and Autumn! In Summer the work is not too arduous, I can do longer hours, and wear my shorts!

Any one know what this is? it seems to be an annual
about 2.5 meters high,that grew up under a bird feeder.
The flowers look like a
Convolvulus to me but I can't find it in any of my books.
I haven't started yet today but looking outside I don't think I'll be wearing shorts today, and with my first customer I will be arranging a date to scarify their lawns ~ so this is a definite indicator.   The other big one for me is that my birthday is looming.  It's not a big one this year, but it is another year closer to my pension, at the moment I'm not at all sure what I will do on the day, strangely for a Saturday I don't have any Gigs planned so if anyone wants to send me a bottle of Champaign to aid the celebration feel free!   Last month both my Mother and Daughter had birthdays, they are now both of an age where every birthday is significant, and to be honest I'm not sure I envy either of them!

When I passed my last major milestone I decided that I had to address my Gender issues and start exploring what they actually meant and what I had to do about them.   I am now fast approaching a conclusion, after my last appointment with the GIC I find I need to make a decision, some would say the decision, I have to remind myself that this is not a one off chance where I need to give a definitive yes or no answer, I do have alternatives, including "Not Now"   Having said that I think I am approaching a conclusion, and maybe when I get back from my holiday next month I will have made up my mind. By then I will also have experienced a month on my adjusted medication, which may well also influence that decision.

I think it would be nice if I could get the whole thing sorted out within the decade, and then just get on with life.

I will be doing just that this evening as I take my second rehearsal with Croydon Brass, until we get our two new cornet players we are limited in our repertoire, so I have adjusted an arrangement I did earlier this year ~ originally conceived and arranged for clarinet choir it will be interesting to hear how it sounds on Brass!   I think I will be doing quite a lot of slaving over a hot stave over the next few months!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I need a Dragon!

Ripple, "Helping" with the Blog
One of the things I have found since moving into my flat is the lack of companionship, not so much human companionship as the non-human.   We used to have cats, and then fish as well, when the cats left home the fish stayed, but in my new flat I just don't have space.   With plants on all the windowsill, books on the shelves, and tubas on the floor there is no room for an aquarium.   It may sound strange but I used to say "hello" and "goodnight" to them, watch them while I ate, or sometimes just sit and look.   Realistically I know I don't have the space, indeed ideally I would like to get rid of a couple of pieces of furniture, so any additions are definitely not on the cards.

A friend of mine keeps guinea pigs, another has hamsters, I even had a friend who kept ferrets, I don't think I'll be trying any of them.

Indeed I shall just have to get used to being on my own, with my plants and my clutter, that may be just as well since I am far from being the tidiest of people.   I do have a few stuffed animals, and I do have a few ornamental ones _ Ebony elephants, and china dragons, there may even be the odd dinosaur, but seeing todays Wizard of Id I thought I could do with a dragon like that!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Goodbye and Hello

It's been a funny old few days; ~ no change there then you may well think, but I have had a busy weekend with a couple of performances a couple of parties, and then tonight a rehearsal.   That may not sound so unusual for me but it has been packed with contrasts.

Lets start with the two parties, one on Saturday afternoon / evening and one on Sunday evening.   Saturday's was a birthday party for an old friend ~ I don't particularly want to embarrass him but it was a big one, and well worth celebrating.   It took me a while to actually believe the age he claims to be as I'm sure he must be younger than that!   It was a very civilised evening hosted in their lovely garden (for which I will claim some small credit) where I had a chance to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for some time.   As I had driven there I too was quite civilised and managed to display some self restraint for once.

I did feel as though I was dressed rather formally for such an event, but I had come straight from my first performance of the weekend.   I had been conducting the rather wonderful All Saints Concert Band at Ruskin Park in South London.   Over the last few years I haven't had many opportunities to conduct a whole concert so this was rather a special occasion.   This is a band I have been associated with ever since it first started back in the 1970s ~ I was very young at the time ~ and since then I have had two stints as assistance or associate MD, this concert represents the end of my second stint in the role.   Not because I am fed up with them, or indeed them with me, but because I have a new venture to pursue.

They were even kind enough to allow me to play Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" rather a simple but jolly little piece, which was the first thing I ever conducted with them, or indeed anyone!

The next day I had to hit the road and get down to Herne Bay in Kent to play a band stand concert with the "Band of the Surrey Yeomanry".   It is a nice bandstand and one of my favorite bands to play with, and there was good ice cream!   The only fly in the ointment was that I was playing Euphonium, not my favorite instrument to play, and I'm well and truly out of practise on it.   Somehow I managed to get through without embarrassing myself too much, but by the end I did feel as though I had been continuously punched in the mouth!

I then made tracks back towards London for my second party of the weekend, this one celebrating a young couple getting engaged.  Certainly a contrast to the previous evening! definitely not as quiet and sedate, but once again it was good to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen for while.   Somehow I naturally gravitated to the end of the hall with the parents, aunts and uncles, I know my place!   It is encouraging seeing a young couple so in love, they just seem to be such a natural couple, I have to wish them a long and very happy life together.

So lots of contrasts, playing my forth (or fifth I lose count) choice instrument, final conducting performance with a band I have been around for over forty years, a sixtieth birthday party and an engagement party ~ quite a weekend.

Then tonight, my first rehearsal back as MD of Croydon Brass!   I used to conduct this band "in a previous life" but had to pull back for family reasons that simply don't exist any more.   So I was very pleased to be invited to take over again as my successor stepped down after several years in the role.   There are some of the same players I remember and a few new ones, there are also, of course, a few who have left.   This is a friendly band with a long history, but to continue we need to make a few changes, not least will be updating the website!   We have two or three performances scheduled before Christmas so we have plenty to work on, and then a whole new year ahead of us.

At the moment our first priority is to find a couple of cornet players, we aren't looking for star players (although I wouldn't turn them away) we just need two reliable, regular cornet players to come along on a Monday night; we'll even lend them an instrument!

I was a little nervous about returning to a post I held before, but after tonight I am quite excited about the future and putting on some great concerts with this band. In the mean time I had better get on with writing up my bio for the Band web site!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Monthly Stats

In a month where stats may well include such important matters as Inches of rain fall, votes cast, average temperature rises my stats are a lot more mundane.

So here we go it's admit it time!

Weight 12 stone 7lb ~ 80 kg
BMI  25.3 over weight, but not by much
Units of Alcohol ~ too many, I am now back to just one alcohol free day per week
Chargeable hours worked 120

All this tells me that I am not very good at being good, have little or no self control and probably won't get into my gold swimming costume when I go on Holiday next month.

I know I will never look like this, and indeed never did or could have, but you can't stop an old girl dreaming!   I will be leaving the bikini at home, nobody needs to see that, indeed I don't know why I still have one, the original purchase comes under the heading of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" but the slightest bit of sober reflection shows it to be simply stupid.   Maybe I should consign it to the charity shop bag so I can use the wardrobe space for something more useful, like winter thermals!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

World Cup ~ The morning after

Part Two.

New Zealand's Toka Nadua touching down
Well England lost, and off course I am disappointed, but it was a fantastic game! So often finals simply fail to live up to the hype and can turn into a contest about who will make the least mistakes, and therefore be less adventurous and entertaining.   That was not the case last night, sure there was some pragmatic Rugby, but mostly there was adventure, there was physicality and there was a lot skill on display.   It is tempting to say that this was a good game ~ considering it was women, but this was a good game, no an excellent game, and one of the best final I remember.   Being partisan I am sorry that England didn't win, but as a Rugby enthusiast I am so glad that the women from both teams produced such a great spectacle and such a good close encounter.

England's Lydia Thompson running round in her try
Interestingly both teams played the style of Rugby that their Nations have become known for, but somehow by taking the testosterone out of the equation made for a better spectacle, not a worse one.  Certainly there are some areas of the game that can still be improved, most the kicking, but as an international sport Women's Rugby has arrived.

Indeed we have seen that the women show no lack of commitment, they have embraced the physicality of the game, and are showing some very good skills, but one thing they are displaying better than the men at the moment is the spirit in which the game is being played.   I did not get the impression at any point in the championship that winning was more important than the game, if I can be forgiven the expressions there was more sportsmanship than gamesmanship.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

World Cup

Part one:~

As I write this England's women are the World Cup holders in both Cricket and Rugby.   In a couple of hours that could have changed, or it could not have.    I have a pizza in the oven a cold beer at my side as I settle down to watch the final of the Women's Rugby World Cup.

England's Emily Scarratt, This Girl Does!
I have really enjoyed watching this World Cup, of course Rugby is my game and has the added attraction that my Country always has a good chance of success.   This is the first time there has been proper coverage of the Women's game and it has been brilliant.   It is not just that England are better than most of the others, it is that there has been some excellent Rugby being played. I may have started to watch the competition as a way of supporting "The Sisterhood" but I have carried on because I love Rugby.

Sure some of the teams are not yet quite up to the standard set by the best, but isn't the case in all tournaments?  Certainly England and New Zealand, the finalist, are the pick of the bunch and the most complete teams, but that doesn't mean that some of the others are knocking hard on the door.   Indeed the France Vs England Semi Final was one of the best games of Rugby I have ever watched ~ period!

My Pizza is almost cooked and the match is about to begin after the Black Ferns perform their Hakka. SO far the only conclusion I have come to is that it is just as well that New Zealand don't win much in sport as their National Anthem is not one of the best tunes around!

New Experiences

I have often been known to mention how blessed I am to be able to still have new experiences, even as I approach my sixth decade ever closer.   I am still finding new music to play, new friends to enjoy it with, new plants and gardens to enjoy, and indeed new aspects of simply being me!

Most of the time these new experiences are interesting, maybe even exciting! but every now and then I have a new experience that isn't so good.   This morning I had one of those.   My musical career, such as it is, has been built as much on reliability as it is on ability so despite a very tiring week and stupidly busy day yesterday, when I got up this morning the first thing I did was go to my computer to check my e-mails for the details of this afternoons band stand job.   It was only then that it registered that it wasn't an afternoon job at all, but a morning performance.   Worse than that, having over slept from being so tired I was not going to make it in time, never mind I would be late for the start, I would not get there in time for the second half!

This has never happened to me before and I am very disappointed with myself, and very sorry for the band I had promised to play with. I know the feeling of I have not only let then down I have let myself down. This is one experience I do not want to repeat.

I have to take a message from this and slow down a bit.   I have been trying to work as much as I can to try and get myself on an even financial keel, I have also been doing a lot of playing with a lot of different bands, indeed it has been a long busy summer, and now I am paying the toll.   If I am so tired that I am making this type of mistake I need to recuperate a bit.   So today I will be mostly doing very little apart from watching sport on the TV and pottering around the flat a bit.

I have my holiday to look forward to, but if I am going to last out until I go I still need to take some time just to rest.   After all even God rested! and then created the Sabbath for Man, I have to take this on board and make sure that I have a Sabbath each week, even if it is not on the Sunday. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

When transgender people transition it can be difficult, not just for them but for the people they work with, their families and friends.   I have been fortunate, or blessed, that I have not lost any of my friends or become estranged from any of my family, but I gather that in this, as in so many other things, I am unusual.   Many of the Trans people I come across are not working, or are working on their own much of the time, they live on their own and often don't have many friends outside of the trans community.

Inevitably within this community there are all too many fallings out.   With different people wanting different things, with hormones being all over the place, and many feeling embattled it is inevitable.   It is worth remembering that just because we happen to all be trans, that does not mean we will have other things in common.   I have yet to meet anyone in "the community" who shares my taste in music; most will not share my politics, or maybe my taste in literature or holidays.   The point is that we are a community of one shared characteristic, and if we rely on that community for our emotional and social support we will be let down!

I'm not given here to much in the way of handing out advice, but I do get concerned when I come across people, well mostly women, who are totally reliant upon the Trans Community for all of their social network, friendship and support.   As a group we are particularly susceptible to suicide and depression, so very much need social support.   Again I am blessed that as a musician I have a very large social network; I have friends who are not aware of ever having come across another trans person, they are my friends because they are my friends, because of who I am and what I do, not because of what I am.

I'm not trying to boast about what a popular and attractive girl I am, I am just trying to encourage others to stop reading blogs and other online stuff and go out and do things! Join a club, do AmDram, some sports, a cookery course, or a reading group, just get out there in "normal" society, get some friends, some friends who aren't going through the same stuff that you are, but can go to the pub with you and talk about something else! Have Fun!

Monday, 21 August 2017

I've done it!

I've only gone and booked a holiday! It feels as though I have been complaining for ages that I need a holiday, well now I'm going to have one.   I have a week booked somewhere nice and warm, where along with a couple of day trips I plan on doing a lot of lazing around in the sun next to a pool.   I may even get into the pool and do a little swimming!

I shall have to set myself up with a few easy reading novels, some music on my phone and lay in a stock of sun cream.   I also think that it might be a good idea to make a real effort to lose some of that weight I have been complaining about.

I won't say that I need to make my body bikini ready as that would take a lot more than a few weeks of careful eating, more like major surgery or a magic wand!   But it would be nice to be able to fit into some of my "Holiday clothes" and not frighten the natives too much when I am sun bathing.

I have just weighed in at twelve and half stone (175 lbs or just under 80 kg) I think I'd feel a lot happier if I can drop half a stone and get down to anything under the twelve stone mark ~ maybe I should start by laying off the booze for a bit, or at least putting slim line tonic in my gin!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

You are what you eat?

I have often heard this platitude trotted out, and it certainly comes to mind has I munch my way through a pork pie for my Sunday lunch, after having a very nice vegetarian meal with my Daughter last night.   In theory I want to only eat good food, organically grown ingredients prepared with love and presented with style.   Unfortunately time and finance do tend to impose some limits, I would love to be able to afford to be as fussy as I would like to be, but alas it is not to be.

I can however make some simple choice, I have been making a point of buying organic eggs recently, and I'm sure they taste better as well as providing the hens with a better life.   I like a tuna salad but at least I can be selective about the fish I buy and go for line caught.

Now I just need to start thinking about the calories I take on, maybe a few less cream cakes, maybe a little less beer and I might start to lose a bit of fat around the old tummy. I don't expect to be wearing a bikini any time soon, but if I do manage any holiday it might be nice to lie out on a beach and not get Green Peace coming along to push me back into the sea!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Still Lingering

I have had a bit of an hiatus in service here, and between my last two posts I see that there was an eight day break. Interestingly I do still get visitors to the blog even when I don't have any nice up to date posts, indeed that is when I get some of my older posts being inspected.   Blogger gives me a bit of a breakdown and over that week my most popular post was one from quite a while back, all the way back to July 2013.    I think it must be something to do with the title of that particular post and the Google searches that some people do. That particular post can be seen here! I'm not sure that it was my finest moment, but who am I to judge!

Co-incidentally this last week or so my favorite cartoonist has been running a series on my favorite strip.   He has had my favorite character working on what would be my favorite job (in my dreams).

However this did make me think, what actually is the difference between lingerie and underwear;- I have some pants that are simply pants, but if I wear them with a matching bra they magically transform into lingerie, so is it the material? the intent? or maybe the marketing?

Certainly some brands have more allure than others, just the names Janet Reager, Agent Provocateur or Figleaves just sound so much more alluring than Marks & Spencer or Matalan. I suspect that this is definitely a case of less is more, i.e. the more you pay the less you get!

I certainly know that most women I know prefer bras that are not underwired, I am now beginning to understand why, yet whenever I go into lingerie departments the vast majority of bras are underwired, so they are not being made primarily for the comfort of the woman.   I suspect that this is a subject I will be revisiting, certainly my perspective on the such things has changed over the last few years, yet I am still very much of the opinion that life is too short for ugly underwear!

My Favorite Cartoonist Brooke McEldowney
My Favorite Strip 9 Chickweed Lane

And the title is a reference to my post of the 18th November 2012, ironically the dress I was lusting over so much at that time I would now have several opportunities to wear, but it is no longer available ~ heyho!

Friday, 18 August 2017


Sometimes I forget how lucky I am, or maybe that shouldn't be lucky it should be blessed!

Living in London (The greatest city in the World!) in the 21st Century allows me to be me, I can walk down the road without having to be particularly concerned about my safety, I can go shopping without problems, I can expect to be treated with respect and reasonable manners. These are of course simple things that many people in my position in other places and times could not expect.

Being British it means that the medical aspects of my transition are all funded, I find it hard enough to decide exactly what it is that want (medically) without having to take financial concerns into account.   Sure, the NHS can be slow, and the administration can be frustrating, but at least there is a will to help and funds to support.

I have just got home after getting the results of my regular blood tests, all is well, blood counts, liver functions, cholesterol etc. etc. are all fine, and more to the point my hormone levels are going in the right direction again.   All due to the care and medication I am getting through the NHS.   I now have a GP at my local practice who has experience, knowledge and understanding of the process I'm going through; is happy to talk about it and guide me with some sound advise.   I can be reassured that medical care is available to me what ever the situation.  Something that not everybody, even in this great city, can feel assured of.   Early next month I will be visiting my Gender Identity Clinic where I will see a specialist to discuss any further treatment, or changes in medication, again all funded by the NHS.

All this and it is all pretty local as well, I made myself a cup of tea before going to the Doctors this morning, realised I didn't have time to drink, but when I got home it was still warm enough to drink!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

My Office Today

Well not actually today, not even yesterday, since it was raining all day, but at least this week. It's not my work that causes me stress, it's the days like that when I can't do any.

Half way through (I Forgot to take a "before")

After, complete with Walter De La Mare blue plaque

What my day actually looked like

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I don't know

I suspect that one of my most used words is "busy", today I should be busy working, the gardens of a couple of my favorite ladies should be receiving my attentions today, but the weather is against me.   Before anyone starts to complain that I'm a fair weather gardener ~ damn right I am! Mowers don't cut wet grass well, working wet soil causes structural damage, and wet backs are very bad for me as well.   Instead I am getting on with a project I started at the weekend, I'm redecorating the hall of my flat.

It is a very small flat, with a very small hall, but it does have four doorways and a three cupboards so lots of woodwork.   The cupboards I have painted it match the walls, so that was nice and simple, but the door frames had about sixty years worth of gloss paint on them. Layer upon layer of paint, so much the moldings have become blurred and what should have been nice sharp angles rounded.   They were so bad that I decided to strip all the paint and start again, maybe even leaving them as bare wood if they are good enough.   This is another of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" projects. I started off with a chemical stripper, but that smelt horrible and had little effect on the layers of paint.   I now have an electric paint stripper, basically a heat gun, but that sets off all my smoke alarms.   So today I am burning off paint with all my smoke alarms disconnected ~ Health and Safety?

I have no idea just how many layers of paint there are, but it must be at least a couple of mm thick.  The top layers come off quite easily, but the earlier ones are putting up a valiant fight, so far I have put in over half a day, and not even finished half a frame, and now I've started I've got to finish.

I just don't know why I started!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

It's the Law

I have heard a lot this year about celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.  

Unfortunately this is wrong on so many levels, I was always aware that 50 years ago there was only a partition decriminalisation, but this morning I listened to a documentary on BBC Radio 4 where Peter Tatchell debunks the whole thing, giving a much fuller history of the legal situation over the last 50 years.

I learnt a lot, maybe you will too.   I know that a whole hour is quite a long to time to listen, but it is most rewarding, eye opening, and illuminating as to why so many gay men of a certain age can still be pretty cross.

Listen here

Friday, 4 August 2017

Big Numbers

I'm pretty used to seeing big numbers, every time I get in my car or van I see pretty big numbers on the odometer, the car has done over 110,000 miles and the van over 220,000.   But the numbers I have in mind are smaller than those, the other day we had a post Pride meeting to assess how we did, and where we go from here.

The official estimates are that we had over 600 people on the parade and at least 3,000 for the event in the Park.   I suspect that both of these estimates are on the low side, unfortunately some figures that are not on the low side are the costs of running events like these.   We are determined to keep Croydon Pride Fest a free event, celebrating the progress of the LGBT+ community while maintaining an element of protest to keep fighting for equality, for all the community.  

We are thankful for the support from the Council and our sponsors, but for next year we will need to get in an awful lot more money. To maintain the quality of the event while growing the numbers of people who can attend we have had to set a budget very nearly twice the one we had this year.   We will need to get more sponsorship, we will need more commercial stalls at the event, and we will have to get individual donors.   We will have to have fund raising events, in short we will need a team of fundraisers and volunteers, the work for next year has already started!

I can't help but notice one other rather big number, this blog has now passed the 500,000 mark of page views, so if you have been, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Identities ~ Take Pride

This post should have a health warning, it deals largely with transgender matters, so if you are only interested in my Gardening, or musical sides then have a laugh at the cartoon and move on.

I have recently been asked, "After your transition do you consider yourself to be a Trans Woman or just a Woman" This is a tricky one, not least because I am not sure that Transition has an end, so maybe there is no such time as "after".   Certainly transition is like coming out in as much as it is a process, not an action.   Most of the time I do not define myself by my gender, or even my gender identity at all, indeed I suspect that most of the time I do not think of my identity, at all, I am simply me.   I am more likely to identify myself as a musician, a tuba player, a gardener, or a Christian than I am as a woman or a trans woman.   This has changed, when I started my transition, and for quite a while before, my gender identity was constantly on my mind, at that point I had decisions to make, "who am I?" "what am I going to do about it" "how far am I going it go" now I am more settled in who and what I am it is only the last of these questions that I still have to find an answer for, and I will only find that answer when I absolutely need to.

Todays Skinhorse cartoon, part of my daily dose

The truth is that none of us has a single, or a consistent identity, OK mine may be a bit more complicated than many, but everybody has multiple identities, spouse, parent, child will probably cover a lot of us, and that is before we start thinking about gender, race, class, tribe, profession and all that other stuff that society imposes upon us.   Since I started this journey I have found that the whole trans thing is easier for some than others, I happen to be white, middle aged and speak with an acceptable accent, so I still fall within several areas of privilege.

It is only now that I have begun to really begun to understand privilege. As a white heterosexual middle class male I was not aware of the privilege I enjoyed, I had it all my life and it only increased with age, now I have given up a large part of that privilege I begin to understand how other parts of society feel.   I have become aware of the whole issue of intersectionality, how much more difficult it is for those who fall within two or more of the groups that are denied societal privilege, to be black and trans, to be a black gay Muslim woman in Africa may be the ultimate.   I am very aware that most of the meetings I go to, even though they may be about campaigning for equality are dominated by the white middle classes, look at the people attending Pride ~ pretty much any Pride ~ and they will be predominantly white.

I have heard a lot this year about the exclusion from Pride events of non-binary people, yet I suspect that there are also much larger groups who are not complaining but are still excluded.   Somehow I want to take my very privileged position as chair of Croydon Pride to make sure that we at least do not exclude anyone, I'm not sure how, and am happy to take advise.  I got involved in all this to start with to promote inclusion, I certainly don't want to stop just because I am now included.

Monday, 31 July 2017

People and Places

Last Friday I went to a funeral, never something to be enjoyed, but this was a friend I used to be very close to.   We holidayed together, spent many of our evenings together and often went on joint dates.   For several years we were very close, but with one thing and another our paths diverted and we lost track of each other.

After his death the Police contacted a mutual friend, who managed to track a couple of us down through another friend's son's Facebook presence. Yes we were that estranged.   So I travelled down to Bristol with my closest friend who, although also having lost contact, was to talk at the funeral  since they had been friends since infant school.

Funerals are always sad, but when it is somebody that was close who had then lost contact it is worse. Even worse is that at the end he seemed to be terribly alone.   A few years back another friend died alone having cut himself off from most of his friends, at that time I swore I would not lose contact with any other friends, everybody deserves some support.   Yet it happened again.

I have a lot of friends, since I have lived a long time (although not as long as my last post might have suggested ~ WOOPS!) and I cannot stay intimate with all of them while exploring all the wonderful new opportunities life is presenting me with.  But I will try to keep up ~ if only on line.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The News

UK Government

has announced that it will put forward proposals to allow Transgender people to self define out gender, or at least make it a lot easier.   This is well overdue, although the Gender Identity Certificate was world leading when introduced, many of us now find it inappropriate, intrusive and difficult.   We have yet to see the proposals but I do hope that they will be in line with the recommendations of Select Committee for Women and Equalities back in 2011. Anything less will provoke protests from our community and supporters, but I suspect that any liberalisation of the regime will cause problems on the Tory back benches.

Diesel and Petrol engine cars to be banned from 2040, reading a little more it seems that hybrids will be allowed and as yet I haven't been able to see if commercial vehicles are affected. Since I will be over 8o by 2014 I will not be greatly impacted, but, I do worry about the drive to remove diesel engine vehicles from the roads.   Many small trades people rely on our vans to be able to work, vans need diesel engines for their torque characteristics, and we certainly can't afford to buy new.   My own van is around 15 years old, has done over 200,000 and has just passed it's MOT.   At the moment I could not afford to replace it so any ban could well put me out of business.

Donald Trump

Just defies comment really

Monday, 24 July 2017


I've just had another incredible weekend, it was fun, but to be honest I'm glad that it's all over.

Saturday was Trans Pride in Brighton, this year I only went down for the day, but this time I took my daughter, we were playing with a friend on stage so I drove down just to make it easier with our instruments.   While all this was happening my van was in for it's MOT, and I had to make sure I was in a fit state to play with the Linden Wind Orchestra on the Sunday.

So it was a very busy weekend, and in so many ways a very special one, Saturday was a great time to catch up with lots of old friends, sorry about the ones I missed, have some good conversations with people on the TransPALS stall, and a first for me, performing on a Pride stage.   My daughter had only gone to her first Pride earlier this month and she was already booked to perform, it was only in accompaniment of her and her friend that I got on stage at all.   I will admit to being a little disappointed by the stage set up, the sounds was not at all what I aim for, and the lack of fold back made it very difficult, but to be honest more rehearsal would have made a big difference as well.

The concert on Sunday was fun, even if I wasn't on top form and i rounded off the evening with dinner with a couple of very good friends. A few years back I was privileged to be part of their wedding, and the better I have got to know them, and them me, the more proud I am to be known as their friend.

I am sure that this will not be the last word on what has become Pride Month, not least as I hope to have some photos to share soon, but for now I am more than happy to sit back a bit and relax.

Friday, 21 July 2017


Saturday at Croydon Pride Fest was brilliant. The day started early for me with a visit to our Saffron Garden, a brilliant project focusing on Croydon's origins as centre of saffron production growing lots of crocuses, since it's the wrong time of year for crocuses we had 7 beds planted up in the colours of the rainbow flag, it looked brilliant and I was so happy that it truly was a community project with plants being donated in the colours.

Then it was meet and greet all the stall holders before a quick change and a walk through Croydon town center to lead the Parade.   Being at the front is rather strange, as we are the first thing people see, and in many cases the first time they realise that the event is even  happening. All in all I would say we had a very positive reception, and were shown a lot of love. It was hard to get an idea of how many people joined the march, but looking back I couldn't see the end! I estimate between 600 and 1,000.

The parade finished in Queens Gardens, right in the town center, opposite the Town Hall, as a committee we had taken the decision to
make the stage as professional as possible with a proper stage, back stage and PA, I think this paid off, making the whole event so much better.   I opened proceedings with a short(ish) speech welcoming everybody and pointing out that equality still hasn't been achieved, and although we were there to have fun and celebrate there are still battles to be fought, here and abroad.

After that I could relax a little and have some fun mingling with the crowd, talking to people, having my photo taken and presenting the prize of a pint of cider to one of our completion winners.

It was brilliant to see lots of rainbow flags and garlands, but maybe even better to see lots of Trans Flags, Bisexual banners and tee shirts, some non binary and the odd pansexual, I think we truly managed to be an inclusive event, and I want to make sure we carry on that way.

The only down side was that I could spend less time with friends and family who came to the event, but at least I did manage a quick photo with my friends Callum and Connor

As Chair I had a busy day with lots of duties (all of them pleasurable) meeting lots of people and having lots of conversation, so much so that it took a good few days before my voice had properly recovered.   All in all it was a great day, I'm already looking forward to next year's Pride Fest as I am sure that we can once again improve on this year, while still keeping it very centered on inclusivity and the Croydon community.

All photos by my friend Patricia Curtis, the official Croydon Pride photographer

Thursday, 20 July 2017


This would have gone up a couple of days ago, but because of the problems I mentioned below I couldn't access it. I'm not convinced that the problems are solved, but at least I managed to find this one!

I fear that I have rather glossed over an awful lot of time, and events.  
Last weekend had so much that I could barely manage to get through it, never mind write anything about it.   I gather that Pride is the third largest outdoors event in London after the fireworks and the New Year's Day Parade.   I can't speak for size, but I do know that there were A LOT of people there.   I had lots of hugs, high fives and selfies, there were even a few kisses, all in all it was a total blast!

The only trouble with being in the parade is that you don't get to see the rest of the parade, and a lot of them are a lot more entertaining to look at than we were ~ we were fabulous, but maybe not too entertaining.   I left the entertaining till Sunday when I played at the Dorking Halls with the Croydon Symphonic Band, I will admit that I was a bit more tired than I would have liked, and I even managed to leave my music at home, fortunately there were enough spare parts there so I could make up another pad - even though it did mean that I had to use a Bb treble clef tuba part while playing on an EEb tuba which did rather tax my poor raddled brain.

Somehow I did manage to get through the week, with a couple of meetings for Croydon Pride Fest, a few rehearsals and lots of work, and then it all happens again.


Over the last few days I have been having some problems with Blogger. I had draft posts prepared but it just won't load properly so I can't get to them.

Is it just me or are others having issues?

Normal service will be resumed soon ~ I hope!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

It's not over yet

Saturday at London Pride was simply fantastic, or should that be fabulous?   After enjoying the parade we headed for our regular refuge at the end of this event, "The Tattersall Castle", Beer is outrageously expensive but with sharp elbows we can usually get a seat and it's not too crowded. several beers later I headed for home, happy, relaxed, and tired, I didn't feel it was too late when I got home so I popped some dinner in the oven, switched on the TV and sat down while it cooked.   Several hours later I woke up on the sofa to find charcoal in the oven!

The following Sunday I played with my wonderful Croydon Symphonic Band, in Dorking, then this weekend we have had both Croydon Pridefest and a another concert, this time in my local park.

Pridefest was amazing! So many people, so much love, so much talking, so much booze.   As chair, on the day I had to lead the parade and then make a short(ish) speech from the stage.   It was also a great pleasure to talk  to all the stall holders, and all the groups who were marching.

And it's not over yet, next Saturday is Trans Pride in Brighton, and then on the Sunday I am playing with the Linden Wind Orchestra in Sunbury.

With all this rather frantic activity I trust you will forgive my absence from the Blog, I do regret it. But, I regret more that this all means that it feels like a very long time since I've been able to attend Church on a Sunday.   I know that it is possible to be a Christian and not attend Church, but it's very hard, and I do miss it.   I miss the people, I miss the service, and I miss the discipline.   I am looking forward to having a free weekend (if I don't have to drive to Cornwall) soon and I am very much looking forward to being able to attend a regular service again.

Monday, 10 July 2017

What a Weekend

WOW! That was some weekend. Saturday was London Pride and I was there, along with other members of TransPALS and my Daughter. We had a great day out, and thoroughly enjoyed the love from the crowd. It was my Daughter's first Pride event and she was totally blown away by it.

I think you can tell that I was enjoying myself.   I think the whole group was, so much love, so much appreciation.

Now I can't wait for next Saturday and the equally wonderful if somewhat smaller Croydon Pride Fest

All photos by my good friend the amazing Patricia Curtis.