Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Just Another Reason

I apologise for my recent absence, it's my usual problem of trying to do slightly more stuff than I have time for.   In my life the stress comes not from what I do, but from what I fail to do.

But enough of all that, I have a concert coming up!

Rather a special concert!

It is the LGSO's 21st Birthday concert, we are not only celebrating 21 years of our existence, we are also celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation in the UK of gay relations between men. We have commissioned a new piece "Natural Behaviour"  from the well regarded contemporary composer Michael Finnissy.   We will also be playing Stravinsky's Firebird and Rachmaninov's second symphony.   All this at St John's Smith Square, Great Music, Great Hall, Great Orchestra, what more could you want?

OK so you want some hunky men as well? I think we can help!


Friday, 9 June 2017

Remember Gerald Ford?

I may not have been wise, but I have just stayed up all night watching the election results, it was quite a night, but with no definite conclusion. Labour did better than expected, the Tories and the Scottish Nationalists did worse, but the Tories still have the most MPs even though not enough for a majority.

So after all the campaigning, all the mud slinging, and all the punditry we have very few real conclusions. Jeremy Corbin's position is probably  more secure and Teresa May's less. SNP and UKIP will now be playing a different game while the LibDems will have mixed feelings. But rather than a conclusion this is now the start, the start of some pretty serious negotiations between party leaders, and MPs.   Who will be our next Prime Minister? who knows?

It certainly seems as though Teresa May called this election to increase her majority, give her a strong mandate for a "Hard Brexit" and has been rejected by the electorate.  There is now a big question over whether her own party will allow her to continue or will she be forced out.  

For those of us who watch politics then next few days will be interesting, certainly the MPs from Northern Ireland will prove crucial to any party trying to form a Government.

But for me the best news, a decent turn out and lots of young people have been voting ~ maybe they have been reading my Paula's Place

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Today's the day

I am quite sure you all have a pretty good idea about my politics, I have made no secret of them, I am definitely of the progressive school.   I have actually had to make quite a hard decision as to who is going to get my vote, as the three parties all have policies that appeal to me, I am particularly attached to the Green Party's policy of trialing a universal income. Likewise I am very attracted to the LibDems Policy of a Ratification Referendum, in the end I have made my decision on the basis of both the local situation and the wider political climate.   That is my decision, yours may very well be different, but unless you vote it simply won't matter.

I mentioned before that people died so that we could vote, I don't just mean the service men and women who have served in wars protecting our freedoms, I also mean the campaigners throughout the years who forced changes to our laws leading to universal suffrage, the Suffragettes campaigning, imprisoned and inhumanly treated as they campaigned for women to have a vote.   Reformers who were imprisoned or killed before forcing the great reform act allowing all men to vote.   Democracy (even one as scant as ours) is not a God given gift, it is a hard fought for privilege!    USE IT

I am about to go out and cast my vote, the mpre3 of us who do that more likely we are to have a Parliament that represents us, don't use your vote and you will not be represented, you will have no right to complain, and you will be dishonoring all of those who fought so hard to give you that vote as a right.

As a general rule we don't get many opportunities to exercise control over our governance, today is one of those days, we can change how we are governed, or indeed we can choose not to, but it is up to us all to make that choice.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Geting Ready

Whilst the last couple of days have presented a bit of a hiatus in the weather it is undeniable that Summer is here.   Temperatures are regularly in the twenties, the days are long and the evenings light.   Skirts and trousers are both short and sweaters are consigned to the wardrobe.   

I have at last taken to working in shorts and vest tops rather than jeans and sweaters, and it's nice!   Of course that does mean that there are some aspects of my appearance that require a little more attention than when I am more covered...............

I have also been through my wardrobe and realised that quite a few of my summer clothes are a little snugger than I would really like, leaving me the choice of trying lose some weight or buying some new clothes.   Since I have an aversion to spending money I will be trying to lose some weight.

Ideally I would like to be below 12 stone (168 lbs) which means shedding a little over half a stone.   It would be really nice if I could do this before all the Prides start in July, especially the Croydon Pride Fest on the 15th July as I will be playing quite big role in it this year.

Looks like I may have to try to find some self control!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Fear and Loathing; Then and Now

Inspired by a recent post by Hanna, my friend from Minnesota, who posted on her Blog an article about the fear experienced by many cross dressers.  There is an almost universal fear amongst cross dressers that they will be found out, this can lead to all sorts of subterfuge, lots of lying, and on occasion some pretty unsafe behaviour.   The secrecy can lead to snatched moments of release, lone walks in dangerous dark alleys, moments in strange bars inappropriately dressed, lone drives which are fine until the car breaks down or the Police stop you!

Then, the first photo on this Blog back in August 2011
Once I realised the dangers of these sort of outings I quickly stopped, sticking to planed days out with friends or in populous spaces, like galleries, but maybe on days like this when the rain pours down and work would be impossible I might wait until the family had all gone out and then get changed, sneak out the back door and go off on an adventure.   I will admit that the subterfuge was a bit exciting, and truly made these outings adventures, indeed one of the things I did worry about before going "full time" was that in losing that excitement I would lose the whole point.   Mercifully that was not the case.

And now
Of course at first I was still frightened of being caught, indeed I was frightened of being caught not just in my cross dressing, but in everything I did.  I always had the scared feeling at the back of mind that I one day I would be "found out".  Whether it was playing music, chairing meetings, leading Bible studies or whatever, I always had this feeling that somebody would notice I wasn't meant to be doing it! So with the cross dressing I was really insecure.   It was only when I stopped cross dressing and started to transition that I began to find fuller confidence in everything else I did as well.   I still get nervous before I perform, but I no longer worry that I will be "found out", and thrown off the stage as they send for a real musician.

Maybe we should all ask ourselves why we are trying to hide?, what actually would happen if we were more public? would the sky fall in? would we lose our jobs? would we lose our family?
Once I started to be honest about this one thing in my life I stopped fearing everything else, and guess what, I am a much better me, and everybody seems to recognise that.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Boot Camp

I have a problem with boots.

I like a nice pair of boots as much as the next girl, well possibly a bit more. A quick count tells me that as well as 28 pairs of shoes I now have fourteen pairs of boots!   There are the lovely black leather boots with the three and a half inch stiletto to the Bike Boots and the other pairs that I can actually walk in.   I have a nice pair of black patent knee high flats that I think I may have only worn once, three pairs of knee boots with mid heels that I more or less live in all winter, apart from when I am wearing my over the knee flats.



There are also a couple of pairs of classy ankle boots, both mid heel, one pair black and one pair brown; a pair of walking boots; a pair of Converse leather "Paddock Boots" and a couple of pairs of wellies.   All of these are good (apart from one favorite pair of black "slouch boots" which are on their way out as the soles are starting to lose their patience with the uppers and are considering separation), with the change in weather I shan't be wearing them as much and I think I should get another few seasons out of most of them.  No, my problem is with the more important boots, the ones I wear almost every day.



By the nature of my work I spend most of my working life wearing work boots, not very elegant, but comfortable and practical ~ after all a fork or chainsaw through the foot would do nothing for my image.   Generally I go for the type with a steel plate in the sole as well as the steel toecap, to get protection from both above and below, on some of my more sloping gardens a bit of ankle support is welcome as well!

Again, I have a couple of pairs, only this week both seem to have pretty much given up the ghost, and now I have to go and find some new ones ~ this is the one form of shoe shopping that I don't find fun, on the whole I prefer Russell and Bromley to Screwfix but needs must.   I always wear out the leather on the toe of my left boot because of the way I kneel when weeding, but this week, half the heel feel of one boot, and the sole split on one of the other pair. Now I have no choice, new boots needed.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Sad

I had a post prepared to publish today, a nice cheerful slightly jokey post, the type I like, but somehow after last night it just doesn't seem appropriate anymore.

Last night I was on a Daughter Date, the only type, but also definitely the best type, of date I get these days.   We had a pizza and then went see Wonder Woman, we both enjoyed the film, despite some slightly dodgy accents and some serious racial stereotyping it was a fun film, with some serious underlying points on equality, the nature of good and evil, and individual responsibility.   All this along with some "Kick Ass" moves, great special effects, and more than enough eye candy to satisfy everybody.

Then after getting home I switched on the telly while I had a quick night cap to be confronted by the awful news London.

Once again I was confronted by the nature of good and evil, man's inhumanity to man, and even some racial stereotyping.   Only this time it was not part of a knock about fantasy, this was real, a few men so corrupted in their believes that they felt obliged to go out to kill and maim others, others whom they had no previous contact or knowledge of.

I cannot begin to understand what makes a man hate so much that they will undertake this sort of action, what drives people to declare war on whole civilisations, but to effect that war on individual civilians.   What I do understand is that this is a war that cannot be won with violence and counter terror activities alone.   I do not know how an ideology can be defeated,  but I do know that as a Christian I have to start, and end with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not to say the offence did not happen, it is not to say that the offence did not matter, and it is certainly not to say that the offence did not hurt and it is not to deny that the offense deserves punishment.  Forgiveness is to acknowledge the hurt and the pain, it is to recognise the offence, but to not hate the offender, indeed as Christians we are to show our enemies love.   At times like this it can be really hard, it would be so much easier to be like Wonder Woman and go out and kick some ass, but that is not Christ's way, we must show love to the offender as well as the victim ~ after all Christ defeated death and sin through love, not with a sword, but on a cross.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

I couldn't resist

In case any of you in the further flung corners of the Globe (corners of the Globe! now there's a strange expression) haven't realised here in the UK we are in now in the final stages of a general election.   In theory we are a representative democracy with a Constitutional Monarch.   In theory we are electing a Member of Parliament who will represent our views in Parliament, in practise we are electing a Government and a Prime Minister.   I am quite sure that any one who knows me, or indeed anyone who visits Paula's Place will have a pretty good idea of my political views.   There are plenty of places where you can go to get political views and commentaries so I will not join in here, I will not tell you who to vote for, I will simply encourage you to vote.



Recent polls have shown that if the 18 - 30 year olds vote then we could have a very different result, so whether you are voting on
  • How you will pay for your parents care,
  • What sort of a state pension you will enjoy,
  • What sort of treatment you will be able to get in what sort of hospital,
  • What sort of education your children will get, or how university education is funded
  • Whether you want to be protected by the Police or avoid being arrested by them, or simply
  • Who is consistent, and honest enough (and likely to actually turn up) to lead a Government that has to negotiate a deal with the E.U.
What ever issues light you up, please, please please use your vote.   People died to give us the privilege to vote.   Even though we rejected what may have been a farer system, we do have the right to vote, at our last referendum we voted for the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament and therefore us the people, the subjects of the UK, make use of that hard won sovereignty and vote.   We don't have to look far away, or far back into the past to see what happens when we leave it up to others.

Sorry, I tried to avoid politics, but I simply couldn't resist any longer!

Cartoon from 9 Chickweed Lane by my favourite cartoonist  Brooke McEldowney

Thursday, 1 June 2017

So They Say

I've heard a lot recently about people denying the existence of Gender Non Binary ~ I have not seen any of these attacks myself but I can understand just how hurtful they might be for those who identify as non binary.   It is only recently that we have started to understand gender as a concept separate to physical sex, indeed when I was at school the two terms were considered to be interchangeable, so it should hardly be surprising that some people refuse to change their minds.

The very concept of Transgender is appalling to some people, so the idea of gender being a spectrum rather than a simple binary is just going to blow their minds.   I suspect that most of us accept the principle but struggle with the true understanding of how that feels, of course we do, how can any of us truly understand what we have not ourselves experienced.   I have some young friends who identify as non binary, or are moving towards that self understanding.   It has no real impact on any one except themselves, so why do some media types feel the need to express dissent?  Probably just to further their own career by exposing another minority to their bile, a minority that does not have legal or political support is an all too easy target for those who like to be seen as contentious.



Rather than simply give their views credence just because they are published, rather than get into pointless on line arguments that only serve to promote the hated view, maybe, just maybe, we should examine just who "these people" are, and what motivates their views.


Cartoons from 9 Chickweed Lane by Brook McEldowney

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Getting Out

Well I managed to get through yesterday's performance without getting too wet, we did play outside, and we did have a few drops of precipitation, but not enough to force us inside.   It was a fun job in a lovely setting, and even better there was a tab for the band behind the bar ~ the only trouble was that I had to drive home.

Way back in the dim and distant past I made a pact with myself that I would take at least one day a month off to indulge myself with something cultural.   For many months I would regularly go and visit a gallery, take in a lunch time concert or maybe walk around a special garden ~ like so many of the things that are important I have let this slip, well last week I had the chance to make up for some lost time as I had the opportunity to go to a live performance of Pricilla Queen of the Dessert at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley.   A good friend of mine has started working there and gets the occasional ticket.

It was an am dram production, but you wouldn't have known it from the performances, or the production values, the possible giveaways were that a couple of times some of the blokes in the chorus looked a bit uncomfortable in some of the costumes.   The live show is much more of a musical than the film, and all the performances were excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and actually teared up a couple of times.   I am so grateful to my friend for getting me out and doing this, I will now make sure that I do get to more things where I'm not performing; whether it's concerts, plays, exhibitions or what, I will do it!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Down

Today is the Monday of our late May Bank Holiday Weekend, I actually worked on the last Bank Holiday Monday at the beginning of the month, and if the weather holds I will be doing some work this afternoon as well.   It's not that I', some kind of glutton, it's just that time of year when there is a lot of work to do, and if I am to live any sort of life the rest of the week I sometimes have to do a few hours gardening while the rest of the Country relaxes.   The rest of the Country that doesn't work in retail, or hospitality, or waste management, or..... well you get the idea.

ASCB in their natural environment
It has been an eventful weekend, on Saturday I played with the All Saints Concert Band at the Crystal Palace Beer Festival at Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace F.C.   A fun event although not many of our "audience" were too concerned about the standard of our performance.   In the afternoon I finished off a small landscaping job, which I am rather proud of, but still managed to forget to take any photos.

Sunday was a lot less sunny, but still pretty warm, for my lunch time performance at the St Christopher's Hospice, about once a month or so my little Jazz/Blues band "Cross The Line" play there at lunch time in the restaurant while patients and their families enjoy a Sunday Lunch together. Over the last year this band has been slowly improving and we are now at a standard where we feel we can go out and do more public playing ~ I must be mad to take on any more commitments, but at the same time it is rather exciting as it's the only band I play the electric bass with.

With Biggin Hill a few years ago
Two down, one to go, in a moment I will be going over to the Metropolitan Police's sports club where I will be playing with the Biggin Hill Concert Band.

If it were a sunny day then the plan was to play outdoors, now I'm not sure where we will be playing, or what to wear, either way I will have to dash home afterwards to get changed before going off to cut some grass.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

My Office Today

Yesterday I gave lots of good advice about watering, looking at my shoulders this morning maybe I should have given and taken some good advice about sun lotion!   I did remember to put some factor 50 on my face, but the freckles on my shoulders now have an underlying shade of pink!

My first garden yesterday is a large garden primarily laid to grass (it took me about and hour and half just cutting the grass) but with some lovely shrubs, the Weigela is currently in it's full pomp, and the new leaves on the Dog Wood behind it make me understand why the owners didn't want me to prune it this year.   Both are getting a bit too big for their boots though and will need substantial pruning later.

They have some lovely specimen plants including this rose, I'm not at all sure what variety it is but it is absolutely covered in flowers, with dead heading it will flower continuously,  and then later in the year if they are left it will form bright red hips as well.   All this and it smells wonderful!


It is days like this that remind me just why I do what I do.  The beans I planted two week sago were alive and growing well, I spent the day doing work I enjoy, in places I like exposing my legs and shoulders to some wonderful sun ~ what's not to like? (apart from the poverty)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Baby it's Hot Outside

Well it seems as though summer has come in with a real bang here in the UK, I hear that temperatures may reach 30 degrees in Scotland today, IN SCOTLAND!   Certainly as I look out my window this morning I can only see blue sky and sunshine.  I shall shortly be going out to work and this week that has meant shorts, it is truly liberating getting out my shorts and sun tops again, but I am constantly aware that I need to avoid burning or over exposure.

Of the only trouble with showing so much flesh is that as my work can be a bit dirty I do find all the dust sticks to the sweat and by the time I get home I truly need that shower.

After photo from 6th May
It's not just the gardener who is feeling the heat, the plants will be as well. We haven't had that much rain, although last week's was welcome, so many of you plants will be needing so water, my tip is not to water every day, but give them a good soaking every three or four days.   If you have a sprinkler and are not on a water meter now is the time to use, a couple of hours in the evening will keep your garden green and healthy, just remember, again more water less often is better than little and frequent.

The exception will be in the productive garden, I planted some runner beans for one of my customers two weeks ago, that's the photo here, I am going back there this morning and half expect them to be withering ~ lets hope!

Monday, 22 May 2017

A little problem

I have not been around much the last week or so, I have had I.T. and other problems, I have also just realised that unless I work a ridiculous number of hours I simply am not making enough money.   I have decided to put up my hourly rate ~ to something still pretty low, especially compared with a plumber! Having made the decision I then couldn't act on it as I needed the computer to write the letter to my customers putting up my charges!

Well I now I have my computer back, but am reminded of another problem.   This machine was provided for me by one of my customers, from time to time I have been doing consultancy work for him, but have known him for nearly 25 years.   However for the last couple of years since I started my transition he is the only person who has refused to accept me, and has been continuing to use my "Dead name" (Jargon buster! the "dead name" is the name a trans person was given at birth alongside their assigned gender, when we have transitioned we take on a new name to reflect our authentic gender).   It is possible that he does not realise just how upsetting this is, however it is not possible that it is anything other than a deliberate act, and one that I now find profoundly upsetting.

In short I have decided that I am no longer prepared to accept this behaviour, and so I sending an e-mail today explaining why this is so insulting, undermining my whole sense of self, and telling him firmly that I will no longer respond to that name.   This may be another bridge burnt, I hope not, but by now I was not anticipating still having these sorts of battles.   I think it just serves to underline my assertion that coming out, and transition are both processes not actions.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A, B, C,....................................

I started writing this post last Sunday, a series of hectic events, and computer problems has meant that I haven't been able to complete it until today, but it is still very relevant.

Those of you who were with me last night may not be surprised to find out that I didn't manage to get an early start this morning.   This meant that I was going to be late for Church, I don't go to Church religiously, but when I can I do like to.   When my wife left and I started my transition I had to change my Church, it took me a little while to find a Church where I was comfortable, and they were comfortable with me.   By some strange co-incidence both Churches are called Christ Church!

Maybe not such a co-incidence since I am an Anglican Evangelical, and Christ Church is a popular name for evangelical Churches in the Church of England.

Christ Church Beckenham
I have been very happy at Christ Church Beckenham, they are a warm, friendly and loving Church family, the building is very fine (although some modernisation of the halls would serve the community better), and there is a drive to build the kingdom of God in Beckenham.   The trouble is that since moving there is a drive for me on Sunday morning!

This morning I wanted to go to Church but when I got to my car I realised that it would take me at least half an hour to get there, meaning I would be around 20 minutes late, I don't like being late, even though I often am, the alternatives were to miss out all together, or to go to my local Parish Church, which just happens to be called.... Christ Church.  

Christ Church Croydon
Unsurprisingly this is an evangelical Church with a membership that reflects the local community, a very different community to Beckenham.   I thoroughly enjoyed the service, although since it was both an "All Age" service, and a Baptism it was not typical.   The preaching seems sound, the people friendly and accepting, and a Worship Team whose enthusiasm maybe outweighs their abilities a little.

I have been thinking for sometime that it was about time that I worship in the community I am living in rather than commute to a nice middle class community.   I am just not sure yet whether I am ready to make this step.   I will not rush into anything but contemplate prayerfully on this, it's not easy.

Christ Church Anerley
It has also made me think, I started at Christ Church Anerley CCA, then I moved to Christ Church Beckenham CCB, and now I'm contemplating a move to Christ Church Croydon CCC. Will my next move be to Dunstable?

This morning I visited CCC again, and was once again impressed by the enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone I met. When I say they reflect the local community I understand they have 26 different nationalities within the congregation, and that is my local community!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Holding on

My laptop has been getting progressively worse over the last week or so, everything I use it for more than a couple of minutes it will switch itself off. So, I have now put it in hospital for a check up, repair or replacement.

Given that on Friday my car has it's MOT this could all prove rather costly.

It also means that I can't pick up any emails,  although I do now have a smartphone,  indeed it is what I am using for this post, it is deliberately not set up to collect emails.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible . 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

It's not always Easy

Although this started out as a Transgender Blog, it is an area of my life that I talk about less and less.   As my Wife has been known to comment "Not everything is about Gender", however it is often hard to relax and accept that even though I may not be everybody's idea of a "normal" woman this is me.   Increasingly I find that once I am up and going I rarely think about gender, just every now and then when I am struck with the incongruous.

When I am working I dress accordingly ~ jeans and sweater/ shirt or tee shirt ~ I do not wear make up or jewelry, it just wouldn't be sensible so when on occasion I am miss gendered I try to take it in my stride and not appear too offended.   But it does hurt, and when I am dressed up with the full shlap and sparkles then it really hurts!   It really hurts when people get my name wrong, and when it is deliberate I find it antagonistic, and I hate confrontations.

Perhaps I have been sending the wrong messages by not pulling people up when they get it wrong, maybe I have been sending the wrong messages by not writing about these things here; but generally I prefer to look on the up side and present a happy face.


The other morning I was sat at my dressing table and all I could see looking back at me was this old bloke, with big hands and thick muscular arms, it's difficult to explain how this feels, but it depresses, it undermines self confidence, it makes me want to hide and not go out; but work has to be done and life has to go on.   I pull on my big girl's pants and get on with it, then the episode of dysphoria passes and I get back to my normal fabulousness.

I'm having a course of facial electrolysis, which hurts, it also means that some hair has to be allowed to grow long enough to be pulled out. My next treatment is on Monday and I am having to allow the hair on my top lip grow, so it will look like I'm growing a moustache over the next few days, if you see me please don't ask, just pretend not to notice.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

It's all in the name III

I know there has been a bit of a gap, but in conclusion, I think "Big Shinny" is a bit obvious, and not just as a name. This is my Conn International CC Orchestral Contra Bass Tuba

For many I suspect that "Baby Besson" is a lot less obvious. This is the name that has been acquired by my Besson EEb tuba, Originally made in sharp pitch by Boosey & Hawkes, but unusually they used their premium brand of the time "Besson, New Standard".  

Later it was adapted to modern pitch with the addition of some extra plumbing, I further customised her with an even more modern mouth piece receiver from a Sovereign and updated the valves to make them quieter and quicker.   Indeed I suspect that she is quite unique, certainly I enjoying playing this instrument, I like the much more focused sound I get as opposed to the darker wider sound of the modern instruments.

Yet perhaps silliest of all, is the Salamander brooch I bought for a couple of quid from the Scope Charity shop in Beckenham, the brooch is now known as "Berwick" simply because it lives on my tweed jacket.

Do I need help?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Absence Report

Hard at work, "after" photos to follow
I know it is quite a while since I have posted, but I am still alive and kicking, well mostly working actually!   Now, first I need to explain that I tend consider my work to be all those things I do that don't come under the heading of hobby, personal or home maintenance.   So although this does include some things I enjoy and don't get paid for, like some of many music performances, it does not include some things I have to do and don't enjoy, like grocery shopping.

Today I will be playing with the astounding Linden Wind Orchestra, I certainly won't be getting rich out of it, and I will be thoroughly enjoying myself; but since it is an obligation I consider it as work, much as an artist will talk of their work.   Indeed I expect this concert to be highlight of my month, all of the music is challenging and the standard of all of the musicians, and the band itself is very high.   This will be a concert when there will be no piece I can relax in, I will need to be "on the edge of my chair" concentrating hard and playing to my best the whole time.

I found that last month I performed with four different band ~ that rehearsed on Monday evenings! I have had performances, recordings, rehearsals, meetings all on top of the day the job, which last month meant over 130 chargeable hours.   With the driving in between, maintenance of vehicles and tools, and admin I have had very little time for anything other than the essentials, of food and laundry!

I know I need to do less, I know I need to give something up, the problem is that I want to do everything that I do, so how do I decide what to drop.   One thing I have decided will not drop will be this blog and all my "Blogging Buddies"

Thursday, 20 April 2017

My Office Today

A new Gravel Garden I built in Penge
Rhododendron in Beckenham

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

It's all in the Name II

Gloria Monday on tour in France, 2011
I had always promised myself if I ever bought a Ford Transit I would call it Gloria, so when I did, I did! My second Transit was also called Gloria, but by way of differentiation she was Gloria Tuesday.

Gloria Tuesday was not such a good van as Gloria Monday, and never really managed to gain a place in my heart. So when she gave up the ghost and I had to buy a new van I was not too sorry.   That was when Dannie came into my life.    Dannie is a much better vehicle, more powerful, better suspension, better steering, more comfortable, just a slightly smaller box on the back.
Dannie the Vito

Rocinante
As far as cars go I have had several and very few have warranted names, Jade the Singer Vogue, Minnie the Hillman Minx ( my first car) are the prime examples, but when the little Seat came into my life last year she was crying out to be named, listening to BBC Radio Four's adaptation of Graham Green's Monsignor Quixote last year it became obvious that she had to be named Rocinante!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

It's all in the name

"Jade" at the Singer Centenary Rally
I am very good at giving good advice, but maybe not so good at following it, especially my own.   I have often observed that I am actually very good with money, as long as it's not my own, I am pretty much the same with restraint!
Mrs T

One of my many pieces of good advice is not to give inanimate objects names; it will only lead to an emotional attachment which then makes it more difficult to make rational decisions concerning them.   Cars, motorbikes, musical instruments can all appear to have characters which lead to them having a name, but they are still just objects.   I know when I sold my beloved Singer Vogue known as Jade it was a big emotional wrench, I still miss my tubas, "Honk" and "Mrs. T".   To me it seems foolish to voluntarily put yourself through such emotional turmoil, especially for a thing!

In which case I have to wonder why I have ended up with a Tuba known as "Big Shinny" and another call "Baby Besson", perhaps even more foolish is the car called, Roccinante, the van called "Dannie" and perhaps worst of all a brooch called "Berwick"!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

It is easy!

While I appreciate that the sentiment is hardily new, but, I have been really busy! Every thing in every garden is growing, and with the mild weather we have been having growing well.   This always seems to be my busiest time of year, with a combination of customers realising that fences have been damaged and winter tiding not done, along with all the usual spring work of grass cutting, lawn raking, rose and other shrub pruning.   This tends to be a time when I am working my socks off, and not yet reaping the rewards. I trust that they are rewards delayed by my invoicing system, but it can make April a hard month!

Add to that lot an unusual amount of musical work ~ I always call it work but very little of it turns a profit ~ and much of my discretionary activity has fallen by the wayside.

It is easy to be pessimistic, as I say I seem to have been working all the time, yet am no better off, As a Nation out education system is a mess, and the Governments solution appears to be to take us back to the 60s with selective schools. We all know that our health system is falling apart yet even Nurses are thinking about strike action as they get yet another below inflation pay award.   We widely accept out Police Officers as heroes, yet even though they will put themselves in the way of danger to protect us,  their funding is also being cut, so there will not be enough trained Officers to man the thin blue line.   We have to wait longer to get our pensions, pay for our Children's music lessons and university education, at the same as we are further impoverished paying for our parents care.

Over successive elections we ~ the electorate ~ have chosen the type of Country we want to live in, one that doesn't care about the needy, chooses not to pay those who serve us a decent wage, not to fund education or health. In short we have become a society where money, personal wealth, is valued more highly than public service, or indeed people.

It is easy to be pessimistic, yet then I remember that today is Maundy Thursday, the day when we remember Christ sharing His last Passover with his friends, the Apostles ~ what we call the Last Supper and the basis of our Christian Communion.   The day when Christ knowing what was a bout to happen, freely went to his sacrifice, the sacrifice that bought our freedom. That allowed us direct access to God tearing down the Temple Curtain, that served the sentence for our misdeeds so that we could live in freedom.

Last night I watched the Cohen Brothers film "True Grit" I had always enjoyed the original John Wayne and wondered why we needed a remake, however I found in an excellent film, indeed a better one than the original.   One line in particular struck, when the young girl said, in live we have to pay for everything, everything has a consequence ~ nothing in live is free, except God's Grace.

So yes it is easy to be pessimistic, and I am afraid that if we are not careful we will "all be going to hell in a handcart", yet I choose to be optimistic, I know that we can enjoy God's love, and that we can receive His Grace, if evil can be defeated then so can selfishness, apathy, and, greed. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

March Stats

YIPPEE!! I have lost a (little) bit of weight, I am now just over 12 and a half stone, only about half a stone to go before I am where I want to be.

So not many posts in March, what have I been up to?

Being Visible in Croydon Town Hall
Weight 12 stone 8 pounds
Weight lost 4 lbs
BMI 25.2 still over weight but not by much now
Days with no alcohol 31
Days Worked 22
Music Performance made 4
Recordings made 1 (over 2 days)
Court Cases attended 1
Funerals 2
Flags hoisted 1
Civic Receptions 1
Speeches made 1
EON Failed appointments 1
Rooms Painted 1

YEP, it's been a busy month

I had thought about doing the blogging A - Z again this month, but it's already too late, and quite frankly I have too much on to guarantee daily updates! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sometimes it can be really difficult

Some of you may just remember me writing about a small car accident I had back in January last year, the damage to the car was no more than superficial, (however it was written off as it was such an old banger!) and nobody was hurt, at all! The whole thing was settled very quickly and amicably, indeed what impressed me most was quick, efficient and friendly way it was all dealt with.   I replaced the car and considered the incident closed.

Now, over a year later I am getting hordes of unsolicited phone calls from "Ambulance chasers" trying to encourage me to make a further claim for personal injury.   I am refusing as there was no personal injury and just about all have left is my personal integrity.   I have had it suggested that since the car was written off it must have been a considerable impact, I have been told that I must have experienced some discomfort following the accident, I have been told that I may be unwise to not claim the "thousands of pounds owed" me.


It is never easy to resist the temptation to try and get money for nothing, and when, like me, money is in short supply it is even more tempting.   However I am holding out, I keep asking for the phone calls to stop and I will not claim for injuries I did not sustain.   Ultimately every one of us who insures a vehicle pays for this profiteering, I suspect that these sorts of fraudulent claims now represent a major proportion of the insurance premiums that we all are obliged to pay.

I'm holding out but it's not easy.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

I think I'm Broken

No not broke, even though I may that as well, but broken!

Due to weekend rehearsals, performances and recordings I realised yesterday morning that I had in effect been working every day for the past nine days.   I was tired and my enthusiasm levels were low, I was encouraged that spring had sprung and that I had the work to do, indeed even this week I have slightly more than will actually fit into the time available.

Then yesterday half way through cutting a large area of grass, I can't bring myself to call it a lawn, the weather changed, it started to drizzle. Since I was half way through I decided to carry on rater than leave the job unfinished. Then it started to rain, but by then I had to finish.7

Result, less than tidy, but cut grass, and a sodden Paula!  Now I was tired, stiff and wet!

Getting home I got showered and changed before trying to dash off to another rehearsal. I say tried to dash, it was as much as I could to walk to the car. A muscle at the top of my leg seemed to have ceased up, I was like an old woman, if I had walking stick I would have used it. As the evening wore on it only got worse, by the time I was home it was really, really bad. I decided to go to bed with a couple of iboprofen and not bother getting up in the morning, taking the morning off.   Of course that was when I found out I had run out of iboprufen, so I used a heat pad I have and retired to bed.

Following my own advise I didn't get up till around midday, which did mean I had the chance to listen to an excellent  program on Radio 4 on gender diversity in Rock music; if you are at all interested in diversity, or rock music a fascinating listen!

For centuries musicians have defied gender boundaries to create some of the most evocative and provocative art and music.
Journalist and culture critic Laura Snapes joins the dots of a fascinating musical history that encompasses musical icons such as Ma Rainey, Little Richard, Lou Reed, the Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones and Madonna, and looks at how today's musicians use music and performance to express who their own gender and sexuality.
In recent years the issue of gender and identity has been a hot topic in the musical landscape and beyond. From niche publications to tabloids and political debate, issues surrounding gender identity and how it influences both personal and social life have been widely publicised.
Amid the deeply complex personal world of gender identity and the often ruthlessly myopic world of the music industry, a new generation of artists are using music for fearless expressions of their gender and sexuality that break beyond the archetypes set by their forebears.
Rock Transition speaks with artists such as garage maverick Ezra Furman, Canadian pop stars Tegan and Sara, musician and author CN Lester, and musician and activist Ryan Cassata to understand why music offers an exciting platform to express and explore gender identity and sexuality - and asks how these artists can resist being marginalised and commodified by an industry keen to capitalise on a hot topic.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08jb6s8

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Warming Up

This is a special week for me, this is the first week this year when I have worked five days! Yes that's right I have actually worked a full week.   And, that's after a weekend where I had an all day rehearsal on Saturday followed by a meeting in the evening, and then another all day rehearsal on Sunday followed by an evening performance.

Then this weekend I have been recording with the rather wonderful Heroes Band.

All this means that I am feeling rather tired, but also very satisfied.

Of course this means a couple of other things as well, one is that I have been doing some pretty fantastic things, like last weekend I was at the Royal Festival Hall playing at Mirth Control, the big finale to the Women Of the World Festival.   OK this year couldn't quite match up to last year playing with Sister Sledge, but we did have Bjorn from ABBA!

It was great to be with so many wonderful, talented women, we were told that the Orchestra was the best yet and that we sounded pretty fantastic.   While it may not have been the most musically satisfying experience I have had, but as a life experience it is hard to compare!


It also means that the weather has been pretty good; at the beginning of the week I was working striped down to my tee shirt working on my tan, by Friday I was wearing a tee shirt, pullover and body warmer!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

I can be really stupid

Especially when it comes to planning my time and activities.   I seem to be going through one of those periodic episodes of frantic activity, between WOW work, rehearsals meetings and recordings I am in grave danger of disappearing up my own fundamental! (C below bass stave)

My Office on Monday
I am sorry if I have missed blog posts, Facebook notifications or e-mails. I am sorry if I don't appear to be giving you the attention you deserve, I am just too busy!  I am writing this at home after ten in the morning, but I have already done two hours work and am just grapping a quick break before going off to cut grass.   In the diary having three things on in one day looks OK, but when one of them takes over 8 hours the whole edifice can come crumbling down.

And yesterday,
by the time we had finished, it was too dark for photos
Spring has definitely sprung, after a long winter I am now desperately trying to keep up with the pruning, weeding and grass cutting, I seem to have a lot of meetings planning summer events, and the Transgender Day of Visibility, and there is also a lot of music about .

Next weekend I have a couple of recording sessions, and then the weekend after that I have NO CONCERTS! The first time since the 21st/22nd of January!