Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 30 January 2017

More Frustration

Back on the 12th of January I wrote here about the terrible service, or rather the total lack of service I was getting from my electricity supplier E-ON, well today was the forth appointment I had with them for my meter to be changed.   I suppose I should not really be surprised that yet again they totally failed!   This time I didn't see any engineer at all or even get a phone call.   When I called them, it actually took an hour and fifteen minutes, before some bright spark suggested that they look into it and call me back.

Then when came the follow up call did come I was told that an engineer claimed to have arrived and rung my bell, I do not have bell but an entry phone, there should have been two engineers, and I would have seen the van, so clearly some one is telling porkies! Other than that they can offer absolutely nothing other than yet another appointment, and a promise to follow up and investigate AFTER the job has been completed.

I would have abandoned them all together if I could get anybody else, but I can't switch supplier until after I've had the meter changed.

It simply beggars believe that any business nowadays can operate with such dreadful customer service.    I have now had three appointments and lost three days work, I think if they don't make a sensible offer I will be invoicing them for my time.

Where it started

My last post spoke something of my current work situation, it may be interesting to note that I have now been running this business for longer than any other period of employment I have ever had.   I consider that I have actually now had four careers, but each of them has included a few different jobs.

It all started way back in the seventies when Harold Wilson was still Prime Minister of the UK, it was then that it slowly started to dawn on me that my idea of going to one of the few music colleges around then was not going to be fulfilled.   If I couldn't do that then I might as well work in a bank, so that was what I did!

Doing a paper round hadn't really prepared me for any proper work (especially since when ever I could get away with it I would do my round wearing a gym slip I had acquired) so I followed advise that since I was good at maths and couldn't spell for toffee I should try working in a bank.   Not the first or the last time I have followed some pretty s#@t advise.

My first place of Employment
My timing was ideal in that it meant I could both afford driving lessons, and get a cheap loan to buy my first tuba.   Not so good in that I had the "joy" of experiencing the summer of 1976 while I had a contractual obligation to wear a suit to work every day.   This was in the days before Margaret Thatcher so we still had banking regulations that would stop us lending to people who couldn't afford repayments, had to record all foreign currency transaction, and wrote in ledgers with fountain pens.   In so many ways this was a different age, including what to modern eyes was quite startling institutionalised misogyny.

On my first day the branch messenger introduced himself to me by his first name, but always called me "Mr".  He told me that he looked after the tea and coffee, he would make the drinks, provide biscuits and collect the money.   "Of course the girls look after themselves" The "Girls" included the first cashier in her mid forties!

In those day, although not so long ago many, many things at work were very different
  • We had to put in a red light bulb to use the photocopier.
  • Only men contributed to the Widows and orphans fund or (I think) were automatically enrolled in the pension fund.
  • Men were obliged to wear suits, women to be "appropriate"
  • Only the year before I started, the Bank had been forced by law to offer subsidised mortgages equally to men and women.
  • I never met a female officer of the bank above the level of first cashier
  • I worked for NatWest for about 18 months before I met a black employee ~ and I was working in PECKHAM!!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A bit of Passion

A few of my friends are feeling well and truly fed up with where their careers have taken them.   They find they are in jobs they don't enjoy working with (or worse) for people they don't like, for rewards that are insufficient to make up for the drudgery.    One possible answer to this problem is self employment.   When self employed you get to write your own diary, choose who you work for and what you do ~ well nice in theory.

So far this month I have managed to do about five days remunerative work, this is totally out of my control, and that of my customers; it is just the way things work out sometimes.    Many people have written much about starting a business and I will not be regurgutating all of that solid financial advise, rather I will simply warn that it is not always a bed of roses, sometimes it is a lawn of frost!

How ever I do believe that the two keys for most people to be reasonably successful in self employment, is first to only look to make a living, don't try to get rich quick! and secondly find something you love doing, and then work out how to get people to pay you to do it.   If you look for a gap in the market and simply try to fill it, you may well just find out exactly why no one else is doing that job!

I love what I do (most of the time) and have learnt to accept that there are times when I can't do enough work, and others when I have too much.

My Office Today
There are also a lot of things that have to be done which one simply does not get paid for.   I have recently been engaged on one of these.   When I moved I lost all of my storage and work space, I have now been able to replace a small bit of this, and have managed to sort out some storage for tools and some materials.   Or to put it more simply, I've got a shed!

Well maybe not quite an Office
Or maybe not really Today either
I don't have enough room for everything so I currently have quite a few various items on e-bay, and a few still in the flat.

Not a total solution but it does mean I now have NOTHING in storage.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Looking back

My Garden on 2nd February 2009
It is still blooming cold here, sufficiently cold to make work very difficult if possible at all.   But it could be, and has been a lot worse!

I should admit that part of the problem is a lack of enthusiasm, or maybe just inertia on my part, but looking back over the years that's nothing new around January either.   In January last year David Bowie had just died, and I was worrying about money, being cold, work, and getting a new smart phone. Pretty much the same things that concern me this month, although my financial situation is slowly improving.

Two years ago things were a little different, I was still living in the family house even though I was on my own.   I am sure that I was concerned about work and money, but my post on the 23rd January 2015 was much more concerned about coming out, telling people who thought they knew me about myself, and how although in my mid 50s I was making some major changes.   But at that point I had only just decided to be me full time, but still had to present as male on occasion.

Going back a further year and I was still trying to work out who, and indeed what I was. I was living a life with "one foot in each camp" my wife and daughter had left to live with her mother, our relationship had detreated and at that point I could not see how it would improve. All in all sometimes it is good to look back to where we were so it is easier to see where we are going.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Baby it's cold outside

The other day I mentioned Silver Halide Dreams, another blog where I hadn't seen a post for some time.   Well low and behold Bunny has made a post! Maybe I should do this more often and then even Meg might come up with something!


It has been cold, maybe not by Siberian stand, but by Surrey standards it's cold.   Yesterday I planned to work around 10:00 but the frost was still hard.   By around 11:30 I thought that I should at least show my face, so I went out to the van and found I had to scrape f the inside of the windscreen!   I managed hours useful work at my customer but much of the garden was still covered with frost so was very restricted in what I could do.


My flat faces north, so it gets no direct sun and is pretty cold most of the winter. It is lovely and cool in the summer but there is always a trade off.   In November I bought myself an oil filled radiator which I have been leaving on at the lowest setting all the time, it certainly takes the edge of the cold and doesn't seem to be costing me too much.   Mind you with EON still not playing ball with my meter I am spending more than I should be.


The cold has also got to my wife's car, yet ait has suffered with a flat battery, I popped round today to give a jump off the van and a quick once over. Driving it around the block I was struck by just how much fun it was, after my van and the Sher little Polo felt like a sports car, small, nippy, taught suspension and very direct steering and brakes. I won't be rushing out to change as my tuba doesn't fit in the boot, but it did remind me why I like that car so much.


I always used to look forward to winter, as for me that was the best part of the Ruby season, I don't enjoy the winter quite so much now, but I am enjoying watching the European Rugby of TV, and am now looking forward to the Six Nations. I certainly wouldn't want to engage in that level of physicality now, but still enjoy watching. Indeed I have now decided that the best way for me to enjoy exercise is vicariously.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Best of Times

There is a lot to worry about at the moment, the UK's decision to leave the EU has lead to a lot of uncertainty, what ever your expectations of the outcome it is not going to be an easy process.   The process has not even started and all ready we are beginning to see some negative financial indicators, but then again some better ones as well.   At the moment the only certain thing is the uncertainty!

Then on Friday over in the USA there will be the inauguration of their 45th president, Donald Trump.   Now, many people seem to think that this is a bad thing and that he is a bad man (reference 1066 and all that!) others of course think he is a good man and a good thing.   Just like Brexit does here, he divides the country in twain, once again it appears that no one truly knows what to expect and that we have another very uncertain situation.

Then when we add in The Gambia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and, Yemen it can very much seem as though the World is "Going to Hell in a hand cart".   However on sober reflection I'm not so sure.

I am currently reading C J Sansom's novel" Dark Fire", a great who done it tale set in reformation England, at one stage Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk is reported as saying

'Not just apprentices, even silly little women fancy they can read the Bible now and understand God's Word.'
'It won't be long. The king plans to restrict Bible reading to heads of households, I'd restrict it further - I'd only permit it for the clergy. I've never read it and never will.'

It is on reading something like this that I realise just how privileged we are to live in 21st century western democracies.   There may be ~ and indeed there is ~ much that I disagree with and will argue with, but at least I can.   I can also read my Bible in freedom and can even draw my own conclusions, even though I may just be a "silly little woman"!   As a practising Christian (one day I might get it right) it is more of a concern to me how few people actually do, now they can.   This is a privilege that people quite literally died to allow us.

It is those same people who died and their successors who fought for freedom of worship, freedom to elect our governments and freedom to express our opinions that won us all these freedoms that we now enjoy.   It is because of those people that I can not only go to the Church of my choice on Sunday morning but that I can read my own copy of the Bible, and I can go there authentically as the person God made me to be.   Let's remember that they also bought the freedom of my neighbours to go to the Mosque, Temple or Synagogue of their choice.   They bought the freedom for people to be able to love, and now marry who ever they wish, the freedom to choose our representatives, and indeed to make unwise choices, if we so choose.   I am sure that some of those Martyrs, Soldiers and Protestors would disagree with some of the things that have been done with these freedoms, but at least now they would have the freedom to disagree.

All in all I am very happy that I happen to be alive now, and not at some period in our history, just as I am very glad to be living London, one of the most multicultural, inclusive cities in the world.   Although there is much to worry us, and much to complain of for those of us who don't fit in with society's traditional norm, these really are the best of times.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

I did it!

After quite a deal of fiddling about I think I have managed it.

It does seem a lot of unnecessary fuss, especially since until this week it was quite easy; and I can share on Facebook, Google+, pin interest or tumbler with a single click on the site.

Thanks Go Comics.

This and That

I woke up this morning to the news that our wonderful new Prime Minister thinks that GPs are not pulling their weight and should be available for 12 hours a day seven days a week.   Given that we are already several thousand GPs short of where we should be I wonder where these hours are going to come from.   Do I really want to see a Doctor who has already been working over 10 hours?   The Junior Doctors have been bludgeoned into submission, now it's the GPs turn.   I wonder why people would choose to go into the medical professions in this country at all.

Then there the terrible "documentary" on BBC the other night titled "Transgender Kids, Who Knows Best" this was a total travesty only serving to confuse the issues by giving way too much credence and air time to discredited doctors who have been removed from trans clinics because of their abusive practises ~ practises which are illegal in the UK!

I was feeling pretty depressed before the day had even started properly, I as tempted to stay in bed all day, but there were things that had to be done whether I felt like it or not, so I did get up.   I bumbled around the flat for a couple of hours before realising that I had only just enough time to get to the building society before it closed, and I needed to make a couple of transaction. Charging off in a hurry I just about made it in time, and the friendly greeting I got from the cashier made up for everything.   It was so nice to be greeted by name, told that she had missed me, her genuine smile made me feel wanted, and valued ~ they can't teach that in customer service school!

I can't say that I was so cheered up that I had a wonderful productive day, but I did manage a bit of cooking and spent the rest of the afternoon reading on line cartoons, and feeling a bit peeved that they have now managed to change the site I use so that I can't share the cartoons here anymore.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Apologies, addendum, and general I'm sorry!

I have to apologise to Alice, I can't believe how stupid I was yesterday, I managed to put in nine separate links, which may in itself be a record, and missed the single most important one.   The one that prompted the whole post!

I didn't link to Alice's Blog Alice Jane in Newcastle.

Please, please go and have a look, Alice doesn't write very often but when she does it is always interesting and well worth the read.

And her latest post has a stunning photo!


Friday, 13 January 2017

Friends, and Weighty Matters

This is the post I was planning to make yesterday, before my frustration boiled over and my bile needed to be vented.   Actually as a follow up I did eventually phone EON myself I now have yet another appointment for the 30th January, we will have to see whether they can manage that one, and what sort of an offer they are prepared to make by way of compensation.

But now on to more cheerful matters, through blogging I have friends that I have never met, some live quite close, even within the same County, but many live far away, on other sides of the World. Even though I have never left Europe I now have friends in Australia, USA, and Canada.   I may well have initially come across their Blog because of some Trans content, but carried on reading and interacting with them because I am attracted to the whole person.   I am sure that if I had first met Joey in person we would have run a mile from each other, we have very different tastes in music, in clothes, in holiday destinations and many, many other things.   But get past those superficial matters and we find that we share our faith, our love for our (sometimes difficult) daughters, and many of the more important things in life.   Kim and Cyrsti are both Americans who served in the armed forces, and April a Canadian motoring journalist trying to make a living any way she can, in a trans mysoganstic world.

These bloggers become friends as we follow them, so it is very sad when one of them drops out of our lives, I miss my friend Meg, I still see the odd comment from her on Blogs we both follow like Femulate but I still miss her wit and accounts of her adventures.   I miss April and her wonderful cars, and I miss the border line obscene posts at Silver Halide Dreams.    So it was a wonderful surprise the other day to see a post from my favorite Australian Engineer after nearly 10 months absence.   It was even more of a pleasant surprise to find that I had triggered the post by my piece Why? the other day.

One thing that seems to unite us all at the moment is weight, Alice has lost 5kg but is still trying loose more, Stana has lost 14lbs and wants to shed another 9lb, while back here in snowy Croydon I want to shed at least 1 stone, and would like to get rid of another half.   I think that says something about the location of each of us. I can use either Imperial or SI units for most things, I can do miles or kilometers, I can do feet and inches or meters, I can do tons or tonnes, but I just can't relate to personal weight in anything other than stones!

Oh yes, and Zoe actually IS a Rocket Scientist!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Feeling frustrated!

This week has been interesting, Monday had been the day I was expecting to return to work, but my appointment was cancelled, and it poured with rain for a good proportion of the day. Tuesday the weather wasn't bad but I could do little as I had a treatment appointment in the middle of the day, then yesterday YAH! I managed a full day's work, pruning a very over grown lilac that I have been dying to get to grips with for a good couple of years.    Now today I am waiting at home for the men from EON to come and change my electricity meter.

When I moved in over a year ago first of all it was difficult to find out who my electricity supplier was, then I found that it was impossible to get my prepay meter changed until I had been a customer for over six months, well after six months I was very busy and only got round to organising a change in November.   I made my phone call and got a appointment on the 6th December, great I would be sorted out before Christmas!   The week before the appointment I had phone call from EON postponing the appointment, till the 19th December, well it was inconvenient but I could rearrange things to fit the new date of the 19th December and I would still be sorted before Christmas.

Well that just shows what misplaced confidence does!   After four phone calls from the "engineer" asking for directions, clearly unable to follow simple instructions or use a Satnav.   When he did eventually get here he took one look at the installation and told me that he couldn't do it as some steps were needed and he was not allowed to do that without another trained member of staff there with him.   A new appointment was made for today.   An appointment for between 8:00 and 13:00.

As I type this at 12:52 no "engineer" has arrived, but I did get a phone call from one to tell me that when he looked at his job sheet he saw that a ladder was needed so he couldn't do the job!   I am now awaiting a call from EON to tell me what they intend doing now.   Frustrated suddenly seems an inadequate word!

Monday, 9 January 2017


It all started with a post on All About Lucy then this was picked up by T Central who passed on the challenge about why some people appear to stop going out "dressed" the challenge was then picked up by Joanna Santos on her Blog Musings from my everyday life.   Well reading these has made me ponder and consider this question, and how it has affected me over the years.    So I now pick up the baton and add my own considerations, very much based on my own experiences of over 50 years of trying to sort out my own gender expression.

I totally understand Joanna's point of view, and indeed will echo much of it, she considers this as a sign of the difference between those who I will call Recreational Cross Dressers and Transgender people, I am not so convinced.    For much of my life I considered my self to be a cross dresser, it was nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.    Like many of us I would have periods of quite intense dressing, when I would not only grab at every opportunity to dress but would actively contrive opportunities.   During these times I would also "underdress" braving all the old jokes about "travelling in ladies underwear" risking exposure and ridicule.   Typically these periods of intensity would be followed by a time of self revolt and a purge ~ the disposal of all of the clothes and paraphernalia associated with the activity.

This was also always very much a covert operation.   I would hide my stash, stay at home or only go out in my car or maybe for a walk somewhere quite and dark (incidentally very much the places that should most be avoided as being the most dangerous places of all).   I was very much frightened of being discovered, but also incredibly excited about potentially being visible.   Fear and excitement kept in balance, but maybe reality way out of balance.    I never went in for communal recreational cross dressing, indeed it was not until I started to come out that I realised that there even was such a thing.

Now I feel that we should also consider the sexual nature of dressing for some people.   I have never had, or wanted a relationship where dressing up formed part of the relationship, or sexual explorations; for me that would actually be a turn off, but I fully understand that for some it is and important and essential part of their expression.   If this is the case I can see that as people age, the sex drive diminishes or partners change then this could well be a reason for either stopping dressing or at least doing it in public.

Although for me there were large parts of my life when I did not think about my gender every day, or even every week, but it always came back.   Looking back I feel that I probably always was trans, but felt that somehow this expression was not available to me. There is a big difference between the "Recreational Cross Dresser" and the Trans person who can only express their gender identity through the clothes they choose to wear, yet often most of us have had periods of self disgust which in turn led to rejection and purges, meaning no "dress up" for some time. Only for the need to return.   It is entirely possible that during these periods of not dressing we get into relationships, some partners will embrace this aspect of us, others will tolerate (within boundaries) and others again will totally reject.   This is for many the biggest factor in how much they can physically express their gender variance.

This post has already got far to long and rambling, so now I must abandon it all together, wrap it up, or turn it into a thesis, so here goes with trying to get to a conclusion.

Some of us can't give up and end up with a new life ~ often at the cost of the old one.

Some of us are so attached to the old life and family that they will manage control the drive to express their true gender.

Some of us will have changed social situations that will drive their dressing into private.

Some will be able to stop altogether.

In short just as in so many other aspects of life we are all different.

It should have been today

It's that time of year!

Most of us have had quite a lot of time off, one way or another.   By the very nature of my work this is a pretty quite time, add to that all the general festivities and I don't think most of my customers really want to see much of me around Christmas and the New Year.   What all that mean for me this year is that I stopped work on the 22nd December and planed to resume today.

I have not been idle during that time, I now have a new wash basin and a hot water system in my bathroom, and I expended a lot of energy watching my friend install them.   What should have been a fairly simple job turned into a bit of a nightmare thanks to the highly bodged plumbing and electrics that were there to start with.   I still want a new shower, but that will have to wait thanks to the money I had to spend on the van last month.   Anyway, after all this diversion today was the day I was planning to return to work.   So much for planning! The appointment I did have has been cancelled, and now it is raining so any of the outdoor work I have lined up will have to wait.

I think I will have to work at some more planning, this month I have a compost system to build and a fence to plan, maybe I should get on with tidying the flat up a bit as well, oh yes and fix the car and sort out the van and, and, and.......................

Sunday, 8 January 2017

I'm not alone

Even though I have posted very little I have not been totally idle.   Well not totally!    I had the joy of celebrating the New Year by taking part in the London New Years Day Parade, my jazz/blues band played on the Lambeth Float run by St Christopher's Hospice .    This was great fun, maybe most of the crowd had a little difficulty hearing us but we really enjoyed playing, until the rain came, and boy did it come!   By the time we reached the end of the Parade we were totally soaked, I had to empty around 2 liters of water out of my tuba, and I think I must have been storing about the same amount in my pullover!

Although all we did was play some tunes on the back of the float it was most gratifying to be part of this, and then to find that "our" float Pegasus Arising by St Christopher's for Lambeth Council was placed second!

I'm afraid that the soaking did me no good at all and since then I have been nursing a cold, and not feeling up to much at all, at least at this time of year I know I'm not the only one.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

No great reflections today, just my very best wishes for you all over the coming New Year.