Paula's Place

Paula's Place

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.

Friday, 7 July 2017

This and That

Saturday's concert went well, the hall was virtually full, the audience were responsive and though I say it myself we played extraordinarily well.   I have just listened to a "first cut" recording of a small part of it and I have to say that it does sound pretty fab, as soon as I have a recording available I will share it.

St John's Smith Square is a great place to play and since we did fill it we may have a problem looming as to how we fit all of our audience in for our next concert, these are the sort of problems we like to have.

On Sunday I have another concert, this will be with my own band the Croydon Symphonic Band, we will be playing in Dorking for the Vaughan Williams society, for us this is quite a prestigious event and we have struggled to fill one or two vital seats so we will all be quite pleased when we actually get to the point of playing. This is another group that plays in all black, I came up with an idea for something I could wear, but our Alto Sax player wasn't too keen. ~ Although to be honest I don't think I really have the waist line for this.

But of course, before all that I do have another event coming, London Pride, last year I played with the London Gay Symphonic Winds at the front of the parade, this year I will be walking with my own special group of friends from TransPALS.   All this after quite a busy week of work and meetings, although most of the work for Croydon Pridefest is being shouldered by better people than me, as Chair I do have to go to receptions and drink tax payers wine ~ It's a hard life.

At London City Hall for a Mayor's reception with my friend Rebecca

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Concert Dress XV

Tomorrow is the 21st anniversary concert of the LGSO, this is a very special occasion for a very special orchestra.   We have all been practising hard (haven't we lads!) and tickets are selling well, so it all looks like being quite a gala occasion.

We have been given a slightly enhanced dress code for this one,  a little smarter than usual. We're saying all black, no jeans, no tshirts, no trainers and definitely black socks please! We'll be on the raised platform so we need to look great as well as sound great. Well I may well not be wearing socks, but how do I improve on perfect?

After much consideration I have decided that this is a special night, and warrants a special dress, or maybe that should be THE special dress.   I bought this back in 2013 and have only had a couple of occasions to wear it since, and one was for a photo session!

It is a pretty spectacular gown, but is almost totally backless, so I could only wear it with the application of adhesive and artificial aids.   Indeed during the course of the photo session (just after Pride if I remember correctly, and certainly before I was fully out) the warmth from the lights induced a bit of a glow, which led to the failure of the adhesive and the gentle descent of the artificial aid!

Thanks to the HRT I think I can now manage without added assistance, so I plan to finally live up to my cover girl billing, and be Fabulous darling!