Paula's Place

Paula's Place

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.