Friday, 30 October 2009

Alternative names before the Deed is done

Of course, it doesn't have to be 'Lucy Melford'. It's my life, my identity, and perhaps I should reconsider.

'Lucy' does in fact have some of the sounds of my old first name, especially the 'oo'. It also carries the notion of 'light', which is very appropriate for a person who snaps away with her camera a lot. Perhaps then I should go Greek and call myself 'Phota'. Then it could be something like 'Phota McFloater', or 'Phota Phinnish'. Hmmm. Something unnatural about those names.

On balance it seems best to stick to what I've been calling myself for the last ten months!

Aren't trans people privileged, to be able to change their name to something entirely their own choice, for a cast-iron reason that nobody can argue about? One of the nicer things that happen along the way.

Deed Poll update

The name-change pack I ordered online from the UK Deed Poll Service arrived yesterday morning. Very efficient. It all looks very impressive. I have arranged for someone to witness my signatures on the Deed straight after a church service in Brighton this coming Sunday!

This is momentous. This is more fundamental in some ways than coming out. Once you're 'out' people can always believe that you didn't mean it and will 'see the light' or 'come to your senses'. Even beginning the hormones isn't anything more than taking some medication that can be halted, and it isn't a public act. This will be. I am permanently changing my very name, not merely adopting a nickname, or a nom-de-plume, but making a legal change that I must tell all the world about, and insist on 'Lucy Melford' being my proper and only name.

The police stop me on Sunday afternoon: I'm Lucy Melford. I visit my local surgery next week: Hello, I'm now Lucy Melford. An old half-forgotten friend phones out of the blue, someone I've not spoken to for a long time: Got to tell you straight off that it's not J--- any more but Lucy. Yep.

I'm having 25 legal copies produced - lots and lots of official people to notify, starting with health services, financial institutions, the pension payer, the local council, all utility companies, and so on. All friends and relatives. Gosh, I'll be busy.

I half expect that this will crystallise any held-back anti-transition feeling in some people's hearts. Others may simply take note and wish me well. A few who have still not any idea that Lucy has come into being will be in for a shock. Come what may, I will be Lucy Melford.

And I will be proud of it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I'm a step grandperson again

A--- my step-daughter, who is married, aged 39, and lives now in New Zealand, has just given birth to a daughter! She now has two children, a boy aged almost 2, and this little girl. She has a great husband, a nice home, two children, her natural father and his wife live not far away, her mother will be emigrating to NZ and joining her asap, and whatever the ups and downs of the fragile NZ economy, it's a sunny place to be. She now has everything essential. I so want them all to be happy always.

I haven't any right to claim some kind of grandpersonhood. What, long divorced from her mother and now transitioning? I don't think so, but we'll see.

One day I'd like to see A--- and her family again, not as visitors to the UK but on their home territory in NZ. Well, my new passport, when I get it, will be valid for ten years ahead. Ought to make it out there during its currency.

Oh, by the way, I've applied for the Deed Poll document online, and will be signing as soon as it is delivered (subject only to getting hold of a witness). No messing around.

Poem for the day - Corrib

Everyone has a secret place inside them where they feel most confident, where they are unassailable. Sometimes this is a place of dreams, without dimensions; sometimes it may be based on an actual place. I have always thought of my own inner refuge as an enhanced version of a real house. Certainly I do need a proper bricks-and-mortar property that I can call 'home', and I am not content or happy if I am without this. It needs to be my very own, and I need that exclusiveness so that my spirit can feel free.

Here is a poem that I wrote in August 1972 about such a house. The name of the house was 'Corrib'.


CORRIB

A white gate in a tunnel of green:
That's Corrib, my Jamaican house.
A shady lawn, old tennis courts,
The bleached bones of a boat, or a seat,
Overgrown in a garden:
This is Corrib, my evening retreat.

There is a sandy path
That whispers through trees;
A tunnel of memories, a darkening arch.
Under boughs and down to the dunes
I flash by waving grass,
Rustling bushes and staring flowers.
Heedless of the evening breeze,
I hasten past broken gates and posts,
Forgotten by years and sagging in decline;
I look for the lights of Corrib,
My solace, dark refuge mine.

I am its windows, I am its doors.
By my silence
Have ghosts gathered and brayed;
By my cry
Are spells of mockery made.
I have lingered in the sunset,
I have seen the scorched horizon.
The sun is indeed meat-eating;
That orb is indeed malignant, defeating.

O Flame,
From my citadel I can mock you too.
I am my freedom,
I am my reality,
I am you.


The path mentioned ran alongside the Trevose Golf Course down to Constantine Bay, near Trevose Head in Cornwall. Along the path were the back gates of houses, and Corrib was one of them. In the poem I describe Corrib as it was around 1970. By 1983 it had been greatly altered, perhaps pulled down and rebuilt, and the atmosphere that made it special for me had gone.

The name ‘Corrib’ is unusual, but a few years back I discovered that in Ireland there is a lake of that name. It still evokes memories of boats and sunsets and secret paths and silence and a kind of ecstacy.

So we press on

With the cruise cancelled, there is nothing to delay taking the next steps in my transition: the name change, the major hair removal, the voice training.

Watch this space on the name change: I may well put that in motion later today, certainly by tomorrow. And I might as well now bring forward my next session with Roz, which will be the first electrolysis of my upper lip hair.

As for voice training, I have just taken delivery of some DVDs from Deep Stealth Productions - the outfit that Andrea James runs - and first sampling suggests this could be very beneficial. I'll let you know how it goes. (I will contact the UK specialist Christella Antoni if I can't do this on my own. It won't be easy to learn a new way of speaking)

Did I mention that yesterday I activated the credit card I now have in the name of 'Miss L Melford'? And used it to buy petrol that very afternoon? Most definitely a minor landmark. It was easy to set up. I just went online to my card company and ordered a second card for my account. It had to be for someone at the same address, a close family member for instance. Well, none closer! I didn't have to say what the relationship actually was. I had to agree of course that I would be responsible for Lucy's purchases (which would be listed with mine indistinguishably on the monthly statement) and meet the repayments required for both if us. No problemo! And that was that. For a while I'll carry both cards, but soon enough I'll be telling the card company about the change of name so that the main card will be for Lucy, and the statements will be addressed to her.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The cruise is off

I had to cancel. The ship clipped a quay in New York recently, and this has had a knock-on effect, so that, two voyages down the line, the cruise M--- and myself were going to take from 3 November has been put back by one day. Which means M--- would miss a family event. No way. So she can't come. And really I don't want to go without her. (We're getting along quite well at the moment, and it would be very 'off' to leave her behind; nor do I want anyone else to go, even if they were instantly available) So I've cancelled. At least that frees up £5,000 odd - an addition to my inheritance. I may need that cash.

Am I disappointed? Well, yes, it was going to be a good cruise; nice places I'd never been to. But as rejigged, we were going to do them in the reverse order - this would just not be the same, and in any case would mean ending the holiday with an empty THREE days sailing northwards into ever colder weather with nothing in sight until we saw the Isle of Wight. (Not that I dislike the IOW: nice place, which I like to visit. But it's no Lisbon) It would be an anticlimax.

Besides, all these alterations 'spoiled' the cruise that Dad had chosen and paid for all those months before. He wouldn't have liked the changes.

I feel sorry that I won't now be toasting Dad off Madeira or Casablanca or whatever, but I expect I'll find some other way of marking a cruise that was meant to be another father-and-son bonding experience (and after that, who knows, father-and-daughter?) but will never now come off.

Mind you, it does take pressure off me. I wasn't at all happy going under my old name, as a male. That was going to cause problems that might have been difficult to laugh off. Now I can steam ahead and change my name legally, get a new passport, and then go on future holidays as Lucy, the renowned adventuress. And presumably I will, next time, be ready for those cocktail dresses - meaning I'll fill them better, be properly hairless, and manage some light laughter with my new silvery voice!

Lucy

Monday, 19 October 2009

Trans woman captains winning team on University Challenge!

Tonight's TV was quite enthralling (for a change).

I caught a bit of University Challenge just before settling down to Masterchef, and I was thrilled to see a trans woman (Olivia Woolley) captaining a winning team (University College, London). They won 220 points to 145.

What a great way to fly the flag for transgendered people everywhere. No Timmy the Tranny here, Ms Moir!

However, I knew what the general reaction might be, and sure enough when I Googled 'university challenge woolley' afterwards I found two forums (better say fora) - Digitalspy and The Student Room - that came up (or should it be down?) to expectations. The first contained a few ill-informed remarks, but a contributor managed to educate them effectively. However The Student Room forum attracted a large number of 'laughed my head off' comments from silly young men (not the women, mark you) that the best efforts of the moderators did not quell. Tossers.

Masterchef has become compelling viewing for me, and we're down to the three finalists. Who am I rooting for? All are nice people, but Marianne gets my vote. She is consistently the cook with the best flavours and needs only to make her presentation sparkle.

Then I switched over to Age Eight and wanting a Sex Change. It highlighted some important issues for transgendered kids to think about, but I thought the programme makers had sympathy with the kids and weren't presenting a pre-digested judgement for tut-tutting viewers. I was touched when one of the kids, Kyla, comforted her sobbing mother. (I wish I could have done that with my own mum) I must say, the parents were so supportive and accepting. As one said, despite the transition, they still had a child, loving and alive, and not one made an outcast, or driven to suicide because forbidden treatment.

Sigh. I wish things had been like this in the 1960s. No such concept as 'gender dysphoria' then, no way even of articulating what the trouble was. No internet, no NHS leaflets, no diagnosis, no treatment, just a few salacious or flippant films, and leering tabloid articles. And people like Danny la Rue to muddy the waters.

But I had reason for satisfaction today. I went to the big Marks and Spencer store at Shoreham and got called 'Madam' three times, including an embarrassing moment when I touched a rack of clothing and it fell to the floor. And I tried on two coats, two miniskirts and some slim-leg jeans in the ladies' changing room with no difficulty whatever. Granted, I was in my warpaint, wearing leggings, black mini and a green top with a bow, and was booted. But I had to speak, and I said much, but even so nobody cried 'There's Timmy!' QED, I think.

Off to Suffolk tomorrow for six days. So there'll probably be nothing on the blog for a little while.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Hello Barbie, let's go party


The scene is the Royal Pavilion Tavern in Brighton yesterday evening, and that's me with two friends feigning shock horror for the camera. It just seemed like a great idea. We did something equally looney next second. It was, after all, a 21st birthday bash!

Later on we all went upstairs for some dancing. Cunningly they required you to spend £2 to go through (with an ink stamp on your hand of course), but at least there was a cloakroom (another £1) and one could at last leave the raincoat somewhere. All this was instead of going to Transister at the Charles Street club, but actually the music here was better - not disco, not techno, but throbby and sort of interesting, with plenty of beat that made dancing essential. You couldn't keep still. Not that I was able to leap about in my knee-length boots, but those hips got waggled, believe me.

And would you believe it, a young guy who looked Japanese (must have been a tourist) came up to me and said, 'You are a tranny? Can you come outside so we can talk maybe, yes?' Urk! I didn't panic. I thought it important for him not to lose face, so I replied pleasantly, 'I'm with that other tranny over there' which wasn't true, but nor was it a humiliating refusal. He turned away, and there was no scene. This seems to say two things at least. First, late at night, when the makeup's getting a bit tatty, I don't pass. No surprise there. Second, despite that, I still look good enough for a credibility-conscious stranger to risk an approach. That is a surprise. But why couldn't it have been one of the fabulous natal girls there? I'd still have said no to going downstairs and outside (yes, really: it was damned cold) but I could have had a nice chat in the warm.

A further idle thought: what would happen if, late in the evening and suitably well-groomed, I went into the lounge of one of the best seafront hotels in Brighton (the Grand, I suppose), ordered a coffee, and hung around for a bit? Makes you think.

10,000 viewings!



I don't see viewing numbers as a measure of true worth, but it's hard to resist following the stats when it's done for you automatically and a landmark total begins to approach! I don't mean stats for this blog (I'm content if only half a dozen friends take a look each week) but for my 'Lucy Melford' Flickr site.

A moment occurred yesterday that has thrilled me - 10,000 viewings in the eight months since last February! That can't be bad. I'm sure some sites have had 100,000 viewings in that time, but then I haven't displayed pornography, I'm not a professional photographer, and I haven't been to many exotic places yet.

It's interesting to see which shots attract the most viewings (see the lower picture).

You know, when I took that photo of the 'pirate' ad for Heineken in 1983 I was recently married, living in London, and about to be promoted. I thought I was set up for life - for better or worse. It didn't work out as I hoped, and I certainly had no idea at all how my life would actually develop!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Any sign of the duck, Fawlty?




Last Wednesday I drove over to see Debbie K and pick up the artworks I bought at the end of August at the exhibition, which she had been kindly looking after for me. Altogether there were six items: two cheetah paintings (one of which was Debbie's cheetah cub picture); a drawing of two zebras; two figurines of hares; and a carved wooden mallard duck, painted and life-sized. Too many items to illustrate in one posting. I asked them all who wanted to be written up first. The cheetahs said no, they had to go and hunt. The zebras galloped off, spooked by the scent of the cheetahs. The hares ran to and fro and boxed: they're mad. The duck quacked her head off to attract my attention. So the duck had her way. Duck's on.

This is a work by a lady called Maggie Port, and I think you will agree that it's been very skilfully executed. The duck's VERY lifelike! Uncanny. I don't as a rule stipulate that an artwork should be true to life down to every last detail, but one of the fascinations with this piece is the extraordinarily good rendition, down to individual feather barbs. She'd fool a real drake, no question!

Lunch with a friend in Brighton






Yesterday I met up in Brighton with my friend R---, and we went for lunch at Donatello, a really nice Italian restaurant in The Lanes. Actually, as the top photo proves, it wasn't Brighton but Milan. Next down, myself in lunchtime clobber. Got to admit, R--- has taken some good shots there with my Leica, but am I the girl you'd want to be seen with? Hmmm! Should have washed the hair, it's awful. But excellent Caravaggio-style sidelighting. Next down, R--- herself, showcasing our yummy desserts with plenty of bosom. It was a great fun meal!

The Cruise - a possible solution to the formal evening dress problem



As you already know from a previous posting, the vexing problem of What To Wear on the cruise is acute on the two or three especially 'formal' nights. But I really don't feel physically ready for a cocktail dress, even if I could get over the relatively minor issue of my old male name appearing on the passenger list. And yet I would feel SO unhappy dressed up as a man. Some friends have expressed concern at the possible psychological consequences. I'm not sure I would suffer that much; but having to don a conventional and stifling men's outfit could spoil the entire cruise for me. And that rather defeats the point of going at all.

Although I'd like to keep to the spirit of my undertaking to Dad before he died, I'm sure he wouldn't want me to be deeply upset over something like this.

Another point: I really ought not to compromise the start of my Real Life Experience with a total reversion to male garb, whatever the onboard etiquette.

So I'm thinking it will be male garb, but not as we know it, Jim. Everything that I feel I 'must' wear on formal nights will acquire female elements. In 1928, Marlene Dietrich attended a Berlin ball in men's evening dress, famously caught by Eisenstaedt and reproduced above. Aha! I see a solution to the must-do-it-in-menswear problem! Get the picture? The male DJ can have its outing, but will be a little modified, Darlink. What else am I to do? I can't help it.

On less formal nights I can wear one or other of my trouser suits. And daytime it can be unfettered Lucy - well, Lucy in jeans.

SORTED!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Be kind to yourself



It's hard to resist documenting your transition. You may not have the courage to look back at how you were BEFORE transition began, but once started you surely want to check your appearance of six months ago, or six months before that, and hope to see BIG changes in the right direction! So photos are very handy for that. But do yourself a favour. Don't use a 25 megapixel SLR camera with incredible resolution. It will reveal every defect in your makeup, every bristle that hasn't been lasered, and show up which is your hair, and which is the wig.

Use a little pocket camera. It will have a small sensor (the chip on which the lens focuses the incoming image) and it will mush the very fine detail. That sounds like a bad thing, and so it would be for flawlessly beautiful and perfectly made-up ladies on the cover of Vogue, but for you it'll be a kindness. The lines and pores and pock marks that the concealer can't cope with will be smoothed away, and a fairy-tale version of yourself will emerge.

Proof: regardez the pictures above, mes amies. They are crops (small sections) of larger pictures taken with the little Leica. There's still a lot of detail there, and the colours are OK. But the hag-like face of yours truly has been wonderfully smoothed out. I think I may be wearing some light makeup, but believe me it isn't having a huge effect - the camera is doing most of the work. I now look much more like Cinderella than an Ugly Sister.

Might go to the ball if any passing prince plays their cards right. Might stay in. Don't care.

PS Another point: you'll notice how the pictures have a sort of 'painted' look, as if I drew the detail in sharp outline, then filled it in with a fine paintbrush. Some like that effect, some don't. I do.

My favourite places - Durdle Door in Dorset





Durdle Door (the natural rock arch caused by wave erosion on different but adjacent types of rock hereabouts) is an iconic feature of the Dorset coast, and it's terribly well-known. But as it's one of my favourite places, here it is.

The bottom photo was taken from Bat's Head, a mile to the west, and that's another Durdle Door in the making, but at a very early stage. At the moment it's mainly a plain cliff, but the sea has cut a small hole through it and it's just a matter of time. Sobering to think that in the ten or so millenia it may take, we (that is, all of mankind probably) may disappear from the Earth. Pity. The cameras of 12009 might have been pretty damn good, and I'd have got a perfect shot.

The gorilla is going

For some reason Thursday has become THE day on which I spend an hour or more getting rid of unwanted body hair. Months ago it was rather a big job, though one I looked forward to, because I was banishing all that horrible growth. I've hated body hair with a venom ever since early puberty - so that's 45 years of utter pathalogical loathing - and shaving it off or plucking it away is my revenge. And I'm winning. Every week nowadays I notice less and less to do. There's hardly anything on my arms and legs since last week, they've been tamed, and the only areas that still show some spirit are my ears, armpits and pubes. Sorry to mention the last, but I shave that region to provide suitable places for my Estradot patches, apart from the more general 'hate' reason. It's not some kinky fetish. (Honest!)

On the face, the laser treatment with Roz has worked wonders. There are plenty of light-coloured airs still to get rid of by electrolysis, but they seem to be cowed, and emerge from the skin in only a tentative fashion: a blonde stubble, yes, but one that knows it's beaten and hasn't much heart left. The stouter and more kamikazi dark hairs that cause those oh-no! evening shadow effects are now confined to my mouth area, notably the upper lip of course. Oddly, the upper lip shadow seems more prominent than ever before. I suppose it's because there are no other large patches of concentrated dark hair left on my face, and the upper lip growth, which used to blend into the overall male swarthiness, is now left isolated and stands out like a slug on a wedding dress.

And of course the eyebrows need constant plucking. But I don't mind some growth there - for now. While I'm experimenting with brow shaping, a bit of growth is a handy thing. There's a tendency to over-pluck, and then suddenly (because it might take only a hair or two) I've got no brows at all. It's nice to think that over-plucking errors will self-correct in just a day or two.

So the gorilla look is fading. The only fly in the ointment is my out-of-reach back. It has never been very hirsute, but what hair there is is dreadful to contemplate, especially because it's inaccessible. It can only be bazooka'd by waxing. Once or twice I've had that done. I'm hoping that soon it'll succomb to the hormones like arms and legs have.

Now to the bathroom, for a session!

Perhaps I'll have a highball when finished.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Levels of Honesty

It has struck me recently that the tone of my blog postings is rather different from the tone of my comments on other people's posts. Also, what I say in blog postings is much more cheerful and cute. Is that showing two distinct levels of honesty?

The blog is not my main public showcase - the Flickr site is that - but it IS the main way I chronicle my life on the Internet. It's a diary. It's not intended for the general public (though I don't mind anyone at all reading it) but aimed squarely at the trans community. I don't feel that the blog is the right place to rant about (or attack in a political way) something that I dislike. I'd prefer to choose a proper forum for that. I want the blog to be clean, interesting, well-illustrated, upbeat and (if possible) inspiring. I probably can't deliver the last item, but it is important to me that a visitor doesn't click away bored or saddened. That means some positive editing: what topics to air, what to leave alone. And potentially a warping of the truth about my life. There's a danger of giving entirely the wrong impresson, a form of lying.

I'm not too hung up on this; I'm just articulating some thoughts that are starting to occur to me.

Comments on other people's blogs are rather different. They set the topic; if I am moved to reply, then the reply needs to be frank, and it needs to be honest and capable of further explanation and proof on challenge. So it's less likely (if it's a serious reply) that I will mess around with a jaunty Newsreel style full of clever wit and humour (or not!). The darker stuff must come out. And surely that's a different order of honesty.

I may return to this topic. It bothers me, and I haven't done it justice here.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Poem for the Day - Autumn

It's a golden autumn day here. And I'd like to offer this piece of mine from September 1995:

AUTUMN

The air is alive with hurrying bees,
For the flowers are fading as fast as the trees.
The heedful now see that the summer is past,
The hours of leisure are over at last.
Squirrels are making the most of the weather,
Gathering all of their acorns together;
But dragonflies carelessly give up their chance,
With no other thought but to finish the dance.
Scurrying spiders are feeling the cold,
And leaves that were tender are now looking old:
Drying to crimson and falling away,
Whirled by the breeze at the end of the day.
Time to chop wood, and time to light fires;
Starlings sit huddled on telephone wires.
Mornings are chilly, and evenings are damp:
So stoke up the fire, and light up the lamp!
Smoke drifts from chimneys, and hangs in the air;
And moths flutter uselessly in despair.
The birds are departing, I hear their goodbyes,
But the sunset is golden, as warm as your eyes.


Not exactly noble verse, but nicely upbeat. A mellow season touched by the chill to come.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Stylish women v myself



Oh dear. My attempts to look like a proper female fall decidedly flat when you study the real thing. I managed to catch a group of women passing each other on the pavement in the Lanes, and serendipitously none obscures any other. I love the tall slender girl left-centre. Alas the shot of yours truly is rather far removed from her lissom youthfulness.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A lovely amber brooch




I now have two or three jackets that would benefit from having a brooch pinned to them, and I've been looking for a yellowish brooch. Amber was the answer, and I bought this one today from Silver Scene in the Lanes of Brighton. I was told the amber came from Poland, which makes sense because I learned from a lecture about amber jewellery on the cruise last April that in Europe the prime source of amber is the Baltic. The amber in my new brooch contains what looks like seeds and vegetable matter, but no dead flies. That's fine by me. I'd rather not have some nasty black mosquito-like carcass spoiling the effect. For some strange reason, dead insects vastly increase the price.

I hope the photos reveal something of the golden glow this brooch possesses when sunlight falls on it.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote/The eares of Lucie hath perced to the rote...


Hot on the heels (terrible methaphor, sorry) of my MAC facial yesterday has come ear-piercing today. My first-time-ever, but then I want to explore the world of earrings asap. Another little stage in feminisation!

I had it 'done' by a nice guy called John at Punktured in the North Laines of Brighton. He took fastidious care over hygiene, and the operation was both painless and successful. Well, painless compared to lasering my upper lip! I chose plain little titanium studs, and have to leave them in place for four months before wearing anything else. I think the studs look sweet, and are a small and subtle addition to my set of 'female indicators'.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A makeover at MAC!


This afternoon I went to MAC in Brighton - it's in the Lanes - and had a makeover. Must say, I'm very pleased with the result. Call it mutton dressed as lamb if you will, but I've never felt more attractive or more confident!

(Jacket by Out of Xile, scarf by Villain, handbag by Radley)

Poem for the Day - Forever in My Mind

Here's one from September 1972. Background: Still young and callow and fresh from school, I used to spend my lunchtimes with a sophisticated older female work colleague I had a crush on called Janet. She was inclined to be cynical and impatient of idiocy, but she seemed to enjoy my doglike company. And at the time I found her impressive and fascinating. At length I grew out of it and began to acquire some perspective.

FOREVER IN MY MIND

Forever in my mind you will be;
Lost in the years to come,
But not to me.

A shadow flickers of your smile;
And I'll remember and reminisce
Upon the kiss that never came.
I see them now, those days I spent
In dim-lit rooms;
And walking in the winter sun,
Like lion and Lioness.
How we mocked the passers-by
And laughed, yes Janet, you and I.

I still linger in gloomy bars
Mellowing with the clock
And smiling at time as I always did.
I shall not forget.


No, I haven't forgotten. Wonder where she is now?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lucy in Piccadilly





As you can see, I did wear the dogtooth jacket and black miniskirt outfit up to London to see Dr Richard Curtis. I also carried my white gaberdine Prada shopping bag to stash my grey raincoat, spare black tights, spare shoes, pink scarf and London street atlas in. Perhaps you may think this outfit a bit overdone for a routine visit, but I wanted to see how comfortable I felt flitting around the big city in a miniskirt. It didn't go badly at all. I attracted more attention than I usually do, probably because of the eye-catching jacket (absolutely nobody else was wearing one), and as I walked down Regent Street especially there were a few double-takes from passing tourists and a chorus of 'Sink me! Strewth! Gott im Himmel! Mort Dieu!' and so forth. In the smart shops, such as John Lewis in Oxford Street and (as in the photo above) Zara in Regent Street I passed unnoticed. Same - mostly - on the Underground, although I had one older American lady rolling her eyes! Well, come on, love, I'm just being myself.

The Italianate male persons on the tills at Fortnum & Masons were a little disconcerted as well, but contrived to be brave and not say anything. I suppose they don't get many trannies in Fortnums, it being a bit posh and pricey for most transsexuals, who, let's face it, don't enjoy my level of income.

But pride cometh before a fall. Just when I felt really pleased with my first major outing in a skirt, I was torpedoed and sunk by the woman on the information desk at The Royal Academy of Arts. I hadn't wanted to go home yet, and thought a look at the latest exhibition would be pleasant. So I was going to enquire, and stump up a few bob to get in. But she blew it with a 'Can I help you, sir?'. Uhhh. She was a beautiful, intelligent, articulate and helpful person, with a naturally chic dress sense, but she carried misplaced politeness too far. When did 'sirs' ever wear miniskirts and carry Prada shopping bags? She wasn't being rude, so was she blind? I made some graceful excuse and cheerfully walked out.

In the courtyard was a huge towering pile of plastic globes or bubbles with a silver refective coating, and I took some pictures of this (see the Flickr site). I got up close to one of the globes (see above) and if you click on the photo and enlarge it, you'll see myself at the centre of a pleasing fisheye effect.

On my last leg to Green Park underground station I stopped to gaze into the windows of De Beers, the famous diamond shop. Prices to make your eyes water if not pop out on stalks. Not sure if I really like diamonds that much, even if they are forever. So I didn't buy anything. Instead I had a much-needed gin and tonic at the Wetherspoon's pub in Victoria station. Only £2.30!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Shots from around the world on my Flickr site

In case anyone wants to look, can I draw attention to a spate of fresh additions. And there are more to come, as I find the time.

I know it can be seen as blatant self-advertisement, but I've chosen the shots for people's interest and enjoyment. I don't mind if they are dismissed as mere eye-candy. Indeed there are many, many better shots out there, taken by really serious photographers, and I'm not attempting to compete!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Poem for the day - Lost Memories

I think I'm becoming a serial, obsessive blogger. This is my eighth post today. (Do please read back and glance at the others!)

A few days back I gave you a poem of mine from 1972. Here's one from February this year:

LOST MEMORIES

When I was born, what did I first see
Once the blood had been wiped away from me?
How long did it take to understand
That this was my foot, and that was my hand?
At what point did I recognise pleasure and pain,
And learn that I had a particular name?
These earliest moments have been pushed out of reach,
Like the sea smears footprints from a beach.
In the tide of memory, ebbing and flowing,
How can one recall the events beyond knowing?
And when I die, will the eye of my brain
Watch these scenes from my life
Swirl down a drain?


I know, I know, babies see and recognise other things first. And it's not a great poem anyway. But I think it says something about recalling events.

Incidentally the 'swirling down the drain' idea came from a Rock Hudson film I once saw, in which a very dull middle-aged family man gets his mind 'transplanted' into a much younger man's body. He's after a swinging time, but finds that he's stuck with his dull, dull, can't-party personality. So it doesn't work, even though there is one girl who wants him. But he can't 'let go' and enjoy her zest for living.

He goes back to the oh-so-discreet mind-transplant corporation and asks for his old body back. No can do; and they're worried about his dissatisfaction, and what might happen if he kills himself, or blows the gaff - acquiring bodies for mind-swaps being presumably illegal. So they kill him on an operating table. As he dies, his final memories swirl away to a singularity, rather like being sucked into a Black Hole - you know - and the very last memory is not of the family he left behind, but that girl, and the slight moment of pleasure he had before being middle-aged and boring about kissing her.

Lumberjacks and mounties


And now for something completely different. Not really, it's the same old topic!

No, this isn't a typical scene of Canadian life (at least I hope not).

It is of course from the famous Monty Python film. This sketch ('I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...') may be just a send-up of Canadian manly outdoor pursuits, but to modern eyes the cross-gender content shrieks at you. After all, it's about a man wanting to be a girl, including hanging around in bars. Gosh, I do that.

At the time (1971) it was generally thought pretty amusing. Should we take offence? Well, it clearly wasn't performed with any modern transsexual in mind. Nor was the tone cruel or vicious. And it was fully in keeping with the Python team's propensity to lampoon everything (especially army officers, senior policemen, and upper class types).

Still, it isn't exactly something you'd use for a 'Let's understand transsexuality' social education programme.

What do you think? Is it still a (fairly) harmless chuckle? Or is it painful and embarrassing? Or even outrageous? Or even down in the same pit as the modern tabloid press?

The prize


Surely this must be one of the best possible images ever conceived to illustrate the folly of an overriding personal ambition. It's another scene from LOTR 3 of course. Gollum (or Smeagol) has regained the Ring, his Precious, at the very heart of Mount Doom. Frodo and Sam were trying to get there, so that the evil Ring could be thrown into the molton lava, the only way to destroy it. But Gollum has bitten off Frodo's finger to recover the Ring, and joyfully gloats over its recapture, oblivious to the fact that he has toppled off into the heart of the volcano and in a second will be consumed. And the Ring itself will be undone.

Can't help thinking that in world history there have been many such rings, and many Gollums. Some things, like peace and knowledge, are worth striving for: they are impersonal; and the entire community can share them. But glittering prizes are not worth killing for.

My favourite moment from LOTR 3 (The Return of the King)





Brave, womanly Eowyn! Having defied her uncle Theoden and ridden with the rest to the seige of beleagered Minas Tirith, she now defies the Leader of the Nazgul himself, but is beaten to the ground by a smashing blow from his mace. Her shield arm is broken. He towers over her, saying that no man can kill him. Undaunted, and ready to die to defend her stricken uncle, she pulls off her helmet and cries, 'I AM NO MAN!' and with that thrusts her sword into his face. I've always been moved to tears by this moment.

Second favourite is not long before, when Theoden, fully aware that he and all his men will ride to their doom against a vastly more numerous force, forms up his cavalry on the skyline and then leads them down to meet the enemy. He shouts 'Death!', a cry that they all take up and repeat as horns blast and the music surges. More tears. I can't help it.

The essential female




Now, what are the essential features of a human figure that say 'woman' when you see them, and, if you are a man, light a small pilot light in the brain? (I quote almost verbatim from a passage in Richard Beard's 'Becoming Drusilla')

Top picture is from a phone ad on TV. Girl shows Buckingham Palace guard the photo she's just taken of him, and presumably they are about to have sex. Complete fantasy of course. A real guardsman would stand woodenly to attention and ignore absolutely everything, even pretty girls, on pain of thirty days' fatigues and demotion to regimental mascot. And how do we know she's a girl? She's looking up, she's smiling with her teeth, she gets close, and she has much to say. She's no guardsman!

Next picture. Two women on TV. The one on the right, though handsome, does not have a classically pretty face. But she has the hair and clothes. She looks very female to me. Most trannies could come close to that if they really tried.

Now regardez the bottom photo (Tunbridge Wells again), and tell me which is the man and which the woman. Need I say much more? Breasts, waist, skirt, legs, shoes. Especially breasts. If you can show all those, then the face may not matter. In fact, I'm of the belief that the more your breasts, clothes and accessories distract the eye, the less likely your face will be scrutinised. And if you can show a girly hairstyle, and do the walk, you ought to be able to move about most places with fair confidence. The voice is something else again, but if you don't have to speak then it won't give you away.

Incidentally, I won't actually be behaving like that towards guardsmen when up in London tomorrow! Next time, maybe.

Shop windows






I've long been fascinated by shop window displays, especially the imaginative use of dummies and other props. And there was plenty to see in Tunbridge Wells yesterday. Once it got dark, conditions were excellent for some fashion shots. The top four were in Hooper's window, and I think the person responsible has done really well. I like the way the dummies seem to have an inner life, caught in frozen conversation with each other. The last picture of a shop window further up the hill shows a display that doesn't quite cut it. The basic idea is great - tumbling playing cards representing falling autumn leaves - but the eye is caught by the oversized cards, and not by the clothes. A shame. Different lighting would have focussed attention on the right things.

Have to say, I can snap away as Lucy with a freedom denied to my old male self. A bloke shooting female dummies in shop windows? Dodgy! (It's all right, officer. I'm a tranny, not a man. That's all right then, madam)

Eating out alone

I made it to Roz's clinic at Welling on Saturday for another laser session. (The previous attempt ended in disaster because of the traffic - see 'Frustration' on 26 September) Roz thinks she's now cleared nearly all the dark hairs on my face that she can easily do with laser. From now on it'll be mostly electrolysis, with occasional laser sweep-ups. Another stage reached, anyway. It's progress!

On my way home I planned two things. First, I would visit Old Soar Manor in the deep countryside of Kent. This is a 'thirteenth-century knight's dwelling' according to the National Trust Handbook. I'd been there two or three times before, and this time hoped to get it in the sunset light, especially the stone interior. But it was closed.

But I managed the second part of my plan. It was gone 5pm, and I wanted to break my journey home with a nice Italian meal in Tunbridge Wells. This was the first time I'd visited TW in full Lucy - well still in jeans, but otherwise very feminine. The place hasn't got a great reputation for being trans-friendly, so I was putting the town to the test. What I hadn't reckoned on was not getting into Prezzo, my initial top choice for a meal early in the evening. They were fully booked! Ah. Right, let's find somewhere else. That committed me to doing a circuit of the upper town centre, then walking down the hill to the lower part that leads on the old Pantiles area. A lot of unexpected exposure! Plenty of inquisitive young blokes and girls to pass close by, and I had to thread my way through bus stop queues full of staring eyes. But they were staring into the sunset for the bus that hadn't yet come, and nobody actually gave me a penetrating glance. That's all right then.

There were fewer restaurants open than I'd hoped for, and some like Carluccio's were packed already. I wouldn't be popular if I went in there and asked for a table all to myself. But down at the bottom of the hill, beyond all the fashion shops, was Zizzi. It still had some empty tables for two. I didn't hestitate. I went in, asked for a table for just me, and a large glass of wine up front.

I had a jolly good meal there. Main course, chicken in pesto with roast vegetables and caramelised onions. Yum. Then one of their special desserts. All washed down with the wine. £22 plus a £2 tip. Fair enough.

Several things endeared me to Zizzi, all of them down to staff attitude. They were welcoming, smiling, and kept on apologising for the slightest delay (though really there wasn't any). When seeking the ladies toilet, I followed the arrow upstairs only to be confronted by a door with a strange-looking 'W' on it. Strange because it looked like a squiggly worm surmounted by a big dot. I paused. Just then a girl member of staff came down the flight of stairs on my left and said in a friendly fashion, 'That IS the ladies'. Note she didn't say, 'Excuse me, that's the LADIES'. I love you, Zizzi. And then, later on, the bill came quickly after I'd asked for it - which is unusual in my experience! No matter how busy restaurants get, and how badly they need to shift you so that another batch of customers can have your table, they all too often leave you waiting, sometimes to the point of fuming impatience. You then wonder whether they REALLY want to make money! This time it was prompt and efficient. And the girl was sweet, and she took an appreciative interest in my mobile phone, which she thought was 'high tech'. You may recall from an earlier post that it's the white-key version of the Nokia E71. Well, I don't mind if staff want to openly admire my little gadgets. More kudos to the place.

What wasn't happening was the cold shoulder, the 'we don't like strange people here' thing. I left feeling very good, and nicely fed.

And now to the real point of this post. I was dining ALONE. Do you know, in my pre-Lucy days I used to HATE doing that. Now, for some odd reason, I enjoy it! I can't figure that out, because you'd naturally suppose that (a) eating alone couldn't possibly be fun in any circumstances; (b) it's got to be a huge strain doing so in female garb, when passing is still problematical; and (c) my old name is still on the credit card for all to see. But there it is. I admit that atmosphere helps, and watching the other diners is absorbing. Does anyone else frequently plunge into unfamiliar restaurants on their tod, and nonchalantly order a meal and a drink? Do you do it without concerns?

It's Friday Night, and let's go out




I was picking up two friends, and then we were going to TC Parlour in Brighton, which is a kind of beauty parlour with a friends-only chill-out lounge to the rear, fantastically decked out in a pink parachute, lay-back settees, sumptious cushions and high-tech lighting, rounded off with computerised music streaming off web-friendly radio stations. For a small donation the hostess gives you tea and coffee, or you can bring your own drinks. As you can see, I decided to wear a black and white tunic with a crazy-paving pattern, black leggings and black boots. The top photo shows the grey raincoat and pink scarf I wore to fend off the chilly night on the way there.

It was a good evening.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Autumn colours



Enough of all this self-analysis and introspection! How about some lovely autumn colours to delight the eye with? I went for a walk on the South Downs between Amberley and Storrington this afternoon and spotted these leaves, lit up by the sun at the end of the afternoon. Aren't they a treat?

Actually this was a rather lonely stretch of the South Downs Way, and I saw only two people during the best part of two hours. One was a fit-looking man with a dog, several hundred yards ahead of me and walking away from me thank goodness, although - worryingly - he did linger by the side of the path for two or three minutes. Doing what? Admiring the view? I nervously put the camera away and made sure I was holding my stick correctly, so that I could lunge at his vitals if need be. Fortunately he moved on again before I got close, and I was not forced to defend my virtue. The other person was a young lady with two black dogs, who was coming towards me. She was friendly and smiling, and we exchanged a quick word about when it might get dark. I'm not sure whether she twigged that I was trans. I was using my Lucy voice.

When I got back to the car, I noticed that a youngish guy who was parked there when I arrived, and just sat in his car, was still there, sitting in his car and giving me the eye. An adolescent with sex on his mind? Who knows. But as soon as I closed the car door I locked it.

Funny how you can feel like a potential victim in these places. I mean, it's most unlikely that any harm will befall you, but you can feel fear all the same. There's nowhere to run and hide on the South Downs Way.

And yet it's so nice to be out of doors and high up, with the sun and the wind on your face!

Looking for a trend






Perhaps a study of past photos might reveal a trend. Photos are exact contemporary evidence. Better than memory. This is set of five pictures that must indicate something. The first four are of me at work, or at least in work surroundings.

#1 1974 - the junior section leader in Southampton, with very friendly all-female colleagues. I'm the one with the silly grin who isn't wearing a skirt.

#2 1990 - the investigation/training manager in Bromley, with one of my trainees. Dig those specs! So cool and trendy.

#3 2000 - the deputy district inspector in Sutton. Still able to smile.

#4 2005 - the senior investigator in Croydon. Not smiling now.

#5 2007 - retired, at home, and it looks as if something's on my mind.

Sorry, I haven't got any brain scans...