A perfect start to Saturday, taking my parents dog for a walk through the fields on a beautiful spring morning. The only movement being a startled muntjac deer. Sometimes you need a bit of mild exercise as a relaxation aid and before a long drive that completely hit the spot. Then hit the road north to Leicestershire, beautiful driving weather, yellow oilseed rape(canola) fields against blue skies, roadside trees with shiny new leaves. That motorway is marked off for me by previous automotive dramas, there's the spot the Allegro overheated, the Mini wiper needed fixing, the Panda suffered a blowout, it's as if every gap between a junction saw me on the shoulder at some time during my days of running old wrecks.
Lisa's general area was easy to find, but Lisa's house might have been created by J.K Rowling, such was it hidden between the houses that surround it. Once you sit down and start talking it's as though time passes unnoticed, a morning coffee turned into a three hour chat. Sorry Lisa! It was good to meet her wife and family, I wish my wife wasn't visiting her mother this week. Being fully settled in the bloke role complete with a couple of days stubble to rest my poor abused face it felt slightly incongruous to be introduced as Jenny, hence the title of this post. It was very good to sit down and talk to a couple in a similar position to us and I am very grateful for the opportunity to drop by. We didn't just talk trans matters, our conversation ranged widely onto other experiences, and the family dog joined in, subjecting me as an interloper to some hefty barking. Oh, and I managed to lock myself in the loo. Yeah, I make the perfect guest, me.
Back on the road north, I was heading for Yorkshire, to see the same friends whose party I attended back in February. Last time I was on these Yorkshire roads they were under a thick blanket of snow and the car struggled with some of the hills, today they were clogged with weekend drivers and unexpectedly a convoy of Ford Anglias. J.K. Rowling, you can't escape her!
S and R are a couple I've known since the mid 1990s. S was a colleague at one of my more anarchic former employers in an insanely fun but mentally demanding field of the tech industry. Now he's boss of a small company and father to a young son, but refreshingly neither he nor R have succumbed to the blight of premature middle aged parenthood. My mission for the evening was to come out to them as some of my longer-term and more valued friends.
Unexpectedly we were invited to a barbecue at R's mother's house. I like R's family, they are no-nonsense Yorkshire women, and great company for a stealth t-girl. R's mother had prepared enough to feed the five thousand, and thus sated and well lubricated by bottled beer we spent a relaxed evening sitting round the barbecue. It's a British thing, it's a fine evening and we've got a barbecue, so we're damn well going to spend the evening outside, damn it! We must have looked very odd, swathed as we were in blankets.
Back at S and R's house, time for the Long Chat. Not a problem, just as I expected. A bit of a double-take, some slight confusion form S with respect to gender versus sexuality, then a long chat about it all. It turns out that R has a friend with a trans child who's boy at school and girl at home, and who will no doubt transition as a teenager. Lucky kid to have an environment in which she's understood. One can't help being a bit envious, wondering how ones own life might have turned out in that situation. Anyway, now I've got another set of friends I don't have to pretend in front of.
Having consumed several bottles of beer I was in no condition to take a sleeping pill, so I found myself lying in bed at 2AM texting my wife. It gets a little rough, when she's away the general level of gender dysphoria increases and life becomes a little difficult. As you can imagine, waking up at about half past seven on Sunday wasn't the best thing to do so I felt as rough as a badger's arse on Sunday morning. Time for some serious caffeine abuse.
On the road again, this time to York. Find the car park, meet Cathy. Annoying ticket machine that didn't like 50p pieces. Wander round the city centre, thronged with tourists. Sit in the park and chat. People watch. Trans-spotting. Only succeed in spotting a Scotsman. Find a pub by the river, discover it doesn't take cards. Damn. I thus owe Cathy somewhere seriously nice for lunch next time I'm in these parts, this having been my turn to cater. Why is there never a damn cash machine handy when you need one? Life obviously wasn't on my side, because then a bird pooped on me. Well, at least it's socially acceptable for a slightly scruffy bloke to look a bit grubby.
Leaving York, down the A1, head for the Fens. Beautiful Fenland weather for the endless drive past the Wash. Empty roads, wide skies, this is long distance motoring as it should be with no stress. You know you're in the Fens when houses start having tractors parked outside. At this time of year the fields are sporting freshly ploughed laser-GPS guided furrows, it pains me slightly to say this but there is beauty to be found in industrial agriculture. A fitting place for a country and western fan, for an afternoon, at least.
And so I end up at C's house, under an impressive Fenland cloudscape. Cameras rarely do such skies justice. I'm knackered, girl-fogged and I miss my wife. I try to explain this to C. He suggests curry as an antidote. Like an idiot I forget my sleeping pill.
So I'm writing this with a Fenland dawn as a backdrop and feeling far too blokey for my liking. Can't do much about that here, so you, dear reader, have become my outlet. Last week's outing in Swindon seems awfully far away.