Sunday, 6 November 2011

It's as easy as a walk in the park, right?

    November in the UK is a time in which you have to take your chances. If you get a sunny day, use it, it might be January before you see another!
    Today my wife and I went on a favourite walk of ours, through the river meadows and up onto the Downs near Milton, Oxfordshire. I know the British climate has a reputation for being damp, but rainfall has been rather low this year so the going was surprisingly not muddy and in bright sunlight it made for a very pleasant day.
    Now you might ask why a favourite walk of ours passes near to the omnipresent bulk of Didcot Power Station and crosses the A34, a motorway in all but name. And you'd be right to ask, after all it's one of the more unprepossessing places in that part of the world. But hidden to a motorist's casual eye is a network of  river meadows that have never seen cultivation, fertiliser or weedkiller, separated by clear chalk-fed streams and lush beds of watercress. In short, an oasis of wildlife in a sterile arable plain, albeit to the thunderous aural accompaniment of the trucks heading down to Southampton.
    Sadly we were a bit late to take advantage of the blackberries or wild plums, the birds have had them all. So we did what 21st century foraging humans are supposed to do, we went to a very handy McDonalds by the A34.
    It's almost an H.M. Bateman cartoon, isn't it. I can see it now, "The Man Who Admitted To Liking McDonald's In Polite Company", in which a bunch of 1930s-attired people spill their Fair Trade coffees in horror at such a transgression. And it's true, I've bought my share of Fair Trade coffees over the years, shopped local and eaten organic. But then I married someone from Over There, for whom the chain represents not a faceless corporation but childhood parties and so I too was sucked into the Web of Hamburger Shame. With extra special sauce, oh yeah, that special sauce!
    You know you've hit rock bottom when you're poking discarded cardboard coffee cups with your foot to see whether the collect-six-get-a-free-coffee sticker has been removed. Only managed one today, from four cups. And a grazed hand, snapping off a dead stick to poke at cups in the leaves. Well, it provides a little bit of entertainment during the boring tarmac bit of the walk I guess.
    Our walk took us by the road up the hill towards the Downs, by which there was plenty of discarded fast-food debris. For that I don't blame the restaurant, they have gone out of their way to provide litter bins with their logo on them some distance away from their site, instead I'm unimpressed with people who can't be bothered to stuff the debris back in the paper bag it came in, screw it up and bin it later. Still, I guess I've had more than one free coffee out of them over the years, so I'm hardly one to complain. Maybe I should go litter-picking in penance.
    From the top of the Berkshire Downs you can see at least four counties on a good day. Our route didn't quite take us to the top, so make that two for us. The whole of the Vale of the White Horse spread out in front of us, quite a view. And in early November, one alight with autumn foliage, very pretty.
    As you might imagine, we didn't walk in silence. We have plenty to talk about, as do most couples. And as you also might imagine, our conversation strayed onto matters of gender. It does have that annoying habit of popping up. My wife said something that gave me pause for thought, she said I should work towards transitioning. Bit of a showstopper moment, that. Her reasoning is that I'm not the happiest of people at the moment and thus neither is she, so there is little point in maintaining a situation in which we aren't happy. And she has a point, however as always I am not sure all that would be entailed in my transitioning would be good for her. If that were our route then I would want to embark upon it only once all that underlies it had been thoroughly explored with our various counselors, as I've gone into here ad infinitum in the past she is too important to me to do something that might hurt her.
    So we arrived back to the Turbocharged Rollerskate, safely where we'd left it on a village side road, me with quite a lot to think about. It is encouraging that my wife is prepared to think in that direction because I think we're both aware that this is a downward slope. But while you might expect me to be celebrating such a revelation I'm doing the opposite, hanging back from the brink. Some clue as to why should be found in my description of a happy day walking with my wife.


  1. We lunched in MccyDs whilst on oliday in Qubec recently. It seemed a ironic thing to do given the fusion of Hamburger loving N Americans v French Hamburger loathers. And, yes, I have a coffee card. Sometimes drive thru coffee seems desirable.

    I recognise a lot of what you say about transition. When it had to happen, and we both recognised it calmly, my initial reaction was grief, not elation. The emotions are tough.

  2. The inclination of a slope can be deceptive.

    I think you know that I am considered a much nicer person to be with than I was before and I was not too bad then!

    Change from a stable situation is always a bit daunting but soon it becomes the new stable condition and you wonder what all the worrying was about...

  3. You are in such a fortunate position Jenny because of your relationship and not despite it. You can take that road now with some degree of confidence, after weighing all the options of course and without worrying too much about the outcome. The main obstacle now will be yourself. I can understand why you might be feeling a little reluctant to change the status quo even though it is your desire to move forward but as Caroline says it won't be as bad as you think. I wish you well in your future decisions.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  4. Sorry for more poetry, but seems apposite, or did to me- the end of Paradise Lost, where Adam and Eve depart the Garden, with a sense of loss and of hope for the future...

    They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld
    Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,
    Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
    With dreadful Faces throng'd and fierie Armes:
    Som natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon;
    The World was all before them, where to choose
    Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
    They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
    Through Eden took thir solitarie way.

  5. I can well understand the emotions.

    There was great sadness - and continues to be - that I couldn't beat this. There have been times where doubts have crept in and I wanted to turn back but there comes a point where I just knew that continuing the fight was not geting me anywhere.

    We have taken tentative steps since then - perhaps you can too? It's not always easy but we are so much happier now. I hope you both find a way through this together.


  6. I seems that with your wife's nudging you and in a better place to let her lead, I think. It will take the both of you to find a comfortable path to change. Be it as slow as the both of you need to go.

    The view is with much smiles and giggles when you get to the other side.

  7. So here is a different persceptive from someone who was once in a less than satisfying relationship. It was with my third husband who I should have never married in the first place, bit about which I have absolutely no regrets. We are still extremely good friends.

    The problem for us was simple. We were not compatible. Neither of us were getting what we needed from the relationship. Despite liking and acually loving each other, our frustration at NOT getting what we each needed as individuals, was causeing us great pain and creating discord and all sorts of unwanted and/or un-needed anger and angst.

    It became apparent to us that we were TRYING to make something work. In your case, your wife may see "transition" as preferable to continuing unhappiness or separation.

  8. Having said that it is worth considering the MANY alternatives to a "full-on" transition.

    Suzy, immediately comes to mind.

  9. If that were our route then I would want to embark upon it only once all that underlies it had been thoroughly explored with our various counselors, as I've gone into here ad infinitum in the past she is too important to me to do something that might hurt her.

    Jenny Dear,
    I am sorry to be so negative, but we are hurting those we love just by being who we are. I know you are not celebrating, as whatever happens it will nurt you and your lovely wife.

    Love Jae

  10. Evening all, and thanks for your comments.

    We've just come back from a joint counseling session in which this subject came up. Difficult.

    I think Jae knows best where I'm coming from. I'm pretty confident in this, we are both committed to each other and neither of us wants to lose the other. So this does not change anything in my course, it's not a green light. But neither is it a guarantee that were things to go horribly wrong we would stay together.

    But it does mark some kind of milestone, for which the end of Paradise Lost is rather apt. We are looking at a different vista, and it's all rather scary.


    Returning to our walk, I find that I have to use my free coffee stickers by the end of the year. Who knows, maybe I'll have a chance to corrupt Teenage Relative whose mother definitely wouldn't approve of a trip to McDs! :)

  11. A Painful Reality, courtesy of TG Inc.....

  12. No Anne, you've stumbled on a nuance of language between the US and the UK, and one person's opinion.

    There is much to criticise in the actions of the British medical establishment with respect to TS people and indeed to TS children. However that is a product of medical attitudes and to a certain extent the recent history of treatment in the UK rather than through the influence of some cabal.

    If you were in the system like me you'd find the idea that ANY group of trans-whatever people could have the slightest influence over the British medical establishment to be completely risible.

  13. Crikey! Just read Anne's link. I thought it was a bit potty, but then came to 'Nazi state of England'.... *dustbin*