Thursday, 29 March 2012

That's the trouble with partners of transvestites...

    "That's the trouble with partners of transvestites, they can be such a problem".
    I looked at the speaker, slightly shocked. Dawn, our host, widened her eyes in disbelief. I wasn't that bothered at being called a transvestite even though we were talking about my progress through the GIC. That was par for the course from this particular source. But calling my wife 'a problem'? She was extremely lucky that my wife wasn't there to hear it
    I should have expected it. Not many years ago the speaker was a bloke in his mid fifties. Older then me, with wife and grown-up kids. Since then she's transitioned and reinvented herself with a rather preposterous back-story ignoring a hilarious number of inconvenient truths. Now she's married again, to an inoffensive transvestite who she's banned from dressing. The hypocrisy meter is on overload.
    Quite simply she's the most deluded trans person I've ever met, and that's from a pretty strong field.
    Hers is probably the most blatant example I've encountered, but I've noticed a consistency among a significant section of our community in forgetting where they came from.It's simple and self-evident: if you are an MtF trans woman then you too once had a life as a bloke, and probably a depressed one at that. No shame there, after all, you've escaped him, well done!
    The reaction of such people to those among our community who still have something of the depressed bloke about them is very telling. People who are secure in their own skin do not react in such a way. I'm thinking in particular of another acquaintance, a rather pretty early-40s transwoman with a slight, feminine build who is paranoid about those around her outing her to the extent that she outs herself by drawing too much attention her way.
    It's funny, I have another acquaintance who is a full-time TV I would judge to have something similar to the sexuality of a gay man - tried hormones, but I suspect gave them up when her bits stopped working. My two acquaintances above are a lot more at ease with her than they are with me, it's possible that people like me remind them too much of where they came from.
    How people behave is up to them. But I have evolved a very short fuse on these matters. It's easy to damage a trans person pre-transition, we're a vulnerable bunch. I'm happy to be friendly and supportive to anyone I meet in this community, but if I'm likely to be damaged by their actions then I'll drop them like a hot potato and make it very clear why I have done so. My store of second chances is exhausted.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The first road of summer

    It's springtime here in Southern England. Sunshine, pretty flowers, buzzing bees, all the stuff you'd expect.

    And dry roads.

    A simple weekend trip to the shops takes on the air of Mad Sunday at the Isle of Man TT as you jostle for space with sports cars and bikes of all ages ridden or driven with wildly varying levels of enthusiasm and ability. A toxic mix alongside all the regular crop of myopic weekend drivers, the usual corners with hastily repaired holes in the hedges start to sport broken bits of fence again.

    Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, that's what I say.

    The Wreck has not seen much use over the winter. I've run it up on a regular basis and taken it gingerly out over a few minor roads to keep it ready to go, but fear of corrosive salt has kept it away from main roads. No worries about that now, so off I went at a sedate 50 miles per hour. The heater is now permanently plumbed in so I had the window down, it's a car that positively invites you to drive with an elbow resting on the door.
    And I'm pleased to report that it's doing well. It starts on the button, the clutch is behaving itself and all the oil and coolant is staying where it should. I had a minor worry when the oil light flickered on briefly at idle, but soon found out that it was a function of the oil level tending toward the lower line. I've been there before with Wrecks.
    I spent a while removing some tired five-decade-old paintwork to attack a patch of surface rust. Maybe I'm afflicted, but I found the resulting pattern of paint layers and polished metal to be rather pretty.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


    Melomel. A cider or mead flavoured with fruit or berries. I made an experimental batch a few years ago using blackberries in my cider, and I've cracked open a bottle this evening to see how it's doing.

    Mmm, blog posts made under the influence of strong cider-derived alcohol...

    The label says 2005, so it would have been bottled in mid 2006. It's had just under six years in the bottle, and it comes out slightly effervescent due to a process called malolactic fermentation in which naturally occurring bacteria slowly convert the malic acid in the cider into lactic acid, releasing CO2 and mellowing the flavour. The blackberries lend a gentle hint of the hedgerow as well as a rosé tint you wouldn't normally expect from a cider.

    I always get annoyed when wine critics wax lyrical, now I'm doing it. Damn. Well, at least I'm not going to blather on about the bouquet. There, it smells like cider, satisfied?

    I'm overdue for a cider post here, but this time of year is hardly busy on the cider front. Not much is happening. I did rack the 2011 pressing on Sunday, but that was a simple case of siphoning the cider away  from the settled spent yeast into clean plastic drums, allowing any further yeast to settle out of it and stopping the yeast imparting any bad flavours on the finished product. I tasted a small glass of the rough young cider and found it to be rather good. If nothing spoils it between now and bottling time perhaps the '11 will be a vintage year. I can live in hope, can't I.

    There are times when a bottle of well-aged real cider lends a positive spin to the world. This I think is one of them. I know it's illusory, but right now I appreciate it. Wassail!


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Mile Post Musings

    An hour and a bit sitting on a train full of people in suits. Somehow I always seem to have an annoying estate agent or wannabe property magnate sitting in the next bank of seats yakking away into his mobile phone about rental flats. Just shut up! Annoyingly this railway doesn't have any tunnels on it to kill his signal.
    I like train journeys. There is so much to see, a continuously unfolding vista of the side of people's properties that don't face the road. Fascinating stuff. And a handy catalogue of British graffiti tags, categorised by area. Mostly silly little scribbles, but the occasional splash of bright colour, a work of art writ large over a grimy 1950s factory.
    The miles are counted by yellow posts by the side of the line. One every quarter mile, the distance from London at the top and the quarter underneath. These seem to come in regional variations too, sometimes the quarters are in Roman numerals or black dots, other times as Arabic numbers. It becomes a game, to see what trackside feature will be at each post as it rolls past.
    In a complex feat of mental arithmetic I timed the interval between posts to calculate our speed. Just over 90 miles per hour. This is just a local train even if it's not the dreaded all-stopper, it's not one of the 125 miles per hour High Speed Trains. The Age of the Train will have to wait.
    I've been seeing the counsellor at the GIC. The usual walk across the park, the same waiting room. A nervous FtM bloke there for his first appointment. My counsellor is very good, now we've got past the initial "Tell me your life story" appointment we're getting down to business.

    As always with counselling, sometimes you have to deal with stuff you don't want to.

    I find that I'm not at my happiest in the days post-appointment. The counselling is bringing my life into sharp focus and there's little comfort in what is to be seen. It has become rather obvious that my wife and I are in a limbo in which neither of us is particularly happy but in which we are both hanging in there for each other. And the realisation that this situation will inevitably deteriorate unless something changes is not a happy one.
    Still, I guess that's why I'm doing the counselling, to get to the root of it all and see a way forward.But that root seems an ever more uncomfortable place to be, and I seem to be the only one who hasn't fully grasped it. My counsellor unwittingly echoes my wife in her assessment of my situation, something which shook me to the core.

    For the first time in all this business I'm no longer sure whether my path is the right one for either me or my wife. I think the next few counselling sessions are going to be somewhat on the heavy side.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

So they gave me a camera phone...

IMG_20120114_152745    Regular visitors here will probably be used to my periodic tales of the part of rural Southern England in which I grew up. I will always be a native of the British countryside no matter where I live, so it's hardly surprising you'll find it here.
    As a regular wanderer on the bridleways and public footpaths I find I take a huge number of photographs. I'm by no means a photographer by inclination, more someone seized by the urge to capture scenes in which I see beauty. Sometimes I'll end up using pictures on this blog or cutting textures from them to use in my work, but usually they sit neatly organised by camera and date on my backup system.
    It's a shame, not using those pictures.
    So this year I've decided to do something about it. I've started posting some of my countryside photos to a new blog. The idea is that it'll track the seasons in my part of the world as they happen and allow me to share some of what I see. Purely a photography based blog and restricted to rural pics, there will be no trans content there, no cider or old cars.
    The clue to my level of photographic enthusiasm is in the name: So they gave me a camera phone... Not for me the pursuit of the latest optics, my camera came from Motorola via Orange. It's not in any way a good quality camera but it makes up for that by always being to hand, offering an immediacy of reportage that many enthusiast cameras simply can not match.
    You can find this blog here, at

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fashionable diagnosis

    You can pick your friends, so the saying goes, but not your family.

    I have two elder sisters. Both have at times been wonderful, but at other times can be extremely pig-headed, opinionated, and annoying as hell. The eldest I've been out to for ages, in fact I went shopping with her in Manchester when I met her at Sparkle last year. My other sister has been estranged for a decade, it's a long story but some very welcome family reconciliation is under way.
    Elder sis decided now was the time to tell middle sis about me. I asked her not to because I wanted to pick my time to tell all. In practice that was going to be in the summer sometime, middle sis's youngsters are coming to stay with our parents for a while. My protestations were not accepted, and despite my getting rather annoyed and suggesting that our relationship would be inevitably compromised by such a going against my wishes, she insisted she was going to do it anyway when she visited middle sis at Easter.
    So I did the only thing I could, I asked my mother to tell middle sis on my terms, as she has an open communication channel and I don't. My mother wrote a very well-crafted email, and off it went.
    Earlier today my mother read middle sis's reply to me. Better than expected, she came across as understanding rather than hostile. A paragraph about how surprising it was because I was such a boy when I was younger. I guess the idea of my trying to conform to expectations hadn't occurred to her, 'cos I sure as hell didn't really want to be a boy at the time.
    As expected though, something upsetting. Middle sis is something of a Daily Mail reader. Really, at one time she even had it delivered. So the line in which she questioned the diagnosis was not entirely unexpected. But I found the wording she used to be slightly upsetting, questioning whether a second opinion had been sought for such a "fashionable diagnosis".
    Sigh. I am not blaming my sister for this, I'm sure she'll take on board my explanation of the reality. That a GD diagnosis is not easy to get, you have to convince not one but three psychiatrists, one locally and two at the GIC, and the diagnosis process happens over at least a year for NHS patients. And that far from being fashionable, it's one of the most deeply unfashionable branches of NHS medicine. She's not stupid, even though at times I have despaired at her actions.
    What I find upsetting is that a lifetime of veering to the right of the political spectrum and consuming the media from that quadrant has conditioned her to believe that when her brother comes to her with a medical condition that is life-changing in every way possible, she should question whether it is the fad of a bunch of fashionable trendy quacks.
     Her politics are not the issue though. Both dangerous idiots and good people come equally from left, right, and centre of the political spectrum. Believing what she reads in the papers isn't really her fault and isn't the issue either. I guess my annoyance as always comes down to the awful quality of the information presented through those channels. If you want a small example of how the drip,drip,drip of transphobic stories in the media affect real trans people, here's mine.
    It could have been a lot worse. I can work with that, explain it to her a bit better. If she'd gone off the deep end things would have been a lot messier and my mother would have been rather upset, as it is there's hope. My relations with elder sis have grown decidedly frostier, but it looks as though this might have broken some ice with middle sis, which can only be a good thing.
    There's something. A lot of coming out stories end with an ostracism, it might just work out that I get a reconciliation from this one. Which I'd say could be a result, wouldn't you?

Parallel universe

    Bloke in front of me driving a tractor. A big Deere, at least big by UK standards. No implement or trailer, nothing on the foreloader so at least he's not too slow. I'd judge he's a Rustic Son of the Soil in training. Probably a bit younger than me, green overalls and the uniform tweed cap of the British farmer.

    All that outdoor life, I bet he's fairly well-endowed, if you see what I mean.

    I'm driving to the supermarket on a weekend morning. There's an impatient horsey woman in a Discovery behind me. Middle-aged, hair like Princess Anne, white blouse and one of those green puffy waistcoats. Can't see her crotch of course from where I'm sitting, but I'm guessing she's wearing jodhpurs and Hunter wellies to complete the ensemble.

    We reach the village. My turning. I speed off down the side road, leaving Horsey Woman cursing at Tractor Man. It's a wet day today in Southern England, so great plumes of spray are being thrown up as the Rollerskate passes through the puddles. Rather fun as it happens.

    A cyclist in brightly coloured Lycra hoves into view. I slow right down to avoid splashing him. Not much left to the imagination in that outfit, you can hardly see his package at all. Must be the cold I suppose.

    The supermarket car park has plenty of spaces, which is good. Sports Car Lady, a regular at this store, is just pulling in at the same time as me. Unusual to see a natal woman owning a succession of very track-oriented sports cars over the years, I am in awe of her. And naturally, of her vagina too.

   The usual spotty youths are wheeling a great snaking line of trolleys past the cars. All wrapped up against the wet. Probably up and down like the Assyrian Empire like most teens, but they have that teen weediness about them that implies they have a little more growth to go in the trouser department.

    I collect my trolley and go inside to start picking up my groceries. I need to find some oysters, for one thing.

   And so I traverse the store, row by row. The other shoppers, each little more than a set of genitalia on legs when you come down to it, all doing the same. The checkout lady is friendly, can you blame me as a gynephile for thinking about her private parts a little longer than normal?

    As I walk out of the store I pass a tall slim young woman coming in. I'm pretty sure she's trans, like me. We smile at each other. She has lovely hair, lucky thing.

    I load my shopping into the Rollerskate, and drive home.