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Monday, 31 December 2012

Summary of 2012


This time last year I was on top of the world (see here http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/summing-up-2011.html). Indeed, 2010 and 2011, as I emerged as a debutante TGirl into the world, were probably the happiest and most amazing years of my life. This year, by contrast, has been very mixed.

On the plus side, most of my close long-term friends now know that I am trans and have been hugely supportive. That’s been a real source of comfort, relief and happiness and means I can just be myself. I’ve had no problems at all out in public. Indeed, everywhere I go people are welcoming and treat me as a normal human being. (And why not? I treat others with respect, so they return it. Human nature is predominantly decent.) The recent art show demonstrated how I can be officially recognised.

Publicity for the "Diffraction" art show.

I’ve got to know two new groups of girls, the Nottingham Invaders and the Brick Lane Set. I knew the Invasion bossladies, Maddy and Samantha, and several other girls in the area already, but they’ve created a superb monthly night out in Nottingham city centre. I think it works better than other places because there is no ghetto, just ordinary venues (yes, a couple of gay pubs, but mainly everyday clubs). London’s Brick Lane girls at the Verge Bar are also good company, and are obviously somewhat closer to home.

Brick Lane's Verge Bar
Nottingham Invasion


There have been the thoroughly enjoyable rounds of eating out, shopping, theatre, cinema, travelling and having a great time with friends. And even just everyday stuff. Somehow, life is nicer as a woman. I absolutely love stage shows of all kinds and there have been some delights this year.


Trannyshack
Funny Girls
The Hurly Burly Show

I’ve been helping girls dress and do their make up in my home, which has been a bit of a learning experience. Sadly, I've had to give up on a couple of friends, but in compensation I have made a large number of new friends and continued to enjoy the company of older ones. My friends are my joy and I love them to bits. There's always room for many more.

See, TGirls have lots of fun!

I’ve also been pleased that people seem to enjoy this blog. Thanks for reading. I try to keep it entertaining and humorous, and with illustrations rather than just prose. I’ve been enjoying other people’s blogs, too. (I’ll see if in my technological rubbishness I can get my favourite blogs list on the front page rather than you having to click on my profile to see them.)

The other thing to comment on is what an incredibly exciting place London has been this year, largely because of the Jubilee and the Olympics and many new constructions, from the Shard to the cable car. It’s a phenomenal city and its spirit lifts me.

Jubilee pageant

Olympic men's marathon
Thames skyline at night

Now the bad bit. A black cloud has been created by the malice of a number of self-appointed ‘activists’ who sprayed their hate everywhere mid-year. It seems any person who fancies it can set themselves up as a know-all trans leader and dictate the terms under which other trans people shall live, with violence to reinforce the message. I once used to provide workplace bullying advice in a national trade union but I have never seen abuse, control freakery and bullying like this. The hatred exuded by some trans people is in contrast to the acceptance and kindness of just about all the non-trans people I’ve met. This malice has been a source of anguish to me this year. It’s made me wish that I hadn’t bothered coming out, and made me fear the future. I didn’t go to the London Pride or Brighton Pride events this year because I felt ashamed of being in any way associated with this brutality, and I have stopped organising lunches under the Angels name as I feel in danger. I am still giving thought on how to deal with this as my resources and experience have actually failed me on this one, but I am just glad that the majority of trans people are decent and I’m grateful to my many friends for their love and support over this. I do feel it will be a while before I feel properly happy and at ease again. In any case, clearly I will have to take a new direction in future. I’m sad to put this so strongly, but some things cannot be pussyfooted around.

Anyway, back to the positives. I hope you have a fun new year’s eve, whatever you’re doing. Proper New Year’s greetings tomorrow, and a new up-to-date avatar (exciting, eh?).

Love

Sue x

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas to all

Wishing all my readers a very happy Christmas. Here's hoping Santa brings you that lovely little something you've always craved. Don't overdo the eating and drinking now!





Love,

Sue x



Friday, 21 December 2012

Apocalyptic Lurgy

I've been in bed all week with the lurgy. I think I'm lucky in that I rarely get so sick that I have to take to my bed, but I can't recall being this ill for a great many years. (OK, so I'm not in bed at this precise moment as I type, but you know what I mean.) I'm hoping it'll be all gone by Christmas Day.

This is very annoying because it's not only messed up my work for the week but it's also messed up my Xmas shopping and other preparations. But above all, I'm very disappointed at missing the Nottingham Invasion tonight which promised to be a good one, especially as friends I haven't seen in a while are going. Boo!

It wouldn't have mattered if the world had come to an end today (as promised by the Mayans). What a disappointment! Nothing exciting ever happens round here!

Hoping that normal service will be resumed before long.

Sue x

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Nostalgia trip to Pink Punters

My first public appearance as a nervous debutante was almost three years ago, at Pink Punters. I hadn’t revisited this well-known LGBT club on the edge of Milton Keynes for almost two years so I thought that a nostalgic return was appropriate now that I have achieved so much as a TGirl. Besides, many of my friends were going to be there, which was the main reason for going.

I decided, partly for convenience and partly, I think, from an increasing feeling of relaxation over my trans status, to travel to and from Milton Keynes in male mode. For the last couple of years I have travelled to trans events in female mode. There are reasons for this switch, which I might bore you with in a different post.

I started with lunch and a quick trip round Milton Keynes’ vast shopping centre with Tiff and Mrs Tiff, who kindly picked me up from the station. I restocked on ballet flats as my others have been all worn out now on the unforgiving pavements of London.

Impressive Christmas grotto in Milton Keynes shopping centre.

Then to the Campanile hotel opposite the club where I showered, shaved, did my makeup and nails and hair, and dressed, all in a leisurely two hours (compared to the same taking over four hours on my first trip there).

Because of the trouble and expense of dining away from the hotel we dared to eat dinner there. The food used to be fairly poor but it has improved and my dinner was good enough, though the few staff were hard-pressed in the crowded bar/dining room to maintain quick service. Anyway, it was nice to chat to old friends Ange, Tiff and Mrs Tiff, Maddy, Bobby and Mrs Bobby over dinner and meet new people such as Gina, whose recent rapid foray into the world is impressive, and Emma H and Mrs Emma, who know where to get some fabulous rings. I also caught up with Leila (who travelled with me and Emma W to this year’s Sparkle). All these girls have the most fabulous dresses imaginable, and wear them beautifully. I’m going to have to up my game considerably if I want to remain on the scene!

Dining at the Campanile with Ange, the first TGirl I ever met.

I changed outfit for the club. It too is having a change of look, but is still essentially the same, with its outside bar/seating/smoking area, quieter top bar, main dancefloor in the middle and killer dance area in the basement. Apparently there are new changing rooms and toilets, but I didn't see those (I have camel genes and don't use the loo). £8 entry, and drinks not too overpriced for a club. So many locals attend Pink Punters even though it’s billed as an LGBT club, which shows it must be a good venue. For me, it’s a place to meet up with other TGirls and view the latest in tranny chic. Very short tight dresses and stockings are unlikely to go out of fashion here, hence my choosing a short lace dress and suspender tights.

Being the Girls’ Big Night Out it was packed with TGirls, more than I have seen before there. It was good to meet Josie there, back from abroad, and meet her wife for the first time, and also Maddy’s friend Zoe Marie. I’m glad I stuck to drinking water throughout as they have installed a variety of heaters and the outside fire is bigger than ever, with the result that it was actually pretty hot there and my wig now smells of coal smoke.

So, in all, another enjoyable evening catching up with friends and admiring frocks and discussing big issues such as the merits of tights over stockings.

I now really, really want to get to the Nottingham Invasion this month. Will time and money conspire against it? Watch this space, I guess.

Sue x

Monday, 10 December 2012

The crazy time of year

Christmas madness is upon us. December is the busiest time of year work-wise (for me), and it's also the time when you have to shop a lot, send cards, prepare for the 25th and go to loads of parties and lunches. I'm not work shy and I love a good meal with friends, but it does get wearing when about a third of the year's activities have all to be crammed into the three weeks before Christmas Day. I'm exhausted already and feeling very fat!

And hence the neglect of the blog for a bit.

However, forthcoming highlights include a night out at Pink Punters at the end of this week and, of course, lots of girly shopping (I always buy myself a Christmas gift of some posh tights and some jewellery.)

The lovely Lynn Jones has challenged me to complete a questionnaire about trans life, which is nearly done and which I will put here as soon as I can.

In the meantime, my little project to photograph the best of London's winter lights is under way. Here's a taster: the Old Vic theatre looking lovely, with its Christmas tree.



Sue x


Monday, 26 November 2012

London's Ladies Wot Lunch

I’m pleased to say that yesterday I organised one of my long, lazy Sunday lunches for friends in the London area and it was really enjoyable. It was the first I’d done for six months, and the delay was due to the trolling and troubles I’d had in the spring and summer, which rather put me off the T world. I’m glad, therefore, that this went so well, although I just invited friends this time rather than advertised it generally online.

We met at the Cambridge pub right in the heart of London. A hundred years ago, Piccadilly Circus was the “hub of the universe” but things fashionable have shifted half a mile north east to Cambridge Circus where Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road meet. Once a bit shabby, apparently the setting for the “Circus” of Le Carré’s character George Smiley (the “octagonal room” is above the bank opposite the pub), it’s now where today’s liveliest West End quarters all meet: Soho, Seven Dials, Chinatown, St Giles.

The Cambridge, which does stand out on the thoroughfare, is a transitional sort of pub, the kind of place you pop into for a quick drink on your way to the theatre or home from work. Only when there’s a major sports event do people tend to linger in the bar, which is not that large. But the dining room upstairs is comfortable and quiet, and the food is good and plentiful. The fact that my pal Joanne is team leader there is beside the point! Well, not really.


So ten of us met up there for lunch at a leisurely pace and caught up with each others’ news: Helena had just been to the Hyper Japan show, and Stella to the Enigma Ball; we reminisced about our TGirl bar exactly a year ago at Olympia. Ann and Stephanie had been enjoying shopping at Westfield. I was seeing Tina for the first time since Sparkle, and Rachel of the Brick Lane Set was making her first (I think) foray into the West End. Just pleasant conversation all round over roast dinner with attentive, cheerful service from the staff. Splitting into two tables makes conversation easier (and dealing with the bill).

Pictures? Oh yes, got to have pictures:

The Dolls' Table. l-r: Stephanie, Ann, me, Mrs Stella, Stella, Helena. Hurry up and take the pic, my pudding's melting! (And just to point out, in case you think I'm a greedy pig, that in fact the others had ordered and eaten their puds long before me!)

The Cuties' Table: Tina, Rachel, Irene, Ange.

Afterwards, as evening drew on, Irene, Rachel, Tina and me wandered through Seven Dials into Covent Garden to do a bit of pre-Christmas window shopping. These areas are really beautiful before Christmas with lights and worthwhile decorations. We ended the day with a quiet drink at my favourite watering hole, the upstairs Opera Room bar at the Chandos pub just off Trafalgar Square.

At Seven Dials monument with Irene and Tina.

Covent Garden markets before Christmas

Irene's got some nice photos of the evening on her Flickr pages: http://www.flickr.com/photos/irene-michaela/with/8220642052/#photo_8220642052

I’d just add that going out as a TGirl in London is a totally affirming experience. Not only do you get served like any normal paying customer but staff in places like Accessorise and Kurt Geiger treat you very well. I was delighted also that the railway staff organising rail replacement buses called me “love” when I asked them for help.

Will probably try to do another such lunch in January.

Sue x

Friday, 23 November 2012

My Tights


Last week, MyTights.Com sent me their autumn catalogue. For a hosiery enthusiast like me this is a droolfest.

It's reminded me of a day years ago when I had reason to visit a company in Battersea. I was unable to locate the company office in the rambling building so I popped my head round an open door to ask for directions. That open office door happened to belong to My Tights and the girls there in their pretty hosiery and the posters on the walls of flawless legs in gorgeous designs were a joy to behold. For a moment I thought I had stuck my head through the gates of heaven!

One day I'll post about my hosiery collection and maybe even show you my tights cupboard, but for now I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed buying from this company over many years. They're not necessarily the cheapest option but they are very efficient and their site is well constructed so you can find what you're looking for by brand or style or denier. Their enquiry service (by email or phone) is good and they are very friendly towards transvestites. They even help men buying for their womenfolk (or alleged womenfolk!). There are plenty of other online hosiery stores, but somehow I feel happiest here.

Here's a link to their site.

http://www.mytights.com/

NB Stop Press! There happens to be a "flash sale" today, Fri 23 Nov, only. 25% off everything till midnight. Type BLACKFRIDAY at the checkout.

I'll be browsing carefully there as I look for my annual Christmas treat for myself.

Enjoy.

Sue x

ADD 24/11 The three items I ordered yesterday at about 4pm arrived this morning at around 9. That's efficiency! 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"Birthday"

November 18th is my birthday.

Actually, it’s not officially my birthday, but it’s the day I choose to celebrate my T birth. Not that it marks an anniversary, it’s just the day that it is. Anyway, Queen Elizabeth II has two birthdays and I’m something of an old queen, too, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t do the same.

Well, that’s enough justification!

Unfortunately, things did clash a bit this year with Nottingham Invasion and family stuff so I plan to have a bit of a party next weekend. But on Sunday I met up for lunch with a friend at the very good Rocca di Papa Italian restaurant in the Old Brompton Road. This place is good: excellent food at very good prices. The pizzas are superb. On this occasion I had calamari – whole chopped calamari, not those rubber rings you often get served –, lasagne with lots of meat and delicious, creamy mango sorbet. The staff are nice. Recommended.

This was followed by a trip to Kensington Odeon to see The Master, a film with outstanding reviews that, actually, wasn’t all that great, I felt. Oh well, it made for a relaxing day.

Next Sunday it’ll be a big TGirl lunch at the Cambridge in the West End, which I haven’t done for a while.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Katy Perry’s mermaid dress in the window of Christie’s in the Old Brompton Road (estimated value £2,000-£3,000). I want, especially as I have had no cards or presents so far. And it’s better value than Madonna’s Jean-Paul Gaultier conical bustier at £15,000 also on view there.


Sue x

PS  There's now a photo of me and my friends at Nolia's on the "On Public View" post, and links to Verge bar and Carole's Flickr pages have been added to other recent posts.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Brick Lane Set


No, not some inter-war literary group, but an evident group of TGirls who associate in the Verge bar on the corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Breen Road, London E2. I’ve previously described an evening in the area back in August http://suerichmond.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/brick-lane.html

Verge's website is here http://thevergebar.com/

Now, Stephanie’s lovely photo of that evening has disappeared behind the Wall of Censorship of the Lords of Flickr because she has had the temerity and perverted shamelessness to show her stocking tops on occasion. So, as I believe in freedom of expression, I am posting our picture here and I don’t care what the world says. Those of a Victorian disposition should look away now.

Brick Lane, August 2012, with Gillian (left) and Stephanie (right). Photo by Stephanie.

Shocking, huh? This is a great photo: we're all in, all smiling, great perspective, and a blend of soft pastel tones of our clothes contrasting with bright neon lights.

Anyway, I went back there a few weeks ago, again at the invitation of lovely Rachel Cole, and met up with Stevie, Helen, Mandy, Margaret and Denise. It’s a fairly mixed crowd in the bar and generally quite relaxed. The music's not too loud so you can have a conversation. On that occasion we ate dinner at Carluccio’s in Spital Square, an offputting name under the circumstances! An edible interlude before returning to Verge.

A bottle of pinot grigio. It wasn't all for me. Verge Bar, October 2012

And last night, at Stephanie’s invitation, I met up at Verge with her, Ann Drogyny and Jessee from Brisbane. It was the first outing for the black dress with sheer sleeves that my nice pal Carole gave me, and is warm and comfortable as well as looking nice (I think). 

Girls in smart dresses. Sue in black, Ann in red. Verge Bar, November 2012

Brick Lane is the curry centre of London but, frankly, we just get seduced by the first curry tout to grab us (instead of playing the touts off against each other) and are always hauled into City Spice, being the first of the cheek-by-jowl Indian restaurants there. Actually, the food’s not bad and the white wine was chilled (unlike August’s red which was close to boiling point!). Anyway, the wine is free for the likes of us!

Jess, Ann, me and Steph outside City Spice, November 2012.

I must ask the name of our curry tout next time. Not only does he get the punters in (at a well-rehearsed discount rate) but occasionally he pops in to clear and set tables, and takes good photos too! 

We wobbled back over the cobbles to Monty’s, a decent enough cocktail bar on Brick Lane that’s again quite relaxed and bright. I assure you we had fruit juice this time. http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/pubsandbars/montys-bar-and-lounge-info-60982.html

So this seems to be where the London T set is hanging out these days, partly because of the Adam and Eve dressing service nearby. But, knowing our interests, there are lots of eating and drinking places one after the other there, so it's easy to have a decent night out without straining oneself! And the brand new East London Line extension, now part of the Overground (a new name for old lines) with its recently built Shoreditch High Street station is right there.

Thanks to Rachel and Steph for inviting me, and to all the other girls there who make it such fun.

Sue x

Sunday, 4 November 2012

On public view

Last week, as mentioned below, some of my paintings, consisting of portraits of TGirls, were on display at a public art show. It being my first official public engagement, as it were, it was important as the world now knows I’m out there.

Success was mixed. The show and my part in it did not go quite as expected for various complicated reasons which I won’t go into. The private view on the Saturday night was quite well attended, though, and I was delighted to welcome half a dozen of my T-girlfriends and meet other artists and people I know.

Nolia’s Gallery is downstairs from Nolia’s 11 jazz café in Stamford Street just behind the Oxo Tower on London’s vibrant South Bank. So after looking at the works on display we went to the beautiful top level conservatory with its glass roof, palms, piano, artworks and cocktail bar. Food is a mix of Malay and French and we enjoyed sharing a variety of dishes. You get the idea from their website here www.nolias11.com. There’s some idle talk of Nolia’s having the potential to become the replacement for Lola’s, a T club that is no more and is much missed.

I hope I can put up a few pictures of the event if my friends are willing to share. My camera went phut, which for a TGirl is a bit like a pacemaker breakdown!

ADD 20/11: Thanks to Stella for this pic:

At Nolia's conservatory bar with (l-r) Petra, Annabelle, Joanne, me, Irene, Ange.

Thanks also to Maddy who ‘modelled’ for me. Her portrait is now on the art website here http://suerichmondart.blogspot.co.uk/p/gallery.html. Unfortunately I was unwell in the week before the show and couldn’t complete a couple of items that might otherwise have been displayed but thanks also to Joanne and other girls who volunteered to be painted.

I think one day the aim is to have a large collection of TGirl portraits on display, just to show that we are human and beautiful. Previous enquiries about showing my paintings at the Sparkle national transgender celebration were inconclusive, so further thought is necessary.

Thanks to Daniela for organising and Nolia for hosting and to Ange, Joanne, Irene, Petra, Stella and Annabelle for coming, especially on a weekend with so much else happening.

Sue x

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Art

I’ve always been a bit of an amateur artist but started painting properly about six years ago as I found it relaxing after stressful workdays. People seemed to like my stuff and even bought and commissioned items. So now I’m taking it more seriously and, with the encouragement of my friends, have agreed to take part in a professional art show.

So, anyway, like any professional artist, I have now set up a dedicated website and blog here http://suerichmondart.blogspot.co.uk/p/home.html with all relevant details of the show and some examples of my work. Constructive feedback on the site is welcome, as are any comments on the artwork itself. These days I’m mainly painting portraits in oils and here’s a recent one of me.


This is a big step for any TGirl as not only will lots more people now know about my being trans but it makes it almost official. I’ve realised that the Great British Public are not generally upset by trans people out and about – curious maybe, but rarely hostile – and the art world itself is very tolerant (Grayson Perry, winner of the Turner Prize, is well known) so I guess I’m more worried about having my work compared to that of other very competent artists. But, hey, I’m all for pushing my comfort zone in all directions at the moment.

I was pleased to look over the venue recently with the show’s curator and another female friend and meet the gallery owner and other artists. Having done so, I really feel comfortable about this, and not a little excited. I am, though, trying to keep it a bit low-key as I’d like to see how this goes before getting ambitious, both with my painting and with being openly out to all. So I've invited only close friends to the private view, although anyone can visit the exhibition.

More on the show when it’s on. I’ll be displaying portraits specifically of TGirls there, and thanks to those friends who’ve offered to have their portraits painted. The aim of these and all my other portraits is to bring out the sitter’s humanity. Who cares that these people are trans, they’re still human and beautiful.

Sue x

Friday, 12 October 2012

Cobblers

Well, my liking for heels is costing me dear. I've just collected two pairs of boots from the cobblers which were reheeled at £6.50 a pair. It's the third set of heel tips they've each had, and they're not that old. In fact, I had also considered taking him a cheap pair of shoes but decided it was better to buy a new pair than keep on with the old ones at that price.

It seems a lot for a cubic centimetre of rubber but, of course, shoe care is much more than that and my cobbler also repaired and smartened up all the scuffs and scrapes on the heels as well, bless him (I keep slipping down drain covers, etc).

But at this rate of attrition I'm going to have to go with flats. Even at the risk of losing my TGirl credentials. Tough choices!

Sue x

Monday, 8 October 2012

Makeovers at home

I've often had TGirls to stay and have enjoyed taking them out to London or further afield in South East England. In fact, the spare room is now painted a suitable rose pink! A couple of girls have come to my place to change before I've accompanied them on their first forays onto the streets of the capital. Now I've been trying my hand at doing makeovers at home for TGirls who are still finding their style.

Over the years I've filled several cupboards to bursting with clothes and now have lots of wigs, makeup and other essentials so girls who are still developing their look have a chance to experiment in a safe and private environment. Maybe I should start charging! But at the moment it's nice just to have someone round for a chat and a spot of lunch and watch their mood improve from stressed male to beaming female.

I've been asked not to post pictures here, which is fair enough, though the rather cute Carole Jayne Evans can be found on Flickr and would, I'm sure, appreciate comments: http://www.flickr.com/photos/80740689@N08/ I can't compete with Sophie's dressing service of Bath, though.

Sue x


Monday, 1 October 2012

Regular pub quiz

Just thought I'd mention, as a sort of addendum to last month's post on pubs, that I usually get to Joanne Frost's pub quiz on the last Wednesday of every month at the Dog House pub in Kennington, South London (not far from the Vauxhall Griffin mentioned in the last but one post).

Joanne's quiz is quirky and hilarious and everyone gets some sort of mad prize every round. Last Wednesday my teammate and I walked away with a china tortoise, a golfing video (vol 2 of a set), a pair of Bacardi Breezer sunglasses and a ten pence piece as prizes, despite not winning a round! All life-changing items, you'll agree, and I completely forget the spurious reasons for being awarded them.

The pub itself is pleasant enough with a central bar and two areas downstairs and a large room upstairs. Their beers are good though I don't rate their selection of wine very highly. The food is generally OK. http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/64/6498/Dog_House/Kennington .

I like being accepted, though, as just another team player and customer.

Sue x

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Nottingham: my third Invasion

 
As I’ve said before on these pages, the TGirls in Nottingham have really sorted themselves out and have a lot of activities to keep them amused and sane. The monthly Nottingham Invasion is one of the better monthly meets around the country mainly as there is no ‘gay ghetto’ to confine the wanderings of the trans posse. The Invasion bossladies, Sam and Maddy, are to be commended for making this such a success.

So, as previously, I stayed in the very pleasant New Gables hotel run by Debbie and Maria, and met some of my oldest and closest friends there. I booked a table at the recommended Noor Jahan restaurant where we ate a substantial, tasty and good value meal with attentive service. Recommended. I was particularly pleased with being addressed as Madam on the phone. My female voice is improving.

Good food and good company. At Noor Jahan with some of my closest friends. 
Left to right: Jo, me, Ange, Maddy and Tiff.




New Foresters pub is the gateway to the proceedings and where most of the girls meet first for a drink and a chat. We moved on to the Newmarket Inn, an Australian gay pub which I hadn’t visited before and which had a party on to celebrate its first birthday. I quite liked its traditional interior (see picture). The TGirls at the bar are really beautiful. On the down side, I found the karaoke too loud.

At the Newmarket Inn


Another venue I’d not visited before was the Queen of Clubs which was not bad apart from the deafening music throughout which makes conversation impossible except in the quite pleasant ladies’ loos. I jerked about a bit which is what passes for dancing with me.

And finally to the NG1 club which is my favourite Nottingham venue as it has an attractive bar area where you can have a conversation without having to shout over the music, which is confined to a completely separate dancefloor area.

So that's a brief summary of the venues we visited. For me it's not the locations that count but an opportunity to meet up with some really nice people and catch up with all our news.

Nottingham has really got a lot to offer the out-and-about TGirl and I now recommend it to all girls who want a good night out and are prepared to travel. Many thanks to Tiff, Maddy, Ange, Jo, Gayna, Lynn, Rachael S., Rachel K.S., Holly and all the girls for another great evening.

Sue x




Friday, 7 September 2012

Necessary research into pubs


So I have been doing some research into London pubs with the help of other TGirls. This is, naturally, principally for the benefit of TGirls who might like to know of a few decent places to visit if they ever find themselves thirsty in the big city. Big city thirst is a terrible affliction so I feel that our endeavours for the benefit of transkind will be appreciated in the true spirit of charity in which they were undertaken.

Last week my smiley friend Gillian came to mine to get ready and we drove to meet my lovely pal Grace at the Vauxhall Griffin in South London, a nice quiet comfortable pub with an array of varied seating and a teeny beer garden. The staff were friendly and the ladies’ loos are fantastic. A great place for a catch-up with both girls.

In the Vauxhall Griffin's tiny beer garden. (This is actually Gillian's photo which is even smilier than the ones on my camera)


Tuesday was a beautiful day and I really didn’t want to be indoors so I met Joanne (who features here regularly) on the roof terrace of the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, West London. (Hammersmith is where the Charing Cross Hospital is, home of one of the gender clinics.) I stupidly didn’t take a photo but it is nice up there with its wooden benches and tables and climbing plants away from the crowds and traffic. The chilled white wine slipped down very well in the sunshine.

We decided that a pub garden would be the ideal place for a bite to eat so we went to the Hampshire Hog further along King Street near Ravenscourt Park, which has a delightful beer garden. The white and rosé wines were very nice. I felt my bowl of pappardelle pasta with mixed veg created a very good mix of flavours and textures but all the food was pricey. So enjoy a drink there but eating, though decent, is not worth the money.

After just missing our friend Saffy who had just been discharged from the hospital (sorry, Saff, but lunch always takes priority), and after attending to other matters there, we set off by tube for the West End. The Wellington pub at the bottom of Wellington Street has tables outside where you can look along Waterloo Bridge or down the Strand. It’s always quite busy but serves a decent range of better quality drinks. I’m a sucker for fruit ciders and Nicholson’s pubs are well stocked with these.

You know, before I started going out as a TGirl the fear was put into me that pubs were full of transphobic yobs ready to knife any girl who ventured in. This is not true. At all. Earlier this year I thought of starting a new blog devoted to all places which were “trans-friendly” but I’ve realised that essentially anywhere is as welcoming to trans people as it is to any other customer. And the other punters just mind their own business, unless you chat to them and make friends, of course. So instead, when I get round to it, I shall simply put up a new blog about good places to eat, drink, visit, shop at and so on for the benefit of anyone who visits London.

Sue x

Sunday, 26 August 2012

That small step, that giant leap


Neil Armstrong died yesterday.

I mention this in a TGirl blog because for me this man was an icon. I grew up during the Space Race, one aspect of the Cold War which was the dominant international situation during my youth. Yet, in that antagonism and tension, with a fear of human annihilation, mankind also achieved some truly extraordinary feats. I am hard pressed to think back through history as to what might represent a greater achievement than sending men to the moon and bringing them home again. And to think that it happened in my lifetime!

Not only have I had a lifelong fascination with the stars ever since reading about spaceflight as a child, and especially after an inspiring school trip to the London Planetarium when I was 8, but I suppose Armstrong’s small step showed me that, with effort and dedication, extraordinary things can be done if you really want them to happen. With hindsight, the Apollo programme was a typically crazy product of the Cold War – insanely expensive with no proper plan to build on the achievement and mainly an attempt to get one up on the Soviets – but one of its legacies is that it illustrated that mankind’s dreams can become reality.

Don’t worry, I’m not mawkishly and childishly going to suggest that I too am living my dream blah blah, nor that Armstrong achieved stuff in some splendid godlike isolation (no hero does – they all have massive teams at work behind them, notably in this case the US taxpayer), but just to say that for me Neil Armstrong represents the achievable, however incredible, and the aspiration to achieve it.

I never met him – he seems to have elected to live quite isolated. But I met Buzz Aldrin, again through school. It was spellbinding to listen to him and imagine being up there, too.

I still plan to get to the moon myself before I die. My boots will be much nicer than Neil’s, though.

Sue x

A stiletto print would have been so much more iconic. I intend to remedy this.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Brick Lane

Yesterday I was invited by Rachel Cole to join a group of girls associated with the Adam & Eve dressing service so, after half an afternoon's shopping and strolling in my favourite parts of Covent Garden, I took the hot Central Line tube out to Brick Lane, best known nowadays as the title of Monica Ali's novel and the place to eat Indian food in London.

I met Rachel and her pals Helen, Denise, Stephanie, Gillian and Mandy at the relaxed Verge bar. Mandy I already knew from the TGirl bar at Erotica but the other girls were new to me and very nice to talk to. Adam & Eve seems to have an enthusiastic following. I used to be a Boudoir girl when I used a dressing service, so we compared notes about style and experiences.

Stephanie, Gillian and I went down Brick Lane for a curry. The food wasn't bad at City Spice and the total bill was perfectly reasonable. The red wine, though, was served at considerably higher than room temperature! Maybe those southern Italian volcanoes were still at work in it! But as it was free we could hardly complain!

A pleasant way to spend an evening in the middle of the week. Stupidly, I forgot my camera! (TGirl + no camera = fail!) so I will be relying on the other girls' charity for a record of the event.

Sue x

Add: There's a lovely photo of us on Stephanie's Flickr pages - three pretty TGirls amid the bright lights and bustle of Brick Lane http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephaniemonroe/7857488000/in/photostream

Saturday, 18 August 2012

So what's normal anyway?

I went out to Camden in North London with a female friend earlier this month and we enjoyed a barge trip on the Regent's Canal before strolling round the fabulous markets.

It felt so normal and unremarkable to me that it shows how far I have come in less than three years since first stepping out dressed as a woman.

So what's weird in the picture below? The giant bronze horsehead? the Indian chieftain's headdress? the steel and glass canopy added to a Victorian warehouse? It's hardly the woman in jeans that's odd, is it?



It's so nice to be able to get on with normal stuff without having to feel self-conscious any more.

Sue x

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A year of blogging

So I wrote my first post here exactly a year ago. And, like I said then, I think I took up blogging because it's the thing to do these days. Previously, I had written a lot of my thoughts and adventures on UK Angels but have now shifted more to Facebook and here for that sort of thing.

I suppose I was motivated partly to keep a record of interesting things I was doing, but to make it public in the hope that other trans people might be inspired to go out into the world and try to do something positive and feel comfortable being themselves in public. I know that such tales of outside adventures had a considerable influence on my motivating myself to come outdoors and present myself as female to the world. And it has almost always been a positive and enjoyable way to live since doing so.

This blogging site's mechanics provide all sorts of statistics, many of which are incomprehensible, and some you wonder why on earth anyone would want to know, such as the type of device the site was accessed from (iPad, Android, etc)

But, anyway, as of this moment the stats tell me that there have been 5,828 page views, 60 posts (that's my bit) and I have 21 followers (hello there, lovelies). Most of the viewers are in the UK but a great many in the US and a surprising number from Poland. I wish I knew what "Hi there!" was in Polish. People particularly read about the Nottingham Invasion in March and about my Hell Bunny dress (probably people Googling for Hell Bunny dresses generally and ended up being directed here! - sorry girls, best get back to the shopping sites!). Most people come here from Samanthatgirl, which is Sam's excellent blog. http://samanthatgirl.com/

I've no idea if this is all good, bad or indifferent but competitive statistics is something that men are terrifically interested in and I find tedious and mystifying. So if you've read something here that you liked, browsed some pretty pictures, or have been inspired or interested in any way at all, then I guess this blog has served some purpose apart from amusing me in the evenings.

Thanks for reading.

Sue x

Monday, 13 August 2012

London in 2012

If you haven't yet visited London this year, you should. The vibe is incredible. Starting with the spectacular New Year fireworks we have seen the unveiling of several buildings, monuments and novelties such as the Shard, the Bomber Command memorial and the Air Line cable car. We have held unique celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee and the most amazing Olympics where many events were free access and the atmosphere was exciting and enthusiastic. London is always vibrant but this year is particularly special. The city is clean, efficiently run and being showcased to the World - enjoy it while it lasts!

Don't miss out.





Sue x

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sparkle 2012


Thursday. So, after a few days being a sightseer in my own city (see below), Emma Walkey drove us both to Sparkle, the annual national transgender celebration in Manchester. We picked up Leila Collins on the way. Not an easy journey – Britain’s motorways at their finest – and it took us ages even to get to Leila who was waiting for us half way there.

As in previous years, I stayed at the Ibis Hotel in Charles Street, formerly referred to as “Tranny Towers” for this event. It’s close to the action and the rooms are large and well-suited to our purposes. It’s also had a makeover this year and the new reception area looks better.

Just arrived in my hotel.


Friday. Sparkle proper begins on the Friday afternoon, really with the Welcoming event, held this year at Taurus, the last (or first) bar on Canal Street. I met various friends there and it was good to catch up with people I hadn’t seen since last year. I had a male friend to meet as well, who works locally, so I took him to Velvet next door.

Then I got changed and went again to Eden for the burlesque evening. I managed to get the last table and was eventually joined by a whole variety of friends. The varied show was right at the other end of the venue and was not always easy to see so some of us left early and went to New York New York, preferring a quiet drink at the lesser bar to the dancing at the main bar.


Saturday is Sparkle’s main day and the Manchester’s Gay Village is carpeted with trans people of every kind. You could probably crowd-surf up Canal Street on TGirls if you wanted!

I didn’t rush to get up but gradually got ready in my new Pussycat coral pink lace dress which I’d bought for the occasion. The cardi I got the day before in Manchester’s excellent shopping streets. And the shoes have become my official Sparkle shoes as I’ve worn them every Sparkle Saturday! Thanks to my lovely friend Jan for her sartorial advice here (Gok Jan!)

My carefully chosen Sparkle outfit. Dress and belt by Pussycat of London in coral pink (this year's colour!), cardigan by Wallis, sandals by BHS, open-toe tights by M&S, hair by Rene de Paris; jewellery, nail colour, spectacles: model's own. Fashion advice by Jan de Londres. (I think that's how the fashion mags put it!)


My pal Maddy was also staying at the hotel so we walked together to Villaggio Italian restaurant where I was hosting the Angels lunch with the much-appreciated help of another lovely friend, Tina-Natalie Scott. We had 20 people attend, which was very pleasing (we had 16 last year). Food and service there are always good and I find it good value, too.

UK Angels lunch at Villaggio. Regular readers will spot Holly (head barmaid at Erotica), Maddy (Nottingham Invasion) and Tina (hostess) on the near table with Claire, Fran and Lucy. Receding into the distance we have Bobby, Sandy, Lucy, Margaret, Joan, Susie, Cora, Wilhelmina, Emma, Jackie and an empty space where I would be.


The main Saturday event is Sparkle in the Park, with its stalls and stage shows. It was very well attended – probably even more than other years. Singer January was impressive and the Drag Idol show was fun. I bumped into so many people I know, and for me that is what makes the whole weekend so enjoyable. Bought a red and black goth wig just on a whim and wore it in the evening with my new M&S London skyline tights. Friends didn’t recognise me at first!

A change of look. Red and black wig, with fabulous M&S London 2012 skyline tights. With my lovely friend Tina. Photo courtesy of Maddy Watson.


In the evening I dined with the a number of friends from Northern England who (because of the distance) I get to see only occasionally – Tina and KD, and also Mandy, Justine and Emma with their wonderful, supportive wives. This was also at Villaggio (again! – well, it’s the only proper restaurant in Canal Street), then drinks at Eden where I met Tina and Maddy again. Finally, off to the Molly House, a very nice place with excellent foreign beers (but where the younger staff have never heard of Diana Ross – the shame!), where I met up with Justine Time, Sophie Harris and Saffy Walton.


Sunday. Had brunch at an outside table at Taurus and was joined by Zazoo, my inspiring trans friend from Glasgow, whom I first met right here at Sparkle in 2010, and we pretty much spent the day together. She is the ultimate trans person to my mind, living her life as she feels appropriate from day to day. The sun came out and we enjoyed just sitting there for much of the afternoon, saying hello to friends walking past and being entertained by the Gay Gordons ‘Scottish’ dancers. It’s a good way to spend the time. We went back to Zazoo’s apartment at the Atrium (which was lovely – must book in there next year) to change shoes and have a glass of wine. She and I then went for dinner at the New Emperor restaurant in Chinatown, which was pretty good and was patronised by the Chinese community, which is usually a good sign of quality. After, I went to freshen up and joined Emma and her wife Jackie at Eden’s before rejoining Zazoo briefly at Via. I went to bed early. A nice day but altogether I wasn’t going to overdo it. A restful time with close friends is just as good as the best celeb party, I reckon!

Last day of Sparkle. Ready to hit Canal Street for brunch and a lazy day in the sun at an outside bar table.


So there you have it: Sparkle 2012. For me, a quieter affair than in the past, but a thoroughly nice one. Sparkle is what you make it. You can go to lectures and events organised officially, or you can relax and do your own thing. I was happy to be co-hostess for the Angels lunch, my one commitment, but then just play it by ear after that. For me, it’s the lovely friends I meet there who make it.

Sue x

Monday, 30 July 2012

'Twas the week before Sparkle

Catching up with writing up my holiday earlier this month, which I'll present in two parts, pre-Sparkle and Sparkle itself.

Although I had cancelled many engagements thanks to all the abuse I got in June (and concentrated on work instead, so maybe the idiot trolls did me a favour), I wasn’t going to let down two friends who were visiting.

First I saw Carol Evans who came for her second makeover and dressing session. She had brought bags of stuff that were being thrown out by the women in her life. So many items fitted and suited me that I was very pleased to accept them. The trouble is, my house is now overflowing with clothes! It was good to practise makeup on someone else and watch Carol enjoy trying out wigs and clothes to see what styles suited her. I think we ended up with some good looks. And we certainly had a fun day together talking clothes and makeup and trying things on.

Then Emma Walkey came to stay for a few days before we went to Sparkle. Our first day out saw us sightseeing and shopping in the West End. There are several big new features in London just opened this month: the Shard skyscraper at London Bridge, the Bomber Command memorial at Hyde Park Corner and the Olympic flags of all nations in Regent and Conduit Streets. We also met an Aussie digger at the Australian War Memorial who seemed totally unbothered at regaling two TGirls with tales of his days in Vietnam – I guess we didn’t pass for proper sheilas! Oh well, it was quite interesting!

The new Bomber Command memorial in Green Park.


We enjoyed a long, lazy lunch at the Old Express in Shepherd Market in Mayfair, sitting outside but nicely covered by an awning that kept off the occasional heavy showers. Emma visited the Mac and Benefit shops just off Carnaby Street for some of their excellent products and processes. A drink in our favourite pub in the area, the Mason’s Arms in Maddox Street, preceded a good value dinner at our favourite Bistro 1 in Beak St (I really must write an eatery blog). 

(Note to self: Choccywoccydoodah cake and chocolate shop in Fouberts Place is something to be revisted … often.)

Our second day saw us revisit Camden Market which is a TGirls’ paradise. We spent ages and much money in a burlesque outfit shop and enjoyed browsing everything else. Burlesque was on our minds most, though ...

We went home to change into posh evening wear as we had tickets for the Hurly Burly Show. Such a fun show, a modern take on burlesque. Saucy, witty, imaginative, with plenty of laughs and providing inspiration for the aspiring TGirl. Miss Polly Rae and her curvaceous Hurly Burly Girlies were outstanding performers. We were only a handful of people who had made any effort at all to smarten up for the occasion and so had our photo taken by the theatre’s photographer which we hope to find on Facebook soon. Why did so many people come totally scruffy in jeans? Beats me.

http://hurlyburlyuk.com/ Enjoy their teaser trailers with short exerpts from this and previous incarnations of the show.

Miss Polly Rae and her Hurly Burly Girlies - aspirational! (Credit: Exposay.com)


Well, after that. what better way to end the evening than dinner at our well-tried favourite, Salieri, close by and where they are always so welcoming. And a stunning view of London’s river by night.

Thursday, however, we piled our girly baggage into Emma’s car and headed up North for Sparkle, the best event in the trans calendar. That merits a separate post.

Sue x

Sunday, 29 July 2012

London Olympics 2012

And they're off!

It's been quite a buildup, what with the bid for the games gathering pace almost a decade ago and then with the announcement on 6/7/05 that London was to host them (a memorable date because four deadly bombs were set off in London the next day). The torch relay passed near home last week and now the games have officially started. I have no tickets, but there are plenty of events that don't require them.

I confess that I'm one of the least sporty people around, but I have always enjoyed the Olympics, probably because of the sheer variety on offer. Every organised sport under the sun all going on in one place.

This weekend the men's and women's cycling road races went from the Mall out to Box Hill in Surrey before returning. I caught the outward and inward legs of both events and here are a few pictures. Although the event passed by in just a few minutes each time, the atmosphere was enthusiastic and partylike, with the police seeming to be cheerleaders or warm-up artists!

I'm beginning to think the venues for many events have been chosen for their beautiful backdrops, showing the UK off to best advantage to foreign TV (Horse Guards Parade, Greenwich Park, Hampton Court, the leafy lanes of Surrey ...)

I hope to see the cycling time trials as well, and the marathons, too.

By the way, I'm really loving the way all the shops in South West London are displaying as many international flags as they can lay their hands on. And how the Met Police were really jovial over the weekend. Who says Londoners are aloof and unwelcoming! (Well, OK, OK, it'll be business as usual in two weeks' time!)

Hope you enjoy whatever Olympic events appeal to you.

Sue x

Men's road race heads out of London in a long snake.

Men's road race heads back to London (you can see the city in the background). How appropriate to be viewing this from Sawyer's Hill where I first learnt to ride a bike (which was my sister's girly bike).

Women's road race heads out of London, all bunched up. They all whizzed by in a couple of seconds.
Just over 15km to go here. The women cyclists headed back to London in widely separated groups. This was the penultimate group, battling heavy rain in Richmond Park


Thursday, 26 July 2012

A shaggy dog story


I get my wigs from Trendco just off Notting Hill Gate and visit them usually twice a year. They are always very helpful and knowledgeable and have a large stock. I usually see Michael or Will and get a private consultation room which has a big mirror and a comfy chair.

This time I got my usual Noriko Carrie in cappuccino, which is a style that suits me, being very hairy and covering my odd-shaped head well (though it greatly reduces my periferal vision). The colour is also very close to my natural hair colour.

This time I also liked the new René Kayleigh style so much I bought that as well (on initial offer and with 10% off for buying two). It’s shorter and slightly lighter, though similar. They’re both relatively cheap, machine-made nylon wigs but perfectly presentable. However, I did look over some wonderful hand-woven ones that I may very well invest in. After all, I go out a lot and having decent hair is essential, especially if it lasts longer, too.

My eyebrows are a nightmare, though. It’s as if they are the demon twin lovechildren of Denis Healy and Lassie (which is itself not an image you want to dwell on too long). I had allowed them to grow so they could be better shaped for Sparkle. I myself spent one and a half hours tweezing them the night before till they were merely jokeshop brows rather than something the Forestry Commission might have claims on, and then went round the corner from Trendco to the Calder Pharmacy on the Gate itself where they do beauty treatments and the girl worked on them furiously with tweezers for a further half hour till they were tamed, if still somewhat bold and brooding. It took further work in Manchester to get them even partly feminine looking.

Having watched Emma Walkey have hers tinted and waxed (and waxed and waxed!) at Benefit off Carnaby Street I’m thinking that is probably the only way to go in future. Some DDT tropical caterpillar spray might also work. Sheesh! One day I’ll get these bolts in my neck filed down a bit, too!

Oh, I didn’t mention my back wax at my local beauty salon. You don’t want to know!

Sue x

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Trouble


I first got in touch with other trans people in 2003 and had my first makeover at the Boudoir in 2004, which was my first physical contact with the T world. Since then I have been in touch almost daily with other trans people and, from about four years ago, started to meet up with them regularly. This contact over the last decade has been an exhilarating, affirming and positive experience.

Until now.

Over the last two or three months I and many others have been subject to a much greater than average degree of online trolling and abuse. My favourite website, Angels, for example, seems to have collapsed with many people leaving because of the aggression. I’ve taken it up with the moderators but the problem seems to have worsened. It is very sad, rather like seeing the face of an old friend being punched whilst bystanders watch and then turn to leave. Note that my disappointment is by no means as intense as that of other members who have contacted me about it and expressed some strong views.

But more troubling than this is the personal aggravation that I have been subjected to all of a sudden.

Just for instance, the wife of a TGirl I had been happily meeting up with these last couple of years apparently thought I might be a mistress having an affair with her husband whom she’d only just found out to be a transvestite. Being put in that awful and undeserved position has shocked me, not least because I had previously been led to believe that she knew of his crossdressing. You can imagine how enjoyable it was to have an unexpected phone conversation at work with an angry wife on such an intimate subject.

Other friends whom I have taken to lunch seem to have decided that I don’t shape up to some new-formed ideals of theirs and have attacked me very unpleasantly and quite unexpectedly after some years of friendship. One even set up an account on a site specifically and exclusively to send me a nasty email, before closing that account so I can’t reply. How cowardly is that?

Worse are the communications from some political groups contacting me via another ‘friend’, without any agreement on my part, who somehow think that I may be interested in their form of violent protest and even sent me a magazine revelling in photos of policemen and others with their heads kicked in.

Whilst abuse of trans people is certainly wrong, the abuse, supremacism, hate and violence put out by certain trans people and organisations are totally unacceptable. Many people at Sparkle, the national transgender celebration last weekend, pointed this out, too. There is an unease and dislike in the mainstream trans community of a minority of snobs and bullies. I am in no doubt that daring to point out and take a stand against this antisocial behaviour will lead to further attacks on me, but I feel people should know where much of the malice in this walk of life is actually coming from. I will continue to live my life positively, law-abidingly and in the mainstream. I know the law and my rights after twenty years of working in the field and always apply them, exactly as I did last month when my frail, elderly neighbours were targeted by nasty conmen and I called the police, or this month when seeking legal advice for redress for breach of contract. I contacted police and security last year on both occasions when transphobic attacks were made on me in public. Being trans and therefore vulnerable does not, however, put trans people themselves above the law, or above social norms either. I am necessarily involving a lawyer and police in dealing with some of this latest behaviour.

Do not attack me, bully me, troll my posts, lie about me, impugn my integrity or threaten me again. I will take action against people who do so because I always act against persons who harm me. Whilst I am a gentle person who dislikes conflict, I have overriding senses of justice and self-preservation.

I will be getting back to my positive outlook again soon, but after a decade of joy followed by several weeks of sudden abuse, you will, please, my dear readers, need to bear with me a bit. I’m so sad, sorry and shocked to have to write this bad news here but it explains why I have posted nothing this last month.

I would like to thank my many friends for all their love, help, support and encouragement these last few weeks and to the organisers of Sparkle which helped me feel positive again. More of that and other good news in a short while as I gradually get back online.

Sue x