It's taken a bit of effort this time to organise the Angels London lunch for reasons too tedious to describe here but I decided to book us into our old favourite, Salieri on the Strand. So I went there on Wednesday to do this. I was a bit grumpy as it had taken me all morning to get ready. As soon as I walked in the staff greeted me with much fuss and were delighted to hear I'd be bringing the girls again. As it was about lunchtime anyway, I decided I might as well eat there anyway. But when I asked for the bill the waiter said, "Madame, this is with our compliments", and tore the bill up in front of me. I felt overwhelmed by their gesture and got almost tearful. It's so nice to be seen as one of their regulars and to be welcomed so kindly.
I spent an afternoon, which was very wet, looking for possible alternative makeup. I use Mac and Kryolan foundation, with eye makeup from Benefit. None of it is cheap and I've been wondering about alternatives. So I popped into my regular makeup haunts, Charles Fox in Tavistock St and Mac in Neal St and Fouberts Place, but also visited Screen Face in Mercer St and the Make Up Store in Carnaby St. They all offer makeovers and I may try out all their various foundations over the summer and decide if any other works better for me. But the point is that none of the staff in these shops bat an eyelid when a TGirl walks in: she's just another customer. Make Up Store weren't even bothered by my leaving very wet footprints all over their floor! (NB, don't wear ballet flats in a rainstorm as the gunwales are not high enough to prevent water sloshing into them - squelch! squelch!)
I was also delighted to find a fab pair of tights with London skyline pattern on the faux stocking top design in M&S. The cashier was very friendly and chatty.
I suppose I'm mentioning all this to show that a TGirl about town who's gained the confidence just to get on with her business is accepted without any fuss. It takes a while to realise that, and it's something that every TGirl has to work out for herself as no amount of information from more experienced girls will convince her of it.
At the weekend, for my part, there was more acceptance, from very long-standing friends who, until recently, only knew me as a man. A lovely female friend, who is a true jewel of humanity, came to stay and we had a nice time on Saturday trolling round local boutiques and stalls even though I was in male mode, and giving suitable views on the contents of my wardrobe. She had once had a long-term boyfriend who crossdressed, I learned, though she is anyway a very kind, open-minded and accepting person. On Sunday she saw me as a woman in the flesh for the first time and was appropriately complimentary, making good suggestions about toning down my eye makeup and blusher but also complimenting me on my legs (I do have good legs, and that's not a vain boast).
I took her to catch her train home and then went to a nearby terminus to meet Tina, who was leaving her home dressed and travelling by train for the first time. Tina's blog is one of those I regularly follow and she's a brave girl and a lovely person. We met, took the tube to the Strand and went to the restaurant where we met Angela H (on an all-too-rare visit to SE England), Helena, Kimberley, Ange P, Stella and, later, one of my oldest male friends, Richard, who, despite having known me for 25 years as a man, was surprised but totally accepting when I told him about my being trans last year. Although definitely the odd man out, it was a delight for me to have him with us (and be our photographer).
Salieri in the Strand, l-r: me, Tina, Ange;
(unknown bloke on another table), Kimberley, Helena, Angela, the better side of Stella.
After lunch, none of us visited the Savoy Taylors' Guild (gents outfitters) opposite.
Angels Sunday lunches are long, lazy affairs but eventually we heaved ourselves out of our seats and Tina, Stella and I went for a stroll round Covent Garden. The 350th anniversary of Punch and Judy (first recorded here by Samuel Pepys in 1662) was being celebrated and we caught the tail end of the shows in St Paul's churchyard. A stroll through the crowded streets (just a few mildly cheeky comments from the less inhibited folk about, but nothing abusive) and some contented shopping amongst the stalls of the piazza and the shops of Neal Street. We all met back up with Kimberley and Ange in the Globe pub on Bow Street (just down from the famous magistrates court building) for a drink and a further natter. Tina had stretched her wings so far as to feel confident in making her journey home on her own. She did brilliantly on this big outing. So we're planning to organise another Angels lunch jointly at Sparkle in Manchester in July.
A week of doing normal stuff with normal people and being treated as normal. It's so satisfying.