Monday 28 May 2012

Verity is my middle name

It is, you know.

Verity is derived from the word veritas, the Latin for “truth”. I chose it some years ago when I needed to distinguish myself from other Sue Richmonds. I felt that the truth of who I am should be reflected by my name. Corny, I know, but reasonable.

It’s not always easy to know what is true. For instance, I was brought up to believe that certain things were true; it turned out that they weren’t, or that they were opinions that the promoters were keen not to have challenged. Then you grow up, and many people get on with living according to what they feel is actually true. Some people, however, persist in believing what they first heard and, of course, some people promote lies, often on purpose, sometimes unwittingly.

What you read and see on this blog is true. It’s main aim is to record what I get up to chiefly so as to encourage other trans people to get out and enjoy the positive side of being transgendered. I have nothing really to hide any more about who I am and what I do and where I go and who I see. Why would I? Having been forced to live according to other people’s lies before, that way of life doesn’t appeal to me now. Honesty is usually the best policy, don’t you think? Discretion can certainly be a virtue when facing harm, but untruth is rarely helpful and usually damaging.

Thanks for reading.

Sue Verity Richmond x

Monday 14 May 2012

TGirl, accepted everywhere (in the West End)

It's been a quiet week on the work front so a girl needs to occupy her time with a little retail and the occasional spot of lunch.

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.

Sue x

Monday 7 May 2012

The ends of Africa

Sadly, I wasn't able to join many of my girlfriends at Leeds First Friday this weekend. A pity as it was exactly a year ago that I was there. However, we London girls know how to keep ourselves entertained. It was quite cold so I was glad of my favourite Nina Varese wool dress. After a short fact-finding mission to the cosmetics emporia of Neal Street, I met up with Joanne at Souk Medina, a Moroccan restaurant in Short's Gardens just off Seven Dials.

I've never eaten there before but we were delighted with it. We sat in the part with low tables and benches bestrewn with cushions, overhung by maroon ceiling drapes giving the sensation of sitting in a tent. They serve beautiful cocktails - as well as the usual kirs and bellinis they have others I have never encountered before. We chose the mai camel (rum, fruit juice and almonds) and the wonderful Sahara (rum, dates, ginger, lime juice, brown sugar).

We chose the Marakkech menu which was wonderful: mixed meze of beautifully smooth hummus, grilled halloumi cheese, prawns, chicken, lamb and zaalouk (aubergines) with pitta bread, followed by tagines of tender chicken, delicious lamb with prunes and almonds, chickpeas and couscous, with delicate baklava and mint tea to finish. The staff were very welcoming and they jingle as they walk because of the belts festooned with metal that they wear. Truthfully, the low tables and benches are not so comfortable to sit and eat at but that is a minor quibble. The ladies loos are beautiful with their traditional tiles and basins in beaten brass. Not the cheapest dinner I've had, but reasonable.

We decided to go to the cinema and see a random film. Just as we left the bellydancer came in. Oh well, it means we'll just have to go back another time to be entertained. I'm not sure I'll ever get my belly as slim as hers, especially after all that food!

The random film, selected at random (well, OK, it was just about to start), was "Beauty", mainly in Afrikaans with some English. A slow-burning tale of a married man coming to terms with being gay. Not always easy to follow, sexually explicit, and disturbing in a brutal rape scene, without full resolution, it nevertheless did hold the attention. Still, after all that sitting in the medina and in the cinema we agreed our bottoms were rather sore (never mind fears of gay rape) so we were happy to stand outside the Porcupine pub in the night air with a quick drink before plunging into the tube to go home.

A good way to spend a Friday night when you can't make it to the T scene in other cities.

Sue x

Thursday 3 May 2012

Surrey capers, GRS and GPS

After weeks of torrential rain, the sun came out on Monday. Best make use of it, I thought, so I took an assortment of trains, each around 18 minutes late (“rutting badgers at Haslemere” and other suitably Perrinesque explanations) to visit a friend in Surrey. I stupidly sent a text about my arrival time not to my friend but to the wife of another friend who has the same name and who must have been very puzzled by it. No wonder no-one was there to pick me up at the station! I blame my mobile phone’s GPS configuration for the confusion, Gormless Person Syndrome. Anyway, we met eventually! Surrey Girl has recently undergone her GRS (which in our context stands for something like girly reorganisation surgery) and is looking so disgustingly fit, happy, beautiful and well following it that I really think this ought to be prescribed to the population at large as part of the government’s happiness agenda.

We spent time catching up and then had an extremely late lunch at a chic and comfortable gastropub, the Inn on the Lake in Godalming, with the sunlight pouring through the windows. The lake itself, however, is lost somewhere in the undergrowth. Very good food: the salmon and caper fishcakes with a poached egg on top were very enjoyable, and the warm, squidgy, almost-molten chocolate brownie was utterly, deliriously delicious. I have a thing for chocolate puddings but this ticked every sensual box in ways that were positively indecent! We were also impressed with our Slovak waiter’s excellent English and attention to us. A TGirl admirer in the making! (Actually, I hope not)

Next week I hope to drop in on Charing Cross Hospital where another friend will be having her GRS and seems very excited about it. I’m not sure that kind of drastic surgery is for me, not at present anyway, but hope she will be as happy with the result as our Surrey blonde is with hers. And that this might reassure another friend who’s panicky about hers. If it’s right for you then it really does seem to transform your life for the better.

Sue x