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:

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.

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.


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


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

Verge's website is here

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.

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 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 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