Friday, 29 March 2013

Glad the fun is getting more local

You know, ever since I first exited my cocoon some three years ago and heard my heels clicking across the real world, I’ve been wanting to meet as many girls like me as I can and make new friends. Thanks originally to Angels I managed to meet people from all over the UK and in my first year of leaving my own home dressed I went to such far-flung places as Salisbury, Manchester, Leeds, Portsmouth, Brighton and Milton Keynes. But a night out in, say, Nottingham, Manchester or Leeds costs £150-£200 when you take train fares and hotel rooms into account. That’s crazy and has always left me longing for something similar in London. However, apart from poor-quality clubs like Way Out or Trannyshack, or going out with the Boudettes (which will also set you back a lot), there really isn’t a T scene here in London. In many ways that reflects the fact that you don’t need one, that you can go anywhere and do anything that anyone else does, without fear. But it’s made it very hard to meet others like me. Things may be changing now as I consider my next London lunch. There are two dozen fairly local girls I can email now to see if they want to join me, and I’ve managed to make contact with the Brick Lane Set, as you know, and now a new group, TG London, who like to visit museums. TG London’s events have so far kept clashing with other stuff I’m doing but I will get out with them soon.

So, late afternoon Wednesday of last week, I met up again with the fabulous Pippa and her fabulous-for-other-reasons friend Amanda for a spot of shopping in Covent Garden. Now Amanda is a normal girl about town, whereas Pippa likes to stand out. This was, I believe, Pippa's first ever proper shopping excursion, which is a special moment in the life of any TGirl. Well done, babe. It was fun to be with you and share your excitement.

Pippa and Amanda negotiating the cobbles in Covent Garden. Pippa's photo.

Anyway, the cobbles of the square in Covent Garden were not what a girl in five inch heels needs so we took Pippa to the Globe for a drink and were joined by my old pal Kimberley, who is looking really beautiful these days. So after Pippa went off to glam up even further for Trannyshack, Kim and I went for dinner, and afterwards dropped in on Joanne working hard behind the bar at the Cambridge. I had a serious work project the next day so there was no prospect of a return to Trannyshack. Just as well, as the North African guy (see previous post) had made a particular request that he come home with me after my next visit! I’m playing hard to get.

And then on Friday I went back to Brick Lane and was delighted to meet up with my pal Angela visiting from the Isle of Wight, Irene and Rachel again, and meet Joanne Tran and Rebecca George for the first time, both of whom I’d heard much about. Here we all are in Verge.

Verge Bar 22/3/13. l-r: Rebecca, Rachel, Irene, me, Angela, Joanne. Rebecca's photo.

And then we eschewed the Mexican and chewed the curry at City Spice where Rachel blagged three free bottles of wine from our favourite tout. To be honest, the chicken goa which I had with coconut rice was beautiful and in a street where many of the Indian restaurants are much of a muchness, this is not a bad place at all, despite the dubious practice of touting for trade. Here we all are:

Stuffing ourselves at City Spice. Rebecca's photo.

It was too cold for the usual photo outside and we all wended our ways. But I was glad to have had two opportunities to get away from the desk last week and to meet local girls. Rebecca in particular lives quite close to me so it would be nice to meet up with her again soon. At last, a local TGirl after three years of hunting! To be honest, my local LGBT group are nice boys, but I’m the only TGirl among the gay chaps and so it’s not so great for me.

It was perishing cold and, even with my longest skirt, heaviest boots and all sorts of warm underthings (which are not for discussion), I was frozen waiting for trains and buses home. Which is why I decided not to go to the Magic Theatre on Saturday. Such a shame, but it’s a two and a half hour journey home from there by night buses, and I ain’t doing that in sub-zero temperatures in a party outfit! A pity as I wanted to say hi to many girls there: Helen Essex and Ria Lacey especially, and have fun with Angela and Irene again. Oh well, there’ll be other opportunites. And at least and at last I now know local girls I can go out with regularly and get to sleep in my own bed afterwards and not fork out a fortune. Those Notts and Lancs girls are fabulous, but this local social stuff is beginning to work for me, especially as my lifelong friends are also more than happy to come out with me as Sue.

Forthcoming highlights: shopping with ‘real’ girls; being religious and trans (heavy); weekend lunch with the ladies; preps for Sparkle and Erotica; more artworks; new London venues blog. Let’s face it, this blog is surely better than your super soaraway Sun, or the Daily Mail.

Sue x

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Work hard, play hard, seduce hard!

This is a kind of sequel to my last but one post.

I’ve had a lot of work this last fortnight. I won’t reveal details but I work for myself in a varied field involving a lot of international contacts. Anything from French TV licencing, German motorway construction, Italian nuclear waste management, Belgian pensions, American diplomats, Canadian web design, Filipino scientists, Pakistani law. Oh, and champagne promotions and beauty product advertising. That's just in the last couple of weeks. The point is that I use my male name and credentials which have a certain profile in my field now, but can work as female from my studio or my home. Best of both worlds, in effect. And, let’s face it, business needs a bit of acumen these days so going full-time female on an official basis with all its social and professional upheavals is avoided.

But being busy hasn’t stopped me from getting out one or two evenings a week. Let’s face it, I need time away from the desk/computer/easel.

So Wednesday of last week I joined the Brick Lane Set for dinner. Gillian came to mine after work to dress and we drove there but it took ages in the London traffic and we got shot off in the wrong direction after one tiny mistake in Central London. That’s one reason why I don’t drive here any more. But we had a good evening with Rachel the Organiser Lady and her posse including Suzi, who was out for the very first time, and the glamorous Pippa. I’d also invited my friend Irene. Here we all are at the Verge Bar.

The Brick Lane set in Verge; me, Pippa, Suzi, Rachel, Irene. Photo taken by Gillian and lent to me by Pippa.
I’m always thrilled to be with a girl on her first trip out. It makes the occasion very special. Well done, Suzi. You are very elegant and are lovely company. Hope it’s the start of a joyous life out in this big exciting world of ours.

We went off to eat at Loco Mojito where I’ve been a few times before. A Mexican that stands defiantly in a sea of Indian restaurants! Food wasn’t bad but the wine (a pinot grigio rosé) was terrible – the bottle was some bin end with a £2.99 label still stuck on it, and I won’t tell you what they charged for it! And they didn’t serve coffee. ¡Caramba! ¿No coffee in a Mexican restaurant? ¿Ees weird, no? But, to be fair, that was the only time I’ve felt slightly disappointed there.

By the way, if you clicked on the link, you’ll be amused or irritated by the music or maybe both. He he hee (Mexican style cackle).

Us in Loco Mojito, Pippa's photo.

Pippa and I decided the night was young and headed off to Soho. We had a drink in Escape bar, a karaoke sort of place which, truthfully, is not my thing and so I dived into Trannyshack next door, which is what Madame JoJo’s is on Wednesdays. I described my first visit to Trannyshack last summer here

This time, as a lone girl, I was beset by Admirers, a special breed of men who love TGirls. Within moments of entering one had his paws all over me and was saying in an accent I couldn’t place, “Nice lady, come to toilet”.

Now why would I want to come with him to the toilet?

“Nice lady, come. Come to toilet. Toilet nice. I got condom.”

“No, toilet not nice.”

He looked at me in surprise: “But toilet nice!” he exclaimed as if it was a self-evident truth.

I politely declined. Apart from the fact that the toilets there are in any case cramped and inadequate, and, more to the point, that I don’t fancy that with a strange man, it somewhat dismayed me that this chat-up line was something that presumably brings him occasional success.

Then I got a drink. The barmaid rammed a block of fused ice cubes into the top of the glass with her fist. It wedged there inelegantly like an iceberg on an empty container ship. Darling, please use tongs, not the hand you handle money with. Yuck. I didn’t enjoy my drink as a result. Should’ve made her do it properly but it’s hard to concentrate when some bloke is pawing you.

So I left the bar and sat down. Bad move, as the next admirer plonked himself down next to me and grabbed my knee. “I think you have nice soft bottom” he said in his North African accent. I pointed out that that was my knee and that it was probably a bit hard. Not in the least bit put off, he continued his silver-tongued litany: “I come home with you tonight and we f***?”

Er, how about no?

He downed his beer, got up and said, “Wait, I go to toilet. I full of wee tonight.” A few minutes later he was back, having bought himself another beer, and went through the routine all over again. Hmm. Buy a girl a drink and maybe see if things improve? Nope, not on his radar.

These encounters are at once amusing and tragic, a tranny tragicomedy, the tranny shock at Trannyshack. They must get off sometimes, these admirers. But the total lack of finesse and charm is staggering. At least these two weren’t scruffy and menacing-looking like other admirers I’ve seen. My mood wasn’t helped by Pippa then bouncing in announcing, “God, the real women in this place are just gagging for it!”. Miss Dusty O, the compère, then announced a noisy T rock band and I realised my visit had not been a success. You win some, you lose some. Truthfully, the T scene is not really my thing as I prefer a normal venue like a restaurant, café, shop, pub, etc. But I’ll give Trannyshack a third visit some time and see how that goes.

As ever, I’d just missed the night bus and had to wait almost 30 minutes for the next one. I’d selected my knee-length leather skirt and mock-croc boots for the evening and they kept me warm in the chill wintry air, as well as my thick coat. Finally collapsed in bed at 3.30am and slept in all the next morning. Truthfully, I’m getting a bit too old for this!

This post is longer than I expected, so I’ll tell you about this week’s shenanigans in a new post. Thanks for reading, and I hope you had a giggle.

Sue x

Monday, 11 March 2013

A tourist in my own city

As mentioned in my previous post, my friend Kay Denise came to stay this weekend. I’ve known KD for some years and she writes this blog here about her adventures: In the past we’ve only ever met in Manchester, for the Northern Angels dinner once and at Sparkle where, last year, she had, in my opinion, the best outfit at the burlesque evening at Eden. Her Flickr pictures are here so you can judge for yourselves:

KD’s wife came too, and she is a really lovely person and we hit it off at once. I know I’ve made a new friend. Quite apart from the fact that women who accept TGirls are very special in my book, she’s a genuinely warm person that it would be impossible not to like.

But enough of embarrassing my guests! Here’s what I did with them as a tourist in my own city.

They came on Friday and we just spent an evening quietly at my home. But on Saturday we went out to London and I was pleased to be able to take them first to the UK’s best coffee shop which, as I am sure you are all aware by now, is Vergnano’s on the Charing Cross Road. By the time we left after our perfect cappuccino it was nearly lunchtime so we popped into the Cambridge pub further up the road to say hello to Joanne, my pal who’s the top barmaid there, and then went on to join lovely Petra at Melanie (again) in Old Compton Street for lunch. Melanie is another restaurant where the staff now know me well and are very welcoming – indeed, the chefs were waving at us from the kitchen! The portions are enormous and I’m not sure any of us finished our lunch. But it was good to be able to catch up with Petra and relax over a nice lunch and for the KDs to meet friends like her here.

Ladies who lunch: me, Petra and KD.

Well, what can one do in this part of London? A spot of shopping in Seven Dials and Covent Garden with their quirky boutiques lining the tangle of streets and yards. The Cambridge Satchel Company has now opened a store in Short’s Gardens, Neal’s Yard (home of the eponymous remedies) has a blue plaque to former resident Monty Python (apparently), funky retro clothing is available in Pop Boutique in Monmouth Street, lovely Tabio hosiery in Neal Street, Kurt Keiger shoes with its fabulous mirrors is in James Street, some outstanding street performers and living statues to see all over the Covent Garden area (Eddie Izzard started out here), trinket stalls in the markets, Stanford’s wonderful map shop in Long Acre, the varied cafés of Endell Street... We took a break for a cup of tea at my favourite café, La Roche on St Martin’s Lane. We saw the sights and the bright lights of Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square with its Swiss carillon, and then sheltered from the icy wind in the warmth of my favourite pub which, as I’m sure readers also now know, is the Chandos just off Trafalger Square with its booths, compartments and sofas, warmed by fireplaces at either end and with no distracting piped music, TVs or fruit machines.

We ended the day with dinner at Wong Kei in Wardour Street, generally known as Wonky’s, the last outpost of Chinatown. It’s far from grand but the food is good, fresh and hot and the prices are the best: you can easily eat a full dinner here for under a tenner a head. London is reasonably priced if you know where to go.

And so to bed for a long night’s well-earned sleep. On Sunday we went for a stroll in my local area and although the wind was keen we enjoyed the parks. I was sad to see them go as I certainly enjoyed their company. I believe it was quite a special weekend for them but I dare say KD will tell you all about that from her perspective in due course. Thanks to them for coming and visiting me. It was a really nice weekend.


Coming up: a night out with the girls in Brick Lane on Wednesday, the possibility (work permitting) of joining the TG London group for a visit to the Soane Museum on Saturday and maybe, just maybe, a return to the Magic Theatre on the following Saturday. I’m sure there will be more girls visiting me at home to have a chance to dress as the easter holidays approach.

As for here, I have been working on a piece, as requested, about my experience of being brought up in a religious household and how it affected me as a trans person. It’s not an easy essay to write.

Thanks for reading. May you all have a happy time this month. And keep warm. Not even my fluffy wig is keeping out that icy wind!

Sue x

Monday, 4 March 2013

Busy bunny, with friendly interruptions

I was very ill with flu in December and didn't feel properly well again until the end of January so I’ve gradually been catching up. Business has suddenly picked up these last few weeks so I’ve been unexpectedly busy, which partly explains the lack of attention to the blog.

However, I’ve had some pleasant interruptions, too, the highlights of which included the following.

Firstly, another visit from Gillian who came over for a girly evening and I was happy to let her try out a few of my outfits as we’re a similar dress size if altogether different heights.

I also really enjoyed meeting Becca who writes this blog here We had a nice chat and got to know each other better over a particularly good meal in Chez Lindsay in Richmond in SW London, a French Breton restaurant. The waiters were very attentive to us. I look forward to seeing her again soon.

Last night Tina Penny visited London again. She was last here about 18 months ago and we spent a nice evening with Joanne, Mike and Helena, meeting at my favourite watering hole, the upstairs Opera Room at the Chandos pub just off Trafalgar Square. Then on to another nice meal at Melanie’s in Soho, with plenty of giggles.

Rounding off the weekend with a dinner at Melanie's in Soho. NB the peep show opposite is nothing to do with us.

Just thought I’d mention that it was in the Chandos last week that I happened to sit opposite four young gay men, or two gay couples if you prefer. They were just chatting and laughing and occasionally stealing a kiss and having a cuddle and it was really lovely to see. Seeing people in love makes me feel all fuzzy. It’s a straightforward pub, though a nice one, not a gay venue and I hope that soon there’ll be no need for any specifically gay venues at all and people can just have a nice time out without being fearful of disapproval.

This coming weekend I’m expecting Kay Denise and her wife to stay for a couple of days. I’m sure we’ll find something to do in this vast, amazing city.

Well, now it’s back to the workface. My work hours have to be very flexible these days, but then that helps me fit in lots of time with my girlfriends.

Sue x