Friday 31 May 2013

Boozy floozy ... and friends

It’s not been the easiest of times so I was glad that an opportunity for a fun afternoon and evening was available. Two friends, Tiff and Gina, were spending a few days in London and they’d asked me a while back to book the popular Sarastro’s restaurant for dinner last night.

But I’d also heard that Saffy, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, was in town meeting up with my friend Joanne as they had tickets to see Depeche Mode in concert. I am happy to clarify to younger readers that Depeche Mode were (or indeed still are) a popular beat combo of the 1980s. These crooners of a bygone era still apparently have a following and as Joanne was keen to tell absolutely everyone that she had tickets, and everyone was very jealous (why she didn’t get punched I’ll never know), I assume they are still popular. I myself have little ear for music so I'm happy to leave them to it.

Anyway, Joanne had just finished a shift as stand-in manageress at the Three Greyhounds, a small but popular pub in a busy corner of Soho so the three of us went to have a bite to eat at the good value and worthwhile French bistro Prix Fixe in Dean Street. The food was good as ever and the staff very friendly, but I got locked in the loo for a while. I read a lot of WW2 escape literature in my weird childhood (while brushing dollies’ hair with the other hand) so I knew I would be free with a jolly old bit of application and pluck. The lock wasn’t the sort you could pick with a hairpin. So I virtually pulled the lock out of the door and made my escape by brute force. And I neglected to tell the Commandant of the damage to bistro property. I distinctly heard bullets whizz by my ears as me, Ginger and Frosty escaped to Soho and freedom …

So they went off to Dispatch Mood at the O2 (that’s the Millennium Dome for older readers) and, thanks to a casual comment in conversation I decided the evening would start off well at Christopher’s American Bar and Grill in Wellington Street. Very keen readers will know I’ve been here before. The polite staff asked “if Madame would like a seat at the bar”. Madame would indeed and the skilled French barman (le mixeur? – actually, I think that’s a Moulinex) handed me the cocktail list. I selected something suitably potent, ice cold, garishly coloured and utterly delicious to sip, like a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster with a feminine edge. The barman drew my eye, by a glance of professional subtlety honed by years of practice, to the noticboard detailing rehabilitation centres as the effect of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick connected with my girly head.

Now I thought I looked pretty smart in my pleated chiffon skirt, black and white top, my favourite little black jacket, satin shoes and smart sheer gloss tights but Tiff and Gina were in knockout dresses, absolutely stunning. And to think they ordered beers! They lifted me off my stool and plonked my woozy frame at the long marble-topped table that runs most of the way down the room. A small spill from my Girly Blaster etched its way into the stone, hissing slightly. Now I’m not one to mix my drinks … so it was definitely time to call a halt to that tradition! I have been intrigued by their most popular cocktail, the Nutella Martini. I had to have one. Oh it was smooth … and two women along the table were loud in their approval at my chocolatey choice! Recommended. It wasn’t so strong as the other one, though. (Not that that’s bad, you understand. Its just not quite as good!)

I have recently seen The Great Gatsby at the cinema and I thought we might have made good extras.

Decadence. I love it.

Anyway, we needed food so we met Ange, my super T sister, and went to Sarastro’s, an extraordinary restaurant in Drury Lane where the d├ęcor is as much part of the experience. Our table was a good one on a balcony up steep little stairs (keeps the waiters fit). Avid readers of this blog (you lovely people – we must go out some time) will know we’ve been here before and will recognise the gold leaf, tiles, Tiffany lamps, books, cushions, erotic frescos, and air of clutter that goes with this place. The food is good (Turkish emphasis) and it’s the place for a party at an unhurried pace. Perhaps not quite what it was in its heyday when the founder was still alive, but it’s still somewhere amazingly fun, and they like us TGirls because we are flamboyant too! Do click the link to their website.

Tiff and Gina wanted to visit Trannyshack. So we walked through Covent Garden and bustling Soho to Madame JoJo’s and I showed them the venue and Escape next door where the usual excruciating karaoke setup was mangling popular songs, which are somewhat less popular with me as a result. I had serious work to do today so I abandoned the two of them to the tender lurve and silver-tongued charm of the admirers and Miss Dusty O. That’ll learn ’em!

I fell asleep on the last train home and nearly missed my station. Hope my lolling head wasn’t accompanied by any snores or any dribble. I see us girls as ambassadors of sorts for transkind – I would hate to cause a diplomatic incident by looking like some overfed boozy drooling snoring floozy! As if!

What a great day. Just the tonic I needed. And a big thanks to my really lovely friends Joanne, Saffy, Tiff, Gina and Ange who always make things special.

Sue x

Thursday 23 May 2013

Seasonal low

It always happens at this time of year – but much earlier than usual this year.

“I don’t want to be trans any more. Going to give this nonsense up and forget it.”

But I know from experience that in a few weeks it’ll be business as usual: down the salon for pretty nails, then a neat new wig, new shoes, a pretty frock for summer and those gorgeous tights that just can’t be passed up. And hey presto, we’re back in business again, en femme just about all the time. Happens every year, although in the past couple of years it’s been only a week or two of down time.

This year it’s worse, though. Partly because of the anniversary of all the abuse from other TGirls I had in May/June last year that’s made me more cautious. Plus a creeping realisation that a family inherited trait has serious implications for my and my siblings’ future health. Plus my abusive and enraged father’s deranged fit this morning: yet again a triviality turned him lurid purple with hate, he shook his fists, ground his teeth and spat and shouted and cursed and cursed and cursed just as he has behaved through the whole of my life. It makes me feel that I have now seen that bully for the last time. I’m not happy right now. But at least my fledgling business is keeping my mind occupied.

Hoping normal service will be resumed soon.

Sue x

Sunday 12 May 2013

Outings with TGirls and GGirls

Another “where I went and what I did” post. It’s what the readers like best!

So I went out one evening midweek to join the usual Brick Lane Set. I think that name sounds rather sophisticated, like socialite darlings of the ’20s talking over literature in witty ways. But most refer to them as the Brick Lane Posse, which sounds like a bevy of cowgirls moseying down the road to so as to deal with all the Indians! Actually, it’s a bit of both.

So that night we had a big group: Rachel, Denise, Helen Louise, Stephanie, Pippa, Irene, Jemima, Suzi and me. Started as usual with drinks at the Verge bar (although I was being boring and having orange juice as I had a serious work thingy to do the next day). Here we are (some of us). You wouldn’t believe how popular group photos of TGirls are – wait till this goes on Flickr.

Circle of friends: l-r: Rachel, Helen Louise, Stephanie, me, Suzi, Jemima

We chatted about spouses and dresses and photos. And then we marched off to argue with the curry touts. Rachel is very good at playing them off against each other so we get freebies and discounts. Steph wanted a change from City Spice and I’m inclined to think we should spread out net wider, but that’s where we went, having bagged 25% discount and three free bottles of wine. Suzi doesn’t think much of the wine there but since it’s free and we argued for it, we were damn well going to drink it, like it and not fuss! Darling, it’s the principle of the thing!

Unlike in the past it was quite quiet there that evening and so we sat upstairs rather than in the basement. The local young men outside the window could therefore see us and took rather an interest in us. I waved and blew a kiss at them which really set them off! Silly boys. One was prepared to be photographed with us but went all coy when Pippa waggled her stockinged leg at him. Darling, we won’t bite you … hard. So it’s just us girls here.

The Spicy Girls: hot chicks after a curry! l-r: Suzi, Rachel, Stephanie, Pippa, me, Irene

You know, these ladies love to dress up. Rachel had a beautiful red dress, the always-lovely Stephanie was in a little black number with stunning butterfly belt, Irene very feminine in her skirt and blouse, Pippa in a delicate floaty number picked out for her by her daughter and Suzi looking smart, elegant and sophisticated as she always does. For me, I guess that a drink and a curry merit just a casual look so I turned up in leggings, boots and a little daisy dress, but I did feel self-conscious when faced with all this glamour. Must scrub up better next time!

So, that was my outing for the week with TGirls.

At the weekend I went out with two of my closest female friends, Jan and Daniela. (The GGirls of the title = genetic girls.) We ate lunch in Soho in two parts: main course at Melanie in Old Compton St, now a firm favourite, and pudding at Princi in Wardour St where the cannolo siciliano was just amazing: a large brandy snap filled with cream with choc chips and candied orange. Heaven! Bang goes the diet, though!

And then we went round Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, the street that’s been reinventing itself from its groovy swinging Sixties image, baby, to be full of cuter versions of your normal high street shops, with some unique local dress boutiques, too. Anyway, Kingly Court, on three floors round a courtyard, is full of little craft boutiques, tiny art galleries and fitness centres.

Kingly Court. (c) Art Alive

I love the Things British outlet where about twenty craftspeople at a time display their lovely little items of silver, leather, card, glass and other materials. . We enjoyed some seriously good tea at Camellia’s Tea House on the top floor, each variety being served in a different type of pot and cup. They have dozens to choose from. According to the receipt, our order was taken by Mum. It was great to catch up with my two pals and chat about family, politics, work and future ideas for art shows. And, of course, I’m just their friend. Who cares that I’m in a skirt? In fact, Jan thinks it’s “awesome” to have a T friend. My girlfriends are totally awesome, too, and I love them.

Looking forward to seeing both sets of ladies again soon.

Future stuff: well, Tiff and Gina are coming to London at the end of the month and Tiff wants to go back to Sarastro’s. I’m sure we can sort that. And I’m booked into Sparkle in July. Truthfully, though, I’m a bit troubled by trans stuff and trans life at the moment and am thinking about my future direction. Maybe more about that soon, too.

Sue x

Saturday 4 May 2013

Big anniversaries, big evaluations

My parents recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Think of that. 50 years under the same roof with the same person. That’s even longer than I’ve be around (which kind of makes sense!)

I can’t boast such a grand total, but this week marks a significant anniversary for me: the fifth anniversary of my taking voluntary redundancy from a career that was going nowhere and making me miserable, and then finding fulfilment. When I signed the agreement to go in 2008, I was scared: of the unknown, of losing regular and acceptably paid work, the only serious career I had ever had. I had very little time to make the decision, too. But I felt that if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would be left wondering what might have been. Even with the plans I had vaguely made previously, I could never have believed what the opportunity would let me achieve in just five years.

I immediately found a new and far nicer job. Only part-time and much more lowly pay, but a delight. I had planned to take it for perhaps 18 months but actually stayed for over four years. I studied for professional qualifications, wrote a book, visited new places, and set up my own business. But the main achievement was to step from the closet where I had hidden my crossdressing and female desires since toddlerdom and pursue real life as the woman I have always wanted to be treated as. I was determined to do it, too. I went to the Boudoir dressing service twice that first year to discuss with Jodie Lynn, the proprietor, the sorts of clothes that would suit me best and to learn more about makeup. And then I went back and bought a wig off her (the one on the left). 

That Boudoir magic, 2008
My first wig shop visit straight after my first makeover at Mac, 2010

At Jodie’s suggestion, I joined the Angels website and I was first seen in public at their tenth birthday bash at Pink Punters in 2010. From then on it’s been a steady progress to normal life as a woman and acceptance by friends and public alike. I feel I’ve been treated better as a transwoman than I ever was as a guy, although to be fair, it’s not like I’ve ever had anything very serious to do as a woman, like get employment or arrange a mortgage, though I really don’t anticipate problems if I do live full-time as female. The best acceptance yet was doing that art show last autumn with my femme name on the advertising and being regarded as just another artist there. At last, my lifelong wish and achievement: just treat me as one of the girls, just as any other person, and I’m happy.

So I guess that redundancy is not the end of the world, but a new beginning of life. It was for me.

It’s been beautiful spring weather and so I took an anniversary day off just to stroll around London on my own, enjoy the sunshine and the blossom, do a little window shopping and people watching, and admire the view of the city from Primrose Hill, north of Regents Park.

Nobody takes much notice of a solitary TGirl strolling around. Which is just how I like it.

I also decided to celebrate by joining the Brick Lane set for drinks and dinner again. But that’s a post for a different day!

Sue x