Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Two days of what I do best!

My friend Wilhelmina from Hungary was visiting London this weekend and so I arranged lunch for her and various other friends. She is a significant person in my life because she was there on the night I first went out as a girl. But as luck would have it, Rachel Cole was organising one of her gatherings in Brick Lane as well. Only one thing for it: take two days off and go out and have fun.

Last Friday, then, I met a friend for lunch at Bistro One in Southampton Street. I never cease to be amazed how one can have a three-course lunch, drink, basket of bread and butter, olives, coffee and swift service all for fifteen pounds a head. 

I needed new shoes as my old pairs of shoes and boots are all looking tired. And I had a great time, gaining some new ballet flats, lovely soft wedge shoes, stout ankle boots and the most gorgeous versatile pair of tan boots ever. And a new handbag, too. All will be revealed in another post but Tomcat Leather in Neal Street was a discovery and a revelation. Thanks to Dina at Tomcat for being a fabulous assistant.

So then it was off to Brick Lane with my purchases to join the girls at Verge bar for a pre-dinner drink.

Verge Bar with Joanne in blue, Irene in red, Rachel C in purple, Pippa in red, Rachel B in black and Stella in black with floral tights, with Kay taking the pic. Pippa's photo.

This time we didn’t eat at City Spice. Each restaurant has its curry touts all fighting for business. Eleven TGirls means a lot of business and Rachel is good at playing the touts off against each other. The boys from Sheba won the contest, which was amusing to watch, and the manager of City Spice was most put out by our lack of loyalty. But one needs to try something new once in a while. Free wine for all was the price of our defection, and maybe some money off.

My Sulemani chicken (with mango) and coconut rice were delicate and tasty, but not quite as tangy as at City Spice. No complaints, though, and the wine was drinkable (and free!). Fantastic to meet the very smart and pretty (Just) Helen and Rachel Bull, a real natural, both for the first time, as well as regular friends Pippa, Irene, Linda, Stella, Kay, Susan, and Joanne Tran who was visiting all the way from Gloucestershire, and Rachel our hostess of course, who gets more beautiful and elegant every time I see her. We TGirls do improve with time, and I have to say that if you want smart, outgoing, fun and friendly girls, the Brick Lane set is where you'll find them. There really is nothing like having a giggle over a good dinner with other TGirls, we all agree.

Queens of Sheba with (l-r) flustered waiter, Pippa, Rachel B, Rachel C talking to Linda, Helen, Kay with hat, me and Joanne. Susan and Irene and Stella are out of shot. Kay's pic.

All this added to a very successful day’s shopping made the day perfect.

Saturday dawned bright and I had booked a table at our old favourite Salieri on the Strand. Another good turnout, with nine girls sitting down to a good leisurely lunch. Sammi and his staff are always welcoming and enthusiastic about having us. It was lovely to see Wilhelmina again. And nice to see Petra whom I hadn’t seen for about a year, since KD came to visit. Rachel Bull from last night joined us and it’s good to get to know her – she’s planted a thought in my head that all this foreign dining is not really what a proper London girls should be into but we need something more local and traditional like jellied eels, pie and mash and liquor … It’s a fair point. Maybe we’ll go to the pie and mash shop in Greenwich and there’s plenty to do there afterwards. Good also to see stalwarts Irene - the most reliable girl on the circuit - and Helena and Kimberley again, all London’s top ladies who lunch, and be joined by Linda and Pippa, too (who then went on to bring a touch of glamour to that dull institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum!)

At Salieri with Linda, Wilhemina, me, Petra, Helena, Irene (hidden), Rachel, Kimberley. Pippa joined us later.

We went our various ways after lunch, myself on a quest to Mac and Boots for makeup essentials and enjoyed browsing the boutiques off Long Acre. I must have some quality Duo boots made for me as my other knee-length boots are wearing out. I finally settled in a snug corner of the cosy Pillars of Hercules pub and enjoyed a quiet glass of wine with a book (more on the book in another post) before heading home. What a great two days. There really is nothing like shopping for beautiful shoes and eating vast meals out with your friends!

Despite that last statement. I have, in fact, lost four pounds off the tum this week. So it’s all good. And despite Sammi giving me a double-sized tiramisu afterwards as he always does. 

My pudding. To give you an idea of scale, the plate could hold a 12-inch pizza. Well, it could if it wasn't already bearing up a vast dollop of home-made tiramisu. 

Sue x

Monday, 17 March 2014

Fallen Angels

For some years, as I was getting out and about as a girl, I visited the UK Angels website virtually every day. Then, a year ago, I stopped and many people have been asking me why.

It’s simply because I was fed up with the trolling and bullying.

Now, let’s face it, all sites have trolls, and that’s just one of the consequences of an open and democratic internet. But it’s what you do about the trolls that counts. The day when I felt I had to send yet another consoling message to a long term member because, yet again, one of the regular abusers had been abusive to her, that I realised Angels was a waste of space. And the majority of my friends who have also stopped visiting the site have said that they did so for similar reasons.

There are various national trans sites in the UK. TVChix is probably the biggest but I didn’t really rate it early on as it is pretty sleazy, although it has grown on me since; Roses is another large national site and was often argumentative but has now become better, especially since they chucked out some of their more obnoxious members, some of whom have now become fixtures on UK Angels. There are other smaller sites and, of course, social media like Facebook or sharing sites like Flickr have all sorts of groups. So if you are looking for support and advice in your trans life I suggest you follow any one of those. Angels has had the same half dozen well-established bullies in the five years I’ve been there and it seems unlikely to change. I’ve said this before, but some in the trans community – a minute but extremely vocal number of people – appoint themselves as leaders and representatives without a by-your-leave and proceed to dictate terms and sneer at anyone not exactly like them. An exceptionally nasty lot they are, too, since in most other contexts, such as work and school, there are rules and curbs on excess; the loose, unstructured context in which we lead our very varied trans lives leaves the field open for the unconscionable and the sociopathic to operate freely. I’ve been providing workplace bullying advice in various contexts for some years and I will maintain that there’s no reason and no excuse for bullying, be it at school, in the workplace, in the family, or online.

Many of us who used to be regulars there now think Angels is unpleasant so, sadly, I can’t recommend the site any more. It’s a pity as a couple of years ago and more I would have done and Jo Angel, the boss, is certainly to be commended for selflessly running an open site for trans people (well, for male to female anyway). I generally try to be positive about trans life but, frankly, I’d now say to anyone: join Angels only if you are heading for transition, and/or have extreme left-wing views, and/or hate your doctor, and/or don’t mind being sneered at and dictated to by the fixed trolls. But if, as one friend of mine puts it, you’ve found equilibrium in your life as a trans person, then do something better with your time.

I think the point was hit home to me last summer. After a couple of years spent organising lunches in Angels’ name, where I had to take time to ensure that rivals didn’t sit near each other and come to blows, and took a lot of abuse from various charmers who would attend, I organised lunch at Sparkle 2013 in my own name only. And I had just as many people attend from among my own friends as I ever had under Angels, but without any of the aggro.

So, there you have it, a potentially great resource spoilt by the inconsistency of policy over trolls and by the nastiness of a half-dozen extremist bullies which it would be so easy to deal with. I hope Jo will change her approach and get some neutral moderators, but I always feel that anyone is free to run their own site as they wish. At present, though, the consequence is that she loses most of her support. People do vote with their feet.

So sorry, girls, but I can’t support these folks any more until the behaviour there is more humane.

Sue x

PS Weight has risen and then fallen since last time, with overall no change. C'mon, girl, get a grip! 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Blog: new and improved!

I'm not much of a techie but I have managed to add a search facility to this blog. Just the date list of posts, which are all quite random, is not that helpful on its own.

More importantly, and fairly, I have added the list of the other blogs I regularly follow. This is, after all, a network. I would have done it a while back only my skills with technology are rubbish and I had taken me ages to find the facility. (To save you asking, I can't fix a car either.) But it means readers can link more easily with stuff.

I'm hoping to start adding pages dedicated to good places in London to eat and drink, as many people have asked me.

Any comments on other aspects of this blog are welcome.

Sue x

Monday, 3 March 2014

Revival of activity

Hello little blog, I know Mummy has neglected you recently because she has been busy and she is very sorry …

OK, enough of the silly talk! I have indeed been busy but, truthfully, I could never have imagined how successful things would have turned out with work. I’m now fully self-employed but have made so much more of things that I even did as an employee. I’m stunned, really, as well as thrilled that my order book is exploding! What’s more, as the floodwaters rise in England and everything gets blown about in the gales, I am happy to be snug and warm at home and not commuting to work any more. I’m planning a whole new wardrobe to celebrate!

But you don’t want to hear dull stuff about work. I did manage to get out one evening a couple of weeks ago and join three friends in Soho. We had a very pleasant Indian meal and the chef was so taken with us (well, we are gorgeous and elegant!) that he insisted on giving us free puddings. I like that kind of place.

Out on the town one windy Wednesday. Pippa's photo.

And yesterday I managed to meet up with four more girls, again in Soho, for Sunday lunch at Cappucetto. This is a particularly good Italian restaurant and I think we were all pleased with the food and the polite service.

Well fed at Cappuccetto.

Stella and I went for a stroll in Covent Garden and there, outside the Moomin Shop was my childhood hero, Moomintroll. So dashing! I couldn’t resist a cuddle.

Me and my hero.

It looks like I’m reviving my regular weekend lunches in London, maybe once a month.

As for the tum, well, strangely, it’s still there, big and wobbly. Maybe big lunches aren’t helping to reduce it? It’s a mystery!

Sue x