Friday, 14 July 2017

Sparkle 2017

I went to Sparkle again this year. Although this fabulous celebration of everything transgender goes on for several days, I limited myself just to the Saturday. This is largely because I didn’t want to set back my improving health by spending more than one day in makeup.

On that note, I’m pleased to say that 15 hours in makeup caused no eczema flareup, although all the antihistamine I took left me feeling a bit spaced out and groggy. I suspect my friends are used to that!

I have always loved Sparkle. Though it makes for an expensive weekend, there are so many official events and so many venues to have fun in and so many friends to catch up with that it’s become the highlight of my year. I was so distressed last year when I had to cancel my visit.

I turned up on Friday night after a smooth journey (no delays through “gunmen on the line” as in 2015!) And do you know, there is now a train every 20 minutes from London to Manchester – an incredible frequency for intercity services. I had a quiet dinner on my own in Manchester’s Chinatown (which is better than London’s Chinatown, in my opinion) and spent the evening making essential beauty arrangements, such as painting my nails.

One thing I have always done is to photograph my outfits for Sparkle. Chiefly as a personal record of my growth, tastes, fashion, etc. I’ve not posted them before, but I will this time as don’t have many photos and usually there are 7 or 8 looks for the weekend!

Daywear: pastel pink.

Evening: black lace

Saturday morning dawned bright and it was hot and fine all day (I have luckily never been cursed with Manchester’s famous rain on any visit I have made there) and I was in Canal Street, the heart of the Gay Village, by 10. This was a daft thing to do really as there’s nobody around at Sparkle till gone midday! But I enjoyed a light breakfast at Velvet.

Glowing in the lovely sunshine

The first person I met was my lovely friend Wilhelmina from Hungary. After a chat we went into the city centre for lunch as Canal Street is a little pricey and we prefer real life ‘outside the ghetto’.

And then the afternoon was the time to bump into friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years – Jolene, Amanda, Emma W and Jackie, Kate and Suki, KD, Stefania, Gina, Rachael, Priya, Emma D, Joan, Tania, Jenny Anne and Ellen, Karen… I was sorry to miss Lucy and Helen whom I’d tried to get in touch with, but I know loads of other people who were there but I didn’t see. That’s the trouble with being there just one day, and there’s not that much time for a proper catchup with anyone. But the most important thing was for Roz White and me to meet as women for the first time, which we’d never managed despite knowing each other for so many years. A massive hug was called for. It was lovely to meet her close friends Tegan and Sara for the first time, too.

In the evening I joined Kate, Suki, KD, Emma, Jackie and Karen for a late dinner at Browns in Manchester city centre, a good restaurant which has taken over an old but grand bank building.

After which I went to bed! I just couldn’t face a noisy club, and the medication I take for my eczema prevents my enjoying a glass of wine and was making me very sleepy. And I’m old!

So that was my Sparkle for 2017. Short but sweet.

Visiting Sparkle did me a lot of good. It made me feel part of the community again and gave me a little more hope that I am coming out of this devastating sickness. And I got to see friends whom I love very much.

I’m hoping that next year will be like 2010 – 2013 again – a three-day party!

Slurrp!!! Dining in good company.

Sue x

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Preparing for Sparkle

It's that time of year again and I'm thinking of what should go in my suitcase for Sparkle, the annual transgender celebration which falls next weekend. As any TGirl will tell you, packing the Sparkle Suitcase is a major operation!

Despite having gone at Sparkle every year from 2010 to 2015 I had to miss it last year because of an overwhelming set of problems that hit me all at once. They are gradually being resolved one by one but it's been the worst 12 months I've ever had so I am determined to have a carefree time there this year with my girlfriends.

I have only booked two nights so Saturday will be the day I am out and about and I will play the rest by ear, depending on how my face is. The disfiguring eczema that's blighted my face for 3 years is a lot better. I have managed to get out en femme a few times this spring (and I must write up about that) and on each occasion my face has been OK afterwards. In fact, I now take the nasty medicine only when I have my makeup on. So here's hoping I can manage Sparkle Sunday as well.

Sue x