Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020, what a contrast!

 My last post every year is usually a summary of my life as a trans woman in that year. Last year was too difficult and transitional (not in a gender sense!) to warrant a comment. But this year has been bizarre beyond belief. Not just for me but for every person on earth.

Who hasn't now been affected by the death through Covid of someone they themselves knew, or hasn't lost earnings or even their livelihood or business because of the economic effects of lockdown, or been isolated from friends, family and community, or just been sick with this bug themselves? What can I say? A hug to you, which I would give willingly if it were possible to touch one another. For my part, I've had little work, face-to-face contact with just one relative and seen no friends all year. 

I'm quite gregarious as a rule but, thanks to the nature of my work, I tolerate solitude quite well. But I'd have preferred a different situation!

I think 2021 will be different, must be different. Even without a vaccine, the pandemic would eventually peter out, but the sooner normality can return, the better off we will all be.

So as for my year, I've not been out en femme at all, but that's the case with almost all TGirls who aren't full-time, transitioning or transitioned. But I am almost always dressed en femme, more androgynously if I am outdoors and more obviously when at home. Occasionally I get out my camera, as I have done a few times this year, and it's been good to make the effort.




Mostly, though, I have been reminiscing in this blog on the amazing time ten years ago when I finally made my first proper steps as a woman in the big wide world. Those posts seem to have been very popular and links to those posts are below if you'd like to reread my experiences:

Overture: big anniversary (my first night out) 

1: My baptism of fire

2: The Great Drag Race

3: Getting out the front door

4: Hair and makeup

5: Sparkle: finding my tribe

6: First steps in trans living, conclusion 

I'll shortly be continuing my reminiscences on what happened later in 2010-11 as I considered transition. My Dip in the Archives today is a final tribute to that amazing year of 2010. The world seemed to be my oyster - what a contrast to 2020! I dare say anyone else would say the same of 2020, if for different reasons. As I said above, 2021 will be better. 

Here's a photo I took just this morning of the sunny horizon as seen from my new home. Symbolic? Or corny? Whatever, I wish you all good things in the year to come.


A dip in the archives

Ending 2010 was a lot of fun. Emma, she of the first two posts linked to above, came to stay with me and we went shopping in London, catching the train from my home. We enjoyed a morning coffee in Vergnano's in the Charing Cross Road, London's best coffee shop.


 We hit the shops around Carnaby Street, still a lively part of town.

 

When it was lunchtime we met Helena at Bistro 1 in Beak Street, Soho (sadly gone now, it was always good value with friendly service). We had a leisurely meal and a good chat.


Emma and I went on to the major stores of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street (the green set on your Monopoly board), where the winter sales were on. A lot of the Christmas decorations and illuminations caught our attention that year.


When our feet grew tired we went to a pub, the Mason's Arms in Maddox Street, Mayfair, and made some new friends.


And we finished our day at La Tasca Spanish restaurant off Oxford Street.


That was a great day out, just women looking for bargains in the shops and eating out together. It was a manifestation of our new-found confidence in being TGirls about town. Happy times!

Sue x


Sunday, 27 December 2020

Food interlude

Anti-Covid rules meant that the Christmas weekend had to be spent indoors and so as not to get bored I made sure much of my time was spent preparing food. All too often nowadays we end up being too busy to take time over our meals, balancing ingredients to get the taste we like best and then savouring our creation. It's too easy on a working day to get a microwave meal, a takeaway, or just do something simple. Even eating out relies on someone else's selection of ingredients. It's been a long time since I really concentrated on cooking, something I used to do well and then got lazy about.

As I'm living on the shores of the Ligurian Sea I thought I'd try to incorporate as many local delicacies in my Christmas preparations as I could. It's too mountainous for farms so any meat is rabbits, small birds or game; mostly, though, people eat fish. I don't like to cook fish at home, though, because of the smell in a largely open-plan apartment, and although the hob is high-tech, I don't have an oven. So for my main meals I selected birds that could be cooked in a pan, and local produce, especially pasta, olives, lemons, wines, basil and other herbs.

Here are some of the results, all successful, I'm pleased to say. 

Guineafowl peasant style, with Taggiasca olives

Poussin with lemon

Tortellini (filled pasta) from Genoa in broth

Selection of cured meat and salami

Chocolate 'salami' (I didn't make this). The white flakes are biscuit.

Pandolce, part way between bread and cake, with raisins in. Very nice.

Local sparkling wine, from Albenga

I am now officially overweight and, as I've said so many times before, diet starts tomorrow!

A dip in the archives

Here's a Christmas photo from this date 11 years ago, when I hadn't yet got out in public. 

I'm not quite sure how I achieved that bust - I never managed it again! Pity!

Sue x

 

Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas

 On this strangest of Christmas days let me wish you a peaceful holiday season. I hope you can relax a bit and enjoy some home time even though it may be very different from usual for you.

I'm on my own but I will be busy ... eating!

Here's a local delicacy, a pandolce, a soft sweet cake with fruit that I look forward to tasting later. I'll let you know how it went!

Sue x 


 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

A need for Christmas comedy

I wonder what historians of the future will call this year? I used to live in London where 1665 is still referred to as the Plague Year. A similarly uncomfortable title for 2020 might well be used in the 24th century!

As much of the world closes down for Christmas, not for fun but to prevent the spread of disease and the breakdown in state health services, I can only wish you a holiday period that's not too miserable or stressful. And to think I usually grumble at having a cold in December and that preparing for Christmas is stressful!

I'm settling down for two weeks of limited activity when outdoor movement is restricted by law, but I am pleased to say that I got my fridge filled and have decorations to keep me cheerful and plenty to keep me amused. One other time I spent Christmas on my own and hated it, but this year I'm actually looking forward to doing some serious cooking and to the entertainment on TV. I intend to watch plenty of comedy - somehow, violent or dramatic fare so often on the box seems unsuitable viewing.

For tasters, here's British stand-up comic Eddie Izzard, who has just asked to be referred to as "she". Having always been gender-fluid and a verbal rambler, it's hard to know if this is a state of permanence, but I'm happy to call her by her desired pronouns and am also glad that we have another respected high-profile trans person like her out there.

Eddie Izzard: Death Star canteen

Quite by coincidence, this evening marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of one of the best-loved comedy songs, "Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West" by Benny Hill. Like many, I used to think Benny Hill was just a dirty old man but now I realise that, far from it, he was a comedic genius of wide-ranging talent and great sensitivity whose female characters were played straight and where women were, in fact, very strong as opposed to the often immature men around them. Here's the original version of what became a no 1 hit song in the UK and Australia in 1971, first shown on 23 December 1970 (in black and white because of a technicians' strike, a hallmark of those times that were awkward too).

Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West

Enjoy.

I'll be back on Christmas Day with proper seasonal greetings. Till then...

A dip in the archives

Here's my Christmas post from four years ago... the sentiments are the same and the photo is one I like.

Christmas 2016 

 Sue x

 


Friday, 18 December 2020

Crazy Christmas

 Now, I'd been planning to write a post about transition and another about trans actors (inspired by Elliott Page) and another about ... well, it doesn't matter because instead I have ended up spending my time rushing to get Christmas sorted before the next sudden lockdown, which I am sure is a situation much of the world finds itself in. With the likelihood of being unable to leave home over the long Christmas and New Year weekends, I have needed to get my fridge filled. The prospect of living off tinned food, rice and pasta in the store cupboard is too much! A First World Problem you might say, but - let's face it - Christmas time is a bit special and festivities are essential for cheering up the winter gloom.

I've always given myself a little gift at Christmas. Before I was out and about it was in the form of "from him to her", but now I simply shop for myself. It's a time to treat yourself to something unusual and feminine, such as perfume or pretty lingerie or nightwear or party hosiery, or some jewellery. I'm not sure if I'll now have the time for a little something like that this year, what with having unexpectedly to stuff the fridge for 8+ days of home cooking, but we'll see.

Just to illustrate the situation, here's an unusual Christmas decoration I found on the road into town. It's about 20 feet high and I assumed it was a stylised bushy Christmas tree ... but now I reckon it represents a bunch of festive coronaviruses rearing up and ready to strike! 

 


Stay safe and well out there this winter.

A dip in the archives

Here's a very popular post from December 2013 all about Christmas shopping in London, meals with friends, and a seasonal trip to Pink Punters nightclub. A very different world from 2020! Enjoy.

The rotating glass elevator ... 


Sue x

 


 

Friday, 4 December 2020

Winter boots lookbook

 I ought to do more in the way of fashion blogging - it's always been more popular here than my posts on the state of society!

Winter is coming and, although I chose to move to somewhere mild, we had snow on the nearby mountaintops the other day. So I will talk about my favourite winter accessory, which is knee-length boots.

 

Not only stylish, they also keep me warm and dry, which I confess has always been essential to me.

When I visited a dressing service before stepping out into the real world, my dresser advised me that a short girl like me would do better to stick to shoes and a shorter skirt. Emphasising more leg would make me seem taller, which is a fair point. And this is one of her suggested looks, which is pretty great if I say so myself.

 


The one problem is a practical one: this is fine for mild, dry weather but come winter I cannot get away with short skirts and sheer tights. I feel the cold intensely and miserably and - even at the risk of Snow White here being mistaken for one of her dwarf friends - I will not hesitate to lengthen the skirt, thicken the tights and pull my warm boots on. Besides, I've always preferred boots to shoes as a style statement ... so that's a clincher.

Over the years I've owned many pairs, some cheap and some pricey. Cheap ones are made to last a season or two but some have gone on for years. Generally, I find black matt leather the most versatile, but suede or patent leather have their place, and grey and tan can be very stylish if matched with the right outfit. I've never owned bright colours as they tend to work only when clubbing, whereas I am very much a women about town and prefer to blend in. But if Michelle Obama's Balenciaga sequinned overknees astound you, or Daphne's lilac go-go boots in Scooby Doo are your thing, or you're aching to be a Space Vixen in glitter boots, then by all means go for it. They might save your life, after all. *

I prefer boots to reach just below the knee. I have had several over-the-knee boots which, on the whole, are for the party scene although they come and go out of fashion and can work well with skinny blue jeans if you're out and about.

Here's my latest pair. Mid-price real leather in black, with a half zip and three-and-a-half inch tapered heel, which is my favourite heel style). My only small complaint is that the pointed toe pinches just a little, especially with tights.

Teamed with ribbed cashmere tights for winter

 

Tapered heel
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These replace a much-loved, cheap but very long-lived pair in fake leather with a full zip that I had to have reheeled many times since I wore them so often. Here those are with a short skirt, diamond winter tights and winter coat, and then with black leggings and light coat. As you can see, they work well with both formal and informal styles.




In black leather I have also had some three-quarter length pairs that somehow don't work so well. This pair have insufficient lining on the heel so it gets painful after you've walked for a few hours. That's the cheapness showing, but a very pricy pair I have are painful as they pinch. It's a difficult balance sometimes between comfort, style and price.


My favourite suede boots were this style below. They were cheap so I got them in grey, that lasted well, and black, that didn't! Why one and not the other, I cannot say.

They worked well with the same blue dress as in the last photo and especially well with a heather-toned tarten miniskirt I had, here with ribbed tights.




I have some faux-crocodile boots in black but, sadly, have no photos of what are actually a very stylish pair, and they are currently in storage. I have, however, been sufficiently photographed in my stretch patent leather boots that are really comfortable and were very fashionable in the mid to late Noughties as office wear. They are not a little sexy, too, and I've often worn them on party nights.

With neon tights and leather mini in the New Foresters, Nottingham

Girls' Big Night Out at Pink Punters nightclub, with red tartan mini and sheer black gloss tights
 

Ah, well... nice legs, shame about the face (I heard that somewhere). 

The ankle boots I so frequently wear are a subject for another post as they are a very different style and serve in all seasons.

I suspect a lot of TGirls secretly prefer winter to summer as the choice and style of clothes is wider-ranging. Do let me know about your favourite things, and any constructive criticism of my style is welcome.

I hope winter is not too cold for you and you avoid colds, flus and, above all, the dreaded coronavirus. 

* Readers who are unsure of the cultural references above may like to follow the links below:

Balenciaga sequin overknee boots 

Daphne and the Scooby gang 

Glitter boots saved my life 

 

A dip in the archives

Here's a link to a post about a little holiday I took en femme late in the autumn nine years ago. I stayed with a much-loved friend on the Isle of Wight and there was no male time at all. There's a photo of me in my favourite black boots again, with jeans this time, a winning combination. And the leather mini in the Nottingham party photo above was borrowed from my kind hostess.

A little holiday

Sue x



Monday, 30 November 2020

Please explain the mind of the alpha male to me

 

I've just seen a clip from a TV interview from the other day when the chief of police in Naples was asked about any initiatives his force was adopting to improve protection for women against rape and violence.

"Good evening," he started, "before coming to that question I'd like to express my deep sorrow at the death of Diego Maradona, a legend in this city and all-round great guy, blah blah ..."
 
Priorities, eh?
 
Of course, Maradona was known for punching his partner in public on more than one occasion.

Also gone this month was Sean Connery. Like Maradona, a man who entertained millions. And believed women should be hit, and said so many times. Don't believe me? Here's one interview:
 

Sean, if a woman's coming at you with flick-knives in her shoes or a rocket-firing helicopter, then self-defence is fine. Otherwise, no.
 
Donald Trump is losing his job as President, a man whose attitude towards women is vile. His departure will be a relief.

I've never understood the alpha male. I hated being brought up as a boy by such people. They really are like a gorillas, brutish and cruel. Football, films and reality shows are hugely popular and somehow that forgives these men's mistreatment of women. And with many women confined at home now because of Covid we have seen violence against them by their partners increase. So, Mr Police Chief, maybe it's time to concentrate, or move on.
 

A dip in the archives

Also passed away this month was Jan Morris, historian and travel writer, one of the highest-profile early transitioners who made the public realise that, though not common, transitioning really was a thing. Rest in peace.

Jan Morris in 1974, when she published "Conundrum", her book about transitioning

Sue x
 




Thursday, 26 November 2020

Pamper yourself once in a while

 Last week I decided to take a day away from the routine and really pamper myself. 

I usually dress in contemporary but comfortable style as Covid rules  confine me to the house most of the time. A cotton top and leggings are my usual look, or skinny jeans. Well, a smart dress is hardly right for doing the housework or pegging out the washing (this isn't the Fifties, dear). And although I like a bit of perfume and I make sure my nails are trim and pretty, I rarely have a reason these days to smarten up thoroughly.

So one morning I made sure my epilator and razors did a thorough job of my unwanted hair, my skin was buffed and cleaned, my brows were plucked, my nails filed and my makeup and hair done. I sprayed a decent amount of my favourite perfume and selected a long skirt, a light top and sheer tights. It felt a bit like getting ready for a night out in the old days before Covid. It was a beautiful sunny day and I even opened a mini bottle of sparkling wine just for fun. 

You won't believe how much it improved my mood to just give myself time to look and feel good on a nice day.

Here are some photos I took.

Good mood

Outdoors

Indoors

Sneaking a biscuit

In these very distressing times when nothing is normal and there are many worries, upheavals and bereavements, we should take time out for ourselves. For me, really making an effort with my femininity made me much happier. 

I know that so many TGirls have restrictions on their femme life at home but even spending a bit of time on your nails or sorting through the wardrobe or the photo collection is time well spent boosting your feminine wellbeing. I hope you too can find a moment for something special.


A dip in the archives

Here's a much-loved photo from ten years ago which shows me with Dee and Chrissie in Salisbury Cathedral Close in England. 


This was when I was really beginning to live life as a woman and this day marked my first long-distance trip as Sue, travelling by train for a couple of hours to get there. I met up with these two girls and Susan who took the photo and we had a nice time shopping, having tea in the Polly Tea Rooms and a bit of sightseeing. A good day with nice friends and a big boost in confidence. It was very cold, though, as you can tell!

Sue x


Sunday, 22 November 2020

Why we need TDOR

 I commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance two days ago. As well as being a day for reflection, it brings enemies and allies out, too. I'm sharing one item from the former and two from the latter.

1) This little item shows the sort of organised malice there is against trans people


 West Yorkshire Police in the UK support TDOR and remind us to report hate crime. To which an organisation We Are Fair Cop says hate is OK. 

It's the twisting of logic in this tweet that is as disgusting as the hatred:-

- Hate is an emotion - true

- Our emotions (and thinking) are legitimate - true, though they may be misguided, irrational or plain mad

- Emotions and thoughts are not a police matter - false. Although not directly policeable, some thoughts and feelings may indicate intent and may justly lead to appropriate police monitoring. Should a sympathiser for terrorist violence, for instance, be left to their thoughts without a bit of checking up? Few would think so.

- Therefore it's OK to hate people - false. You may hate what someone has done or plans to do that harms others, and you may even hate them as a person for that activity, but you may not legitimately hate people for being something over which they have no control, e.g their size, colour, disability, gender, etc, or even for illness, poverty, social status or other things that arise through misfortune. That type of hate is irrational and unjust and, if expressed or acted on, is a proper field for policing as it may cause harm to the targets of that hate or show intent to harm them.

"Say Yes to Hate" is a bit like Gordon Gekko's notorious speech about "greed is good" in the film Wall Street, the same false logic.

Thanks to my friend Stella for finding this item.

2) Fortunately, TDOR also brings out the best, some genuine and welcome support.

Here's a statement from US president elect Joe Biden that I found a great relief to read after Trump's persecutions:


Thanks to my friend Steph for alerting me to this.

3) Finally, the trans community in Italy, where I am currently living, was delighted that Milan Town Hall, in many ways under siege as the epicentre of the European Covid problem, took the time and trouble to hang the transgender flag for TDOR. Thank you - grazie. And thank you to Arcigay Italia for sharing the photo.



Legislation is currently going through the Italian parliament to combat discrimination against many groups of people: women, disabled people, gay/lesbian/bi people and trans people. Like Biden's promise, this is also a very welcome move.

Stay well and safe.


A dip in the archives

Here's a post in wrote in 2014 about the many people to remember during the month of November:

November: remembrance and reflection

Sue x


Friday, 20 November 2020

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020

 In memory of the 350+ trans people murdered in the last 12 months.

Nearly one every day. Still the highest rate of violent death and suicide of any social group.

As well as the everyday brutes, the increase this year in the number of bullying politicians, hateful feminists and intolerant religious people, i.e. all the cowards who target a group that already has many struggles in life, will have me posting something similar next year. And the year after. 

Thank you to those who choose the opposite path and are no threat, and you are many. Please help us find the peace to exist like any other person.

Sue x

 

 

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Women, the winning team

 As a trans woman, I obviously root for the women's team that's increasingly succeeding in a world previously dominated by men. I like to be part of that team, despite the bizarre aggression of certain feminists who, instead of concentrating their complaints on the predatory men who are their real bugbear, choose the easy route of finding a weaker group like trans women and taking it out on them. Most transwomen are against predatory, aggressive males, too. We never could deal with this overmasculinised world and are only too glad to embrace our femininity. We've seen the world the alpha male has made and, frankly, it could do with considerable improvement. Time for the ladies to make their mark.

A few weeks ago the Nobel prizes were announced and several women received these prestigious awards, some in their own right and not as part of male-dominated teams so prevalent in science. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work on gene editing. Andrea Ghez was one of the winners of the Physics Prize for her work on black holes. And the prize for literature - a prize field surprisingly dominated by male authors (101 out of 117 winners are men) - went to American poet Louise Gl├╝ck (I've not read her yet but will do so). It's pleasing to see that women are being recognised in areas that have been so dominated by men.

Of course, honourable mention for women at the top goes to Kamala Harris for becoming the US's first female VP elect. And I'm pleased to hear the US now has a transgender senator.


Talking of Nobel, here's a picture of Villa Nobel in Sanremo, Italy, where Alfred Nobel spent the later years of his life. There's a lab in the basement where he conducted experiments on explosives. The big gun in the garden was used to test them by firing out to sea, much to the discomfort of local fishermen. Legend has it that he created the Nobel Peace Prize to counter the murderous uses to which his mining explosives were being put, but I suspect it was the locals who pressured this maniac into considering a bit of peace for once! 

It does illustrate, though, that men do tend to like the aggressive exploitation of the world. As we face up (or ought to face up) to the fact that we have been trashing our planet, I do think that a different approach from that of the alpha male of our apish species is very necessary. I'm not suggesting that positive discrimination is the approach; that would be wrong and can disguise underachievement. But it is good to see that women's contribution is being recognised, that women are reaching the top.

 

A dip in the archives

To people who think that the transgender spectrum is a modern phenomenon, I always talk about trans people and culture of the past. Going to the very far past, legendary times even, I'd point out how Hercules, the epitome of Greek and Roman masculinity, was forced to serve Omphale, Queen of Lydia. This was especially degrading from the point of view of Hercules' own high social status. Initially Hercules suffered forced feminisation as a maid (which, of course, is a subculture within the trans spectrum). Early accounts suggest that Hercules was genuinely humiliated by this; later ones suggest he delighted in gender reversal with the queen after she freed and married him. And Hercules' appreciation of his feminine side and subsequent desire to dress seems to have remained in later adventures according to some writers. So there you have it, even the most macho of men may actually have a preference for something less hulkingly male. I have always felt that a lot of macho culture was really just a desperate, consuming attempt to deny something preferable, easier even.

Hercules wears a dress and holds distaff and spindle (representing women's work) whilst Omphale sits bare-chested wearing Hecules' lionskin and holding his trademark club (bashing people semi-naked being men's work). Roman mosaic from Spain, 3rd century AD.

Sue x

 

 


Sunday, 8 November 2020

Relief, American style

Anything in the news this week? ...Not really, but I must thank the citizens of Andorra for their contribution to how I'm feeling. 

Andorra

Ah, Andorra, that tiny, picturesque and ancient country in the mountains between France and Spain, ruled by its twin princes, Prince John and Prince Emmanuel. Every other year the citizens send Prince John some hams and some chickens in payment for his services and in alternate years Prince Emmanuel gets sent about $500 in recognition of his. Mind you, he does represent Andorra in the international community, whereas Prince John just tends to sit there. To be fair, though, Prince John does have another job as Bishop of Urgell in Spain, whilst Prince Emmanuel spends his spare time being President of France. So actually, the citizens of Andorra get these two princes by virtue of the votes of the canons of Urgell Cathedral (as approved by the Vatican) and by the votes of the electorate of France. Andorrans are therefore ruled by persons elected wholly outside their country. It must feel odd that foreign voters can have such an influence over you.

...Did I say Andorra? Silly me, I meant to talk about America. 

Now, I don't have to take account of what the Americans do, do I? No, but the world is highly interconnected now so what goes on in another country has an effect on many others. American voters' choices certainly have an influence well outside the USA.

Thank you, Americans, for exchanging the aggressive, corrupt, abusive bully Trump for a more normal politician. Now, I could say a lot against politicians but when you've had the toxic rhetoric of Trump dinned in your ear for four years, you appreciate normality all the more. If you have ever been a refugee like me, or mixed race like me, or born abroad like me, or in a minority such as transgender like me, and have experienced hate and discrimination because of those things, then you too will appreciate when the source of that hate or discrimination is removed. I also appreciate the pressure this change in the US now brings to my former country, Britain, to stop being so brazenly racist and aggressively isolationist.

It's made a big difference to my life. Here's a bottle of local sparkling wine I opened yesterday to celebrate your change of approach. Thank you.



A dip in the archives

1) On the subject above, here's what I wrote in January 2017 when Trump took over. I was uneasy, but I wasn't to know how badly the following four years would trouble me:

Farewell, Mr Obama

2) And now for something completely different: enjoying a summer's evening in London in 2013, showing off my new pink shoes.


 I love pink! Here's the full story of my shopping trip with Pippa:

The Princess and the Shopper (or How to Get Noticed))

Sue x

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Lockdown is time to play

 Well, pretty much everyone had hoped that the drastic measures in the spring were going to be enough to reduce the effects of a second wave of coronavirus ... and everyone was wrong. So as we prepare for a very difficult winter I'll link back to the suggestions I made in the spring for practical survival when in isolation. I myself am used to being alone at home because of the nature of my work but it will feel odd to many.

Life in Italy in the age of the virus

How to survive isolation at home

One point I made then was that you could use down time at home to invent a board game. I was reminded of this by an article in yesterday's paper that described a number of board games issued recently that are set in the local area, including one where gangs of pigs in a post-apocalyptic future have taken over Genoa and fight for city blocks, another where of teams of bears fight off monster babies who are devouring the world, or just Monopoly but played in much smaller towns than New York or London. They all sound fun and remind me of the days before the Internet when our family would get together to play just these sorts of games. Now, the Internet is great but there's something missing in life when the family are too busy each with their own phones to interact together, which is always the best bit of playing games with physical pieces.

My grandfather was a great artist and created some amazing board games, including two painted on layers of acetate that were stacked and could be moved about to change the layout or scenario. One was an adventure game where you chose a route to the treasure cave but might (or might not, depending on the shifting configuration) encounter quicksand, lava, crocodiles, cannibals and any other hazards. The other was a driving game where the road conditions changed at every turn. Never select 70mph if there's any chance of pedestrians on the crossing, heavy traffic, a train on the level crossing and so on. Avoiding traffic jams by a shortcut down country lanes might work ... or the bull might be loose or the ford flooded. And never ever run into the back of a police car, the one that's just materialised in front of you! We loved that one.

I remember my father teaching me how to play draughts (checkers) by candlelight during the 1970s energy crises when we had endless power cuts. (We survived that crisis time as we will this one.)

I recall how we used to invent games at school - not just outdoor ones involving tennis balls and odd-shaped corners of the playground, with hymn books as bats and school bags as traps - but ones where you actually had to make a board and cards and find something to act as counters. We did our own local Monopoly, too, with the innovation that some cards were demolition orders, not just on shabby houses and dodgy hotels but on entire streets. It seemed appropriate for the area near the school! And a card game involving an alien invasion - the inventor had a lot of fun drawing weird extraterrestrials. I'm sure they weren't modelled on our teachers really!

A few years ago another TGirl and I thought of a card game where the TGirl has to get ready for the club, get her outfit and accessories together and avoid hazards like blunt razors and laddered tights. Perhaps there's a limited market for that one.

There's nothing like working with your hands and being creative and I do worry that we are losing a love of making stuff because our entertainments come ready packaged. I'm not criticising video games or online stuff as a lot is undoubtedly great fun but the point is that when you only play those you don't get to be inventive yourself and you get more isolated, which is hardly what we want right now.

Get out the old board games or make your own. Your Neighbourhood Monopoly is just waiting to be created, and don't forget those demolition orders - the Smiths' garden shed at no. 34 has got to go!

Have fun. 

 

A dip in the archives

Another photo from ten years ago, this one in Manchester with Lee Middlehurst who interviewed me as part of her PhD research on transgender matters. Later we met several friends for dinner at the Eden Bar on the canal and joined the weekly Concord meeting.

Sue x

 

Thursday, 29 October 2020

A bit of positive LGBT support news

 I've been avoiding posting as the news continues to be dreadful. Just now, three people have been murdered in a church in nearby Nice. That city is still recovering from the deadly storm four weeks ago, and is very affected by the virus right now. Nice suffered a serious terrorist attack in 2016 when a maniac ploughed down over 500 people with a truck, killing 86. Presumably today's attack, like that one, is connected to the 2015 Charlie-Hebdo murders.

But there are two small pieces of good news locally regarding LGBT issues. The Italian parliament has rejected objections to draft legislation designed to combat LGBT discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere, which paves the way for laws to protect us better. Coupled with the pope's (perhaps somewhat unguarded) statement that gay couples' civil marriages should not be cause for discrimination does make things better, at least in this corner of the world. Not before time, as a video by a young nurse in an openly lesbian relationship who has had her car tyres and mirrors destroyed by homophobic neigbours has gone viral. Here's someone on the front line of dealing with the pandemic in one of the worst affected cities, but despite her essential selfless heroic work some people must put hate above all else. Needless to say, support for her has been powerful.

I'd not get overexcited about the pope's thoughts. The Roman Catholic Church remains resolutely anti-LGBT. I wonder if the anti-discrimination message will get through to places like Poland where Catholic prejudice has a lot to do with the current plight of LGBT people there? The pope's appointment of an Afro-American as a cardinal does, however, send another message to that other LGBT and race hater, Donald Trump. So I welcome this slight mellowing of that church's stance.

Clouds with silver linings.

 

A dip in the archives

Let's look back at something cheerful from my week off in July 2012 when I did a makeover for Carol, went sightseeing in London with Emma, and spent a day in the world of burlesque. 

Link: 'Twas the week before Sparkle

Sue x

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Second Wave and the Single Girl

 I hope you are all remaining healthy in this difficult year. I'm very sad to say that several of my friends are seriously ill, but with cancer or heart problems, not Covid-19. The problem for the very sick this year is that staffing and attention are being taken away from treating regular diseases because of the pandemic. I feel relatively safe in Italy now as badly-run countries, those with less responsible citizens, those with underfunded healthcare, bear the brunt of illness and death. I feel upset for decent people in such places.

This week I managed to obtain a further residence certificate to enable me to remain in Italy after 31 December when Britain's transition period from the EU ends. It has cost me a lot of stress and money to get this certificate - the third one I have needed - and my revulsion at the usurping criminals running the UK who have forced so much loss, change and stress on me has no limits. A few people understand how there is nothing to stop the UK from becoming a dictatorship now, like Belarus or Hungary, but most Brits haven't a clue. Government corruption and thieving is soaring, and in plain view. People seem to have become inoculated against political scandal these last four years. What has always revolted me the most in life is people who lack integrity, and the gang of shysters in London has no integrity at all.  

With the US election very close now I can only urge US voters to get rid of the gangster currently in the White House who has damaged so many lives, especially transgender lives, and discredited the USA. You may say it's none of my business since I'm not a US citizen, but in a world where the USA has hegemony, the guy in Washington has an effect on everyone else. A Biden victory in Washington will remove Johnson's main ally and his horrible rhetoric. I will live safer as a result.

So I am just trying to take things as easy as I can in these stressful times. I dress for comfort (here's me in a rare foray into slacks), avoid other distressing and unhappy stuff if I can, and take careful Covid precautions. Being alone for so long away from friends is beginning to affect me, I confess, even though I'm usually quite resilient in isolation. But I keep busy and enjoy my considerable girl time.

Please stay safe in this pandemic, act with integrity and look after yourselves and others.

 

A dip in the archives

This week ten years ago I went to Pink Punters nightclub again with a whole bunch of friends, and made a couple of new friends, too. This was the best photo of me from the event and is still one of my all-time favourites.


Sue x