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


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