Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 21 August 2017

I've done it!

I've only gone and booked a holiday! It feels as though I have been complaining for ages that I need a holiday, well now I'm going to have one.   I have a week booked somewhere nice and warm, where along with a couple of day trips I plan on doing a lot of lazing around in the sun next to a pool.   I may even get into the pool and do a little swimming!

I shall have to set myself up with a few easy reading novels, some music on my phone and lay in a stock of sun cream.   I also think that it might be a good idea to make a real effort to lose some of that weight I have been complaining about.

I won't say that I need to make my body bikini ready as that would take a lot more than a few weeks of careful eating, more like major surgery or a magic wand!   But it would be nice to be able to fit into some of my "Holiday clothes" and not frighten the natives too much when I am sun bathing.

I have just weighed in at twelve and half stone (175 lbs or just under 80 kg) I think I'd feel a lot happier if I can drop half a stone and get down to anything under the twelve stone mark ~ maybe I should start by laying off the booze for a bit, or at least putting slim line tonic in my gin!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

You are what you eat?

I have often heard this platitude trotted out, and it certainly comes to mind has I munch my way through a pork pie for my Sunday lunch, after having a very nice vegetarian meal with my Daughter last night.   In theory I want to only eat good food, organically grown ingredients prepared with love and presented with style.   Unfortunately time and finance do tend to impose some limits, I would love to be able to afford to be as fussy as I would like to be, but alas it is not to be.



I can however make some simple choice, I have been making a point of buying organic eggs recently, and I'm sure they taste better as well as providing the hens with a better life.   I like a tuna salad but at least I can be selective about the fish I buy and go for line caught.


Now I just need to start thinking about the calories I take on, maybe a few less cream cakes, maybe a little less beer and I might start to lose a bit of fat around the old tummy. I don't expect to be wearing a bikini any time soon, but if I do manage any holiday it might be nice to lie out on a beach and not get Green Peace coming along to push me back into the sea!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Still Lingering

I have had a bit of an hiatus in service here, and between my last two posts I see that there was an eight day break. Interestingly I do still get visitors to the blog even when I don't have any nice up to date posts, indeed that is when I get some of my older posts being inspected.   Blogger gives me a bit of a breakdown and over that week my most popular post was one from quite a while back, all the way back to July 2013.    I think it must be something to do with the title of that particular post and the Google searches that some people do. That particular post can be seen here! I'm not sure that it was my finest moment, but who am I to judge!

Co-incidentally this last week or so my favorite cartoonist has been running a series on my favorite strip.   He has had my favorite character working on what would be my favorite job (in my dreams).


However this did make me think, what actually is the difference between lingerie and underwear;- I have some pants that are simply pants, but if I wear them with a matching bra they magically transform into lingerie, so is it the material? the intent? or maybe the marketing?


Certainly some brands have more allure than others, just the names Janet Reager, Agent Provocateur or Figleaves just sound so much more alluring than Marks & Spencer or Matalan. I suspect that this is definitely a case of less is more, i.e. the more you pay the less you get!


I certainly know that most women I know prefer bras that are not underwired, I am now beginning to understand why, yet whenever I go into lingerie departments the vast majority of bras are underwired, so they are not being made primarily for the comfort of the woman.   I suspect that this is a subject I will be revisiting, certainly my perspective on the such things has changed over the last few years, yet I am still very much of the opinion that life is too short for ugly underwear!


My Favorite Cartoonist Brooke McEldowney
My Favorite Strip 9 Chickweed Lane

And the title is a reference to my post of the 18th November 2012, ironically the dress I was lusting over so much at that time I would now have several opportunities to wear, but it is no longer available ~ heyho!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Sometimes

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am, or maybe that shouldn't be lucky it should be blessed!

Living in London (The greatest city in the World!) in the 21st Century allows me to be me, I can walk down the road without having to be particularly concerned about my safety, I can go shopping without problems, I can expect to be treated with respect and reasonable manners. These are of course simple things that many people in my position in other places and times could not expect.

Being British it means that the medical aspects of my transition are all funded, I find it hard enough to decide exactly what it is that want (medically) without having to take financial concerns into account.   Sure, the NHS can be slow, and the administration can be frustrating, but at least there is a will to help and funds to support.

I have just got home after getting the results of my regular blood tests, all is well, blood counts, liver functions, cholesterol etc. etc. are all fine, and more to the point my hormone levels are going in the right direction again.   All due to the care and medication I am getting through the NHS.   I now have a GP at my local practice who has experience, knowledge and understanding of the process I'm going through; is happy to talk about it and guide me with some sound advise.   I can be reassured that medical care is available to me what ever the situation.  Something that not everybody, even in this great city, can feel assured of.   Early next month I will be visiting my Gender Identity Clinic where I will see a specialist to discuss any further treatment, or changes in medication, again all funded by the NHS.

All this and it is all pretty local as well, I made myself a cup of tea before going to the Doctors this morning, realised I didn't have time to drink, but when I got home it was still warm enough to drink!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

My Office Today

Well not actually today, not even yesterday, since it was raining all day, but at least this week. It's not my work that causes me stress, it's the days like that when I can't do any.

Half way through (I Forgot to take a "before")

After, complete with Walter De La Mare blue plaque



What my day actually looked like




Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I don't know

I suspect that one of my most used words is "busy", today I should be busy working, the gardens of a couple of my favorite ladies should be receiving my attentions today, but the weather is against me.   Before anyone starts to complain that I'm a fair weather gardener ~ damn right I am! Mowers don't cut wet grass well, working wet soil causes structural damage, and wet backs are very bad for me as well.   Instead I am getting on with a project I started at the weekend, I'm redecorating the hall of my flat.

It is a very small flat, with a very small hall, but it does have four doorways and a three cupboards so lots of woodwork.   The cupboards I have painted it match the walls, so that was nice and simple, but the door frames had about sixty years worth of gloss paint on them. Layer upon layer of paint, so much the moldings have become blurred and what should have been nice sharp angles rounded.   They were so bad that I decided to strip all the paint and start again, maybe even leaving them as bare wood if they are good enough.   This is another of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" projects. I started off with a chemical stripper, but that smelt horrible and had little effect on the layers of paint.   I now have an electric paint stripper, basically a heat gun, but that sets off all my smoke alarms.   So today I am burning off paint with all my smoke alarms disconnected ~ Health and Safety?

I have no idea just how many layers of paint there are, but it must be at least a couple of mm thick.  The top layers come off quite easily, but the earlier ones are putting up a valiant fight, so far I have put in over half a day, and not even finished half a frame, and now I've started I've got to finish.

I just don't know why I started!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

It's the Law

I have heard a lot this year about celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.  

Unfortunately this is wrong on so many levels, I was always aware that 50 years ago there was only a partition decriminalisation, but this morning I listened to a documentary on BBC Radio 4 where Peter Tatchell debunks the whole thing, giving a much fuller history of the legal situation over the last 50 years.

I learnt a lot, maybe you will too.   I know that a whole hour is quite a long to time to listen, but it is most rewarding, eye opening, and illuminating as to why so many gay men of a certain age can still be pretty cross.

Listen here

Friday, 4 August 2017

Big Numbers

I'm pretty used to seeing big numbers, every time I get in my car or van I see pretty big numbers on the odometer, the car has done over 110,000 miles and the van over 220,000.   But the numbers I have in mind are smaller than those, the other day we had a post Pride meeting to assess how we did, and where we go from here.

The official estimates are that we had over 600 people on the parade and at least 3,000 for the event in the Park.   I suspect that both of these estimates are on the low side, unfortunately some figures that are not on the low side are the costs of running events like these.   We are determined to keep Croydon Pride Fest a free event, celebrating the progress of the LGBT+ community while maintaining an element of protest to keep fighting for equality, for all the community.  

We are thankful for the support from the Council and our sponsors, but for next year we will need to get in an awful lot more money. To maintain the quality of the event while growing the numbers of people who can attend we have had to set a budget very nearly twice the one we had this year.   We will need to get more sponsorship, we will need more commercial stalls at the event, and we will have to get individual donors.   We will have to have fund raising events, in short we will need a team of fundraisers and volunteers, the work for next year has already started!

I can't help but notice one other rather big number, this blog has now passed the 500,000 mark of page views, so if you have been, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Identities ~ Take Pride

This post should have a health warning, it deals largely with transgender matters, so if you are only interested in my Gardening, or musical sides then have a laugh at the cartoon and move on.

I have recently been asked, "After your transition do you consider yourself to be a Trans Woman or just a Woman" This is a tricky one, not least because I am not sure that Transition has an end, so maybe there is no such time as "after".   Certainly transition is like coming out in as much as it is a process, not an action.   Most of the time I do not define myself by my gender, or even my gender identity at all, indeed I suspect that most of the time I do not think of my identity, at all, I am simply me.   I am more likely to identify myself as a musician, a tuba player, a gardener, or a Christian than I am as a woman or a trans woman.   This has changed, when I started my transition, and for quite a while before, my gender identity was constantly on my mind, at that point I had decisions to make, "who am I?" "what am I going to do about it" "how far am I going it go" now I am more settled in who and what I am it is only the last of these questions that I still have to find an answer for, and I will only find that answer when I absolutely need to.

Todays Skinhorse cartoon, part of my daily dose

The truth is that none of us has a single, or a consistent identity, OK mine may be a bit more complicated than many, but everybody has multiple identities, spouse, parent, child will probably cover a lot of us, and that is before we start thinking about gender, race, class, tribe, profession and all that other stuff that society imposes upon us.   Since I started this journey I have found that the whole trans thing is easier for some than others, I happen to be white, middle aged and speak with an acceptable accent, so I still fall within several areas of privilege.

It is only now that I have begun to really begun to understand privilege. As a white heterosexual middle class male I was not aware of the privilege I enjoyed, I had it all my life and it only increased with age, now I have given up a large part of that privilege I begin to understand how other parts of society feel.   I have become aware of the whole issue of intersectionality, how much more difficult it is for those who fall within two or more of the groups that are denied societal privilege, to be black and trans, to be a black gay Muslim woman in Africa may be the ultimate.   I am very aware that most of the meetings I go to, even though they may be about campaigning for equality are dominated by the white middle classes, look at the people attending Pride ~ pretty much any Pride ~ and they will be predominantly white.

I have heard a lot this year about the exclusion from Pride events of non-binary people, yet I suspect that there are also much larger groups who are not complaining but are still excluded.   Somehow I want to take my very privileged position as chair of Croydon Pride to make sure that we at least do not exclude anyone, I'm not sure how, and am happy to take advise.  I got involved in all this to start with to promote inclusion, I certainly don't want to stop just because I am now included.

Monday, 31 July 2017

People and Places

Last Friday I went to a funeral, never something to be enjoyed, but this was a friend I used to be very close to.   We holidayed together, spent many of our evenings together and often went on joint dates.   For several years we were very close, but with one thing and another our paths diverted and we lost track of each other.

After his death the Police contacted a mutual friend, who managed to track a couple of us down through another friend's son's Facebook presence. Yes we were that estranged.   So I travelled down to Bristol with my closest friend who, although also having lost contact, was to talk at the funeral  since they had been friends since infant school.

Funerals are always sad, but when it is somebody that was close who had then lost contact it is worse. Even worse is that at the end he seemed to be terribly alone.   A few years back another friend died alone having cut himself off from most of his friends, at that time I swore I would not lose contact with any other friends, everybody deserves some support.   Yet it happened again.

I have a lot of friends, since I have lived a long time (although not as long as my last post might have suggested ~ WOOPS!) and I cannot stay intimate with all of them while exploring all the wonderful new opportunities life is presenting me with.  But I will try to keep up ~ if only on line.




Thursday, 27 July 2017

The News

UK Government

has announced that it will put forward proposals to allow Transgender people to self define out gender, or at least make it a lot easier.   This is well overdue, although the Gender Identity Certificate was world leading when introduced, many of us now find it inappropriate, intrusive and difficult.   We have yet to see the proposals but I do hope that they will be in line with the recommendations of Select Committee for Women and Equalities back in 2011. Anything less will provoke protests from our community and supporters, but I suspect that any liberalisation of the regime will cause problems on the Tory back benches.

Diesel and Petrol engine cars to be banned from 2040, reading a little more it seems that hybrids will be allowed and as yet I haven't been able to see if commercial vehicles are affected. Since I will be over 8o by 2014 I will not be greatly impacted, but, I do worry about the drive to remove diesel engine vehicles from the roads.   Many small trades people rely on our vans to be able to work, vans need diesel engines for their torque characteristics, and we certainly can't afford to buy new.   My own van is around 15 years old, has done over 200,000 and has just passed it's MOT.   At the moment I could not afford to replace it so any ban could well put me out of business.

Donald Trump

Just defies comment really


Monday, 24 July 2017

Brighton

I've just had another incredible weekend, it was fun, but to be honest I'm glad that it's all over.

Saturday was Trans Pride in Brighton, this year I only went down for the day, but this time I took my daughter, we were playing with a friend on stage so I drove down just to make it easier with our instruments.   While all this was happening my van was in for it's MOT, and I had to make sure I was in a fit state to play with the Linden Wind Orchestra on the Sunday.

So it was a very busy weekend, and in so many ways a very special one, Saturday was a great time to catch up with lots of old friends, sorry about the ones I missed, have some good conversations with people on the TransPALS stall, and a first for me, performing on a Pride stage.   My daughter had only gone to her first Pride earlier this month and she was already booked to perform, it was only in accompaniment of her and her friend that I got on stage at all.   I will admit to being a little disappointed by the stage set up, the sounds was not at all what I aim for, and the lack of fold back made it very difficult, but to be honest more rehearsal would have made a big difference as well.

The concert on Sunday was fun, even if I wasn't on top form and i rounded off the evening with dinner with a couple of very good friends. A few years back I was privileged to be part of their wedding, and the better I have got to know them, and them me, the more proud I am to be known as their friend.

I am sure that this will not be the last word on what has become Pride Month, not least as I hope to have some photos to share soon, but for now I am more than happy to sit back a bit and relax.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Croydon!

Saturday at Croydon Pride Fest was brilliant. The day started early for me with a visit to our Saffron Garden, a brilliant project focusing on Croydon's origins as centre of saffron production growing lots of crocuses, since it's the wrong time of year for crocuses we had 7 beds planted up in the colours of the rainbow flag, it looked brilliant and I was so happy that it truly was a community project with plants being donated in the colours.

Then it was meet and greet all the stall holders before a quick change and a walk through Croydon town center to lead the Parade.   Being at the front is rather strange, as we are the first thing people see, and in many cases the first time they realise that the event is even  happening. All in all I would say we had a very positive reception, and were shown a lot of love. It was hard to get an idea of how many people joined the march, but looking back I couldn't see the end! I estimate between 600 and 1,000.

The parade finished in Queens Gardens, right in the town center, opposite the Town Hall, as a committee we had taken the decision to
make the stage as professional as possible with a proper stage, back stage and PA, I think this paid off, making the whole event so much better.   I opened proceedings with a short(ish) speech welcoming everybody and pointing out that equality still hasn't been achieved, and although we were there to have fun and celebrate there are still battles to be fought, here and abroad.

After that I could relax a little and have some fun mingling with the crowd, talking to people, having my photo taken and presenting the prize of a pint of cider to one of our completion winners.

It was brilliant to see lots of rainbow flags and garlands, but maybe even better to see lots of Trans Flags, Bisexual banners and tee shirts, some non binary and the odd pansexual, I think we truly managed to be an inclusive event, and I want to make sure we carry on that way.

The only down side was that I could spend less time with friends and family who came to the event, but at least I did manage a quick photo with my friends Callum and Connor

As Chair I had a busy day with lots of duties (all of them pleasurable) meeting lots of people and having lots of conversation, so much so that it took a good few days before my voice had properly recovered.   All in all it was a great day, I'm already looking forward to next year's Pride Fest as I am sure that we can once again improve on this year, while still keeping it very centered on inclusivity and the Croydon community.

All photos by my friend Patricia Curtis, the official Croydon Pride photographer

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Pride




This would have gone up a couple of days ago, but because of the problems I mentioned below I couldn't access it. I'm not convinced that the problems are solved, but at least I managed to find this one!

I fear that I have rather glossed over an awful lot of time, and events.  
Last weekend had so much that I could barely manage to get through it, never mind write anything about it.   I gather that Pride is the third largest outdoors event in London after the fireworks and the New Year's Day Parade.   I can't speak for size, but I do know that there were A LOT of people there.   I had lots of hugs, high fives and selfies, there were even a few kisses, all in all it was a total blast!

The only trouble with being in the parade is that you don't get to see the rest of the parade, and a lot of them are a lot more entertaining to look at than we were ~ we were fabulous, but maybe not too entertaining.   I left the entertaining till Sunday when I played at the Dorking Halls with the Croydon Symphonic Band, I will admit that I was a bit more tired than I would have liked, and I even managed to leave my music at home, fortunately there were enough spare parts there so I could make up another pad - even though it did mean that I had to use a Bb treble clef tuba part while playing on an EEb tuba which did rather tax my poor raddled brain.

Somehow I did manage to get through the week, with a couple of meetings for Croydon Pride Fest, a few rehearsals and lots of work, and then it all happens again.

Problems

Over the last few days I have been having some problems with Blogger. I had draft posts prepared but it just won't load properly so I can't get to them.

Is it just me or are others having issues?

Normal service will be resumed soon ~ I hope!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

It's not over yet

Saturday at London Pride was simply fantastic, or should that be fabulous?   After enjoying the parade we headed for our regular refuge at the end of this event, "The Tattersall Castle", Beer is outrageously expensive but with sharp elbows we can usually get a seat and it's not too crowded. several beers later I headed for home, happy, relaxed, and tired, I didn't feel it was too late when I got home so I popped some dinner in the oven, switched on the TV and sat down while it cooked.   Several hours later I woke up on the sofa to find charcoal in the oven!

The following Sunday I played with my wonderful Croydon Symphonic Band, in Dorking, then this weekend we have had both Croydon Pridefest and a another concert, this time in my local park.

Pridefest was amazing! So many people, so much love, so much talking, so much booze.   As chair, on the day I had to lead the parade and then make a short(ish) speech from the stage.   It was also a great pleasure to talk  to all the stall holders, and all the groups who were marching.



And it's not over yet, next Saturday is Trans Pride in Brighton, and then on the Sunday I am playing with the Linden Wind Orchestra in Sunbury.

With all this rather frantic activity I trust you will forgive my absence from the Blog, I do regret it. But, I regret more that this all means that it feels like a very long time since I've been able to attend Church on a Sunday.   I know that it is possible to be a Christian and not attend Church, but it's very hard, and I do miss it.   I miss the people, I miss the service, and I miss the discipline.   I am looking forward to having a free weekend (if I don't have to drive to Cornwall) soon and I am very much looking forward to being able to attend a regular service again.

Monday, 10 July 2017

What a Weekend

WOW! That was some weekend. Saturday was London Pride and I was there, along with other members of TransPALS and my Daughter. We had a great day out, and thoroughly enjoyed the love from the crowd. It was my Daughter's first Pride event and she was totally blown away by it.






I think you can tell that I was enjoying myself.   I think the whole group was, so much love, so much appreciation.

Now I can't wait for next Saturday and the equally wonderful if somewhat smaller Croydon Pride Fest

All photos by my good friend the amazing Patricia Curtis.

Friday, 7 July 2017

This and That

Saturday's concert went well, the hall was virtually full, the audience were responsive and though I say it myself we played extraordinarily well.   I have just listened to a "first cut" recording of a small part of it and I have to say that it does sound pretty fab, as soon as I have a recording available I will share it.

St John's Smith Square is a great place to play and since we did fill it we may have a problem looming as to how we fit all of our audience in for our next concert, these are the sort of problems we like to have.

On Sunday I have another concert, this will be with my own band the Croydon Symphonic Band, we will be playing in Dorking for the Vaughan Williams society, for us this is quite a prestigious event and we have struggled to fill one or two vital seats so we will all be quite pleased when we actually get to the point of playing. This is another group that plays in all black, I came up with an idea for something I could wear, but our Alto Sax player wasn't too keen. ~ Although to be honest I don't think I really have the waist line for this.

But of course, before all that I do have another event coming, London Pride, last year I played with the London Gay Symphonic Winds at the front of the parade, this year I will be walking with my own special group of friends from TransPALS.   All this after quite a busy week of work and meetings, although most of the work for Croydon Pridefest is being shouldered by better people than me, as Chair I do have to go to receptions and drink tax payers wine ~ It's a hard life.

At London City Hall for a Mayor's reception with my friend Rebecca

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Concert Dress XV

Tomorrow is the 21st anniversary concert of the LGSO, this is a very special occasion for a very special orchestra.   We have all been practising hard (haven't we lads!) and tickets are selling well, so it all looks like being quite a gala occasion.

We have been given a slightly enhanced dress code for this one,  a little smarter than usual. We're saying all black, no jeans, no tshirts, no trainers and definitely black socks please! We'll be on the raised platform so we need to look great as well as sound great. Well I may well not be wearing socks, but how do I improve on perfect?

After much consideration I have decided that this is a special night, and warrants a special dress, or maybe that should be THE special dress.   I bought this back in 2013 and have only had a couple of occasions to wear it since, and one was for a photo session!

It is a pretty spectacular gown, but is almost totally backless, so I could only wear it with the application of adhesive and artificial aids.   Indeed during the course of the photo session (just after Pride if I remember correctly, and certainly before I was fully out) the warmth from the lights induced a bit of a glow, which led to the failure of the adhesive and the gentle descent of the artificial aid!

Thanks to the HRT I think I can now manage without added assistance, so I plan to finally live up to my cover girl billing, and be Fabulous darling!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Wise?

Before
I sometimes wonder if I am being wise, for the vast majority of my life I have been culturally rather conservative.   I tend to eat European food, I dress (or at least I did dress) in a pretty ordinary slightly conservative manner, suits, smart casual, a bit preppy a little like James May, but with better trousers.

During

Likewise my hair has tended to the ordinary as well, I suppose I just didn't want to stand out, so what has come over me now I am getting older?   When I was in my twenties I was accused of being middle aged, now I am rapidly leaving middle age I have suddenly become adventurous and apparently fashionable as well!

As I left the flat this morning I was thinking that my daughter would hate my outfit, pink top, pink loafer type shoes, denim min skirt and denim jacket.   My daughter hates double denim, but I was twice complimented on the outfit, and was told that double denim is now very much in!

Today I had my hair coloured, I have been blond for a while now, and am quite used to a blond looking back at me from the mirror, but today I went for something a little special, at least in part in honor of Pride month and Sunday's LGSO Concert. 

I think that Courtney from the Rush Senior Academy has done a fabulous job, and also given me one of the best blow dries I have yet had! I just hope I still like it in the morning!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Still Busy

July is going to be a hectic month, I have Gigs planned every weekend, two this weekend and then one on each of the other three, there are also three Pride events that I will be attending. The big one in London, Trans Pride in Brighton and of course my local one in Croydon.

A while back I mentioned that I was going to be busy with Croydon Pridefest, well I was right I am busy with it! This is only the second year, but last year was such a success that it was decided to make Croydon Pride both a Company and a registered charity.  I am now the Chair of that organisation, and although there are lots of people helping I do have to do a bit more than just be a figure head (although that's the bit I'm good at!)

I have several more meetings to go to and loads more e-mails to deal with before the big day in a couple of weeks, then I should be able to sit back and enjoy the party ~ until I have to play a concert the next day with a hang over!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Just Another Reason

I apologise for my recent absence, it's my usual problem of trying to do slightly more stuff than I have time for.   In my life the stress comes not from what I do, but from what I fail to do.

But enough of all that, I have a concert coming up!

Rather a special concert!

It is the LGSO's 21st Birthday concert, we are not only celebrating 21 years of our existence, we are also celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation in the UK of gay relations between men. We have commissioned a new piece "Natural Behaviour"  from the well regarded contemporary composer Michael Finnissy.   We will also be playing Stravinsky's Firebird and Rachmaninov's second symphony.   All this at St John's Smith Square, Great Music, Great Hall, Great Orchestra, what more could you want?

OK so you want some hunky men as well? I think we can help!


Friday, 9 June 2017

Remember Gerald Ford?

I may not have been wise, but I have just stayed up all night watching the election results, it was quite a night, but with no definite conclusion. Labour did better than expected, the Tories and the Scottish Nationalists did worse, but the Tories still have the most MPs even though not enough for a majority.

So after all the campaigning, all the mud slinging, and all the punditry we have very few real conclusions. Jeremy Corbin's position is probably  more secure and Teresa May's less. SNP and UKIP will now be playing a different game while the LibDems will have mixed feelings. But rather than a conclusion this is now the start, the start of some pretty serious negotiations between party leaders, and MPs.   Who will be our next Prime Minister? who knows?

It certainly seems as though Teresa May called this election to increase her majority, give her a strong mandate for a "Hard Brexit" and has been rejected by the electorate.  There is now a big question over whether her own party will allow her to continue or will she be forced out.  

For those of us who watch politics then next few days will be interesting, certainly the MPs from Northern Ireland will prove crucial to any party trying to form a Government.

But for me the best news, a decent turn out and lots of young people have been voting ~ maybe they have been reading my Paula's Place

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Today's the day

I am quite sure you all have a pretty good idea about my politics, I have made no secret of them, I am definitely of the progressive school.   I have actually had to make quite a hard decision as to who is going to get my vote, as the three parties all have policies that appeal to me, I am particularly attached to the Green Party's policy of trialing a universal income. Likewise I am very attracted to the LibDems Policy of a Ratification Referendum, in the end I have made my decision on the basis of both the local situation and the wider political climate.   That is my decision, yours may very well be different, but unless you vote it simply won't matter.

I mentioned before that people died so that we could vote, I don't just mean the service men and women who have served in wars protecting our freedoms, I also mean the campaigners throughout the years who forced changes to our laws leading to universal suffrage, the Suffragettes campaigning, imprisoned and inhumanly treated as they campaigned for women to have a vote.   Reformers who were imprisoned or killed before forcing the great reform act allowing all men to vote.   Democracy (even one as scant as ours) is not a God given gift, it is a hard fought for privilege!    USE IT

I am about to go out and cast my vote, the mpre3 of us who do that more likely we are to have a Parliament that represents us, don't use your vote and you will not be represented, you will have no right to complain, and you will be dishonoring all of those who fought so hard to give you that vote as a right.

As a general rule we don't get many opportunities to exercise control over our governance, today is one of those days, we can change how we are governed, or indeed we can choose not to, but it is up to us all to make that choice.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Geting Ready

Whilst the last couple of days have presented a bit of a hiatus in the weather it is undeniable that Summer is here.   Temperatures are regularly in the twenties, the days are long and the evenings light.   Skirts and trousers are both short and sweaters are consigned to the wardrobe.   

I have at last taken to working in shorts and vest tops rather than jeans and sweaters, and it's nice!   Of course that does mean that there are some aspects of my appearance that require a little more attention than when I am more covered...............

I have also been through my wardrobe and realised that quite a few of my summer clothes are a little snugger than I would really like, leaving me the choice of trying lose some weight or buying some new clothes.   Since I have an aversion to spending money I will be trying to lose some weight.

Ideally I would like to be below 12 stone (168 lbs) which means shedding a little over half a stone.   It would be really nice if I could do this before all the Prides start in July, especially the Croydon Pride Fest on the 15th July as I will be playing quite big role in it this year.

Looks like I may have to try to find some self control!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Fear and Loathing; Then and Now

Inspired by a recent post by Hanna, my friend from Minnesota, who posted on her Blog an article about the fear experienced by many cross dressers.  There is an almost universal fear amongst cross dressers that they will be found out, this can lead to all sorts of subterfuge, lots of lying, and on occasion some pretty unsafe behaviour.   The secrecy can lead to snatched moments of release, lone walks in dangerous dark alleys, moments in strange bars inappropriately dressed, lone drives which are fine until the car breaks down or the Police stop you!

Then, the first photo on this Blog back in August 2011
Once I realised the dangers of these sort of outings I quickly stopped, sticking to planed days out with friends or in populous spaces, like galleries, but maybe on days like this when the rain pours down and work would be impossible I might wait until the family had all gone out and then get changed, sneak out the back door and go off on an adventure.   I will admit that the subterfuge was a bit exciting, and truly made these outings adventures, indeed one of the things I did worry about before going "full time" was that in losing that excitement I would lose the whole point.   Mercifully that was not the case.

And now
Of course at first I was still frightened of being caught, indeed I was frightened of being caught not just in my cross dressing, but in everything I did.  I always had the scared feeling at the back of mind that I one day I would be "found out".  Whether it was playing music, chairing meetings, leading Bible studies or whatever, I always had this feeling that somebody would notice I wasn't meant to be doing it! So with the cross dressing I was really insecure.   It was only when I stopped cross dressing and started to transition that I began to find fuller confidence in everything else I did as well.   I still get nervous before I perform, but I no longer worry that I will be "found out", and thrown off the stage as they send for a real musician.

Maybe we should all ask ourselves why we are trying to hide?, what actually would happen if we were more public? would the sky fall in? would we lose our jobs? would we lose our family?
Once I started to be honest about this one thing in my life I stopped fearing everything else, and guess what, I am a much better me, and everybody seems to recognise that.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Boot Camp

I have a problem with boots.

I like a nice pair of boots as much as the next girl, well possibly a bit more. A quick count tells me that as well as 28 pairs of shoes I now have fourteen pairs of boots!   There are the lovely black leather boots with the three and a half inch stiletto to the Bike Boots and the other pairs that I can actually walk in.   I have a nice pair of black patent knee high flats that I think I may have only worn once, three pairs of knee boots with mid heels that I more or less live in all winter, apart from when I am wearing my over the knee flats.



There are also a couple of pairs of classy ankle boots, both mid heel, one pair black and one pair brown; a pair of walking boots; a pair of Converse leather "Paddock Boots" and a couple of pairs of wellies.   All of these are good (apart from one favorite pair of black "slouch boots" which are on their way out as the soles are starting to lose their patience with the uppers and are considering separation), with the change in weather I shan't be wearing them as much and I think I should get another few seasons out of most of them.  No, my problem is with the more important boots, the ones I wear almost every day.



By the nature of my work I spend most of my working life wearing work boots, not very elegant, but comfortable and practical ~ after all a fork or chainsaw through the foot would do nothing for my image.   Generally I go for the type with a steel plate in the sole as well as the steel toecap, to get protection from both above and below, on some of my more sloping gardens a bit of ankle support is welcome as well!

Again, I have a couple of pairs, only this week both seem to have pretty much given up the ghost, and now I have to go and find some new ones ~ this is the one form of shoe shopping that I don't find fun, on the whole I prefer Russell and Bromley to Screwfix but needs must.   I always wear out the leather on the toe of my left boot because of the way I kneel when weeding, but this week, half the heel feel of one boot, and the sole split on one of the other pair. Now I have no choice, new boots needed.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Sad

I had a post prepared to publish today, a nice cheerful slightly jokey post, the type I like, but somehow after last night it just doesn't seem appropriate anymore.

Last night I was on a Daughter Date, the only type, but also definitely the best type, of date I get these days.   We had a pizza and then went see Wonder Woman, we both enjoyed the film, despite some slightly dodgy accents and some serious racial stereotyping it was a fun film, with some serious underlying points on equality, the nature of good and evil, and individual responsibility.   All this along with some "Kick Ass" moves, great special effects, and more than enough eye candy to satisfy everybody.

Then after getting home I switched on the telly while I had a quick night cap to be confronted by the awful news London.

Once again I was confronted by the nature of good and evil, man's inhumanity to man, and even some racial stereotyping.   Only this time it was not part of a knock about fantasy, this was real, a few men so corrupted in their believes that they felt obliged to go out to kill and maim others, others whom they had no previous contact or knowledge of.

I cannot begin to understand what makes a man hate so much that they will undertake this sort of action, what drives people to declare war on whole civilisations, but to effect that war on individual civilians.   What I do understand is that this is a war that cannot be won with violence and counter terror activities alone.   I do not know how an ideology can be defeated,  but I do know that as a Christian I have to start, and end with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not to say the offence did not happen, it is not to say that the offence did not matter, and it is certainly not to say that the offence did not hurt and it is not to deny that the offense deserves punishment.  Forgiveness is to acknowledge the hurt and the pain, it is to recognise the offence, but to not hate the offender, indeed as Christians we are to show our enemies love.   At times like this it can be really hard, it would be so much easier to be like Wonder Woman and go out and kick some ass, but that is not Christ's way, we must show love to the offender as well as the victim ~ after all Christ defeated death and sin through love, not with a sword, but on a cross.