Thursday, 28 May 2009

PARTY GIRL

My beloved is practicing her out of tune tractor pulling load up steep hill impersonation in her sleep!

We are doing “bed and Breakfast” for an old family friend who has driven 450 miles to collect his daughter and estate car full of clothes at the end of her university year. I think she is majoring in Party-going and Shopping and poor( soon to be very poor ) father is spending his retirement servicing two very expensive girls at university. Luckily only one is trying to live with the super rich set. A black american express card was mentioned, I am the only one not to have heard of such a thing, perhaps based on the colour of a magic wand. Her friends may have these things, Al just has the taste for one.

Jamie took us out to an award winning Thai restaurant to thank us for the many time he has had t stay with us to save money to keep his cuckoo in the manner in which she wants to live! Completely changed my opinion of Thai food. Now I really would like to visit the country ( obvious double meaning! ). Al who always has a cleavage to her ankles and may have drawn attention to our table, that is my job, decided extra time was necessary to prepare for her party that night, can’t blame the poor thing, a night out with old folks can’t be much fun and could completely ruin your credibility. She does need a more credible excuse, how long does it take to put on almost nothing?

Off to the big city this afternoon, a friend is having a book launch. For this I will find some money, us oldies have to show the quality standards to the new generation and need all the support they can get, we are even dragging along someone fresh off the operating table for cataract removal! Enjoy life while you can, you will start to fall apart.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

SCOTTISH NATIONAL DRESS



I live in a country where the National Dress for guys is a skirt.

All those years when I was with beard I could have worn a kilt.

NO NO NO NO, a more butch outfit does not exist.

Click to find out why!

Monday, 25 May 2009

HALF A LIFETIME

Being free of the treadmill of the factory which had given very little free time to myself for about seven years was pure joy.

Homelessness gave me the freedom to wander about visiting family and friends but the orbit of my travels often included Julie who I had got close to after my Gallery exhibition. She had started to corrupt me away from my ascetic ways, after teaching me that wine was not just for giving headaches but could be enjoyable, food could be more than just fuel (cooking for one is not fun), and finally I was taught to drink coffee. The reward for passing this course was a week together in Paris in May with the chestnut trees in flower, this is probably the trigger which caused me to shatter my old life.

In the spring we drove together through Europe to Greece for a month and we were not too long back when her sister got married deep in rural France, two unforgettable weeks, I was starting to enjoy the gypsy life. Meanwhile Julie was deciding that she really wanted us to be together. She had returned to the old family home when she started a new job nearby, this helped her mother with the running costs of the house which was getting too much to look after. They knew how useful I could be repairing almost anything so encouraged me to spend ever more time there until I just seemed to have moved in! Nobody would ever describe our household as conventional, more like a small commune. There was more than enough work to repair house and garden much neglected while the mother worked on her pottery. A “five year plan” was started and sorry to say after nearly thirty years is not yet finished, natures depredations are always just ahead of me while running costs often left little money for repairs but we hang on, just.

A year after Julie’s sister’s wedding conversations kept coming round to our long term relationship. Many arguments were put forward, embarrassment in her professional life when receiving invitations was foremost. I had never wanted to enter a marriage which from my point of view went against everything I had ever stood for and from the standpoint of someone with my gender outlook was absurd. At this time income tax was 33%! My income was zero but it was pointed out that by signing the contract the government would allow me to give my personal and the married couples allowances to Julie and we would save more than enough for me to be fed and clothed with money left over!

At this point in my life I had given up any hope of ever having enough saved to deal with my gender problem and had no means of supporting myself if I did. My life in our little commune was quite comfortable and was very quiet on the edge of civilization. Eventually I gave in and accepted the proposal.

Since it was a private contract we decided to sneak off for a quiet civil ceremony with witnesses found at the last moment only letting the knowledge out at some latter date in a matter of fact way. If Julie had not been grinning so much at this victory her cousin would never have guessed and started to interfere. Now it was a huge affaire, cousin and mother got to join us as the witnesses with the consolation of lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant to follow. I wore off white, this was after all technically a lesbian event I could hardly be expected to start presenting in a conventional male mode. The birthday party later that evening was a big surprise for a lot of people when halfway through Julie’s mother proposed a toast to the happy couple.

The government must have to wind of what we did because the rules on allowances quickly eroded and are now all gone!

We have been together now for nearly thirty years. There has been enough to keep me occupied with occasional work photographing artists work for books and catalogues and exhibiting my own work. I have fallen out of normal society and since presenting as male has never been an option I would have considered a conventional job was always going to be out of the question. My life as a semi hermit has been as much as I could have hoped for.

Until the turn of the century living in my gender limbo was all that I thought I could do but times change and transitioned people started to become more regularly seen by the general public and were reasonably well accepted, who would have guessed that this could happen! Now there was an ache to become more visible. Two totally unconnected things happened, laser hair removal was invented making beard removal feasible and in Afghanistan the Taliban both terrorised women who did something as simple as paint their nails then they demolished the cliff carved Buddhas of Bamyan in March 2001.

My passport photograph is of a sad looking Taliban terrorist!

I started to paint my nails again and found someone who did IPL hair removal and started to spend “all” my disposable income for years to come. Testicles have been jettisoned and the lack of testosterone has left me with a calmness I never dreamed possible. All self destructive thoughts which were such a constant part of the old life stopped instantly the T stopped. That was only forty years of waiting!! From first asking for help.

It is said that it is easier to pass as you get older and that does seem to be what is happening though I am not trying to present as passable female, too large and too ugly to ever blend in but have no problem being “myself”. I can’t remember the last time I bought any clothing specifically male, the easy days of unisex fashions are sorely missed…

Nobody has ever openly confronted me with the “question” though it is obvious that many do not feel they have to ask.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

ENTERPRISE

After last weeks failed mission the navigational computer was reprogrammed and an intercept course plotted for an intercept with “The Enterprise”. This time we were successful as were many others of our generation!

The new CGI is much better than the original CGI ( cardboard generated imagery ). Clearly if we read this correctly soon after this prequel Starfleet goes for a “retro” look for the refit of the fleet just as designers from out stardate hark back to periods like “art Deco”, they even got rid of the thought operated turbo lifts seen in the new film and reverted to the old fashioned voice operated lifts and woosh sounding doors. They were already experimenting with retro Dan Dare ray guns but must have found it a bit too much “wild west”. Lens flare is going to come back into fashion, who would have ever have bet on that?

As a Kid back in ’67 I was only ever identifying with two characters, Uhura and Spock. Obviously I wanted to be Uhura but admired Spock’s logic and especially absolute control over “his” emotions, Spock was nearly as good at this as I was! Now I find they were an “Item” and poor Spock all “transspecies” about it and leaves himself open for a lifetime of regret. Well that was the movie I saw.

Since the sixties CGI effects have moved on by about the same amount as recognition and treatment of gender issues, absolutely rubbish back then but we put up with it because there was no choice but look how wizzy and slick it can be now, great if you are entering the system now but at the age we were back then.

Pause for wave of mixed emotions.

Imagine if Startrek had been like this back in the “60s, wow.

Imagine if we had not been trapped by a mad system...

Saturday, 16 May 2009

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Week passed in a flash, probably because I have been so busy which is strange for someone who has spent several decades in quiet seclusion.

Yesterday was to be interesting because we were to get a visit from Julie’s school friend and husband not seen since 1974 when she stayed with them when writing a dissertation on some of the collection at their local museum. They had never met me before so I made an effort and took off the black chipped nail varnish only to be told to put on something interesting! Bright orange was suggested but in the end something which picked up one of the colours in my velour top seemed a more subtle choice so lilac / purple it was.

Lunch was to be cold and ready to maximise chat time but first part had to be cooked, shame that we had our gas cut off with no warning! All the pots and pans were carried to a neighbour’s house where Julie was able to cook all the stuff she had prepared. The road behind the house had been being dug up all week and there was no record that we received our supply from that pipe. In fairly gorgeous to impress visitors mode (matter of opinion ) I went out to confront the team of five burly workmen. Had to go through the routine of “not possible to finally OH ****!”. With full macho bluster they attempted to find the supply pipe and told me how they would have have to devastate my garden so that they would be able to get home for the weekend. When I kept pointing out, with beautiful long delicate purple tipped finger an impossible to them route to find the pipe they told me in a frank way how “silly” I was and they would dig a hole to prove me wrong.

Much embarrassment on their part when the pipe was exactly where I said it would be but from that moment we joined forces to solve the problem so as to cause minimum disturbance then left them to get on with it so that I could meet our guests. They were a great couple, you would not have known that it was so long since Carol and Julie had been together. As usual the Partner, husband in this case , has to be entertained by me. This one was totally unfazed and we got on well, A retired university lecturer on telecommunications with an even worse mobile phone than me!

Halfway through lunch a huge industrial drill rattled a hole through the wall from the dining room where we were still eating, this is where having a laid-back bohemian lifestyle comes in handy, everyone is being greatly amused by the whole performance and the guys are enjoying working in a garden after a week in the road. They take for ever so we leave them to it and go off to see my exhibition which is about 24 miles away, tell them my neighbour will close up the house when they finish. Could grow something in the soil they trailed through the house and failed to clean up, I did tell them not to worry too much but to concentrate on getting some gas back in the pipe but…

The show is getting quite a few visitors, a great arts spread in the local press for the middle weekend came to nothing when a local once world leader company closed and the story took over the whole paper. I had very little hope or expectation for sales in the present gloomy economic climate so was more than delighted to find quite a lot of red spots about the room and still a few who had shown strong interest who on past experience may still come back. Julie now thinks she is going to spend her retirement making us some money by being my manager / agent, not too sure about this.

Movies for the first time in an age. I wanted to continue to go where no *** had been before, first saw Startrek in '67 when in Canada, why stop now? Somehow flung back to '76 with "Frost, Nixon" instead.

Mid week saw the theatre show start to come together. Some work was delivered at the small cost of an omelette for lunch, one helped for an afternoon making frames since he required some long narrow frames for multiple images. A couple of visits for collection were made which is just socialising. At the last visit I told Jackie about my previous pick up when Julie came along for a free lunch, these guys were together in a group of photographers who broke up nearly 20 years ago and have seen little of each other since, I said that at about the stage when we had all sat down Julie asked if they had noticed any change in me, much look of puzzlement and they decided that my face was a little fatter, Jackie starts to look nervous as she tries to think about changes, “ what about the lack of beard?”. So the beard which I hid behind for so long was invisible or they just saw straight through to the “me” beneath. These are all visual artists in different ways!

Not all good this week, there was the missed by inches encounter with a deer crossing from the woods, all I did was say “ hey look how graceful that deer moves”, talk about being relaxed these days.

That was a fun moment really but for a while I was back to a taste of gloom and despair moments after feeling joyous. There is only on warm place in this house and that is the bathroom in the mid to late mornings when the sun shines. Often I got here to read for a few hours of peace! I take a chair, don’t have to sit on the loo. Now that the body hair has changed to much finer it does not bother me so much and because of the hectic month just passed I had a fine covering and it was interesting to see how it grew. Julie wanted to go there and read while soaking her feet but did not say, when I go in I spent a lot of me time in the sunshine scraping and preening ending up feeling really great about myself. At this apogee of happiness with a voice of pure venom unheard in nearly thirty years I was told “ you still look like a bloke”, she had used one of the banned words which she knows I find so disgusting and hateful.

A day ruined while I flushed out the tear ducts in misery, she did not say anything I do not know, the ravages of nature and time are hard on the boy body and the changes are slow and subtle, felt more than seen. She has taken my changes in her stride and I know it is not easy, one reaction has been her attempt to be more feminine, one day when I woke very early and dressed in a long plain russet skirt and did things round the house for a few hours in peace and quiet until she woke. Seeing me she flounced off and returned in a “floral” skirt, she is hardly ever seen in any kind of skirt except at midsummer or a wedding.

Julie downstairs puzzling over "Drusilla".

We still have some way to go…

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Sunday, 10 May 2009

'BECOMING DRUSILLA'

Spent the day with Drusilla yesterday. The order went to Amazon ages ago then yesterday a box full of books arrived. It is not as if we don’t already have bookcases full of enough reading to last another lifetime but sometimes you just have to get a quick fix.

Drusilla kept being mentioned on my wandering round hyperspace and being written from a British perspective about someone close to my age It seemed fated.

Andy-Drew-Dru led a fairly chaotic life, the one fairly constant being slightly disorganised trips with a friend camping on long walks or cycling. When Dru came out her pal stuck with her and being a writer…

The book follows a trek through the Welsh hills to the coast while the writer questions Dru on her life and questions himself and his skepticism and prejudices. Someone gave him access to a small library of contemporary literature on the subject and the surreal process you have to follow in Britain, ( no support in Wales ). In many ways old fashioned in it’s pace which added to it’s appeal for me, then again this was always going to be one of those books where you are almost talking to it, shouting at it and crying along with it. Everyone has a different story but recognise waymarkers in others’ accounts similar to those in their personal hell.

Once opened the book stayed open except for food and other essentials till finished at half past midnight. Strangely this is the first book of a contemporary transition I have ever read. The classic accounts from the seventies by Jan Morris and April Ashley have been known for an eternity but before the web information was more easily obtained from the CIA or KGB than get information on gender issues at a library or book shop, little wonder that our Doctors are so ignorant and still mainly unhelpful.

At least you can now get through the system if you do not conform to the stereotype heterosexual super feminine type which you would have had to present in earlier times. Always good to read of someone’s success even if it leaves a residue of what must be jealousy and there is very little of anything else I have ever found to be jealous about.

Yesterday outside was foul, cold and heavy rain so a book was an ideal treat but now to garden will be even harder to control and I have been asked to curate an exhibition of photographs of local city life in the 80’s to accompany a new play at the local Repertory Theatre starting in a months time, tried to get out of it when they said there was no money but when I said it could not be done for less than £X paid up front they came back far too quickly. Obviously my pricing which was never high is nowhere up to date but I did ask for a pile of tickets for the people I am going to get work from but modern promises? We shall see. What happened to my quiet life?

Naturally my telephone, a design classic and therefore not cheap, croaked after fifteen years just when I need it most. I got writers cramp getting the captured 200 names and numbers out of the old machine before the battery finally died so in future when it asks me if I want to store the number I think a paper backup might be a good idea. The new phone sits across the room looking gorgeous in cherry red this time, asymmetrical curves of the handset intersecting a crisp brushed aluminium triangular base. Now I do sound mad droning on about a telephone but we need beauty in our lives.

Monday, 4 May 2009

A BLOG ON BLOGGER? OLDER POSTS FOUND BY LINK.

After a flat out hectic two months I am sitting here with no pressing commitments except perhaps to try and cure this terrible cough and sore throat. In the middle of the night it was so bad I could not sleep, what I did not know was that everyone else in the house had been woken by my hacking cough while sleeping!

My exhibition opened at the weekend with two previews, total seven hours of trying to chat and entertain. I played my part with hardly a cough but lost my voice by the end and am paying the price now. Docs back from their holiday tomorrow, I shall be on their doorstep before they open to get one of the few short notice slots, tried last week with no luck. Julie was so worried she lay there wondering what she would have to do to live in this old pile without me, nice to be wanted for something.

My sister and her husband visited from the south of England for the holiday weekend. There was a lot the two of us needed to talk about since we failed to meet at all last year, some things need a face to face meeting, in the end the whole time passed in a hectic whirl and we are going to have to debrief over the phone when she gets home. Shame my fabulous B & O phone after 14 faultless years refuses to talk to it’s base station. Dilemma of the age, do you pay a fortune to repair an old machine or put the money towards a new machine with up to date technology?

How can you afford t even think of a new phone after all your recent expenses I can hear recent readers say, well miracle of miracles sales have already covered the money I used from housekeeping to pay for framing costs to get the show up and running so all my apprehension was pointless. Someone wants two so will be back to see me in a few months time while yesterday I was stopped in the street and offered a direct swop by a much more expensive artist. Not a bad result considering half the population seems to have gone away on holiday and last time at this gallery most of the sales came after people had gone away to have a good think so fingers crossed. Julie is now even more convinced that she can sell my work by being my manager when she retires in the summer. What about my retirement?

My sister brought old family 8mm. movies in danger of damp stored in her attic space, included are some I made when I was a student. If sales permit I should have some off this transfered to digital and see if it was as good as thought it was. At the time I wanted to make a film unlike anything I had seen. Eventually I saw KOYAANISQATSI (a state of life which calls for another way of living,crazy life, life in turmoil, life disintegrating, life out of balance), and realised that I should not have abandoned film making after all. Along with the films were some really bad family holiday transparencies, the ones which had been edited out for the bin and lovingly treasured by parents. Since the good pick seems t have long been lost this is all that is left of that period. A crowd came for dinner last night to see my sister so I loaded 80 slides into a magazine and set up the old projector for a show after we had eaten. It has often been said that me and my sister would have made a good set of twins and these slides came as a surprise to most who have only ever known the two of us recently. That crushed heart feeling came with the realisation that by looking at my sister now, only three years younger than me, I can have a very good idea of what I could have looked like if I had got the help I sought thirty nine years ago instead of undergoing the ravages of testosterone. For a while this dented my usual present composure.

My thanks to Lisa for finding the “In Your Dreams” video, please pass it on.
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SAYS QUITE A LOT< ONLY IN FRENCH>


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