Sunday, 28 February 2010

Voice

I've been having trouble with my voice, lost all the high notes and sweetness and left with a deep hoarse rattley voice sometimes reducing to a hiss. After a couple of months waiting I got to see someone at ENT, a camera probe went up the nose and down to look at the vocal cords which fortunately were okay but the muscle structure was red and inflamed. It was a surprise to hear that I was being sent to a voice therapist but I guess they knew what they were doing.


Yesterday after another months wait I got to see a marvellous woman are one of our smaller local hospitals. She immediately realised why I was missing my voice, not much guyness left now.


After the previous appointment I had been told I had a silent reflux problem and was given a leaflet on the sort of things I should perhaps avoid. Now it was being explained to me just exactly what the problem is.


Any stomach reflux contains acid and enzymes, if the enzymes reach your vocal chords they find the perfect material to digests! This will make the vocal cords tighten and deepen the voice. She said a deep voice is not what I want! One reflux event will cause damage requiring three days to repair itself.


Naturally there is a huge list of things you should not do. Firstly you should not try to sleep on your right side which of course is a side I want to sleep on! Ideally you should sleep on the back with your head raised.


Certain things should be avoided in your diet like white wine, citrus fruits naturally a favourite of mine! And Coffee. All should be avoided for several hours before sleeping.


The one week I will try hard to follow this regime, thank goodness the Orange season is nearly over, then I get to see her again and she will take some measurements and give me some exercises to work on.


On the bright side she said the voice was within the female range as those much of my voice pattern and presentation and once the reflux is under control she should be able to help me with more and of the voice.


This is what I was really hoping for but could hardly expect, someone who is really sympathetic and not just wanting to get me out of the door. Think I may have landed on my feet this time!


Most of us probably hate the guy we were but here is an interesting perspective from someone who never fails to amaze.


YouTube - A Debt I Owe

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sleet

Yesterday was breast screening day, I know I haven't got much to screen yet but it wasn't me, this was Julie's appointment. Just as well to find out where to go since I'll have to find it myself one day, it was interesting being greeted with hello ladies! Something's starting to work.


The snow we were promised hasn't arrived. I was woken late by a knock on the front door, a sleet soaked friend stood there and once again been caught getting up late and opening the front door wearing my dressing gown and all my sparkly gold nails on show. Here was an artist in distress, the poor thing has had cataract operation and can hardly see a need to photograph of some work pronto. We had hardly sat down to chat when a girlfriend turned up too, I ushered her in and left the two of them chatting while I made coffee, it was mid-morning coffee time after all. They may not come back in a hurry, biscuits have been banned from the house for the next couple of months while we try to reduce our bumps.


It was interesting doing something approaching work for the first time in a couple of months. It's less than 100 yards to the artist's studio mirror was an interesting challenge to photograph something under reflective glass in less than ideal conditions but it didn't take long, all being well these images will torment airline passengers in the foreseeable future advertising the companies sponsorship of a charitable event. Why can't I do work were a real money is involved! Anyway had a good time and sat around drinking coffee and eating his biscuits and putting the world to rights until it was time for a late lunch. Life is hard.


Yesterday looking at the town from across the river you would have thought you were looking at a town in the Arctic. We were fearing that the promised snow would cling like fury to the frozen ground where the frost has been getting thicker day by day but now it's all washed away and we have our usual winter dirty greyness. Just the sort of thing I like to make going into the darkroom of pleasure.


I have stopped dancing in the dark room, might teach yourself French on the iPod just doesn't lead itself to dancing to. I found the French discs in the darkroom when I was tidying up, quite how they got here I don't know since I haven't had a disc player in here for years. With a bit of luck some of this basic French will stick in my head and I won't spend the first three weeks trying to get my ear in when I arrive. I have now heard all the dialogue about how to change money into French francs, these discs must be ancient.

Monday, 22 February 2010

ID


This is my driving licence, valid till 2021! It has a small imperfection on it where the police claimed I was speeding by capturing a radar reading before the speed limit sign! What can you do? Anyway, otherwise it is perfectly clean, well apart from the fact that it is a tatty rag!


A visitor was going to apply for a new photo license, we are really up to date now in the UK, but for some reason they left the form behind with just one box ticked. I would have to tick the same box and after my pantomime session at the passport office I have a sheet of reasonable non smiling pictures of me handy, just needed someone responsible to sign the back to say I am who I claim to be. Our local councillor and justice of the peace is a close neighbour and we have not seen her for a few weeks so I organised an impromptu lightweight supper party, we are all trying to control portion size so it was themed that way!


After the meal I fished out the form and the new snap. She filled in the form first with known this person for 28 years so they may believe her. Then she turns and looks me in the eye and asks if I am changing my name as well!! As I have said before it should be pretty obvious what is going on, just nobody has come out with a direct question yet. when the ay comes I am sure there will still be a good circle of friends left to keep me amused.


Now just have to grind through the gobbledygook on the form, who writes these things?


Sunday, 21 February 2010

A surprise.

The day started really miserable with a deep frost. Neither of us showed any enthusiasm for getting up, not much new there. We played sleepy puppies huddled together and for once instead of heading off into a deep coma we chatted. Not sure about what for much of the conversation but then my beloved came out with a random statement, “ I think you should try on some of my dresses, I think you would like some of them, especially the silk one “!


What do you say in reply to a statement like that except, “errrr, I do“, not the first proposal of hers I have answered that way!


I obliged by trying on the one she brought through and we discussed how it fitted, oops a wee bit tighter than usual round the middle!, like two friends trying to decide on a purchase in a shop, entirely normal!


Knowing how hard it is for many couples to come to terms with this sort of situation I almost feel guilty for having found so much acceptance. Sometimes like when out with friends for a meal she was pushing clues out as if trying to get this whole thing out in public and over with. My inner time table may find itself scrapped without warning, not that I shall complain.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pain and suffering

When it was first suggested that we get connected to the Internet I was highly resistant to the idea. I knew exactly what I was going to do with it if it was available and was unsure where it would lead. A lifetime of isolation that left me in a very strange dark place, but it was my dark place and that was the only place I knew. Finally I gave in and when we got connected with it was not long before I was searching the net the details of the subject which interested me, my friends thought I was searching for photography! Probably still do!


At first it was just nuts and bolts. Just trying to see how I fitted into the scheme of things, just trying to prove to myself that I had always been right and to see if there are any others like me out there. It took me a long time before I started to search out individuals and read their stories on their blogs. I certainly wasn't alone and as the months went on discovered all the things had felt and gone through has been similarly experienced in the by many more before. I felt bad about just reading the blogs and passing on, as much as I wanted to comment I just didn't feel justified and had no web presence with which to sign in. I had already spent many years slowly removing the all my facial hair and had long dressed only in women's clothes, but it was still just me saying to myself that nature had made a mistake. Finally I couldn't bear it any more, it wasn't right just to read the blogs and not join in. Without comments or dialogue they're just shouting into the dark and that's just as lonely as I had always been. My first comment was to someone called Caroline, what a curse, signed in as Carolinetoo and never looked back. I comment quite a lot, perhaps more than most, as I said before I think we need more dialogue, certainly more than we get on most blog posts. I just hope I don't comment too much!


Eventually I started a blog of my own but not until I had an orchiectomy and really felt I'd paid my dues to join the club. That procedure had not been as pain-free as I had hoped for, being originally botched and then having to be repaired as a weekend emergency. I didn't miss a heartbeat when asked for the final time if I was sure I wanted to commit myself to the operation and even knowing the pain I suffered I still would have said yes.


I thought that was as far as I would be able to go with surgery in my transition. Now the possibility of continuing to a future GRS operation has been dangled in front of me like carrot and I like carrots !


Blogs represent everything in life from the joyous to the depths of misery, just as my new options are offered the blogs I follow offer full descriptions of the pain and suffering possible after a GRS operation. Others are contemplating some of the many procedures which help us in our transition and are understandably apprehensive. Pain and suffering is bad enough when you have no choice but here we are asking for it! To outsiders it must seem crazy but it gives us a small chance to live something close to a real life, there is little choice and it's a very small price to pay. The descriptions of the pain and suffering are a salutary lesson that the choices are not ones to be taken lightly. Few of us are lucky enough to be able to afford these procedures or will live within countries and health systems which pay for some surgeries. To be one of the few who may benefit makes me immensely grateful and privileged, all my worrying was done long ago and my hand will not shake on the consent form signing. I lived too many miserable decades of suffering alone to make the pain of the surgery pale into insignificance. I'm not going to start counting chickens, there is still too far to go but just being offered a glimmer of a chance to end my days living the way I should have lived has raised my spirits immensely.


Until this possibility was offered I would have said that I was alright living the way I am and was comfortably resigned to that fact, only now being told that it's actually within reach and opened my mind to the possibility do I fully realise just how much it would mean.


In this topsy-turvy world we live in the powers that be have paid no attention to all the research which has shown the amazing cost effectiveness of the surgeries helping members of the trans.a community lead productive lives, it is just a shame that this opportunity has arisen four decades after I first sought help. That is all passed, all I can live now is the future, it is a strange new experience for me looking forward and I'm starting to enjoy it.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


Snow drops are better than snow. This is the sign to tidy the garden for the new growth, all good exercise.

I was needed to help with something downstairs, I could hear a name being called but the brain was slow to react. It was not the name which makes me jump, it was a softer sound, oh heck, that's my name too!

Lost for words.

Friday, 12 February 2010

A grand day out.

I've just had another day out and about by myself. At least once I had dropped Julie off at the hospital where she was having a checkup following her breast cancer. They said everything was fine and did not want to see her again so she breathed a sigh of relief that she can finally put this behind her. Normally I would have held her hand through this as I have done with all the other appointment she has attended over the last 10 years but on this day I had my own appointment nearly 100 miles away on the other coast.


Unlike last time this was a glorious day for a drive in the country with the low sun catching the new growth in the fields and the snow etching the mountain tops nearby and glowing startlingly white on the high tops of the Highlands in the distance. I think the roads department is trying for the largest roadworks in Europe award and have a strictly controlled 40 mph limit with cameras working out your average speed every few miles and there seemed to be about 15 to 20 miles of road works, can't tell for sure, I just watched the speedometer the whole way.


Clearly I have not been visiting Glasgow very often these past few years since the gallery I visited had moved venues twice since I was last here! A whole building has been carved out and rebuilt as a modern complex housing a print making studio, several galleries and workshops and a photographic gallery, the latest incarnation of one which has been around for over 20 years. The work on show was okay if not quite up to my standard! I have to admit I was looking more at the walls and how good they would look with certain projects have in mind, perhaps I have retired from the clerk after all.


All my knowledge of the city is now useless, there is so much newbuild and concrete roads flying all over the place that it was a real challenge to use my instinct to find the place where I wanted to be, I found myself grateful to have arrived 15 minutes early. Would have been happier if I had not ripped of a large part of my gilded thumb nail tying my coat belt and not being able to fix it in any way, the girl one the first floor reception did not have any nail polish at all, what is the world coming too?


I settled down for the wait, got out the new iPod and selected Nicky singing “all along the watchtower”, five seconds in I heard a strange name being called out, though it was mine it was not the one I usually hear!


So here I am experiencing part two of the process, and facing someone else who has to decide whether I'm crazy or not. This is quite a different approach more like a chat about anything and everything, strange talking about myself and the even stranger life lived. He says that's all in the past and what is important is the future which luckily coincides with my present attitude. He took my blood pressure which hardly surprisingly was a little high then we chatted about health issues in general and that seemed to go okay. Then he said they would have to do some blood work to get some base levels. The at this point he saw something he had never seen before as I handed him the results he desired. Some time ago I told my general practitioner that the first thing they would ask for was bloodwork which would just waste time and set me back a month or two so we got in first and I even took my own hardcopy because they were sure to lose copy which had been sent! I think he said something, Pituitary gland, is desperately trying to make my testicles produce testosterone and strangely that doesn't seem to be working! What you need is some sticky patches he says, they would sort out a few things, he would just nip off and get a consent form! We went through the form when he returned, he had to make sure that I understood that the sticky patches that have various effects some quite good and some possibly bad. One said I might get erectile dysfunction, well think we can ignore that one. Libido could be decreased, less than Zero is going to be difficult! You can get a blood clot and die or have a stroke so best to keep up with the blood tests. Weight gain can be a problem but not guaranteed, this is going to save quite a bit on the food bill and I'm going to have to start being more active. Living at Julie's pace since her retirement has not been very good for my waistline, what waistline? Now that I'm not anxious about getting into the system, and well and truly in the system now, I'm not likely to be doing any comfort eating whilst worrying about appointments and where they're going to lead. Finally we come to the bit where he tells me I'm likely to get the redistribution and breast growth, no objections here!


No he didn't give me a box to take away with me, said he would write to my GP but not to hold my breath since this might take a couple of week's, they must still use quill pens to write the letters and a Stagecoach to do the deliveries. Oh well have waited over 40 years the couple more weeks should not hurt. The first three months is going to be on a low dose so I don't expect there to be any real change by the time I'm out in France, shame really that would've been fun, but they will convince people I’m serious and might have saved me the bother of explaining what's going on!


I asked about their system for dealing with surgery and the problems of dealing with the centre 500 miles away. I had visions of traveling all that way for a half-hour appointment in the run-up to any surgery but it seems I don't have to worry about that since the surgeon makes several trips a year to Scotland to see prospective victim's. I have now been officially declared not crazy by two people and this one sees no reason why I shouldn't follow this the whole way through they so desire. He wants to see me again in May before I depart for France to see how I'm getting on, next few months are going to be interesting. He claims they will stay stuck on when I go for a swim, that's a relief!



I thought I'd totally come to terms with the situation until I left the clinic and found myself walking back through the park to my car walking on air! It was a beautiful sunny day albeit freezing cold with birds walking on the ponds, I felt so alive and invincible.


To mark this moment and use the available time I had left in Glasgow I decided to try and have my passport upgraded at the National passport office with the farcical results I already posted.


I rescued the car from the multi-story car park and managed to find my way out of town heading east. The evening light was glorious as I headed through the roadworks. Once clear the traffic speeded up rather drift along I have to admit feeling so good as I joined quicker traffic and started to enjoy the drive as the sky lit up with the setting sun.


The journey continues...



Thursday, 11 February 2010

Am I who I say I am?

Yesterday I just happen to have some free time when I was going to be passing the National passport office and I thought I would take the opportunity to see if I could have my old passport renewed replacing the picture of the terrorist with something more appropriate and pretty.


At first I missed the building because it's just a great bunker with no sign of an entrance, but if you look deeply into the dark passageway there is a sign to the passport office. The walk round the enormous city block at least gave me some much needed exercise. I had heard rumours that the queues here would be enormous and thought that would help me find the place, my map did not quite reach this part of town and I was trying to remember what I had seen on the screen the night before. At the entrance the security was more intense than an airport and three guards had to check that I was not there to blow the place up. Once in I was directed to the reception where three people awaited me and one listend to my story, and seeing the picture on my old passport she then got agitated and said she didn't think they could do the exchange without somebody signing the back of the photograph to prove who I was despite the fact that I was standing in front of her,the real me and the old fake me in the passport to compare it with!


She told me that I could fill in the form and check with one of the clerks at the desks so I took the form over to the window to complete it then went and took a photograph in their booth. I know it's ridiculous doing what I do and not having a photograph which fits their regulations for shape, size, colour, ears showing, not smiling, (I smile now!) etc.


There are about 10 clerks positions and a huge waiting-room. Do you think I had to wait long? No! I was the only person in the building so I walked straight up to the first window and told my story again. It seems this office it was far too popular in the past so they increase the fee by 50% for personal visit over the cost of a postal application and 100% if you are in a real hurry and need are it within four hours.


Oh you've changed a lot he said! But can you see that it's the same person underneath I ask, oh yes they reply but we can't accept the fact that you changed so much. So it seems they can't accept the evidence of their own eyes and are quite happy to accept a signed declaration by somebody they never met that somebody who has completely changed their appearance is who they say they are.


At least I have a photograph which has been accepted as me, I don't look like I just robbed a bank and just been photographed by police as so many passport photographs look and I certainly don't look like the terrorist on the old passport and I will have saved nearly £40 by posting in the application!


I'm a little puzzled as to the economics of keeping this bunker open, they used to deal with the several hundred people a day when busy now it is just a job creation scheme for a small crowd of very bored people, I thought they would deal with me just for something to do, just to prove that they did something for their money!


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

This one goes on for ever, you may want to give it a miss.

This post was started some time ago but I have left it as written.
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It’s over a week since our trip to Glasgow and that strange interview I had. The result of what had been said has had some strange repercussions as we try to come to grips with it.

Until last week we more or less knew where we stood, for many years I have been making the move from the middle ground towards the feminine, a glacial rate of change which most people don’t think of or realise is happening.

When I had my orchiectomy 15 months ago it seems quite obvious to me that I would become a patient in need of care, part of the care would be the prescription for HRT to counter some of the losses incurred by the lack of testosterone. Loss of bone density and hot flashes are the two problems which come after an orchiectomy, HRT is the obvious thing to prescribe, my local health service suggested testosterone!

Finally they have given up on me and diverted me to the other side of the country to a clinic in Glasgow. A well woman clinic! I gained a few pounds over Christmas and New Year but it was mainly due to worrying about what this appointment was going to be about, I suspected I was going to join the system which I had spent so many years trying to avoid, and as it turned out I was correct.

After an hour and a half interrogation by a psychiatrist I didn’t expect to hear him say that he would support me however far I chose to go with this process, a process which I had never expected would or could reach it’s ultimate conclusion. I thought many factors were against me, age for one, I’m now in my late 50s. My wife Julie has a slight disability which only gets worse with time, the downtime involved with surgery seems to be a problem which would have to be overcome, she is hardly likely to enjoy a role reversal of helper! Even though the health service here pays the costs of surgery there is a not inconsiderable cost involved attending all the appointments, the clinics involved are 500 miles away and one hospital where they do the surgery is on the south coast of England. Now that Julie is retired our finances are quite limited, this would be an interesting challenge in itself. Being a critic of the protocols followed by the British health system regarding access to genital reassignment, especially regarding having to convince two psychiatrists that you’re not crazy and the health service lack of support for any physical appearance changes to help blending into society stopped me following the conventional route. I still think much of the thinking is back to front but not as bad as back in the early 70’s.

Despite all my efforts I seem to have been suckered into the system anyway, and now that I’m in the process have decided to go with the flow, ultimately this may turn out my advantage, who knows. Julie came on the trip I made to Glasgow and her first question when we met up after my appointment was how did it go? Like me she didn’t know I was visiting a psychiatrist at this clinic and when I told her what he’d said she was at first a little bit surprised and shocked but their acceptance of my condition finally allows her to give her unconditional acceptance too. Finally she doesn’t think I’m completely crazy either and this is a great relief for both of us. If this has been as far as it had gone and the next appointment led to a prescription of HRT we would have both been quite happy for she has long accepted that I have to try this. This was our horizon and we were getting close to it, to suddenly find a further horizon we did not think existed Leaveing us wondering if we have the energy and resources to reach there.

This is no simple process, nothing done in my life of the previous four decades counts for anything, living in an apparently female life for many years is not convincing enough for them, you almost have to wonder about drawing attention to yourself to prove how serious you are and the minimum year-long countdown doesn’t start until they say so. I’ve never liked the waiting especially with medical things, I’ve put myself at risk in the past rather than be on a medical waiting lists with all the anxiety which it provokes. Their process is going to put me on another never ending waiting list, oh what joy! And I still feel like I want to look more the part before having to make a declaration to the world and change my name, then I have to spend at least a year pretending to be a natural born woman. If I had been prescribed HRT 15 months ago as I expected I probably would look a lot more like the real thing, a bit of the bulge at the front would go a long way to helping persuade people that you might be the real thing albeit quite tall and with a large feet! When asked if I was worried about such an operation in any way I mentioned the anxiety and tedium of the long wait but said I was prepared to sign a consent form there and then if there was a cancellation for the next day!

Ultimately it’s not really down to me, it’s down to us, which really means is down to Julie. She is the one who really has to come to terms with this. It is one thing to have to live with somebody who is ambiguously androgynous verging on female and who’ve long only worn female clothing and apart from practical repairs around the house does little that could be attributed to a male, it is quite another to actually declare to the world that your partner of over half a lifetime is actually something completely different to what they expected and have come to know and has changed their name and will be even more overtly female. This is a big declaration of somebody to have to make. She has many more friends and colleagues out there in the world ready to judge her than I do. She has the real worry that they will immediately think she’s lesbian which is not how she thinks of herself at all. She has grown to like my hair free body and modified curves which she enjoys stroking, this is more sensual than sexual, that she gave up long ago. Clearly she just expects people to jump to a conclusion which does not exist but prays heavy on her mind. Since she doesn’t mind me taking the HRT and has no objection to me having my ears pierced now, she is not too worried about me taking on the more womanly appearance, so how far is the leap from that acceptance to the total acceptance leading to the surgery?

Strangely she has never really questioned me about the name I have for my female self. Several times she has offhandedly asked me, rather than give a clear answer I tried to get a dialogue going by asking her to write down some of the names she thought would be suitable. Thinking she would do this I have been somewhat surprised to find that the list was never created. Suddenly after the Glasgow trip she brought up the subject again, this time she has a name to play with which is an adaptation of my old name which has used by a friend in France for several years! Somewhere in her thought processes is this possibility of a name change, this must count as a positive step forward in her thinking. I don’t like to press too hard as to where exactly this thinking has got and I know I’m going to have to ask eventually, she’s not always too forthcoming on her thoughts!

So far I’ve seen one psychiatrist who has shown support, this is just a small chink of light in the darkness. In a few weeks time I have a second appointment with their other doctor, no doubt they both have to agree. We had been more openly talking about the subject since a trip to Glasgow but we really need to get our position sorted before the next visit in case questions crop up and I need instant answers, I don’t think it would look good to be uncertain on various topics and it would be good to be able to report positive support from Julie. In many ways I know I’m lucky, we have never had children to upset the equation, I never wanted to bring children into the world which did not seem to be able to accept someone like me and was lucky enough to find somebody who both liked me and didn’t want children either. She knew I was strange when she took me on, just how strange she didn’t know but has been quite happy to accept. We are a symbiotic team and neither of us would gain anything, rather we would both loose a lot by not being together. We have been the closest of friends for decades now, all couples who’ve been together this long will have experienced changes in each other and probably adapted to them if they are still together, ours is just a rather extreme version of change.

I wish I could just fast wind forward for a year and look back on this with amusement. Sadly that’s not possible and we have to live through some strange months in the near future. At the moment I really have no idea which way this is going to go. I pray the HRT arrives soon and does its job. So will I have joined the Alice in Wonderland process leading to surgery? I don’t know, really this is not in my hands now, Julie has to decide, my vote is cast but that 50% doesn’t win!

January is always a waste of time once the New Year celebrations are over we get a month of misery, this year we had weeks of ice and nobody could move and numerous people just gave up and died, can you blame them? Others tried to get about and broke bones, accident and emergency was full of them. A cousin’s neighbour broke his arm but not being content with this or learning a lesson went for a walk on the ice and broke his neck! We sensibly stayed put and stayed warm and put on the lights because the days are just so gloomy. Now things are looking up the days are longer and occasionally sunny, it is still freezing cold but moving into February is when I start to feel we have a New Year and hope is reborn. Time to start new projects, we closed the door on the room with the plumbing problem which has saved a fortune on heating but it’s far too cold to work in there still, so that can wait. The highest priority is to lose the few pounds I have gained comfort eating worrying about these crazy appointments. A friend came to visit today who has a rowing machine which he keeps in his garage to collect dust. I had been thinking about giving him a call and offering to dust it off and make sure it worked for a couple of months, he just turns up and I immediately start to ask about machine and halfway through the sentence realised he doesn’t look quite portly, drat!, after all these years he has suddenly started to use it! Just going to have to go with nice long walks and if it is sunny generate a little bit of vitamins D to counter the sadness of these dark months.

The real project I have to get on with is my exhibition in France. I now realise I should have pretended that it was a close friend having an exhibition, then I wouldn’t have felt I needed to be quite so guarded about the details like the name of the photographer! I could have written about the project quite openly as it progresses but I still keep a little bit of invisibility. An old friend wants to start a business creating and maintaining websites, he has been a lecturer in computer programming for his whole career and now wants to create a small business which he can continue into his retirement. It is months now since he made the offer to do one for me as a showcase for his new business and is caused me to fall into an embarrassed silence. In my heart I know I should have one of these things and between us am sure we could come up with a good result, at least I think it would be technically sound. For many years I have been embarrassed by my old self and to see a site advertising my old name at this time would be heartbreaking. In many ways I see the French exhibition is a swan-song for my old self, so even a site just about the exhibition is going to be a bit embarrassing and I don’t feel I want to waste his talents on something that small which will hardly be a showcase for him anyway. Guess I’m going to have to try to make one for myself again like I did for my last show. I was questioned about whether I would be prepared to change my name when I saw the psychiatrist and mentioned the fact that I did still trade on the remnants of a reputation gained under the old name and did occasionally bring in some small income. I forget exactly what he said that it was along the lines of the name change possibly being a good thing for my reputation! They would take a name change as a definite start to their year test.

In my wakeful hours in the middle of the night I sometimes imagine a situation where a small crowd of close friends and family is celebrating with me the successful opening of my exhibition. In my head I’m always already trying to plan the meals! Everybody is happy, it is the South of France at the end of May after all! It is a warm evening and we are just about to enjoy a meal few of us will ever forget! The one local product is wine so of course everybody is happy. If ever there is a moment to declare who and what I am this has to be it. With the warm weather there are a few clothes to hide the visible changes this is probably why a pass better in France. Newcomers will have had time to take note. The French love speeches at meals so I should declare that having a name which translates as a cold Atlantic fish and a cheap one at that is hardly suitable for such an exotic creature as myself. I should then say that my friend Babette has come up with a superior alternative which sounds softer and refers to a round and colourful landscape feature and suits me much better. Written here and played out in my head numerous times it seems so simple. If Julie gives me the go-ahead will I be able to pull it off with the style I have imagined? It reminds me of my fear of diving headfirst into water, for decades I could not do it for fear of the things that could go wrong though in my head it was also obviously simple, then one day I was first out of the changing room and a perfect empty pool lay ahead with no one watching. Without even thinking I accelerated for a few steps and before I knew it flew in a perfect arc into the pool. What an idiot to have waited so long.

Tears end transmission!

That was all written ages ago and I was just not sure about posting it there being something of a challenge buried in it. No mater how many times you go through something in your head it does not often work out on the day. I can’t see how it could work at the moment since it is now playing in my head in bad French!

Today Julie came and looked at the mac screen and I had left windows open all over the place, I did not think because I never look at what she does unless asked. We have been sharing it a lot recently so I got careless and she finally twigged who Caroline was! She did not miss a heart beat. I have not pestered her for her opinions on where we go next, just letting her think it out knowing that we would have to have a heart to heart before the next trip to Glasgow.

The new clarity about the situation has been absorbed and it is like spring has arrived and windows have been opened to let in fresh air and light. With only slight reservations about the practicalities of any future surgery she has little hesitation in supporting me through this though telling me that I will make an ugly woman, which while honest was not the most diplomatic thing to say.

Next appointment looms ever closer, still not sure what to expect but at least I will arrive with clear thoughts in my head, but shall I leave with the prize I have waited for for so long?

Friday, 5 February 2010


Traditionally we use Seville oranges for our marmalade and as the years go by fewer people make their own and they arrive in smaller numbers, some years we miss them because that days delivery is sold out before we get there! I bought three kilos, which is lots of pounds for those not yet bilingual, and today we made the first batch.Last year my kitchen assistant was my 13 year old gardener sheltering from the cold and I have to admit she was more help than Julie who gets bored and tries to burn the bottom of the pan while I take a necessary break. At least she still has close focusing vision and can read her mothers handwriting, the bits which have not been eaten by bugs!
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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Free range

Today was a rare free range day, the sort of day I've had the past 30 years until Julie's retirement in August. Much of our life is now a little like conjoined twins but today she took over the computer to work on some of the projects which interest her.


I took off in the car for a day by myself. I got her out of the garage just as Billy turned up in his fish van. He was pleased to see me because our new erratic lifestyle means we often miss him as we will next week, I feel guilty missing him because there are so few of us now buying fish and there are so few shops where you can buy it now even though we live in a fishing area! I headed off a new laptop to show Ali the pictures I took at her party on her birthday / wedding. I made them into a slideshow, corny but the wedding was to the Beatles "all you need is love", and the party to Madonna's "music", she loved it. We had a session clearing my hairy chin and after she had seen the pictures said I was in credit for a good few sessions yet. Even better she has found someone who needs some one-to-one tuition in photography so I may even get to earn a little money.


Being a clear dry day I couldn't resist changing the dirty brown car back into a nice bright red one at the car wash, really lifted the spirits to see its shine again.


Searching through the paperwork recently I found all the supermarket tokens which Julie was supposed to spend in a jewellery shop but couldn't be bothered, a small fortunes worth had gone out of date! Since she couldn't be bothered to spend them herself I took those that were still valid and bought myself a new toy. The new iPad is a bit expensive for me so I got the baby version, a touch. Long ago the computer I used was a pocket device called Psion with 2 MB of memory! I still use of a lot of things like alarm clock when travelling, It is a museum piece now. It cost a fortune all those years ago, the new toy was a tiny fraction of the price and has 4000 times more memory! Now I can carry loads of information with me and if anybody wants to see my photographs they will be there in my pocket. Not sure when I will confess to this extravagance, it will probably be ages before she notices I have it.