Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Software, Sparkle, She and St Trinians

The long slog at work is, I hope, drawing to an end. Version 9.0.309 should hit the streets tomorrow. One cycle ends and another begins. The beginning of software development cycles is always less stressful than the end. So working hours should get to be a lot less extended than they have been for the past few months.

The forthcoming weekend is a busy but, hopefully, very nice one.
I have Friday off work to drive up to Manchester for a long weekend. The last weekend of June is different than most other weekends. It’s time for Sparkle ... you can read all about it here

I haven’t been to “Sparkle” before, but have it all organised for this weekend – in a fairly disorganised kind of way.

I am looking forwards to it a lot. Though there have been the usual feelings of ... why? Is it worth the effort? What is this cross dressing thing all about?

Billie, Laura and Didi are all going. Fiona Floyd and people from Portsmouth will be there. Nikki and Tracey will be there. Lots and lots and lots of tgirls will be there. Perhaps more guys with skirts and makeup on gathered in one place than ever before!

I’m not sure what exactly I’ll do when I’m there. Nor am I sure how I’ll cope with having makeup on for so many hours in a day. I am, though, expecting to enjoy the experience a lot. I even get a chance to spend some time with my daughter who is a student in Manchester at the moment still.

Tomorrow night will be busy as well. What do I take? How many pairs of shoes do I really need? How many skirts and dresses that are less than 4 or 5 inches above my knee do I need. It’s nice to have a few days where these kinds of question will be the ones that are at the forefront of my mind. I know that the world is full of much more important questions. But it’s good to be able to set aside a little time to issues that are a little more frivolous.

I had an email from tgirl a friend named Tina today. Tina’s wife is finding it hard to get to terms with the concept of Tina.

I often don’t appreciate my own wife enough. The whole concept of Andrea was hard for her initially. And I do take her and the way that she has accepted this different side of me for granted sometimes. More often than sometimes. Deep down, though, I am thankful to her. The children ... who are both now young adults ... have handled the whole thing in a way that could not have been better. They seem to be ok to buy Father’s days gifts that look a bit more like Mother’s day gifts. The acceptance of me as me in this way means more than is easy to put into words.

I do hope that things work out for Tina and her wife. I still find the use of the wo0rds “him” and “her” confusing when it comes to tgirls.

There is an Indigo Girls song that I like a lot ... and the words are ...

Guess I wasn’t the best one to ask
Me myself with my face pressed
Up against loves glass
To see the shiny toy I’ve been hoping for
The one I never could afford
The wide world spins and spits turmoil
And the nations toil for peace
But the paws of fear upon your chest
Only love can soothe that beast
And my words are paper tigers
No match for the predators of pain inside her

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
Where there’s now one there will be two

I was born under the sign of cancer
(love will come to you)
Like brushing cloth I smooth the wrinkles for an answer
(love will come)
I’m always closing my eyes and wishing I’m fine
(I close my eyes and wish you fine)
Even though I know I’m not this time
(even though I know you’re not this time)

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
Where there’s now one there will be two

Dodging your memories a field of knives
Always on the outside looking in on others lives

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
(I have offered up to you)
Where there’s now one there will be two

And I wish her insight to battle loves blindness
Strength from the milk of human kindness
A safe place for all the pieces that scattered
Learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters

I love the words. The feelings.

Whenever I have heard these lines being sung:

But the paws of fear upon your chest
Only love can soothe that beast
And my words are paper tigers
No match for the predators of pain inside her.

I’ve thought of “me” as being “her”. A part of me is “she”.

I’m hoping to take enough pictures to catch the mood of Sparkle.

Sunday night is a St Trinian’s evening at the Surrey Swan. My Anne Summers school uniform will maybe get another outing.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Boy George, Herman Goering, Berry and me

A couple of days ago I found myself involved in an online conversation with a lady named Berry. Of course, I don't expect that berry is her name and I have no way of knowing that she is a lady.

She said she lives in Romania.

We talked a little about society and she asked me what life in the UK is like ... is it less rigid than it used to be.

I said yes ... it's different than it used to be. She seemed suitably impressed.

After a while I mentioned that I sometimes cross dress.

"What ... you dress like a woman?"

"mm ... well ... yes."

I pointed her in the direction of my blog.

A few minutes of silence.

"Are you shocked?"

"Yes. It makes me think of Goering and Boy George."

These thoughts make me smile.

Berry works as a chemical engineer. She plans to learn computer programming in her spare time. She asks about the programming languages I use and we discuss the merits of C#.

She is thinking about setting up a web site, but thinks that there ought to be a way of segregating the Internet. I think she means a way of fixing it so that serious stuff doesn't get all mixed up with personal stuff. Maybe a way of making sure that blogs written by tgirls don't get mixed up with blogs written by "normal" people.

She is a vegetarian. She says she is a naturist.

"You don't have any clothes on?" I ask.

She laughs in a "hahaha" kind of way, and we work out that she means environmentalist.

Being a tgirl is just as unnatural as eating meat.

She is mildly appalled at whatever has happened to England. Why should there be so many men that want to dress like ladies? It must be that someone or something is filling people with unnatural desires or stresses. Somehow forcing people into a way of life that is not of their choosing. She thinks that if people could get to understand this then they would be freed from the need to cross dress.

Now for an admission. I watch quite a lot of Star Trek. I know. In some people's eyes this is more weird than a guy taking pleasure in wearing stockings. Be that as it may, I'm reminded of a Star Trek Next Generation episode where they visit a planet that has eradicated the concept of gender. No masculine, no feminine. Or so it seems. One of the citizens of the genderless planet ends up working with Commander Riker. It seems that once in a while a citizen begins to realise that they actually want to be female or male. She wants to be female. Of course, they fall in love. But, those that discover gender have to hide. They have to pretend to be like everyone else for fear of being found out. Of course, she gets found out. She is treated. She is cured. She is no longer she.

I explain to Berry, that for me it seems the opposite. For every tgirl that I know it was the opposite. The pressure and stress is all about hiding it. Feeling guilty about it. Denying it. The freedom is in being able to embrace it.

I try to explain that not so long ago, society in the UK was so rigid that for a man to be dressed as a woman was kind of appalling. But that things, in that respect at least, are getting better ... less rigid.

Of course, a long time ago it was quite normal for a man to wear a wig and skirts.

I get the feeling that Berry and Andrea have different understandings about what "less rigid" means.

She seems to think that if stuff were more segregated then it would be healthier. After all, she says, urine and blood should not be mixed. I'm not at all sure about the relevance of this analogy to anything that we've been talking about. It sounds like the beginnings of a justification for apartheid.

Me ... I'm more of an integrationist than a separatist. I see things in shades of grey rather than black and white.

It seems that developing this greyness happens as people grow older and it's not restricted to hair colouration.

Of course, some would say that it is a bad thing. A loss of conviction. A sign of unacceptable compromise.

For me, it's an acceptance of diversity. A conviction that wherever there are two extremes, there are usually a whole load of places somewhere between the extremes. And it's not wrong to be somewhere in between.

I see gender in this way. If there is an ultimate macho male and an ultimate girlie girl, there are a lot of people that are somewhere in between. In fact, most of the people that I know are somewhere in between.

There are, of course, nice people and nasty people at all positions along this male ... female continuum. The fact that Herman Goering may have been a transvestite has no more significance than the fact that Adolf Hitler wasn't.

Ideas of extremes and of segregation are ideas that bother me.

Monday, 16 June 2008

A pictorial year in the life of ...

OK, at last, here are some links to some pictures.

I know ... I went a bit crazy and ended up posting way more than I was expecting to.

Part of it is to do with posterity. I thought that maybe one day it will be interesting for me to chart the life and times of Andrea in pictures. To see how the wrinkles develop ... how long I keep wearing skirts that are way too short and who knows what else.

So here goes.

The pictures you reach when you click
were, in a sense, taken on the day that Andrea was born. They were all taken by Fiona Floyd in Portsmouth at the affectionately named Trannie Towers. As I've written earlier in this blog, May 6th 2007 was a really special day. It marked the beginning of a process of self discovery and self acceptance that has made a big difference to me. I'm still at the beginning of the journey and am meeting many, many lovely people along the route.

Fiona has been very influential in the way that I view the whole transvestite thing as it relates to me. For that I will always be grateful to her. Having moved on from Trannie Towers Fiona isn't doing the makeover, dressing and photo service that she used to. But hopefully she will get back into it again in the not so distant future.

I still remember a lot about that day very clearly. The amazement of how seemingly complex makeup was. The surprise at the idea of earrings and a necklace. And that first glimpse in the mirror. I was totally taken by surprise at the emotion that was invoked by this. The surprising sadness that I felt when the makeup came off. The release in meeting other guys that weren't ashamed of the fact that once in a while they like to dress up and go femme. A whole new world.

My favourite pictures in this set are definitely in the short black dress and blond hair . I keep on looking for something just like it in a shop somewhere so I can get one of my own. I posted some of these at TV Chix and someone did comment on how happy I looked. And I was ... and I am.

My wife was very brave in looking at these pictures the same day that I told her about them. I think she was kind of taken aback by the shortness of the dress ... and preferred the ones in the white top and not quite so short black skirt. Preferred is probably the wrong word here.

The photos at
were taken on May 26th 2007, again at Fiona's. These were the first pictures of me in hair and boobs of my own ... well OK ... a wig and falsies of my own. I'd spent a long long time scouring the Internet looking for something that I liked. Kind of predictably I like the short denim skirt and black top best. I think you can tell that in the last few pictures I was fairly precariously balanced on a cupboard. I did manage to not quite fall off. I love the shoes. I'm not sure what it is about the flash of stocking tops ... it must be the heat of the spotlights.

The day was special because it was the first time Andrea ventured outside the walls of Trannie Towers. We spent a few hours round at a local pub. I spent quite a lot of the evening metaphorically pinching myself to check that I wasn't dreaming it all. I wore the denim skirt and black top.

Not long afterwards, the photos
were again at Trannie Towers on June 9th 2007. I like the first few best. There's a St Trinians theme evening due at the Surrey Swans at the end of June and that kind of look would be fine for it. I know ... I am showing far too much underwear in the pictures later in the set. It's kind of strange how the photographic moment takes over leaving me surprisingly unselfconscious. And normally I am an extremely self conscious kind of a guy.

My wife still struggles a little with the way I behave. She says I am like a teenager. Well ... that I act like one at any rate. I know that I don't look like one! A lot of the TVs that I know are the same.

The last few pictures are fun ... well OK ... funny. But O like them.

That evening we went to a pub in Southampton (the London Hotel, I think). I wore the outfit from the last few pictures. This was the first time I got to talk with non-TV's whilst en-femme, so to speak.

And finally ... the pictures
... were taken by Nik at trans-femme on June 8th 2008. Tracey did the makeup. A lot of the pictures are just slight variations of each other. I guess that I like the subtle differences. I like the ones with the black hair best. This surprised me a lot! You also get to see the little message on the panties included in the Anne Summers school uniform set. I didn't get spanked, by the way.

So ... that's it for now.

Let me now what you think.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Andrea a la trans-femme

The black hair was all for a Gothic night at the Surrey Swans. I haven't worn black much at all since then ... but having seen the pictures I do like it a lot.

Longer hair than usual.

This is the outfit I wore at the fetish party in January 2008. The entire story is blogged.

Black and white polka dots.

Thanks again to Tracey and Nikki ... you are stars xxxx

Makeup and Pictures

A few weeks back I was chit chatting at TVChix ( and had a conversation with a girl about a makeover service that I hadn’t heard of. Trans-femme is the place ( ). It’s over a year since my last makeover and photo shoot so I thought maybe I’d give it a try. I got round to booking an appointment and it happened last Sunday. So ... here goes with a few thoughts on the experience.

In summary ... I had a wonderful time! And I love the photos ... I’ll post links to some later in this blog entry.

Nikki and Tracey who run Trans-Femme emailed me directions and some background information after I had contacted them.

Sunday morning I begin to think about what clothing I might take. My wife is away for the weekend and has taken the suitcase that I was thinking about packing. I know ... a suitcase seems over the top for a makeover and an hour or so of pictures. But ... you never know what you might wear. The feminine side of me has a liking for clothing choices that amazes me. This seems to be a passion shared by lots of tgirls.

The suitcase that I find first is bigger than the one that has gone, and so I am filled with an urge to fill it.

After twenty minutes or so I realise that I really do need to exercise some discretion here. I mean ... do I really need to take 5 dresses, half a dozen skirts, 10 tops, 6 pairs of shoes? Not to mention an insane number of pairs of panties, bras and stockings.

I spend a while putting things back in the wardrobe ... but in the end it’s still a bit of a struggle to close the suitcase.

At about 11:30 am I begin what is maybe the least feminine thing I need to do in preparation for makeup as I start to shave my face. Then it's a shower. Scent. Suspender belt. Stockings. Panties. Trousers. Shirt. Socks. Shoes.

The drive to Swindon takes a little less time than I was expecting. Just about an hour.

The suitcase is soooo big!

Nik and Tracey are lovely people. We have a cup of tea and chat for a while. An opportunity for them to explain to me how things work and to talk a bit about each other’s experiences. Very informal and nice. I feel really welcome.

I head out to the photo studio and makeover room with Tracey. It’s a separate building from the house. Although it’s a hot day, it’s fairly cool inside – though once the lights are on in the studio I know it will get warmer.

We chat as Tracey begins with the foundation. The atmosphere is relaxing. She’s happy to explain everything that she’s doing and if I like I can have a list of everything that she’s using together with typical prices and where they can be bought.

It brings back memories of the first makeover that I had at Fiona Floyds. There are similarities and differences.

The similarities include things like the friendliness, the sense of acceptance, the informality, and the knowledge that it’s ok to be myself here.

The differences are mostly in me. There is now a sense of familiarity in the feeling of makeup on my face. The eye liner and mascara don’t feel weird. Just over a year ago at Fiona’s it was as though I was meeting a new person in Andrea – or at least a new part of me. I think I had always been aware of the feminine side of my character, but with the help of Fiona the femininity was able to take on a whole new dimension.

That very first time I was unsure of myself. I didn’t really know what I was doing or why I was doing it.

In lots of ways I still don’t understand why. But I am happy that it is an expression of me. I am happy with myself. I enjoy the girl that is in me. I enjoy the man that is in me as well. I know that I don’t need to be afraid or ashamed.

It means that as Tracey applies powder, and blush that I can enjoy the experience without having the burden of the worries that I used to have.

We talk a bit about the different techniques that she uses compared to my own and about common experiences.

I also get the feeling that if this had been my first ever makeup then this would have been a lovely time and place to experience it.

I know this may not make any sense at all to guys that don’t do makeup. But, there seems to be something special about someone else taking the time and trouble to do it all. It’s a relaxing kind of experience. And there is ... ok these days I’m not the kind of person that is into “spirituality” ... a sense of transformation that is spiritual, if the term spiritual includes a sense of peace and meeting oneself.

For me, the makeup is something that helps me feel in touch with myself.

It’s nice to not be in a rush. It’s nice to not worry about making a mistake. It’s nice to talk.

There’s a sense of familiarity as eye shadow, liner and mascara are applied. Lipstick and gloss.

Once that’s all done, Tracey leaves me alone for a while and I begin to select what to wear. I brought my collection of wigs – all three of them. There are also loads and loads of wigs that I can try out of I feel like it. During our chat I’d decided to go for photos in 4 different outfits with different hairstyles for each. The pictures show what they look like.

Once I’m all ready Nik drops by with the camera. The lights go on in the studio and the photos begin. Straightaway I like Nik a lot. Full of encouragement and helpful suggestions. He
explains things that are likely to “work” and also why. He’s great ... full of advice but not at all a dictator. I really am convinced that what he wants is for me to really enjoy the time and to get some great photos. And I did.

This is another thing that I suspect will make no sense at all to a person that has never experienced it. And I guess it doesn’t work for everyone. But, honestly, if you still feel like adding anything to the list of things that you’d like to do before you die then, unlike contact lens trials, having a photo session really is something you should go for.

There is something I find liberating about the experience. It’s a strange contradiction somehow. There I am in front of the camera. Posing for all I am worth. And yet ... the posing is deliberate and it’s obvious. Yet, the smiles are real smiles. So different from the posing that can be part of everyday life. The kind where the posing is done in secret and the smiles are fake. Does that make any sense?

It’s so strange. The rolling on the floor, the sidelong glances, the lifting of the hem of my skirt are very un-me. And yet, they help me to relax into being myself in a way that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

Photo shoots like this have given me the most feminine and girlie kind of sense of self-awareness that I remember. Makes me think of a Doris Day song that I remember from years ago – “I enjoy being a girl”. I just looked up the lyrics ... and well, it doesn’t all apply, but it gives a sense of the feeling. It’s that kind of feeling that I have as the camera shutter clicks.

Nik mentions that they also do all kinds of other types of photo sessions. Maybe one day my wife would like to sit in and watch – or even be made up and give it a try. I’d like that a lot. I guess it is more out of the ordinary to be photographed with your husband when you are both wearing skirts and makeup than it is to spend an afternoon playing golf with him. But honest, I am a lot better at putting makeup on than I am at putting a golf ball.

Another three outfits and hairstyles and over 300 pictures later it’s time to change into something a little more discrete for the drive home. I put on the long black and white polka dot dress that I started the session with together with shoes that have a smaller heel. I manage to fit everything back into the suitcase.

We chat unhurriedly. Tracey has the pictures copied onto a CD and we have a look at them on the computer. I love them. Tracey says which she likes best ... and yes ... I like it a lot as well.

We carry on talking and I know that I’ll be visiting again.

And now for some of the pictures. I’ll add in my next blog entry ... and I'll post some links to a wider selection in another blog entry. At the time of writing, there are also some at - I’m Andrea June 2008.

Well ... ins summary ... the experience was totally wonderful ... delightful ... and way more than highly recommended! Give it a try!

Thankyou Tracey and Nikki xxx.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Making up with contacts?

A while I had a conversation with Julia, a friend I met at the TV dinners that I go to in Reading. She was wearing glasses, like me. She used to wear contact lenses and was thinking of giving them another try. It made a lot of sense to me at the time. I mean ... we girls spend a long time learning how to apply eye shadow, liner and mascara. To then hide it all behind a pair of spectacles seems a little illogical. OK ... I admit that the very concept of a guy going to all that trouble to make his eyes look pretty is not what everyone might view as being eminently logical. But ... well ... to a transvestite it maybe makes perfect sense.

So ... for months and months I had been planning to give contact lenses a try out.

A couple of weeks ago I called in at Specsavers in Slough to check about making an appointment. I needed to have an up-to-date eye test – but the good news was that they had a special offer so that the contact lens consultation was free.

Last Saturday I called in at the shop to keep my appointment.

Step 1 ... I look through a thing at a scene with and a hot air balloon. First one eye and then the other.

Step 2 ... the man blows off air onto each of my eyeballs. A test for glaucoma.

Then I sit back in my chair and wait a little while.

Step 3 ... a lady checks my eyesight. Looking into the eyes and seeing what I can read on the charts.

The good news is that my current prescription is fine ... no change at all. With my glasses on I have great vision. The bad news is that it cost me £20 to find this out. And ... I was pretty sure that this would be the case ... they haven’t changed at all in something like ... well ... more years than I care to remember.

I’m back in the chair and waiting again. But not for long.

Step 4 ... a man starts to look at my eyes. This is the beginning of the contact lens consultation.

I’m not really sure what is happening or why. I think he’s checking the state of my eyeballs to see if they are likely to work ok with lenses. He asks me if I’ve given any thought to the type of lenses I’d wear and how often I’d be likely to wear them. I tell him maybe once a week or so ... and I’d been thinking of the kind that you just wear for a day and then throw away.

It was kind of funny ... I’d been wondering how I would answer the question “why are you thinking about trying contact lenses?” and how I would answer it. I think I would have mentioned the eye makeup thing. But I never was asked anything too specific.

Step 5 ... a lady shows me how to put the lenses in.

Oh ... wow. I suspect that most people that haven’t worn contact lenses never know what it os like to press a finger against an eyeball ... especially when it is their own.

I guess I can now add this to my list of “things to do before you die” that I have done. But take my advice ... don’t add it to your List if you can help it!

The right eye went in almost easily. The left one ... definitely more of a challenge.

Step 6 ... a lady takes me into a room to check my eyesight with the lenses in and to check how they fit my eyes. It feels weird. I don’t remember the last time I could see things clearly at any distance further than a foot or so (about 30 cm). I can see just about as well with the lenses as I can with my glasses.

Step 7 ... I get taught how to take them out. This makes putting them in seem like childsplay. The right eye wasn’t so bad, I guess. But the left one was a real struggle. Eventually I got them both out. But my eyes were so bloodshot by this time they thought it was maybe a good idea not to put them back in again.

I booked a review appointment for the following week and was given 6 pairs of lenses. The idea is to wear them for 3 hours the first day, 4 the second and so on until the appointment.

It’s Sunday night at 8:00 pm. I sit by the mirror and start to poke at my eyes. The lenses go in with now to much hassle. I’d spent a while that day watching a guy on a website demonstrate how to do it.

Now it’s 11:00 pm. Sitting at the mirror. The right lens comes out pretty easily. But the left one? Days later I noticed that the left lens is actually just a tad bigger than the right one. At least I now have some kind of idea as to why it was more of a challenge.

11:15 pm and I take a break.

11:30 ... I still have a contact lens in my left eye.

11:45 and I take a break.

Sometime a little after midnight my left eye has unfocused vision and I think that the lens is out. But if it is I don’t know exactly where. Being a naive kind of contact lens wearer I need the reassurance of knowing where the heck it has got to.

Eventually, after a fair bit of scrabbling around on the floor my wife finds it.

By a quarter after midnight I have vowed that mascara isn’t worth it.

By Monday morning things don’t seem so bad.

Tuesday I give the lenses another go. It’s still a struggle ... but not so bad.

By Thursday I need to put them in at work to avoid having to stay awake until 1:00 am to take the things out. . For some reason the left eye takes a record breaking length of time to sort out. At one point the lens just disappeared. One moment it’s on the tip of my finger. The next, it’s nowhere to be seen. After a while it turns up and after an even greater while I manage to get it to stay in my eye.

Thursday night I begin to think about things. Do I put the lenses in before or after the makeup? I can see a lot better close range without the lenses in. But getting them in after I have makeup on would likely mean I need to redo the makeup to fix up the damage that I’ve done.

And do I remove the makeup before I remove the lenses?

Out comes Google and I do some research. And now I discover that eye makeup and contact lenses may not actually be the best of partners. And so, after a while I decide that maybe I should put the whole concept on hold for a little while. Predictably enough when I sit down in from of the mirror, even the one in my left eye pops out without a fight.

Of course, not long after cancelling the appointment at the optician’s I’m discovering that maybe contacts and makeup go better together than I had thought, so it’s back to the drawing board!