Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Why Indigo

This post is mostly prompted by the previous one.

It may be that I’ve already said this … but at the risk of repeating myself …

Why do I like Indigo Girls so much?

A collection of connected and not so connected reasons.

I like lyrics that speak to me. Especially when they are sung by the person that wrote them. There’s something special about it. A feeling of connectedness. Empathy. Understanding. Closeness.

I like songs that touch me. That make me cry. Not because they make me feel sad. But because they touch me.

I like the sound of folk rock.

When I first discovered Indigo Girls it was the folk rock sound. The harmonies. Lyrics that touched me.

Loves Recovery is a song that has affected my life. I came across it at a time when I needed to know if it was possible for love to recovery. I’ve heard the song many, many times. It still touches me.  Still makes me cry. The tears are happy ones.

Quite a few Indigo Girls songs do that.

As well as the songs that bring tears, there are ones that make me smile and words of wisdom. A few words from Amy’s song Second Time Around: 

Here’s what I found about compromise
Don’t do it if it hurts inside
Because either way you’re screwed
Eventually you’ll find
That you may as well feel good
You may as well have some pride

The girl that I chatted with at the concert in Bristol last Saturday mentioned that she felt a kind of connection because of the connection that there was between Indigo Girls and the Church and the struggles that they have faced.

Because there isn’t much of a Lutheran presence in the UK, she goes to an Anglican church.

I explained that once I was a Baptist, but now I’m not really anything.

At the moment I don’t see a way back. Too many apparently unanswered questions and contradictions.

Indigo Sunday

Sunday 18 October 2009 - an Indigo night in Bristol.

Plan A had been to get to the Indigo Girls concert at either London or Brighton.

The plan fell apart upon discovery that both venues were sold out by the time I got round to trying to book.

So Bristol it was.

Only traces of Andrea make the trip. Bright red finger nails from the day before.

I arrive at the O2 Academy at 6:30 pm and join the end of a queue of maybe 40 people. There are three doorways, but just a single queue.

The queue gradually grows.

There was a time when bright red fingernails would have led me to keep my hands in my pockets most of the time. These days I’m not so bothered.

6:40. a barrier is built to demark the doorway on the right.

6:45 the queue is ushered across to the right of the barrier.

6:47 another barrier between the other two doorways.

6:50 signs appear.

To the left: O2 Customer Priority.

Middle: Paying and Guests

To the right: Ticketholders

O2 is a mobile phone company that also manage a selection of musical venues.

People with O2 phones begin to ask about the priority entrance.

All you need is an O2 mobile phone.

A little sheepishly the privileged few move across to the left.

Being an O2 customer I become a sheep.

Each O2 customer can bring a friend.

Within minutes I have a new buddette. Karen (I think) needs a friend with an O2 mobile phone. She’s been in the queue since 1:30.

7:00 the doors open.

No one checks anyone’s mobile phones.

I’m glad that I don’t have a handbag with me. They are all getting searched.

Into the auditorium and there I am standing at the very front just a few feet away from the stage.

“So … have you been a fan for long?”

The girl to my right and her husband have travelled over from Portsmouth.

She’s American and has seen Indigo Girls frequently in the USA.

Aged 30 and a fan since junior high school … age 14 or so.

She attended seminary and one day hopes to maybe be a pastor within the Lutheran church.

We talk a little about the church’s views on women, vicars, gays and lesbians. She smiles as she says that she was almost surprised to grow up and discover she wasn’t a lesbian.

We both see Indigo Girls as musicians that happen to be lesbians rather than lesbian musicians.

Favourite songs include The Wood Song, Ghost, Mystery and Loves Recovery.

Prefers the acoustic kind of sound.

8:00 and Stephanie Dosen takes the stage. And she is good.

I like her voice and her music.

She’s wearing a frilly white skirt. Black tights. A little wrinkled and torn. The tights that is.

Makes me smile to think how unfeminine I can imagine myself looking with torn tights and how feminine she looks.

Stephanie … smiling as she tunes her guitar.

“Joni Mitchell has a guitar that tunes itself when she pushes a little button.”

More twiddling and fiddling with the guitar.

A cute little smile.

Very quietly.


“Don’t anyone tell Joni I said that. When I see her I’ll tell her ‘I did not call you a bitch.’”

Stephanie introduces a song with what she insists is a true story.

A night drive in winter. Cows at the roadside. Cold and shivering.

She begins to sing. A freedom fighters song on behalf of the cows.

Drumming on the steering wheel.

All of a sudden the car is skidding, facing the wrong way and rolling over.

With a hint of sadness. “And the cows never came to visit.”

The words have changed, but the next song came out of those moments.

9:00. Emily and Amy take the stage.

They start to play and then stop.

Amy could perhaps have used a Joni Mitchell guitar at this point.

They both laugh a little.

“Any questions?” Emily asks the audience.

“What’s your favourite pizza?”

“Well … cheese is good. And lately … mushroom and Canadian bacon.”

The atmosphere is friendly, almost intimate.

“Amy … please may I have your plectrum?”

“My plectrum? Well yes … especially since you asked so politely.”

“So how many people here would have asked for a picker?” asks Emily.


“Only one?”

“But I am American”.

Amy: “Plectrum … it almost sounds sexual.”

Emily: “Anatomical.”

Amy: “Yes that’s what I mean.”

A request from the audience.

Amy: “Nooooo you cannot play with my plectrum. It’s a kinda personal thing.”

Amy: “It’s a good thing that our new songs are different than the old ones. If they were the same it would mean we never could have gotten better.”

Emily: “When I was younger I would write lots of songs. As you get middle aged it’s easy to find yourself repeating yourself. It takes longer to write songs now.”

Lots of conflicting song requests from the audience.

Then: “Play whatever you want.”
Amy, smiling : “That’s what Mr Obama says.”

“Amy, I love you.”

“Emily, I love you.”

Emily: “We love you too.”

All of a sudden its 10:40 and the stage is empty.

And then they are back and play a couple more songs.

Amy hands over the plectrum.

Time for home.

I loved it. The music. The people. The experience.

Just a few minutes ago I booked a ticket at the Concorde 2 in Brighton for next Monday – it seems it’s not quite as sold out as I thought. £20 at the Concorde 2 web site. The alternative was a bargain at £94 from what is, I guess, a less than honest web site. Now I just have to organise leaving work early enough to get to Brighton by 7:30.

A little like Emily I find it easy to find myself repeating myself.

See what I mean … three myselfs in two sentences.

It’s an easy thing to do in a blog.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Windsor, Hare Krishna and TVs

Saturday 17th was another chance to go walkabout in Windsor.

One of the challenges of doing this as a tgirl is allowing all the extra time that is needed for makeup and selection of clothing.

The makeup actually begins on Friday night with nail polish. Sally suggests I go pink. And so I do. For a while. Three coats of Urban Princess. Then an accidental argument … my thumbnail versus a door handle … changes everything. The pink stuff taking for ever to harden. So off it comes. To be followed by two coats of bright red Hot Gossip and one of 3 in 1.

At round about 9:30 on Saturday morning I begin the final preparations.

I’m still not skilled enough with makeup to manage much in the way of subtlety. I know that there are different looks … nightclub chick … everyday smart … casual … and all the in-betweens as well.

I just go for a little less foundation. Paler eye shadow. A little less eye liner and mascara. Pink lips instead of ruby red. Thoughts of Urban Princess versus Hot Gossip momentarily pass through my mind.

I select a bra that isn’t front fastening. Having it come undone in the middle of Windsor would be way more inconvenient than the time that it did at Pink Punters. I have discovered that when your boobs aren’t attached to your body it’s really important to have a bra that is unlikely to pop open. The bra is black – one of a pair that I bought at Peacock’s in Bristol - £6 for two.

A mid length denim skirt and red top – courtesy of M&S.

Shoes with low heels.

As I put them on I know they don’t feel anywhere near so good as four and a half inch stilettos. I know, also, that in an hours time I’ll be glad that they are nice and low.

I’m all ready by about 10:50. It’s kinda nice to just potter around the house and relax for a few minutes.

Sally has been busy all morning doing stuff in the garden.

I’ve managed to train her into realising that Andrea’s nails are way to delicate for such tasks. But I do make the coffee.

Tina arrives at about 11:30 just as Sally heads out to play golf.

The comic irony of the situation isn’t lost … wife out on the golf course … hubby out shopping in a skirt.

After applying a few finishing touches we head for the car.

There are a couple of neighbours chatting a few houses down the street. I resist the urge to wave and say hello. I also resist the urge to run back to the house. I have no idea if I am recognised. If I am then I am. Mostly people seem not to notice. But I would be even less noticeable if I were shorter than six feet tall.

Tina drives and mostly I remember to say which way to go.

Arriving at the car park in Victoria Street we pay at the pay and display meter and head off for the town centre.

Alas, Shoe Fetish is no more. It’s been replaced by a shop that sells motor scooters.

We walk slowly.

There are one or two quizzical kind of looks as we walk past people. It must be our husky voices.

But no one pulls faces or passes comments.

Gazing into a few shop windows we wander up Peascod Street from the St Leonard’s Road end.

Turning into King Edward Court we go into the British Heart Foundation charity shop and take a look around.

I see a white handbag – I have white shoes but no white handbag. It’s in excellent condition and a snip at £2,75. The lady at the till doesn’t really look at me as I pay.

We pay a visit to Fenwick’s. Then Boots, Daniels and Marks & Spencer.

Then on to Cafe Rouge. The place is pretty busy. The staff are, as always, very helpful and friendly. The other diners pay us no attention.

I order a Hoegaarden beer, Tina a lemonade. The food arrives very promptly and is excellent.

We chat about girlie kinds of things.

The waitress drops by … “Is everything alright for you, ladies?” It makes me smile.

It’s then a walk along to the castle and a photo opportunity or two.


As I pose a little and Tina juggles two cameras a group of ladies walk by.

“Would you like me to take a picture of you both?” asks one of the ladies. We gratefully accept the offer, and she takes a picture with each of the cameras.



Then on down to the riverside. Tina changes her boots for a pair of flat shoes.

We should have brought some bread for the ducks and swans.



On the way back to the car park we call in at WH Smiths where Tina buys a newspaper.

As we stroll back down Peascod Street a man approaches us.



Brief introductions.

“What’s your name?”


“Is that your real name?”

“Of course.”

“And yours?”


“Is that your real name?”


“Well, I’m afraid that I have to tell you that you’ve exceeded the local limits for looking cool and being hip whilst out in public. So I’m going to have to ask you to pay a voluntary fine as a penalty.”

Of course, we are smiling well before this.

The man’s eyesight is, of course, immediately suspect.

Actually he is a member of a Hare Krishna group raising money to help support homeless people.

His western name is John … his spiritual name is much more complex.

We make a donation and he gives me a booklet … pink to match the colour of my lips he says.

“Do you have blue ones for boys?” asks Andrea.

“But of course.”

Back to the car and home.


Each little trip out helps me feel more relaxed than the last time.

I have the feeling that Windsor town centre is a good and relatively safe kind of place for a transvestite to wander around in. People manage to “read” me without a lot of difficulty. But that doesn’t bother me really. A thing that Fiona Floyd shared with me several years ago has influenced my feelings on this. As Fiona said, “I’m not a girl, I’m a transvestite. If someone points a finger at me and says ‘Hey that’s not a real girl … it’s a tranny’ then it’s not a problem really … that’s what I am.” I feel the same way.

I think the centre of Windsor is maybe this way because people don’t have problems with strangers and off-beat people. The town relies heavily on tourism and really can’t afford to get overly upset about issues of gender or race or a whole range of other things.

One day maybe residential areas that don’t rely on tourism will get to see people as being people.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pink Punters again

October 10th provided an opportunity for another trip to Pink Punters.

The room at the Campanile Hotel is booked … especially good value if you book two rooms at the same time.

On the day I pack quite frugally … for me at any rate. A fairly normal selection of makeup and other accessories. Only three pairs of shoes, 2 dresses, one skirt and one top. Three bras, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of tights and two of hold-ups. Two suspender belts.

No partridge and no pair tree.

I know. There is no way I’ll get the chance to use it all in one evening. But there is a logic in al of this.

The tradition is to get made up and dressed. Eat at the hotel. Change. Head for Pink Punters.

So two sets of outerwear are needed. And I’m not sure whether to wear the black dress or a skirt with a top. So I take three.

And it’s nice to change shoes. And heels are nice. And maybe I’ll drive home the next day as a girl … so I need some flat shoes to drive in.

The dresses need a strapless bra. The skirt and top are fine with a bra with straps. I have no idea why I took three.

Stockings are fine with the long dress. The spare pair is insurance against laddering.

The skirt is ok with holdups.

The short dress is safer with tights.

And a spare pair of each. Just in case.

I bought a new suspender belt at Debenhams in Bristol … but haven’t given it a try out yet – so I take a spare just in case.

I almost forget the makeup remover.

The drive to Fenny Stratford … Bletchley … the home of Pink Punters … is pleasantly uneventful. The M25 is being widened … again … so has a 50 mph speed limit for what seems miles and miles and miles. But it is moving.

Round about 5:00 pm I pull into the car park and start to dismantle Tom Tom.

My phone rings.




“It’s Nikki. Where are you?”

Nikki arrived earlier in the afternoon and is out shopping. We’re in room 12. Nikki has paid half already. Well … half of one room or a quarter of two.

The man at reception is very patient as I check in.

The transgender thing isn’t at all strange to staff at the hotel.

In the room the ritual begins.

Shave. Shower. Moisturiser. Underwear. Makeup.


Laura and Billie have arrived and are next door in room 14.

Nikki arrives.

She has a nice new pair of shoes.

She spotted a handbag outside the door of room 14 so goes to tell Billie and Laura about it.

Knock knock. “Hello. This is room service.”

“Oh … it’s going to be a half hour before I’m decent!”

”Ha ha! It’s only Nikki. You left your handbag outside.”

Nikki begins to remove makeup and showers ready to start over again.

I finish off with the makeup.

Knock knock. “It’s room service.”

But it sounds a lot like Billie so I just open the door.

With makeup and no wig I know I look a little like a clown without the red nose.

I look a little odd even with the wig, I know.

We agree to meet Billie and Laura in the bar.





I head for the bar while Nikki continues with the makeup.

Billie and Laura are (well at least Billie is) watching Leeds play against St Helens. A big rugby league match. The TV set is muted though so we can talk as Billie watches.

There are two other people in the bar who pay us no attention.

The girl at the bar asks “What would you like to drink?”

“A white wine. Do you have a Chardonnay?”

“Ooooo you slut” giggles the lady rugby spectator.

Perhaps rugby union spectators are more gentlemanly? Well, the male ones at any rate.

We sit and talk rugby a little.

And t-shirts. Nail polish. Dresses.

Nikki arrives.

Leeds beat St Helens.

We move to a table in the restaurant area and order some food. Tastes varying from burgers to swordfish.

Nikki and Laura:


Billie and Andrea:


Guess who?


Another tgirl is eating in the restaurant. Her dress is quite short … maybe too short to be bending so far over the buffet table like that.

After the food it’s back to get changed for the short trip across the road. Nikki kinda likes photos in the hotel corridor. And so …


Those straps keep on dropping down:


Decisions, decisions.

Black dress or skirt? Stockings or tights?

And so, back in the corridor all transformed.CIMG0873_720x960







Laura had almost worn dress several times before. It’s very transparent. She managed the transparency pretty well … bit it is a little on the short side.  Cute legs though, don’t you think?


A short walk across the road and there we are.

In we go.

I see Nikki collecting what looks like some sweets from a jar attached to the wall.

I like Pink Punters a lot. The kind of place where people can be different without worrying about being hassled. You can be who you want to be. You can be who you are.

It’s fairly quiet early in the evening.



As time passes we talk and dance. And it’s a nicxe place to sit and watch people.

We talk to a girl that is in the process of becoming a full time girl. Medical appointments and things on the horizon. She explains that most people already know, apart from at work. In about six months time she will become a girl at work as well. She talks about the hopes and fears that go with all of that. She knows it’s not going to be an easy journey.

When I go to the bar to buy a drink the girl always calls me “babe”. It’s quite cute, so long as you don’t associate “babe” with “piglet” too closely. She has a painful leg … football (soccer) injury sustained on Friday. The girl sitting at the bar plays rugby, but prefers football.

A whole group of people are wearing white t-shirts with lots of messages written on them.

A few sit at the table next to us.

“Happy birthday Harry” I read on the back of the guy sitting just to the side of me.

I lean to the side.

“Are you Harry?”

“Yes …”

“Happy birthday!”

“Thanks … how did you know I was Harry?”

I explain it’s more a case of writing on the back than psychic talents.

Christian sits beside me and we chat a while. His girlfriend, Leandra, is sitting just opposite.

He’s impressed that my wife copes with the concept of Andrea so well and encourages me to buy her a big bunch of flowers and a holiday to the Bahamas. Leandra says she wouldn’t mind a trip to the Bahamas as well.

Sam sits beside me … he’s Harry’s partner. Tomorrow he gets to meet Harry’s parents for the first time and is a little nervous about it.

Simon says hello.

A little later on the dance floor he invites me for a bop.

The Pink Punters photographer is taking pictures.




We leave at a little after 4:00 am.

Next morning Nikki breaks the bad news to me that I snore. Or at least, breathe heavily whilst asleep.

Of course, I know this already.

She says it was lucky that she picked up the earplugs at the nightclub.

So, the jar wasn’t a jar of sweets, it was a jar of earplugs.

A really nice evening!