Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sparkle, Swans, Vibrations and Dancing

Last Sunday was a Surrey Swans evening.

As ever … really good to get a chance to see people … Laura, Billie, Kathie, Tina, Emma …

We talked about Sparkle … what we might do when we get there … will we go to the ball … what will we wear … what time will we arrive …

I bought the usual two raffle tickets … and won a bottle of wine!

To use an English colloquialism … part way through the evening I need to spend a penny.

It’s amazing the things I am still discovering.

On previous visits to the Surrey Swans venue (which is just a regular kind of pub), when I’d needed to visit the loo I’d been to the unisex disabled room. On this occasion it was occupied so I popped into the ladies.

I was amazed at what you could purchase there whilst visiting … so I took a picture of the vending machine … and here it is:


Well … the fruity condoms aren’t so unusual I guess …

I have no idea at all what you can buy in the gents toilets.

We also spent a while discussing Pink Punters … we have a trip there organised f0r May 8th.

The first time ever that I visited Pink Punters was on May 9th 2008. You can read all about it here.

Dianne took some video of the dancing lesson that I had then. I posted some stills way back then … and at long last have posted the whole thing … and here it is:


If you look carefully you get glimpses of Laura and Sarah as well as me.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Here and Now

A few weeks ago I bought a copy of Here and Now by Chris While and Julie Matthews (http://www.whileandmatthews.co.uk/http://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-And-Now/dp/B002E2XMDO/ref=sr_shvl_album_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1272105102&sr=301-5)

At last I’ve had a chance to listen to it … and I really love the song The Here and Now … so here it is:

The Here and Now 
Matthews and While
From the Album ‘Here and Now’ While and Matthews

You look for the distant horizon, you live for the turn of the page
You’re spinning in cycles and you won’t disengage
But there’s more than the far destination
Between you and the end of the line
And one day you’ll wish that you’d cherished this precious time


‘Cause life is here, now, it’s clear, how
Living the moment, will set you free
From tomorrow and yesterdays sorrow
(You look for the distant horizon,
You live for the turn of the page)
Better to feel the one thing that’s real
The here and now, here and now

You’re dwelling in by-gone places, of halcyon days in the sun
You’re clinging on to a past now dead and gone
Don’t make the people that love you now
Compete with the ghosts of the past
Unlock the chains to your heart, Free at last!

‘Cause life is here, now, it’s clear, how
Living the moment, will set you free
From tomorrow and yesterdays sorrow
(You’re dwelling in by-gone places, halcyon days in the sun)
Better to feel the one thing that’s real
The here and now, the here and now
It’s clear, how
Living the moment, will set you free
From tomorrow and yesterdays sorrow
(You look for the distant horizon,
You live for the turn of the page)
Better to feel the one thing that’s real
The here and now, the here and now


The lyrics came from: http://www.whileandmatthews.co.uk/Julie%20website/Song%20pages/The%20Here%20and%20Now.htm

It seems to kind of fit in somehow with the thoughts I was having about virtuality and reality in my previous post.

I know … there are some times …. for some people …. when the here and the now are very painful places to be.

At that point perhaps the focus needs to be on changing things so that the here and the now becomes a place where we can be happy.

The here and now can include virtuality as well as reality. It’s about balance maybe.

Virtuality, fantasy, reality and phenomenology

It’s strange how things change sometimes without you even noticing.

A couple of nights ago I spent some time on Yahoo Messenger chatting with a friend. Sally was watching Liverpool lose a soccer match.  We shared some of our favourite music and courtesy of YouTube were able to listen to and see the people that we were talking about. It was great! I discovered some new music that I’d never come across before … and it was really nice to chat.

There are so many things that we can do that just weren’t possible even just a few years ago.

The Internet opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Reminds me also of the AOL adverts of a while ago … is the Internet a bad thing


or is it a good thing:


In fact, like many things in life, the Internet is what people make of it.

As a Trannie it has made a big difference to me. Helping me discover that I’m not alone in the world. That I’m not so weird or perverted as some people would say that I am. Provided a way of contacting other people. Helped me realise and believe that it’s OK to be who I am and be the way that I am.

I know … some people would say that even in this the Internet is a bad thing … helping the perverted and the abominable to become acceptable.

During my lunchtime walk I thought some about … well virtuality I guess. For a moment I thought I might have invented a word there … but Google knows better … it’s a movie and a television series. There are about 772,000 relevant web pages. No sponsored links though … so that’s something at least.

It’s possible to live a big chunk of life in a virtual kind of world. Internet chat rooms … Facebook … blogs … computer games.

In a way it’s not so different from books and television … but the added attraction of interaction with other things and with people is kinda compelling for many people.

Thoughts of The Matrix crossed my mind:


I mean … philosophically speaking … it’s not easy to actually prove that we are all any more than a dream that God is having. Which reminds me of a movie called Dark Star and of Phenomenology.


Some people seem to be very much into reality … and anti virtuality.

My own feelings are that … well … it depends.

The phrase “it depends” is one of my favourites … and the word “maƱana”.

There’s a sense in which the ability to inhabit a virtual world is one of those things that makes it special to be human.

There are things that people can do in a virtual world that would be impossible for them to do in the real world.

There are maybe some things that are better kept virtual … the reality being a real disappointment compared with the fantasy.

With other things the reality far exceeds the fantasy. For myself, for example, the first view I had of "”Andrea” at Fiona Floyds (http://andrea-wright.blogspot.com/2007/05/new-arrival.html) blew me away.

There are maybe different shades to reality.

For many transvestites that I know … myself included … the dressing thing began as a secret in-private thing that only happened in a virtual kind-of world. For some that’s where it remains.

For others it moves on. For me … the first makeover … Sally seeing me … the first step out onto a street … a visit to a pub … the first time out to a venue where I didn’t know anyone … telling Sarah and Katie about Andrea …  the first Pink Punters … shopping and eating in Windsor.

All have been steps in moving from fantasy towards reality. And It’s mattered a lot to me because Andrea is part of who I am … my reality.

But it’s different for different people.

In the end I think the right mix between virtuality and reality is different. Everyone experiences both. For some the fantasy is sufficient … for others it’s not. It depends on the people … and depends on the fantasy.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Dover, Calais, Rotterdam, Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, Running, the Metro and Kinderdijk

Last weekend my younger daughter, Katie, was running in the Rotterdam marathon. We’d decided to go along and offer moral support … oh … and also a credit card.

03:30 Saturday 10th April 2010 and the alarm starts to buzz.

04:10 and we’re driving to Dover.

05:50 the man that is checking passports just waves us on.

05:51 the lady that is checking out the cars and the people waves at us to stop.

“We just need to check the underside of your car.”

A trolley with an attached mirror makes its way under and around the car.

It’s a little amusing.

The underside of the car is checked quite thoroughly.

But not the boot (trunk) nor the inside of the car.

05:53 “Pleas could you get out of the car and walk through the security scanner?”

“All of us?”

“No … just you sir.”

Next time I should travel as a girl I think.

I get out.

Empty my pockets into a plastic tray.

Walk through the the security scanner.

And that’s it.

Knowing that they have the authority to dismantle the car if they choose to I resist the temptation to ask what the point of all that was.

But … really … I find it hard to see what the point was.

The ferry to Calais is uneventful.

My fingernails are a slightly sparkly purple colour. No one pays much attention.

Sally: “Un croissant et un pain au chocolat s’il vous plait.”

The barman: “Et les boissons? "

Sally’s knowledge of French is rumbled.

Driving on the right (as opposed to left) side of the road isn’t so bad … so long as you remember. Remembering is easy so long as there is traffic about.

The drive from Calais to Rotterdam is pretty straightforward with the SatNav. Chris While and Julie Matthews and Indigo Girls keep me entertained together with a little of Simone White.

Kph is tricky compared with mph. The kph numbers are tiny on the car’s speedometer.

A pee stop and about 3 hours driving and the SatNav says “you have reached your destination.”

We can see the hotel across a grassy embankment but we aren’t quite there.

We’re about 15 minutes drive from Rotterdam centre. Parking in the centre is not so easy this weekend we are told because of the marathon.

We head for Alexander Park and Ride.

Getting a metro ticket is a challenge at Alexander Park and Ride if you’re a newcomer.

There’s a mainline railway station as well as a metro station.

You can’t buy a ticket from a human being … only a machine.

A lot of the machines seem to be designed to let you top up a railcard – but it’s not obvious how you get the railcard in the first place.

After a lot of searching we find a machine where you can buy a ticket. Just the one machine.

You can use money …. but only coins and not notes.

A two day travel pass costs 9 Euros. There are three of us and no coins … just notes.

So out comes the credit card … thankfully the machine does English as well as Dutch … German … French …

You can only but one ticket at a time.

Egg … the provider of my preferred credit card … have a habit of querying transactions that look even a little out of the ordinary.

But we manage to get the three tickets … eventually … and head through the barriers.

Are we on the right platform?

This is a little tricky to be certain about … no maps in any obvious place.

But we guess right and pretty soon arrive at Burse in the city centre.

A snack and then we head to the World Trade Centre building so Katie can confirm her presence. A tiny can of Heineken costs 2 Euros.

We walk around a bit …. wishing we had brought coats.

Next morning as we head for the city centre again ready for the start of the race we’re glad we got the two day rail cards … there is a very long line of marathon-runner-types standing in line at the ticket machine.

The race stars at 11:00 am.

Sally and I:

  • see Katie run by
  • get to the metro to get ahead
  • watch Katie run by
  • get the metro
  • watch Katie run by

You get the general idea?

Actually though it’s good that we manage to spot her at each place that we try.

A little before 15:00 we’re at the 350 metres from the end line.

Katie runs by … a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes.

I’m glad that I took the metro.

That evening we eat at Cartoons restaurant (http://www.eetcafecartoons.nl/) … recommended by the receptionist at the hotel. The food is great … if you’re ever anywhere near Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel then go for it.

Monday and we travel back home taking a little while to look at the windmills at Kinderdijk (http://www.kinderdijk.com/)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happiness … joy … sadness … despair

Once in a while when I drive home from work I’m listening to the 6:00 pm news on Radio 4.

Once in a while, when a news item touches me, I turn it off to drive and think.

Last week there was a bus that crashed in Scotland. On it’s way taking a group of kids from Lanark to Alton Towers – an adventure theme / entertainment park in England.

Not kids really – they were sixth formers … mostly aged 17 I would guess.

One of the pupils, a 17 year old girl named Natasha, died in the accident.

Incidents like this touch me somehow.

Life is such a strange kind of an affair.

Happiness and joy never very far away from sadness and despair.

I feel a sadness and desolation for the parents of Natasha.

Each day, I know, the same kind of thing happens to many people. People that I don’t know. Events that I will never hear of.

It’s difficult to discover meaning.