Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Why I have long nails

Today I visited the hospital to have my thumb checked out.

Just a short wait and the nurse called me in to see the consultant.

He asked if he could look at my hand and compared the left thumb with the right one. Asked if there was any pain and declared that there’s no sign of infection and that the nail will re-grow.

“I noticed that your nails are quite long. Do you always keep them like that?” he asked.

“Yes, they are pretty long, and yes pretty much always.”
“Do you mind if I ask why?”

“No, not at all. It’s just that I’m a transvestite and I like them that way.”

“Ah. Ok.” says he and the nurse nods.

The nice thing these days, compared with not so long ago, it doesn’t bother anyone at all.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Repentance from the perspective of a transvestite

The third chapter of Matthew’s gospel says a lot about John the Baptist.

It sounds as though he was a guy that said thins pretty straight as he believed them to be. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily make him right about everything.

People flocked to him and confessed their sins and repented and were baptised in the river Jordan.

There’s a whole lot of stuff packed into the words sin and repent.

What is sin? There’s a whole article about it here. It says for example:

Sin is the breaking of God's law. If God says "Do not lie" and you lie, then you have broken His law and sinned.

This, though, seems a very black and white view of life in a world which is full of colour.

Is there such a thing as a white lie?

  • Is telling the truth always better than not telling the truth?
  • Should doctors always tell people everything … regardless of the individual persons needs at that moment in time?
  • Is knowingly withholding the truth the same as a lie?

I think, I’m not certain, but I think, that anyone that has the idea that it’s easy to define what sin is, really is over simplifying things.

The article also says:

The Old Testament contains the Law of God. It is a perfect standard because it is God's standard.

And this leaves me stupefied. The law as dictated by the Old Testament ranges from the reasonably sounding Ten Commandments to quite a lot of not quite so reasonably sounding stuff. There’s a lot of this recorded here … the tone of which is over-aggressive for me and demonstrates what I think, is a misunderstanding of what Christianity is. The author has some big problems. But it illustrates the point that working out what’s right and wrong can be a tricky business.

And still … I remember back in early 1973 when someone asked me if I thought I had ever sinned. Even by my own subjective definition of right and wrong … I knew I’d done things that I was ashamed of. I remembered people at school that we’d teased and made fun of. Horrendously. For no good reason.

And sneaking a peak ahead into chapter 20 of Matthew’s gospel, the following story is recounted:

… a teacher of the Law, tried to trap him [Jesus] with a question.
"Teacher," he asked, "which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus answered, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
This is the greatest and the most important commandment.
The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself.'
The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments."


The first of these is difficult for an agnostic or an atheist to understand, let alone to put into practise.

But the second could provide a starting point for anyone.

But even then it’s complex. I’ve heard it said that we have to learn how to love ourselves before we can really learn to love other people. And that fits in pretty well with what Jesus said. If a person doesn’t love his or her self, then it makes no sense at all to love other people in the same way.

Maybe the main thing is to not do things that hurt yourself or hurt other people. And major on things that are good for you and for others.

Maybe any kind of commandment that doesn’t influence these things is something that doesn’t really matter. And any command that goes against these isn’t really a commandment at all.

It gives a starting point for definitions of what’s right and wrong.

And also hints at the possibility that what might sometimes be right in some circumstances and for some people, might be wrong in other circumstances for other people.

Then there is repentance. I think this means accepting and understanding what you’ve done that is wrong and committing yourself to change, be different and not do it again.

And so … even in the agnostic world that I inhabit these days … if I define sin as the things that I’m uncomfortable about doing because I feel that they are wrong … maybe because they aren’t good for me or for someone else … repentance seems like the right thing to do. It makes sense.

There’s some nasty sounding stuff in Matthew chapter 3.

Every tree not producing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire

He [Jesus] will clean up his threshing floor and gather his grain into the barn, but he will burn the chaff with inextinguishable fire.

It sounds bad for trees that don’t produce the fruit and for the chaff.

Some interpret this as meaning that people that do bad things end up in hell. Or maybe it’s people that don’t do good things.

I’m not at all sure about heaven and hell.

Then, John baptises Jesus and it says:

When Jesus had been baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens opened up for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. 

Then a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with him!"

If I could believe in God, it would mean a lot to me. There was a time when it did.

Even for an agnostic transvestite, though, there is something of meaning in this chapter.

  • An encouragement to think about what I feel is right and wrong and why I feel that way about things.
  • A call to repentance … which I think just means to live honestly with my own feelings. To try to not do stuff that I feel is wrong, and to do the stuff that I think is right

That makes sense to me. It doesn’t seem unreasonable.

In the past when I tried this it was within the constraints of an evangelical Christian view of right and wrong. And this included a lot more than loving other people as I loved myself. And it relied on a subjective understanding of the Bible … as all understandings of the Bible inevitably are.

And I failed.

Over and over.

And some of the failure had to be kept secret. I didn’t understand the part of me that is feminine. Actually, I still don’t. But I don’t need to understand. I am learning to accept and enjoy. I don’t have to repent from being a transvestite. I don’t have to deny my femininity or my masculinity. I don’t have to deny the person that I am. I can love myself.

There was a time when I needed some kind of a totally objective view of right and wrong.

These days I think it’s not so easy as that. There’s an element of subjectivity in everyone’s views. I’m happy to start again with an aim at working towards loving other people as I love myself.

So, the positive thing I’m taking from Matthew 3, with a bit of help from Matthew 22, is that the idea of repenting from a subjective kind of badness … which seems somehow more possible and sensible than anything I’ve tried before, and it’s something that I can work on.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tragedy, TV Dinners and Born Beautiful

There are times when I feel life is complex and full of difficult decisions.

The things that get reported on the news bring things back into focus.

Today there was news of the coach crash in Switzerland were so many people, mostly schoolchildren, were killed.

It makes all the difficult decisions seem so trivial in comparison.

There is a song by Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls) called The Philosophy of Loss which comes to mind. It includes the following:

Whatever has happened to anyone else
Could happen to you and to me
And the end of my youth was the possible truth
That it all happens randomly

And my youth ends, again.

Last night was a TV dinner at Billie & Kathie’s. The food and company was excellent as ever.

We discovered that Billie & Kathie were married for three years before they told almost anyone … only the registrar and a couple of witnesses knew. It was a revelation, and really funny as well, to hear of the pseudo-wedding that they had for friends and family after three years after the real thing.

It was quite a giggle as well to see Laura passing one of her puppies around. There were sensible kind of reasons for this … but I don’t remember what they were.

Laura mentioned that she had sent an email to The Coalition for Marriage to explain that she disagreed with them. That was really cool. She also signed the petition at The Coalition for Equal Marriage.

It was good, as well, to catch up a little with Nikki, while I hadn’t seen for a while, and also with Tina.

Last week I also discovered that Fiona Floyd is about to re-begin Born Beautiful. That was really great news. Back in 2007 Fiona was the person that first ever met Andrea. So Fiona is a really special person to me. Fiona has mentioned me as well on her testimonials page. I’m looking forwards to booking an appointment!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Marriage … what is it all about?

Today I read that:

The Catholic Church today told worshippers they have a ‘duty’ to resist Government plans on gay marriage.

A letter from two senior archbishops, read in 2,500 parish churches during Mass, argued changes would reduce the significance of marriage

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113429/Catholic-Church-steps-war-gay-marriage-letter-worshippers-warning-profoundly-radical-step.html#ixzz1op7z8okr

The Guardian mentions it here.

The Washington Post here.

And the BBC here.

There are hundreds of articles from different sources that have appeared within the past 24 hours.

The text of the letter is here. In case it disappears from that link I’ve copied it here.

I don’t know how the people that have heard the letter being read out to them have felt about it.

In looking around a little I did come across some refreshing places.

Queering the Church  which has also led me to the Coalition for Equal Marriage which has a petition with the following wording:

I support the right of two people in love to get married, regardless of gender. It's only fair 

I’ve just signed it. It’s worth reading the thoughts they have about the uniqueness of marriage and the consequences of changing the legal definition of marriage.

The content at Queering the Church here and here is especially heartening, somehow.

I also found Press for Change which has some interesting stuff relating particularly to trans-gendered people.

The text of the letter from the Bishops is here. I’ve interlaced it with some of my own thoughts in italics. And a lot of people have similar thoughts.

A Letter on Marriage from the President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference of
England and Wales

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

This week the Coalition Government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.

Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society.

I’ve seen it expressed, by Catholic’s, that what follows is the vision of some Bishops and church leaders. Rather than being the Catholic vision.

I believe that not all Catholics share this vision.

However, I don’t know enough about leadership, church structure and authority in the Catholic church to be sure about what difference this actually makes.

I know, from experience, that in some churches, if the leaders say this the way it is, then if you think it is some other way you have to go and join a different church.

The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the
Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself. Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion.

I’m not sure anyone really knows where the roots of the institution of marriage lie. It’s quite a mish-mash

I have a feeling, though, that it’s more about love and commitment than it is about gender.

We are human … and built into us there seems to be a need to both give and to receive love. I don’t see that gender needs to be the main issue in this.

A man and a woman can complement each other … but so can two men or two women.

The natural reproductive pattern of the human species is about gender. But does marriage necessarily include reproduction? Heterosexual partners don’t usually have to make marriage vows that include reproduction. There are promises to accept and love children but not usually to procreate. At least that’s how this reads to me.

Nature itself is a contradictory kind of thing. I don’t believe that marriage is an institution with laws that are governed and dictated by nature.

Contrarily, I suspect that religions and societies developed the concept of marriage to define a structure in which stable , loving and committed relationships could develop and flourish.

Because of this I think that it’s fair enough to redefine it if the redefinition serves to extend this stability to other people.

Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.

People understand that the ideal of marriage is a lifelong commitment. No one that I know of plans on redefining this.

My own feelings, though, are that it is a commitment to do things like:

- to accept children lovingly 

- to be true in good times and bad, sickness and health

- to love and to honour

It’s not about promising to reproduce. Nor does it necessarily have to be a commitment between a man and a woman, unless we choose to make it that way.

Love and commitment are the things at the foundation of society.

Marriage provides a way for people to promise openly that they will love each other and commit themselves to that love and to each other.

Marriage actually guarantees nothing.

It’s the love and commitment that do the work.

Marriage is a vehicle through which the love and commitment can be expressed.

If the definition of marriage is changed so that people who happen to be of the same sex can make the same promises of love and commitment doesn’t that have the power to strengthen society rather than weaken it?


There are many reasons why people get married. For most couples, there is an instinctive understanding that  the stability of a marriage provides the best context for the flourishing of their relationship and for bringing up their children. Society recognises marriage as an important institution for these same reasons: to enhance stability in society and to respect and support parents in the crucial task of having children and bringing them up as well as possible.

I don’t have a problem with this, other than to say it represents an ideal. An ideal that is sometimes impossible to achieve.

In the real world parents die, wars happen and families break.

In the real world some children would be better living well outside their natural families.

And some children would even be better outside of the institutions that have pledged to take care of them when they have no family.

Stable relationships are a good thing. I think most people accept this. But I don’t see that stability necessarily involves reproduction and child rearing. It involves love and commitment.

The Church starts from this appreciation that marriage is a natural institution, and indeed the Church recognises civil marriage. The Catholic understanding of marriage, however, raises this to a new level. As the Catechism says: ‘The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a  partnership of the whole of life, by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the
dignity of a sacrament.’

These rather abstract words are reflected however imperfectly in the experience of married couples. We know that at the heart of a good marriage is a relationship of astonishing power and richness, for the couple, their children, their wider circle of friends and relations and society. As a Sacrament, this is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We know, too, that just as God’s love is creative, so too the love of husband and wife is creative of new life. It is open, in its essence, to welcoming new life, ready to love and nurture that life to its fullness, not only here on earth but also into eternity.

This is a high and noble vision, for marriage is a high and noble vocation. It is not easily followed. But we are sure that Christ is at the heart of marriage, for his presence is a sure gift of the God who is Love, who wants nothing more than for the love of husband and wife to find its fulfilment. So the daily effort that marriage requires, the many ways in which family living breaks and reshapes us, is a sharing in the mission of Christ, that of making visible in the world the creative and forgiving love of God.

In these ways we understand marriage to be a call to holiness for a husband and wife, with children recognised and loved as the gift of God, with fidelity and permanence as the boundaries which create its
sacred space. Marriage is also a crucial witness in our society, contributing to its stability, its capacity for compassion and forgiveness and its future, in a way that no other institution can.

In putting before you these thoughts about why marriage is so important, we also want to recognise the experience of those who have suffered the pain of bereavement or relationship breakdown and their contribution to the Church and society. Many provide a remarkable example of courage and fidelity. Many strive to make the best out of difficult and complex situations. We hope that they are always welcomed and helped to feel valued members of our parish communities.

The reasons given by our government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination. But our present law does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognises and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.

Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to
the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.

We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.

I don’t know … it seems like the meaning of marriage here is being reduced to being all about having children.

It’s almost as though someone has sat down and though … “what is it that same sex partnerships can’t do” and then based a whole argument upon it.

My own feelings are that children are best brought up within loving and stable relationships. And that people who have children should try to make it work that way.

I can see why religions then say that people should marry before having children. As an expression of love and commitment.

But I’m not at all sure about the way it’s being twisted the other way around. Implying that you should have children if you want to be married, rather than if you want to have children you should get married.

Children … and grown ups as well … thrive best when they are loved and when they know that this love is stable and committed.

In one of the Bible passages that I like a lot (and I know, I am as picky as anyone) it says a lot about love but nowhere does it say that love is exclusively a man and a woman thing.

Changing the legal definition of marriage may have profound results.

With every blessing.

Most Reverend Vincent Nichols

Archbishop of Westminster

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Most Reverend Peter Smith

Archbishop of Southwark

Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales


I know there's more than a single point of view for everything.

So, if you’re aged 16 or over and live in the UK … take a look at http://www.c4em.org.uk/ and think about it. And also take a look at http://c4m.org.uk/ to see the opposite side.

And then … be reasonable minded bout this and sign the petition at http://www.c4em.org.uk/ Smile

Saturday, 10 March 2012

More from Matthew and the Pickiness of Believing the Bible

It’s been a long time since I looked at Matthew Chapter 1.

But here goes with chapter 2.

This talks about wise men visiting the place where Jesus had been born.

They travelled from the east to Jerusalem and asked where they could find the king of the Jews who’s star they had seen.

This upset King Herod and the people of Jerusalem.

Herod seems to work out that they are looking for the Christ, God’s annointed one, and decides to to take on God. So, I guess, Herod either didn’t really believe in an all-powerful God or he was a fool.

The religious people expected the annointed one to be born in Bethlehem. But not any time soon, I guess.

Herod seems to be happy to tell lies … though maybe he told the lies because he felt more frightened and threatened than happy.

The wise men follow the star until it stops over the house where the annointed one is. No mention of a stable. And it was an unusual star to be able to guide them like that.

They give their gifts and don’t tell Herod where they found the child because of a dream.

Another dream and Joseph, Mary and Jesus head for Egypt.

And then Herod has all the 2 year old and younger children … boys? … in and around Bethlehem murdered. It seems that this would likely have been twenty to thirty of these.

Eventually Herod dies. And another dream and Joseph, Mary and Jesus head back for Israel. Another dream and they settle in Nazareth. No mention that Joseph originally came from Nazareth.

There are things here that surprise me.

The way that dreams are so important.

The death of innocent children.

I read a little additional background here. This says some odd things and makes some illogical assertions. And is biased in a different way than I am. It also includes the following awful statement:

In Deuteronomy 17, God commands his people to execute all astrologers by stoning. Jean Dixon wouldn't stand a chance in such a theocracy! The fact that she--and others like her--are so comfortably tolerated--even well respected!--in modern America ought to show us that the U.S.A. is a post-Christian country--at best . . .

Makes me glad that the author isn’t a man or woman with any real power and also glad that the USA is post-Christian. I’m certainly not a reader of stars, but stoning seems on the extreme side.

It makes me wonder about the kind of person that can think that kind of stuff and write it. The stuff is awful.

And this leads me on to memories of when I’ve heard people say something like “it’s not what I think … it’s the Bible that says it … so that’s what I say as well.”

Tonight Sally and I had a meal at Cafe Rouge and talked a bit about this. I mentioned my new perspective on life … about it not being just a lot of black and white issues … and not just shades of grey … but a whole spectrum of colours. She asked me if some people wouldn’t say that not having definite black and whit views was some kind of a cop out.

But thinking about it, it seems much more of a cop out to say “this is the way it is because the Bible says so” without taking the time and trouble to think and feel about an issue.

I just discovered this:

it is not me its the bible


I discovered it here.

I don’t agree with the all the sentiments expressed at the web site, but there’s more than a grain of truth expressed in the cartoon. We are all picky about what we believe and why we believe it.

The original of the cartoon is here.

I don’t think that the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel is something that makes it any easier to be a believer. I’ve heard it said that Matthew’s gospel is written especially for a Jewish readership … hence all the references to fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament. The first two chapters seem to fall into that kind of category.

It’ll get more interesting a little later.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Marriage, Religion and Small Minds?

In the past I used to donate to an organisation called Care.

Every so often I still receive mailings.

A few days ago I received a letter, a poster and a petition.

The letter mentions the formation of The Coalition for Marriage.

The poster says:




“I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”

The letter says:

… the Government has announced that there will be a consultation in England and Wales on redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships. We are strongly opposed to this …

We are deeply concerned about this matter, and believe that this proposal to alter the nature of marriage so radically marks a decisive moment in our nation’s history. We must do all we can to oppose it.

The C4M.ORG.UK web site asserts:

If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People's careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?

The petition provides a place for people to assert their support for the current definition of marriage and oppose any attempt to redefine it.

The British press has been carrying a lot of stories on the issue.

Church leaders have said a lot.

I think that once upon a time I might have signed this petition.

But now I’ve grown up, or as some might say I have back-slidden and returned to the mud and vomit.

It depends on the perspective that you view me from.

I have to admit that when I read this stuff I was angered by it. Sally has quietened me somewhat.

I had stared writing a bullet pointed list of why it bothers me. But mostly it’s the sense of duplicity that I feel.

I don’t believe that the Christian church or any other religion has the right to a monopoly on defining legal terms, even in cases where the original meaning of the word had some specifically religious roots. Christians have sometimes redefined non-Christian things in Christian terms. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for the opposite to happen once in a while.

So far as I can tell, no one is planning to force religious institutions to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if they don’t want to.

The propaganda that is being promulgated seems to use arguments that are designed to appeal to religious people that  take a particularly literal view of a selection of religious texts and to secular people  with homophobic tendencies. It also seems to appeal to people’s fears and anxieties. Suggesting that changing the definition of marriage will ultimately result in all kinds of bad things happening.

I’m still not at all sure about the existence of God. But … if there is … then (s)he must surely be less small minded than all of this.

I oppose this small mindedness.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The colour of life

After the interview on Friday I met up with Tina and we had a bite to eat and a drink at the The Baron Cadogan (a Weatherspoons pub) in Caversham. It was really nice to chat with Tina and no-one at all in the pub paid us any attention. Tina had noticed the delay at round about midday on the radio station whilst the fire alarm was sounded and the building evacuated. We talked about this and that and the other. Really nice.

A thought occurred to me yesterday when thinking about something Bill Buckley had said during the interview. He mentioned how people often seem to want to see things as being black or white and aren’t comfortable with the fact that life often isn’t like that.

That also reminds me of a song from way back in the early 1970’s from a Christian musical called Lonesome Stone. I really loved it. A group of us from Loughborough University went to see it sometime in either 1973 or 74. The song is Where do we go from here? The lyrics are:

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

Oh, I gotta know right now.

Where do we go from here?

Does it matter, anyhow?

There’s a thousand roads to take.

Is there one that’s meant for me?

There’s a thousand plans to make.

Will they help me in eternity?

Is there something in the stars?

Is there someone in control?

Do I have to go to Mars,

To end this searching of my soul?

Where do we go from here?

Oh, I gotta know right now.

Where do we go from here?

Does it matter, anyhow?

Is there any right or any wrong?

Is there any black or any white?

Or is there only shades of grey?

What would happen if I died tonight?

Where do we go?

There was a time when I looked for rights and wrongs. Blacks and whites.

And then I began to see lots of shades of grey, with a lot less absolutes.

Over this weekend I realised life really isn’t supposed to be shades of grey.

But nor is it black and white.

It’s a multitude of bright sparkling colours.

It really is.


I know. It’s obvious when you think about it. But somehow the bleedin’ obvious can be surprisingly hard to see.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Radio Interviews and Being Accepted as a Person even when you are a transvestite

The BBC Radio Berkshire interview happened on Friday March 2nd.

If you’d like to listen in, there was a little over 19 minutes of talking, so I had to split it into two pieces for YouTube which has a maximum item length of 15 minutes.

So … part 1 is here:

Part 1

And part 2 is here:

Part 2


The pictures aren’t of the actual day. The one of Bill Buckley came from his website. The one of me was taken in Windsor a while ago. I was actually wearing the same blouse and cardigan at the interview.

I took a day of annual leave from work. And it went something like this.

It’s 9:00 am and Sally wakes me. Toot brushing. Shower. Coffee and cereal. Shave. Moisturise. Makeup. Dress.

10:50 and Andrea is set to go.

A little nervous.

The car radio is tuned in to BBC Radio Berkshire.

Somehow the listening makes me more nervous. Everyone sounds clear. Uncomplicated. Easy to understand. Gulp.

I’ve been in the car just two minutes.

The lady on my Sat Nav says “Turn right”.

But I drive straight on.

Silently she re-routes.

I’m more nervous than I think.

I decide to turn around when possible and the engine stalls.

I must be even more nervous than I think.

I change my mind about turning round and follow the re-routed route.

On the Radio Bill interviews a local lady who has brought in some Goat’s fudge (fudge made from Goats milk) that her goats produce.

A recorded piece from Anne Diamond about a lock that would shoot you if you tried to use the wrong key to open it.

Travel news. Weather.

It’s a little foggy. But not bad enough to affect traffic.

Tom Tom is programmed to avoid motorways so it’s a short route and takes me through Twyford and Sonning on my way to the studio at Caversham.

11:30 and I’m outside Caversham Park, where it all happens.

A little on the early side, so I drive past and re-program the Sat Nav to take me towards the pub that I’m to meet up with Tina at once the interview is over.

Enough traffic to make me turn back before reaching there.

11:38 back at the BBC.

The security barriers are impressive.

I press the intercom button.

“Hi. It’s Andrea Wright … the Anne Diamond show.”

I have quite a deep voice for an Andrea, But they are expecting me.

The barrier descends into the road and the green light flashes.

I drive towards the car park and pull into a space.

On the whole, I feel nervous but relaxed.

I#m not sure what the questions will be nor what angle things will be approached from. But the people that I’ve spoken with on the phone have been really helpful and positive. So although nervous, I’m not feeling worried.

It’s a short walk from the car park to reception.

It’s strange the things that go through my mind.

How is my deportment? Am I walking in a lady-like fashion?

At reception I introduce myself. Sign the visitors book. Receive my security pass. The ladies at reception are totally un-phased. They make a phone call to say that I’m here.

I take a seat beneath the large TV screen that quietly plays the BBC News service.

Across the way there two guys sit and talk with each other.

And then, someone arrives to collect the three of us.

We’re escorted towards the studio.

Gareth Owen, a movie producer and BAFTA judge from Pinewood studios heads for the studio … I’m due next at midday.

I visit the ladies.

Back in the room beside the studio I’m offered a coffee.

I chat with Andrew, who’s waiting for Gareth, and, I think Marie, who works at the radio station.

Andrew tells a little of his experiences as a contestant on The Weakest Link.

It’s getting close to noon.

Gareth arrives back.

I psyche myself up.

A siren kind of noise begins to sound.

It’s a fire alarm.

We have to evacuate.

Oh my gosh!

I follow people outside.

There’s Marie (I think … but I didn’t catch her name at the beginning) with Bill and she introduces me.

I’m wondering if the interview will ever happen and am glad that it’;s not raining and that the cardigan I’m wearing is nice and warm.

Bill offers goats fudge sweets all round. Coffee flavoured and very nice.

In an odd kind of way the surprise of the fire alarm going off is a bit of a tension reliever. And it’s really nice to have a chance to say hello outside of the studio atmosphere.

The radio listeners are presently listening to music.

Surprisingly soon the alarm stops and the all clear is given. We head back inside and I’m escorted straight to the studio.

Bright Eyes (Art Garfunkel) is playing.

I take a seat opposite Bill, behind a microphone that has a green covering.

The music ends.

The interview begins.

And how do I feel about the whole experience now?

Very positive. The people were all great. Bill Buckley is a lovely guy. The questions were put together in a way that provided an opportunity to say a little about how I got to be where I am.

Of course … after the event … with some time to think … there are lots of observations:

  • wow … I said kind of and I guess wayyyyy too many times
  • there are so many things that I didn’t say that I would have liked to have said … other people that have made such a big and positive difference to me over the past few years on the journey that I’ve made to self acceptance … people like Fiona Floyd, Billie and Kathie, the group that meet for TV Dinners, the Surrey Swans and friends that include Laura, Tina, Emma, Nikki and many more. Places like Pink Punters and Cafe Rouge.

I missed out a whole lot more than I said … but 20 minutes is a short time.

I’m glad of the experience and really grateful to Catherine Bolsover at BBC Radio Berkshire who first contacted Billie and Kathie about the possibility of doing this interview and followed it all up and organised it.

Towards the end of the  interview, Bill asked:

What’s your ultimate aim both for you and for transvestite people generally? Do you have any kind of dreams or hopes particularly?

My response was:

I think, I find it very satisfying and comforting just to be able to kind of walk out in normal places like town centres and things and for people just not to take any notice really. Just to be treated as a human being.

Bill: You just want to be accepted.

Andrea: Yes, exactly.

And I think that captures the essence.

And as Bill said:

Well we’ve come a long way when you think how life would have been either for me as a gay man, or you as a TV, even 20 years ago. Certainly 50 0r 100 years ago. My goodness. Hooray for that.

And yes, things are changing.

And hopefully just little things, this interview will help in that.