Thursday, 30 April 2015

Bournemouth, Bra Wars and Bleeding Ears

Friday morning at 8 o’clock as the day begins.

Usually Friday means work. This Friday it marks the beginning of an Andrea weekend.

The weekend really begins on Thursday night with packing. The suitcase is large enough to keep Andy in clothing for a month. For Andrea it’ll be ok for two nights. It’s the shoes. And the dresses. And the makeup. Hair. Boobs. And all those other essentials and not-so essentials. After the packing there are toe nails and fingernails to paint.

Friday itself … shave, shower, makeup and dress.

Tina arrives as Sally leaves. Dress and makeup.

Suitcases into the car. Leaving just enough room for the two of us. A neighbour is cutting grass and pays us no attention.

Legoland … Ascot ... Bagshot … M3 … M27 … A31.

We catch up as Tina drives.

Ringwood. Coffee and sandwiches at the Boston Tea Party. Cheese and ham for one, bacon bap for the other.

(This photo of Ringwood is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Andrea needs to visit the ladies.

“Upstairs, through the door” says the waitress.

Andrea goes upstairs.

There’s a doorway.

And more stairs.

Andrea goes upstairs.

And through the doorway.

Looks right. Looks left.

There are no signs.

But there’s a door at the end. See it?

(This photo of Ringwood is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Alas, the door is locked.

“Can I help?” asks a man who is sitting on the right … just about where the lady is sitting in the picture.

“Downstairs, through the door” says the man in response to Andrea’s query.

Andrea goes downstairs.

And through the doorway.

Looks right. Looks left.

There’s a sign.

And that part of the journey is over.

Tina has a much shorter journey.

A few more miles and here we are at Bournemouth.

We buy a few bits and pieces and reach the hotel at about 15:00.

Check-in, drop the bags in the room and a trip to the bar.

We order a maybe-not-so-girlie Guinness each.

Danielle pops over to say hello and welcome.

We are at the TV Extravaganza Weekend

There are just about as many TVs at the hotel as there are TVs at the hotel.

Round about 6 pm is the group fancy dress photo. For those with fancy dress. Very fancy.

The headmistress is especially eye catching.

Then dinner and the dance.

We are amazed at the number of  outfit changes that we’ve witnessed.


Breakfast ends at 9:30 am.

Andy could sleep until 9:00 am and still make it.

Andrea needs somewhat longer.

07:45 and the alarm sounds.

Just enough time for the transformation and to be at breakfast by 09:15.

Miss TV Bournemouth is to be followed by the Beau Belles.

Tina and Andrea help bolster the audience.

Dresses and interviews.

Swimsuits and interviews.

And then .. would I mind being a judge for the Beau Belle competition?

A Beau Belle might look a little like this:


We three judges ponder as each Belle is interviewed.

The scores are counted and Lindy Loo is crowned. The picture above isn’t Lindy Loo … it’s just one that I found courtesy of a Google search.

Tina and Andrea set out to visit Bournemouth Pier.

Chine Crescent.

Durley Chine Road.

West Cliff Road.

Priory Road … well maybe.

We’re thinking about the return journey. And the steepness of the hill.

So it’s a right turn down Beacon Road instead.

And here is Tina, with the pier in the background.



And a windswept looking me.




Then back to the New Westcliff via the newsagent.

It’s time for a change of attire and the barn dance.

Which is where the wars begin.

I don’t recall the name of the dance.

It involves moving round in a big circle, passing people,, hand to hand, who are moving the opposite way.

Once in a while you stop. Hold hands with the person you are about to pass. Raise hands and arms in the air and each spin around.

Andrea discovers that her bra and boob combination were not designed with this manoeuvre in mind.

The boobs escape.

Thankfully the dress that she is wearing saves the day. Or at least it saves the boobs and they don’t make a clean escape.

Walking around the circle isn’t so much hand to hand for Andrea any more as she fights to return her breasts to captivity.

The sweet thing is that though people realise why Andrea isn’t able to shake hands at the moment, no one is at all phased.

Soon it’ll be time for cocktails.

Makeup needs replacing … well … at least from the nose down. The chin bristles are beginning to make their presence felt. They need to be removed.

I wonder? Can I manage to make up half a face?

It goes like this.

Makeup remover onto the neck, cheeks, chin and above the lips.


Re-apply foundation, powder, blush and lipstick.

And it works and saves ages … no new eye shadow, liner or mascara

Half a makeup.

Cocktails and the group photo.

The conversation is broad.


The general election.


The fact that one of the girls isn’t able to leave her house dressed as a girl because there was a period when trans-phobic youths would throw bricks through her window.

Dinner and then the dance.

Complete with a Turkish male belly dancer.

We retire to the bar.





Nikki drops by and poses for some pictures on the bar.

Which leaves sleep and breakfast.

We stop by at Mudeford.

We almost stop by at Beaulieu.

At Lyndhurst we have a sandwich and coffee.

A fair amount of time is spent in the loo, recapturing boobs that have somehow escaped again.

At home it’s another half a makeup before heading to Surrey Swans.

There are a few less people than usual but there are quite a few girls that are relative newcomers and it’s really lovely to talk with them a little as well as with Emma, Carol and Tina.

On Monday I begin to realise the perils of clip-on earrings.

On the phone with an itching earlobe that I rub a little I notice the red stains on my fingers.

I think it’s the first time I’ve had bleeding earlobes.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Unconditional love and the death of a teenager

There’s a story in the news today about Leelah Alcorn. It’s in the Independent here and the Daily Mail here.

The articles mention that 17 year old Leelah committed suicide and that a contributing factor in this was her Christian parent’s inability to accept Leelah’s gender identity.

Leelah’s mother says that she loved her son unconditionally, but seems unable to use the word daughter.

I’ve spent a while reading through some of the comments that readers of the Daily Mail article have made.

To me it seems that there are some very harsh things being said.

Some people believe that all religions are evil and intolerant. That the influence of religion on people is always bad.

And some religious people make comments that seem to confirm this stereotypical view of religion.

As often seems to be the case, a surprisingly large number of people seem to think that there is a single one size fits all solution to dealing with transgender issues and religious beliefs. Unfortunately the one size fits all answers that are offered by different people are different.

There was a time when I viewed myself as being a Bible believing born again evangelical Christian. Not a fundamentalist. But I believed things like the apostles creed.

There were some things that I found difficult. The idea of hell, for example. And the concept that even though God is love and God loves everyone, it was likely that the vast majority of all people that have ever lived would be spending an eternity in hell.

I think that when people believe this, the result can be that they do a lot of seemingly unloving things with a motivation of what they believe is love.

If a person believes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are bound for an eternity in hell then it might seem loving to do almost anything that would save them from it.

In some ways I think this helps me understand the feelings and actions of Leelah’s parents.

But, it doesn’t stop me feeling and believing that they are wrong. Just as I believe that I was wrong. In offering Leelah what they believed to be “unconditional love”, they seem to actually have been attaching all kinds of conditions to it.

There’s an article that’s worth reading: What to know, say and understand.

In fact, not all Christians share the views and beliefs of Leelah’s parents. It depends upon how they interpret the Bible.

I know Christians that don’t associate homosexuality and transgender with “sin”.

I also know other Christians that say that people with such views are not Christians.

I’ve never actually met a Christian that takes these words of Jesus literally:

"He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."

But I have heard Christians explain why they should not be taken literally.

These days I don’t see myself as being Christian. Some would associate this with dogs and vomit, pigs and mud. My own feelings are more complex than that.