I’d clearly lost my blogging mojo. I blame twitter, Nick Clegg, cake, the bankers, that Icelandic volcano and my genetic propensity for laziness.
Well that all needs to change. I used to love the writing process that is integral to blogging, and even if my blog is only read by automated spam bots, what the heck, an audience is an audience. Henceforth I pledge to blog regularly, hmmm perhaps occasionally is more realistic,…hmmm I wont be too rash, maybe monthly will be possible….. OK I will pledge to blog at least annually, as long as I can find the time.
Right, as Marti DiBergi said, “enough of my yacking”….Lets get writing
Well that was a weekend to remember.
I’ve mentioned the UK Angels before in Posts passim, but for those of you mono gendered people out there, I will refresh. The UK Angels site founded by the not coincidentally named Jo Angel, is the funnest and best Transgender support site and forum on the Wibbly Wobbly Web. It was pivotal in my dark closeted days of a decade ago in helping me see the light chinking through the door.
Anyway 10 years on, ten years older and 10 years wider, I find myself off to my first Angels do, in fact my first scene do ever. So why debut now, 4 years after and at a time in life where the thoughts that I’m transgendered have become fleeting, confined to clinic appointments and on line bloggaging etc, and after all it was to be held in a nightclub with much dancing,drinking and looking fabulous, three things that don’t rank amongst my many talents (or Talent, and that is if you include taking up space as a talent). There were 2 reasons for my wanting to attend the first being that I could meet some blogging/tweeting/facebooking contacts, and that I hoped contacts would become flesh and blood friends. The second reason was that like many others I wanted to pay my own quiet thanks to that corner of the internet that helped me turn my corner. Ladies, Gentlemen and all shades between I give you the UKangels.
A smidge before a dank Friday noon and I’m shuffling from one foot to the other, trying to keep warm, with a knot of expectation and nerves in my gut keeping me out of the Station coffee shop. In Coach C of the Manchester-Euston Virgin “Benderleano” train was Justine. I had got to know Jus initially from blogs and more latterly twitter. I can’t pretend I really knew her , but felt instinctively that we would get on. She had saved me a seat next to her and thankfully she is petite, so I don’t think she was too squished when I plonked down beside her. I’m glad I recognised her from her pictures because I was worried I might have to stand mid coach and holler Justine ! We nattered away and the hour to Milton Keynes flew by. Justine is a Geordie exile in Manchester, tolerant of my rambling and jus damn great fun, oh and not forgetting a music mixing goddess, as any listener to her TransAnthems will testify. MK Central station cleared, and one roundabout filled taxi journey later we arrived at our hotel The Campanaille (this weekend with an emphasis on the Camp) situated just across from the Pink Punters nightclub just across road and our venue for the night. I hadn’t booked a room in time, but thanks to a request from Justine on the angels site I was able to book in under the name of someone off the angels site that had cancelled. If you like I was using a Nom de Room.
Saffy, Louise & the Milton Keeners
The plan was that a bunch of us were to hit the mean,and very straight streets of Milton Keynes for a shopping expedition before assembling at the huge Jaipur Indian Restaurant. As we formed our party in the hotel lobby, we were joined by Louise, our master planner, (or perhaps Mistress planner if you prefer), and Saffy, both of whom I knew from twitter. It was a good job that we had Louise, else we may have spent the whole weekend, dithering and deferring to each other in the hotel lobby. Saffy comes from my brother’s home town of Hastings and is an enthusiastic member of the Unison Stunt Pigs Facebook group. (see previous post). She has just taken her transition plunge, and I’m in awe of her natural grace and composure. Typically of my own arrogance had me thinking I would impart my wisdom of a 4 years plus transition, like a sage Trans Obi wan Kenobi (except without the beard) instructing her Padawan. In the end I was the pupil, learning that my way of stumbling through life will only lead to bruised knees. Our group was then completed by statuesque photographer Helena, cheery Kay and calming Sophie, who in particular was so kind in ferrying me about.
Milton Keynes “High Street” / Your typical, small, family run Indian Restaurant
I’d not been to MK before bar whizzing through on the train, but I have to say its a strange place. Would it have killed the planners to include some curves, it’s a bit like Telford on steroids.I didn’t do much in the way of actual shopping but it was nice to chat and seal bonds. I did have one personal task in offloading a small pig troupe to Saffy. Standing there around her open car boot, furtively transferring my pink squidgy consignment would have appeared to any passer by like the most surreal of drug deals. Our group swelled in the oversized Indian Restaurant, as experiences and rice was shared, as we broke Nan Bread together. Appetite sated it was time for the main event.
A quick dash back to the hotel and a quicker hotel room self makeover for each of us, one by one we braved the short hobble over the road to the Pink Punters club. The club itself reminded me of the much missed Highwayman (or ‘Wayman) midway between my school town of Cheadle and Alton Towers. I guess the clientele was very different, but the mock Tudor exterior , and thrown together improvised comfortable dinginess of the interior was very reminiscent, along with the fact everyone was having mucho fun. To be honest I recall Rock Night’s at the ‘Wayman usually ending with an uncoordinated and often amusing minor brawl. Perhaps this is a feature the PP could introduce. There was one bizarre feature to the club in its gleaming spaceship bridge style control/cctv room that was displayed through plate glass on the top floor. It seemed to me that they had spent all their design budget on this room, with nothing much left for the rest,so they decided the least they could do was display it. That may have been a mistake with the angels crowd, at least 80% of whom worked in IT, or so it seemed to me,so the window had a constant gaggle of cooing techie admirers.
The Punk Pinters / Starship Angel 1
Jane, Becky and the hashtag crowd
Highlight of the night was meeting the rest of our twitter crew, the #MKangels. In particular Jane and Becky, a married couple who blog and tweet with heart and humour. Becky’s blog has been a staple on my Favourites tab for years and years, and as far as I’m concerned the funniest tweeter full stop. I did have to own up to her, that at times I’ve nicked the odd tweet of hers and shoved it on Facebook. Jane is lovely to the max and we chatted away like we had known each other for ages. She made some lovely confidence building comments to me, which I shall remember for along time. Becky is just as funny in full Technicolor 3D, as on the blog page, and was clearly adored by so many of the angels crowd. Their life has taken a wonderful new twist with the arrival Tom, who is surely the luckiest baby in (West) East Anglia. The only person I failed to talk to properly was Jo Angel herself, the brains and beauty behind it all. I really should have made more of an effort to thank her for all her work.
I wisely decided to forgo any dancing, as I had not seen the buildings structural certificates but I had an absolutely brilliant night chatting away and playing spot the web site person. I had seen so many of those angels on the various websites that in my brain it was like being at a very minor celebrity wrap party.
Final reckoning was that I was so glad I’d overcome all those neurotic reservations that plagued me leading up to the glorious 22nd: That I wouldn’t feel part of the club / That virtual friends would stay just that / That belatedly joining the Trans scene would be at odds with my stance as a fully rounded woman/ That one way or other I would make a complete tit of myself
None of the above came to fruition, moreover I had made new friends, real friends and I hope lasting friends, and in addition I left Milton Keynes with my confidence just a little bolstered.
The next day a bunch of us, Justine, Saffy, Louise, Sophie,Kay and I visited nearby Bletchley Park,home of the Code breakers and Alan Turing. I need to give this some more space, so I will blog later.
My intention on the Saturday morning was to get back to Stoke in time to join my comrades from Norscarf (North Staffs Campaign Against Racism & Fascism) on the march against the EDL gathering in Hanley town centre, but oversleeping and Network Rail foiled me. The EDL are the nasty by-product of a one night stand between the BNP and a bunch of Football Hooligans. Ostensibly anti Muslim, they are no friends to anyone of difference. The fact that they chose Stoke as the latest city to hear their hate, was I guess because they thought the very visible BNP success would mean there was fertile ground for their form of fascism. They were and are wrong. Stoke is not a racist city, just maybe at times a political naive one. I didn’t have a great awareness as to how the day had gone, until I got off the platform at Stoke Station. The place was teeming with riot police all armoured and helmeted along with groups of drunk chanting EDL thugs. The atmosphere was febrile and menacing, and we were ushered to leave the station straight away. I was glad to reach the relative safety of my car and mused on a journey home, as a succession of police vans sped past, of the contrast between learning about the geniuses like Alan Turing who helped win a war over fascism and the thick headed lack of logic exhibited by the mob of the EDL.
At home I caught the footage on the news. My comrades had behaved impeccably contrasting notably with the rioting of the whose argument seemed to rely on shouting “En-ger-land”, or just pointless sweary anti Islam chants. The pics below demonstrate the wit and thought of our march and the utter stupidity of the EDL.
If you want a more thoughtful treatise on the day read A very public socialsit
Best banner in the world ever, has to be Oatcakes not Racism #only_in_stoke
As this blog is titled “of Cats….” there ought to be a feline quotient, else the title is a pointless Steinbeck based pun, with myself cast as Lennie
Cat #1 My history with cats is somewhat chequered. Our first family cat was called Suzie, who I understand was packed off (or maybe put down :-/) after it tried to claw the then 3 year old pre- Jenny’s eye. I’m not sure how I provoked her but maybe it was the innate wonkiness of that right eye that sacred it. I never did get to know Suzi, although somehow I do feel responsible for her fate.
Cat #2 came along when I reached the dizzy heights of 9 years old, and was named Suki because it reminded my parents of the name Suzi, and reminded me of my guilt. Suki lived a full and contented life, until long after I had flown the cat basket. My overriding memory of Suki was her extraordinary skill with a ping pong ball, (though thankfully not in that Thai prostitute way).
Cat #3 arrived alongside married life. Spooky, so called after Mulder’s nickname in the X Files …”I’m Jenny and I’m a geekaholic”. Spooky would have been better named as Spooked as she was as neurotic and jumpy as a frog in therapy. You only had to shoot her a quick sideways glance and she would either go for the jugular or scamper up the curtains. Spooky was happy in her own jumpy world until her territory was invaded by Saffy the Borderline Collie (part Collie, part Something) with unlimited energy, limited intelligence and no regard for personal space. In hindsight we should have guessed that Spooky and Saffy would not mix. A case of opposites repelling, Spooky disappeared before Saffy’s second bark, only briefly resurfacing 3 weeks later to check if the Hound of the Basketcases was still in residence. We never saw Spooky again, but choose to believe she hooked up with Scully cat to hunt aliens and find the truth about dogs. The dog eventually departed as did my spouse, so I was home alone, and the house felt empty.
So time for Cat #4, the current cat in residence, Gammo Speng the Tom. Why Gammo Speng ? well there is an mainly uninteresting story behind the name. Gammo was one of a litter my friend Vicky had inherited, which needed re-housing. At the very moment I agreed to the adoption, the name Gammo Speng appeared on the TV. We had been cruising the late night Sky radio channels and landed on a Reggae station. Apparently the real , no the human Gammo is a famous Reggae DJ. Anyway, I liked the name and it stuck (unfortunately). Gammo is a lovely puss with just one failing, an insatiable sex drive. This is despite his being “sorted” at the vets, some time ago. He seems to be in denial about the state of his bits and he is on a never ending quest for things to hump. His current favourite is my poor duvet. Despite all that she is a lovely cat and when not shagging soft furnishings she is quite good company. ooops, I said *she* sorry I meant *he* .Its funny, after so many girl cats, I still struggle to call Gammo *he*…..Oh the irony !
“So much for the Cats, What about the Pigs”, I hear no one cry.
Well, during my blog haitus, or blogaitus if you wont, I found myself drawn into the shallow world of the Facebook and the shady underworld of Pig Balancing
A marriage of trivial and pointless in perfect harmony. I am proud that the group I founded now has over 81 members and is the fastest growing Union linked Stress Pig based group on the whole of the internet (probably).
To date this is by far the greatest waste of time I have discovered
Ladies and non ladies, I give you The Unison Stunt Pigs
I’ve never really been part of a scene, I’ve never really been part of The Scene. By *The* I mean the Transgender scene, the nights, the parties, the events that make up the Trans community. This I must add, is not down to any sniffyness on my part, mainly down to my slight social clumsiness, lack of opportunity and bad time management. I did attend a support group in Derby for a year or so and made couple of pals, but it wont no scene (sic).
I guess one of the problems was my short window of post outing, pre transitioning. There was a time just breaking out into the light that I would have jumped at the chance for a boogie in a fabulous outfit and dangerous heel. (Though in the heels it would have to be a very tiny jump). Once I’d surged headlong into fulltime working womanhood, my priorities sort of changed. Not a conscious thing, and I could be accused of forgetting my roots (which if you look at my dyed hair I still do), but I just seemed to want to get on with being a woman, so if I went out clubbing it was with my long standing non scene friends. I think looking back I may have missed the boat a bit (hmm missing the boat a “bit” could leave you wet), missing the opportunity to cement some real, rather than virtual friends.
“What is this ‘ere Trans Scene, you talk about ? ” cry those Gender deficient non T readers. Well, just like the preverbal Iceberg it bigger than you see, and too can be a danger to shipping. Starting out, low key at the birth of the home internet revolution groups like the fabulous UK Angels (after today’s news I’m glad they didn’t plump for Angels4UK) site grew, and grew along with networks up and down the country. The pinnacle of this is the huge Sparkle event running over a June weekend, in Manchester, where the trans community stands together as one, shouting “We are here”, “We are proud to be Trans” and “Where did you get those shoes ? ”. I’ve no idea of the exact number of Trans people in the country but I will confidently and wrongly estimate it to be at least 3 0 million (most just don’t know it yet)
So why am I blathering on about the Scene now. Well next Friday week there is an event to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the UK Angels, and I am considering making my debut. Two reasons. Firstly I want to meet a few of my internet buddies I have garnered over my twittering, blogging and facebooking. For me it’s not about meeting fellow trans travellers, but just meeting good people. Secondly I want to pay my respects to the Angels group. Like any internet forum, it is made up of a spectrum of lovely and less lovely people, but I am absolutely steadfast in stating that if it wasn’t for this group, and its early days chatroom I would never have moved beyond thinking that I was just a bit strange and nestled myself deeper in the closet.
So If anyone sees a semi mobile, badly made up fridge sitting in the corner at a Milton Keynes or any other Trans Scene event, please say Hi, or at least wave.
..and for those of you who a stuck in a single gender life, have a rummage in your closet, you never know what you will find back there
Just got home from mum and dad’s (funny that nobody says dad and mum’s ?) where tonight, just like every other second Sunday of a new year we watched the final of the darts world championship (well the one that isn’t on a Murdoch channel anyway). “The Arrows” has undergone a bit of a resurgence recently, with rising viewing figures, profile, and prize money. Such luminaries as Stephen Fry and Dave Gorman now tweet about the darts with a surprising passion, and it’s a cert that tomorrow more people will be chatting about the darts than the football, although that may be more to do with only 2 Premiership matches surviving the snow. Wimps, you never hear the darts being snowed off !. Darts is pure sport. No luck, no drugs, no financial inequalities. No Doubt. The dart is either in or it is out. That is it. There is no need for referees decisions, no requirement to refer to a replay. The winner of a darts match will never need to rely on a Russian linesman. It’s no help to a darts player to bulk up on steroids, the usual British diet and plenty of pints of stuff, will see to that. It doesn’t discriminate about your size and build, fat or thin, either is fine. Having a rich Arab or Russian oligarch won’t buy you victory, and neither can you gain an advantage with some new fangled equipment. A darts match is man against man against the board, and this simplicity is the key to its success. Anyone can understand the techniques, so all the concentration is on the unfolding drama. How is each player, who in the comfort of their own home would real off 9 dart finishes and 170 checkouts for fun, to handle the pressure. Who will crack ? Who will rise to the occasion ? Only the strongest of wills and steadiest of arms will prevail.
Darts is sport at its absolute purest, and should be in the Olympics well before the likes of Tennis, Golf, Synchronised Dressage et al.
Darts And The City
Darts is deep in the hearts of the people of Stoke-on-Trent. For years the world championship was held in the Jollees Nightclub, above Longton Bus Station. This was in the era of John Lowe, Jocky Wilson and “The Crafty Cockney” Eric Bristow, with his cocked pinky. Jocky Wilson the almost spherical Scotsman is almost as famous for Top of the Pops than his world championships. For some strange reason when Dexys Midnight Runners sang “Jackie Wilson Said” instead of a picture of the soul singer a huge image of the literally toothless darts player was projected. To this day I know not why (Have a look below).
In addition to Stoke being the birthplace of world darts we have had 3 world champions from the area. Eric Bristow lived just a few miles away in my home village. Ted “The Count” Hankey is a Stokey and of course Phil “The Power” Taylor is Stoke-on-Trent born and bred. Phil Taylor who’s achievement to many, in winning 15 world titles ranks him alongside Schumacher, Woods and Fedderer, although I can never see him at the glittering World Sportsman of the year award. Stoke has just instigated it’s own sporting Hall Of Fame and the 2 inaugural members are Phil Taylor and Sir Stanley Mathews. That is the esteem in which we hold him (even if he is a Port Vale fan)
Phil, Eric & Ted
Darts and Me
Darts has at times pricked it’s way into my life, and I don’t mean the time that Darren Colclough bounced a dart out that stuck in my thigh. With Eric Bristow living in our village I once did Bob-a-Job for him. I think I washed his car, but I can’t remember what he paid. I am also the only person to hit a 180 (one hundred and eighteeeeee!) in the Stallington Hospital, Frank Quinn trophy heats, when playing for the kitchens against Birch Ward. That same year the Kitchen triumphed to win in front of a packed (about 30 people!) social club. The only time the trophy had not been won by a ward team. I did for a while play for the Roebuck pub darts team, although that was more to do with the fine sausage and onions provided at half time. Darts also gave an excuse for an obviously unfit specimen like me to legitimately enter a sports shop without the fear of a sneer, as I would pick up a gleaming new set of Tungstens or a supply of flights in exciting designs.
I haven’t played darts for years now…. That is a sad thing
A whole new month, new year, new decade. A whole new blog.
I’ve blogged before and how. I blogged on blogger and blogged like a storm, but late last year I have ran out of steam, my inspiration as dry as a burnt out kettle. I’m not really sure what happened. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process and my blog brought me nothing but positives. It reconnected me with long since lost friends. It brought me a wonderful new circle of friends, fellow bloggers and gender travellers, It enabled family, friends and colleagues to get just a little grasp on what it takes to get through transition. It even got me plastered on the front page of our local newspaper. I loved that blog. That blog was me, I was that blog. My first thought of the day was whether anything postable would happen, my last was just how to write it up.
Coincidence, cause or symptom my blogging hiatus happened concurrently with a pretty low point of post transition life. Questioning whether it had all been worth the effort. Weight piling on and tummy expanding like an unstoppable rolling snowball. The creeping loneliness of a job where the buck stops, and a divorced life with no partner to share burden with, threatened to overwhelm. My solution was tried and tested. Nestle down under the duvet with enough sugary fatty food and box set dvds to blot out any thoughts of the future. To sit it out. An emotional hibernation if you like, only popping up to do the duty I pledged as a Trade Unionist. The result, neglect of self and neglect of friendships.
So it was time for a line to be drawn in the sand. No no, that doesn’t really work as a metaphor. Anyway enough was enough was enough. The turning of a decade in someway is just an arbitrary moment in time, but it was just enough to be that catalyst I needed. So in the last week I’ve bought a set of solid bathroom scales, I’ve clambered back onto that diet wagon and now I’m blogging anew and hope to get as much pleasure out of this one.
I decided to try out WordPress for a change. I intend the format to be the same as my last blog. Rambling accounts of the high jinks and low blows of my life, hopefully with a few more laughs than this post. Allez Bloggais
As Fish from Marillion sang in Market Square Heroes “We March”
Must admit I do miss my old one though