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Angels and Demons

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Well that was a weekend to remember.

angels-logo The Angels

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 1 Jaipur 1

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.

 Pink punters lesbian gay & transgender nightclub Fenny Stratford near Milton Keynes Buckingham starship angel 1

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.

angels 1 resizeThe “not so solid”  hashtag crew; Justine, Saffy, Me, Becky and Louise behind the lens

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 Demons

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

EDL thugs 2 EDL thugs

EDL protesteroatcakes not racism

  1. Jane
    January 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Awww and it was a real pleasure to meet you as well, hopefully next time though it will be not quite so noisy.

  2. Becky
    January 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Aw, glad you had such a nice time. Was really great to meet you!

  3. January 26, 2010 at 3:51 am

    “Oatcakes not racism” Best banner ever! It may look a bit less serious than the other banner but everyone who’s chuckled at that is someone who’s less likely to place a nutty vote next time they’re at the polling station. Wit, our secret weapon!

  4. January 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Glad you had a great time and met up with some wonderful people from this ether-world!

    I’d love to have tagged along on that trip to Bletchley Park; I’ll be looking forward to more from you about it!


  5. January 28, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    finally caught up with your cool new blog Jen!
    missed the Angels do due to my GRS, really wanted to be there, Angels was originally my salvation too…

  6. Lucy
    February 24, 2010 at 2:31 am

    And it was really great to meet you at last.
    Lucy x

  7. July 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    My dear I do know what an Oatcake is as they’ve crept in parts of Cheshire.

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