Monday, 25 January 2010
Monday, 18 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Monday, 7 December 2009
I have been severely lacking blogging inspiration of late. Guess its a mood / laziness thing
Anyway I am going to post my facebook diary in the interim, just to show I’m still alive !
Friday 4th December 2009
Sleepless in Stoke. Still trying to come up for the title of forthcoming (eventually) unautorised autobiography...Options ruled out so far : May Still Contains Nuts |Thatcher, My part in her downfall | A-Jen-der for Change (my struggles with Job Evaluation) | La recherche du temps perdu|Zen and the art of Trade Unionism | Jenny Potter and the Gender Clinic of Secrets
Dose of shopping in Stafford this morning with my friend Joy. A friend whom I add, has just called to say she is running late as she's still in bed, while I on the other hand have dragged my sorry ass out of a snuggly bed into a bathroom as cold as a heartless Polar Bear's shoulder.
Back 'wom after a Joyful day's shopping with Joy... Jenny presents bought = 10, Christmas presents bought = 0.
Back from an evening with V & D (which I guess is better than VD) which went from sublime to less sublime (or subsublime?). V insisted on playing a poetry CD with famous odes narrated by such people as Patsy from Ab Fab and Hanibal Lecktor from Manhunter. Then onto D's to do battle with ½ Boxer dog ½ Linebacker Marley,... while we unharmonised along to the MTV top 40
Saturday 5th December 2009
Awake at the precisely calculated worst time. Too early to usefully get up, too late to comfortably turn over for a good solid 2nd slumber. I’m listening to my most unnecessary purchase of yesterday, an audiobook version of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 on fifteen (count them!) CDs, and yet I never read the first 21 episod...es..(budum tissss !!) “Thank you, I’m here all week “
Saturday’s I am possessed by an identity passed. I will be shouting and sighing at the radio, listening to “mighty” Potters Stoke City, ply their trade against The Arsenal……. It’s Artisans Vs Artists, Clog Vs Ballet, Dairylea Vs Brie, Oatcakes & Cheese Vs Croque Monsieur or Arnold Bennet Vs Proust
Hopes dashed as Stoke lose to Arsenal (but only on goal difference!). Muzzy head has necessitated an afternoon in a darkened bedroom, with only Laptop Radio, Gammo and 200 odd Facebookers & Tweeps for company. Completed the section of my book covering my military service
Doing the Solo Saturday Night Shuffle between Strictly Camp Prancing and X Factory.... It's nights like this I miss the companionship of marriage.
Sunday 6th December 2009
Sunday Girl (apologies to Blondie)
I am a girl from a Stokey street/
Likes an ice cream, and a bag of sweets/
Eats your pies Sunday girl/
Hey, I was a guy, now a different girl/
Love that I’m in another world/
Live with pride Sunday girl
Have a sense of calm this evening, which ironically feels slightly unsettling....I seem to have finalised some arrangements for Chrissy that now have me filled with anticipation of good company rather than the dread of regret and bad memories... I do wish the whole thing could evolve into something more soulful, rather than the orgy of consumption, and go-through-the-motions ritual that it's become.
Don’t know why or when fb turned into my surrogate diary, but it clearly has. Anyhoo, I lie here bereft of sleep, trawling my way through my most tear inducing itunes songs, like some strange emotional lemming. Mind you my soppy playlist is a bit eclectic ranging from Roger Waters to The England World Cup squad ’82 via the wonderful but forgotten Faith Brothers
Monday, 5 October 2009
Monday - All Stoked up
meeting after meeting after meeting. Out of 4 meetings i managed to have the correct paperwork for 1, which is an improvement on my usual strike rate. At one point I pulled out from my bag what I thought was supposed to be an intricate project plan, but what turned out to be a “Guess the sporting stadium” quiz throwout from a week or so past. Never mind if I have one talent (and I don’t) its an ability to wing it. Last meeting finished at 7.30 pm, my brain checked out half an hour earlier.
Nice surprise in bed (ooo errrr etc) when checking facebook I found that my uncle and co Union activist had added me as a friend, and from that I was able to link to my 2 maternal cousins Joanne and Alison. The last time I’d seen Jo was at my wedding a dozen years ago. The last time I’d seen Alison well … more to come.
First thing I was on zoo keeping duties for Vicky, who was camping it up with a friend. I saw to the rabbit and cats. Not sure the cats appreciated the lettuce but Duncan the Wabbit seemed to enjoy chowing down on tuna chunks, hmmmmm maybe I’m not cut out for zoo work ? After a good afternoon’s Trade Unionising, the day was rounded off with a marathon first phone call to Alison, during which I may have said “this is amazing” about 14 times, and “this is freeky” about 12.
Wednesday - Live from Meakins its the quiz of the week
Took a leave day due to having a meeting free day, plus I felt a touch loussey (ie like a louse who feels lousy). I did have one work commitment first thing though which was a conference call (ooo get me !). It all went to plan. I dialled the number, entered the identification code, gave my name followed by hash, and waited for the chair of the call to join…and waited …and waited ..and waited while I ate porridge …and waited…and gave up
The quiz at night saw Simon, Wendy and I as the increasingly inaccurate 3nonBlondes quiz team take on our 3 rivals to a quiz delivered by our occasionally drunk (ie every occasion i have seen him) team member Michael. Michael as a quizmaster? Well imagine Oliver Reed crossed with a Hugh Laurie, presenting University Challenge complete with Pinteresque pauses between questions. I wasn’t sure that at one point he hadn’t nodded off between questions
Thursday - Day of Daze
Felt really poorly and muzzy headed, so for the first time in over a year I phoned in sick for work. The decision was helped by a couple of days with easily avoidable commitments. I may have watched a few too many episodes of House, but I narrowed my differential diagnosis West Nile Fever, Lupus, or maybe just a minor sniffle. I did check out the flu pandemic line but other than a bit of a temperature it seemed I didn't have Swine flu even though I have a pig’s appetite.
Friday - Sofa Sofa
Second day off work with unknown virus that main symptom seemed to be feeling sorry for myself. I was now back on my Slimming World diet and a Green Day meant carbs ahoy. Time for my just invented hot pasta curry treatment. Works much better than antibiotics. Instead of Penicillin think Penne-chilli (this could be my greatest joke ever). My pasta curry worked well and afterwards I had a moral boosting chat with my Doncaster based, shredder mending, star gazing, geekette friend Joanne, over the phone during her lunch hour.
Recipe for Penne Jalfrezi
1 bag Coop Penne Rigate
1 Jar of low fat Jalfrezi sauce. (or any proprietary curry sauce except for Korma which is eeeuuugghhh)
Shove Pasta in pan of boiling water and sauce in microwave, then watch episode of Friends until one is hot and the other al dente
serve in a big bowl and garnish with fork
For other serving suggestion see the back of this blog
On my twitter account the message popped up that i am being followed by Hollands Pies! Such genius marketing to find such their perfect target. If I followed them in return I had the chance to win free pies for a year. Not since The Blue Cat had tortured Dougal with sugar lumps has temptation been so heroically resisted
Saturday - Wolverhampton
After Dancing through Wolves I arrived at my cousin Alison’s flat. Not a remarkable fact by itself, except that I hadn’t seen Alison since 1990 and since then unbeknownst to each other our lives had been on separate remarkable but spookily parallel courses to finally collide on this Saturday. We nattered, reminisced, laughed, gasped, giggled, gabbled and blathered away for 6 hours only punctuated by tea and loo breaks. I am still staggered now 24 hour later by the turn of events, and how 2 people can be so alike after such a long time. 19 years passed by in a heartbeat. An extraordinary story to be told at a later date. Next I’m looking forward to seeing other cousin Jo, her daughter Nina and my Auntie Francis and Uncle David, hopefully in 2 weeks time.
Sunday – Sleepery
In the evening cruising the ether, I had another blast from the past shock. For some reason (not vanity at all !!!) I clicked on the web page from the Stoke Evening Sentinel newspaper article on myself from last January. Just on the off chance someone had added a comment. Well I couldn’t believe it. I lovely comment, dated July from my high school friend Darren Roberts. I am now going to have to devote all my efforts (ok all efforts after work) to tracking down an email or contact for him. I would love to talk to him again after over 20 years. My life seems to be turning into one long computer based episode of Surprise Surprise. Down Cilla !
Monday, 28 September 2009
A work-a-day day at work. lunch over my computer. Just read about today being the 25th anniversary of the seminal computer game Elite on the BBC Micro. I remember my excitement playing it on my Acorn Electron home computer (BBC micro for poor kids!). It was unlike any game that came before both in scope and presentation. The point was to roam the universe trading between planets and shooting pirates. I recall a box loaded with all sorts of paraphernalia to immerse you in its universe. I also have a vague memory of trading in both furs and slaves, so I think I may owe an official apology to some distant planets.
More in fantasy space news, my inbox contained an email from my brother Bill (actual brother not socialist anachronism) asking if I am interested in attending a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy convention to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary. I replied with a succinct and accurate, absolutely.
Arrived in Brum at 9.30 for a 10am meeting. Have decided it is physically impossible to arrive here at the time intended. Either half an hour early or 15 mins late every time. Had an interesting Regional Committee meeting. On the drive back home all I could think of was that I had wittered on too much. My new maxim will be: While Brevity is the soul of wit, blathering on is the sign of a twit.
Wednesday-Home, Cricket Club
Frustrating day waiting in for someone to measure my front widow for a repair. I was told they would call sometime in the morning. Apparently mornings now last till 2.30pm.
We were back to almost full strength for the quiz. Michael has returned from 4 weeks alcohol blotting in Spain. Sadly Vicky was tied up so I would have no one to bicker with. This quiz was an utter triumph, though sadly not for us as we finished just outside the top 3 (out of 4 teams). Post analysis was, that we did not answer enough questions correctly…. pointless analysis for a pointless performance.
Down to sunny sunny London for a Unison Joint Regional Conveners and Secretaries meeting. This is a large gathering of the leads form all the Regions of both the lay members (me) and Unison management all of whom are much more experienced, eloquent and factually thinner than myself. Also present was Dave Prentis, our General Secretary as well as other HQ luminaries. My unworthy gene kicked in leaving me feeling like such a small cheese in a big pond (my favourite mixed metaphor). I did make a couple of lumbering contributions to the otherwise fine debate but hopefully I was a little less wittery than Tuesday.
Home for 7pm. Asleep for 7.15pm
Friday-Keele School of Nursing
It was student nurse recruitment today. Hooray !! That is not to say recruiting people to become nurses rather than recruiting the Students to join our Union. Its a bit like being involved in a low rent Trade Fair. We had a stand in the large registration room, alongside our sworn rivals, but close allies the RCN. We stand by our pitches like so many slightly nervous double glazing pedlars ready to pounce on our unsuspecting and possibly windowless prey. Its a tricky thing to engage a student in the way of the Union. Some of them have little idea of what we do, and couple that with an 21 century attention span of just under 30 secs, meant that at times we just had to fall back on throwing free stuff at them. Still, we had an excellent day signing up nearly everyone we spoke to. Even those who left, still a little unsure as to what they had signed up to, will realise the benefits once they experience the NHS from the inside. It has to be said that however much bad press trades unions get elsewhere, in the NHS only a tiny misguided minority of the workforce would question our relevance.
Pottering round my Potteries house. Stoke lost to Man United, but only on goal difference. A Tellycentic day catching up with vital DVD boxsettery in the afternoon, and the Usual Saturday night Suspects channel hopping. Headlines from the night’s viewing was that a Jockey galloped off from Vaguely Like Dancing and some singers returned home, hopes dashed on The Xploit Factory.
I think all in all, It had been a really productive day, with me managing to produce more inches on the hips and a deeper ass print on my sofa I have decided that day by day I am turning into The Moog from, Willo the Wisp so I have changed all my avatars and profile pics until I am back on the diet train.
Spent most of the day tinkering around with a report for work while keeping one eye on the grand prix, another on my blog and a third on my cat Gammo, who despite being “done” some months ago seems to have returned to his sex pestering ways. Oh and I wrote up this post.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Welcome to this first stab at a daily journal.
Why, well I feel I’ve got bogged down in my blog. What was supposed to be as the name implied a Web Log has turned into a “sporadic lumpen overblown series of ill informed pompous essays” (Stoke Daily Shouter) and that is the best of the reviews !
I’m also feeling in a rut. Sitting on this tube train on the way back from an appointment at the haring Cross gender clinic, its hard to see what progress I’ve made in the last year.
If my life is a marathon (mmmmm snickers) I seem to have hit that 20 mile wall. A wall guarded by a rut (not sure this analogy make much sense but hey). Stuck in a rut of sleep>work>eat>self loathing>eat again>annnnd sleep
So sitting clanking along on the district line from Hammersmith back to Tower Hill I’ve a an epiphany.
I will start a daily journal. A daily journal written on actual paper. This retro journal or paper log, shall call my Plog (clever no ?) Enough of the yacking, let’s rock..
Diary of a Trans Unionist
Week 1 Monday 14th September 2009 London/Southend/Leicester Forest East/Stoke
2 pm - I’ve just finished my appointment with the mercurial Dr B at the Charring Cross clinic. AS usual our appointment squeezed in anything but gender identity into our 20 mins. We rattled through wonky eyes, 3D movies, Birmingham New St, the BNP, diet food cons, the recession and the possibility of a hung parliament. I can only surmise that he is pretty happy that I’m well set genderwise once I am less fat enough for the surgery. He bade goodbye with his usual “Hope to see less of you next time”. My next appointment is next May. Hopefully loads of time to make real weight loss.
So here I am scribbling in my new notebook purchased from a stationers at Hammersmith station writing with an actual biro. I’m on my way back to Southend on Sea where I’ve been spending the weekend with my friend Lucy. Lucy has been so sweet putting me up and putting up with me at the same time. Especially as she is fighting her battle with cancer. She humbles me when I see how stoically she copes with any setback when I am so prone to moan at relative trivia.
9pm - Leicester Forest East services In your face Leicester Forest West ! I've pulled over for a break on my way back north to Stoke. Ive kept myself entertained with Transanthems, a podcast by a blogging friend Justin Episode 2 is an insane 90 min mix of 80s beats that ended with me belting along to Electric Dreams. Hope to be back home not much after 10pm. Got a really early start again tomorrow as I have to be in Birmingham by 9am.
Day 2 Tuesday - Stoke/Birmingham
7am - Just finished a lumpy porridge. Long day ahead. I have a Recruitment and Selection training day in Brum, then a dash back to stoke accompanied by Unison’s newest and most inspirational Regional Secretary Roger Mckenzie who is visiting our branch meeting which starts at 7pm
9am - despite the M6’s best efforts, I managed to make our regional centre in under 2 hours. We are just waiting for a couple of fellow trainees to arrive. I've been small talking with the trainer who is called Ian from Hartlepool. He looks and sounds like the lovechild of Peter Mandelson and Louis Theroux. On nearly every training course I have been on there has been a loudmouth irritant, hogging the debate or shoehorning in misplaced humour. Unfortunately, on each occasion it has been me so this time I’m going to make a effort to just shut the f*** up a bit. Interesting debate on how “sense of humour” has started to appear of person specs for jobs and how you would test that at interview. I just imagine someone being turned down for a job because “your humour is a little base for us, we are looking for a little more irony”
6pm Unison Branch Office. Just got back after an interesting 90 minute drive accompanied by Roger M. We talked probably too much Union shop for him but he was very patient listening to my pontificating. We also talked a bit about his passion of jazz and he gave me the cd that we listened to on the way, notable for a track by Dinah Washington. Think I’m going to source some more of her music. Preparing for branch meet by hurriedly printing off agendas to dole out. I do hope the meeting goes well.
10pm - home at last. Branch meeting went ok I suppose. Roger grave a great talk on the current state of play for the Trade Union movement and sparked some lively debate. I was a bit disappointed that there were only a dozen or so people there.
The house feels really empty without Gammo Speng my cat, who is still in the cattery. Its at these times I really miss being married. I always suffer a bit of a crisis of confidence and a low after a meeting where I’m so hyped up and it felt so comforting in the past to have someone to offload onto when I get home.
Don’t know why, perhaps because I’m bushed but I can’t hold back tears…Hey ho
Day 3 Wednesday Stoke/Meakins Cricket Club
Late start in work, mainly due to yesterday’s long long day.
2pm JNCC meeting (Joint negotiating meeting thingy). I’m just about to chair this meeting. They all think these notes I'm scribbling are for the meeting. How little they know. I’m going to start the meeting with my new Chairing catchphrase “Do we have a go / no go to start the meeting”. I may have watched Apollo 13 once too often.
4.30 pm meeting over. Catchphrase was met with both bewilderment and irritation. Still I found it amusing. I also managed to shoehorn twitter into the meeting, don't think I won any new followers though.
9pm Meakins Cricket club. Half an hour ago I was in bed with the firm decision to give this weeks quiz a miss. Vicky is working nights and I wasn’t sure any of the rest of our team were turning up Michael being drunk in France rather than drunk in Stoke. However I was awoke from a slumber by my mobiles message alert tone, Alexander the Meer cat saying “You are having a message…Simples” from that ad offa the telly. So a quick slap of makeup and a bleary eyed drive and I’m here with Simon and Wendy to do battle on the quiz floor.
Midnight – Home again, alone again. Basking in the glory that was our shock quiz win. I almost totally failed to be magnanimous at our victory. We are good losers and bad winners in equal measure
Day 4 Thursday – Bed/Work/Bed
8 am After playing a bout of alarm clock chicken a relative run of the mill day awaits. Meeting meeting and meeting and then hopefully the return of Gammo Speng. Today is also to be the relaunch of my diet. So today will be a porridge and pasta (not together) heavy menu.
2pm - Keele I’m sitting in an open plan office in what is called an Innovation Centre within the socialist republic of Keele University. Surely the only higher education establishment named after a motorway service station.
9pm Bed- Much twitter chatter about some Tranny social events. Feel a twinge of jealousy that while post transition life may be more fulfilling it’s much less fun
Day 5 Friday Sofa/Vick’s
Grabbed chance for an annual leave day when my one scheduled meeting for the day was cancelled. Would like to have said I made the most of the opportunity, but sadly the lure of West Wing DVDs took hold. However I did manage to consume a vast amount of pasta so the day was not totally wasted.
10pm Vicky’s Lounge. I came round V’s at 6 for a coffee and ended up staying after she left for a night shift. So me and her half dog half idiot Spartacus have just watched Strictly Come Dancing followed by Derren Brown’s attempt to stick us to our sofa’s. Derren failed to stick me to anything but Spartacus did vomit up an almost perfect pat of butter . Derren does move in mysterious ways
3pm Sitting in the almost sun watching a confusing charity cricket tournament. There seem to be 3 teams of varying numbers and oddly mismatching kit. Just realised that my car is parked well within an off driven six from the canal end. Handily Autoglass have a branch at the end of the street. The charity is to raise funs for a thirteen year old member of Meakins club who sadly lost both legs after his fishing line touched overhead cables. Can’t help feeling that there is barely a worse age to suffer such an accident. V and me have done our bit by buying and consuming more burgers and hotdogs than is ever necessary or reasonable.
5pm Hanley Laundrette- Broken washing machine has necessitated a first visit to the laundrette for 10 years. Quite a relaxing experience scrawling in my diary while my week’s washing chugs round in the huge tumble dryer. Disappointed that the Laundrette is lacking any Eastenders style melodrama or even a Dot Cotton a like. Mainly seems to be populated by students.
10pm Vicky’s sofa- just finished loading up my car for tomorrows car boot sale. We are both attacking this with no enthusiasm whatsoever and the only reason we are doing it is that we are doing it for Vicky’s mum and there is no way we are brave enough to back out now. My suggestion that I buy everything for 30 quid, take to the dump and hence have a nice lie in Sunday morning was deemed bad form.
Day 7 – Hanley Car Boot Sale/Bed and Laptop
7.30 am Sitting in the car waiting for the 8pm deadline before we can set up our car boot stall. Had to get up at 5.30 am for this pleasure. We timed arrival precisely to be allocated a prime pitch. That is if prime means down a ramp behind some bins parked on a slope on which only a mountain goat could feel surefooted
1pm car boot has been a roaring success. Well it made me roar with something anyway, possibly frustration. It started with the usual rush and soon as the clock strikes 8 the dedicated booters swarm your stall before you can even get your stuff out of the boot. Once set up our stall was a kaleidoscope of ceramica ranging from quite nice Aynsley china to an utterly bizarre green fish “crafted” from modern plastics and pacific seashells . We also had a box of children’s clothes which went down well and a box of romance pulp paperback novels which did not. I am certainly impressed by some of the haggling ability on show. One lady haggled down a school blouse from 20p to 10p. Cashing up we have taken the princely sum of 29 whole pounds sterling. If we deduct £9 for the pitch £3 for bacon baps and £2 for price stickers we ended up with £15 clear profit. Split between the two of us that makes just over £1 per hour each. Well worth the effort I’m sure you will agree. Still the weather has been stunning and the whole thing was quite surprising fun.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
Just got back from a day’s worth of protesting, marching and shouting around the Derbyshire village of Codnor. I’m not quite ready rubbed but i do have a sore knee. (if none of this makes sense then blame 70s tobacco advertising)
We had nothing against sleepy rural Codnor, but we did against the bunch of neo-fascists assembled at a nearby farm under the banner of the BNP’s Red White and Blue Festival, or Dread, Hate and Poo Farce-ival as I shall call it. As far as I’m concerned the BNP are a disgrace to our nation and their waving of the flag disgraces our recent history of fighting fascism.
Vicky in her best game face and me staring middle distance being watched by a surveillance drone
So at 10am we gathered in Codnor market square, for a pre march rally organised by Unite Against Fascism. I was there with my best friend Victoria and we had managed to find our destination with less than 3 rows about direction, mainly due to my arrogant mistrust of her Satnav. We were dressed in our best protesting gear, which for me consisted in a gypsy top that for some reason was inside out and for Vicky was a bright fluorescent kagool which was constantly mistook for a stewards tabard. We had our placards and tucked in our handbags were our bust sheets, with info if we were arrested, and we were all set.
Before the march was the rally and as we munched on vegan pasties welistened to increasingly rabble rousing sweary speeches. The best reception was reserved for a lady who was a veteran from the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 when the east enders turned back Oswald Mosely’s blackshirts with the cry of “No Passan” (They shall not pass, from the Spanish Civil War).
11.30am and we gathered in formation behind the “thin fluorescent line” that was our police escort. The police were out in impressive numbers, and from the air kept their eyes on us with a drone remote helicopter thingy. So many of the police had cameras of varying size they start to resemble some bizarrely regimented photography club.
As made our way out of Codnor, down valley and up the other side, passing though a normally subdued semi suburban area. The locals, lined their properties watching with fascination. As we marched we chanted we sang and we shouted our way through some of the classics such as“Black and white we are united…Smash the BNP”, “Nazi scum, off our streets….Smash the BNP” and that old family favourite “The workers united, will never be defeated”. Its all very rousing but not very tuneful, and my attempts to start a version of “Do you hear the people sing” from Les Miserables, fell of mainly bemused ears. The highlight of my march was meeting up with my twitter buddy, Laurel or @debaucherydean for you aficionados who had trekked all the way from Hastings.
It may be an uphill struggle but its worth it
The plan was for us to try and surround Griffin and his cronies, which included some of the nastiest pieces of work from Europe's far Right parties, although I understand that some splinter demos had managed to turn back some of the speakers to the event. The best laid plans of mice and marchers etc. We were only allowed to march to the lane next to those animals on their farm. So we stood there, stood our ground and chanted as loud as our throats allowed, determined to make our presence felt to the evil behind the hedgerow.
2pm After an hour or so, with only a few minor scuffles between the foolhardy and the police horses, it was time for some of us to turn back. However it seemed a few thuggish bullies had decided to gather down the lane and the police kept us back, worried that if people became separated from the march they may be vulnerable. So for a while we were hemmed in so some tired legs turned standing ground to sitting our ground. When it was felt safe we were allowed to march back to the village. When I say march , shuffle would be more accurate as we were going so so slowly as not to split into groups. Its actually quite difficult to walk really slow so I amused myself by imitating the 6 million dollar man’s slow motion run. The few thugs and thugesses that we saw at the at the roadside were fairly quiet, but apparently behind us some more gathered throwing Nazi salutes. How utterly stupid and more utterly unimaginative, I thought. The old Nazi movement is really in need of a makeover and perhaps a new salute. I suggest a half raised arm with clenched fist moving through to a sharp punch to the face.
Our written instructions (click if you want to read) with our highlighted protest point. A few scuffles did not divert this Mountie’s stoical gaze
The police dealt with some fascist sympathisers as their ‘copter looked on
As we walked Vicky and I chatted with the police, who to a man, and woman were sweltering in layers of uniform and stab vests. One young copper looked at the hill ahead back to the village saying “Have we really got to go back up that”. It was heartening that a young fit copper was more moany about being tired than me. We got back with not much more ado, and after a couple of bars of “Smash the BNP” we dispersed into our cars minibusses and coaches and set off to whichever corner of Britain whence we came.
We may not have stopped their festival of hatred, but we made our presence felt and we will be back next year and every year until this bunch of preposterous, deluded, nasty nutters finally realise that racism and bigotry has no place in this or any future century.
The Battle Of Cable Street
Sunday, 9 August 2009
My blogging rate has dwindled to but a trickle. From those halcyon days of early 2008 where posts came as thick and fast, as a fat thick thing, to this last month where I’ve spent every second evening thinking…“right now for some blogging…erm what shall I say ?”…hang on, I’ll just watch another episode of The Wire/West Wing/Battlestar/Heroes, for a touch of inspiration” before falling to sleep in front of said episode, only to wake up 4 hours later curled up on the sofa in a position perfect to aggravate both my bad back and dodgy knee and a blank laptop screen.
I have no real excuse for my alacrity, other than my annual summer month of self pitying, self indulgent, soul searching. Perhaps its my own take on Seasonal Affected Disorder: The more sunny everyone else is, the more lonely and pathetic I am. Mind you cant say its been the sunniest of Julys so my theory fall at the first hurdle.
>>>>> Now I must interject here. Despite what I have written and may come to write in this post, I absolutely do not regret my decision to transition. “Je ne regret pants” as they say in remedial French class! I can barely envisage what it was to live confused and trapped as I did. No, I absolutely stand by my transition, albeit in very uncomfortable shoes <<<<
A clue to the root of my problem lies in the url of this blog : jenny-vs-theworld. I never really liked it as a blog title and hence very quickly changed it to the more poetically oblique, Crossing The Floor. However there remains a nugget of truth in the phrase and at times I still seem to be battling the world rather than embracing it. So, It’s the 4th anniversary of my Gender Modernisation (I’ve been around NHS speak much too long) and once the euphoria and downright craziness of the first few transition months have passed, the reality of a life changed forever, finally dawns…….
So what have I learnt and have yet to learn.
Well I think I managed my transition ok, and I’ve kept my family and friends and job, the holy trinity of transition if you like. I can walk in heels without a safety net. I can apply a face full of makeup in under 5 minutes that will last for a days work. I can coordinate within an inch of my life, although Ive discovered too much of this years purple turns me into a huge Ribena berry. I can tease, straighten, curl under, flick out, colour, condition and my hair.
These are all very practical skills vital to survive in the heady world of womanship, but it is the more subtle and therefore more darn tricky aspects of female life that perhaps I am still to really master (or mistress!). I have to face it, that it may not be until I truly come to terms with that intangible essence of being female, that the rest of the world becomes truly blind to what I was, and only sees what I am.
Ok, if you this sounds pompous and whinging at the same time, then you’re probably right, but as they say in all the best dentists, “better out than in” and maybe if a get a little rant out of my system, I may find my blogging mojo once more.
I can site 2 incident in the last couple of months that have contributed to my current mood.
The other day I was dressed in a ruffled strappy summer top, jeans and heels, with makeup that although had been clinging on for 6 hours was perfectly presentable. As far as I was concerned, my appearance was as feminine as is ever needed. I went into Argos to buy, what I thought was a “micro” ipod dock system thingy. I wanted to check that my particular ipod touch would fit said thingy, so asked if I could take a look inside the box. The young female assistant turned to a colleague and said “this stereo is for this …(hushed) errrrrr gentleman, (normal voice) can I open it up ?”. Thankfully no one bar the 2 assistants and myself heard her hesitant confused whispering, but the damage was done. I left the shop with a nice new stereo, an apology from the other assistant and a self esteem dragging on the floor behind me. Mercifully this sort of encounter is rare.
The other recent disheartening event happened a month or so ago. Stood with colleagues in an entrance lobby shooting a huddled breeze, I dropped into a conversation that so & so was my uncle. One of my colleagues, and someone I could not respect or admire more, surprised at this news turned to another and said “did you know that so & so is *his* uncle”. It was a tiny, minor, almost imperseptable slip, but it revealed so much. You see, this person had never known my previous life, and has always accepted me as a woman, but off guard and without thinking, the subconscious part of the brain took over and the mis-pronoun spilled out. He was genuinely apologetic and of course he never meant to say it, but that didn’t help how I felt.
I have to come to terms with the fact that from that at time to time these sort of things may happen. People will slip up and its not always their fault. Most people tried their utmost hardest to do the right thing, and to say the right thing. Ironically the harder people try, the harder I find it. I see it in their eyes and I hear it in their oh so slight hesitations, as they grasp for just the right word, and worse of all I see it in their genuine heartfelt sorrow, when they realise they got it wrong.
I have to be confident enough in who I am to be able to shrug off these slings and arrows of slight misfortune. I have to toughen up and tough it out. I should take heart that people try hard for me and not resent that they have to try. Should it matter if I am forever Jen the trans woman and not just ,Jen the woman. After all, I am not beyond hypocrisy, and have used my trans situation. For instance I included the fact that I am transgendered in an election address. I seem to want to have my cake and eat it (isn’t this a mad phrase, what else are you supposed to do with cake!!). Yes now its time for me to stop urging the society to accept me and find the way for me to accept society for what it is. I am after all blessed. Blessed that I live at a time and in a place that has allowed me to transition, a blessing denied to oh so many.
As the saying goes (or doesn’t): If I look like a duck, walk like a duck, talk like a duck, but everyone believes I’m goose then i guess I’m a goose…..or a duck….or maybe a swan even, anyway I hope you get the point, because I’m not sure I do.
Any of you still reading, thanks, I’m sure there is something your putting off something far more important, or at least you could find a funny youtube video to watch…. Speaking of youtube I came across this :
SO I guess I’m not as clever as I thought, what with my “la de da” blog title.
Hopefully normal service will be resumed, as soon as I’ve found out what normal is.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Its over 2 weeks now since my last post. Time for some gratuitous reminiscence.
I was clearing out my stuffed inbox this morning, and noticed a couple of emails from my long and thankfully not lost University (Polytechnic to be honest) friend Simon. Its a period I haven’t thought about in a while, so indulge me if you will in some late 80s nostalgia
Those couple of years spent in Liverpool seem like 2 lifetimes ago now and everything feels a bit detached and blurred, like I’m looking at my double through a neighbour’s bathroom’s frosted window.
I ended up at Liverpool Poly thanks mainly to the efforts of the Toxteth rioters. In the eighties, communities were being ripped asunder under the social engineering of Thatcherism. Mass unemployment was apparently a price worth paying for the rich to prosper. In 1981 the civil powder keg that was Liverpool borough of Toxteth exploded in a week long riot between the disaffected and the police, who even more so than today were seen as an arm of the government.
So how did those events 5 years earlier impact on my choice of higher learning. August ‘86 found me anxiously awaiting the doormat plop of my A level results. I had completed the ritual grand tour of prospective Universities and Polys over the previous 6 months and had a few offers contingent on grades. These were mainly from lower league universities and a smattering of Polytechnics. I had my bases covered. My lowest offer was for a place at Portsmouth poly if I got a C and 2Ds, the highest offer was 3Bs from Salford university. I was not fooling myself that I had any likelihood of reaching the lofty heights of Salford academia, but Pompey Poly was surely in my reach. Plop went the innocuous but so important envelope on the mat. I opened it and peeked inside as if just taking a sideways glance would trick the letter out of its bad news…. it didn’t work, bad it was.
Maths – O (back in the day they took sympathy and gave you an O if you just missed out on an E). This meant I had the symmetry of an A at O-level and an O at A-level.)
Chemistry – F Actually I had pretty much given up on chemistry by then. I could never tell my Arsenic from my Alkaloids
Physics D – a pass, yay. Not the greatest pass I admit, but as I had applied to do degrees in Physics it was sort or important I passed the subject at A level, and D was a pass, just about.
General Studies B – yay and yay again (actually I dont think we said yay in the eighties! ace and brill then). Now General Studies was a bit frowned upon as unworthy compared to the other more lofty A-levels, but for me it is the king of qualifications, as it relies on just knowing about stuff, rather than all that constant swotting. Which was a plus for me as I was about as diligent with my revision then, as I am with housework now.
So there I had it, 1 frowned upon B and a below average D. Oxbridge here I don’t come. My only hope for a future as a famous Physicists would be left to the lottery of the clearing houses. The summer was drawing to an end and I was about to give up and resign myself to a career in food vending, when another letter plopped. It was from Liverpool Polytechnic offering me a place on a BSC hons course in Physics and Electronics. It seemed that Liverpool was a city still struggling to attract students in the aftermath of those riots five years hence. My life as a mad scientist was up and running. As I said every cloud an all that..
Why I chose Physics as a degree I still don’t really know, it just sort of happened. Somehow it was expected that I did physics. I did have an excelent inspiration though in my teacher. Mr Edwards has since gone on to win both Mastermind and a million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. As far as I know a unique double. Mind you getting me to pass A level Physics must be his greatest achievement. I’m sure that’s what inspired him to TV quiz glory. A Physics degree was a beast of a course, with more hours of lectures than any of the others. I secretly wished I’d been artistic, as the art students appeared to only have a handful of lectures a week (although the downside I discovered was that art students had real trouble finding digs). The other aspect to a physics degree was the time spent in the lab, which for the most swung between maddening and downright frustrating. With lab experiments the mantra goes like this:
If it smells its Chemistry. If is moves its Biology. If it doesn't work its Physics.
I had all the right gear. A white lab coat, goggles, a pencil behind the ear and a permanently puzzled expression. If I ever understood the point of any particular experiment, then it was guaranteed not to work for me. Many sessions were spent tweaking knobs and fiddling flanges and finally banging things, just to stare unblinking at an unflinching flat lined oscilloscope. I did become very efficient at appearing like I understood everything and was working diligently. A skill that still serves me well today. However, there was one aspect of being a late 80s science student that was so much more frustrating than the uncooperative lab experiments and that was the Mainframe Computer back in a time when windows was but a glint in Bill’s bespectacled eye.
Up to that point I’d learnt all my computing “skills” from my ZX81 and later the Electron, which was the BBC micro for the working class. I became an avid viewer of the Micro Live broadcast on BBC2 on a Sunday morning and I was even able to write the odd little programme in BBC Basic computer language. I was all set for a life of computer geekery. For the only time in my life I was cutting edge. That was until I met my nemesis that was the DEC 20 and its evil computing language Fortran 77. My love affair with computing was shattered.
The DEC 20 was the mainframe computer used by the Polytechnic and for its time was probably state a of the art system for multiple users. Problem was that the art was equivalent to scrawling with crayons held in a fist. The first barrier put up by the DEC was the interminable length of time to log on. It was a good job the film Tron wasn’t set in a DEC 20 else it would have bee 10 hours long. Now if you had managed to log on before the end of the college day then you had to endure a tense session holding your breath for fear of being kicked off the system,which happened at least every time.
I cannot adequately explain the brain mangling hell that was FORTRAN 77.
To me Fortran 77 made as much sense as a Klingon / Esperanto Dictionary put through a German Enigma code machine to be read out backwards by Kenny Dalgleish in a big echoey cave. If that version was the 77th attempt God knows how impenetrable the previous 76 drafts. Anyhow the inventor of Fortran now resides in my ever expanding nemesis list. Can you have more than one nemesis ? and what's the plural ? answers please…I choose nemesissies.
My tolerance for studying Physics lasted for 3 whole weeks, which for a course that was 3 years long meant that my ambitions to be the next Stephen or indeed Stephanie Hawking were always doomed. Its funny I would struggle to now recall Newton's Laws, but the memory of my computing hell was burned deep, and it took a full dozen years for me to log in again.
Hugh Jackman’s wife
Messers Cadburry and Kipling
Sixth Sense quiz team
Sunday, 21 June 2009
One of the reasons I was looking forward to Unison conference was the chance to meet my co-twitterer @debauchery. Before we arrived we had decided to enliven the conference with some real time, live tweeting. To coordinate this wee needed a hashtag, and because at our preceding Local Government Conference they had used the tag #lg09 I started using the tag #ndc09 (National Delegate Conference). Soo for the couple of days leading up I merrily contributed to #ndc09 with tweets. Pretty mundane stuff, but I got a few replies and was even retweeted with my comment about buying a net book so I could tweet from the cheap seats. I even looked at some posted photos of the conference being prepared. It all looked very exciting.
Hmmmm, however something didn’t seem right. The more I looked at #ndc09 the more it didn’t seem quite right. All the contributors were men, and although I realise geeky net stuff like twitter is more populated by men than women I expected a few more other women than absolutely none at all. Hmmmmm, I though…where were the tweets talking about the detail of proposed rule changes ? Where were those tweets criticising the union’s leadership ? Where were the tweets talking about the best drinking holes in Brighton ?Norwegian Developers Conference taking place in Oslo, the same week as our conference. I really do put the Twit in Twitter (better than putting the Fake in Facebook)
I decided that I would continue to follow the Norwegian Developers Conference. After all I had no clue how to develop a Norwegian and I had always wanted one of my own. Must admit during the week they did appear to be having a livelier time than us and I did regularly update them with our progress, sometimes even on purpose and have now declared solidarity for our Norse comrades from Unison in Brighton.
Soooo we needed a bigger boat, i mean a bigger hashtag so after flirting with other options I suggested the snappy and innovative title #undc09 (U being for Unison). We were all set, we merry band of followers. It really added a dimension to our conference to have opinion from all corners of the hall. There was also some interesting debate which mainly involved me against everyone else. Wasn’t it ever thus. . . This was to my knowledge the first trade union conference that had a real time twitter feed. Indeed we were tagged by a HR Blogging site pointing its readers in our direction. I reckon all considered our conference tweeting experiment was a success, but watch out next year, with more participants and better publicity it could really take off and become a valuable mainstream resource for debate and connection to a wider membership. The best thing of course was to meet @debaucherydean. It just shows those who dismiss social networking, that virtual friends can become real friends.
A much more important aspect of Twitter came to the fore later in the week. Twitter found itself as the predominate method to get news out of the Iranian protest movement and the violent crackdown by the forces of their illegitimate government. The Iranian secret police had been successful in squashing nearly all other news outlets and the broadcast media were being restricted in its efforts. Twitter though was still working. Hashtags such as #iranelection became a constant feed of news, views, pictures and videos from the streets of Tehran. As a twitter community many of us changed our avatars to a green version to show some solidarity. Then the tweets came through suggesting that we change our listed profile locations to Tehran to help disguise the real Iranian twitterers. Effectively we all shout “I’m Iranian”. I’ve no idea if it really made any difference, but if it did hamper the ability of Iran to block individual twitterers then it was certainly worth it.
Saturday night was an extraordinarily harrowing and humbling experience. I followed the events though the hashtag and regular ReTweets from @debaucherydean who did a great job filtering out some of the noise, and at one stage organised a phone campaign to the Foreign Office to ensure their Tehran embassy was open to the injured. At one point a video was posted showing the aftermath from the shooting of a young woman. She was being carried by a group of protesters and they laid her on the road as her father ran over. At first you could see no sign of a wound. As she lay their her eyes glazed and then blood started to seep out all over her face, from her eyes, from her nose, from her mouth… and then she died. It was the most stark and upsetting video I have ever seen and to know It had happened just moments earlier made it all the more real. This video brought home the plight of the Iranian protesters, with heavy heavy thud. We later found out that her name was Neda. Her face with live with me for a long time. I’m not sure whether to post the link to the video. If anyone wishes to see it then I guess you can track it down.
Other tweets that night were for information between protesters. Advice was given as to how to be protected from chemical attack. Information was posted as to which foreign embassies were taking in the injured. We also say great compassion from the protesters. One picture showing a fallen riot police motorcyclist being shielded by a protester was particularly humbling (see above).
A Twitter week from the mundane to the vital.
Twitter Terms Explained :
Tweet = a short message under 140 characters, can contain links to pictures or videos
@username = your twitterer username
Followers = the people / feeds that you follow and follow you
RT or ReTweet = a tweet passed on
Hashtag or #something = a webpage automatically created to elicit shared real time contributions on a topic