Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A trip to trans femme

Last Sunday I paid another visit to Trans-Femme (http://www.trans-femme.co.uk/). It was all arranged at fairly short notice ... I knew there wasn’t likely to be much in the way of opportunity to get dressed up for a few weeks so I dropped Tracey & Nikki an email midweek and was luck to be able to organise something for the weekend.

There are many especially nice things about the experience. One of my favourites is that because Tracey does the makeup I don’t have to spend an hour or so doing it myself before I set off. The main challenge really is working out what clothes to take! Enough for a week under more everyday kind of circumstances.

It’s still not easy for me to express the pleasure that the makeover and photo experience gives to me. I guess I don’t really understand it. But I guess that I’m not alone in how I feel about this ... as evidenced by the Guest Book (http://www.trans-femme.co.uk/page_1200602183921.html)

I love the way that both Tracey and Nikki have of making a person be comfortable and at home with them.

Nikki mentioned that a tgirl that had visited them not so long ago had been moved to tears of happiness when she first had the chance to see herself. I remember that feeling. Like meeting a part of you that you always suspected was there but had never had an opportunity to get to see before. I know that Nikki and Tracey are making a big difference in peoples’ lives – helping people be better able to accept themselves as they are.

It’s seems strangely appropriate that I’m writing this at a time when the Royal Variety Performance is on television here. The show is featuring an enormous number of transvestites. So far maybe a dozen. I think, as time passes, the idea of a guy wearing a dress and makeup is getting to be less and less strange. Just as it was a few hundred years ago, maybe.

And so ... here are a few photos ... including the new black dress.



Friday, 12 December 2008

A train and a short black dress

I recently spent a week working in Bristol.

As usual I travelled by train. Unusually I booked seats in advance.

I arrive at the train station in Slough at 06:40 ... the train is timetabled for 06:49 ... but it’s running late and the TV screen says it’s due at 06:59.

I have to make a connection at Didcot Parkway – but so long as my train is no more than about 15 minutes late I can still do it.

As each minute passes by, the time that my train is expected to arrive drops back by a minute.

“What’s happening with this train?” I ask.

The assistant says “It should be here at 07:02.”

“Nahhh ... “ I say. “It hasn’t set off from Paddington yet has it?”

The man makes a phone call. I can hear the voice at the other end.

“It’s just about to leave Paddington.”

“If I were you I’d get the next train to Reading” says the man.

I arrive at Reading at 07:23.

The train to Bristol is due at 07:27 ... and it’s not going to stop at Didcot Parkway!

I am lulled into a false sense of elation and relief.

At 07:30 the train is expected to arrive at 07:31.

At 07:31 the train is cancelled.

I ask someone if I should get the train to Bristol Parkway and then catch one from there to Bristol Temple Meads.

The train to Bristol Parkway is cancelled as well.

It’s one of those kinds of days!

But it does get better.

The week in Bristol goes well.

Someone tells me I look a lot younger than I am – always a nice thing for anyone over the age of about 20.

On Wednesday night I call in at Debenhams ... the lure is a 20% off almost everything sale. And at last, I find a short black dress that I like!

A nice kind of week in the end.

Croque Monsieur for a lady

On December 6th I begin to get ready.

I’m told that for shopping trips makeup should be different than for nights out. However, my makeup skills are still somewhat limited. And ... well ... I enjoy it. So there’s not a lot of difference.

Working out what to wear is trickier. In the end I decide trousers, shirt and cardigan. Well ... as well as underwear and shoes.

The doorbell rings at about 11:15. Makes me smile as I walk towards it thinking ... “what do I say if its the postman?”

In fact it is Billie.

We head for the car and drive in to Windsor. En route I remember the things that I have forgotten.

I park at the Victoria Street car park – it would have cost less if I had brought my Windsor residents card.

What used to be “Shoe Fetish” is now “Naughty but Nice”. They specialise in fancy dress kind of costumes. As we walk past we are greeted by a couple of Santa’s little helpers. One of them is Natalie from Naughty but Nice.

A little further down the road there is a guy dressed as a medieval town cryer.

And just a little further a guy ... or maybe a girl ... dressed as a cat.

Perhaps being a guy dressed as a girl isn’t so odd after all.

Heading for Cafe Rouge I realise how surprisingly relaxed I feel. I don’t have the urge to keep looking down. People don’t seem to be staring – and I’m not worried if they are.

We order drinks and food and I discover that Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

The waitress doesn’t stare. Nor do the other people sitting at tables around us.

It amuses me to think of Emily and Florence in the TV (as in television) show Little Britain:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/littlebritain/characters/emily.shtml

After the meal we spend a while wandering into and out of shops and pop into Naughty but Nice for a chat.

And oh – I see someone that I know and that knows me. I used to work at the same place as Dennis – and there he is collecting money for the Windsor and Eton Rotary Club. Although he sees me, he doesn’t recognise me. I think it wouldn’t have bothered me too much if he had.

When, and if, summer arrives we decide it would be great to organise a tgirl picnic in the park (Windsor Great Park is perfect for this) and maybe a walk alongside the Thames.

Swans and shopping

I was weeks and weeks and weeks ... even longer ... since I had a chance to get made up and go out.

On the last Sunday of November it was the occasion of a Surrey Swans get-together.

It was really nice to feel the foundation, powder, shadow, mascara, blush, lipstick and gloss go on again. And a first chance to wear the sweet black not-quite-a –dress.

It was really good as well to spend some time catching up on things with Billie and Kathie and with Tina.

I also met another Andrea.

Billie asked if I fancied a shopping and lunch trip to Windsor ...

“You bet!” After a while of humming and ahhhing and a lot of common sense from Kathie we decide on Saturday December 6th.

Is there such a thing as too short?

One of the nice things about the approach of Christmas here is that the stores start to have pre-Christmas sales.

My wife was really sweet and bought me what she reckoned was a lovely black dress at a Marks and Spencer s 20% discount special.

However ... it was a (UK) size 14 hanging on a size 18 hanger. It was a lot of fun getting it on – but we needed an exchange. Also ... I am a great fan of short skirts and dresses ... but this one ... well ... even for me ... it needs to be worn with a skirt. Having said that ... I love it!

Holidays, jeans and fingernails

It’s been a while ... so here is a catch up.

My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Nepal recently. It involved a lot of walking and I had been looking forward to it with mixed feelings. However ... it was great! Great scenery, wonderful weather, great people! It was an almost exclusively male-mode kind of time – though I did wear girlie trousers and jeans whilst in Kathmandu –I have Billie to thank for that as an idea. No one really notices – though I guess if the jeans had been bright pink maybe someone would have commented! I’m slowly getting used to working zippers with my left hand and finding ways to cope with the very small pockets.

At one point in Nepal ...

“Do you play guitar?”
“No ... but I wish I did ... why ?”
“Well ... you have really long fingernails.”
“Talons ...!”
“There is a story behind those ...”

But no one asked to hear the story. Ah, well.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Pink punters ladies with a lady







Last time I visited Pink Punters was on the occasion of the monthly Big Night Out. It was great (http://andrea-wright.blogspot.com/2008/05/sore-feet-but-smiling.html) .

This is a one Friday a month time when lots of transgendered folk get together. The only problem really is its success.

It’s really popular.

The hotel across the road from Pink Punters gets fully booked months in advance. Early evening in the bar is definitely a tad different than the average hotel bar. Fella’s in frocks all over the place.

There are also a couple of Saturdays each month that are advertised as having a transgendered kind of theme. So Laura, Billie and I decided to give it a try on October 4th. Booking the hotel was certainly easier ... no need to book way in advance.

For me, getting organised for such an event is still somewhat bizarre.

Ten thirty a.m. I begin to look for the suitcase.

A whole suitcase for one night. And not a small one.

The phone rings. It’s my eldest daughter. We begin to chat about this and that. Her computer won’t start up ... do I have any ideas? Check the cables. Open it up. Check that nothing seems loose ... I find the suitcase that I’m looking for ... hidden like a Russian doll inside another one. The computer might need looking at by an engineer.

As we talk I begin to look in the wardrobe.

What to wear?

Decisions, decisions.

In the end, the suitcase contains maybe 5 skirts, 5 tops, two bras, a basque, 3 pairs of panties, two pairs of tights, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of hold up stockings, a pair of jeans, a cardigan, a suspender belt ...

Maybe if I go along to Pink Punters often enough I’ll be able to decide exactly what I’ll wear in advance and just take one of everything ... well maybe two ... I mean ... it’s really easy to ruin a nylon stocking.

Then there is all the makeup.

Boobs.

Hair.

Jewellery.

Eleven thirty a.m. Fill the bath and shave. By the time I am dry there is another small sticking plaster on my nipple. I resolve, again, to wield the razor with more care and attention.

Odds and ends of activities follow until about three thirty. At this point I begin to paint my nails pink. This leads to a half hour or so of almost total inactivity. Freshly painted fingernails are not conducive to any kind of activity at all. Even then I have to apply little touch ups a couple of times.

A little after four thirty I’m on the road. I arrive at the hotel a little over an hour later. The receptionist doesn’t seem at all surprised at my pink fingernails.

Room 103.

Undress.

Wash.

Begin to dress.

Suspender belts and nail polish are not mutual friends. The back left suspender always causes me pain. Maybe I should do a survey ... is this a universal thing? Do a lot of ladies feel the same way? Or is it just me? By the time the stockings feel securely fastened my nails are looking a lot less than perfect. And I left the nail polish at home. Ah well. The best laid plans.

The makeup begins to go on.

My phone rings. Laura has arrived.

The hotel accommodation is separate from the reception and you need a pass to get in to the accommodation. Laura doesn’t have a pass, so I need to go and open the door.

This is a moment that makes me smile. I am wearing a basque with suspenders, black stockings, panties and a pair of Chinese boobs. Nothing else.

Mostly made up ... but not completely ... no lipstick at all. No hair. Well ... some hair ... but no wig.

“I’ll be right there ...” I say. Grabbing my jeans and slipping them on. The cardigan is nice and long and covers me pretty well. As I do all this, pictures run through my mind of the looks that might be on people’s faces as I pass them by on the corridor. The nice thing is that the thought of it makes me smile more than it fills me with terror.

I pick up the black wig. Yes ... I brought two ... and put it on. There is a knock at the door. Someone had let Laura in. Rush and panic over.

Laura and Billie travelled en-femme. I reckon I’ll be another fifteen minutes and say I’ll meet them in the restaurant.

I undress again. Lip liner, lipstick, gloss.

Jeans ... why did I take them off?

Blonde hair. Pink top. Necklace, earrings, shoes ... you know the kind of thing.

Then, to the restaurant.

Opening the bedroom door and stepping out into the big wide world of the hotel corridor is still a mixture of fear and thrill. But really, not much fear.

In the restaurant there are just a few people. I sit opposite Laura. Billie has gone to get her glasses so she can read the menu. I take my glasses off so I can read the menu. No one is paying us any attention other than the waitress.

We order some food and drinks. Small talk mostly. We discuss what we’ll be wearing. Billie mentions a pelmet. After a little explanation it seems that this is in reference to a very short leather skirt.

Back to room 103. Laura and I get changed.

Jeans off, short black skirt on.

Pink top replaced by a black t-shirt. It has the word “Pink” embroidered on it

I look in the mirror. My lipstick is feathering out a little through the lip liner. Too many smile lines I guess! In a fit of bravado I get the makeup remover and wipe away the foundation and lipstick from around my mouth. I’ve never attempted a makeup repair job like this before. But it goes ok. Instead of regular lipstick I go for the Maybelline Superstay stuff. More like paint than lipstick. But it stays on and it doesn’t feather. And so long as I remember to apply the gloss kind of stuff that comes with it, it stays shiny as well.

Looking out the window ... it’s raining.

Pink Punters is just a short walk away. But in the rain ... a short walk seems like a long walk. We consider the options. Well ... maybe a taxi. But in the end, the rain is very light so we walk. We take the longer route – avoiding the small ditch between the hotel boundary and pavement.

There’s a small group of people at the door of Pink Punters. It’s just before 9:00 pm. We thought it opened at 8:00. But no. It opens at 9:00. We are kinda glad that we didn’t arrive much earlier.

The door opens. We sign the visitors’ book and head upstairs.

The place is almost totally deserted. We get some drinks and sit down to talk a while. Take a few pictures. We try to figure out if the person that served us the drinks is a guy or a girl. Feminine kind of voice. Masculine kind of clothing. Very short hair. Attractive. Billie thinks a guy. Laura and I think a girl.
Laura and Billie ...




Me ...




Me and Laura ...



Me and Billie ...



A tgirl and partner arrive and order some drinks. Not sure if the partner is a tgirl or a real girl. Well, at least I’m not sure ... I guess that they are pretty sure, though.

As the evening passes we spend a while dancing. The Andrea part of me is a lot less self conscious about bopping around on a dance floor than the masculine part of me. Having said that, this is slowly beginning to seep through. My wife is discovering that I’m actually beginning to be willing to get up and dance a little when we get a chance to.


The place is beginning to get crowded. Not many tgirls, but that doesn’t bother me really. It’s nice to be out and about. My dancing skills still have a fair way to go ... but the lessons I had last time I was at Pink Punters have helped.

There are TV (television) screens all over the place playing videos of the music. It’s pretty much all new kind of stuff ... which to my aged ears sounds somewhat monotonous at times. I’m a seventies child. It means I don’t remember many of the songs. I didn’t know there was a new version of “Do Wah Diddy” floating around.

One of the few songs that were played that I have distinctive memories of is “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It”. Laura had been expecting it to be played. I’d never heard it before, but it’s been going through my mind off and on for the past few days now. I just did a Google search for the lyrics. And amongst other things discovered this:

KATY PERRY’S SONG USED AS CHURCH WARNING TO TEENS

BLACKLICK, Ohio (AP) — A church near Columbus, Ohio, is using Katy Perry as a bad example. A sign outside Havens Corners Church in Blacklick has the lyrics from her song, “I kissed a girl and I liked it” — but it adds, “Then I went to hell.” Church pastor Reverend Dave Allison says the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin, so the sign is intended as a loving warning to teens. He says it’s confused some people who either don’t know the song or don’t understand the message. Lynne Bowman of the gay rights group Equality Ohio says the sign indicates the church isn’t very accepting. Perry has not responded to calls for comment.

Ah well ... I wonder how that squares for heterosexual tgirls?

We chat and sip at the drinks. Dance a bit more.

There is a guy that seems to fancy Laura a lot. But Laura just smiles politely and refuses the offer of a drink.

A guy sits beside us and begins to chat. His name is Graham. He says he’s an open minded kind of guy. Is looking for a relationship with someone he can communicate with well. We make it clear that we aren’t looking for relationships. But he buys us all a drink and doesn’t pester us.

Laura heads to the bar for the drinks ... and begins to chat with Anna.

Sonya (with a Y – not an I or a J) introduces herself. And her sister Michelle ... and other sister Nicola. Really nice girls.

“I’m drunk” smiles Sonya ... “so I’m just drinking water from now on.” In fact, she doesn’t seem so drunk at all.

Sonya ... fine tuniung a suspender ... not mine ... think pelmets!


Nicola, Michelle, me, Billie ...




“I’m driving.” says Michelle. So she isn’t even vaguely drunk.

They have to go soon ... it’s maybe 1:00 am now.

Sonya wants to stay a while and dance, but Michelle has to get some sleep and wake up again soon.

We go downstairs, abandoning the relative peace and quiet of the bar for the hustle and bustle of the dance floor. I’m still amazed that I can dance with 4.5 inch stiletto heels better than I do in flat shoes.

The three sisters have a rule. They go out together and they go home together. But Sonya wants to dance. Michelle and Nicky need to go. “You should stick to the rule” I tell Michelle. But Sonya says she’ll be fine and will get a taxi.

“I need to go to the loo” she says. “Come with me.” She takes my hand and guides me through the crowd. Down the stairs to the basement bar ... heavy, deep music ... and loos.

Guys find it kind of amusing that girls always seem to visit the “ladies” in pairs. No one ever seems to go alone.

This is, though, an experience I am new to when it comes to participation.

I’ve never entered a ladies loo hand in hand with anyone before. Actually, I’ve never entered a gents loo hand in hand with anyone either.

The whole experience makes me smile.

Sonya spends a while finding a cubicle that has a lock that actually fastens, then waves and says “wait for me, please”. I stand by the washbasins watching girls touching up their makeup and wait. In some outlandish kind of way it seems the most natural thing in the world for a girl to do.

We head back to the quiet bar and talk for a while with a few other people.

Some of the things I remember popping into the conversation.

“Other nightclubs round about are a bit like meat markets ... ”.

“Here you can talk or dance with a guy or a tgirl and not feel that all they want is to get into your panties.”

We talk about all kinds of stuff ... tgirls, families, kids, work ... life.

There are two tgirls at the bar that I know.

“Are they an item?”
“No ... not really.”
“FB’s?”
“FB’s?”
“F*** buddies.”
“Ahh ... well ... maybe.”
“You as well?”
“Nooooooo!”

Sonya is unusual in that she knows what .NET and C’# are.

She sees people as people ... even if they are tgirls.

A text message from Michelle ... checking that all is ok. Sonya gets asked to send a text when in the taxi and another one when at home. She sends a reply and says “Andie says hi”.

We compare fingernails. Hers look great ... and they aren’t false ... but they were done by a manicurist. When I discover how much it costs I decide that until I can keep them that way for day after day after day I’ll have to live with the nail polish.

Another dance. Sonya introduces me to Jamie the DJ. Then it’s time for the taxi. A goodbye kiss and a hug.

Back upstairs I join Laura who is chatting with Anna and Heather.

The person behind the bar is a guy ... Heather and Anna ask ... and he’s happy to tell.

Anna is a little unsteady on her feet.

“Hi darling ... what’s your name?”
“Andrea.”
“Hi Andrea.”
...
“Hi darling ... what’s your name?”
“Andrea.”
“Hi Andrea.”
...
“Hi darling ... what’s your name?”
“Andrea.”
“Hi Andrea.”

It’s a little like a time loop. I know. I watch too much Start Trek and Red Dwarf.

In amongst the loop we talk about other things as well. The cyclic nature of the conversation makes me smile.

In the background Katy Perry is kissing a girl again.

Then there is a competition ... the schnapps glasses get filled ... but not with schnapps. I opt out and giggle a little as Laura gets talked into joining in.

Heather and Anna drink theirs in one. Laura is not so successful. Heather finishes it off for her. Not an easy task though ... it seems Heather was expecting it to be banana flavoured but it turned out to be aniseed!

Heather talks. Everyday things that matter to her. Her mum passed away just over a year ago and there’s a lot of sadness in the memory still. A hug comes naturally.

She smiles at the irony of the fact that all the girls in view are wearing trousers. All the guys are wearing dresses.

It’s 5:00 am!

Anna manages to walk down the many steps without incident.

Outside there is a line of taxis. We say g’bye and head back for the hotel. It’s not raining so we take the long route and avoid the ditch again.

Another tgirl hardship is that even though it’s 5:00 am, sleep is still a fair way away. Makeup removal takes quite a while.

10:30 am and time to go. As we leave Laura happens to glance up and sees the smoke alarm in room 103. "Someone must have really needed a smoke" she says. And there you see it ... condoms seem to stop all kinds of things.


Overall, I loved it. The evening had started very quietly, but it livened up and there was a chance to dance a while and to meet some really nice people. And some first time experiences as well.

I hope to pop along again in the not so distant future.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Pictures, rabbits and nipples

In August ... yes I know its way past August now; I paid another visit to Trans Femme. And, as before, I had a great time. It was a bright sunny day. Tracey applied the makeup and Nik took the pictures. Here are two.




There have also been a couple of TV dinners and get-togethers at the Surrey Swans.
The Swans meeting at the end of August was an Ann Summers evening. To see a selection of the kind of things that were for sale take a look at http://www.annsummers.com.
The lady that ran the evening had quite a selection of products ... I never knew that electronic rabbits came in quite so many variations. It made just about everyone smile to see such a wide selection of brightly lit flashing gadgets of one kind and another. It was quite entertaining, though I didn’t buy anything. So, my only Ann Summers possessions are, still, the school dress, a basque and a pair of panties.

There are, of course, hazards associated with a desire to appear feminine. I never had a cut nipple before I got into the habit of shaving all-over regularly. I will definitely stick with the safety razor. A cutthroat would be sure to leave me nipple-free.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Of parties and people

I got along to the party at Trans-Femme a few Saturdays ago. It rained and rained and rained. And it rained. So it wasn’t a garden party at all. However, it was great. It was nice to meet Nikki ... having only met Nik previously. And also Tracey again. And lots of new people. Nikki took some pictures and also Julie and Kat did. So here are some:

This is Kat taking photos:


And Julie:
Me and Tracey:


Nikki:
And me with ... mmm ... my memory for names is totally shot.



The TV Dinner in Reading was cancelled, and no one can make it to Pink Punters on Friday, so the rest of that week was less busy than I was expecting.

A few things have happened in the past weeks that have brought back to mind the different perspectives and views that people have when it comes to cross dressing and transgender issues.

During a conversation that I was on the periphery of at the party, people were talking about the reaction of partners on discovering that the guy in their life was a TV. One TG said that she could understand how a person in such a position could feel kind of betrayed and lied to. But found it difficult to see why any woman wouldn’t be happy to have a partner that was kind of feminine and closer to her.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Kelly Red, soon after my acceptance of the Andrea in me. We were talking about the reaction of partners and how it’s not an easy thing for them to cope with. Kelly said ... “yeah ... it’s a bit like if your wife decided she wanted to wear a moustache and beard ... it might be hard to get to grips with.”

I think that Kelly has it right. It’s not an easy thing.

I know that I’m the same person now that I was even before I first tried makeup. I express myself in ways that I didn’t before, but I am the same person. Even when I’m wearing a frock.
But, I can see that from a partner’s perspective, it isn’t necessarily so straightforward. When I’m dressed, I look different. I walk differently. My mannerisms are different. Added to that, my fingernails are longer. I spend time filing them. I shave body hair. The me inside of me is the same, but the outer image isn’t. And, quite often, the outer image matters to people.

I remember one time Kathy mentioning that when she is out with Billie and Billie is dressed, they don’t hold hands. “I guess it’s because I don’t want people to think that I’m a lesbian”, Kathy said, “which is strange, because I have quite a few friends that are lesbians ... “.

I spent some time last week talking online with C. I have known C for quite a few years – quite a while before Andrea had “happened”.

A while back I mentioned to C that I was a TV. She didn’t know what to make of it at all. More recently she’s looked at Andrea through the eyes of this blog. And is, I think, struggling to work out who I am.

She says she feels as though she never really knew me.

I try to explain ... “But I’m me. The same me as before. Just expressing myself differently.”
The lipstick, the skirts ... in C’s eyes they make me different.

I don’t think that C feels that the whole TV thing is unnatural or abominable. But it’s not easy for her to understand. In fact I don’t understand it either. Not really.

Then there is CC. CC doesn’t have a problem with the idea.. Nor does Hope, or Debbie. Nor do many other people.

Everyone is different, I know, and I’m ok with that.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sparkle, people and bananas

Sparkle has been and gone.

For me, the weekend was mixed.

I arrived in Manchester at about noon on Friday 27 June. The drive there was pretty smooth. There were the, what seem to be, usual doubts about whether all the effort made any sense at all.

I have a really nice lunch with S, my eldest daughter at a cafe not far from the hotel that I was booked in to. The evening before I had painted my nails a pretty bright red. At the time it seemed a smart move. I’ve discovered that nail polish is best applied a long time before it is needed. I remember after finishing the first coat a few of the thoughts that then crossed my mind included stuff like how wise it was to have painted nails when stopping for a toilet break or for petrol on the journey. And what about lunch with my daughter?

In fact there are no problems.

On the journey the trickiest moment is a lady that tries to convince me that I should sign up for a new credit card. I talk with her with my hands in my pockets and manage to remain unconvinced so there is no need for me to sign anything.

Lunch is fine as well. S doesn’t mind the nails at all. And I become less and less concerned about what other people noticed about the colour of my fingers. This is one of the positives of the weekend.

After lunch we walk back to the hotel. She needs to organise a few things so I start to do the makeup thing. Up to now S hasn’t seen me in makeup with a wig. When she gets back to the hotel she has. And, so far as I can tell she is fine with it. Another positive.

We walk into central Manchester along with Billie. Stop in at a Curry’s Digital store in the Arndale centre and have coffee at a nearby cafe. People notice, but no one is impolite. A tgirl that is sitting across the way smiles and waves a little as she finishes her coffee and leaves.
We talk about all kinds of stuff. It’s relaxed. Another positive.

A walk back to towards the hotel. S catches the bus back to pick up the keys for her new home for next year. This weekend she is moving from last year’s house to next year’s house.
Billie and I head for Canal Street where the main Sparkle stuff happens.

We spot Emma at the AXM bar and start to chat and head into the bar for a drink.
Laura and Didi arrive while we are chatting. We chat a little with a tgirl and partner that arrive.
There are a lot more tgirls than I have ever seen before.

We head for Chinatown. Laura, Didi, Billie and I have a pleasant meal at a restaurant there.
Didi and I talk about families and kids. She is separated and soon to be divorced. Wonders how the kids would cope with the concept of Didi.

Back to the hotel for a while. Makeup comes off. Another shave. Makeup goes on. Black hair again. A short skirt and not at all sensible heels. Then back to Canal Street.

The evening includes wayyyyyy too much walking for a girl in high heels! AXM bar .... then another ... another ... another. I’m careful about how much I drink. Walking is hard enough in heels even when totally sober.

We visit Eden. It’s on the other side of the canal .... yes there is a canal that runs along Canal Street. The trip across the little wooden bridge needs to be done with care – high heels and gaps between wooden floors do not make a good combination.

The evening is mixed. I’m taken aback by the behaviour of some people. On reflection I think that this is unreasonable of me. But feelings and reason do not always coincide.

I spend a few minutes pleasantly talking with a guy from Switzerland. His English is a lot better than my French. It takes a while for me to get to pronounce his name correctly. And now I don’t remember it. He’s in Manchester for a few days attending a conference of some kind – he’s studying something, but I didn’t find out what. He’s married and has a young child. Back in Switzerland he’s seen hardly any TV’s. He’s happy that the UK seems different in this respect. That tgirls can wander around and not have to be closeted up. Canal Street in Manchester is a bit different from the UK average, though. And during a Sparkle weekend it’s a bit different from anywhere.

I meet Angel from Kent. Her first Sparkle, but has been to Pink Punters many times.

At 2:00 am Eden closes so Didi and I walk over to Napoleon’s.

I chat a bit with a guy and his partner. Then a while with Laura. There are a few guys that look as though they are making passes. But they aren’t offensive and don’t mind a polite smile followed by a polite kind of no I’m not interested.

A guy wafts a small bottle towards my nose. I gently wave it away. Laura does the same. Amyl Nitrate Laura thinks.

My life has been fairly sheltered, I guess. I remember working in Amsterdam years ago and being offered something or other as I walked down a shopping street. Drugs have never appealed to me.

My feet are sore. My feet are very sore. Makes me smile to think about it now.

It’s 4:00 am. On the walk back to the hotel a security guy at a club that I walk past says “Hi ... you’ve lost something”. “What?” I ask. “Your smile” he smiles. “Ahhhh my feet are agony! You should try these heels.” He laughs and says he did try his girlfriends once. Fifteen minutes was enough. He has no idea how she manages to wear them all day. “You need more practice,” I laugh. My feet are still sore but I found the smile again.

Five am and I am removing makeup. Then sleeping. And then it’s 9:00 am and I’m awake again.
Saturday is another mixed kind of day.

At times I am amazed at people. Both positively and negatively. Not always reasonably.
Laura and I walk into Manchester and call in at quite a few shops. She buys a belt and a skirt. I’m wearing black girlie trousers, flat shoes and a yellow top. Long black hair.
At one point we are standing by a shop. A piece of a banana hits the side of my face. No big deal and no one seems to notice. We are headed across the street so I just wipe the side of my face and outwardly ignore the incident.

Inwardly, this one event has made me think more about myself than any other happening of the weekend.

Back to Canal Street. A coke. Laura has a bite to eat and we chat pleasantly. A drink at the AXM bar.

On the way back to the hotel a Sparkle photographer asks if he can snap me. So who knows ... maybe I’ll be on the website sometime?
Hotel, shave, makeup, dress.

A very nice meal at the Velvet restaurant on Canal Street.
Then to the park to listen to some music and watch the Miss Sparkle prize giving. They do look great!

A relatively early night.

Sunday I drive over to see S and help a bit with moving stuff from house to house. S and U disassemble desks and we load them into the car to transport to the new house. Then bookcases and bits and pieces of other things.

Out for a pleasant lunch.

U likes Indigo Girls as well as Simone White. S is appalled. If Indigo Girls play in Manchester then I promise to take them both!

The drive home. Getting back later than I had originally planned and the sore feet mean that I give the St Trinian’s theme night at the Surrey Swans a miss.

Since then I’ve thought about the weekend.

The highs and the lows. I’ve thought about myself. About other people. About cross dressing. Transexualism. Transvestitism.

The highs of the weekend were definitely the people that I talked with.

I think that the weekend would have been better for me if I had approached it differently. I don’t think I made the most of the events that were organised. I didn’t take the opportunity to spend time getting to know enough new people.

A few times I have wondered about things. Some of my wonderings, in the order that they spring to mind are here.

Is it all worth the effort? The dressing. The makeup. Pieces of banana in my face.

At the moment my answer to this is that it needn’t be effort. It isn’t something that I am obliged to do. The whole expression of Andrea is really an expression of me. When I dress and wear makeup I am still me. People use the name Andrea, and in some ways I feel different. There’s a sense in which some of the burdens of the day are left behind. But under the foundation and mascara it’s still me.

The piece of banana? I think mostly I feel a sense of dismay and sadness. Of course, I don’t know who it came from and what, if any, their motivations were. But the explanation that springs to mind is that it was a gift from someone that is tgirl-phobic. I’m not willing to allow tgirl-phobic people to dictate the way that I dress or whether or not I wear lipstick and nail polish. It’s not my aim to upset people or to make them angry or to offend them. But nor am I content to hide away. On balance I think the experience is making me more rather than less determined to allow Andrea out into the regular everyday world. One day I hope that it won’t be at all unusual to see a tgirl just being herself just about anywhere at all.

I think that many tgirls go through periods of self doubt. I remember on my first trip to a pub dressed in a skirt when I was asked if I’d been through many purges. At times I can understand why people do. I’ve been through some self doubting myself over the past few days.

Deep down though, I think that a purge of makeup and skirts would be an act of self denial. The Andrea in me isn’t just painted lips and fingernails. Andrea isn’t about to disappear any time soon.

And so ... there is a garden party in Swindon on Saturday, a meal in Reading on Tuesday and, maybe, a night at Pink Punters on the Friday. Quite a busy week.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Software, Sparkle, She and St Trinians

The long slog at work is, I hope, drawing to an end. Version 9.0.309 should hit the streets tomorrow. One cycle ends and another begins. The beginning of software development cycles is always less stressful than the end. So working hours should get to be a lot less extended than they have been for the past few months.

The forthcoming weekend is a busy but, hopefully, very nice one.
I have Friday off work to drive up to Manchester for a long weekend. The last weekend of June is different than most other weekends. It’s time for Sparkle ... you can read all about it here http://www.sparkle.org.uk/.

I haven’t been to “Sparkle” before, but have it all organised for this weekend – in a fairly disorganised kind of way.

I am looking forwards to it a lot. Though there have been the usual feelings of ... why? Is it worth the effort? What is this cross dressing thing all about?

Billie, Laura and Didi are all going. Fiona Floyd and people from Portsmouth will be there. Nikki and Tracey will be there. Lots and lots and lots of tgirls will be there. Perhaps more guys with skirts and makeup on gathered in one place than ever before!

I’m not sure what exactly I’ll do when I’m there. Nor am I sure how I’ll cope with having makeup on for so many hours in a day. I am, though, expecting to enjoy the experience a lot. I even get a chance to spend some time with my daughter who is a student in Manchester at the moment still.

Tomorrow night will be busy as well. What do I take? How many pairs of shoes do I really need? How many skirts and dresses that are less than 4 or 5 inches above my knee do I need. It’s nice to have a few days where these kinds of question will be the ones that are at the forefront of my mind. I know that the world is full of much more important questions. But it’s good to be able to set aside a little time to issues that are a little more frivolous.

I had an email from tgirl a friend named Tina today. Tina’s wife is finding it hard to get to terms with the concept of Tina.

I often don’t appreciate my own wife enough. The whole concept of Andrea was hard for her initially. And I do take her and the way that she has accepted this different side of me for granted sometimes. More often than sometimes. Deep down, though, I am thankful to her. The children ... who are both now young adults ... have handled the whole thing in a way that could not have been better. They seem to be ok to buy Father’s days gifts that look a bit more like Mother’s day gifts. The acceptance of me as me in this way means more than is easy to put into words.

I do hope that things work out for Tina and her wife. I still find the use of the wo0rds “him” and “her” confusing when it comes to tgirls.

There is an Indigo Girls song that I like a lot ... and the words are ...

Guess I wasn’t the best one to ask
Me myself with my face pressed
Up against loves glass
To see the shiny toy I’ve been hoping for
The one I never could afford
The wide world spins and spits turmoil
And the nations toil for peace
But the paws of fear upon your chest
Only love can soothe that beast
And my words are paper tigers
No match for the predators of pain inside her

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
Where there’s now one there will be two

I was born under the sign of cancer
(love will come to you)
Like brushing cloth I smooth the wrinkles for an answer
(love will come)
I’m always closing my eyes and wishing I’m fine
(I close my eyes and wish you fine)
Even though I know I’m not this time
(even though I know you’re not this time)

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
Where there’s now one there will be two

Dodging your memories a field of knives
Always on the outside looking in on others lives

I say love will come to you
Hoping just because I spoke the words that they’re true
As if I offered up a crystal ball to look through
(I have offered up to you)
Where there’s now one there will be two

And I wish her insight to battle loves blindness
Strength from the milk of human kindness
A safe place for all the pieces that scattered
Learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters

I love the words. The feelings.

Whenever I have heard these lines being sung:

But the paws of fear upon your chest
Only love can soothe that beast
And my words are paper tigers
No match for the predators of pain inside her.

I’ve thought of “me” as being “her”. A part of me is “she”.

I’m hoping to take enough pictures to catch the mood of Sparkle.

Sunday night is a St Trinian’s evening at the Surrey Swan. My Anne Summers school uniform will maybe get another outing.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Boy George, Herman Goering, Berry and me

A couple of days ago I found myself involved in an online conversation with a lady named Berry. Of course, I don't expect that berry is her name and I have no way of knowing that she is a lady.

She said she lives in Romania.

We talked a little about society and she asked me what life in the UK is like ... is it less rigid than it used to be.

I said yes ... it's different than it used to be. She seemed suitably impressed.

After a while I mentioned that I sometimes cross dress.

"What ... you dress like a woman?"

"mm ... well ... yes."

I pointed her in the direction of my blog.

A few minutes of silence.

"Are you shocked?"

"Yes. It makes me think of Goering and Boy George."

These thoughts make me smile.

Berry works as a chemical engineer. She plans to learn computer programming in her spare time. She asks about the programming languages I use and we discuss the merits of C#.

She is thinking about setting up a web site, but thinks that there ought to be a way of segregating the Internet. I think she means a way of fixing it so that serious stuff doesn't get all mixed up with personal stuff. Maybe a way of making sure that blogs written by tgirls don't get mixed up with blogs written by "normal" people.

She is a vegetarian. She says she is a naturist.

"You don't have any clothes on?" I ask.

She laughs in a "hahaha" kind of way, and we work out that she means environmentalist.

Being a tgirl is just as unnatural as eating meat.

She is mildly appalled at whatever has happened to England. Why should there be so many men that want to dress like ladies? It must be that someone or something is filling people with unnatural desires or stresses. Somehow forcing people into a way of life that is not of their choosing. She thinks that if people could get to understand this then they would be freed from the need to cross dress.

Now for an admission. I watch quite a lot of Star Trek. I know. In some people's eyes this is more weird than a guy taking pleasure in wearing stockings. Be that as it may, I'm reminded of a Star Trek Next Generation episode where they visit a planet that has eradicated the concept of gender. No masculine, no feminine. Or so it seems. One of the citizens of the genderless planet ends up working with Commander Riker. It seems that once in a while a citizen begins to realise that they actually want to be female or male. She wants to be female. Of course, they fall in love. But, those that discover gender have to hide. They have to pretend to be like everyone else for fear of being found out. Of course, she gets found out. She is treated. She is cured. She is no longer she.

I explain to Berry, that for me it seems the opposite. For every tgirl that I know it was the opposite. The pressure and stress is all about hiding it. Feeling guilty about it. Denying it. The freedom is in being able to embrace it.

I try to explain that not so long ago, society in the UK was so rigid that for a man to be dressed as a woman was kind of appalling. But that things, in that respect at least, are getting better ... less rigid.

Of course, a long time ago it was quite normal for a man to wear a wig and skirts.

I get the feeling that Berry and Andrea have different understandings about what "less rigid" means.

She seems to think that if stuff were more segregated then it would be healthier. After all, she says, urine and blood should not be mixed. I'm not at all sure about the relevance of this analogy to anything that we've been talking about. It sounds like the beginnings of a justification for apartheid.

Me ... I'm more of an integrationist than a separatist. I see things in shades of grey rather than black and white.

It seems that developing this greyness happens as people grow older and it's not restricted to hair colouration.

Of course, some would say that it is a bad thing. A loss of conviction. A sign of unacceptable compromise.

For me, it's an acceptance of diversity. A conviction that wherever there are two extremes, there are usually a whole load of places somewhere between the extremes. And it's not wrong to be somewhere in between.

I see gender in this way. If there is an ultimate macho male and an ultimate girlie girl, there are a lot of people that are somewhere in between. In fact, most of the people that I know are somewhere in between.

There are, of course, nice people and nasty people at all positions along this male ... female continuum. The fact that Herman Goering may have been a transvestite has no more significance than the fact that Adolf Hitler wasn't.

Ideas of extremes and of segregation are ideas that bother me.

Monday, 16 June 2008

A pictorial year in the life of ...

OK, at last, here are some links to some pictures.

I know ... I went a bit crazy and ended up posting way more than I was expecting to.

Part of it is to do with posterity. I thought that maybe one day it will be interesting for me to chart the life and times of Andrea in pictures. To see how the wrinkles develop ... how long I keep wearing skirts that are way too short and who knows what else.

So here goes.

The pictures you reach when you click
were, in a sense, taken on the day that Andrea was born. They were all taken by Fiona Floyd in Portsmouth at the affectionately named Trannie Towers. As I've written earlier in this blog, May 6th 2007 was a really special day. It marked the beginning of a process of self discovery and self acceptance that has made a big difference to me. I'm still at the beginning of the journey and am meeting many, many lovely people along the route.

Fiona has been very influential in the way that I view the whole transvestite thing as it relates to me. For that I will always be grateful to her. Having moved on from Trannie Towers Fiona isn't doing the makeover, dressing and photo service that she used to. But hopefully she will get back into it again in the not so distant future.

I still remember a lot about that day very clearly. The amazement of how seemingly complex makeup was. The surprise at the idea of earrings and a necklace. And that first glimpse in the mirror. I was totally taken by surprise at the emotion that was invoked by this. The surprising sadness that I felt when the makeup came off. The release in meeting other guys that weren't ashamed of the fact that once in a while they like to dress up and go femme. A whole new world.

My favourite pictures in this set are definitely in the short black dress and blond hair . I keep on looking for something just like it in a shop somewhere so I can get one of my own. I posted some of these at TV Chix and someone did comment on how happy I looked. And I was ... and I am.

My wife was very brave in looking at these pictures the same day that I told her about them. I think she was kind of taken aback by the shortness of the dress ... and preferred the ones in the white top and not quite so short black skirt. Preferred is probably the wrong word here.

The photos at
were taken on May 26th 2007, again at Fiona's. These were the first pictures of me in hair and boobs of my own ... well OK ... a wig and falsies of my own. I'd spent a long long time scouring the Internet looking for something that I liked. Kind of predictably I like the short denim skirt and black top best. I think you can tell that in the last few pictures I was fairly precariously balanced on a cupboard. I did manage to not quite fall off. I love the shoes. I'm not sure what it is about the flash of stocking tops ... it must be the heat of the spotlights.

The day was special because it was the first time Andrea ventured outside the walls of Trannie Towers. We spent a few hours round at a local pub. I spent quite a lot of the evening metaphorically pinching myself to check that I wasn't dreaming it all. I wore the denim skirt and black top.

Not long afterwards, the photos
were again at Trannie Towers on June 9th 2007. I like the first few best. There's a St Trinians theme evening due at the Surrey Swans at the end of June and that kind of look would be fine for it. I know ... I am showing far too much underwear in the pictures later in the set. It's kind of strange how the photographic moment takes over leaving me surprisingly unselfconscious. And normally I am an extremely self conscious kind of a guy.

My wife still struggles a little with the way I behave. She says I am like a teenager. Well ... that I act like one at any rate. I know that I don't look like one! A lot of the TVs that I know are the same.

The last few pictures are fun ... well OK ... funny. But O like them.

That evening we went to a pub in Southampton (the London Hotel, I think). I wore the outfit from the last few pictures. This was the first time I got to talk with non-TV's whilst en-femme, so to speak.

And finally ... the pictures
... were taken by Nik at trans-femme on June 8th 2008. Tracey did the makeup. A lot of the pictures are just slight variations of each other. I guess that I like the subtle differences. I like the ones with the black hair best. This surprised me a lot! You also get to see the little message on the panties included in the Anne Summers school uniform set. I didn't get spanked, by the way.

So ... that's it for now.

Let me now what you think.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Andrea a la trans-femme

The black hair was all for a Gothic night at the Surrey Swans. I haven't worn black much at all since then ... but having seen the pictures I do like it a lot.






Longer hair than usual.

This is the outfit I wore at the fetish party in January 2008. The entire story is blogged.









Black and white polka dots.








Thanks again to Tracey and Nikki ... you are stars xxxx

Makeup and Pictures

A few weeks back I was chit chatting at TVChix (http://www.tvchix.com/) and had a conversation with a girl about a makeover service that I hadn’t heard of. Trans-femme is the place (http://www.trans-femme.co.uk/ ). It’s over a year since my last makeover and photo shoot so I thought maybe I’d give it a try. I got round to booking an appointment and it happened last Sunday. So ... here goes with a few thoughts on the experience.

In summary ... I had a wonderful time! And I love the photos ... I’ll post links to some later in this blog entry.

Nikki and Tracey who run Trans-Femme emailed me directions and some background information after I had contacted them.

Sunday morning I begin to think about what clothing I might take. My wife is away for the weekend and has taken the suitcase that I was thinking about packing. I know ... a suitcase seems over the top for a makeover and an hour or so of pictures. But ... you never know what you might wear. The feminine side of me has a liking for clothing choices that amazes me. This seems to be a passion shared by lots of tgirls.

The suitcase that I find first is bigger than the one that has gone, and so I am filled with an urge to fill it.

After twenty minutes or so I realise that I really do need to exercise some discretion here. I mean ... do I really need to take 5 dresses, half a dozen skirts, 10 tops, 6 pairs of shoes? Not to mention an insane number of pairs of panties, bras and stockings.

I spend a while putting things back in the wardrobe ... but in the end it’s still a bit of a struggle to close the suitcase.

At about 11:30 am I begin what is maybe the least feminine thing I need to do in preparation for makeup as I start to shave my face. Then it's a shower. Scent. Suspender belt. Stockings. Panties. Trousers. Shirt. Socks. Shoes.

The drive to Swindon takes a little less time than I was expecting. Just about an hour.

The suitcase is soooo big!

Nik and Tracey are lovely people. We have a cup of tea and chat for a while. An opportunity for them to explain to me how things work and to talk a bit about each other’s experiences. Very informal and nice. I feel really welcome.

I head out to the photo studio and makeover room with Tracey. It’s a separate building from the house. Although it’s a hot day, it’s fairly cool inside – though once the lights are on in the studio I know it will get warmer.

We chat as Tracey begins with the foundation. The atmosphere is relaxing. She’s happy to explain everything that she’s doing and if I like I can have a list of everything that she’s using together with typical prices and where they can be bought.

It brings back memories of the first makeover that I had at Fiona Floyds. There are similarities and differences.

The similarities include things like the friendliness, the sense of acceptance, the informality, and the knowledge that it’s ok to be myself here.

The differences are mostly in me. There is now a sense of familiarity in the feeling of makeup on my face. The eye liner and mascara don’t feel weird. Just over a year ago at Fiona’s it was as though I was meeting a new person in Andrea – or at least a new part of me. I think I had always been aware of the feminine side of my character, but with the help of Fiona the femininity was able to take on a whole new dimension.

That very first time I was unsure of myself. I didn’t really know what I was doing or why I was doing it.

In lots of ways I still don’t understand why. But I am happy that it is an expression of me. I am happy with myself. I enjoy the girl that is in me. I enjoy the man that is in me as well. I know that I don’t need to be afraid or ashamed.

It means that as Tracey applies powder, and blush that I can enjoy the experience without having the burden of the worries that I used to have.

We talk a bit about the different techniques that she uses compared to my own and about common experiences.

I also get the feeling that if this had been my first ever makeup then this would have been a lovely time and place to experience it.

I know this may not make any sense at all to guys that don’t do makeup. But, there seems to be something special about someone else taking the time and trouble to do it all. It’s a relaxing kind of experience. And there is ... ok these days I’m not the kind of person that is into “spirituality” ... a sense of transformation that is spiritual, if the term spiritual includes a sense of peace and meeting oneself.

For me, the makeup is something that helps me feel in touch with myself.

It’s nice to not be in a rush. It’s nice to not worry about making a mistake. It’s nice to talk.

There’s a sense of familiarity as eye shadow, liner and mascara are applied. Lipstick and gloss.

Once that’s all done, Tracey leaves me alone for a while and I begin to select what to wear. I brought my collection of wigs – all three of them. There are also loads and loads of wigs that I can try out of I feel like it. During our chat I’d decided to go for photos in 4 different outfits with different hairstyles for each. The pictures show what they look like.

Once I’m all ready Nik drops by with the camera. The lights go on in the studio and the photos begin. Straightaway I like Nik a lot. Full of encouragement and helpful suggestions. He
explains things that are likely to “work” and also why. He’s great ... full of advice but not at all a dictator. I really am convinced that what he wants is for me to really enjoy the time and to get some great photos. And I did.

This is another thing that I suspect will make no sense at all to a person that has never experienced it. And I guess it doesn’t work for everyone. But, honestly, if you still feel like adding anything to the list of things that you’d like to do before you die then, unlike contact lens trials, having a photo session really is something you should go for.

There is something I find liberating about the experience. It’s a strange contradiction somehow. There I am in front of the camera. Posing for all I am worth. And yet ... the posing is deliberate and it’s obvious. Yet, the smiles are real smiles. So different from the posing that can be part of everyday life. The kind where the posing is done in secret and the smiles are fake. Does that make any sense?

It’s so strange. The rolling on the floor, the sidelong glances, the lifting of the hem of my skirt are very un-me. And yet, they help me to relax into being myself in a way that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

Photo shoots like this have given me the most feminine and girlie kind of sense of self-awareness that I remember. Makes me think of a Doris Day song that I remember from years ago – “I enjoy being a girl”. I just looked up the lyrics ... and well, it doesn’t all apply, but it gives a sense of the feeling. It’s that kind of feeling that I have as the camera shutter clicks.

Nik mentions that they also do all kinds of other types of photo sessions. Maybe one day my wife would like to sit in and watch – or even be made up and give it a try. I’d like that a lot. I guess it is more out of the ordinary to be photographed with your husband when you are both wearing skirts and makeup than it is to spend an afternoon playing golf with him. But honest, I am a lot better at putting makeup on than I am at putting a golf ball.

Another three outfits and hairstyles and over 300 pictures later it’s time to change into something a little more discrete for the drive home. I put on the long black and white polka dot dress that I started the session with together with shoes that have a smaller heel. I manage to fit everything back into the suitcase.

We chat unhurriedly. Tracey has the pictures copied onto a CD and we have a look at them on the computer. I love them. Tracey says which she likes best ... and yes ... I like it a lot as well.

We carry on talking and I know that I’ll be visiting again.

And now for some of the pictures. I’ll add in my next blog entry ... and I'll post some links to a wider selection in another blog entry. At the time of writing, there are also some at http://www.trans-femme.co.uk/page_1191079685531.html - I’m Andrea June 2008.

Well ... ins summary ... the experience was totally wonderful ... delightful ... and way more than highly recommended! Give it a try!

Thankyou Tracey and Nikki xxx.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Making up with contacts?

A while I had a conversation with Julia, a friend I met at the TV dinners that I go to in Reading. She was wearing glasses, like me. She used to wear contact lenses and was thinking of giving them another try. It made a lot of sense to me at the time. I mean ... we girls spend a long time learning how to apply eye shadow, liner and mascara. To then hide it all behind a pair of spectacles seems a little illogical. OK ... I admit that the very concept of a guy going to all that trouble to make his eyes look pretty is not what everyone might view as being eminently logical. But ... well ... to a transvestite it maybe makes perfect sense.

So ... for months and months I had been planning to give contact lenses a try out.

A couple of weeks ago I called in at Specsavers in Slough to check about making an appointment. I needed to have an up-to-date eye test – but the good news was that they had a special offer so that the contact lens consultation was free.

Last Saturday I called in at the shop to keep my appointment.

Step 1 ... I look through a thing at a scene with and a hot air balloon. First one eye and then the other.

Step 2 ... the man blows off air onto each of my eyeballs. A test for glaucoma.

Then I sit back in my chair and wait a little while.

Step 3 ... a lady checks my eyesight. Looking into the eyes and seeing what I can read on the charts.

The good news is that my current prescription is fine ... no change at all. With my glasses on I have great vision. The bad news is that it cost me £20 to find this out. And ... I was pretty sure that this would be the case ... they haven’t changed at all in something like ... well ... more years than I care to remember.

I’m back in the chair and waiting again. But not for long.

Step 4 ... a man starts to look at my eyes. This is the beginning of the contact lens consultation.

I’m not really sure what is happening or why. I think he’s checking the state of my eyeballs to see if they are likely to work ok with lenses. He asks me if I’ve given any thought to the type of lenses I’d wear and how often I’d be likely to wear them. I tell him maybe once a week or so ... and I’d been thinking of the kind that you just wear for a day and then throw away.

It was kind of funny ... I’d been wondering how I would answer the question “why are you thinking about trying contact lenses?” and how I would answer it. I think I would have mentioned the eye makeup thing. But I never was asked anything too specific.

Step 5 ... a lady shows me how to put the lenses in.

Oh ... wow. I suspect that most people that haven’t worn contact lenses never know what it os like to press a finger against an eyeball ... especially when it is their own.

I guess I can now add this to my list of “things to do before you die” that I have done. But take my advice ... don’t add it to your List if you can help it!

The right eye went in almost easily. The left one ... definitely more of a challenge.

Step 6 ... a lady takes me into a room to check my eyesight with the lenses in and to check how they fit my eyes. It feels weird. I don’t remember the last time I could see things clearly at any distance further than a foot or so (about 30 cm). I can see just about as well with the lenses as I can with my glasses.

Step 7 ... I get taught how to take them out. This makes putting them in seem like childsplay. The right eye wasn’t so bad, I guess. But the left one was a real struggle. Eventually I got them both out. But my eyes were so bloodshot by this time they thought it was maybe a good idea not to put them back in again.

I booked a review appointment for the following week and was given 6 pairs of lenses. The idea is to wear them for 3 hours the first day, 4 the second and so on until the appointment.

It’s Sunday night at 8:00 pm. I sit by the mirror and start to poke at my eyes. The lenses go in with now to much hassle. I’d spent a while that day watching a guy on a website demonstrate how to do it.

Now it’s 11:00 pm. Sitting at the mirror. The right lens comes out pretty easily. But the left one? Days later I noticed that the left lens is actually just a tad bigger than the right one. At least I now have some kind of idea as to why it was more of a challenge.

11:15 pm and I take a break.

11:30 ... I still have a contact lens in my left eye.

11:45 and I take a break.

Sometime a little after midnight my left eye has unfocused vision and I think that the lens is out. But if it is I don’t know exactly where. Being a naive kind of contact lens wearer I need the reassurance of knowing where the heck it has got to.

Eventually, after a fair bit of scrabbling around on the floor my wife finds it.

By a quarter after midnight I have vowed that mascara isn’t worth it.

By Monday morning things don’t seem so bad.

Tuesday I give the lenses another go. It’s still a struggle ... but not so bad.

By Thursday I need to put them in at work to avoid having to stay awake until 1:00 am to take the things out. . For some reason the left eye takes a record breaking length of time to sort out. At one point the lens just disappeared. One moment it’s on the tip of my finger. The next, it’s nowhere to be seen. After a while it turns up and after an even greater while I manage to get it to stay in my eye.

Thursday night I begin to think about things. Do I put the lenses in before or after the makeup? I can see a lot better close range without the lenses in. But getting them in after I have makeup on would likely mean I need to redo the makeup to fix up the damage that I’ve done.

And do I remove the makeup before I remove the lenses?

Out comes Google and I do some research. And now I discover that eye makeup and contact lenses may not actually be the best of partners. And so, after a while I decide that maybe I should put the whole concept on hold for a little while. Predictably enough when I sit down in from of the mirror, even the one in my left eye pops out without a fight.

Of course, not long after cancelling the appointment at the optician’s I’m discovering that maybe contacts and makeup go better together than I had thought, so it’s back to the drawing board!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sore feet but smiling




After delays and complications I at last got to visit Pink Punters (http://www.pinkpunters.com/) on a Friday night – on May 9th. The place caters especially for the gay, lesbian and transgendered community.

I first heard of it at TVChix (http://www.tvchix.com/) almost a year ago when people would mention they were (or weren’t) headed for the BNO ... Big Night Out. At the time I was a long way from feeling able to head out for somewhere like that.

A couple of months ago a few tgirls at the Surrey Swans mentioned they were going and asked if I was interested. It sounded like a nice idea ... pity it’s so far from home. But there is a hotel just across the road and one Friday a month it seems that it gets fully booked with tgirls out to party.
Of course, organising such things is a kinda hit and miss affair.

“Hmmm ... who is Laura ...” my wife asks one evening. Laura is a regular at the TV Dinners and Swans. My mobile phone is slowly filling with similar names and numbers.

At the get together at the end of April things began to take shape. The hotel works out a lot more affordable if you can share a room. When I said that I reckoned that I’d be able to make it, Nikki had also decided to give it a try. I offered to try to book in at the hotel. On the way out Nikki said ... “Ohhh ... and make it twin beds!” Made me smile.

As the day approached I began to have misgivings. I’m not a natural born dancer. I have always pretty much hated discos. On the other hand ... Andrea hadn’t ever been to a disco.

Because today has been warm and sunny I’m sitting in the garden typing this and have decided I dislike laptop computer keyboards even more than I thought I did. It’s really nice though to sit in the open air in a nice blouse and a skirt. The garden is hardly overlooked at all. And I guess that by now I’ve decided that eventually, if people begin to notice my dressing preferences then both I and they have gotta learn to live with it.

So ... Friday arrives and I set off from work early. Well, actually it’s at normal end of work day, which is about 2 hours earlier than it has been for a while. Unusually no one asked about “what are you all doing this weekend” at the lunch break.

I set up the sat nav ... waited for it to acquire its satellites and was off. Hoping it would take maybe 90 minutes.

Thoughts passing through my mind as I drive along are mixed.

Why am I doing this?

It would be so much easier to just drive home.

Did I select “suitable” clothing?

I wasn’t worried about shoes much ... I took them all. And, to be honest, 4 different skirts and four blouses was more than enough to choose from.

The traffic news was good, for a Friday... unless you were driving out of London ... or into London on the M40. Thankfully I wasn’t.

I listened to some Simone White. Lovely voice, tunes and lyrics. Makes me smile and cry.

I get to the hotel and find a parking spot.

Get the suitcase ... I know ... a big suitcase for just one night is a little over the top. But what’s a girl to do?

Start walking through the car park towards the hotel reception.

Then walk back again to the car thinking things through.

In the end Nikki had booked the room. I have a reference number. But ... what is Nikki's name? What do I say at reception exactly?

Too late to worry.

At reception I stand in line.

The guy in front ... do I recognise the voice?

Well ... maybe.

I sure don’t recognise the person ... but ... it’s possible.

I step back a bit. Get my phone out. Try Nikki's number. Hoping to see the guy in front reaching for his pocket.

“You have reached the voicemail service of ...”

It tells me a number. Not a name. I know the number already.

Ah well.

Now I’m at the front of the line.

“Can I help you sir?”

“Yes ... thank you. I have a reservation number here.”

I show her the text message.

“What name is that for?”

“Mmm well ... a friend booked it.”

She doesn’t ask me the friend. I think she knows that I don’t know.

She checks the reference on the computer. Asks my name.

I’m feeling a lot more at ease with this than I expected.

“Sorry sir ... perhaps you can wait for your friend.”

I step back from the desk and get my phone and phone the number again.

It rings.

It stops ringing!

“Hi ... Nikki? This is Andrea.”

This kind of scenario still makes me smile. Andrea and Nikki with such husky voices.

It turns out Nikki is in the room!

“It’s room 119” I say to the receptionist. She hands me a plastic electronic key and tries to sell me breakfast.

I knock at the door and Nikki opens it. And yes ... Nikki had been standing just in front of me at reception ... and had been listening to my voice when I was there checking if I sounded like Andrea.

I smile again.

It’s about 7:00 pm.

We chat a little. The journeys had been fine.

Unpacking and talking.

It’s a strange place to be at. Metaphysically I mean ... the geography is easy. Girls together. Neither of us having seen our complementary selves before.

Nikki heads for the car to collect a few things. I begin to shave.

Nikki showers. I brush teeth.

I shower, Nikki brushes teeth.

We talk.

It feels less oddball than I thought it might.

Now time for the makeup. For the first time this week I think cooler weather would have been nicer. I’m not so sure how well foundation will cope with this. But I’ll know soon enough. The routine of makeup is less daunting than it used to be. But still slow.

Foundation. Max Factor applied with my fingers.

Powder. Kryolan translucent. Brushing off the excess.

Eye shadow.

Nikki wonders what’s going on as I get this out. One of my favourites of the moment is a Startgazer thing. Sparkly white. It’s in a little plastic pot and I kind of smear it on with a little felt tip shaped spatula ... the kind that is included with a lot of eye shadows that you buy ... well ... if you buy eye shadow that is. I get some onto the felt tip and smear it on the back of my hand a little so there isn’t too much loose powder. Then I start dabbing it onto my eyelids.

The voice of Nikki. “Wow ... I thought you were gonna start snorting something for a minute.”

Creases me up.

The lighting in the room by the mirror isn’t so good ... so off comes the lamp shade.

I’m reminded of scenes from “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” ... guys applying makeup at a mirror.

Darker eye shadow.

Eye liner.

I must have blinked too soon ... big black lines across my eyelids!

Cotton wool buds to the rescue.

Mascara.

Blush.

Lip liner.

Lipstick.

Gloss.

Now what to wear? Decisions, decisions ...

Black holdup stockings, panties and bra.

Pop in the boobs.

Short black skirt. Black shirt.

New hair ... it arrived on Thursday. But it’s too warm ... the hair will have to wait.

Earrings. Watch. Bracelet.

Nail polish in a hurry is a risky thing to do. But I can think of a lot riskier things. So on it goes. Bright red. The left hand isn’t bad. The right one is a bit of a mess.

Everything seems too fluid in the heat. Eye liner and nail polish especially.

Now I have to waft my hands around and wait for it to dry a little. Wishing I had put my shoes on before I started the nails.

After a while I reach down and try to fit a shoe without taking too many risks with the nail polish.

In moments I am wishing I hadn’t put the bracelet on yet as it grazes softly along my leg ... leaving an unfriendly kind of line along my stocking.

But ... I did bring a spare pair. I take the bracelet off.

Skirt off and I manage to get the old stocking off and a new one on without doing anything terrible to my nails.

I know ... my perspective on life at this moment is rather oddball. But little things ...

Skirt on. Shoes on. Hair. As Nikki mentions ... the hair seems to have a mind of its own at times ... rather like a small furry rodent.

But it goes on.

I’m wondering if I should revert back to my other one ... but no ... I’ll get used to it.

We meet up with Laura and Dianne in the hotel bar.

Quite a sight if you were just passing through unawares. The most number of tgirls and transsexuals I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.

We sit and chat a little. A drink.

Laura decides to change while Nikki gets a bite to eat.

So many different people. Different looks. Different styles. Different hopes and fears.

It’s almost impossible to not look at some people and wonder ... is she a tgirl ... a ggirl ... a transsexual. None of this really matters – just labels. The atmosphere is one of acceptance. Can you guess?





Time to head across the road. We take the longer route to avoid the grassy ditch.

A few girls lean out of a hotel room window and wave. A guy calls out to us. Just friendly things.

I have 4.5 inch heels on ... so I’m glad there isn’t much traffic. I’d have hated to have to try to hurry across the road.

The cameras come out and we pose in front of the sign. Laura, me and Nikki.





Laura, me and Dianne.









I discover that walking down a fairly steep hill in high heels is trickier than it looks. In the end it feels like I am trying to crisscross a piste with skis on.

Then up the stairs ... pay at the desk ... and there we are.

There are three levels. Very loud music in the basement. Loud music on the first floor. Seats upstairs.

On BNO nights, so I’m told, the upper floor is mostly populated by the transgendered community. And so it was. A few drinks and a seat. We spend a while chatting and meet a few new people. It’s interesting, in an odd kind of way, working out which is the shortest dress of the night ... which is the most see-through.

The people though are just regular kind of folks ... in an irregular kind of way.

A trip to the ladies. Then down to the first floor.

There are a few people dancing. The music is loud.

After a few minutes L nudges me and nods to my side. I look round and a young lady is standing there ... mid twenties I guess. It’s not at all easy to hear anyone speak, but we manage. She’s travelled 3 hours to get here ... a friend’s birthday and they decided to drop by. Sarah. She’d decided to have a chat with a tgirl and I happened to be there. The kind of questions that I’ve been asked a few times now. And still I don’t know all that many answers. So nice to talk with though. And very sensitive ... interested but not wanting to intrude. She also says some nice things. That she thinks I look pretty ... and that the makeup is good ... not overdone. And here she is holding the camera ...




She heads back to her friends and I go to the dance floor. Not being a natural born jive bunny I stand and wiggle a little. Way too self conscious.

Back to the bar for a while. Then the dance floor. Perched on the edge of the pool table for a while.

The party of birthday girls is dancing. Handbags in a pile on the floor. A guy comes along with a mop and asks them to move the bags so he can clean up a spilled drink. They make the most of a photo opportunity and he seems to enjoy the experience.

A girl with blond hair is obviously feeling the heat and it takes her just a couple of seconds to take her shirt off. Nice black bra. None of us can remember the colour of the shirt that she was wearing. Ahhh ... now I have a photo just before the couple of seconds it took ... her shirt was black! There she is a little to the left of Laura.




The party girls are busy taking photos. Sarah takes a few of Nikki and me as we perch on the pool table. Asks if I’m on facebook ... but I’m not so I guess I’ll never see the pictures other than the mini versions at the back of the camera.

As she dances past a little later she takes my hand and we dance a little. Still self conscious, but very much enjoying the moment.

A little while later, another member of the birthday group walks over and draws me onto the dance floor. And now begins something totally new for me. Well .., I know ... the evening has been full of totally new things! She tells me to relax. Not to think about what I’m doing. Not to move my feet for a while. Just to sway and move. Then to watch her feet and do the same. Hands clapping together. She says such nice things, telling me I look great, to enjoy just being myself, to smile. And, for the first time that I remember, I am on a dance floor and not at all feeling self conscious or embarrassed or worried about what anyone else is feeling. As we sway and bounce around a bit, A walks past. This is a mistake ... our hands move out into the air, and all of a sudden, Dianne has no hair ... or at least quite a bit less than she had a few moments ago. My dance partner is so apologetic, and Dianne is wonderful. Not at all flustered, and smiling even. One of the nicest moments of the evening. Here are a few stills from some video footage.


My teacher and me ...









Laura dancing with Sarah.














My legs begin to show their age as time passes. And the heels don’t help to decrease the level of pain. I take a little break and then back onto the floor again for a while.

A lovely and liberating experience. I don’t know the name of my dance teacher ... but anyway ... thank you xxx.

Back to the bar for a while. I make the mistake of leaning just a little too far forwards. My bra is front fastening. And also it is front unfastening and has a mind of its own. Now, it’s one thing for a ggirl to have her bra come undone. But, when your boobs aren’t actually attached to your chest it’s a completely different experience. My second trip to the ladies, with my arms kind of pressed in towards me in an attempt to make sure I don’t lose any parts of my tgirl anatomy. I get there and back with no major mishaps. Though, at the top of the steps a security guard kind of waves at me. He points down towards my feet. There’s a trail of paper tissue following me, attached to the sole of my foot. I try to detach it by stepping on it ... but it sticks to my other foot. A couple of girls help out ... taking a-hold of me and stepping on the paper. After a few moments of playing footsie I’m free.

And there's the moment where a young guy wanders through the bar asking for a kiss from all the tgirls. So funny, but also kind of sweet.


The walk back to the hotel was nice and short – though the ditch was a challenge in heels.

Everything is a challenge in heels.

The foundation survived better than I expected. And, as ever, it was with a hint of melancholy that the makeup was removed.

So ... Andrea does like to dance, and even though my feet are a little on the sore side, I am smiling.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Shopping but not buying

I’ve been thinking about Saturday 01 March 2008.

Mostly on lunch break walks. Nervous. Uncertain as to why I want to do it, but sure that I do.

Friday 29 February 2008. “Ten o’clock?” … my wife kind of sniggers. “Billie’s coming at ten o’clock?” It’s funny because it means I need to wake up at 8:15 to stand a chance of getting made up and dressed ready for the shopping trip. On Saturdays I usually sleep in a lot later than that.

Friday night I file my nails and apply a couple of coats of pink nail polish. I know that attempting to do this on Saturday morning just would not work.

Saturday 03 March 2008. It’s 8:15.

Shower.

Breakfast.

My wife surprises me with a card. It says “Good luck. U can do it! Good luck. Go 4 it”. Inside she has written some very encouraging and sweet words. Makes me smile. I’m a lucky guy. And a lucky girl.

Brush teeth.

Shave. Shaving takes a lot longer when I know I need to apply foundation afterwards.

What to wear? I collect things from the wardrobe and chest of drawers.

Coat and scarf. Black jeans. Stripy shirt. Black holdup stockings. Bra. Panties. White trainers ( sneakers). I bought the trainers last weekend. I would have bought pink, but they don’t do pink in my size.

Underwear and stockings on.

Silicone boobies in place.

Foundation (Max Factor applied by wiping it on with fingers… for me I think it works better than the TV sticks that I used to use).

Pad on translucent powder and brush off the excess.

Shiny silver eye shadow.

A darker layer of gold shadow.

Black liquid eye liner.

The phone rings. Actually it plays a tune.

Being in mid-makeup I kind of listen to it with an air of distraction.

My wife is in the bath and reacts a lot faster to the sound than I do. Younger daughter is 21 today and said she’d phone sometime.

I hear the phone being answered. My wife singing loudly … “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear …”

Then it goes quiet. The phone is passed to me. “It’s Billie”.

Makes me smile. How many people get naked renditions of “Happy Birthday”? And it’s not even Billie’s birthday.

Billie is running a bit late. I’m grateful. Putting on makeup and being in a hurry are incompatible.

Back at the mirror my eyelids have black lines where there should be no black lines. It’s not a good idea to blink with eye liner that is still wet. Cotton wool buds are my friend.

White eyelash thickener.

Black mascara. And a cotton wool bud.

My wife heads off for the golf match.

Blusher.

Lip liner.

Lipstick.

Lip gloss.

Necklace.

Shirt.

Jeans.

Hair.

Earrings.

Watch.

Bracelet.

Ring.

Trainers.

It’s a little after ten o’clock.

The voice of Simone White keeps me company for a while.

The door chime plays a tune.

I head for the door and then think … what if it’s the postman? So I sneak a peek through the window. It’s Billie.

We talk a bit. I think I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be.

The plan is … Matalan (a clothing shop) in Slough followed by shops and lunch in Windsor.

Coat.

Scarf.

I drive … Billie thinks it will help me avoid anxiety. Tidbits of advice as we drive along.

As we head towards Slough we pass under the M4. At the next roundabout there is a line of traffic. Unusual. It looks as though there is a police presence doing some kind of a random check on vehicles. I’m glad that they don’t seem to be hunting down transvestites. I take a left at the roundabout. I had planned on going straight on, but I’m in the wrong lane and a left turn will still get us where we need to be.

We pull into the car park at Matalan. It takes me an unusually long time to park. I smile and blame it on the blond hair.

Heart beating a little faster than usual, we get out of the car and walk towards the store. I’m careful not to look at anyone. A few people … including Billie … have explained to me that this helps reduce the chance of people looking at me.

Peripheral vision is, however, fully active.

People have told me … I’ve told myself … no one really notices … no one cares. And I really do have the feeling that no one is staring at me. The reality of it is somehow liberating.

I can be me.

It’s ok to be me.

I recall that last week someone had asked me what I was planning to buy. I remember saying … “Oh …. nothing. It’s just a shopping trip.” This is definitely a statement that has its source in the feminine part of me.

We look at the shirts, blouses, skirts. Billie mentions that they have a great selection of bras. Good value and well made. I smile.

Billie goes in search of shoes and leaves me to wander around alone for a little while.

I avoid looking at people. It reminds me of a Winnie-the-Pooh story. I think it was piglet … yes … Google gives me the quote:

Winnie the Pooh: Look, look, Piglet. There's something in that tree over there.
Piglet: Is it one of the f-f-fiercer animals?
Tigger: Halloo!
Winnie the Pooh: Yes. It's a "jagular."
Piglet: W-What do "jagulars" d-do, Pooh?
Winnie the Pooh: Well, "jagulars" always call, "Halloo!" And when you look up, they drop on you.
Piglet: I'm looking *down*, P-P-Pooh.

I was definitely looking down. But also smiling.

Billie finds me again and we look around a little while longer.

Then, back into the car and we head for Windsor.

There’s a surprising amount of traffic on Victoria Street … but no queue to get into the car park.

I’m a little surprised at how normal everything feels.

We call by Shoe Fetish, a few (well, ok, all) of the charity shops, Daniels, Marks and Spencer. Billie is looking out for a hat, but none catches her eye.

Then on to CafĂ© Rouge. It’s busy, but there are a few seats. We sit down. Beer, orange juice, mussels, chicken salad. The waitress bats no eyelids. But I am still mostly looking down – just in case there are jagulars around.

People come and sit at the table next to us. The guy knocks the beer bottle over. Just as well it’s almost empty. He apologises.

The food arrives. The waiter bats no eyelids.

As we eat I’m kinda looking at people. No one is staring. People arrive at the other adjoining table. The place is pretty much full.

Billie visits the ladies.

I send a happy birthday text to my daughter.

We pay the bill.

I mention I wish I had a camera. Somehow it would be nice to capture something of the moment. Billie has one on her mobile phone. So … as we approach Shoe Fetish, I cross the road to stand outside the shop. Billie stays on the other side of the street to capture the moment.

There’s a big guy standing in front of the shop window. Smoking and talking loudly into his phone. There’s a bus separating me and Billie. I smile. The bus and the big guy move on. All of a sudden I’m being handed a thigh high white boot … “here … this ought to be in the picture.” It’s Kelvin from the shop. Obviously pretty observant. It makes me smile again. Billy captures the moment.



We pop into the shop and chat a while. Such nice people. Natalie (? ... I’m so bad at remembering names) tries my ring on. I met Kelvin at the party in January. We were both schoolgirls at the time. We talk about wigs and shoes and parties and people. With a bit of luck a get together at the pub across the road might become a regular event.

And then ... back to the car. The short drive home.

I didn’t buy a thing.

But I gained a lot!

The nicest shopping trip of my life.

Thank you Billie!