Dulling Down

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So, it’s been a few weeks since I was sparkling up in Manchester, the dust has settled and, apart from a ‘buy a new dress to cheer myself up’ moment, life has returned pretty much to normal. Time for one of my occasional posts, partly to say what a fab time I had and share a piccie or two but also to reflect very briefly on what it all meant to me.

For those who don’t know, ‘Sparkle‘ is an annual celebration of all things transgender held in Manchester with activity centred on the Gay Village area of town. As well as the social side, (which is very significant), there’s also entertainment, stalls, events and some serious stuff as well. Click on ‘Sparkle’ at the top of this paragraph to learn more.

I arrived a wee bit later than intended but dashed straight into the shower and started the girling up process. My good friend Andie was in the same hotel a few doors down and the first job was to meet up, face to face, for the first time – we’ve known each other in a virtual sense for a couple of years now. No problems, no awkward silences – it was like we’d both known each other for ages so straight into the heels and off to Canal Street. What can I say about this place – it’s loud, brash, full of bars and on this particular Friday night, stuffed with girls like us. It felt utterly safe and normal with no strange looks, (one or two admiring ones for both of us – blush!), and a great place to be. I’m not a ‘night out’ sort of person but it was great to break free a bit. Bumped into quite a few Facebook friends who all turned out just as lovely in real life as they are on the screen and also had the pleasure of catching some live music as well.

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With BGF Andie

 

On Saturday, Andie and I hit the shops – we thought we’d be out of our comfort zone but were amazed how little attention we attracted. A trip to Primark and other clothing emporia followed by the make-up counter in Boots where I picked out matching nail varnish and lippy for later. The afternoon saw the festivities kick off properly in a slightly soggy Sackville Gardens, (don’t forget, this is Manchester), and a browse around stalls where I picked up some very nice jewellery. In the evening, we both had tickets for the Sparkle Ball – a lovely evening and a chance to wear a long dress which felt fabulous. Another time, I’d probably give this a miss and just head for the town instead.

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At the Britannia Hotel. Chatting to a CIS guest outside, she didn’t believe I’m 58. Now that really cheers a girl up!

 

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Hitting Canal Street in the early hours.

 

On Sunday, for domestic reasons, I’d arranged to leave after lunch so there wasn’t a lot of time – a little bit of shopping, a light lunch and an emotional goodbye or two. It really cut me up walking away from it all, then real life takes over and it’s back to the all too familiar business of changing back into male attire.

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In Sackville Gardens with Alan Turing seeking advice on creating a restore point in Windows 10. He was keeping quiet – obviously a Mac fan.

 

So, what did it all mean to me personally? Apart from a good time in a social sense, the comfort, confidence and normality I felt going around dressed convinced me, (not that I really needed it), that my femininity is a very real part of me and not just a phase or a bit of fun. The acceptance and warmth shown to all of us up there astounded me and I actually had a couple of very polite and interesting conversations with other visitors to the city, (‘New Order’ were playing there that weekend), which I felt totally comfortable with.

I think, and I could be wrong, this weekend was a milestone for me. I’m not a freak, I’m Siobhan and I’m here to stay.

Love, Siobhan

PS – the new dress is fab, (at least I think it is!)

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Crawling from the Wreckage

It’s been a long time since I posted anything – a house move, change of job and an awful lot of associated wife supporting meant that my feminine side has been firmly suppressed for a while. But these things don’t go away and Siobhan is beginning to stumble, bleary-eyed, back into my life again so now might be an opportune moment for a bit of a ramble on a few disparate topics, just to let you all know I’m still alive.

A common thread with girls like me is knowing whether or not your parents had both boy and girl names lined up prior to one’s arrival in the world. I finally got to find out this week, (a mere fifty eight years after the event), and the answer was a resounding ‘no’ – my mother was convinced I’d be a boy and gave no thought at all to girls’ names. In a way, I’d have quite liked to have had a reference point but I’m very pleased I went ahead and chose my own name – one I’d always liked and one which has no emotional baggage attached, although as I mentioned in my Facebook post, I’m still toying with the idea of adopting Louise as a middle name.

My mum’s great – she’s eighty nine and still ‘all there’ but a bit slow and deaf. Given her age, I’m now trying to belatedly catch up on bits and pieces of family history and experiences which I only know vaguely. Driving along the A27 she saw the sign for Eastleigh and remarked that that was where her father reported to in the very early days of WW2 – he was with the BEF and evacuated from St Nazaire, an experience which apparently made Dunkirk look like a picnic on the beach. I’ve also learnt more about Uncle James and his sweet factory, (he went out of business after refusing to lower his standards and make cheap sweeties for Woolworths), as well as my other grandfather’s heroic part in the Tottenham Outrage of 1909.  She still feels bound by the Official Secrets Act so has been a little less forthcoming about her role as secretary to Christopher Cockerell during the war , so I’ll need to keep plugging away on that one.

On the girl side of things, I’m busy preparing for my first Sparkle in about a month’s time. The ball gown has been bought, (long, black and hopefully elegant), and other bits and pieces are being assembled, including some shoes which could actually be described as pretty. I’m both nervous and excited about this – nervous in that I don’t know how I’m going to feel being feminine for extended periods and excited at the prospect of being in the majority rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. The practical considerations concern me a bit – will I be too hot in a wig all day, will my make-up run, am I really good enough in heels to stay upright and walk more than twenty yards? Meeting up with other girls I’ve come to know in a virtual sense should be great as well. Online contact has been a life saver but after my girls night out last year, I want more human contact, more chances to chat about what this life of mine is all about and some decent advice on applying eyeliner.

Before Sparkle though, I’ll be casting my vote in the UK ‘Shall I stay or shall I go?’ EU referendum. Although I’m a cynic who believes that referendums like this are basically a means of papering over party political differences, I’ll still be trotting down to the local fire station, (yes, really!), on the 23rd. I’ve been appalled by the quality of reporting on the issues so I’ll just have to make up my own mind. If we leave, it would seem that steam trains will return; we’ll dine like lords on New Zealand lamb and South African oranges and Johnny Foreigner will be so disenchanted with the UK, he’ll sling his hook overnight. If we stay, all our pensions will disappear into a large hole in Belgium, HM The Queen will be riding a bike and Kraftwerk will top the charts. I always liked ‘Autobahn’, (the long version, not the radio edit), and A-Ha were pretty cool too. Never been keen on roast lamb though and the exercise will do you good, ma’am.

I’m afraid I haven’t checked into my blog for ages so a big ‘hello’ to anyone who’ve stumbled across it recently. I can’t promise regular, meaningful or deep posts but this is hopefully the start of a limited revival, (probably).

I’ll leave you with a glimpse of Kraftwerk’s dynamic and energetic stage show, which may not be viewable in all territories due to boring stuff like copyright. Here’s hoping we see a lot more of them.

 

Love, Siobhan

 

 

 

“Adieu, Adieu, to you, and you and you”

 

Or ‘Yieu, and yieu and yieu’ as it came out in the song. Devotees of “The Sound of Music” will recognise that line as possibly the only occasion where Oscar Hammerstein struggled to find the right words, something which I’ve been failing miserably at in recent months.

It’s not that my feminine side has gone away, (far from it), and I’m not entering a phase of repression and purging. It’s just that I’ve reached a particular point in my personal journey where I will be stuck at for the foreseeable future and where I’m quite happy to pause , take stock and enjoy my girl life before moving on.

Just to bring my small but loyal readership up to date, I’ve now moved away from the mean streets of Greenford and am unpacking boxes, dresses and wife in our new home on the South Coast. This meant Christmas was cancelled this year but I still managed a few mince pies and choccie logs, so the true meaning of Christmas was duly observed. The new neighbours are friendly and, (wow!), the small garden is totally un-overlooked.

Event-wise, Sparkle 2016 is the biggie but we’re also in a bit of a T-girl hotspot down here which may well offer possibilities. Private sessions will dwindle a bit for a while but we do have a whopping great conservatory which definitely has potential for photoshoots along with that private garden.

So, for now as far as the blog is concerned, that’s it. Think of me departing in the ‘Eastenders’ black cab rather than falling in the canal or being buried under the patio. I’ve really enjoyed the support and comments from you all and I’ll keep things open here if you’d like to keep in touch. You can also find me on other social media sites such as Facebook, Flickr and some of the various trans and cd forums. I’ll also continue to follow and read those I currently follow, so you’re not yet safe from my caustic wit.

So, as Al Martino succinctly put it, this is “just adios and not goodbye” – ‘adios’ to yieu and yieu and yieu that is.

Love, Siobhan

 

Moribund

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Good word, moribund. I found myself using it with reference to this blog when congratulating a Facebook friend on six trillion views of her Flickr site and thought a word or two explaining my absence from these pages would be in order.

In case any of you were worrying, don’t! I’m fine, settled and contented in my ‘normal’ life. The new job is ok and at least doesn’t involve a lengthy M25 journey each day, which my old one would have if I’d stayed. Girl time, (or rather the lack of it), is the real sticking point but limited opportunities are beginning to open up. I sort of knew it would be like this, (the four guys on horses wearing frocks I saw in the sky were a clue), but at least my increased involvement in social media helps, (do look me up on Facebook if you want – there’s a link on here somewhere).

Ridiculous though it seems, I’ve also been planning ahead for ‘Sparkle 2016’, my excuse being that party dresses only really appear in the UK shops for a brief period in the run-up to Christmas and New Year and since I’ve got my ball ticket booked, finding the right dress is crucial, (I think my legs are just about up to something short and sparkly). There’s also all the peripheral stuff like jewellery and make-up to consider as well as the urgent need for some dressier shoes.

I hope to record a Christmas video message again this year – I’ve done three versions already but I’m not happy with them. A heavy cold which makes me sound a little too gruff is the only thing stopping me doing it this week! I did manage a little girl time a week or two back when I had a lovely video chat with my best friend Angela and also fired off a few arm’s length selfies, one of which is at the top of this post.

So, to sum up, I’m sorry I haven’t been very active since my big splurge back in September but I’ll try very hard to think of something to write about soon. In the meantime, if you see a cocktail dress, preferably in green, that you think would suit me, please let me know.

Love, Siobhan

“Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes……”

You can’t go wrong with a bit of Bowie as a post title and, indeed, there have been major changes for me recently, hence the lamentable lack of posts. The main reason for this has been me getting used to a new job, details of which I won’t elaborate on too much in a public space. Let’s just say my old job was doomed and the decision was taken to jump ship rather than wait for it to sink. The new one also involves boxes and vans as well as motivating and organising stuff, (which is good), plus a useful 10% off ladies clothing, (but not, sadly, my favourite range). It’s also three miles away as opposed to the thirty eight miles, (each way) of M25 I’d have had to endure if I’d stayed put when the company moved it’s base.

The other major news is that I’ve taken the plunge and booked my hotel for ‘Sparkle 2016’. For those who don’t know, ‘Sparkle’ is an annual celebration of all things trans held in Manchester and which embraces just about every shade of the trans spectrum, including part-timers like me. I’ll be staying in the same hotel as my BGF Ange, who’s also secured permission to attend, (without, to her credit, the subterfuge I’ve had to employ). I still can’t believe I’ve been this decisive!

For various reasons, mainly financial, this will probably be a one-off for me so, as there’s only 283 days to go, I’m already obsessively planning the minutiae of the trip – important stuff like where will I find the dark green, sequin-plastered dress which I’ve irrationally set my heart on for the ball, as well as trivial details like where to leave the car for the duration, (that one’s sorted but I’m blowed if I can find the promo code to book it). It sounds daft, but I really can’t adequately express how excited I am at the prospect of actually celebrating rather than simply accommodating my life and who I am. Also, the opportunity to actually meeting loads of the girls I’ve come to know online will be exhilarating in itself as well as the prospect of lashings of Indian food and ‘All You Can Eat’ Chinese buffets, both of which seem to be plentiful in the area around the Ibis in Portland Street.

Anyway, back to the present. When things have settled down a bit, the new job should offer me a bit more Siobhan time as well as the opportunity to pop into charity shops in exotic locations such as Pinner and Northwood so THAT dress may well turn up, along with a black clutch bag, a dainty watch, something very sparkly to go round my neck as well as the small stack of light summer dresses, skirts and tops I’ll be needing for the daytime.

Will one pair of heels and one pair of flats be enough? – I don’t think so!

Love, Siobhan

Sunday in the Park with Siobhan

On Sunday morning last not only did I wake up but the sun did as well, which meant that housework and other jobs planned for the morning went out the window and Siobhan could spread her wings again. I already had a social event planned for the evening, (more of which later), so a local trip was called for. Osterley Park, a National Trust property, is near us and, even if you don’t go want to traipse around the house, you can have a decent walk in the grounds which are open for just that purpose early in the morning. I wore the same red dress as for my trip to Oxford – it’s comfortable, practical and not too dressy. Also, I was pleased to find that my new, smaller boobs still fill it nicely without any discernable slack.

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Another one of those photos of myself where I look so relaxed I wonder why I’m still a bloke.

Anyway, I had a nice wander and no untoward stares or comments from the many dog walkers and joggers. I also managed to use the ladies’ loo again – I think I’m getting the hang of all this trans stuff!

A slight administrative cock-up, (caused partly by painting my nails while watching ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ the night before), meant that I had to choose between buying some bread and diesel either en femme or, later in the day as a guy with brown fingernails. No contest really, so off to Tesco just over the road where both operations were successfully executed without embarrassment. I even managed a quick browse in the clothing section where I didn’t buy this pink, fluffy top.

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Definitely not for me but the ‘holding up clothes to a mirror’ shot is an essential must-do for all aspiring t girls.

Unfortunately, another diary incident meant all the clobber and slap had to come off before I ‘Skyped’ my wife, currently with her daughter in Sicily, (although the line out there gives such a blocky picture, I could probably have got away with it).  Then back on with it all, a change of dress and off to meet up with a girl friend at her CD social/support group for the evening. This was my first social outing as Siobhan and spending an evening with a load of other girls was definitely a good choice. Out of deference to their privacy, photos from this event only feature little old me, (so no change there then).

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Look! Heels! I’m upright! Blow me down, this dress is so flattering, they should be giving them away on the NHS.

Now I’m 6’2″ in bare feet so for blending in, four inch stilettos are not a good idea. But given that this was going to be a room full of kindred spirits, there was no way I was going to walk in there in flats. Having to park around the corner from the venue also gave me just a bit more practice before teetering in. Actually, they felt great, I didn’t fall over and I’d wear them again at the drop of a hat. It was great to match an actual human presence to my long-standing online friend, who also looked well fit in her classy, blue and white dress by ‘Roman’ – a label I will need to investigate. The group is a very friendly and welcoming one – they’re called Surrey Swans and meet more or less on a monthly basis.

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I’m currently on a brown eyeshadow thing – bright blue shows up better with flash pics but I’m just a natural girl these days.

So how did it all feel? Very good actually. I’m not great at ‘working a room’ and didn’t feel I had to. Chatting revealed that so many of our issues such as shoe size, preferred nail colour, domestic arrangements, inability to do eyelining without looking like a panda, are shared so that any sense of isolation, (and our life has enormous potential to be a very lonely one), diminishes with each soft drink – we all came by car.  Anyway, your girl felt great, had a lovely time and will agonise over the meaning of it all in due course.

That’s about it for now. A less frenetic week lies ahead but you will get another chance to see my lovely dress as I shall be wearing it to present my Christmas video which I hope to get ‘in the can’ shortly. Actually, it might be a good idea if I wrote it first.

Love, Siobhan

‘Does my head look big in this?’

*** WARNING – INTERACTIVE CONTENT AHEAD – SEE END OF POST FOR DETAILS***

One of the joys for me of being a bloke in a dress is I that I get to have hair again. My own started to wave goodbye to my head from my late teens onwards and now I’m left with a few white bits over my ears and on the back of my neck. On reconnecting with my feminine side, the desire for big hair was overwhelming, if misguided, and if you glance below, you’ll see what I mean. Apart from anything else, the beast was monstrously hot, had an artificial shimmer that positively scintillated under the glare of on-camera flash and rapidly degenerated into a tangled mess.

‘Big Sib’ – I must be mad dragging this up again.

Out came the Amazon vouchers and what most of you will recognise as ‘my’ hair was bought. I loved it straight out of the box, it’s never given me any trouble and when I wear it, I am Siobhan.

‘Classic Sib’ – I love it still and, in my warped imagination, actually feel pretty in this.

Although it’s still in great condition, I felt in need of an alternative partly to cope better with the blazing heat of summer. I also fancied just having something a bit different. Long hair wasn’t an option after the farce of ‘Big Sib’ and I knew I wanted to stay in the red end of the spectrum. So, after much deliberation, I ordered something that seemed to fit the bill.

Now, buying unseen is always a bit of a gamble and visiting a wig shop isn’t going to happen for a while, (I haven’t quite made it to the No 7 counter in Boots yet to get my foundation matched). Anyway, here’s exhibit A – my wig as it appears on Amazon. I know it’s a bit ‘Dynasty’, but I did feel it was age appropriate for me, it’s red and it looks long enough to satisfy my primeval need for hair.

‘New Sib’ – allegedly. Photo nicked from Amazon so sue me.

This is how it turned out, which is slightly different. I’m really not sure about it – I think it makes my neck look too long, I’m not sure about how it fits on my forehead, (or any other part of my head for that matter), and I also thinks it takes away just a few of the ten years I kid myself I lose when I’m Siobhan.

‘New Sib’ – showing it as it is.

Although the style is heat set, (it’s synthetic, of course), it does respond to a styling brush although there are some sticky out bits which may yet get snipped. I am a bit disappointed if I’m honest but I’m keeping it and will enjoy wearing it mainly because it’s super comfy, very light on the head and can be pulled on very quickly without any faffing around. I don’t think I’ll be wearing ‘New Sib’ outdoors though as it looks too much like a wig for that, (although it would be great in the wind). ‘Classic Sib’ as my bob cut has come to be known is the look I’ll be sticking with because I still love it to bits. More importantly, it’s come to define me, both to myself but also to all the other girls I’ve come to know since I started putting myself about a bit.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Love, Siobhan

Just for fun, here’s a little poll – you can vote for Big, Classic or New Sib. I’m sure the turnout will be embarrassingly low but that’s never been an issue in British politics so I don’t see why it should be for me. Again, in the spirit of elections everywhere, I’ve cast my own vote to kick things off.

Readers with long memories may recall me wearing a little black number about October last year. I was going to enter this in the contest, merely to broaden the debate, but then realised that it might actually win which would be a disaster. So you can’t vote for it.