Friday, February 17, 2017

The Art of Normality


Due to a dreaded Health & Safety audit - apologies for any shock or distress, this may have caused UK readers - at the Chameleons venue, we had to dispose of an old stereo. I say old, it had a CD and possibly a tape deck. I guess it's my age, because that feels quite fancy. :-) Hmm.... I'm now wondering how many years ago, the Jones family recycled by old stereo separates. It may well have been before Little Miss was born, and she'll be 10 this year.

So, while I was in town, I dropped said stereo system off at British Heart Foundation. They're one of the few charities I know of, which, admittedly, isn't many, that will accept and sell on old electrical goods. Hopefully someone will snap it up, and it'll be a few more quid in the charity's bank.

Talking of banks, I paid the subs in and as I did so, the cashier spotted the title on the paying in slip. To keep things safe at home for me, and our other signatories, we picked a vague name. It's not 'social group', but for t'Interwebs, that's what we'll call it. "So," she asked, "What do you get up to at your social group?"

I could have lied, I could have been economical with the truth. It wouldn't have been outrageous to have said, "chat, drink tea and look after each other." But, no, I said we were a social and support group for transgender people, hence the vague community account name. "Do you get many visiting?" and we had a short chat about it, while the cash machine argued with the new five pound note. The new fivers won, should you be curious ;-)


While I was handing over the old stereo, I noticed an old CD in there. Erasure's Pop, no less. I remember them fondly from the 80s, and certainly Clarke's twinkly electropop, coupled with Bell's sometimes coded lyrics. Why coded? Well, much as Gay Rights were on the move in the 80s, our dear old Tory government oh-so-kindly responded with Clause 28.

For those of you overseas, or too young - and let's be honest, too lazy to use Google right now ;-) - this lovely bit of discrimination forbade teachers from 'promoting homosexuality'. Despite a few numpties, the UK has moved on from such, well... frankly, shite.

So Mssrs Bell & Clarke would cast their tunes and songs about love, regret and not-quite-fitting-in across the airwaves. All four channels, as that's all we had back then. Yes, kids - shock! horror! - no TV on demand, no YouTube nor Spotify. :-) Clearly, the not-quite-fitting-in struck the proverbial chord, and despite me hiding behind the front of heavy metal and rap, I always enjoyed Erasure.

So, how does this fit in with being out? Well, by happy circumstance, the BBC ran a news story about a teacher, Daniel Gray, who decided to come out to his school. Given some teenagers' (and parents') lack of empathy around the subject, I thought this was incredibly brave. The story is here, BTW and this is the bit that brought a tear to me eye:

One student came up to me after the assembly who I didn't know. I have never taught him before. He looked very nervous and a little shy. But he had something to say.
"Sir, your assembly has changed my life." 

Looking for answers
Like Mr Hanks' comments about solitude against loneliness, those simple words from that student went through my soul. What an incredible thing, as a young kid, to have a teacher like you. 

Sure, there's people in the paper, in the news, or - being modern - on the Internet. But, they are remote and don't always match the normality of your existence. Perhaps, I'm really typing about my history, rather than speculating what the student felt. Apologies.

So, yeah, the normality of existence. Normal, much as it's another word for average. To me, normality is something else. It's the day-to-day, it's the regular and routine. No drama. No excitement. No, you can just be you and dare I say, people accept you without any fuss or bother.

That, for me, is what I hope being out is. To just be part of the every day. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if just one person reads these prattlings of mine and thinks that there is hope, that things will get better, I'm good.

Do I think of the false platitude around "hang on in there?" No, because I do believe that things get better, if you do hang on. If I look back at the fear - yes, fear - that I had at school about what it meant to be trans, I can say, that I couldn't wish for more. I have a dear wife, the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones, who loves me, two incredible kids and I have the good fortune to be part of Nottingham Chameleons. A group of people who 'get' who am I and as there for me, as much as I'm there for them. 

So, yeah, things did get better.

Take care,

Friday, February 10, 2017

Lessons through life


Ah, Winter's treating us to a last hurrah, with a flutter of snow. I'm surprised the UK hasn't shut down. We don't do well with anything other than mild rain and slight wind. Stop that giggling at the back. :-)

I've had the pleasure to be mostly working from home today and Little Miss was stopping over at Granny's. Yeah, an early half-term for some lucky folk eh? :-) With all that in mind, that meant less rushing and waiting on the school run, a chance for a brief lie-in, making coffee for the Ever Lovely Mrs J and, in the gaps between work emails, carrying out a few admin duties.

Today's was updating the forum for Chameleons. That took longer than I imagined, but it's done now. Phew! Funny, even with back-ups and off-line copies, there's that little frisson of fear that you may suddenly get a visit from Mr Cock-up. Older readers may wish to ask if the spare room has been prepared. ;-)

Faulty Goods

Talking of cock-ups, my phone decided to start to play silly buggers last weekend. So, I took it in for repair, I got the usual "nothing we can do here, guv" - which is odd, considering this is Nottingham, and not a place you usually encounter Dickensian wheeler-dealer ne'er-do-wells. ;-)

Deep, calm breath.... :-) A week later and after four lengthy telephone calls, I now have a replacement phone and I'm not going to be charged nearly 70 quid for a new switch. Like much in life, a right foul-up usually starts with poor communication and that's when the problem starts. But, it's all sorted now (I hope), and I'm back in the on-line world. Odd, while I know I do spend a bit of time using my phone, this week has really driven it home, how much I rely on it. Not just texting the Ever Lovely Mrs J, but taking photos of every day life, finding out when my next appointment is, to checking anti-social media.


Last night was Chameleons and it was great to catch up with people I'd not seen in a while. Val was back from her travels and Sandi had recovered from a bad dose of flu. We're making headway with the funding. That's working its way through the banking system and it looks like we're on track for Muggins here, to start dealing with a more of the organisation. I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to Sandi and Tracey for the work and love they've put into keeping group going. So, no pressure eh? :-D

After last year's 'big want', I finally found something - well, two dresses - that went with the little boots I bought. Do you get this? A want for a particular look, some shoes or make-up? Actually, why am I even asking this? If you're reading this, you're trans, so probably yes! :-)

I should say a quick thanks to Val for her handy camera work. Oh, and Nicole for explaining the basics . Funny the things you learn eh? :-)

The outfit for
the evening
Road testing for
another day

So, it seems that little boots need a higher hemline to work. Again, another school day.

Take care,