Thursday 17 August 2017

Humble Beginnings - Pandora and I, et al.

The Real World.
Having made the decision to move out of the services into the real world, I took a position as a staff nurse on an intensive care unit in west London, and moved into a house in Ealing.
I had made contact with a local Beaumont Society group, ran by a lovey woman called Janet, that met in Ealing, and attended frequently over the next few years. The meetings were held in a ‘hush-hush’ ‘secret squirrel’ sort of way.
The Beaumont Logo
I was able to make lifelong friends with some of the members, and was introduced to Christine, who had a house and was looking to take in a lodger to help with the bills and keep the place secure when she was away as she traveled overseas a lot.

Seventh Heaven.  
The first week I had moved in was a turning point in my life. I could dress when I liked, keep my clothes in my wardrobe hanging up, shoes on the rack and relax enfem. This was my Pandora moment and it was Bliss!
My night life took off too, as Christine enjoyed going out for meals and socialising, and as I didn’t drink, I very quickly became indispensible as the designated diver. So we were off gallivanting all over the capital when ever possible. I was living full time fem and only out of heels at work or at the canoe club.
But being a poor low paid nurse in the NHS, I couldn’t afford to keep my car, pay rent and eat, so sadly sold it and took to cycling the 17 miles each way to work as back every day. The upside was I had a fab figure, and this helped my canoeing as well. I averaged 34 miles a day, or better seen as 1000 miles a month by bicycle, no wonder I was fit!!

I had to register with a GP and the lovely Indian lady doctor in the surgery around the corner from the house took me on. I explained my situation and the fact that I felt I should have been female, and asked her advice. Surprisingly she had come across this before and was familiar with the Benjamin protocols, the real life test, hormone therapy and referrals for psychologist assessments etc. However she would not start any treatments for at least six months and only then after a psychological review, saying that I should start my ‘Real Life Test’ during that time, as it was a three year test so the sooner I started the better it would be. This was the early 1980’s and I am pleased to say we have progressed from this nowadays in many areas, but still have some way to go.

London Friend

Yvonne Sinclair 
  The London TV/TS group on Upper Street, Islington, was a regular haunt of mine at that time, with meetings every weekend overseen by the famous Yvonne Sinclair, who keep the TV/TS helpline and venue going for several years We would all meet up at the group venue, chat and gossip for a while, then about 10pm dash over to Earls Court on the other side of London, to the Philbeach hotel for a meal in the Asian restaurant and then dance till dawn in the basement.  The restaurant was managed by Paula, a lovely lady who was transitioning, and we all got on really well with good humor and long discussions into the night on just about every subject under the sun!
Yvonne was one of the original London girls who introduced me to the balls!
We attended events every couple of months at the Porcehster and Tudor Lodge where Ron Storme presented amazing Drag Balls that attracted a dazzling array of individuals. We all glammed up to the nines in sequins and big hair, fab frocks and heels, there were fashion shows, outfits were judged and lots of dancing to live bands. Later the discotec style of event took over and we just danced.
It was only some time later that I learned that Ron would often use the proceeds from the events to support other London based charities.

Life in Technicolor
Living in Christine’s house was always interesting as she was very social and invited some lovely people back for snacks and drinks. One afternoon she turned up at home with a lovely lady who was about my age at the time, dressed in an amazing short dress, skyscraper heels and hairstyle to die for. After chatting she told me she was transitioning and her Arab sheikh boyfriend was paying for everything, flat, clothes, surgery, hair removal … and shoes!! (… I would settle for the just the shoes!! ) She was very positive about the arrangement and oversaw the property he owned in the UK so earned her keep.

When I was not working weekends we would hit the city. There were nights out at Stallions, Hippodrome, Heaven, The Way Out Club, Storms and the Fallen Angel. Even Ealing had a friendly club called Lucky’s that was in walking distance of home, and had a gay night that was well attended. We had become part of the ‘IN’ crowd of alternative London, dancing at all the trendy night clubs of the day, rubbing shoulders with rock stars, those on the up, the famous DJ’s of the day, politicians, and people you could see in the newspaper gossip columns. 
We often met celebrities at the Hippodrome with Peter Stringfellow including  Marilyn, Tiny Tim, Kenny Everet and Alan ‘fluff’ Freeman.

London Hippodrome 
I must stress that despite this bohemian lifestyle I have never taken any drugs or smoked and have never drank, so it shows what people can do when there is a will to have fun. Enjoyment with no stimulants or hangovers may have been strange to some of my friends at the time, but I was never tempted to slide down that path. 

I went out with the girls at the hospital a few times for meals or drinks, being invited to hen nights and even a wedding. We all got on very well, partly due to the large number of agency nurses that came through the unit and the small core team that kept the place running. It did make for some long discussions on nights about gender and sexuality, and prompted the first serious navel gazing that I undertook to try and understand what I was and why. After a few months of soul searching and asking lots of questions of my friends I came to the conclusion that I was me, unique and happy, so I told myself to just get on with life and be myself.

Meanwhile the TV/TS group had found a new venue in French Place, Shoreditch, and we all became involved in setting it up. The venue was much better than Islington in that we all put something into it to make it work.  It had a different dynamics as well as a vibrant atmosphere. It was ‘ours’ and open most days and you could always have a nice cup of tea and chat, there were changing rooms and big mirrors. It hosted meetings and events, including a memorable presentation by Dr Russel Reid.
Sadly it was not a long term success as it was a great initiative, and provided a safe haven for many new girls coming out. It seemed that this was destined to fail after a couple of years mainly due to the internal politics of the group around the management of the venue

Sole Mate
One of the friends that I was introduced to by Christine was to become my long term partner. She lived on the other side of Ealing and was in a relationship at that time with some one who was also TV.
The boss ! 
We got on well and would often all meet up as a group at the local night club and dance together. However I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the time and didn’t think she was either, when one weekend she phoned me to see if I could help as her niece, (who she was babysitting while her brother and sister in law were at the Bruce Springsteen ‘Born on the fourth of July concert in Wembley) had fallen off a slide and hurt herself.  When they arrived at the house I found the niece had landed on her arm and it was painful but not broken, so some ice for a while and a bandage was all that was required, and after a 10 min watch of cartoon on the telly it was all forgotten.  As payment I was invited to go to the ‘Big Top’ on Battersea Park to see a ballet with her.
One thing led to another and we eventually became partners.
She had a proper job as an editor of a magazine in the city, and I was the lowly paid nurse working shifts, so it was a complete role reversal where I was taken out and dined on her expense account at all the fashionable places in London, the ballet, opera, and I introduced her to canoeing, where I took her out on the Thames one new years’ day when the river was in flood and she nearly drowned. She eventually forgave me and we have been together for over 30yrs now !

Peddles and Paddles
Canoeing was still a major part of my life, and I was selected to race in Denmark. This was all well and good but the team were on a tour for over a week training in the Danish lakes and I couldn’t get the time off for the whole event. However L, who was also invited to race was not able to make the whole tour either so she and I hatched a plan! I managed to arrange night duty for the week before the race and the pair of us cycled the 750 miles from London to the center of Denmark in four long days – thank goodness it was mostly flat!  
It was a hard ride with minimal stops and long days, however some how we managed to get to the race location in daylight the night before it was due to start, and were met by the whole team who informed us that the race had been cancelled!! It took a while for us to believe them, but the other teams had to pull out and it became a time trial across the lakes . We had to follow the local paddlers most of the way as none of the British team knew where we were going, so after 15 miles  it ended up a 100mtr sprint at the end when we could all see the finish line!

An interesting aside to this was after we got back from the trip, I told L about my Fem side and we had dinner together. She was very annoyed as she said that she wished I had told her earlier as we had two weeks together on the trip and it would have been good to talk about it. Her father was a genetic scientist and was one of the expert witnesses called during the April Ashley divorce case, to explain the relevance of chromosomes in gender identification. Sadly his work was party to blame for putting the whole world on hold for the acceptance of transgender transitioning for many years.

Pastures New
I was really enjoying the London lifestyle and was living life to the full.
I had a nice place to live, great friends, a great job, I had been full time for about a year and was in a new relationship.
J, on the other hand was at the end of her relationship with her previous partner, was tired of her executive job and wanted to leave London.
She invited Christine and I to another of her nieces 18th birthday party in Cornwall, so that weekend right after a late night out at a ball we jumped in the car and drove the five hours arriving at 8am, and just in time for breakfast. The party was fun, if a little reserved from the one we had just attended in London, and we had the following day free to explore the area and visit the beach.

Our hostess, J’s Sister in Law, worked in one of the local estate agents and hearing that J had wanted to leave London and was selling her house, suggested that she may get a lot of property for her money in Cornwall. They discussed work options and fell upon a plan to buy a bed and breakfast that would generate some income and have a place to live as well, for the same price as her house was for sale for in London.

This was another period of change in my life and we had a discussion on what direction to take. So after a lot of sole searching I made a commitment not to progress my transition, put my fem side on hold, and moved to Cornwall with J.
I was still in my mid-twenties, and had not had a serious relationship before. I thought that this relationship would be a short-term event and that it may last for one or two years at the most.

Oh, I Do Like to Be Beside the Sea Side
We moved in the spring of 1984 into a lovely eight bedroom guest house about 500 yards from the sea, and took in regular guests to pay the bills, and provided respite for people being cared for by the Terence Higgins Trust and Body Positive, as well as arranging a few weekends for people from the Transgender community.
I worked in the nearby hospital to pay the mortgage, while J ran the house. We both worked hard to make it happen and were always looking to expand the market somehow, taking in surfers, school groups and outdoor activity groups. 
North Cornwall 
We sold the guest house after four years as we found we were great at having a fun time with our guests but were awful business people and the costs were outstripping the gains on the property value due to the sky high interest rates at the time. 
When we sold we decided to travel – so we put all the money from the house, bought two bicycles and a tent, and a one way ticket to Spain on the Santander ferry. We left with an aim to be away for about a year, but soon forgot that and ended up cycling round the world for six and a half years – which is another story all together.

Luckily in many respects I was proven to be very wrong and our relationship has lasted over 32 yrs now. We are still partners, and not married, despite her proposing to me many times, we are still together because we want to be together. I’m not sure why I am reluctant to get married, maybe something about another bind to break if I wish to transition.  Who knows or cares. 

It’s a Wrap
So now I am approaching my sixtieth birthday, we are still together and still have a very strong bond. I dress often when appropriate and we enjoy a vibrant social life including burlesque, theater, ballet, cinema and lots of traveling together.
We have boundaries that are often breached and need to be reset, but we understand each other’s needs and that is what makes it work.

Yes, it’s hard at times that I haven’t transitioned, and yes I would love to transition tomorrow, but the joint adventures and benefits we have achieved and experienced have far outweighed my personal gains. It has been my commitment to the relationship that has put me where I am, and I have no regrets.

My life encompasses many aspects, with diverse areas of international competitive sport, travel, heath care work in remote areas, academia and owing a landrover; however my dominant core is my female side, this is the largest part of me, the part that defines me, a part that I never want to lose, and one day hope to bring to the fore.

notes -Yvonne Sinclair’s web page
N.B. Some of the pictures above are from the web, while the others are of mine. 


  1. Thank you for sharing the very interesting milestones that you have encountered along your way over the past 6 decades. You are truly one person who can often chime in with an accurate "been there...done that".
    I suspect that going full time and transitioning has been on your mind for many decades but if you really boil things down you may realize that you have done all that you have accomplished because it was the right thing to do. You can explore and fulfill your female inclinations as you please with a partner who understands you and what it is that you need to do to feel complete. You have the freedom and the ability to present as your mood indicated and as circumstances dictate. These wonderful freedoms should be appreciated and considered if you were to fully transition.
    Just my thoughts.
    Stay well
    PS: I now have an appreciation of the term "Wandering" in your blog name but remain confused about "Wyvern"

  2. Pat,
    Many thanks for your wonderful comments and glad that you understand where I am in my life. I
    am truly lucky to have one of the most wonderful partners in the world who understands me and my needs ,and keeps things real and balanced in my life
    Yes, transitioning is in my mind every day to a greater or lesser extent, however as I said in my posting, I am not looking to transition in the foreseeable future but if my circumstances change then it may be a viable option.

    A Wyvern is one of the Queens Mythical Beasts that are used in Heraldry, along with a dragon, unicorn and gryphon etc. It's a 2 legged flying dragon associated with the English West County where I was born. There are other links to my history that support the use of the name and relevance.

    Huge hugs,happiness and health.



Humble Beginnings

As many of you know, we all have to start somewhere and this is my first jump into writing a blog, so bare with me and my misguided steps in...