Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Autumn fashions!




Look, here's Lucy Melford modelling something from her Autumn Collection. Informed sources whisper that she may wear this when she sees her Wimpole Street specialist next Monday. Lucky man. Lucky London!

Next, Lucy in a slinky little number, perfect for her November cruise in the sunny Atlantic. Ahoy there, maties!

(Watch by TAG Heuer. Silver bracelet and ring by Hi Ho Silver. Hair by Trevor Sorbie - though Lucy confides that she's overdue for another cut)

PIERS MORGAN: Lucy, you must be rushed off your feet keeping up with all this fashion.
LUCY: Actually, yes! I've absolutely no time for interviews, even with you, Piers.
PIERS: But can I put it to you that fame and success on the catwalk has always been your dream?
LUCY: Actually, yes! I'm having an absolutely fabulous time. All these lovely clothes!
PIERS: And do you see yourself as wannabe celebrity, even though, let's be frank, you have no talent whatever?
LUCY: Actually, yes! But I'm really very serious-minded, you know, and always choose my shoes with care.
PIERS: Where do you think you'll end up?
LUCY: Actually, I haven't a clue. On TV I suppose! Perhaps on Loose Women or The X Factor, who knows, I'm open to offers! I'd love to be a weather girl.
PIERS: Well, good luck. Finally, just to wrap this up, can you ever see yourself as the first transsexual prime minister?
LUCY: Actually, I think I'd rather be the next Bond girl, Piers! It would be so exciting! Or do a shoot for Vogue! YES!

The garden goes into Autumn mode



It's that time of year when the back garden starts to look at bit run-down and tatty, and indeed it's preparing itself for the winter ahead. I've got the mower-man coming tomorrow, so those leaves will have to be raked up. Meanwhile it's still a nice sunny place. In fact it's been a sunny place most of the summer. Not had much rain here, and it shows, doesn't it?

Monday, 28 September 2009

We are the Champions! We are the Champions!





I actually quite like ironing, and I had a small mountain of it to get through today. No worries! I simply popped in the earphones, fired up the Nokia phone, and selected my 'Exciting stuff' playlist. As you can see, the music really got me moving. Queen, the Rolling Stones, and a host of other bands. During this I laid down an amazing virtuoso air guitar solo, which was luckily caught on camera. Pity there was only Teddy Tinkoes to hear it.

Should ironing be so much fun? Should I enjoy any fun at all, given my recent personal history and my precarious position on the fringe of society? What if a Sun reporter seeking another tranny story runs a search on Google and discovers this blog?

In the wise words of George W Bush, bring it on! We are the champions, my friend, and we'll keep on fighting to the end.

Maybe I should do a video of my air guitar solo for YouTube?

Heavy metal


That's me on Frensham Common in Surrey yesterday, toting my Nikon camera, and I think you can get an idea of its size and possible weight, bearing in mind that this is a professional-standard piece of kit, as is the lens. I was very happy with the pictures, but I had back ache by the time I'd walked all round Little Pond (actually a fair-sized lake). I was conducting a Nikon v Leica test, and the little Leica took this shot of me, using the self-timer. The Nikon did best in the test from the resolution and tonality points of view, though I see how the Leica could have been tweaked to come closer.

The point is, I can carry the Leica all day long, and do, and it doesn't give me back ache. When I was built like the Incredible Hulk I could cope with heavy metal, but nowadays my puny girly muscles can't manage the same burden. A penalty of transition, I suppose. Obviously I need a sherpa or slave to take the strain.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Before and After





It's about time I published some 'before and after' photos!

The pictures of the bloke in drab are me two years ago in 2007, and since they were taken by other people I think they are free of personal bias. Anyway, that's how I used to look before I began to put on more weight. I can see why so many people liked the 'old me'. I was, for the most part, as friendly and easy-going and accommodating and cuddly as you see in the pictures. A volcano seethed within, and I wasn't happy or content, but you would never have known. That's the trouble: I was too good at concealing the inner me, even from myself. I'd had a lifetime's practice, and I was perfect at it. But of course it couldn't continue indefinitely, and retirement (and therefore enforced leisure for self-assessment) was the catalyst that awakened the sleeping gender issues deep in my mind. I'm sure that nearly everyone wishes they had stayed dormant.

The pictures of myself somewhat changed were taken yesterday. (Sorry about the camera in the hand - I really must use a tripod) I 'came out' to my former partner (but still my close friend) M--- in August 2008, and started to feminise myself from then. The hormones began in March 2009. If you are one of those who knew the 'old me' you will deplore the changes that have already occurred, and will fear the worst - I expect some marked developments over the next six months. But I am satisfied, and only wish I could advance the feminisation at a faster pace. I suppose it's 'not bad for 57', but I'll never be pretty. However, prettiness isn't the goal.

Incidentally, I'm not wearing a wig - that's my own hair. Nor have I coloured it, it's the natural colour. Which is very strange. I was getting very grey, but the old honey-blonde colouring seems to be coming back. Must be the hormones!

This photo comparison was inspired by a posting that Suzanne Clayton (of Mr Toad's Wild Transgendered Ride) did on 11 October 2008 ('Dating Myself'). Suzanne cleverly merged an old photo of herself in male form with a new one of herself, in such a way that the old her had 'his' hand on her shoulder, and you could compare the two versions of herself in the one shot. As a technical tour-de-force it was a great photo, but it was of course chiefly interesting for the astonishing difference. What an encouragement! Actually I do recommend Suzanne's blog as a thoroughly good read on many transitional subjects, particularly her surgery during March 2009. She's fallen a bit silent recently, as seems to happen post-op, but she's definitely one of the people I'd like to visit if my planned 'US tour' ever gets off the ground. (I should say, 'US and Canada', although that would make it a real blockbuster of a holiday!)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Frustration

Yesterday I was practically in tears of complete frustration. A perfectly ordinary incident, but it tested my patience and forebearance to the utter limit.

Those who really know me acknowledge that I'm not an especially calm person and that I get thrown by unexpected delays and diversions. If I can't stick to a plan I get twitchy and upset, partly because I have a horror of being late. I have a deficient sense of time, and I can't judge how long any alternative scheme will take. I'm actually quite easily self-diverted at home, rather a butterfly really, and if you want me to be ready when promised then you have to keep me focused. And of course I get ratty if nagged, so in fact I'm a lot of trouble! But I get there. I'm best if left to do it all my way, in my order, without interference or suggestions. Labels such as 'Aspergers' have been uttered in my connection, although how you reconcile that with other, more capable and empathetic aspects of my nature beats me. But I would certainly not claim to be as cool and laid-back as I may appear on short acquaintance!

Anyway, I had a laser appointment in Welling at 4pm, and because it was a Friday, and the kids are back at school, I gave myself two hours to drive there. Now followeth a short geography lesson. Where I live near Brighton is (let's say) at the 6 position on a clock face, and Welling is at the 1 position, or north east by north me hearties, and it's only thirty miles away as the crow flies, most of it along motorways. The first and last couple of miles are on suburban roads, but I know my rat runs. I've actually done the trip in an hour door to door. It's up the M23, right hand down a bit, then along the M25, then left hand down a bit and in towards Welling along the motorway-standard A2. Easy-peasy. But this time it went horribly wrong.

I made a good start, perfectly on time at 2pm, and raced northwards up the M23, passing Gatwick Airport at warp speed. Then, a few miles from the M23/M25 junction, full stop. The next hour and a half was a tale of inching forward. Probably sounds very familiar to seasoned commuters, but it gradually wound me up, even though I was listening to my 'Serene stuff' playlist. The two hours I'd allowed - which had seemed a bit over the top - melted away. By the time I turned onto the M25 it was 3.30pm and I had half an hour left: just possible to do it. Then I ran into more stop-start traffic going east. I howled, chewed the steering wheel, bit metal, and spat blood. I turned off onto the old A25 in case that was clear. Just as bad. With wet eyes I pulled in at 3.45pm and phoned Roz to say I couldn't make it. She was wonderfully sympathetic, and rescheduled the booking for early October. Then I continued on my way to Gillingham, as I'd arranged to spend the late afternoon and evening with my cousin R---. When I finally arrived, after some more foam-at-the-mouth frustration at Sevenoaks, I worked out that my average speed over the entire three and a half hours had been 15mph. It would have been even less if I'd been tempted to pull in at a pub and have a soothing gin and tonic and a toilet stop.

Sequel: I drove home much later, in the dark, on ordinary roads, in less than two hours. Moral: arrange to have hair-removal appointments at 9pm or later!

This must have been the worst journey I can remember. As I said to Roz, I'd built my day around that 4pm appointment, and left in good time. It was SO disappointing to be thwarted. I think, in hindsight, it was more than just being trapped in heavy traffic. It was as if some malignant force had intervened to set back my transition.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Saturday Night out in the pubs of Brighton




I hope that Mr Challacombe, aka Chaz, the headmaster at my grammar school in Southampton in the 1960s doesn't see these shots from heaven, because that's my old school tie. He'd cane me on the spot. One of the pubs was having a 'Back to Skool' theme, and so I was forced to dress and behave like a little horror in one of the St Trinian's films.

It's all in the name of the Real Life Experience. I HAVE to do all this, to prove that I get out and mingle as Lucy. Believe me, I'd MUCH rather stay indoors and peel potatoes.

Friday, 11 September 2009

New stuff on Flickr

After a gap of several months, I've started to put fresh stuff on my Flickr site. Go on, have a look. Just click on one of the three links on the top right side of this page. They each show my shots in a different way.

The next batch will have pictures from Florence and Rome.

Lucy

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Leica M9 and X1


DO NOT READ THIS IF CAMERAS BORE YOU.

But if you DO like discussing the equipment, then pray continue, Dear Reader.

Yesterday Leica annouced the M9 (their latest M-series digital rangfinder) and the X1 (a fixed-lens digital compact built to M-series standards). There's a short wait for the X1. The first reaction is to drool, slap the Nikon D700 on eBay, and place an order. The second is to shake the head, and resist all temptation. And keep on doing so.

Why, you ask: cost has not prevented you doing anything so far, and you ARE an impulsive creature, are you not? I don't deny it. But I can recognise when something just won't be right for me.

M9 PROS
# Full-frame sensor. But my Nikon D700 has one too.
# Lighter and less bulky than the D700. Same for the lenses. Yes, but still a pain to carry around all day. Too big for the handbag.

M9 CONS
# VERY expensive. And the lenses would be a very costly extra on top of that. There are other things I want to buy (or pay for) with that sort of money. And I've already spent a fortune on the D700 and the f/2.8 24-70mm zoom lens it's married to.
# It's a rangefinder. So you MUST use the viewfinder. And although the view may be bright and clear in all conditions, you HAVE to work with manual focus, turning a focussing ring on the lens; you HAVE to get your subject within frame lines; and you HAVE to determine when the overlapping images in the centre of the frame have merged into one, signalling the point of perfect focus. What a palaver! And what a pain if you wear glasses. Time was (in the 1980s) when I could hoick the glasses up and get the eyeball close to the viewfinder window. Nowadays I am by necessity a fan of screens to compose with, and my unaided eyesight is so poor that I need autofocus to be quite certain of getting the subject in focus. Using a screen doesn't mean adopting the naff arms-outstretched 'praying to the sun' position, unless aiming for a stealth shot and trying to fool people that you're a mere girly tourist. (It's a good technique for taking 'casual' shots under the noses of security staff at clubs and events: they don't mind, because you don't look serious, especially if you giggle and mess around) Hold the camera closer to the face, with elbows braced against the ribcage. I think that's as rock steady for longish exposures as ramming the camera up against your nose, plus you don't get a ton of face grease (or makeup) on the back of the camera.

X1 PROS
# Much larger sensor than the D-Lux 4 has - better resolution and tonal range. But not actually full-frame.
# Small enough to carry in the handbag, but still larger than the D-Lux 4, and so it would nudge out something important that I can presently fit in, such as the PDA.

X1 CONS
# Bound to be very expensive.
# Only an f/2.8 lens. Half the light-gathering power of an f/2 lens. That means night shots at a 1/8 second exposure (my personal limit with elbows braced) would require jacking up the ISO from 400 to 800. Maybe the large sensor means no extra noise from amplifying the light. Maybe. (I'm a fundamental and unapologetic believer in fast glass to sidestep all this. The D-Lux 4 HAS fast glass)
# The lens is fixed at 36mm - no zooming! What if you CAN'T walk forwards or backwards? And although something like 35mm is a nice focal length, I really do prefer proper wideangles to give landscapes and interiors a chance.
# No 16:9 frame format option. That means no widescreen, semi-panoramic shots. Oh no! That's a killer point in favour of using the D-Lux 4 all the time.
# Unimpressive macro - you can't get in really close. So not much use for flower and food shots.

Sorry, Leica. Both cameras DO look fantastic. Either would bestow INCREDIBLE street cred. But as photographic tools they are unsuitable for my personal needs and preferences.

Why, instead of an M9 I could buy a dozen designer dresses for the same cash.

Or triple my art collection.

Or help someone get an essential operation they can't afford.

Or provide sanitation and fresh water for an entire African village.

Brighton Pier






Now for some sophisticated nightlife. Courtesy of my little Leica D-Lux 4 camera, which lives in my handbag and can hack it when the sun goes down.

(NB: Unless there happened to be a bright light source nearby, these were mostly taken handheld at f/2 at 1/8 second, ISO 400)

A peek inside Lucy's wardrobes





Would you like a tantalising peek inside my wardrobes? You would? Then regardez les photos au-dessus!

I do live dangerously. You might think, 'what God-awful taste'. But that's cool.

Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The cruise outfits - worry, worry, worry


Oh dear, I've started to worry big time over what to wear on the November cruise. I sail with M--- in less than eight weeks time.

The choice of what to take isn't straightforward. If he were still alive, I'd be going with Dad and respecting his wish - which I'm sure he would still have had - to go in male mode. And even though he is no longer here, I feel strongly inclined to respect his memory by dressing as he would have liked to see me. At least on this occasion.

Also, I'm booked in under my old male name, with my passport and all other papers supporting that persona. I don't think I want to risk a formal name-change with the cruise so close. The new passport might not be ready in time. So I'll have to go as Mr J--- D---, which implies a male appearance. Of course, I could still turn up in full Lucy, and risk causing utter confusion. Great fun! But once on board it would be awkward for the crew. There would be Mr so-and-so on the list of passengers, but they'd be in a fix wondering whether to call me 'Sir' or 'Madam'. And possibly apprehensive of giving offence.

I don't suppose the other passengers would mind very much: something to talk about. Many might not even notice. On the April cruise, one old passenger, an elderly man with presumably poor eyesight, told Dad what a pleasant 'daughter' he had. I could certainly expect more of that sort of thing, even if I wore a blazer, cravat and flannel trousers, and stuck a monocle in one eye. Whatever happens, I'm not sacrificing my hair and nails.

But practical considerations rule out wearing entirely male stuff. I've just thrown away 90% of my old clothes, and what remains - the dinner suit and other formal wear - isn't going to fit well, even though bought only a few months ago. I'm not going to waste money on a fresh set of clothes for one-time use. I'll therefore have to dress mainly in female items, most of the time. That means jeans and tops, with beach shoes on my feet, nothing outrageous really.

The difficult occasions will be the 'formal' evenings. Men must wear a dinner jacket, tuxedo or very smart dark lounge suit; women a formal evening dress or cocktail dress. No ambiguous clothing allowed. Frankly, I don't think I am ready for a 'cocktail dress' yet - haven't quite got the figure for it. I need bigger boobs for that. And my playful little Transister outfits won't do at all. So on 'formal' nights I'll have to don my Godfather suit and hope for the best. Unless an unexpected surge in the chest department changes the entire scenario. Watch this space.

Time for a wardrobe purge!


'Bridge here. Captain Kirk speaking. What's the matter, Scottie?'
'It's the wardrobes, sirrr. We'll have to ease up. They canna take much more.'

There was nothing for it but to finally throw out most of my old fusty oversized heavyweight drab male clobber. Did it this morning. Good riddance.

I kept the still-pristine stuff bought for the cruise last April, on the basis that it just might fit me for the cruise in November. The rest has been bagged and taken to the charity shop. The photo shows it all just before the deed was done. (I didn't bag the little teddy bear wearing Southampton FC colours. That's Teddy Tinkoes, my lifelong friend)

The delicate dreamy beautiful filmy floating on air female garments can now breathe.

Dumb blonde assists Euro visitors with bladder problem

Brighton is a great place for tourists and visitors, and there are always a large number of foreigners in shops and elsewhere, many of them students, but a fair number of older folk as well. Well, I was just emerging from Marks and Spencer with a couple of bags full of nice things to wear, and I was accosted by two older women of Germanic aspect.

'Ladies, please?' one said. Thinking they meant 'Ladieswear', I beamed and indicated all the clothing racks behind me. Pretty stupid, I know, but it's been pointed out to me that I'm slow to latch onto what people say to me. Always have been, nothing new about it; poor brain connections, or just a poor brain. 'No, no, ladies TOILETS, please.' Aaaaaah, light dawned. 'Upstairs' I said, and we were all smiles. Lucy, England's ambassador, had shown the way to our European friends. Nice to do one's bit. Entente cordiale, etc, except they definitely weren't French.

It struck me a minute later that even forthright, no-nonsense Europeans might be reticent about asking an English male where the ladies loos were. So I had passed muster. Mmmmm.

(Sorry about describing myself as a 'dumb blonde', but there is no such phrase as 'dumb greyhead')

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Voting rights

Now we're getting serious. I want to vote as Lucy Melford from next month. So I've completed my Electoral Register form accordingly. I suppose this is an opening salvo in my Real Life Experience!

I'd like to show you a photo of the signed form, but dictates of personal security prevent it. You'd see my home address, home phone number, and signature. Friends can have all these things, but not the public at large. The blog is intended for empathetic trans people first and foremost, but anyone at all might find it and read it. And some of those might be hostile or mischievous.