Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lucy in Piccadilly

As you can see, I did wear the dogtooth jacket and black miniskirt outfit up to London to see Dr Richard Curtis. I also carried my white gaberdine Prada shopping bag to stash my grey raincoat, spare black tights, spare shoes, pink scarf and London street atlas in. Perhaps you may think this outfit a bit overdone for a routine visit, but I wanted to see how comfortable I felt flitting around the big city in a miniskirt. It didn't go badly at all. I attracted more attention than I usually do, probably because of the eye-catching jacket (absolutely nobody else was wearing one), and as I walked down Regent Street especially there were a few double-takes from passing tourists and a chorus of 'Sink me! Strewth! Gott im Himmel! Mort Dieu!' and so forth. In the smart shops, such as John Lewis in Oxford Street and (as in the photo above) Zara in Regent Street I passed unnoticed. Same - mostly - on the Underground, although I had one older American lady rolling her eyes! Well, come on, love, I'm just being myself.

The Italianate male persons on the tills at Fortnum & Masons were a little disconcerted as well, but contrived to be brave and not say anything. I suppose they don't get many trannies in Fortnums, it being a bit posh and pricey for most transsexuals, who, let's face it, don't enjoy my level of income.

But pride cometh before a fall. Just when I felt really pleased with my first major outing in a skirt, I was torpedoed and sunk by the woman on the information desk at The Royal Academy of Arts. I hadn't wanted to go home yet, and thought a look at the latest exhibition would be pleasant. So I was going to enquire, and stump up a few bob to get in. But she blew it with a 'Can I help you, sir?'. Uhhh. She was a beautiful, intelligent, articulate and helpful person, with a naturally chic dress sense, but she carried misplaced politeness too far. When did 'sirs' ever wear miniskirts and carry Prada shopping bags? She wasn't being rude, so was she blind? I made some graceful excuse and cheerfully walked out.

In the courtyard was a huge towering pile of plastic globes or bubbles with a silver refective coating, and I took some pictures of this (see the Flickr site). I got up close to one of the globes (see above) and if you click on the photo and enlarge it, you'll see myself at the centre of a pleasing fisheye effect.

On my last leg to Green Park underground station I stopped to gaze into the windows of De Beers, the famous diamond shop. Prices to make your eyes water if not pop out on stalks. Not sure if I really like diamonds that much, even if they are forever. So I didn't buy anything. Instead I had a much-needed gin and tonic at the Wetherspoon's pub in Victoria station. Only £2.30!


  1. Ohh, get you! "Most transsexuals don't enjoy my level of income"... ...some of us use Harvey Nichols as a second address :)

  2. Well, Jess, I freely acknowledge that I'm not the richest kid on the block.

    I simply meant that because of employment problems of one sort or another most trans people in Brighton are far from well off. I must seem like a fatcat to them.

  3. I was being tongue in cheek :)

  4. I'm glad you said that! But seriously, I wonder if the tone of my post wasn't just a wee bit too blase - 'Oh I regularly swan about in posh shops and galleries and bistros, don't you know' - a sort of attitude that might get up some people's nose.

    And yet blogs have to be interesting, and amusing if possible, and I don't mind making out that I'm an empty-headed fashion victim if it allows me to describe real happenings in iconic locations! People like Helena Love (who is not at all empty-headed, and shares my own obsession for photo opportunities and self-portraiture) have created a very strong niche for themselves chronicling in fascinating detail a clothes-and-clubbing-and-eating out existence, with a lively writing style that I can't imitate but aspire to.

    There are many downsides to being trans, many bad moments and side-effects to endure. It's a constant battle against society's attitudes and your own feelings of guilt and insecurity. If I or you have some uplifting moments, or go somewhere glamorous, it says 'Look, it's possible to have fun/look cool/be a worthwhile citizen/have a rapport with real women/win out against jobsworths even though we're trannies and have fewer rights than most/face discrimination/have an equivocal social position/are a media joke'. I do want to fly the flag, even if I'm not ever going to be a card-carrying activist!

  5. ...and you fly the flag very well. Nice account of your excursion! I went into Harvey Nicks in Brum once and thought, "Urk, not for me"... good notion, though, like the C of E categorising congregations by the shops they use. Where to trans folk go shopping?

    Casual and without-malice gendering is the most dispiriting, isn't it? A very bubbly young woman was trying to sign me up for something in the street a while back, and as her pen hovered over the clipboard she said "Is it Mr or Mrs" and I said "It's Ms" and thought, *you've just lost the sale, girl*...

  6. @Dru:
    I agree, Dru, that a misplaced 'sir' really blunts an otherwise great experience. Until quite recently, I didn't mind much. But I seem to have moved forward a little in the last week or two (trying skirts in public, painting my nails for the first time, checking out the Deed Poll thing with the local CAB) and feel I now deserve a 'Miss' or at least a 'Madam' on effort if not appearance! Just last night, in the Marine Tavern in Brighton - a friendly and understanding gay pub, incidentally, where trans people drop in all the time - I got called 'sir' by a youngish guy clearing drinks from the table. He was obviously trying to be very polite, but got it wrong.


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