Thursday, 6 February 2014
Girls can get exhausted so easily!
Don't get me wrong. I am so fortunate to have established a social life for myself. I treasure it. But sometimes it can seem relentless, and a day or two of sheer relaxation then becomes imperative! Today is such a day of relaxation; and considering the vile weather outside, I'm awfully glad I haven't had to go anywhere.
But I was buzzing around like a veritable blue-arsed fly from quite early on Saturday morning right through to last night, Wednesday. During that five day period I had something social going on each day; two long-distance drives to Kent (Bexley and Canterbury); three trips into Brighton; quite apart from ordinary shopping. I emphasise again that I'm not complaining! But all this bobbing to and fro has made it difficult to find a couple of quiet hours for putting a decent blog post together.
Today I'll tell you about a dinner party I attended on Sunday evening, which may have pleasant consequences. Social ones, I mean. (If you thought I was going to say that I've met Mrs Right or Mr Right, then look away now)
This party was informal, but dressing up a bit was absolutely OK. And as you can see from the shot above, I wore a blue patterned dress with a labradorite pendant that I purchased for myself while in Guernsey in 2010. I also wore black tights and flat black shoes. Here's a better view of that dress, while still at home:
It was a chilly evening, and that justified the posher of my two dark grey Windsmoor coats, the one with the big collar:
'Wot! No scarf?' you might ask. Well, despite possessing a drawerful of scarves and shawls and snoods, I am not really a person who likes ligatures around her neck. I'd rather simply button the collar up, and cover my throat that way.
Anyway, thus attired, I was ready to go. Naturally I had equipped myself with some champagne - this time, not Veuve Clicquot, which I couldn't find at a sensible price, but a bottle of Taittinger instead, which came in an attractive box with bubbles on it:
This dinner-party was the sort of social affair I used to dream about, when, at the beginning of my transition, people-contact was confined to the trans mix that came along to the Clare Project meetings. It seemed then so unlikely that I would ever again be able to mix with 'ordinary people', and not only be accepted by them, but find myself welcomed into their world. But by degrees it has come to be. I am speaking specifically of friends in Brighton. I also have my neighbours and their friends, my blogging friends, my caravanning friends, and one or two others who don't belong to any particular set. Although the number of trans friends and acquaintances is constantly growing, the number of non-trans friends and acquaintances is growing even faster. Which is fine: the long-term aim should surely be to have a variety of people in one's life, and to meet as many people as possible. In that way, the chances of doing new and different things are much improved - more on that below!
Sunday's dinner-party was comprised thus, listed in alphabetical order:
A son of student age, Toby - who mostly kept out of the way
Three dogs (males outnumbered females here)
The menu was chalked up in impressive style:
Duck was off. Wine wasn't. Oh, I don't mind if I do! Just a smidge, if you really insist...
At least two cameras came out, one of them mine, to record the ladies present in all their glory:
Isn't it nice to see how successfully everyone presents their own individual style? After this photo-call, the men were given a rest from their imaging labours, and the meal commenced, with the champagne (now chilled) flowing freely.
I have to say that while putting on an amazing complex five-course banquet is a wonderful feat, simple meals do work best. The boeuf bourgignon, potato and green beans were all one needed. It was flavoursome and filling. We all had two decent helpings, and still didn't empty the cooking pot. If there had been more men, then we might have eaten it all, but despite well-laden plates - here's Laurence's for instance - there was plenty left over. Give some attention to Laurence. He made me an offer.
Jessie and I had never seen the house before, so after the main course Mine Host gave us a tour. There were big antique mirrors in every room, a fact not lost on me, every good mirror representing a golden photo opportunity:
Back at the table, conversation had not abated. Rose and Lesley's husbands were absent because they both liked football, and both supported Arsenal. So they had gone up to London together to watch an important evening match. That freed up their wives. Rose and I were sat next to each other, and we discussed parenting - specifically Rose's ambition to become a foster parent. She already had two girls of her own (now of student age). But, still energetic, she and her husband were looking into fostering. Rose thought they had much to offer to a child who needed a stable and caring environment for a while. She recognised the dangers of getting too attached. They had decided to try short-term engagements first, assuming they were considered suitable as foster-parents. They'd ask to do respite care with difficult children. If that seemed to work well, then they'd attempt longer-term care. I thought she was taking on rather a lot, and I greatly admired her confidence. But then, if their parenting skills were strong, and relevant to the fostering situation, and they were keen, then why not?
Turning now to Laurence, we discussed leisure activities, and it emerged that he was an active member of the Sailing Club down at Shoreham. He raced boats, the sort that sport tall sails and spinnakers and need a crew. Most people around the table had done some sailing, but I had to confess that I hadn't. Before I knew it, Laurence had invited me to join the regular crew for a sunny-day summer outing from Shoreham, suitable for beginners. I accepted. What a chance! It looked as if I might even be allotted a particular task, such as hauling on a rope that kept the unfurling spinnaker out of the water as it filled with wind. Yes, surely I could do that. Laurence was going to look at some dates that would be suitable for us all, and then have us all on standby to sail if the weather forecast looked good. Probably in July or August. (I wasn't caravanning in either month)
Meanwhile, there was going to be a Quiz Night at the Sailing Club shortly. I gathered that the Club had a reputation for being a great place to spend an evening in. Was I coming? Ooh! Thanks! Yes please! Gosh, where will all this lead? But then, it seems to me that once your circle of friends (and friends of friends) reaches a certain size, or attains a certain composition, then invitations like this suddenly start to crop up.
You know, I knew nothing quite like this in my old life - was there something wrong with it? Or was I somehow always going to be excluded from things like sailing because The Relationship (or The Perceived Relationship) kept me away from it all? Or because the old me lacked daring and self-belief? Or because I was simply the wrong kind of person to ask? Somebody (I don't know who) once said girls have more fun. I'm inclined to think that's perfectly true.
Throughout, the three well-behaved dogs yearned in vain for a share of the cooking pot. Morsels they may not have had, but they did get love. Here's Co-Co being held, candlelight in her eyes: