Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Beer Review: Golden Sheep

I'd been looking for this one for a while, since I drank the Riggwelter and found, by accident, the Black Sheep home page.  In there I saw a reference to a Pal Ale that was done by the same people and, as I like Pale Ale, I thought I'd have to find it.  However, I'd never seen it in the shops.  Saw it a couple of days ago and bought it on a whim.

So, Golden Sheep it is tonight, and while I'm watching the 1930s version of All Quiet on the Western Front.  It is a good film, but not one I can show to my students, no way on earth they'd get the subtleties or the slow pace.  Anyway, beer.


Sad to say that my first smell of the stuff was strangely reminiscent of sweaty socks.  No, really.  It soon resolved itself into a slightly 'hoppy' sort of smell.  No clever undercurrents, no clever little hints, just hops and a little spicy on the edges.  First sip was similar, don't know what I was expecting, but there was a hint of hop on the edges and a little yeast, mercifully light.  It was indeed light, as a pale ale should be and so, on a whim, I poured it into a glass.

The head was virtually non-existant, which is not a bad thing, but the carbonation was a little more insistent than the head merited, perhaps a little too much on the fizzy side.  The colour was good and golden though, a deep sort of honey colour, and the taste was nice enough.  It's no Thoroughbred Gold but it is a passable brew.  There's the hint of sweetness to it, I dunno, too much sugar?  But overall the taste was a satisfying one, not one that I would perhaps look forward to as much a second time, but that's not the fault of the beer.  At 4.7% ABV it is a strong-ish one but not so strong as will make you lose yours.  Ah!  Parmesan!  Yes.  In many ways, it's like the cheese - for years I thought that Parmesan was 'sweaty sock cheese' and thus avoided it in all its forms.  Then I tasted it in a proper meal and realised what I'd been missing.  This is the same, it's not a beer that will immediately appeal to anyone but it's good enough to drink.

Drink this in a brace, have a couple to get the taste, and drink it with a light meal.  I'd suggest lunch if you can.  It's a light taste and doesn't sit too heavily nor make you too drunk, so have it with a few sandwiches and a yoghurt.  Eat well, but not too much, then have the second pint.  It'll leave you mellow and with a good fuzziness in the brain pan.  It's not an ale to have on its own, its not one to savour, it's one to drink in the background.  Better than most but not the best I've had.

A Glimpse of Happiness

I wrote earlier that I'd been on a long weekend with my father, his wife, my brother and his wife and child and my family.  I also wrote that I wasn't really looking forward to the potential clash of cultures or the fact that I would be spending hours with the Boy trying to get him to sleep each day.

I am happy to report that it did not all go that way at all, but of course it wouldn't - I had prepared for the very worst!  Still, it was a good four days away and there were many high points, and I feel the need to share and have an evening in which to do it (Tilly is out with some friends from London on a night clubbing - I have prepared the bucket).  Although I have the stresses of a new year fast approaching, and the avoidance strategies that I seem totally committed to, I feel it would be remiss if I did not record the happier parts of my life from time to time, right?

Anyway, yes.  The holiday.  It was just outside the Lake District, a kind of Butlins for the middle class, and though the journey there was a little trying we settled down pretty quickly into a lovely little lodge in the woods.  Our children quickly made the place their own, rushing about and shrieking, and then we took them to a park in the rain.  They had loads of fun on the swings and rushing about on the wooden 'tree walk' style equipment - the rain doesn't really bother them, in fact the Boy rather likes it - and then we retired back to the lodge for evening meal.  Around this time non-verbal Boy started asking for milk and it sounded close enough to his name for my father, Papa, that my father thought the Boy was referring to him.  Bonding moment was had, Boy realised what he had done and the two became inseperable.  The children went to bed around 7pm, the Boy taking just ten minutes to doze off, and then we played Fluxx and had Kronenberg 1664 together.

In the morning my brother's family and mine went swimming and much fun was had - though not a great deal of swimming was done.  There's something about going out with children that inhibits my usual proclivities, but that wasn't a totally bad thing.  My brother and I did some much needed aimless chatting and then we returned for lunch.  It was our turn to provide a meal and so Tilly got on with the cooking (I'm not allowed to help these days, I'm a bad back-seat cook according to Tilly, I used to really enjoy it too) and I took the Boy on a wander.  We met my mother's husband, who works there, for a bit by accident and played a bit on a playpark, we'd done that after swimming too to be fair and the daughter had made a friend, very sweet.  We returned, ate, the children went to bed, again quite easily, and we played Martian Fluxx and drank the Sovereign beer I took to share.  My father and brother were not fans of this, which was a shame, and my brother got shirty about this, so I'm told, I didn't notice.  Looking over the conversation I think I can see elements of us both sharing the autism thing - certainly Tilly was of the opinion that we were very similar.

There was more swimming the following morning, after my father and I totally blagged a game of badminton or two.  I enjoyed that.  When my father left in 1994 I'm afraid I did not treat him very well and subjected him, on and off, to some of the worst vitriol a teenager can muster (a withdrawn and slightly crap teenager, but still...) for a long while.  Our relationship was only defrosted, a little, at the end of my first relationship and was only really warmed when I met Tilly.  It was good, therefore, to play him at badminton.  Not only was he much better than I expected at the game he also thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't get all moody about who won and who lost - my biggest memory about playing sport with him and where I get my wholly unhealthy attitude to game playing from.  I'd never played my father at badminton on his own like that before.  It saddens me to think that the one sport I actually enjoy, and am capable of, playing I had never done with my father.  It was good.  I followed it with a swim, then we had cooked lunch from my brother and his wife.  In the afternoon we took the children off to play on various playparks again and then returned for a short evening meal.  Tilly, my brother's wife and my father's wife then went off to be pampered at the spa thing they had going.

My father, my brother and I were left holding the fort.  Surprisingly it was my brother's child who stayed up and wouldn't sleep.  My father then began telling us loads of stuff we'd never heard before.  About his wife's health problems, about their unsuccessful try for children, about his own gay father.  My grandfather on my father's side was gay in a time when it was illegal to be so and was one of those people who flaunted his sexuality.  He would invite men home (my father's mother was working nights) and they would rarely be the same ones from one night to the next, but there were repeats.  He'd pick them up at public loos, no joke.  My father confirmed his homosexuality around the age of fifteen when searching for something else (I suspect evidence that his mother was having an affair with a Hungarian) and found a letter from someone in the Netherlands.  It was a love letter and my father thought it was for his mother, but it turned out to be addressed to his father - penny dropped.  Not long after that his father was to be prosecuted again, a third time, for picking up blokes and so was shipped off by his work to Oman - where he actually had an affair, not Saudi Arabia as I'd thought, with the Crown Prince - who isn't gay at all you understand.  It was sobering stuff.  There was a lot more to it, but I'm unclear how I'd write it here without supplying a great deal of back-story to make it all make sense.  My father is very much like his father and I am very much like him.  Let's put it that way.  We drank some Cidre (Stella Artois) and then retired not long after the women returned.

The three men of the families went for a bike ride on the last day, my daughter quite literally in tow, and that was another 'bonding' experience.  It was nice, only about fifteen minutes, but nice.  We all agreed that we must repeat this holiday experience again, maybe make it a yearly thing.

So, yeah, happiness.  I did not think of work, I did not think on my sexuality, I was... Well, not me but part of a group, you know, a group of family.  A lot of what we did was immaterial, it felt right.  It felt... nice.  I was largely happy.  Heh, for someone who prides himself on vocabulary it fails me somewhat when faced with good things.  I think being in woods was part of it, no really, and away from traffic and the TV.  Hearing birds, seeing wildlife, breathing dewy air, all of this was part of the happiness.  At heart I'm a child of the trees and the leaves and the mud - I've always preferred outside to in - and so it felt like home.

You'll notice that there are no images, that's because I have no idea how I'd illustrate any of this.  The words were hard enough, I don't think I've captured the positive nature of the whole affair very well.  Still, positivity - looks like I'm still trying to work to that resolution!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Beer Review: Wainwright

Not sure when I'll get the chance again and there's been many beers looking over my shoulder.  I was trying last night, but my wonderful Boy had issues going to sleep and I ended up conking out with him sometime before 10pm.  How do I know?  Tilly came and checked on us then.  We went to bed at 8pm, after reading to my dau-

Beer!

Tonight it is the turn of Wainwright from Thwaites - the brewery of my childhood that was in every single pub my family ever went to have meals in until we moved north and then was in every pub we went for meals with my grandparents in thereafter.


It is not that strong at 4.1% ABV and so I chose it on that basis for the night's beer.  I have a lot planned for the morning and thought I wouldn't get too sleepy come then on this.  It has apparently won awards, 2011 Best Bottled Beer in the industry awards, and is named after the poet.  I have to say the aroma did not disappoint but I don't know how to describe it.  It smelled like my childhood bar meals.  Tilly said it smelled of her father when he'd come home after drinking.  It smells, in essence, like we both think beer should.  There's a maltiness to it that is wrapped in a faint tang, but mainly malty.

The taste is good.  It tastes much stronger than it is, with a fizz that is pleasant rather than overpowering or disappointing.  There is that maltiness again, but not strong, and it underpins the flavour.  Surfing that wave there is that hoppy quality that I loved in Thoroughbred Gold and that lends a touch of spice to proceedings.  Not very hot spice, just... fuzzy.  It claims to have 'delicate citrus flavours' but I don't really buy that.  Certainly there is an edge to the taste, just sharp enough to register, and this is good.  Works better on its own, I imagine this would be too fine to be noticed were I doing my usual pizza with the beer.  Overall, it is light and the aftertaste doesn't linger too long and certainly not in the back of the throat.  It is a proper beer.  It actually tastes, well, manly.

Drink this in company that is also drinking this.  I imagine it would have an even better taste on tap.  Drink a couple of pints on a lovely summer day on their own or else a pint after a meal in winter either in the bar itself or in the garden, weather depending.  Don't try to analyse it, enjoy it.  It is a good beer, worth spending a bit on actually, but do arrange for someone else to drive if you're out!

EDIT - This looks like a very popular beer - hundreds of reviews out there!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Black and White

Sorry, the last few weeks have been busy with a different sort of business and less stressful than when I started this blog.  This effectively means that I haven't really been musing on things like normal and so haven't had that much to post here.

Stunningly representative of my own
identity, right down to the female
holding the mirror.
However, we went to see some friends in a different part of the country over the last couple of days and the conversation raised some intriguing questions.  My friend, whose son I am godfather to, was talking about his job and how it had defined him to the point that when he was employed only on temporary contracts he had been subjected to a modicum of existential angst.  Now, I thought I agreed with him.  As a teacher myself I am often quick to start explaining myself in light of my job.  Indeed, Tilly has often said that I introduce myself first as my job and very rarely with anything else of my own - after that I tend to describe myself in relation to others (that is: Tilly's husband or my children's father).  Most of my energies are poured into describing my function and the ways in which I undertake it.  But...

Another thing my friend, let's call him Indy, said was similarly revealing.  He pointed out that his teaching persona, much like my own, was not him and an entirely constructed thing that allowed him to function more effectively in a classroom.  I have often said the same for my own teaching.  When in a classroom I am playing a part - but subtley.  Most of my students would dispute this, by the way, they would say that I share so much of myself that I am more myself in the classroom than I am, say, in the staffroom.  In part, they are correct.  I share more with my classes than I do with my peers in the school, always have, but mainly they are wrong.  Both are constructs and neither of them are really me.  Were they me then I would be addressing classes under-dressed in knickers at least, I would definitely present myself differently in clothing and I would probably choose not to have a beard.  I would use less hand movement than I do now.  I would laugh more.  There would be more conversation than didactic learning.  I would not do card sorts.  I would joke less.  I would be much more partial and arguably less fair - I would exploit my position of power a little more.

So it is that I don't agree with Indy any more.  Or, rather, I think he missed a point.  I cannot, really, define myself by a constructed personality or a function that is... well, teaching isn't really a function that makes a great deal of sense.  For the vast majority of recorded (notwithstanding the even greater amount of unrecorded) history people learned but there was no teaching as we understand it.  Even where there was teaching there was little to none of what we now consider to be 'academic' and no distinction of 'vocational'.  For most of history people learned by watching those who knew how to do what they wanted to learn (note that willing part there, that desire to know what others do) and asking questions when required.  Sometime post-Antiquity society codified this a little more to apprenticing and the social strata ensured that choice was definitely in the gift of those with social power.  I'm not suggesting that it mostly wasn't before just that we know very little about what constituted social power or lineage before Antiquity.  Indeed, what little we know about life in the years that followed suggests that much of the learning was by choice - real or imagined - so that learners wanted to know what they were being taught.  The idea that people might not want to learn that which they are taught is pretty new and even now restricted to 'westernised' societies (and within them restricted again to predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon communities).

So it is that 'teacher', as an identity, doesn't really make a lot of sense.  Strangely, cross-dresser has a much longer lineage than teacher does, for example, and that concept of gender variation seems much more fundamental.  Furthermore, the old idea (arguably still the main idea) of a 'teacher' beyond being defined as such by the learner (that is, being a 'teacher' independent of whether anyone wishes to learn what you are teaching) is more closely linked to that of 'story-teller'.  I am no 'story-teller' either.  I can play with words and things but I end up being almost entirely mechanical and technical.  My characters are suffocated by my prose rather than having life breathed into them.  Put another way: I speak and write without colour, in black and white.

This means that I am not a 'teacher', my friend might still be in some sense, but I cannot claim that for myself.

My recent issues with Tilly prove, convincingly, that I cannot define myself as 'husband' or as 'father' either.  In that my primary personality exists independently of these roles, rather than percieved levels of ability at either of them.  In the same way 'cross-dresser' doesn't really apply either as a definition.  Alright, all of these things apply, but this blog stands as pretty clear testament that none of them are my identity - they are facets of my identity instead that flicker about whatever the core is.  Indy, for example, is also a father (and a doting one at that) but it is clear that, to him at least, this is a facet, and out-growth, of being a 'teacher'.  Even his relationship to his wife (also a teacher) is defined by that function rather than as 'father' or 'husband' - both of which serve as different perceptions on his core identity.

Discussing this with Tilly yielded her thoughts that my primary identity was "a six year old boy who wants to talk a lot" and that her own identity was "a Mum", a declamation with which I am inclined to agree.  She also suggested that she was wondering if she was more a 'writer' than a 'Mum', but we came to the conclusion that she wrote more like she mothered than vice versa.  Tilly is firmly of the opinion that I am Aspergic now, secured in that by my behaviour at another child's birthday party today (we need both parents on hand usually if both children are involved) where I failed to engage with other parents, preferring instead to read the history of the place we were in (they were quite proud of it) and scrutinise the maps and photos of it.  Even when meeting Indy and his son I didn't engage well, to the point of not really knowing the names of Indy's in-laws, with whom we were staying, and not being terribly communicative at the pub meal we had.


I'm also aware of how long I struggled with cross-dressing, and of how long it was before I actually tried and how long then I tried to end it by not indulging and basically how long I fought even vague acceptance of any of the activities associated with it.  It can only, therefore, be a facet and cannot be a primary identity.  Were it the latter I would not have been able to successfully supress that part of myself (at least not between puberty and 2004!) for so long.  Nor would I now, after all this, still be semi-struggling with it and what it all means.  I'm not suggesting that I would have any answers, merely that I wouldn't turn it over in quite the same way.

A teacher I greatly respected, female of course, at primary school once gave a very good description of me: "There is only black and white with [Joanna], there is no grey".  She meant this more narrowly than it applies - for there is little colour in me: emotionally, verbally or in life generally.  Emotion like orchestral stabs - a lot going on in a very short space of time but gone in the blink of an eye - and mechanical reproduction of ideas and images that are second or third hand before they reach me.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dreams

I mean the functional term rather than the aspirational here, dreams as in what happens in my sleep as opposed to what I look forward to and strive for.

Anyway.

Whilst on my lovely long weekend with family, which was great, there was an odd dream.  Odd enough that I remembered it and odd enough that I thought it bore wirting down.  Mostly my dreams are pretty awful once I've written them down, and by awful I mean boring for anyone but me, but I'm feeling the fact that I'm not blogging as much as I was - seriously, it's been a good place for me since I set it up - and this particular dream threw up a lot of stuff.

Also, I think the holiday was good, I do love me a place in the woods and time to walk and/or cycle, a bit of physical activity and some drink in an evening is pretty much paradise for me.  I suspect that this relaxed state, for it was mostly, is what led to this dream.  I have a habit of noticing dreams near to when I wake up.  They aren't lucid in the strictest sense but there is a very blurry line betwixt sub-conscious and controlled contrivance that winds up being day-dreaming.  My sub-conscious is my 'magic pill'.  It can throw up a whole raft of stuff and I can be happy with that and take no guilt, after all, when I notice what my sub-conscious is up to I shut it down and 'control' it all.  However, if the line gets blurred, well, that's less comfortable and that's where the guilt and the worry comes in.

How best to describe?  I remember a friend of mine reporting that in a dream he'd had he was propositioned by a sexy lady and he turned her down.  When he was lucid enough to work out what just happened he was overjoyed at what he had done, told everyone, and was pretty smug that he remained faithful to his wife in his sub-conscious.  The ting is, I'm jealous of that.  When sex features in my dreams it's pretty low key - I've never been propositioned in dreams or in real life - and mostly there is no physical contact.  I've had a kiss once and I've never given or recieved oral.  Okay, sex doesn't happen in my dreams.  However, infidelity has.  I dreamed I was marrying my ex after starting with Tilly and I also dreamed about breaking off my wedding to Tilly mid ceremony to run off with someone I fancied in University.  Dream-Me is a bit of a bastard.  My saving grace, if it can be called that, with these dreams was that they were bona fide sub-conscious and I had no control.  When I was lucid enough to take control with the ex one it became a fight to get away (stealing a car as it happens) and in the latter one I ended up taking a ride over some moors and apologising to my fancy person from University and then returning to the wedding.

This last dream operates on that cusp where I have previously dreamed about being a girl (full on, no questions asked, no sexual feelings about it kind of dreaming - I just happened to be female); about being locked in a dungeon (moder-day bright lights style, the lucidity injected the feminisation trope associated with this setting); BDSM (lucidity brough infantilism) and so forth.  Basically, this was one of those dreams that, while the beginning can be explained away, the dream development cannot be strictly written off as my sub-conscious going off unbridled.

The dream.  Yes.

Basically I joined a 'self-help group' being run from a room that looked similar to University digs somewhere on a moor (recurring settings in my dreams: moors; roads; featureless landscapes and coastlines) that was badly kept.  The woman in charge, for twas a she, was a bit of a fraud.  There was something unplaceably odd about her set up and about the whole thing in general that manifested in dreamland as a state of unease.  As the dream progressed it turned out that she was a BDSM mistress and that the issues were put on a sliding scale.  So, say you were worried about lying then each instance of lying carried a punishment - yes, my dreams are that mathematically technical and these parts tend to flash past pretty quickly - I sort of know the maths, difficult to explain it though.  So, anyway, there were two levels of punishment: hard and soft spanks.  No, I have no clue what a 'soft' spank is either.  The levels were based on the level of severity that the user of the service, in this case me, assigned to each infraction.  Persistent infractions would carry larger punishments, I'm sure you see where this is going.

Basically, the mistress convinced me (I didn't need much coercion) to plumb on the greater level of severity every time and I kinda wanted it to as well (I'm looking at you, Servitor!).  So that, as it progressed, we ended up introducing nappies and feminisation.  By the latter parts of the dream there was the hint that I would enter a relationship with this mistress (at some point she'd stopped charging me for the service and it was more like some kind of warped affair) and leave Tilly.  I stress here that there was no hint of sex with this mistress - either she didn't want it or had someone else providing it, the dream wasn't clear on that point - and none for me either (no being forced to service men or women, indeed, beyond the 'punishments' I detected no sexual aspects whatsoever to the dream).

Why would all of this register so strongly?  It came either side of waking up in the night to check on the Boy, with whom I was co-sleeping.  That means that some of this, if not a large part, was entirely in my control.  It was not a 'magic pill' dream.  Thing is, I have no clue when the waking up occurred, exactly, obviously before the 'relationship' suggestion but after the moorland scene setting.  Was the 'relationship' started before I was more lucid or after.  It's a pretty important distinction given the issues lately.

If you're still reading by this point, my apologies, that must have been interminable!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Beer Review: Cumberland Ale

It's been a lovely long weekend, about which more another time, and there's also been much surreptitious digging on my part regarding my family history.  There's a good chance that, if I am autistic, it comes from my mother's side and my mother is also autistic.  Fun.

Anyway, I'd love to check up all the blogs I've missed by excellent people and properly welcome new followers who I am deeply appreciative of but the Boy napped on the way back and is still awake, so I don't have long.  Hence a beer review.  Tonight is the turn of a beer that was brewed close to where we went on holiday and is a staple of my northern past post-Preston: Jenning's Cumberland Ale.


Cumberland doesn't exist any more, of course, it's part of Cumbria now and the label carries views of the Lake District - as if that makes any difference.  Still, its heritage is apparent in the taste - very much reliant on the yeast and the hops than the malt.  There's Golding in there, I think, and it shows through more than the yeast.  A citrus tang pervades both after-taste and aroma, which is not unpleasant, and there is a fire to it - something I like in an ale.  I have memories of this as the first beer I ever tasted at a mate's eighteenth birthday do and I remember it being creamy.  It is not creamy at all.  Fuzzy little head, like Ruddles, and a finish to that as it fizzes away like you see on streams running over rocks.  It is very carbonated too, close in fizz to Veuve Clicquot champagne actually, and this has the double effect of making the alcohol go to your head faster and masking the taste a little.  Both are not positive parts of the experience - they aren't bad, they just aren't positive.

It weighs in at a pretty strong 4.7% ABV and it is slow in letting you know about this.  Sovereign sort of announces its strength by beating you over the head, in a good way, but Cumberland sort of creeps up on you after several sips and tastes beforehand.  As a bottled ale it does not do as well as it ought, it is much better on tap from the cask at a bar.  It is a 'cold' beer, in that it is not a warming taste even when served at room temperature.  It is a summer drink and suited well to my holiday.

Drink this in the garden from the bottle or, better yet, in a pub watching the cricket.  Best in a breezy, and thus not too hot, summer day on wooden benches and tables.  Eat proper pub grub, for this is a table ale, like steak and chips with a French mustard.  It is a slow drinker and can stand to go a bit flat from the bottle or simply drunk over time from tap.  Don't expect too much and this will serve you well.  A perfect companion ale, to be had in the background rather than taking centre stage like a good understudy.  Never a first choice but, equally, should never be left til last either.  Choose above Square Ale (Black Sheep) but eschew in favour of Thoroughbred Gold.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

I fail at therapy

I got a letter in the post this morning from the therapist that did my session back whenever it was.  The session had ended with him assuring me that they would give me a "fair crack of the whip" due to the effort that I'd put in and that he would hold off on making future appointments until after I had been diagnosed for Asperger's.  There was every indication, said he, that I would be back and that psychoanlytical psychotherapy could help with some of the problems I have.

The letter tells a different story.  I have been referred to the Asperger's Carers Support Group (sic) and been told that I have been discharged from psychoanalytical psychotherapy as it has been decided that it would be of no help to me at this time.  If I have any queries I am to take them up with my GP rather than contact them directly.

I think I was just politely told to "fuck off".

Thing is, despite the fact that I really didn't like the session, I feel like I've failed some great test of character.  I feel like my father was right when he asked me to consider that therapy wasn't for people like me.  I feel...  Well, I don't think a support group for carers of people with Asperger's will be able to do much for me and, if they can, will likely diagnose me as what I fear I am: lazy emotionally and generally just lazy.

I'm angry at myself.  I'm angry at the fact I'm so messed up even therapists can't say things to my face and write it in letters instead.  I'm angry that I'm too pig-shit stupid to be helped by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over the best part of a year and then fail to even get a look in with something else.  Basically, I'm either Aspergic, in which case nothing changes but things at work become slightly more condescending and unhelpful or I'm just a nob, in which case nothing changes at all.

Get the violins out...


Beer Review: Riggwelter

Moan moan moan.  Sounds like someone needs a beer.

Tonight it is the turn of my professed favourite: Riggwelter, brewed by those gosh-darned Black Sheep people up in Masham.  Whilst I've been to Masham I've never made it to the breweries, either of them, and so I have never really had Riggwelter properly.  Indeed, it's first outing in my mouth was when it was chilled!  Sacrilege!


The first thing to hit you with this is the aroma, and I use that term rather than smell most deliberately.  It is warm and malty with a hint of hoppiness about it adding spice to the musty flavourings.  There is a slight fizz as you open the bottle and it adds sparkle to the nose obviously but without being over powering or difficult to handle.  Also it stays on the light side of fizz so that it doesn't take the alcohol straight to your head.  At 5.7% ABV that is probably for the best, you want to take this one slowly and in good company for talking, avoid trying to drink too quickly.

First mouthful is an odd one, the smell does not really prepare you as well as it ought for that taste.  Initially there is a fizzy malty taste and that is exactly as it sounds: odd.  However, there's a definite hit of hops that follows, coming in as the fizz rises slightly mid-sip, and this balances things nicely.  There is a hint of yeast there too, but it is not too bad and only serves to keep that spicey heat up a notch as you let it wander down toward your gullet.  The after-taste is pleasantly hoppy and it reminds you that it has some fizz as it disappears downward.

It is not a friend of the spicy pizza I had for take-away tonight.  However, I know it to be a good companion to lamb, properly done mince and most meats that are roasted.  It is a Sunday beer, one you crack out to have with a big meal involving home-grown vegetables and lashings of proper meat-juice gravy.  Not for Riggwelter your shop bought roast potatoes and gravy granules, no, this is a farmhouse beer for a farmhouse day of toil.  Well, okay, I can't claim to have ever done anything like that in my life but it is definitely something to work up a thirst for.  It's better as part of a brace too, and if you can handle your drink, you could go for a third but no more.  Three is enough for anyone.

Drink in company.  Have a deep conversation on hand.  Avoid glasses, drink straight from the bottle or get it on tap.  Eat a mighty roast meal, be carnivorous if you can - a nut roast might cut it actually, with mushrooms and cashews, I digress - and make sure there are plenty of proper vegetables that are roughly cut and picked and cooked.  Sit at a proper wooden table, wait until it's dark and drink this with a dim lamp or under candle-light.  I think this is a winter beer - though any season is good for it.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Muzak

No real reason, but a place to put some music that's been jingling in my head of late.


Yes, this would be the second version of this that I've posted.  I like the way that dubstep is so bloody obnoxious - there's no way you can avoid the noise and no way you can weather it if it's not your bag.  For this reason it works well with the lyrics of the song, I guess, and I've heard dubstep covers that fail miserably too.  This one works.  I rather like it.


Another melancholy offering by the Pet Shop Boys.  For this reason I may buy the alb- oh who am I kidding?  I'm a bit of fan of them so I'll be buying it with a girlish squee regardless of overall quality.  However, this video seems to add a layer to the lyrics and the story.  It's a random road journey in Tokyo so far as I can tell but it seems to carry a narrative when combined with the song.  An example of the visuals enhancing a song.  Good to watch late at night with the lights off or down low, in my opinion.  Has been replayed in the dark with the Boy asleep close by a few times.  Play it alone and savour it.


I heard this one again on Ashes to Ashes in series three, in the last few episodes.  They used it really well, the horrid choking laugh of Phil Collins being used to go over the part where Gene Hunt leans in to another character and tells him something that has the hard man screaming in fear.  I like the story of this too.  Always struck me that it was a murderer doing the talking to a potential victim who may or may not be the prostitute he's singing about.  I like the veiled violence and threat in the way Collins sings the line "Now get down, down here, beside me.  O-o-h, you ain't goin' nowhere" but that's just me.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have frustration and anger as actual emotional states.  If guilt is an emotion we can add that, but mostly just those two.  Otherwise I tend to be a block of wood.

Ah! Crises partly weathered

As if there's another kind of crisis...


This is, in fact, the laptop I'm working on.  Okay, not
exactly but one very much like it.
So, my laptop refused to connect properly to the internet.  I knew that there were no techies about while this was the case, hence the post the other day, but got it sorted anyway.  Knowing exactly how the internet monitoring software at work works helps now and again.  Back in the early days of my job I looked into it for when I was in computer rooms with students, I probably have a better handle on it than the techies these days, though no access to it.

Anyway, the laptop is now safe from snooping again and I am free to access sites and what not.  I'm mulling over the issues at Rachel's Haven too.  As I'll explain later I'm not cash-rich but... As part of a community there are certain obligations.  I don't have long and they need the support.

Also there are people who are more in need than I.  People who need support and sympathy and the like far more than me.  I shall be moaning, be aware, but if you'd prefer not to wade through it then find some way of helping lovely people like Leslie, Elle and Steffi - who appear to be having times of things.  Different reasons and different depths, but still in need of support and knowing how awesome they are.  For real or no, I'm not in a position to give that support, perhaps you are?

Now the big questions are all money related.  It seems that I can't ever get a financial safety net up and running these days enough to invest in stuff.  Back in the day, before I had a mortgage, I was saving about £400 to £600 a month from my wage packet.  After my car exploded and I had a mortgage and Tilly had moved in I was managing £800 a month, but this was spent on our wedding.  Now... Now we're about a grand short each year.  This means I have to take extra marking on each year.  Last year, as I've said on here before, I was about a grand down on the finances after earning about a grand that way.  This year I decided to take on two sets of external marking and not go mad during the summer.  We have reined in our spending considerably and looked set to gain about £800 in the year.  Ha!

My car failed a whole bunch of stuff on the MOT and set us back nearly a full thousand pounds.  We're in the black at the end of the year still, but only by removing day trips and replacing them with park visits and free museums.  Also, we've had to dial back on visiting friends that I haven't seen for a few years and simply avoid eating out.  It sucks.  I'm also mulling spending about £7 on Pet Shop Boys digital tracks.  I could buy the CDs but they won't arrive before we go on holiday on Friday.  Oh noes!  First World Issues!  Wouldn't be so bad but I'm also stressing about a whole host of other things.

The first of these is sleeping with the Boy.  I've waxed lyrical about the parenting choices being made by both Tilly and I before.  However, they were made with a number of provisos, including ones about me getting enough done work-wise.  I can't complain about lack of time for work.  Or rather, I find it harder to justify because Tilly makes a point of 'giving me time'.  I mean, it doesn't matter if I'm not in the mood to work when there's time or in the mood when there isn't (say I fancy working on a Tuesday but we've arranged for me to work on the Wednesday for example), I have been given the time and so Tilly makes it clear that I cannot complain about lack of time.  I guess I defence-mechanism (can I neologise that into a verb?) and tell myself that I can't really complain when what I mean is that I want to complain very much.  Digression.  Point is, if the Boy naps then I can kiss goodbye to an evening.  From about 4pm childcare is down to me for both offspring until the daughter sleeps (around 7pm) and then with the Boy until he sleeps.  This is usually around 8pm but he's napped a few times and then all bets are off - it can be as late as 10pm.

We have a holiday coming up with my father and my brother.  Neither of them, nor their respective spouses, share our ideas on parenting nor our rhythms.  They are very much mainstream.  Now, if that were all, that would be fine.  But it isn't.  They find it quite alright to criticise, and I mean criticise, what we do.  I do not criticise them.  Not even my father.  My brother is also a parent.  But they find it quite alright to judge what we have chosen to do.  Inevitably the Boy will nap on holiday and inevitably I will be out of action for much of the evening.  Inevitably they will judge us for that.  And I'm not very good at being judged.  I get angry and frustrated.  I have an urge to conform and I have an urge to please others.  It's not pretty.  I'm not looking forward to it.

Then there's my work.  I've managed to organise my room properly, only took four years to get round to it, and even got started printing shit for the first few weeks.  Nice.  But there's so much more to do.  And, as usual when faced with lots of stuff, I have avoided it.  I don't work terribly well when there's a deadline and shitloads where I don't even know where to start.  In the old days I could simply stare at it for four weeks then do something about it.  I no longer have that luxury.  And I seem incapable of change.  So, expect moaning from me about support programmes and workplace unfairness well into the new year.

Then there's my stash.  I should explain.  In an effort to keep things private I've been storing images and captions and stuff, especially the things that people have gone to the time and trouble to make for me, on a particular memory stick.  It was an old one, dating from 2004, and a small one.  In this way I could be reasonably certain that no one would go snooping on it.  Well, it died and with it has gone pretty much all my images and stories.  Most of them I'm sure I can find again online or in my e-mails but there were three of me en femme taken by Catherine.  I'm not sure, given my wife's proclivities, whether I can ask for another copy of these, I'd done a good job of removing them from everywhere else.  I didn't even know I was attached to them if I'm honest, such is the way of things.

What follows is some random musing on stuff that's... well, not my usual league.  It gets pretty personal.  I've included what I hope is a break so you don't have to read on if you don't want to.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Brevity

Going to sleep with the Boy limits my time online.  Having a laptop that now insists on using a VPN to access the internets slows me down even more and may compromise my ability to access this blog in the future.  I'm working on a fix.

In the meantime... we've been watching Ashes to Ashes.  I can now recommend that.

I tried an applicator tampon.  Don't know why and not for long either.  Not sure what to make of it.  Felt more like a compulsion than a fetish.  Ended up wearing knickers for a day too - ran out of boxer shorts.

Ack, best not tarry, connection is crawling.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Beer Review: Goldings

Tilly's mother has been up to visit and we have had some adventures with the children.  The Boy, in particular, has found it a good time to start kicking me in the crotch and being more violent whilst remaining cute and lovely generally.  If it weren't for the fact that he is, generally, awesome, I think I'd hate him.  I may also be addicted to wooden train sets.

Anyway, we had some posh grub for a meal (no, really, we don't know what else to call it) that is made of some fried chorizo on a bed of green beans, butter beans, new potatoes and green pesto.  We had some mozarella and beef tomato topped ciabattas for starters too.  Yes, it was posh.  All this posh food demanded a beer.

That beer was Goldings, brewed by the Marton's brewers who did Sovereign in the same line of 'single hop' beers, so I was expecting something a wee bit special.


I was not disappointed.  It is a lite beer, weighing in at 4% ABV, but has a taste that more than makes up for it.  There will be no light-headed feeling as you drink this but the warm taste and clever scent will mean that you won't mind.  I don't quite know how it happened, I certainly didn't plan it, but this was the perfect companion to the salty and spicy taste of the chorizo and balanced nicely with the mustier green pesto.  The bottle claims that there will be spices, caramel and honey in the flavour.  I don't know about that.

It's a blonde ale, something that I'm beginning to realise I quite like in my beer, and the smell of it was strong without being over powering.  There was a sharpness to it, to be sure, but not enough to be citrus or pungent enough to be like Christmas pudding.  That fact that these two analogies spring to mind when attempting to describe it should tell you something about it though.  The beer itself was steadfast, the taste did not yield easily and this was not a bad thing.  You could tell it was brewed from a single variety of hop and there was something viscous about it too, that would be the honey the label boasted about I guess.  I found it warm without the fire of fuggles and it put me in mind of long evenings, good food and good conversation.  It was a sharing beer, it demanded that I have others taste it and compare notes.  Alas, the notes weren't great but did prompt Tilly to suggest that she ought to record what she thought so she could become more educated about beer.  Like I'm an expert.

Yes, it's one I would have again.  It is a beer that would stand a couple of bottles without making me too drunk to appreciate it or becoming overpowering in taste like what happened with Sovereign when I tried two in succession.  To enjoy it at its best I suspect you need a few friends round.  I also would advise having something spicy as a main and something tangy to start - lemon drenched crayfish followed by prawn-based spicy risotto would work, as would garlic mushrooms with paella to follow (chilli used liberally in the meat).  Give each sip of this time to go down and eat slowly, you won't be disappointed, and it will help pace a good conversation about setting the world to rights.  Don't expect to move from the dinner table to anything other than a veranda under an open sky or bed though, you aren't going to be watching TV or anything as pedestrian as that after this beer.  In fact, this probably works better than even a Trashy Blonde as an opening to blonde ale in general.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

That Boy Needs Therapy!

And he also made false teeth!
I went to my psychotherapy assessment session on Tuesday.  It was a hard session.  A very hard session.  Mainly because I didn't really know what to talk about and I got called out on my tendency to say a lot without actually scratching the surface.  Sex and sexual fantasies featured heavily and I just couldn't bring myself to really divulge them or even explain the ones I did share very well.  When it came to questioning about cross-dressing a dissembled and changed the subject rather quickly.  Go me.  I can't even be open when it's likely to help.  Also, the therapist ended the session rather oddly.

No, I don't know who made this so I can't
give proper credit.  I do know it came from
SissyKiss though, so you should go there.
So, I'm going to try and be open here.  If sexual fantasies aren't your thing (and would mine be of any interest to anyone else anyway?) then don't read the entries marked "fantasy"!  I'll be adding a new term too, like the beer reviews.  If they are of interest, then that's fine too.  Just know I'm posting them on here to break my block on them rather than to titillate so I do apologise if they don't hit any sweet spots.  Oh, and I posted a new page on here for new visitors to the place, I think there's a need of a welcome landing place, so it's up there at the top.  Do let me know what you think and if I need to change anything (Elle, dear, I'm sorry, blogger was not kind and I couldn't say where I got the lovely caption from, I hope to change it later!).

Before I get to the part that I'm not sure anyone will want to read I do want to share this: the therapist's ending statements.  He said that he was confused because there were two opposing parts to everything that had been said in the session.  Now, I don't see them as being opposing, nor even unconnected, but this is what he said.  He said that on the one hand I seemed unable to understand my own or others' emotions and largely didn't seem to understand what the purpose of them was but, on the other, I gave this "deeply moving" account of someone who had put their own emotions to one side for most of their life while trying desperately to work out what other people wanted so that I could give that to them.  On the basis of that dichotomy, he used that term, he wanted me to be checked out for being Aspergic.  He believed, quite strongly, that most of my issues (not all, he was careful to add) were down to the fact that I was highly autistic and likely Asperger's Syndrome afflicted.  So... uh... there you go.

It'll be two weeks until he writes the letter (no, really, he said it woud take that long) and, presumeably, a few weeks more before I get an appointment.  Such is the way of things with our dotty Uncle NHS.