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. 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 "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" 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!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

I didn't get where I am today

I find the sentiment to be appropriate.  It's a Pet Shop Boys song (see video at the end) that I've often found clever.  The chorus suggests that more will follow, and usually it does, such as "without living that old cliche" or "without getting in someone's way".  Toward the end though they just repeat "I didn't get where I am today" with no completion of the statement.  To me it suggests something else.  I don't know exactly what they're driving at, but it resonates with me.  I really believe that I didn't get where I am today.  I'm a teacher.

A lazy student: that's me.  However, I was considerably
less pretty and visually appealing while doing it.
Calculating and bearded, well, slightly, maybe; but
not pretty.
I never wanted to teach, when people suggested it to me as a potential option given my long university career I always said that I would never have the patience and that I would be far too wordy and boring.  Nevertheless, being useless with dates and lazy meant that I missed the deadline for applying for a Doctorate in History and was told I'd have to wait another calendar year.  Having used most of my savings to pay for my MA and not fancying a year of working in a shop (I'd used that to supplement my savings in my MA) or something equally banal I went looking for a year's course that would keep me in education and safe from the Real World (tm).  I alighted on teaching as there was a £6000 bursary and I figured that it was a year long.  All I had to do was stick the course and then apply for a Doctorate at the end and move on, having hopefully lived frugally enough to keep some of the bursary back as savings to pay my way through it.

I got the gig, without actually being prepared, there was no way I did it alone.  I had failed to prepare, as asked, a presentation on effective teaching and really mooched through the tests and the process.  I put the fact that I got on the course entirely down to God. I'd attended a school as an observer, as suggested, and ended up being scared witless by the students and the stresses of school life.  I hated it.  I used to go home after a day there practically crying (I managed to fail on that after the first day and had a rude awakening when some of the students I'd met that day passed me and I had to hide the tears).  I fully believed that I would fail the course and then apply for a Doctorate.

Here He is, intervening on my behalf.  In all seriousness, I do
believe that getting into teaching was His plan and not mine.
Whether or not that is still true I don't know.  I haven't
phoned much lately.
I didn't fail.  My first placement was really encouraging.  I couldn't control the classes, which worried me as it was a fee-paying school, but I could create the odd interesting lesson.  I teach History.  It is the easiest teaching job going because I don't have to waste time trying to get students enthused.  History just is interesting.  All I have to do is show the History to the students and bingo, they're hooked.  I created what I refer to as 'The Nazi Lesson' by accident in that first placement, and thus recieved many plaudits.  My second placement was much stormier, they didn't like me and I was a bit shit in general.  But I applied for and got a job.
Four years later I applied for and got a job as a Head of Department because the school I was going to had a near invisible History Department with no real presence.  In the space of the first term, by Christmas, I had built the Department up enough that all students knew who we were, who I was, and our options were over doubled.  By the end of the first year I had quadrupled the Sixth Form entry for History, doubled it for Politics and results in A Level were up generally.  In the second year results began to pick up in GCSE, slowly, and the A Level were up again.  By that point I had wrestled control of whole school events for History and the Department was so well known among students that staff were coming to us to ask how we'd done it.  My stolen discipline system for the Department was working so well that we had voluntary buy-in from Geography and RE and even the senior leadership were intrigued despite themselves.  I had gained the respect of the Heads of Year, who also supported our systems and noted that many students felt 'cared for' by History where they did not in other Departments.  But the behaviour generally got me down.  I was miserable.

Also, I'd had to force a member of staff out, which left me feeling like a heel.  Don't get me wrong, it had to be done and she ended up in a higher paid job that was less stressful for her, but it was still a horrible thing to have to do.  I found that hard to live with and was aware that other staff viewed me with fear because of it.  I do not do well being feared, I don't want people's fear.

So, in the scond year, I applied for 56 jobs, got interviews for 27 and attended 18.  At the end of that I got a job in the school I got my first job in again, as a Second in Department.  The rest is elsewhere on this blog.

What's my point?  I didn't get where I am today.  I didn't do any of that.

Last night I attended a Battle of the Bands because one of my first form students was there.  He left school two years ago, left the place I worked before that... When I started teaching he was a member of my form group.  They were my form until I left four years later.  He left after one more year to go to Sixth Form College because, and I paraphrase him, I was not there to teach him History.  When I went back half way through his Sixth Form studies this student came to me to coach him through the History course he was doing elsewhere.  He came out to me first among adults that were not his family as gay, asked advice about his year-out, shared his frustrations with modern society and then asked me to attend this Battle of the Bands thing (okay, this is over three years).  So, yeah, I attended.

Two staff talked to me there.  They told me that I was well-liked by the student body.  They said I should go out with staff more often and that I was more liked and respected than they thought I realised.  They intimated my Head of Department, my boss, was not a nice person and that the reason I was being picked on was due to her ineptitude and fear of my standing with the students.  The teacher who'd organised the Battle of the Bands spoke to me that night too.  I enjoyed the music, the students were excellent and I got involved in the dancing (I do that, I can't actually dance, but give me a song I enjoy played loud enough and I'll jerk spasmodically with the rhythm).  Obviously I played up my poor dancing for laughs, there were students there - how could I take myself seriously?  This prompted this other teacher to comment "Sir, thank you for coming, everything the kids say about you, all I've heard, it's all true!"

This was echoed further in an e-mail today where this teacher, presumeably more sober than last night, re-iterated his thanks for my attendance and his admiration for my standing with the students.

But I didn't do this.  I didn't get where I am today.

Me as a teacher.  Except that I'm not
that pretty.  Or allowed to wear
I am a mirror, as a teacher, I simply reflect back to students their enthusiasm and hard work.  If students aren't interested then I'm not either.  If they're not hooked, I'm not either.  If they don't work then I sure as Hell don't.  In me students only see themselves, their good points.  I'm not beating myself up about this, I don't even know why I feel I need to record it, but I do.

Earlier that day I attended the recording of a political radio show for a national station.  I wasn't involved in the organisation of this but some of my colleagues were.  When I arrived the students corralled by those who were organising it looked to me for leadership, for praise for what they were doing and for advice if things weren't working.  Even the staff treated me like I was there as part of the organisation.  And I had an urge to take on that role, to help with the organisation.  It's what I do.

Before that the Police, Fire Service and Ambulance Service had run a day on road safety.  They had approached us to run it, free of charge, and they had organised every session.  All I did was provide rooming and student lists.  And run around on the day making sure everything was running smoothly, press some flesh and chase up other colleagues who hadn't done what they said they'd do.  I love that kind of work.  Really, I do, the thrill of sorting out problems, of smoothing potential conflicts, networking and making everyone feel valued and listened to - like their problems have had an airing, even if they haven't been solved.  The whole day was spent doing that, at a high level, and it was awesome.  This on the back of the job interview the day before.

And I didn't do that.  Everyone else organised it.  I didn't get where I am today.

In the job interview I was sanguine.  The lesson went well, the students enjoyed it and three spontaneously said that I should get the job when the purpose of my lesson was revealed to them by the observing teacher.  There was a student interview panel of six that, I was told, were split between those who would countenance no one else for the job and those who wanted anyone but me - the teacher that told me told me this as a negative as I had sort of ruined their process of selection.  In my actual interview I gave "left field" answers that were "interesting" but failed to tick boxes.  I was encouraged to think more about how I would tick those boxes in future interviews.

Il Duce.  Topless in snow.  Fascist ideal.
As an example, I was asked at one point to describe how I would lead a Department (this was the example used in my feedback too) and I responded that I would be a blend of Mussolini and Gandhi.  Mussolini was seen to lead by example, he was there doing the spade work, working all hours, the ultimate example of the Fascist ideal and a dictator - decisive and swift in public.  Gandhi, well, when a woman asked him to tell her son not to eat sugar because her son respected him more than his mother Gandhi told her to come back two weeks later.  She did.  He took the son to one side and said "Son, don't eat sugar" and then walked away.  The mother chased after him and asked, rather angrily I imagine, why she'd had to wait two weeks for that.  Gandhi said: "dear woman, two weeks ago I myself ate sugar."  In other words he could not ask anyone to do something he was not doing.  Both of them were charismatic leaders.  Left field.  But honest.  Well, okay, I don't think of myself as that good, but my point is clear.

I didn't get the job, I ticked few boxes, but I took the "left field" as a compliment.  It wasn't meant as one.  However, again, I didn't do that.  I didn't get where I am today.

I have, however, written a mammoth post.  The Fascist ideal: image over substance.

On Thursday I saw my CBT professional.  My NHS funded sessions are coming to an end and I don't feel that I've actually done anything in them.  Oh, I've written some SMART targets, two compassionate letters and some guff about work.  I've been 'Mindful' for about twelve days, created a safe place and carried out a survey.  I've done chair work, I've read stuff on Compassion and rambled for hours about my parents and my family.  I've ranted about the situation at work and my worries that I'll lose my job or that I'll be 'found out'.  That is, people will one day see that I have done nothing and that I haven't got where I am today.  But I am no closer now to being 'fixed' than I was before I started therapy.  I shared this.  She was professional about it but I don't feel helped.  I'm not sure what therapy is supposed to actually do.  People look forward to their sessions, Tilly did, and people come away feeling better about who they are, they come away more fixed than broken.  I haven't and don't believe that I will either.

Today I shouted at my daughter.  But I lost it.  I forced her to pick up some paper and, in so doing, hurt her arms and accidentally scratched her side.  The worst bit about this is that I actually feel no remorse.  Part of me feels that the rudeness and the deliberate winding up of me and her brother was deserving of the response I gave.  Logically I know this to be completely unreasonable, she's three and I'm the adult.  Logically I know that my physical response means that I already lost the battle and that hurting her into the bargain goes beyond the pale.  Logically, I am in the wrong.  Emotionally I still feel justified.  I am still angry.  At me, at her and at Tilly who needed the lie in.  I am still very broken.

Something like this.  I wouldn't pass
though.  Again, I'm not this pretty.
In all of this I'm fixating on the boots.  Trying to work out how I could wear them and my dress and go for a walk in the woods.  Which route would mean that I won't be seen by dog walkers?  Where are the dry paths that could take the heels?  Would I need tights?  What about beneath the dress?  How long could I get?  How late would I have to go?  Do I put the dress on beneath my normal clothes or do I risk changing outside somewhere?  What about if I am seen?  Should I travel further afield?  Should I drive dressed to do that or should I change in the car?  I'm not worried about passing: my legs are very hairy and I have a straggly beard; the only wig I own was last used in 2005, still smells of the club I wore it to and is barely functional and I'm a bit tall for a woman.  Instead, I wish to remain anonymous, this would be for me and not for public consumption.  Like if I were dancing for real rather than for laughs - no one gets to see me do that: it's me and mine and private.

My grandmother is close to death.  I don't actually care one way or another.  My mother is distraught, of course, it's her Mum.  I deal with that by listening and then forgetting, I walk away when she's done on the phone.  Not my problem.  My grandmother has been a horrible woman most of my life and, truth be told, I don't feel anything for her.  I don't hate her or anything but the news of her condition registers about the same level as hearing about people dying in Syria.  No, a little lower than that I suppose.  My wife needs my support: she's not getting enough sleep but she has to choose between what happened this morning and sleep and she's finding that hard.  I can't support Tilly.  Or I won't.  Either way...  I'm broken.

I got where I am today on this level.

Enough, no one is still reading by this point.  That song:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Looking back

...over my shoulder. Ahem, can't seem to resist song references at the moment.
I had occasion to listen to Ludovico Einaudi in the car loud today, on the way back from work late as I was attempting to get the stuff ready for the interview I have tomorrow.  If you haven't heard it before, then press play on the video below and close your eyes.  It's worth it.

It's the music I associate with freedom and liberation.  In my head it's someone running home, through open fields with a flowing dress/ribbons or something and hair in the wind, it's sunny and the clouds part from a grey scene to reveal what I describe.  Long grass, pollen on the breeze.  So much for the imagery inside my head.

The interview.  I was tempted to get my favourite knickers out again, but they need a wash and airing before I can wear them again, and the selection in the local supermarkets is not really for it.  I ended up buying those boots though, yesterday and I forgot to say.

Again I find myself wondering why.  I read back to some of my first entries and realised that, back then, I was writing cogently and in detail about things.  Many of the things that I thought I hadn't covered at all I had in fact covered and done so in a good way.  No point detailing again.  I bought the boots: £7, can't complain, a quarter of the original price.  They're size 9, a little too big when I've tried them on, but there were no size 8s remaining.  I'm not sure why I bought them.  I'm not sure why I tried them on.  It's warm here at the moment, the summery weather is surprising given the fact that it's still March and it also means that I can't go wandering dressed outside: too many people are still out and about when I would do it.  Also, Tilly's mother is over.

It is stress, I know that's the trigger.  But stress on it's own does not explain why I gravitate towards cross-dressing.  Or buy boots that are designed for winter at the beginning of summery weather from a store that does cut-price fashion.  You know, the fashion of being cut-price, not fashionable items at a lower price.  My recent reading showed me many people that sound remarkably similar to the first few posts on this blog, and the later stuff, until about the middle of the Christmas period, when I seem to change slightly.  But now the stress is back.  And I'm acting out again.  I've had to move the shoes that I love so much from the back of the sofa, with Tilly's mother here we'll need to pull it out to make a bed - something we don't do if I sleep on it.  That means I'm back in the main bed tonight but no provision has been made for it, why it should be done for me I'm not certain.

The power isn't the same this time around though.  It was really hard to cope with it back in July and in October it was something that I was almost compelled to do.  It calmed down by the beginning of January but it's rising in pitch again now.  I stowed the boots and my shoes in the cupboard by the dorr and, of course, Tilly went in there to look for a ball for the children today apropos of nothing.  Did she look in the lower section, with all the, y'know, balls?  No, she searches in the top, narrowly missing the boots and the shoes in her searches.  I have to wonder if this is Him Upstairs trying to convince me not to go that way - the risk of discovery is huge and I know that Tilly has convinced herself that I'm not still doing it again.  Why?  Is this what I'm avoiding looking at?  Is this something that will be cyclical?  I know I'm ignoring things, I know that I am attempting to be honest but also that I am not being completely honest even with myself.

The knowledge that I own the boots makes me happy.  The thought of dressing outside in the combination of them and the dress makes me happy.  Just imagining it.  I read my Salad Ballad poem today.  I forgot... I forgot what it said.  I've posted here, but I didn't actually read that damn' thing.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Curiouser and curiouser

Sub-titled: "What the fuck is going on?" with thanks to the KLF and Y2K.

What?  I have a job interview.  In an effort to get out of Dodge before the new sheriff shoots me down (bang bang) I took a punt on a different job - it would put me in charge of a Department for the same money I'm on now but without also doing the job of co-ordinating the whole place four times a year or more.  The money is a good thing, but I'd miss the organising, I quite enjoy that art of my job.  I like where I am, I just hate the stress and the messing about with support.

My worry is twofold: I'll fail the interview (not an unlikely prospect) or I'll succeed and end up taking the job, as is my wont, and then I'll hate an entirely new job where I'll be pressured and hounded again because I'm still a mess and not fixed.

Still, I spent tonight preparing, meaning work due for tomorrow is not done (c'est la vie, ne pas?) and I haven't finished writing the next part of Relaity/Shifts, which was my other goal.

My mother rang, unhelpfully. My boss was delighted to hear of my interview and pulled out all the stops to be helpful and facilitate my planning.  At least I can now confirm what the purpose of all the support shenannigans has been.  And my mother just refused to listen on the phone.  I told her all, well, mostly all the reasons for my therapy and she just asked what I needed to fix - in her opinion Tilly doesn't work enough.  I very nearly scorched her with my tone.  Tilly works bloody hard to look after the family, I'm not having her have to take a job as well... Okay, no, it's more a case, so Tilly tells me and she's right, that she can't work because that would stress me out.  The last time she took a job after our daughter was born was a disaster because I simply could not cope with looking after our daughter for four hours on a Saturday and Sunday.  I was an absolute wreck after about a month and after three Tilly quit.

I'm good at big gestures, I'm shit at routines.

So.  A job interview.  What the fuck is going on?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Such is me...

One of the major themes in all that I have recorded is that I make mistakes that are difficult to rectify and that set things up incorrectly.  I also tend to sell myself short and do things without thinking about them.  I am spontaneous in all the wrong ways.  Impetuous?  Impetuous.

Last night was one of those impetuous moments.  Spread over a few hours.  I read huge amounts of commentary, articles, thoughts, stories... It was highly emotional and I couldn't react properly because I was reading a lot of it on my laptop whilst Tilly was in the room with me.  She didn't know what I was reading, wouldn't want to know, and so my responses were composed quickly: when I was on the loo, ostensibly, and then very late in the evening after getting our pet chinchilla out and then clearing everything up afterwards.

After posting my blog entry last night I realised what I'd done in what I'd said.  But I couldn't delete it, I was too tired and I'd already tried editing it without too much success.  But I knew that people would read it and take it in.  The problem with realising that I have an audience, I have discovered, is that I feel like I'm now having to self-edit as I go.  People have been so kind and commented, they have read what I have written and they have taken me seriously and now I worry what these very kind people are going to think of this random anonymous stranger on the internet that they have never met and that they probably will never know beyond this blog.  You'd think that the layers of anonymity (I use a different female moniker and male moniker on a forum I'm part of that deals with TG elements, a separate blog for my literary, non TG stuff and about six different e-mail accounts [not counting the ones I use for work, friends and business] to sign up to different TG related online forums that I don't even post on) would allow me to be honest.

Apparently not.  So let's try again.

I have very deliberately not looked up GID.  Like I deliberately avoided finding out what depression was until last year forced me to go into therapy (well, okay, Tilly did that, but you get the idea) and I was confronted with the truth of the fact that I was depressed.  As in diagnosably, not just feeling the blues particularly badly.  I have no idea if I have GID or not.  I don't want to know just yet.  Nor have I successfully come to terms with the desire to wear women's clothing.  That is, not the materials or the colours or the cut of women's clothes but very definitely clothes designed for women.  If I were living in Regency-era France I would be eying up dresses and eschewing platforms and heels or if I were living in Tudor times I would be eschewing corsets in favour of cinchers and skirts.  It's not a fetish about the clothing, though I have used it in the past in that way.

I can take or leave the captions - they're very good and I like them but I can walk away and never see another and be fine - but I cannot purge feminine items in my wardrobe.  I haven't worn my plaforms in about three months, but there they are, down the back of the sofa, waiting.  I haven't bought the boots in ASDA yet, but I do keep checking that they're there in my size and still on offer for £15.  Even throwing out a pair of knickers that I bought in 2004 because they had reached the point where they needed washing properly (stressful day at work on Thursday leads to BO) and because I couldn't just wash them was a difficult decision.  One that I regret even as I type this.

So no.  I can live without anarchy, indeed I kinda have to living in a state-dominated political system; I can live without sci-fi novels, again I haven't read one in a very long time; and I can live without the aftermath of a nuclear war, perhaps I'm better keeping that one a fantasy.  But I cannot live without the potential of wearing clothing designed for women.  Note that: potential.  I can't do without the potential, let alone the clothes themselves, the potential.  I don't know what I mean there, I was trying to clarify but I've just ended up muddying the waters further.

Since posting what I posted last night I have been stressed out of my tree and eaten away by, of all things, guilt about what I posted.  My 'easy-going' swift style and what I said cheapens everything I read and saw.  So I type this because it is too late to delete what I wrote.  And to all those that read last night's entry, my apologies.  I'm still not making sense.  I'll wrap this up now and hope it obviates the stupidity of my statements last night.

I once went to a hairdresser's and got a poor cut - only I was too timid to say anything.  I went to see my Mum, for I was a teenager at the time, and she said I had to get my money back.  I did.  The hairdresser was upset.  I tried to make things right by saying "don't worry, I won't be back".  It wasn't until I got about half an hour away that I realised what I'd said and what it meant.  Like last night.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A quickie

I've been reading and following rabbit holes.  I'm still mid-reading, mid-warren.  I also tend to emulate the style of what I read - so some people will already know to what I refer.  It's fascinating.  It's powerful.  It's helpful.  I am honoured to have been allowed to read it all.

I don't think I was clear on my last post and I think I need to write it down.  Tilly was right.  Is right.  About my self-sabotage, I mean, and how I affect the views of the people that know me.  It was what I was trying to convey in my last post and I don't think I did a terribly good job of it - no blame there, just an awareness that it is the case.

Some other points that I will record for the record:
1. I have the greatest of respect for anyone with GID - I'm fairly certain that I don't suffer from it.  It sounds like a hell of a thing to cope with!
2. I may fantasise about being a woman but I also fantasise about overly-complicated political systems and anarchy in practice, living in the aftermath of nuclear war, time-travel, telepathy and inter-steller space travel.  Make of that what you will.
3. I am creative.  All the time.  I just need to arrange my time so I can get it down!
4. I miss the woman I married sometimes (elucidation later? I don't know)
5. I hate it when the hour goes forward.  Stupid BST.  I always used to worry about it as a matter of course, but I could cope.  Then there was the year with Toby where we forgot together and turned up for a meal at her mother's an hour late - that was embarrassing.  Since then I've become a bit OCD about it all, and more than a little panicked.  I've been checking the clock on the digi-box (as it sets itself to radio signal) every morning for the past two weeks so I don't miss the transition - how stupid is that anyway?

That'll do for now, I said this was a quickie.

I have been profoundly and emotionally affected by the articles, commentary and discussion that I have followed so far over the last few hours.  There's more yet.  And, if you haven't, you need to listen to Big in Japan by Alphaville.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Work, Compassion and Time

One of the things that has nagged at me a bit over the last few days is positivity and how that affects things.  I know that I'm not terribly good at it but, in a more positive environment online, I realised that my own lack of positivity could be construed as being horrible to other people.  In all of my dealings with people I tend to be misinterpreted, there must be a reason why bad things, or unfair things, happen to me with the regularity that they do.  It can't be that the rest of the world is consistently wrong about how they treat me and, so, it must mean that there is something that I carry with me.

My ex-boss, with the megaphone, and how I felt, the woman.
In being harsh about myself and my own thoughts, wants and desires - in hating myself as much as I do - I may be projecting a view of myself that other people buy into and make real.  Tilly has spoken about this pretty often, actually, and is of the opinion that I create most of the problems that vex me on a day to day basis.  As long as I hate myself and the bits about me that I can't or won't change then it follows that she feels insecure and won't allow me to get close for fear of being hurt herself.  She explained on Sunday evening that she felt my own ill-opinion of myself was, in fact, insulting to her as she had chosen to marry me.  By being negative about my own personality, by doing myself down, I was essentially disrespecting her choice and insulting her intelligence.  The "if you only know what I was like" mantra implied that she was being duped, that she was somehow stupid.  The same thing has happened at work where my current boss has gone the same way as my previous.  Now, my last boss went a bit odd at the end and I was able to pretty much write off 90% of the horrible things he said about me and my performance as being down to the fact that he was slowly losing it.  However, now that an entirely new boss is making the same observations, often with the exact same wording, I don't have that luxury.  I am forced to conclude that I am that shit at what I do.

Except that Tilly suggests that this is not the case.  It is my successful projection of my own poor self-image and lack of self-respect that leads others to view me negatively and treat me with no respect.  My problems at work, she argues, are only problems because I have created them and convinced people of my own view about who I am and what I do.

Ah yes, the recent BBC Nativity.  Sacrily positive is the best way to describe both it
and the way in which Mary and Joseph must have felt about the news.
So why am I turning this over now?  Two reasons:
1. I haven't posted in ages and that's just rude;
2. On another forum I have recently discovered I made the observation that the people there were "scarily positive" - something that went down quite well it would appear, and so I was pleased that I had made people happy.  In another thread someone commented positively on someone else's shoulders and my instinct was to refer to my own as being substandard, in a jokey fashion - I have no real view of my shoulders.  But I brought myself up short.

If I suggested that my own shoulders were sub-standard, what was that suggesting about other people?  Did I have the right to call my own body into question without simultaneously calling in question other peoples' image of themselves.  It was a TG site, people were role-playing as female when they were clearly male.  There is no way anyone there resembled their avatars or was able to behave as they do there in real life, myself included.  What right did I have to tear away that rather obvious curtain?  There is no delusion there, merely a shared understanding that the people who play there, for play it is, agree to play by certain rules - the main one of which is that everyone there who wants to be is, in fact, a female.

Fear the impotent rage of the
cute bunny.  Except, well, I'm
not cute.
I look at myself.  I'm 30, with two children and a wife.  I hold a position of some responsibility at work and I am able to affect the way impressionable people feel about themselves and the world around them that is not afforded to many.  In fact, I actively seek to do that to a particular pattern and in a particular way.  And I'm open about that so that those being impressed upon know that I am attempting to do that - it seems only fair.  I treat them with respect and I treat them, where I can, with as close an approximation of compassion as I can muster without actually feeling it.  I'm bearded, hairy, pretty sweaty and a bit gangly.  I do not dress fashionably, take little care over my appearance, don't do much of anything with my hair, skip breakfast as a matter of course now, deny myself sleep and insult myself on a regular basis.  When my daughter, who is three, treats me with disrespect my usual response is to take it and walk away.  She's three and I take it seriously, I respond the same way as I do when my boss treats me like that.  Tail between legs, whipped puppy expression, little bunny Foo-Foo impotent rage.

And all of that just makes me hate myself even more.  Which, in turn, increases the disrespect from others and makes it all the harder to stand up to it, thereby starting the cycle all over again.  And though I know how to break it, I'm still not doing it.  This makes it even worse.  I'm tired.  I have so much to be positive about, and I'm not being positive about it.

Speaking of that, I'm hoping to get back to my writing.  I have another part, I have another story too.  I even have something for the literary blog (I'm avoiding TG/CD themes there for some reason).  I just need time.  Oh, did I mention I ran out of boxers again - more accidental cross-dressing, but mine this time, not Tilly's.
One of my 'inspiring images' collection.  Yes, it is something to
do with Reality/Shifts, how can you tell?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Celebration pt1

Reality/Shifts Chapter 1 - The Rescue: part 1, part 2, part 3
CHAPTER TWO - The Celebration

In the darkness of the stable, with the whinneying of the knight's horse from beyond the low wooden stall, Pete ruminated on his fate idly. Despite his fatigue, despite his long ordeal, he found sleep difficult to come by and stubbornly refusing to march at his whim. At least the straw was not as wet as the ground had been the night before and he had been sitting for long enough that it was comfortably warm rather than the ice cold the previous night had brought him. Perhaps he would yet get used to being out of his time, though the chances of him ever getting used to having his wrists bound together seemed slimmer than ever.

After the rescue from certain death he had been hitched to the saddle of the still nameless knight's horse.  For her part, she had continued to call out in the weird mix of Latinate and gutteral Germanic language to the villagers. It was almost unsurprising when she had ensured his bound wrists were above the rope attaching his neck to the saddle straps. Now that same leash was tied to a ring in the wall above his head, his wrists still kept above it, and he was too tired to bother trying to change that. At first he had toyed with the idea of untying the rope and making off into the night but had rejected this on several grounds. Firstly, he didn't know the lay of the land nor where he would head towards, this was not a terribly advanced society and so an unaccompanied person with bound wrists would attract all the wrong kind of attention. Secondly, there was the fact that the only other person in the village who seemed able to speak and understand English was the nameless knight who had rescued him. The fact that she was beautiful and, yes, alluring, though that admission came hard for Pete, had something to do with how much he wished to wait on her. So he was tied up, that at least ensured that none of the villagers would be attempting to try anything with him.

They had stopped near a stream to let the horse drink. She spoke a few low words to the Page, a small lad in his teens if Pete were to guess, who then nodded emphatically and disappeared into the undergrowth nearby. Then she approached him and considered him afresh. Her helm was still damaged but she had eschewed her cloth protection now in favour of a simple bandana wrapped around the lower jaw to protect her feminine identity. It didn't hide much for Pete but that was because he had spied the difference already, to anyone else it would have been very effective.

"You may speak."

Pete hadn't been prepared for that, but he did have a question. "Um, any chance I could, uh... well, that is..."

"Out with it!"

"Sorry, just... I need the loo." It was obvious that the slang was lost on his captor for the moment, "Toilet? I need to... uh... defecate?"

She stared at him, a frown developing in a way that made him a little wary of her. It was almost as if she was waiting for something, he wouldn't have been surprised to see her foot tapping with impatience but for the fact that her armour would have made it uncomfortable. As it was, her expression also made it completely unnecessary.

"Uh... My Lady."

"Good." He had guessed correctly. "You may attend to your toilet. But I get to watch."

"My Lady, I... I would rather not mess..." he paused, considering how best to phrase his complaint. Reluctantly, he realised there was only one way to make himself clear, "I would rather not mess my dress, my Lady."

Her eyes sparkled for a moment and he could have sworn she almost giggled, but then the serious look returned and her stance stiffened. "Of course, fair maiden, I shall do my utmost to preserve your dignity." With that she stepped forward and lifted his skirts up, folding them through his arms and over the rope keeping his wrists together.

Remembering the way he had been 'dealt with' by Claire and Vanessa made Pete blush a deep crimson. It was obvious that the knight was looking and had seen the fact that he was kept in chastity, for the first time since his arrival that made him squirm a little, it seemed the situation was actually making it uncomfortable. Brilliant, thought Pete, now I'm actually getting off on this.

"I see," she said enigmatically and without any discernible emotion. "I shall not watch. I have seen. Call for me when you are ready for modesty to be returned, fair maiden." There was no mistaking the wry amusement in her form of address though, nor the look of genuine concern that flashed across her features so fast that he almost missed it. Either that or his predicament was colouring his worldview, whichever was most likely.

So it was that Pete had crouched uncomfortably and felt for the first time the strange feeling of peeing through plastic and taking a dump directly into a stream. It helped that he had spent a night trying to hold it all in, but the embarrassment remained and the feeling of being irredeemably dirty lingered long after he had finished. Afterwards he was reminded of the fact that the Middle Ages had no toilet paper nor any need for washing and, shortly after that, that human excrement floated in water most of the time. His rescuer said nothing as she pulled his skirts back into place and adjusted them to make them clear of grass and twigs. Leaning in she took his hair again, gently, and stared at his eyes.

"I have been here too long, methinks, fair maiden." Then she pecked him on the forehead in a move that caught them both off guard. For a moment the air was pregnant with promised, even the birds surrounding them seemed to hold their breath and the woods moved to cover their eyes respectfully but a rustling heralded the return of the Page with a dead rabbit and it was gone.

Remembering the incident reminded Pete of the restrictions of the corset and the annoyance of his chastity once more. It may have been the first time since his arrival that it had been an issue but it certainly hadn't been the last. He had drunk well, surprised by the taste of the weak beer in the knight's wineskins until he remembered the images of his waste washing down the stream, and been given some bread that had been most welcome. Now the cooling night air brought sounds of revelry and music drifting down from the uppermost floor of the great hall.

It turned out that the 'Hetman' of the village lived beyond the road where Pete had first been overpowered, a few hours' walk from the tree he had been tied to to await the dragon. Here he lived in a long hunting hall, very Saxon looking with carved wood and a thatched roof, that shared a small courtyard with a wood and stone church. Thick walls, small windows and the smell of burnt tar or pitch hung in the air as they had approached and was still there, beneath the saltier smell of roasting pork from the hogroast in his rescuer's honour and the smell of vegetables in the pottage. She had explained, of course, that she would need to negotiate with the leader of the village: although she had claimed him as her own chattel the village had still asserted ownership. That would mean one of two outcomes: she would keep him as payment for slaying the dragon or they would be forced to account for the fact that he was not their property, if they could not produce his father or husband, and thus she would increase her estate by demanding fealty.

Is this getting too wordy?  Let me know if it's still working, I feel like I'm forcing some of this.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Jesus Christ, Moon Nazis and Fascism

Not often I can get the concepts in the title into the same sentence but this last week has allowed me to do just that, rather effectively.  It's been a bad few days, just over a week, and I've found things hard to deal with: I'm not one for confrontation, despite my strong words on here, and I tend to think ill of myself regardless.  I have a problem when other people criticise me or what I'm doing in that I immediately take what they say as gospel.

At the same time, things have not been all bad.  I have discovered a film that I abso-positively-lutely have to see, it's out in the UK on 20 April and the US on 4 April this year, which looks awesome.  From that I have found a group whose approach to music I seem to enjoy and, through them, I have discovered a version of a song that I already enjoyed (Tilly's fault) that seems a bit more real and honest than some of the stuff I've heard.  Although the song is a cover, I get the impression that the lyrics are being sung with a real raw honesty.  Mind you, I could just be reading into it things that aren't there.

I'm sorry, but any film that has 'Moon
Nazis' as a principal term, let alone the
bad guys, gets my vote.  The fact that the
tagline of the whole silly enterprise is
"The Battle for Earth is Gonna Get Nazi!"
is just the icing on the cake!
First, the film.  I was talking to Catherine on Google+ and she asked me if I had heard of a new film that seemed my sort of thing: Iron Sky.  I hadn't, so I looked it up, naturally that's what I would do it being close to midnight and having a busy day at work coming up, what else would I do?  I saw the first trailer and I was hooked.  I rapidly became obsessed with the song there that was an original, but only rather short.  There's a fan extended version that I played a few times.  Then there was a second trailer, and a third and now a fourth.  Then there's the actual theatrical trailer.  In those latter ones there was the song B Maschina that I decided to hunt down.  At first I thought it was another original that had been created for the film, it did fit rather well, so imagine my suprise when the original turned up by Siddharta.  However, I discovered that the original lacked something from the film version that I enjoyed.  This version was a cover version by Laibach.

So, obviously, I went searching for them too.  I found some more of their stuff that I rather liked and started playing it a lot.  Then, this evening, when looking after The Boy, I discovered, by accident, this.  I think I may be as obsessed with this as I was with my shoes when I bought them.  But that doesn't surprise me much, I have an addictive and faddish personality when confronted with such things.

Did someone call for help?
Still, the work situation has prevented me from posting and from getting any further with Reality/Shifts which is a little upsetting as I was enjoying writing it.  The long and the short of it is that I feel I am being given mixed messages and unclear instructions that are designed to ensure I don't follow them exactly.  I won't fail so much as be subjected to continuous stress in the guise of 'support', which it plainly isn't, until such time as my new superior can get rid of me and appoint someone that she chose to the position.  It's not fun, and not helped by the fact that I'm pretty wet and generally irritating when I do my whipped puppy impersonation.  Anyone who speaks to me for any length of time inevitably gets bored of the fact that nothing about me changes and the fact that I let people use me as a doormat.  I'm a bit weak and pathetic in that sense.  Is it any wonder that the work I have most affection for of my own is a story about a cross-dressed male damsel in distress being rescued by a female knight in shining armour?

The situation at work is not helped by the small matter of my inability to use situations to my advantage and my tendency to gravitate toward lying and cheating despite my outwardly high morals.  When my old superior was leaving he gave me some documentation on his replacement that I wasn't supposed to see.  I read it, it was gold in the sense that it was a document that showed the incoming replacement was deeply flawed.  I kept it, of course, to crow over in private and remind myself of her failings when I needed a pick-me-up.  Then I forgot about it.  And she found it.  Now, there's no proof I have read it, owned it or even seen it before she found it.  But she suspected me.  She knows, I know she knows and she knows I know.  Now she's found the motivation to destroy me.  And I have lied through my teeth to everyone who'll listen that I was unaware of the document.  This is hardly a christian approach to such things and may explain my current obsession with the Laibach cover mentioned earlier, and the honesty with which I feel they sing the lyrics.  Not that I agree with the lyrics, incidentally, I just enjoy the music and find the set up intriguing.

This evening I shall have some beer.  I shall have some shit in a pot (Pot Noodle mostly) and I will do bog all until I sleep.  And I will enjoy it.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Articles in the press

Earlier this week there was a brace of articles in the Mirror and followed up in the Express that, for some reason caught my eye enough that I decided to read further.  It turned out that a female-to-male cross-dresser had sexually assaulted two other girls.  What made me read them more closely was the fact that, although all the girls were the same age and a sexual assault had occurred, both articles focussed almost exclusively on the cross-dressing of the perpetrator.  Not the fact that she had shown no remorse, not the fact that she had only met her victims twice before the assaults, but her cross-dressing.
Now, sexual assault is always wrong (if people 'want' to be assaulted then it is consensual and no longer assault, so I know that I'm not including some of the more rough 'play' out there, but that ain't my bag either) and it is horrible that these events took place.  That all of the girls concerned were able to go far enough beyond their comfort zones for such things to happen (the articles weren't terribly clear about what the assaults were beyond confirming that they didn't go beyond heavy petting - which I suppose is a mercy) is pretty bad.  These were all legal minors in the UK.  I would have though that this news would have been the real story, the shocking bit.

The attacker: Gemma Barker.  Posed as six different 'lads' online
and dated one victim twice under different pseudonyms.
Assault is bad enough, but there's a chilling undercurrent here!
No, most of the articles were on the cross-dressing.  With some rather bizarre conclusions that, given my own predilictions, I find a little concerning.  Firstly there was the comment by the Mirror's own forensic psychologist stating that the perpetrator "in dressing as the opposite sex" displayed clear signs of "psychopathy" and was "most likely autistic" which "unfortunately cand never be cured" and that the best that could be hoped for was "a more secure caring environment".  These words chilled me to the bone.  The psychologist mentioned that the lack of remorse was a giveaway for the psychopathy comment, but the cross-dressing was used as evidence of the autism and a "deeply disturbed" young girl.

Pardon me?

The 'cross-dressing' was limited to wearing baggy clothes to hide her frame (so no major attempt to bind a fairly well-developed chest according to the published pictures) and keeping the hood up to hide her hair.  She posed as a male on facebook to talk to her potential victims.  This is considered deeply disturbed?  Every male geek who ever posed as a woman on the internet is now potentially a sex-offender!  Or is it because she's a female?  Are they not allowed to have such urges?

The victims.  One of them, the one who was said to be suicidal
after learning that her attacker was a female, dated the attacker
twice under different names - both times being attacked.  Terrible
but something isn't adding up right...
Then there was the reaction from one of the victims who was quoted extensively in both articles claiming that the perpetrator had left her close to suicide because of what she did.  She claimed that her life had been ruined.  So far, so terrible.  Then it got... well, weird.  She went on to explain that "I feel like someone has died" because when she was told her 'boyfriend' was a girl "that person that I loved was a lie, he was gone and that was as good as him being dead".  Um... Hold on a minute here.  She loved him?  Okay, don't get me wrong, as I said, that this happened is terrible but... I don't know, something about this makes me very worried indeed.  There's an undertone.  There's a rising pitch.  And I just wonder about which direction this is going to go next.

To my mind there are several angles on this: were the assaults only reported when the 'boy' turned out to be a cross-dressing girl?  What makes the fact that the assailant was a cross-dressing girl any worse than the assailant being anyone who lulled someone else into a compromising position and assaulted them?  Why does the reveal that someone you love is a different gender than you thought make that love invalid?  Surely the fact that the attacker was unrepentant in court and emotionless and stuff makes that invalid, it has nothing at all to do with gender.

However, I know that I concievably come under two of the headings raised in these articles: cross-dresser and autistic (not actually but close enough for my wife to joke about it) and so anything I say about "love is love" is necessarily tied up in my bias.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Another Compassionate Letter

I'm going to try this again, because my therapist asked me to have a go and I see them tomorrow.  My last attempt ended up being... less than compassionate.  Then I got side-tracked by writing (which has had to halt as I reached the end of what I have scribbled down and haven't had chance to write more due to work, so there's nothing to type up - my first drafts aren't terribly coherent, I want to avoid ruining it by going off on a tangent, like with the dialogue).  So, now's the time to do this again and try to be compassionate.
I looked up the definition of compassion.  Suffering together with or sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortune of others.  Tilly explained that it would be how she reacted to our daughter if she was saying that she hated herself or something: hugging her and telling her everything would be alright.  The recognition of the common humanity when watching something like the Challenger disaster (it's just been on a documentary) or when reading about Jesus touching lepers.  Both Tilly and my therapist are working on the assumption that I must have felt this at some point because that is, to quote Tilly, what makes us human.  But I don't recognise it.  I can happily understand other people and forgive them of errors and realise that they must feel bad, but I don't feel anything about that.

My Blog: Happiness
The Internet
Dear Joanna,
You try to make things run smoothly, which is a laudable aim, by covering for a colleague who was off work.  Well done.  No one else knew that anything needed to be done and didn't care anyway.  You also take the children out for walks in the woods when Tilly needs to do things at home. Both of these are good things.  Well done you.
It would be helpful to remember these points when you are berating yourself.  Your choices are half-chance, so are everybody else's.  The race is long and, in the end, it's only to the bar.  Everybody makes mistakes but, in the end, it's okay because we all end up the same way.  We leave this world as we enter it: with nothing.  What matters is what we do in the time inbetween.
You do understand the importance of feeling compassion to yourself, of re-wiring your ability to feel it when you have not experienced it from your parents.  You know that they were 'but' people and not given to praise.  The trouble is that you will never gain that compassion and praise, that ship has sailed, but unless you give yourself that compassion you will not be able to feel that compassion and you will be less able to provide nurture for others.  Keep trying.
This has been like pulling teeth and has taken the active participation of Tilly to even get as far as I have.  Worse, I've sacked off some work stuff that needs to be done in order to have the time to do it.  It's now too late to get that work stuff done tonight and I've been sleeping in late every morning lately.  The colleague whose been off work is back: his father died earlier in the year, then he had a daughter (the third) and then, six days later, his brother died.  His other brother is still in a coma following a bike accident at the tail end of last year.  The brother that died has been in a coma since last November because of a disease/virus he picked up on holiday in the summer.  See, compared to that, (he came back to work today) my life is just peachy.  I don't feel I have the right to need compassion - his need is greater than mine, right?
My issues are mostly self-inflicted, in a sense.  Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed writing the story lately and it is the first time I have ever written anything that I haven't self-censored since Boy to Girl back in 1991!  I mean, I can't share that story anywhere but this blog, Rachel's Haven or fictionmania, but that's not a bad thing.  It may be the best thing I've written.  Certainly it's the least bad I've felt about anything I've written.  Do I embrace that aspect of myself more?  Won't that cause problems with Tilly and my children and my work?
I'll blog about an article I saw in the Mirror yesterday and the Sun today another time.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Reality/Shifts pt3

It was the rope that pulled Pete back and forced him to the floor again, telling him that he had instinctively run forward to the knight's aid. The pain was worse, his wrists were tired of the punishment, but he didn't really care. However, his gasp of pain must have been loud enough because he saw movement from the crumpled armoured form near the dying dragon. “Are you alright?” he called through his teeth.

“Intelleges English ne?” came the weak response, incredulous, then a short groan and the figure wobbled to full height again, a hand reaching up to nurse the battered helm. “Nunc hierde wordes fá en lange fráge.” This second part seemed mostly to herself.

Pete was unable to see anything now, he could barely lift up his head to look in the knight’s direction and his legs were too stretched out to pull them back easily across the ground. The rope refused to pay out any further, leaving him precariously balanced, and all that ran through his head was that a female knight had just slayed a dragon to save his life. And that intelleges meant ‘you understand’ in Latin. The rest of the gibberish remained, well, gibberish. He gave up trying to puzzle everything out and, instead, focussed on trying to stand once more, or at least get to a kneeling position. It was a wonder he heard anything over his scuffles to move but he was nevertheless aware of the knight walking slowly toward him after a while, just as he managed to stand but before he could move his hair from his face to see again.

“Speak you of the English tongue,” she announced by way of introduction, “Is long time since heard I such words as yours.” Her voice was strong but Pete thought he detected an undercurrent of uncertainty in it, as though she was fearing a trick.

Without really being able to look the knight in the face Pete did his best to address himself in the general direction of the knight, “Yes. And so do you.” The urge to flick his head again was barely contained, the weight of the hair meant that it made no difference and hurt his neck. “You saved my life, thank you.” Avoiding contractions and complicated phrasing seemed to be the best way to go. “And you’re a woman.” He added, uselessly.

A gauntlet-covered hand took his hair tenderly and removed it from his face, looping it over each of his ears in turn carefully and without malice. From his stooped position he found himself having to look up to her face, though she was taller than him by a few inches, and she seemed crowned by the high winter sun. Around them the crackling of burning wood continued and smoke was rising, behind her Pete could make out the dragon’s prone form, dark blood oozing from the large wounds and staining the ground. There was no movement now, it was definitely dead. Something pulled his eyes back to the knight’s helm, which was now removed carefully, a large dent making the operation potentially dangerous.

When it was revealed, the knight’s smiling face was, in the circumstances, possibly the most beautiful thing that Pete had ever seen. “A woman am I, truth. A knight I remain, so it behoves you to address me properly,” her apparent humour belied an altogether unforgiving steel, an edge to her words to match that on her sword, still buried in the dragon’s head, “But you, I see, are not. High born might you be but neither knight nor Lady.”

So she knew, there was no point in suggesting otherwise or in trying to work out precisely how she knew, “No,” Pete agreed, unprepared for the relief that his admission brought. “You are correct, ah… My Lady?”

As reward for his hesitant address there was a further burst of sun from her expression, matching the sudden brightness of the day and the warmth of the air around them. “That will serve,” she paused a moment and looked around. “If Lady you are not and knight you cannot be, then what am I to do met you? As knight-errant honour-bound am I genere pulcher virgo, ac… pul- fair maiden you art not. Fair perhaps, ac nunc vir- maiden.” A frown, like a sudden darkening of the sky and Pete was surprised by the pulse of fear that spasmed through him. “Resolve I should to leave you here for the birds. Came I too late to your rescue, mayhap?”

Swallowing was hard with a dry mouth, but Pete attempted it anyway and coughed for his trouble. “My Lady, begging your favour, mistress; but your honour may be under threat.” He winced at the sudden hardening of her glare, “Behind you, my Lady, some of the townsfolk…” Beyond the trees and flames Pete had seen movement and, now he had had time to look properly, he could make out some of the men of the village in the distance through the branches. They were too far away to hear the exchange but close enough to work out that there were two people, both very much alive. “Lady knight, I implore you, these people have seen your deeds, and they have seen us… conversing?”

She turned her head to look, then turned back and nodded curtly. “Know they must not of my status, and know they not of yours,” her softer expression with these words calmed him, “Your rescue means honour-bound am I by chivalry to… ah… return you to master, be he husband or father, as chattel. Wish you this? Wounds sustained… ah… you might still die, ne?”

With widening eyes Pete responded quickly. “No. Thank you. No. I prefer to live. And, uh, my Lady Knight, I have no father nor husband to be, uh, chattel to… for? Uh. If it pleases you, my Lady, I’d very much like to live. Whole. No wounds. Uh…” The perspiration that now beaded his brow was not down to the fire or the warmth of the sun.

“Then glad am I that not fair maiden you are,” a dagger was brandished in her left hand as if from nowhere, “Mark that wish I not for what must follow, your life-debt binds you with my will. Intellege ne?” With a blur the blade of the dagger sliced the rope near his wrists and was then returned to the hidden place whence it sprang.

“Intellego! Uh, my Lady.” Freed from the bough, Pete clumsily tried to bow but found it impossible with his wrists still bound and so he attempted a curtsey, which also failed. However, there was now amusement playing about his saviour’s lips and so he assumed he had at least bought some time. “I… uh, thank you for saving me. I didn’t- That is, well, uh… Dragons exist?”

With a grim set of her jaw, the knight looked back towards the villagers that were now trying to get closer, having convinced themselves that it was now safe and that their tormentor was dead. Pulling on a cloth head-cover, padded and carefully sewn, from inside her helm, she turned back to him. “Time is lacking. By what you are called?”

It was surprising just how much of her features were obscured by the simple head protection and how much that successfully hid the fact that she was female, even the hips in the armour could have been explained away to people who did not understand how armour worked. Knowing what he knew, however, Pete still found it beautiful. “Uh… well, ‘Peter’ seems a little strange, in the circumstances.” Stockholm Syndrome? He had been bound and kept hostage for an evening and a night and had just been face to face with his own death at the hands, mouth, of an impossible creature before being saved. Being star-struck was perhaps understandable but even that rational and logical realisation failed to dim his view of her.

“Speak not unless permission be given from me, and then shortly.” She gathered the rope from the tree and pulled him by his wrists with her as she moved to collect her sword. “Better you speak not. My valet will be along. I call you Wynflaeth, minne Swete.” Sword sheathed, a rasping of metal on leather, she checked the progress of the villagers, they were nearly in earshot. “Trust you not, seek you to challenge mine ownership, Swete, silentium!” With this she looped the extra rope round Pete’s neck, tied a non-slip knot and then took the end.

“Cume!” She pulled the rope and Pete followed with a quick stumble, there wasn’t really another option. “Page!” she called, suddenly loud amidst the woods and showing how quietly they had been speaking, “Page! Villein, grétan móste: bringe fréän! Parley met him ic sceal! Ego, deleo wyrm, parley met fréän!”

Sorry, it's a shorter entry this time - it finishes up the whole opening chapter.  Not sure whether to take this further in the medieval direction, which I'm keen to do but the dialogue is getting rather too dense, or head further in the sci-fi direction. I also think I'm missing a third flash-back sequence in this section.  May add that later.  Enough for now, I think.  At least I got to the images!  Shame there aren't more.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Reality/Shifts pt2

In the silence the sudden thud of hooves, heavy on the hard earth, was clear; slow and deliberate, the horse was being controlled and was unafraid. Pete found himself wondering how it had got so close without him being aware of it sooner, even if he wouldn't have been able to see anything because of the stupid hair, or who would be mad enough to ride a horse into an area with something as big as whatever was in the air around. A jingling noise, and the scrape of metal on metal multiple times at once accompanied the confident trot. A proper view of the source was still prevented by his hair but he caught a glimpse of silvery metal armour glinting and a large white charger moving through the bare branches of the undergrowth. There was also the tip of a painted wooden lance, metal point catching the light, in white and red coupled with an impression of a Saint George's cross in the Maltese fashion and sparkles of light that threatened temporary blindness from the corners of the armour. A knight in full battle regalia? Were it not for the fact that the entire scenario was ridiculous he would have dismissed it out of hand, now he wasn't so certain.
Then he saw it.
Brown and dark against the bright, but featureless, sky; its outline broken up by the bare hands grasping upwards from their earthbound prison, leafless and eldritch, hoping for salvation. An impression of impossibly large bat-like wings sweeping like a classical interpretation of a demon's flight and the stench of fire and death. The sweetness he had smelt before resolved itself in his mind: blood, rotting blood. Powerful legs with black obsidian claws curled like coiled springs beneath a toned underbelly and a long neck stretched out toward a pointed head that swept eyes slowly and carefully over the view below. Then it was gone once more.

With flight obviously not an option, and with wonderment at the fact that he had maintained control of his bladder, and with fight equally unlikely, Pete was surprised by the lack of fear he felt. Nor was it resignation that settled on him; rather, he found himself ruminating on the fact that, in all probability, he had seen, sort of, an actual real-life dragon. A creature that, as far as he was aware, could not scientifically exist was casually ignoring all known laws of evolution, physics and sensibility, not withstanding his own disbelief, and flying around like it owned the place. In fact, all Pete really thought was a faint sense of irritation that the impossible thing could be so arrogant as to exist in the face of all rational thought. That and the fact that his awareness of his bladder told him that he had been rather rash in not relieving himself during the night when no one was looking, now there was a dragon and a knight in attendance and he felt less obliged. Great, he thought, I'm facing certain death from a mythical creature whilst dressed and made up like the wrong gender in an era not my own and I'm looking for a urinal!

A quickened pounding of the hooves was felt, rather than heard, through the ground and his bare feet and he saw the sweep of the lance's tip to a charging position, heard the fall and lock of the helmet's visor followed by a throaty yell of a battle-cry without words. His hair still preventing a clear view of what happened next he heard the splintering of wood, a great animal roar mingled with the battle cry, and then there was a blast of uncomfortable heat followed by the prickly smell of smouldering wood and earth. A snap like a leather cloak unfurling cracked into a dull flap that generated a gust of air strong enough to blow the skirts of his dress between his legs and clear his vision in time to be blinded by the sudden winter sun as a great shadow shot into the air majestically but curiously ponderously given the speed. Grimacing, and squinting, he made out a human form in armour gingerly pushing back to a standing position against a hellish backdrop of flame and heat-wave. The thud of hooves informed him that the horse also lived and was running at speed somewhere, probably away from the fire. The figure bent to retrieve a sword and then readied themself for a fight.
Trying to catch sight of the dragon again, odd how the fantastic became entirely mundane in moments of high adrenaline, Pete stumbled and fell awkwardly to his knees, arms snapping up as the rope became taut. A gasp of pain escaped his lips as the bonds tightened on his wrists, the corset keeping him on the verge of being winded, and he sounded every bit like the frightened damsel in distress that he appeared.

"Non goomuth!" His gasp had been heard and the guttural response from the vision in armour was hardly reassuring. "Grimma gaest met haerd sweord sceall weegan, pulcher weirgo, ond sceall béot wittor!"

Blinded by his hair again, eyes watering in pain, and trying ineffectually to stand again, Pete was completely confused and, frankly, nonplussed. There was a dragon, it breathed fire, and a bloody knight was babbling at him in a language that was mostly gibberish, though he caught the Latin for 'beautiful virgin', pulcher virgo, which he assumed would be best rendered as 'fair maiden'. Brilliant. "Well, bloody get on with it then!"

His unhelpful exhortation was, perhaps mercifully, lost in the sudden noise of the dragon's return and the blast of fire that came with it. Pete couldn't actually see this taking place but the heat that made him sweat spontaneously and caused him to worry that he might be immolated by his own stupid hair was pretty indicative. If the dragon operated by any actual rules of animal hunting then it would be reasonable to assume that the fire was not directed at the knight, that represented food and burning it to a crisp would be counterproductive, so the knight had a reasonably good chance or survival. A blurring of movement beyond the veil over his face, the clash of steel on bone ringing out and another throaty battle-cry mingling with an animal roar. Still the overpowering stench of rotting flesh and dead vegetation in waves and then the leathery snap and flap of another retreat.

Pete tried flicking his head to remove the hair, nearly lost his balance, regretted it through the pain in his neck, still couldn't see but at least stopped the pain in his wrists. He wanted to shout to the knight again, try and get some awareness of his plight and maybe get the knight to withdraw for his own safety, but the corset combined with his unexpected, if minimal, exertions to render him incapable of finding the required breath. Instead, breathing hard, he watched the knight ready his stance once again and swivel slightly to face a new threat. Did that armour have hips?

Another swoop by the dragon, from a new direction, and it was clear that the knight had inflicted some damage: the remains of the lance stuck out from the flank of the beast, just below the wing, and there were sword wounds on the thigh, oozing dark blood. This time Pete could see the attack more clearly. The dragon darted forward with its jaws, causing the knight to dodge; then the sword was brought in a double-handed slash to the neck, but missed and connected with the shoulder instead. The dragon roared in pain, grasping out with one of its legs that was pummelled with the pommel of the sword in turn, accompanied by the sickening crack of bone. Nevertheless the foot connected, claw scraped on metal like nails on a blackboard and the sheer force of the blow catapulted the knight upwards, before falling in a heap with a crash that must have been bruising. And the dragon took flight again.

"Get up!" Pete didn't know if he was issuing an order, pleading or just shouting like he was at a pantomime, but he did recognise that the knight was all that stood between his death and his survival. "It's coming round again!" Because the conversation so far shows he's going to understand me and is in desperate need of advice from a layperson, Pete thought sarcastically.

Sure enough, the knight was already standing and readying his sword once more. "Tu- You speak English?" And the knight was a woman. She shook her head, or the helmet moved at least, and then turned to face the dragon once more. This time she feinted right then withdrew almost as quickly, the dragon's head shot past and she had a clear view of its neck, which she hit with the point of the sword, rather than the blade, and drove it forward with all her weight. This time the attack was successful, and the dragon's legs hit earth, slowing its momentum enough that she was not swept off her feet and was even able to remove the sword. The dragon rose, like a drunk, and she was able to walk round to the head and drive her sword in a second time, this time through the skull. She left it there and stood back as the tail of the dragon whipped out in one last attack and caught her squarely on the head, sending her flying again.

It was the rope that pulled Pete back and forced him to the floor again, telling him that he had instinctively run forward to the knight's aid. The pain was worse, his wrists were tired of the punishment, but he didn't really care. However, his gasp of pain must have been loud enough because he saw movement from the crumpled armoured form near the dying dragon.

That's all I have time for tonight, obviously I'm breaking mid-paragraph, and getting images of people fighting dragons, or even getting ready to fight in full armour is really difficult.  However, I couldn't leave this without adding one of the images that imspired the tale, I really hoped I was going to get to this point tonight, but I haven't.  Getting Latinate/Olde English languages takes some research (I can't claim to have done much, but it did take some of the time I could have been using to flesh out my notes into prose!).  Anyway, below is the image and the dialogue I have in my head to go with it, maybe next time.

She stood and removed her helmet, looking at him coolly.  "I am still a knight," she stated simply, "so you will address
me correctly.  But you, I see, are not.  Neither knight nor lady.  So.  What would you have me do with you?"