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!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Article goodness

That's not a bad look.
I have a longer post about recent days planned, but a long journey (5 hours in the heat on UK motorways) and some dodgy fish (belching ahoy) have conspired to render me incapable of long winded typing tonight. No, it's an early night after some interesting dreams and thoughts. And, on the note of interesting things, this article came to light, it may be of interest to the people that stop by here.

I find it fascinating because it confirms my thoughts (and online experience having 'Joanna-time on social media) with actual statistical analysis. And, also, seems to explain why most people view transgender issues through the lens of social panic - because men change to women! But this is actually less likely than women changing to men. MTFs get more publicity, and much of it negative, because of the institutionalised prejudice toward women in society - why would a man deliberately give up power and privilege? That must be suspicious and scary.

The article is here: ARTICLE

Friday, 29 August 2014

Beer Review: Hip Hop

I'm down with it, I know my rap artists and my RnB and my softcore. And, of course, tonight I am reviewing the delights of Hip Hop by the Langham Brewery supplied to me by Tilly's parents. I am guessing that this is pretty freely available down in Surrey as it boasts being traditional Sussex ale but I can say that I haven't seen it about up here, so, onward!

I apologise for the poor quality image taken with my phone. It really does look like the porn version of beer pictures, all low quality blurred images and some panting commentary. Maybe I ought to shave the beard and only have a big bushy moustasche. What's that you say? Your beer is behaving strangely? You must come down to see me in my pantry and have a closer look at my barrel, no? I show you some mmm good beers, yes? Okay, I'm done now, you may proceed safely from here.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 28 August 2014


I love this sort of thing. I wish I could be the subject.
Also, an older woman, because.
For my birthday I was given an Amazon voucher. I should say that I haven't managed to read too many books since about 2008, what with everything that happened, and so I have built up a vast draft of books that have been given as gifts that I simply haven't got around to reading. Bismarck, a biography; News from the Squares by Robert Llewellyn; The War that Ended the Peace by Margaret MacMillan; the whole Song of Ice and Fire series by the literary world's most notorious serial killer G. R. R. Martin to name but a few. However, with the recent change in workplace (liable to get a bit less idyllic now that I've had some atrocious results - I hope that isn't just me being shit, we'll know this time next year I guess as I take over a new subject and have my first fully taught students hitting the exams) and a relaxing holiday this year I actually read books.

Well, at least he didn't add 'the Wake'
to the title.
Three Men in a Boat I already reviewed. There was also Hereward - a thriller version of the brilliant The Wake (see the video below for why you should consider buying it!) which I have also reviewed (I think). This latter book got good in the last chapter, seriously, it took that long, and mainly it was the misogyny being peddled as historical that annoyed me. The little I know of pre-Conquest Britain tells me that women were at their most free socially until the 1990s! Seriously, most of what we in the modern world see as 'traditional' actually only dates from the bloody Victorians but even their misogyny actually comes from the Conquest. Bastards. Anyway, to therefore see anachronistically misogynistic attitudes and roles for women in pre-Conquest Britain, so Saxons, in Hereward was a little irksome. After all, the author claimed to have researched the period and, for many of his readers, this will be their only understanding of the society of the period. There was also the very moving Remains of the Day which I shan't go into here (though it is well worth a read!).

Ms Palmer, for 'tis she, who works for the UN at a high level
but still gets told to be quiet when talking about breastfeeding
and, apparently, made a Nestle executive "too nervous" when
involved in a hearing at the UN. Poor Nestle executive.

I am, if not obvious, very sarcastic.
The books that I went for were a book about food entitlement and supplementary feeding of children from Gabrielle Palmer (she wrote The Politics of Breastfeeding: when breasts are bad for business that Tilly bought for me for a birthday, easily the best birthday present she's ever got me and, possibly, anybody ever has) and a book about Stonehenge. You may have noticed that I have something of a soft-spot for Prehistory and the Neolithic in particular. Anyway, Tilly got me Hengeworld on our honeymoon and it was brilliant (by Mike Pitts) in that it was a serious archaeological study written by a scholar who had researched the stuffing out of what we actually know about the landscape and context of Stonehenge. One of the studies he cited (he was writing in 2001) was an ongoing archaeological survey (begun in 2000 and due, then, to be completed in 2010) that would shed light onto some of the possibilities raised in the book. Well, that study has been completed (2012) and has now been written up as a book. I bought that book.

So far so good.

The book cover.
The third tome I plumbed for was Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. I had it recommended by a friend of mine who is a big Feminist but also very, very middle-class. I then read the reviews after ordering it and am now having doubts. I do hope I don't regret buying it, because that would be sad, I've bought so few books since 2008 and I do so enjoy books generally but am a bit of a tightwad. You know how I worry about wasting money.

All of this is rather beside the point, however, because what I realised was the character of the choices that I had made here was, how to put this, hardly masculine fayre. Indeed, one may almost argue it to be feminine, if one were able to genderise books and reading choices. However, increasingly, I find that I am drawn to less stereotypically 'male' books. Mainly because stereotypically 'male' books are badly written wank fests by an author who wants to find as many ways as possible to describe blood (hint, it's crimson), spatter (hint, it's always a fountain) and sex (hint, it's tastefully left out, but the woman tends to throw herself at the main character). This is rather unsurprising given my jealousy for all things feminine generally and twisted version of respect for women and their clothing and lifestyle choices. But, nevertheless, I considered it worthy enough to talk about here. A meatier and more cerebral post for a change.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review: Three Men in a Boat

I did rather warn you I might do this...

It cannot have escaped your notice that I have not been working all these holidays and that I went on a short holiday recently. Or, you know, maybe it can, I know I'm not the most important thing in your life or anything. Whatever your reason for reading my musings (or not, you cruel people that read synopses on social media and then don't hit the link) I'm sure you would like to know about one of the books I have managed to read. Because I don't get to read many books on account of being lazy and clumsy (I stabbed myself with a can lid today). Today, I shall be reviewing Three Men in a Boat because I read it.

Part of me wants to try writing a review in the style of Jerome K. Jerome, but I lack the ability to do his style justice. Instead, I shall probably just review it as I saw it and let you make the discoveries for yourself, because the discoveries are definitely worth it.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Lady Pens and Ales

It's a cultural exchange... sort of. I visited a friend of mine who lives close to the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest and took along some of what I considered to be the best the local breweries could offer and some cheap offer beer from a local supermarket. We watched Doctor Who, YouTube videos, Commando and went walking in the woods. Not in remotely that order. I also took along a present from Tilly, a Bic Pen for her. I wrote reviews with it as I chewed the fat with a friend from University. This had the effect of making me feel distinctly feminine, which was odd.

When we went walking through the woods I recalled how much trees and woodland help calm me generally and ow much I miss them from where we used to live. Tilly was fielding a sleepover arranged after I arranged my beer night. It seemed good. Things haven't been so bad lately between Tilly and I but there's not a lot else that I can be sharing on that score. I still feel the pull of the dressing and the feminine activities that one can get up to, of course, and the result was a decidedly beer-filled but feminine evening. For me. In my head. What follows, after the line break, is a full on beer review of nine ales including the stuff I've been brewing. If that's of interest, fire away, otherwise simply know that I rather like my for her pen and ashall be making more use of it yet.

If only I can use the stress that is building to help me plan for new lessons and trips in the coming school year and write that examination report in the next week. That's me, cutting things fine again.

Thursday, 21 August 2014


Ah, that would be kinda nice actually.

In other news, Tilly bought one of those 'pens for women'
from Bic. She almost bought me one. I almost wanted her to.
Today was the second part in finding out whether or not my new work life could continue in the generally positive vein that I have been used to so far. Of course, without even looking, I could have told you how this was going to go. I got up late, skipped breakfast and was there, in the right place, with results handed to me by people who already knew well ahead of the students. The results were not good. I did some number crunching and I can now explain it (luckily for me I saved the parts I could) as being down to student irregularities. But, you know, that sounds lame even to me - I'm a newbie to the job, and I'm essentially blaming it on the last person in the job. Lame. Even if true, lame. So, next year my ultimate boss (who still has the mindset of being in my job) will doubtless play a more 'active' role in affair, which will translate as well-meaning but irritating sticking-of-neb-in-business.

This book cover is laughing at us.
Speaking of which, my mother. She came to visit after a phonecall in which she revealed that the reason for sour grapes the last time she was here was because she "didn't feel like she was the most important peron there." No, that's an actual quote and I have no idea what to do with that. I'd have expected it from my grandmother but from my mother? I guess that's how my family goes. How soon until I do the same? The visit wasn't so bad but it wasn't about us or the children, ostensibly what my mother is interested in, it was an exercise in my mother living out the fantasy she has in her head about how such visits should go and blow the actual needs of the situation.

Did I mention I'm feeling fat? I had to buy new shorts and trousers to accommodate my increasing girth. I still look eight weeks' pregnant. I shouldn't complain, a good shaving job and the right clothes and wig and that would really fit in nicely to my chosen methods of self-expression. Provided that I could find the private time to actually go and dress in the spare room without the chance of being disturbed. Oh, wait, I woke up late and was unable to even try this morning when I had the perfect reason to be up early and the added bonus of the children being used to getting up later than they do during work-time. Basically, I'm not feeling too hot at the moment. Even the number-crunching epic of the afternoon in which I have almost completely analysed all results in more depth than the school do (and they do a bang-up job, by the way) isn't enough to fully dislodge the funk. The beer I've had tonight, Duvel's Speciaalbier, has helped, but I'm still a little down.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Drip Feeding

Ha, I named the image 'plumbing'
because it's a play on words, you see.
Recently I fixed a pipe in the spare room. Rather, I turned a tap off on a pipe that went nowhere and the incessant dripping noise that plagued the room ceased, which is fitting given that it was previously incessant, and since then has not restarted. The crux came when we had so much water in the tank overnight that a spike in temperature the following morning (maybe the difference of a couple of degrees centigrade) had water tumbling out of the overflow and into our patio below. Nevertheless, that dripping noise that blighted the spare room had started me thinking already, though the 'repair' was carried out a few weeks ago now. It also linked to a post I read from Rhiannon last night about whether anyone can truly escape from the thoughts in their heads and a post on Dee's blog about the power of novelty in the TG community - itself answered well by another philosophical post about how novelty can have massive effects in pretty much any area of life by Calvin.

How much are our own desires very like the tap? I realise I sound like the quintessential British vicar in a Church of England sermon or else on Radio 4 doing 'thought for the day': "my son and I were watching the football match on a Sunday afternoon when he turned to me and asked, 'Daddy, which team is Jesus playing for?' To which I replied that He was of course playing for neither team, but, thinking about it later I realised that, in a very real sense, He was. How many of us have at times wondered..." You get the idea. Anyway, I digress, the point was that the dripping of that tap, on a pipe that, so far as I can tell, goes nowhere seemed to very much sum up a great deal of things all at once.

This is not the plumbing in the house. It's just complicated
looking. Apparently.

I worry, because it looks simpler than what we have.
I can follow this shit.
For some people, the pipe does go somewhere. It disappears into the fabric of the building, feeding some great tank of indeterminate size that, if left untended and unconnected, will explode and leave a hefty repair bill. However, if tended and looked after will produce some marvel of modern engineering, I'm thinking a power shower with side nozzles in a wet room in the basement that is just perfect for luxuriating in. I have rather missed having a shower since we moved and the recent holiday afforded me the opportunity to use our host's shower - nothing too fancy but it was such a relief to be having a shower every morning again! Having a bath this morning was something of a disappointment. And, to continue the abandoned analogy, that shower would be full transition. A very personal thing. For others, that pipe is a curiosity and has no seeming purpose, shutting off the tap allows them to pretty much forget that there was ever a pipe. Indeed, once that dripping is ended by the simple expedient of closing off the tap they simply forget that there ever was a pipe. It doesn't go anywhere, it's still out there, but their lives continue much like the life of my own house does - unaffected.


This is post-modernism. I'm sure it means something.
My own narrative obviously applies this to my current
relationship situation. Somehow.
These latter people are rare in the community I should like to consider myself a part, but they exist, and all power to them. In that sense, Calvin has the nub of the issue - that novelty should be embraced in all its forms and there is no one can explain their feelings to closely approximate another's when faced with a similar novelty - all things are in the eye of the beholder. Post-modernism in life, if you will. But I'm more of a modernist historian and, though post-modernism has much to offer literary criticism, I find it less useful when studying the past - principally because it assumes that historians have a tendency to take source material at face value when undertaking research and I call bullshit on that approach. As a historian I can never fully trust the sources, but nor can I assume therefore that the past is so far out of reach that any old interpretation is valid. My point being that I see more value in sharing experiences and standing with people whose experiences are similar enough to share what I have learned with them when faced with novelty or simply to stand near people whose experiences are very different indeed.

For me, that pipe is a vexation and a delicious mystery. I should like to know where it goes and what it feeds, but the fact that it disappears down the back of the hot water tank into the darkness beyond and is lost to view in the fabric of a very old house means I cannot so very well track it and find out. Furthermore, I wonder at the purpose, when the act of shutting off the tap that feeds it simultaneously solves the dripping and fails to affect anything else in the house. In much the same way there is a dripping in my own mind, that only grows more insistent. And here the analogy breaks down. My tap has been shut off since before the holidays began, maybe in July(?), my memory is poor on such things and I'm too lazy to check. And yet that dripping continues. In my mind the hot water tank is still filling up and all it will take is a slight difference in temperature to cause the whole thing to overflow and ruin the patio again. Probably while we have washing out. But, unlike some people, I have no clue where that tap is ultimately feeding nor what the potential result of simply letting it flow, and ending the dripping by letting it free, would be. And I never have.

Oh why the heck not, it's been a while.
Around this time last year I was merrily preparing for a few weeks away from the family (that would turn into five) and a new job. Little did I know that September of last year would become such a lovely time for me as I was able to indulge dressing every evening (well, Sunday through to Thursday each week) and even sleep dressed on most nights. It was beautiful. I could eat and cook and watch TV and surf the internet and mark and plan and live in a way that felt perfectly natural. Of course, there were other ways I experimented, with handcuffs and rope, but mostly just the act of being dressed and doing what needed to be done was enough. Stuffing a bra felt perfectly natural, I actually liked what I saw in the mirror (sans face) and felt comfortable in my own skin. Did I act any more feminine? Well, no, I don't believe so. I listened to the same music, I drank ale and reviewed it and I planned my lessons just the same as before. Given a longer term and less internet access (i.e. not having a family to be in contact with) I suspect I would have read the same books and maybe even played the same games on the computer. Was it just novelty?

No, I don't think it was. I'd lived similarly for a brief while in 2005/6 as I split from my Mad Ex, spoke in earnest to my first girlfriend and Catherine, but mainly to Catherine, and just accepted that I was, in fact, a cross-dresser and that my dressing was unlikely to condemn me to Hell nor cause some unravelling of society about me. From that conversation I dressed more on my own and went through phases of doing it often and not for no real reason. When I first moved in July 2006 I was determined to set my living quarters up as I would like and made a point of placing my femme wardrobe next to my bed and indulging quite regularly, especially in bed, and I had plans to paint the room in purple and black to match who I saw myself as. The living room faced the rear and there were no other houses there and so I had that set up to be a place to sit, dressed, and watch TV or just, well, be. There wasn't much of an opportunity to enact my plans as I was away in the States for much of August, in school September, and then dating (and inviting Tilly back to mine) until February the following year when she moved in and BAM that was it.

I didn't smile quite so much and I did
rather cut myself.
So the novelty, if that were a driving factor, would have been exhausted some time in the summer of 2005. But it wasn't. I shaved my legs for the first and only time that summer and loved the feeling of it, no, really. I remember reading of Leslie's attempts to feel comfortable with her legs when catching up with her blog and instantly identifying with the wonderful feeling of smooth skin on one's legs. I have no desire nor urge to shave my genitals, I'm not one for shaving my face, but legs... well, that's a different story. I think I'd do my armpits too if I thought I could get away with either. It's the one time I have enjoyed a bath, shaving my legs in that flat before school started. Lovely. Was it novelty that drove the action? Well, in part, yes; but also not in the main. Or doing it would have been enough. If you see what I mean. Recently I have enjoyed wearing a wig, but I did that a great deal back in 2005 with my Mad Ex too and enjoyed it as much then as I do now. The enjoyment hasn't faded the more I do it.

Hmm, clearly, this post was not quite ready yet. I shall no doubt return to muse further.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


If only this were Tilly and I. She's on the left, obviously.

I've been back a few days now, time to start unpacking. I thought I'd sum up what went on along the following handy triptych of statements:

The Good
Yes, this kind of beach.

But with more people. It was a day with plenty of potential
cloud cover and the threat of rain, so it stayed happily busy
rather than rammed. And didn't rain until just as we were
leaving. So, an almost perfect day at the beach!

The holiday consisted of a trip down to the south coast, visiting Tilly's parents ostensibly, but this was mainly an excuse to go to a beach and see some sights. So we went to a beach, where the children enjoyed themselves immensely. The Boy and I made a huge sandcastle that became an assault course for his dumper truck. Let me explain that, we built some towers using buckets and then he used his truck to destroy them. This was repeated many times and each time we added more to the course (ditches, hills, more towers) and just kept on going. It was great fun for both me and the Boy and we stuck at it for ages before breaking for lunch. After lunch we all went to the sea where the Girlie and I did some swimming in the sea - I haven't done that in years and it was brilliant.

We also visited the coast at a proper little resort town and, despite some awful behaviour from the Girlie, we had fun in the amusements and at an aquarium. Here the children marvelled at sealife, as they are wont to do, and then played in a splash pad like thing in the back and in a sandpit. Because why not. They also spent about three pounds in coppers on the various machines in the arcade and the Boy and I bonded a little more over a racing game.

It's a good book. It's written in the style of stand-up, what
with proper brick jokes, clever turns of phrase, witty
asides and views on what was then everyday...

And written in 1886.
On evenings, we were staying at the parents of one of Tilly's friends, we stayed in bed and read together, which was nice if lacking in any actual contact or conversation, with me having a beer and making notes whilst reading either Three Men in a Boat or Hereward and she reading her Kindle and making some of her own notes. Companionable, if silent and a little cold. Sometimes the children went to sleep quickly and sometimes they did not. We did, however, manage some time together (with hand holding) in bookshops and even, on the first afternoon, in the village in which Tilly grew up. This was very welcome and very nice indeed. I liked hearing about Tilly's tales and said as much to her - how sometimes I knew she'd told me already but I liked to hear her telling the story and so asked her again. I think that went down well, but mainly it was the truth. I said it because I meant it.

The Bad:
This was the game we played. Trivial Pursuit. I like this
game, we played it a lot in my family. Possibly with the
same questions as we had on the night (from the 1980s).

It also accurately sums up my tribulations regarding our
marriage I suppose.
That whole thing of sitting together and reading without any conversation or contact. It... well, it hurt a bit. And has continued since we've come home. There's been some hand-holding in bed but on the last night of our trip Tilly got rather drunk, in good company whilst playing a board game (it was a good night) and so has spent the two days since complaining of a hangover. This has meant no real discussion beyond day-to-day things, no touching and much moping by her. It meant that I packed the car for the trip home (and the bags) and looked after the increasingly fractous children in the car, and at stops, and once we reached home. Yesterday was mainly me taking the lead in looking after the children from the moment they got up to the moment they fell asleep. After that, we sat on the sofa together and she read in silence with me forbidden from reading anything out to her (what we usually do with books) or distracting her at all. She put her feet on my legs, which was nice enough, and then held my hand in bed but... still. Most of the day was, as I say, me as primary childcare.

On the holiday most of the time was looking after children. I took morning duties, as usual when at home, and Tilly surfaced when she was ready and not before. During the day I was primary for the Boy and generally stepped in with the Girlie if Tilly got frustrated, which was a given I guess. There were some stormy moments that I weathered. Overall, this part is a small 'bad'.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


More fitting for my age.
I'm about to head off to Tilly's parents, ish, for a few days. There's the results from my school in the morning, where I shall find out the shape of the coming year - will they support the 'hand's off' approach that's been taken to my new job by my bosses and thus allow me to continue in the happiness of a place that shows trust or will they show me up? There's an element of stress creeping in, not helped by the fact that I've not yet managed to get into work this holiday. Part of this is me and part of this is Tilly. She keeps pushing it back, I'd like to keep bobbing in now and again, but it's hard to push for that. Maybe next year I shall manage to push that a little better if tomorrow goes well. I shall have the mental fortitude for it.

And I'm listening to that Proms performance by the Pet Shop Boys again. It remains haunting. I think it grows on you. But then I am something of a fangirl, as I have previously discussed on here ad nauseam.

The day has been okay. Full of parenting and beer brewing (I'm still trying to make a raspberry beer work). And so has the time been so far. Lots of parenting - a Girlie who has been trying lately and a Boy who has started to join in now that she is calming. He mashed this laptop earlier and I told him off and his reaction was terrifying. He was me and I was my father. It was horrible. I'm not sure the hug and talk afterward did much fixing. I suck at that kind of thing.

Most of life in the UK methinks.
Storms in a teacup abound online, of course they do, with Catherine managing to make me feel down in a way that few people I know can manage. I know I have inadvertantly insulted her right back, but I ask for forgiveness and she does not. Mind you, forgiveness was not forthcoming last time. Well, it was, I just checked, just a month or so later. Sorry, smoke and mirrors, be more honest, Joanna! Right, I gave a backhanded compliment to one of her stories when I should just have been nice about them all (basically, I liked one less than the others, the most recent) and she got a bit huffy. Passive aggression followed and I was tipsy enough to call her on it. Badly. Anyway, yes, I tried to solve it and she accepted. Right now there's a conversation ongoing about how men could best support women in Feminism and there's a diversionary misogynist (as ever) and Catherine is directly engaging him on my post but not me. Of course. I was also put-down slightly several times as she engages the fellow. I know, I know, I have a very thin skin when on my primary account but... still.

From where a lot of the issues began. This was the top of the
road I moved onto back in 2006. Taken before I met Tilly but
it was here, this house, that pretty much caused her PTSD
(no, seriously) that she now suffers with.
Vanessa has cost us again. Another £500 because there's more damage around the catalytic converter and exhaust pipe. Good thing I did the extra marking. I suspect, as always, there will be no actual extra savings from the extra but it will be eaten in emergency costs. I think that's how it's going to go for the rest of my life now, I run to keep up and keeping up is enough.

Physical affection is running down again. Of course it is. Tilly's fond of me, I'll give her that, and she cares for me. But she's not in love with me and I suspect that I am also realising that I am not really in love with her any more either. It's only been three weeks, I shouldn't really call it off yet.

Been reading Three Men in a Boat and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who wishes to read a stand-up in text format from the late 1800s in the UK - no, seriously, there's an aspect of Izzard or Dylan Moran in it that I quite enjoy. I've also been having a beer a night and stacking up beer reviews for my drab blog elsewhere on the internets. I haven't been posting them here because, well, I get the impression that they weren't really fitting in so well. I say that with no malice, I just think that this place is developing, once again, into something that doesn't really need beer reviews any more.

And thus this is where I stand before going dark for a bit.

Blurry and shit, but that's ME curtseying and
so I find it more meaningful.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


It's Kate Moss apparently.
I don't know what that means...
Just as I was ruminating how long it has been since I have managed to dress I spy a post from Linda Marie who has just managed to find time to actually go ahead and do that. With a look that I have been mulling over for a while no less, the whole heels under jeans thing (and the ruffled sleeveless blouse, but less that) has been something that I have been wanting to try and even looked at jeans yesterday in the market to see if there were a female pair that would fit. This, of course, is slightly hampered by the fact that since I last dressed I have gained some weight and I'm no longer certain what my waist size is (it used to be a pretty consistent 12 in most makes) so that's a bit of a bummer. It was also somewhat compounded by the mercy-mission to get Tilly a swimsuit this morning.

A bit of background: after giving birth Tilly found she needed a well-fitted swimsuit and got a tankini from a big name with odd measurements that fit well when she was breastfeeding. Since we moved we have been swimming more often, something about having a leisure centre nigh on our doorstep I imagine. In our last visit Tilly commented that it was time she switched back to a more normal swimsuit. But didn't, obviously. Then, at some point in the last week or so, she's lost the swimming costume and so I had (had?) to go and get a new one (or a selection of new ones) for her to try. It was in this errand that I found myself furtling through a large selection of women's clothing and sighing internally for the lack of opportunity to indulge that I've had recently. I've had a dressing dare to do for a good month that I'd love to carry out and get pictures of - I know, me, wanting pictures! Madness!

This is the one. In searching for this
image I discovered that it is
actually designed as 'tummy-control'.
I resent the fact that anyone feels
the need to have that as a selling point
but recognise the feeling as something
that I view as positive myself.

Does that make me any more of a
hypocrite than normal?
Then there was the revelation that Tilly had been wearing the control top pants that I had been eyeing up lately at a wedding we attended. She felt that the swimsuit was doing a similar job. She did look rather stunning, but then I don't think she's got all that much to be controlling.

And so, yes, I reflect on the fact that it's been a good long while, since before the holidays began I think, since I have been able to indulge in that rare pleasure of dressing. It's one of the unseen consequences of trying to be a bit more physical with Tilly I suppose in that we go to bed at roughly the same time a bit more often and so there just aren't the opportunities to do so alone. The mornings have been out, I've been having a beer a night on average, as I end up getting up with the children and can't really abandon them to go and dress up on my own! Nor can I, of course, do it anywhere near them. This may be rather autistic of me, but I don't see why beyond Tilly's moratorium on so doing. Mind you, I take a little exception at the sign at the swimming pool that says nudity is not permitted for any reason for anyone of any age in or around the pool or outside locked doors in the changing rooms. Bugger that, says I, especially for young children. I hope I shall never teach my own children that their naked bodies are a source of shame and embarrassment - maybe challenging for others - but rather that they should be seen as the most perfect instruments that they will ever own and a joy for them to discover and use.

I think, perhaps, I have already failed on that one. Ah well.

Holy cow! That looks like ME when I was
four! Though he's got a bracelet, no way
that was happening to me at that age.
We have also started potty-training the Boy. What an odd phrase. My father shared something that happened to him, I think I blogged about it, and the term has taken on a sinister edge ever since. I mean, there's no training actually involved. All Tilly and I do is not put a nappy on the Boy in a morning and take any off when we get home after a long journey and leave a potty around where he can find it. Boom, job done, and there have been very few accidents indeed. With these we commiserate and mop up but that's all and we don't say anything about it if he doesn't. Seems to have worked well. I confess that I have slipped into a little congratulation when he does use the potty but I feel I have lived without any kind of genuine congratulation or encouragement in my own childhood not to over-compensate in return.

The other funny thing about the swimming costume thing with Tilly was her reason for enjoying the new one, and her reason for wearing control top pants at the wedding: that they 'hugged her close' and just upped her confidence levels. It actually had very little to do with the physical effects (though she claimed this was the primary reason, she accepted that they made very little appreciable physical difference) and everything to do with how it made her feel. This was especially apparent in trying to choose between two different types of costume to keep - one had an open lower back and the other did not - in which she confessed that they were both fine for her as they felt snug. The fact that one revealed more than the other was irrelevant insofar as they both had the same confidence building effect of making her waist feel snug.

It's that feeling that I am chasing after when I dress. Snug so that I feel more confident and held.

Well, that escalated quickly!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Rapping Things Up

This is just a random post because I can and because I had a rather nice ale this evening (Mr Trotter's Great British Chestnut Ale in case you're wondering, from Lancaster in the UK, I believe that there is a website from which you can order it too, but I shan't review it here) and because I read an intriguing recommendation on Dee's blog about rappers.

Her name is Azelia Banks and I have not heard her
rap yet, but hey, why not.

As has probably been obvious for a while now, I seem to have found myself listening to rap stuff and enjoying it. I realise that, as rap goes, what I enjoy is pretty softcore and vanilla, but it is sufficiently different (or not, YMMV) from my usual fayre that it has me thinking about it. So, without further ado, I shall bring the recommendation of Scroobius Pip, who seems rather good, to a narrower and smaller audience than that reached by Dee herself.

This particular video I found by accident when I copied the link wrongly and had to search for the Scroobius Pip himself. At first it was so-so but clever, like beat poetry, which is something I do and have always enjoyed. There's something about the natural rhythm of the words that he chooses and the poetry of the moment that seems he never even loses. Beat poetry does that, taking half-rhymes and internal rhymes and demi and semi rhymes to make clear the signs to the state of the times. Anyway, that came first, then he starts playing with his medium and his words all in one go and finally he plays with the video itself and starts making references to one of my favourite shows from my youth Quantum Leap. I shall come clean and say that, yes, I did enjoy the ones where Sam was leaped into a woman the most (no, seriously, I did) and there was always some Feminist moral in there too. I'd argue that this was one of the most influential things I watched besides Secret of the Sword, the He-Man film that introduced She-Ra. Anyway, yes, the references pretty much sold it to me more than the messing with the time line of the video and the burning of stuff because he can.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Illness and Greed

That's... actually not a bad representation of my body language.
Would that I had the poise and the clothes and hair to match.
Part of the reason for the radio silence, as I hinted, was having extra work on the go. I cannot complain, the rate per script was increased and cranked up until I can quite happily say that we aren't going to risk debt (apart from the mortgage) any time soon. Which is rather nice, and unusual. Mainly I undertake extra work around this time of year for a specific cost (having children and taking paternity cover for example, or our wedding) or it gets eaten by random expenses (moving house, car exploding) and so, for the first time, I may actually come out on top.

It's just basic multiplication after all. Hardly rocket science.

No, wait, that's exactly what rocket science is. Damn. I mean...
well, it's just numbers. Nothing complicated.
Of course, as I love playing with numbers, I started to get ahead of myself. I worked out prices of things in numbers of scripts to be marked (I can get accurate to two or three decimal places) and then began to fantasise about how much extra money I could bring in if I started to mark at different rates. Greed, in other words, became a feature of my planning and, as is usual when I get ahead of myself, I got brought back to Earth with a bump of sorts when those that I had gathered ran out before I had finished. This is no bad thing, and hardly a bump, but for me it was a tad disappointing. It does mean I have more time to start on here properly again.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sick to the Stomach

Yes, of course I would still like to look like that whilst feeling
like that. I don't exactly look good when being guilty. I look,
so say those that know me in person, like a whipped dog. Also
I am drawn to people who, when they see a whipped dog, like
to whip that dog for looking like a whipped dog.

Basically, I am a natural victim. Is that victim-blaming?

I suppose, technically, it is. But only technically.
You know when people say that they are 'sick to the stomach' (as if they could be sick anywhere else in their anatomy) you get the feeling that they are fed up? Well, this is not one of those times. I was going to post exclusively about parenting, as part of my tortuous return to the topic that caused the week long black out on here. Instead, I opened my Joanna e-mail to find a message waiting for me telling me to "get lost". Which was... unexpected. However, given who it turned out to be from, not entirely unmerited. This was that Domme I was posting about in here a month or so ago. I expect she got sick of waiting for me to get round to responding and, in fairness, I had forgotten that she was waiting for one from me. I suppose I should have done the decent thing and said that I was not planning to go ahead but I did, honestly, forget. It says something about me, I feel, that I have a sick feeling in my stomach that my inability to be polite has led to someone else feeling angry. I hate that feeling, that guilt wrapped in matyrdom wrapped in numbing inevitability mixed with self-flagellation. Lovely, a good way to enter the evening.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Running in Stone Circles

You know, if I could look even half as apologetic I doubt I would
have half the issues I do!

It's been a full week. I must apologise for the unplanned long absence, not least because it means that I've been away from other people's blogs for the commenting as well. Mainly this has been down, as you probably guessed, to the nature of the last post and attempting to get past it. Let me do so in my usual style, long and circuitously.

See, you can see the allure of these things, right?
Stone circles. They pop up all around the UK and much is made of them by people styling themselves Druids or Pagan. They have stones that handily match the rising and the setting of the sun on different days of the year, marking key events in both the lunar and solar calendars. This causes much excitement - how did the people that built them work that one out (except, presumably, by observation and recording before erecting the circles themselves) and mystery surrounds the reasons for their construction. The most famous of these is, obviously, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, though this is important for reasons that are different from its fame. Most people feel that it must be the biggest or the oldest or the most mysterious of the Bronze Age and Neolithic monuments but it is none of these. What makes Stonehenge set apart from the rest is, in fact, the artistry in its construction. The trilithons are actually a representation of no trees. Let me explain that better: most circles of the Neolithic are made of wood, using huge trees that would have been more common then than now. Most of the trees we now see in the UK would be mere saplings compared to the mega-dendros that would have been used in the construction of henges and enclosures like Durrington Wells for example.

Oh, why not. A modern interpretation
of the Victorian image of the Druids
who were vaguely referenced by the
There is evidence that suggests that these circles would have served as locations for great feasts and that, every now and again, they were burned down. The lack of disturbance seems to suggest that this was done in a premeditated fashion too. Other, earthen, henges suggest some relationship between life and love. So, in this landscape, the trilitons of Stonehenge outline the shape of a tree that is no longer there - a sign of death and the impermanence of life. That seems more important than the reason for the fame. Biggest stones, by the by, are in Avebury, which is much larger and much older than Stonehenge and significantly more mysterious when you consider that the society that built it was hoarding antlers for up to five thousand years before it was constructed - the antlers were broken and abandoned on the site in huge numbers too.

Why this impromptu history lesson? Well, we had a visitor recently. The Boy's godmother who is from Belgium and an old friend of Tilly's. Part of the reason for my recent absence is her visit and the other part is being sucked back into marking (and I can't complain because I am being very well paid for this extra work). She is a decent person and has realised that I am rather taken with beers - this means that she brings beer for me when she comes as a present (which is rather nice of her, I must say) and she joined me in beer tasting recently too. Don't worry, I shan't post it here!

This is Urra Moor in Yorkshire.

I do believe that the moors of the UK are awesome
 and I have seen so very few of them!
Anyway, whilst she was here we visited a moor with some stone circles and had a decent walk with the children. It was a pleasant day out and indicative of things recently. Then we ended up in a Victorian spa town where I volunteered to look after the kiddlies whilst Tilly and our guest headed off to a clothes shop or two and had a look at some hippy things. All things considered it was a good day out where we had some fun as a family and as component units of a family. Tilly has bought many new books (I consider myself to have too much of a backlog to be getting any more lately) and has started her new blog in earnest. She is networking well on social media, her blog is getting noticed and she is building a reading base for her novel when she completes it, as well as the expectation that will drive her to complete it in the first place so that it can be published. Despite some of my more antagonistic posts, I do want her to succeed and will support her writing her novel.

I actually identify with the male for once.
So what? Well, the detente continues. We are hugging and kissing, still not on the lips very much and not at her instigation, and we are touching more when in bed. There are still many evenings where we are in different rooms, but she has her work and I have mine so that's... expected? We have watched a few films and we have spent some time close in public but things are moving slowly. The last blow up hasn't lasted and we have both tried harder. I still doubt that we shall be going much further any time soon, for a whole host of reasons, and I know that we have a long road ahead. When there is an opportunity I know that at present I am still aiming for couples counselling but, for now, things continue mainly positively, if slowly.