A bit of excitement this week. On Monday I received a phone call from the producer of “The Why Factor” on the BBC World Service and on Wednesday he and the presenter, Mike Williams, turned up to interview me and Lou. We spent an hour and a half answering questions into a microphone. It was quite emotional going over our lives and trying to put ideas and feelings into words but it was also a great opportunity to promote Painted Ladies and Jasmine Frame, transsexual detective. The show should go out in the next couple of weeks, and Grayson Perry is supposed to be on it too.
I’m also getting ready for next Wed. (27th) and the first performance of “Jasmine and me” at The Sitting Room, Ludlow (8 p.m.). I hope its a fascinating insight into Jasmine’s crime investigations and life as a transsexual. I hope there’s an audience…
So after all that, here’s the next episode of Blueprint.
Blueprint, part 12
Jasmine sat at the desk in their shared study. The estate agent had listed it as the third bedroom in their house but Jasmine wondered how a bed could be fitted in the tiny room or if that impossible task was achieved how the door could be opened. Probably the room’s most likely use by the young couples who bought these houses was as a nursery. Jasmine could imagine the room filled by a cot and baby’s things. The walls would be decorated with pictures of fairy-tale characters, gruffaloes, hungry caterpillars and the strange beings from children’s TV that were cult-watching in student days such as the Tele-tubbies.
Jasmine doubted the room would ever be a nursery while she and Angela were the occupiers. Children had been mentioned shortly after they were married and Jasmine had learned that Angela was keen – but not yet. Angela had her own career which she wished to follow before being burdened by pregnancy and child-rearing. Jasmine liked children but whenever she imagined herself playing with or looking after young children she saw herself as the mum or favourite aunt not the dad. As the need to become the woman she believed herself to be grew, Jasmine realised that the chance of her fathering a child diminished. She knew she could never bear children herself but once she had gender reassignment surgery the chance of siring her own children would be zero. Jasmine knew that Angela understood this but it had become one of the unspoken matters in their discussions about her likely transition.
Angela was the only person Jasmine loved or had had a sexual relationship with. The thought of giving her up hurt far more than the thought of the surgery she would need to become a woman. But give her up she must. To get her birth certificate altered would mean getting a divorce. They could stay together as a pair of women but Jasmine knew that Angela was not looking forward to that prospect. Even now her frustrations at the lack of sexual intercourse surfaced from time to time; Angela liked sex with a man not a woman. Jasmine was resigned to letting go of Angela, to seeing her find another man, to being alone. It was hard, very hard, made more difficult by not being sure what, if any, other relationship she might want. As a woman was she straight or lesbian? She didn’t know; hadn’t felt any attraction to anyone other than Angela. Transition would be a voyage of discovery in many ways.
Jasmine shook herself out of her reverie and booted up the computer. It was Angela’s really as she spent most time on it preparing her spreadsheets and reports. Once she was home Jasmine was just glad to relax with an old film or occasionally a game played on their new flat screen TV. She didn’t bring work home very often. She looked at the sheaf of bank statements from Thwaite’s private accounts and his list of appointments. Going through them line by line it didn’t take long to confirm that he had stayed in hotels on the night before his secret day off. Jasmine went onto the internet to locate the hotels. It was only a few actually, and Thwaite had stayed in each more than once. One was on the A34 near Oxford, another on the M40 on the way to Birmingham and couple on the M6 further north. Nothing special, they were just stopping off points for the night, anonymous dormitories for travellers. The regularity of the bills did prove that once a month Peter Thwaite headed north. But where was his destination? Jasmine searched through the statements looking for other transactions that he made on his days off. There weren’t many – a few restaurants, a number of shops, a garage for fuel. She located the addresses of the places on a map and smiled. They were all central Manchester. Each month it appeared that Thwaite took himself off for a day shopping in Manchester. What was the purpose of these solo jaunts that he kept secret from his wife?
Angela came into the room and put a cup of tea down beside the heap of papers that covered the keyboard.
‘Found anything?’ she asked.
‘Yes, I have,’ Jasmine replied feeling proud of her effort, ‘Every month, I’m sure it was that regular, Thwaite took a trip to Manchester.’
‘I haven’t got any proof yet but I think it was to meet someone for a trannie day out.’
‘I don’t think so. Why stay in hotels on the way up if he was meeting a friend or friends. Surely he would have stayed with them as it’s been going on for so long.’
‘I think it was more of a professional relationship. I’d guess he had appointments with a dresser.’
‘Oh, one of those places where men can go and spend a day being dressed as a woman and made up…’
‘…and escorted out on the town. That’s right. I know there are a number of them in Manchester. I’ve just got to get their addresses and then go to visit them.’
‘Are you sure you want to?’ Angela asked. Jasmine gave her a questioning look.
‘If I’m going to find out how Thwaite was driven to suicide I’m going to have to.’
‘I know that,’ Angela said with a note of petulance, ‘but do you want to find the explanation?’
‘Why shouldn’t I?’
‘If you do, it will come out at the inquest. Mrs Thwaite will find out her husband was trans. You say he committed suicide because he couldn’t face her with that knowledge and he did everything to stop her finding out.’
Jasmine spoke slowly, ‘Yes, I know.’
‘So why are you trying so hard to solve this possible crime. Is it because you can’t bear the thought of someone needing to keep their gender identity secret or is it because you want to prove that you, that is Jasmine, can be a detective?’
Jasmine couldn’t reply at once. She hadn’t questioned her motives for digging into Thwaite’s decision to kill himself. Now she wondered if Angela was right and it was all about her own ego. In revealing herself as transsexual to Tom and soon to Sloane and the rest of the Kintbridge police force perhaps she couldn’t allow Thwaite to keep Petula hidden. She had to make being trans seem a trifle, nothing to kill yourself over, and that it was the anonymous photographer that was the cause of Thwaite’s death.
‘You may be right, Ange, but this person who sent the photos to Thwaite needs to be caught and shown what the result was of their little joke or blackmail or whatever.’
‘Perhaps you’re right Jas, but think about the effect it’s going to have on Mrs Thwaite.’
‘It’s not always easy, you know.’
‘Being the partner of a trans-person.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Just that you’ve launched into this investigation, revealing yourself in the process, taking the next step towards transition. Have you really thought it all through?’
‘No,’ Jasmine whispered reluctantly.
‘Well, when you’re gallivanting off to Manchester, give it and me some thought.’ She left the room and pulled the door closed.
Jasmine sat staring at the blank computer screen with sadness sitting on her like a sandbag. She did take Angela for granted and she had dived into this case without much thought about where it and she were going. She must organise herself. But first she must track those dressing agencies.
She woke the computer from its slumber and was soon surfing the well-known trans sites. Soon she had half a dozen addresses written into her notebook. The doorbell ringing. She looked up and say that it was dark outside. There was talking downstairs; Angela’s welcome and the deep voice of Tom Shepherd.
Jasmine leapt up and hurried down the stairs. Tom was standing in the hallway talking to Angela. He turned to look up at her and his eyes widened. Jasmine realised the reason for his look of shock – he’s seeing me for the first time.
‘Hi, Tom,’ she said in as light a voice as she could manage.