Not a lot of time this week for writing but things are moving with publication of Bodies By Design – the 2nd Jasmine Frame Novel, as both a paperback and e-book and the novella Discovering Jasmine as an e-book. I hope I’ll have a publication date and lots of info next week.
Rebecca Root has been getting plenty of publicity for her role in the new BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl – an interview in Guardian Weekend and a feature in Radio Times are just the ones I’ve seen. I’ve got high hopes for the series in presenting transpeople in comic situations where the joke is not “silly bloke in a dress” but the ridiculous situations we find ourselves in. Ms Root comes across as a likeable and sensible woman and I hope she has lots of success with this role and others. It will be great to see a transwoman playing a transwoman. It would be even better seeing a transwoman playing a woman’s role but the whole point is that once transition is complete there is no distinction so really we shouldn’t notice. On the other hand I wouldn’t want to insist that all trans-roles should be played by trans-people, after all acting is about playing a part. In classic theatre there is a lot of playing with roles – all male and all female Shakespeare, women taking traditional male roles and vice versa (e.g. Helen Mirren as Prospero/a in The Tempest). How about an all-trans Hamlet? Theatre (and film) should not be censored in any way.
I’d love to see Rebecca Root playing Jasmine – okay she’s a little old for the part and not blonde, but make-up does wonders.
Anyway here is the next episode in the prequel to Painted Ladies. It’s building up to a climax – just wait.
Split Mirror: Part 10
Jasmine ended the call and dropped her phone on to her desk. Almost at once it beeped and she grabbed it up again, thinking Tom had got back to her straight away, but it was only a text alert. The receptionist at her GP surgery was reminding her that she had an appointment at five o’clock today. She had forgotten about it and wondered how she could have done. These appointments with Dr Jilly Gould were important to her as they moved her forward in her transition even if each step seemed to be infinitesimal in size. She hoped that this time Jilly would be happy with the effects of the hormones she had been taking for three months, not that she had seen much change in her body shape yet. Perhaps there would be news from the gender reassignment clinic. Oh, how she hoped to be given a date for her surgery but she knew that was unlikely. She would have a few more years yet to practice patience.
The phone rang and vibrated in her hand. She jumped in her seat realising that she had been day-dreaming. She glanced at the screen; this time it was Tom. She pressed the answer button and held the mobile to her ear.
‘Tom. Did you get my message?’
‘Yes, Jas, but it’s a downer I’m afraid.’
‘The wrong van?’
‘Yes. Sorry, Jas. It was parked on the pavement outside the houses. A Renault Traffic, high top.’
‘Plastered with the name of the owner, Steve Cox, and his phone number. He’s a car mechanic; does motorway rescues. Nice guy, early forties, still lives with his mother. She’s a bit dotty but said he’s very proud of his van now he’s got his name all over it. I’m coming back in. I’ve told Palmerston. I expect she’ll be speaking to you any moment.’
Jasmine felt a weight in her stomach. She’d so hoped that they were on Diana’s trail even though it had been a long shot. ‘Thanks Tom,’ she said and ended the call. She looked over the top of her monitor and saw DS Palmerston advancing towards her.
‘Frame. Your information proved to be of no use, as I expected.’ There was obvious glee in her voice. ‘Now I suppose we have to go about finding Stretfield the proper way although I still think there’s a good possibility that she has just walked out on her look-alike partner with or without this unknown van driver. At least it gives us a chance to disrupt the obscenities occurring in that layby.’
Jasmine listened to her monologue without comment awaiting the instructions that she knew would be coming. She wasn’t disappointed.
‘Put together a team to round up those sex maniacs this evening. We’ll need about a dozen uniformed officers and see if Kingston and Money are free to come along with Shepherd. We’ll need transport and a mobile incident vehicle so we can interview them individually on the spot. Inform highways and the area commanders. Make sure we can all speak to each other. I want to set up the cordon at twenty hundred. Got it?’
Jasmine certainly had. She knew she had an afternoon of phone calls and form-filling to set up an operation of this size.
She nodded. ‘What about me Ma’am?’
Palmerston looked confused. ‘What do you mean?’
‘What role do I have in the operation?’
Surprise made the DS’s eyes widen. ‘You’ll be here of course. Monitoring communications.’
Of course, Jasmine thought, how had she ever expected anything else? Left behind as usual, playing no real part in the proceedings.
‘We’ll find out if this white van man really does exist. Get on with it Frame.’ Palmerston turned on her heels and headed for Sloane’s office.
Jasmine breathed in deeply and got down to work. She’d be lucky if she had everything arranged in time for her doctor’s appointment.
‘I’m really sorry I’m late, Jilly,’ Jasmine said as she pushed the door of Dr Gould’s office open. The young GP glanced at her screen.
‘Only a couple of minutes, Jasmine. I hadn’t got round to thinking of taking my next patient yet. Busy?’
Jasmine sat in the chair beside Jilly’s desk, tugged her skirt down her thighs, and put her fingers through her hair. ‘Yes. A rushed job on. I’ve got to go straight back but I didn’t wasn’t to miss seeing you.’
‘So we’re not going to get that quiet drink and chat this evening, then.’
Jasmine laughed. It felt like her first real laugh for days. This mythical drink and chat was a constant source of amusement since they had never yet managed to coordinate their busy working days to allow them a couple of hours together. ‘One day,’ she said.
Jilly’s face took on a serious expression. ‘I’m glad you managed to get here though. It’s important that we keep these regular appointments so I can monitor your reactions to the hormones. Could you take your shirt off, please Jasmine?’
Jasmine obliged but felt embarrassed sitting in just her bra when it was only supporting her silicone falsies. Dr Gould used her instruments to measure her heart beat and blood pressure and took a sample of blood. She kept up a stream of questions and chat.
‘Have you noticed any changes?’
‘No, no really. My breasts feel a sensitive and sore at times but I don’t think they’ve grown.’
‘It’s early days yet, Jasmine. It’s not quite three months is it?’
‘Nearly. I started in November.’
‘And don’t forget you’ve got the antiandrogens fighting your testosterone and well as the oestrogens. I’m not even sure we’ve got the dose right yet. It’s a delicate balance and the reason for all these tests.’
Jasmine nodded. ‘I understand Jilly. I’m just impatient to be fully a woman.’
‘I know, Jasmine.’ Dr Gould tipped her head on one side and gazed at her. ‘Well, I don’t really. I can’t really understand what it must be like to feel that your body is not in tune with your identity. You’re teaching me an awful lot. I appreciate it. You can dress now.’
Jasmine gratefully began to pull her shirt on.
‘What about moods?’ Jilly asked.
‘What about them?’ Jasmine asked feeling a bit wary of Jilly’s question.
‘Well, you are like a girl going through puberty with all these hormones sloshing around inside you and you know what they are like. How do you feel?’
‘It’s difficult to say,’ Jasmine replied. She didn’t want to confess to the times she burst into tears or snapped at Angela or Tom or other colleagues or the days when it was a struggle to even get out of bed. ‘Work has been difficult,’ she admitted, ‘but that’s because my senior officers keep leaving me out of operations so I’m stuck in the office.’
‘Perhaps they think they are protecting you while you go through your transition.’
Was Sloane protecting her? Perhaps, but not Palmerston.
‘Our DS has got it in for me. She hates transwomen.’
‘Oh, that’s a pity. You shouldn’t have to face abuse in the workplace. What does Angela say?’
‘We’re not together anymore. I’ve moved out.’
‘Oh, when? Where?’
Jasmine struggled to recall since she had hardly spent any time in the flat but an image of untouched boxes and bags came to her. ‘Um, Wednesday. It’s a one bedroom flat on Bristol Road. I haven’t had a chance to do anything to it yet or even unpack.’
‘But you have started your life as a single woman.’
‘Yes,’ Jasmine said knowing that her tone of voice revealed her feelings.
‘You miss Angela?’ Jilly asked.
‘Yes,’ Jasmine admitted, ‘I know we had to split up for Angela’s sake. She doesn’t want a lesbian relationship. But, well, we got on.’
‘You were, are, very close Jasmine. It’s bound to be hard for you for a while. But try and stay positive and this problem with your colleagues – don’t let it get to you.’
Jasmine knew what the doctor was getting at. Any sign of depression or mental ill health and she would be off the gender reassignment waiting list. It was a sort of catch 22. Some people thought she must be mad to want to alter her body but only if she was judged completely sane would she be allowed to do it.
‘I won’t,’ she said. ‘If that’s it, Jilly, I’d better head back to work.’ Jasmine rose to her feet
‘Yes, that’s all for now, Jasmine, but we need to meet fairly frequently to make sure your hormone balance is correct.’
Jasmine was already heading for the door. ‘Sorry I’ve got to rush. Thanks Jilly.’
Over two hours had gone by since her return to the office. Jasmine was alone, the room strangely quiet and peaceful. DS Palmerston had been in along with Tom Shepherd, Kingston and Money. They had collected their instructions and Jasmine had confirmed all the arrangements. Now they, along with the uniformed officers were on their way to round up and question the doggers at the public sex site. Jasmine had nothing to do except seethe at being left on her own. All she could do was listen in to the communications between the police officers but there was none at the moment. She deeply resented being left out of the operation and allowed herself to dwell on her bitterness. It wasn’t even likely that they’d glean anything useful from interviewing the participants and voyeurs in the sex play. The chances were slim that anyone recorded the registration of the white van in the dark layby while there was exciting activity taking place.
Jasmine couldn’t avoid being disappointed that Tom had turned up the wrong van but something about it bothered her. She pulled out her mobile phone and rang Debbie’s number.
‘It’s me Debbie, DC Frame, Jasmine.’
‘Oh, hello. Do you have any news?’
‘No. Sorry Debbie but we really are doing all we can. Look I have a quick question.’
‘The van you saw up the road. It was plain white, no markings, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes. That’s right.’
‘And you’ve seen it a few times?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. Not long ago. A week or two.’
‘You can’t remember anything else about it can you? It’s number plate?’
There was silence for a few moments. ‘No, I can’t, I’m sorry. Wait! There was something strange about the number. It had the two numbers in the middle like they do now but they were split up.’
Jasmine felt excited but wasn’t sure what Debbie meant. ‘You mean the letters and numbers were separated into two bits.’
She had an inspiration. ‘As if the numbers were acting as letters and making words with the letters?’
‘That’s right, I suppose, but I can’t remember the letters making any sense to me,’ Debbie answered. ‘I’m sorry I can’t help anymore.’
‘No, that’s fine Debbie. You’ve been a great help. Good bye.’ Jasmine ended the call and eagerly played her fingers over her keyboard calling up information on her computer. She wanted to find out what vehicles Steve Cox had previously owned. It took just moments and there it was. A white Renault Traffic. The same model as his current van but a little older. It had been scrapped. At least the records said it had been.
Jasmine compared the details of the two vans. She stared at the registrations, the older RV54YTK and his current van RU55EKS. 5s could be Ss and a 4 used as an A. She scribbled the sequences on a piece of paper separating the numbers. Then she saw it. Of course a 5 could also be twisted into a sort of F. RVS AYTK meant nothing, but what about RUF SEKS?
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as a paperback and e-book from all booksellers including Amazon