The power of the media. Following our “exposure” on the BBC World Service we were contacted my BBC Hereford & Worcester and visited by a very pleasant presenter. We chatted and then she recorded an interview and video (using her phone) of us talking about my revelation of being trans. The story was very much the same as the World Service interview as that seemed the only item of interest. Anyway, it was duly broadcast on local radio on Monday morning, during the 6 to 9 a.m. magazine-style programme. That meant they kept on repeating tiny excerpts but the transgender issue took up quite a large segment of the programme with contributions from a Rev who runs a LGBT friendly church and Joan King from Gender Trust. There is also a Facebook video. I hope it showed others that secrets can be revealed without the sky falling in and that couples can reach a loving accommodation with the trans life. I presume I am even more out now than before as a few people have commented on hearing the broadcast and seeing the video.
Despite there being little advertising in either of the media features there has been a noticeable increase in views of this blog and associated pages, so I’ll say “Hi” to new visitors and urge you all to come back from time to time, especially to catch these weekly rambles and story episodes.
Things have been busy for the last week or so and writing has been put on the “pending” pile. However I have made a start on the new Jasmine Frame prequel which I have called Aberration. You may wonder where my titles come from. When I started writing Jasmine Frame stories I decided to make each title a play on words relating to paintings, photographs, drawings i.e. connected to “Frame”. Latterly I have used photographic terms like focus, resolution, and now aberration. While this principle applied to the first published Jasmine stories, Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design I have decided that the prequel novellas probably need more explanatory titles when they appear as e-books, hence Discovering Jasmine and Murder In Doubt. All these titles are available as e-books and the two novels can be purchased as paperbacks in bookshops or direct from me.
You’ll have to wait a week or two to discover the pun in Aberration although I think it is probably pretty obvious. So, here we go with the first episode.
Jasmine Frame prequels – Aberration: Part 1
‘Really Andrea! Couldn’t you do something with yourself?’
Kevin’s voice made James pause in taking the glasses from the dishwasher rack. What was the pub manager on about now, he wondered?
‘What do you mean, do something?’
That was Andrea, James’ fellow bartender. Her voice like Kevin’s came from the cluttered corridor between the two bars.
‘Smarten yourself. Look attractive,’ Kevin said. James resumed stacking the glasses on the shelves, doing it as quietly as possible while he listened to the conversation.
‘Like how?’ Andrea’s voice suggested she might explode pretty soon, but Kevin seemed oblivious.
‘Like, wearing a skirt. Or a dress. Give the punters something pretty to look at.’
The eruption James expected didn’t come.
‘Why don’t you ask Jim to wear a skirt or a dress? I’m sure they’d look as good on him as me.’
James felt himself blushing. Andrea couldn’t possibly know that he’d love to be wearing a dress or skirt right now, although not perhaps in this particular pub.
‘I said pretty not pervy.’ Kevin sounded exasperated. ‘The customers don’t want to see a tranny behind the bar. Your job is to get them to buy drinks and you’ll do that better if you played the sexy bargirl.’
Andrea’s reply was calm and soft not the outraged roar James feared. ‘I am a woman and what you’re suggesting amounts to sexual discrimination.’
‘Yes, well, it was only a suggestion,’ Kevin backpedalled.
‘I’ll do my job in the same way that Jim and the other guys do it. I’ll pull pints for the customers and take their money but I won’t parade myself in front of them like a peep show tart.’
‘No, alright, Andrea. I get the message. Just make sure you do your job.’ Footsteps receded. Andrea emerged into the bar that James occupied.
‘Did you hear that, Jim?’ Andrea said. Like James she was in her early twenties and matched him for height. Comparing their legs and torso she probably outweighed him and she had a sizeable pair of breasts which she kept covered in a loose, black t-shirt. She was wearing her ubiquitous jeans and trainers. Her hair was cut short in a boyish style and James doubted that she had ever worn make-up. She was definitely a tomboy and possibly lesbian. Kevin was onto a loser if he expected to get her into a girly outfit.
‘Yeah. He was out of order, there. You could certainly have got him on an equality rap or even sexual harassment.’
‘Thank you, Mr Lawyer, but I think I’d rather just keep my job.’
‘You’ll put up with him having a go at you for not dressing as he’d like?’ James wondered how much antagonism the girl could take.’
‘Well, it’s the only job I’ve got. Unlike you who will be marching off into a well-paid career in a couple of months.’
James had told Andrea of his plans to join the police force in November shortly after starting the job in the pub a couple of weeks ago at the end of August.
‘Don’t go telling Kevin that. He thinks I’m staying for a while. I wouldn’t have got the job otherwise. Look, he’s probably worried about sales. This place doesn’t seem to get that busy.’
‘Well if he wants to drum up trade by having someone wear fancy dress he can do it himself.’ Andrea stomped off to the other bar. It was that time in the evening when the commuters had left and the night-birds had yet to turn out. There were just one or two customers focussed on their drinks while James and Andrea prepared for busier times. Soon there wasn’t time for conversation and the noise level in the bar made exchanging even a few words difficult.
It was approaching one a.m. when James clambered, exhausted, up the stairs to their studio flat. He tried to be quiet opening the door but he knew that the slightest noise would disturb Angela, asleep on the double bed in the corner of the small room. He pushed the door closed and pulled off his shoes. He padded across the thin, cord carpet to check on her. She was turned away from him, her long brown hair spread over the pillow. He stood for a few seconds just looking at her illuminated by light from the street lamp which filtered through the unlined curtains.
‘Come to bed,’ Angela mumbled without turning.
‘Yes. I won’t be a moment,’ James whispered unnecessarily. He pulled off his clothes, went to the tiny shower room to pee and wash and then to the equally cramped kitchen to get a glass of water. At last he was ready to slip under the sheet beside Angela. He placed a hand on her bare shoulder.
‘I’m tired,’ Angela said.
James stirred when Angela clambered over him. He groaned and curled up tighter wanting sleep to reclaim him. He heard Angela moving around, showering, having some breakfast, getting dressed. She tried to be quiet as he had done in the night, but floorboards creaked, kettle whistled, mug and plates clacked on the miniature table, the wardrobe door squeaked.
James was aware of Angela standing over him.
‘Is this going to work, James?’
‘What?’ He moaned.
‘We never see each other. I’m at the office all day and by the time I get home you’ve gone off to your bar and don’t get home till I’m asleep.’
James forced his eyes to open. He had a blurry view of Angela standing beside him in her accountant’s suit.
‘It’s only till November, Ange. Then I’ll be a trainee police officer.’
‘But it’ll be the same when you’re done training. You’ll be working shifts. We’ll still be crossing in the doorway.’
He pushed himself up into a slumped position. ‘We’ll work it out, Ange. You’ll see. When you’re a high-earning corporate accountant and I’m a Detective Inspector we’ll be able to make time.’
Angela laughed. ‘That’s be years if not decades. I want time with you now. Do you realise, we haven’t been in this bed awake together since we moved in.’
James knew she was telling the truth of their situation. They’d taken this grotty Reading flat just a day before they started their respective jobs, Angela’s permanent and his temporary, but neither well-paid. Life as a working couple was proving to be less carefree than the student experience.
‘Look tomorrow’s Wednesday; my day off. We could do something in the evening when you get home.’
‘I don’t know James. I’ve got studying to do.’
‘Your exams are months away yet.’
‘I know but I need to get up to speed with what I do in the office.’
‘You can afford one evening off. To be with me.’
Angela smiled. ‘To be with Jasmine I suppose.’
‘Well, yes, okay, that would be great.’ It was exactly what he wanted although he hadn’t dared to make the suggestion. They were in a new town and he hadn’t yet ventured out as Jasmine Frame, but he wanted to, very much. ‘I’ll have a look around to see what’s happening. We haven’t danced since we were on holiday.’ The memory of dancing, two girls together, surrounded by other people their age on that Greek island seemed rather distant now. Their final fling as students. Now real life was pressing down on them.
‘Alright. I’ll see. I’d better be off.’ Angela leaned down and kissed his cheek. He felt the sticky impression of her lips.
Jasmine spent the day in the stuffy flat trying to think of something more useful to do than watching the Olympic games from Athens on their small portable. She did use her laptop to investigate evening entertainments in Reading and while the dial-up connection wasn’t perfect she made one welcome discovery.
Before Angela returned she wrote out a note. ‘LGBT disco night, monthly, Wed. Athena nightclub.’ Then she went to change into her bar uniform which was precisely the same as that worn by Andrea.
James was pleased to find he was on duty with Andrea again at the start of the evening but she was sullen and quiet. She served the customers but didn’t make small-talk.
‘Anything bothering you,’ James asked hoping to draw her out.
‘Nah,’ she said, ‘Just looking forward to a night away from this dump.’
‘Oh, yes. Me too. Got anything planned.’
Andrea shrugged. ‘Don’t know yet. Wait and see I suppose.’ An impatient drinker barked an order, ending their quasi-conversation and so the night went on.
Angel was asleep again when James returned but turned over as he joined her.
‘Okay,’ she murmured.
‘Okay, what?’ James said.
‘We’ll go to that place you found, tomorrow, tonight, whenever.’
‘Oh, that. Great. Night love,’ He kissed her cheek but she was already snoring softly. Before he too dozed off he considered what outfit he should wear for Jasmine’s first venture into Reading’s nightlife.