Herefordshire Pride was a great success. Lots of people turned up and had a great time. I must admit to giving up in the evening when the music started getting loud (what it is to be an old git). Now we are looking forward to a bigger, bolder event next year. Why do I say bolder? Well, this year’s event was confined to the Booth Hall (and later the Venue). The general public of Hereford probably had no idea anything was happening. That was fine but one purpose of Pride is to show the public that we (that is anyone who is LGBT) have the confidence to be seen in public; that we take pride in our diversity and that we have confidence that our neighbours accept us for who we are. I’d like to see Pride expanded to include any and all minority groups that wish to take part. We need it to show that the British populace accept difference. There that’s my opinion.
Speaking of which I was impressed by the interview that Hari Nef did for Elle magazine. The magazine itself is pretty lacking in ideals or intellect but Hari came over as someone who has strong views about her identity. Born male she identifies as being female, sort of. Although taking female hormones, she does not seem to be in a rush to complete GR surgery and really would like to ignore all the gender stuff to just be herself, wearing what she feels like. That sounds strange when she is a cover model sought after by some top brands but she seems to like the dressing up lark and the posing and also wants to be an actor (she has had small parts in shows like Transparent). I hope she is allowed to be who she wants to be, especially as she gets older.
And so to my main business which is writing. I’ve had a somewhat disturbed week (we’ve had men in to refurbish our shower room). I’ve spent quite a bit of time contemplating where Cold Fire (my September Weekes novel) is going with the result that I’ll probably ditch the latest 1000 words I’ve written. But I have a plan. . .
I have, however, also decided to start a new Jasmine Frame story – another novella prequel. The first part of Perspective is below. It is the tenth prequel and will be the last chronologically (there are still plenty of gaps in the previous few years of Jasmine’s life for more) as it describes events and circumstances leading up to the setting for Painted Ladies. While I have an outline of an outline I do not know how long it will be or quite where it will go, but here it is – part one.
Perspective: Part 1
‘Giss yer money.’
Jasmine froze with her hand on the key in the car door lock. She turned slowly. The yellow glint of distant streetlights on the blade caught her eye first. Not a big blade, a short kitchen knife, but enough to pierce her duffle coat, jacket and blouse if thrust hard enough. It hovered a foot from her stomach, on the end of a dark arm attached to a dark, hoodied figure, shorter than her.
‘What did you say?’ she said, feigning incredulity while several thoughts passed through her head in quick succession. First, was why at this late hour she had chosen this small, deserted car park behind the main street. The answer to that was easy; it was close to the 24-hour store and convenient for getting back to her flat. The second question was more problematic. How to get out of this situation? The knife made the solution difficult. She hated knives. They disturbed her; stopped her thinking straight. But he was just a kid, it should be easy for someone as experienced as her to overpower him, knife or no knife.
‘Giss, yer money, now!’ he repeated in a voice barely broken.
‘Why should I?’ Jasmine responded. Not the most sensible thing to say.
‘’Cos I’ll stick this in yer if yer don’t.’ He wobbled the knife for effect. Jasmine thought about it. A knee in the balls would probably end it, except he was out of range. She’d have to get closer to him; to the knife. She straightened up, taking a firm grip on her shoulder bag, edged closer to him.
A blow hit her right kidney. She let out an involuntary ‘oof’, and fell back against the Fiesta. She twisted to look at her assailant. Another kid, almost invisible in the dark, with a fine mist of freezing drizzle in the air. He was wearing a dark hoodie too. At least he didn’t have a knife. She didn’t fancy her chances taking on two determined young thugs, especially with a knife in the equation. Running wasn’t an option with her back against the car and the two kids in front of her.
‘What do you want?’ she said, unnecessarily. The knife-holder had already said what he wanted.
‘Yer bag,’ the kid with the vicious punch said. Slowly and reluctantly she dropped the bag off her shoulder and handed it over.
‘There’s nothing much in there for you,’ she said and added, ‘I don’t carry cards.’ Actually her bankcards were with her warrant card in an inside pocket of her jacket.
‘Just want cash,’ the lad said looking inside the bag. Jasmine looked from him back to the knife-wielder. His head was cocked as if thinking; obviously an unusual activity.
‘You talk funny,’ he said.
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine said before realisation dawned. She’d forgotten to raise her tone.
‘You one of ‘em trannies?’
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine said thinking, you stupid fool. Now he’s going to knife you because he’s scared of blokes who wear dresses; afraid that his mates will think he’s gay because he spoke to a guy in a skirt.
‘I got her purse. Come on Wizzer,’ the other boy said. He held up Jasmine’s purse like a trophy and tipped the bag up before dropping it to the ground. Lipsticks, powder compact, mobile phone, all the other bits and pieces that had accumulated in her bag fell and rolled across the tarmac.
‘It’s not an ‘er it’s an ‘im,’ the knife-boy said, ‘a fuckin’ perv.’
‘Forget it, Wizz. I’ve got her cash.’ He ran away. The knife wobbled a moment then withdrew, its carrier turning to run after his mate. He shouted, ‘Tranny, tranny, tranny,’ as they disappeared into the night on the other side of the car park.
Jasmine stooped to pick up her bag and all the loose objects. She stuffed them back in then turned the key in the lock and got into the car. She sat in the driver’s seat, hands gripping the steering wheel, shaking. How useless could she be? Defeated by two young thieves. Okay, she’d only lost a bit of cash. What was there in that purse, five, six pounds? Not a great loss in financial terms but her self-esteem had taken a greater knock. She turned the key in the ignition and was grateful when the engine started.
The flat was cold and dark with that ever-present scent of damp. She flicked the switch to illuminate the lounge and carried her small bag of shopping through to the kitchen. She emptied the bag and look at the meagre supplies – a sliced loaf, a jar of instant coffee, a tin of baked beans and a few blackening bananas.
She should really phone the station and report the theft. A boy carrying a knife, perhaps ready to use it, shouldn’t be allowed to continue his criminal career. She took her phone from her bag. Strange that the boy didn’t nick it. Perhaps it was too old, not being one of these new smart phones. It was something when not even thieves wanted your stuff. She put the phone down on the worktop. It was too late. She couldn’t be bothered to go through all the hassle of reporting the incident. Perhaps in the morning. She didn’t feel like eating anything either, not now, not at this late hour, not after her day.
She trudged through to the bedroom, shrugged off her coat, shivered, quickly undressed and pulled her nightie over her head and then put her coat on again. She lay on the bed and pulled the duvet over her, curling into a foetal position to get warm.
It hadn’t been much different to many other days although the mugging added an extra degree of misery. She’d got through her shift without screaming at DS Palmerston, just, but that feeling of frustration, of being side-lined, had filled her while she performed her routine duties. That was it “routine”. She was supposed to be a detective, detecting, but all she did was watch a computer screen, filling in forms, filing data, watching CCTV recordings. Her only legwork was up and down the stairs to the evidence store or the front desk where she got a cold shoulder from “GG” Gorman. Palmerston and Sloane had reduced her to the office drudge, no more than a filing clerk. The next round of sergeant’s exams would be coming around soon but what was the point of taking them when she was never given an opportunity to practise her skills.
She’d protested, pleaded, to Sloane to give her the responsibility her position justified. He’d listened to Palmerston’s arguments and dismissed her appeal. The reason? He was giving her time to settle into her new identity. In other words, he and Palmerston thought she was unstable, untrustworthy, an embarrassment, an awkward transsexual. Yes, she was still in the early stages of her transition; her voice control, as the incident with the muggers showed, was uneven; the hormones made her moody, sometimes sick. Her male body was fighting the feminisation and she was, probably, years away from surgery. She felt a mess, and here she was alone in a cold, grotty, rented flat while Angela, her onetime and still, beloved, continued to enjoy the comforts of their house. That was another thing – the divorce. Angela wanted her to sign all the papers that would separate them financially as well as matrimonially.
She groaned, sighed, and slowly drifted into the troubled sleep of the exhausted and depressed.