There’s so much that has happened this week that is worrying but I can’t comment on it all – and I don’t want this blog to become merely a vehicle for my rants and fears. I’ll merely make one comment on the news.
I am delighted that the UK Supreme Court decided that the government must go to parliament to vote on the start of the EU exit procedure. It won’t hold up May of course, particularly as the Labour party doesn’t know which way to turn. No, it’s important for the future. It has reaffirmed in law that the UK is a parliamentary democracy in which the big decisions are made by MPs voted for by us. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it is better than an authoritarian prime-minister and a few cabinet ministers thinking they can do what they like. We’ll need that check on the government when May comes back from doing a deal with Trump and we find she’s sold out the NHS or given the American oil companies freedom to frack where they like, or something like that, in order to have that “special relationship trade deal”.
Another frustration has been more personal. I was persuaded by the offer of money to do some work for an (un-named) educational publisher. I have to make an almost insignificant contribution to one of the new GCSE science courses. I’m pretty disgusted. The way the GCSE specifications (the syllabus for old hands) is interpreted makes a nonsense of teaching science in a relevant, progressive manner. Theories and concepts are torn from from experience in the real world. The rush to publish, because the curriculum changes almost faster than publishers (and teachers) can keep up, means there is little thought about the experience of the students and why science is being taught at all. It’s simply – learn this for the exam.
I’m going back to my fiction (as soon as I can). It may not be making me much cash but at least it consists of my ideas.
Talking of which, I’m starting a new Jasmine Frame short story or novella (we’ll see how long it gets). It is set shortly after the events of the previous prequel, Falloff. Like nearly all the prequels, the working title is drawn from a glossary of photographic terms. It may mean something, it may not. I’m also experimenting a bit in this one, as you’ll see. Let me know what you think.
Darkroom: Part 1
Angela followed, towing a considerably smaller overnight bag. Her eyes took in the standard budget hotel fittings.
‘It’ll do. It’s not as if we’re planning on spending much time here. You want to be out and about, don’t you? Come on, get yourself changed and cheer up.’ She sat in the single, small easy chair and kicked off her shoes.
James lifted his case onto the bed and opened it revealing an assortment of clothes – female clothes. He took out a couple of dresses on their hangers and hung them on the rail in the narrow alcove that did the job of a wardrobe.
‘I know you think it’s sad that I’ve been longing so much for this weekend.’
‘I think it’s sad that you don’t feel you can be yourself back home in Reading.’
‘You know the reason.’
‘Oh, I understand.’ Angela reached for the magazine in her handbag. ‘You’re getting paranoid that every police officer in Reading who sees you as Jasmine will recognise the shiny, new PC, Jim Frame and report you as a tranny to the Chief Constable.’
‘Well, yes, that’s it. I can’t help feeling nervous.’
‘Oh, come here, you silly thing.’
James crossed the room and stooped into Angela’s outstretched arms. They hugged and kissed. Angela took a breath and pushed him away. ‘Go on. Transform yourself.’
James grinned and returned to the case. He withdrew a washbag and headed for the en-suite shower room.
‘There I’m ready. Shall we go?’
Angela looked up from her magazine. She had been changed into her party gear for some time. She glanced at her watch.
‘It’s still only nine. You know the club doesn’t really get buzzing till midnight.’
‘I know, but I want to make the most of it. It’s not as if we’ll be doing this very often.’
Angela put her magazine down and got to her feet. She smiled. ‘Of course. Let’s go.’ She put her coat on and together they left the hotel room.
‘Walk or tube?’ Angela asked.
Jasmine looked at her feet as they descended the stairs. ‘I know it’s only supposed to be fifteen minutes on foot but I don’t think I can manage that in these shoes.’
Angela laughed. ‘You’re out of practice. A real girl can walk any distance in heels.’
‘Well, perhaps not. Tube it is.’
The hotel was right beside the railway station, one reason why they had chosen it. A few minutes later they were standing on the Circle Line platform with lots of other people up in the city for the Friday evening entertainments. A train arrived and Jasmine and Angela joined the rush to get seats.
Jasmine looked up and down the carriage. Many of their fellow travellers were young people like themselves obviously on their way to clubs and parties. There were couples and small groups and a smattering of singles. One young woman attracted Jasmine’s attention. Obviously alone, she sat hunched up against the end of the bench seat. There was something about her dress and the way that she sat that made Jasmine examine her closely. She nudged Angela gently.
I make myself relax. I sit up straight in my seat, tug my bag into my side, feel my knees touching. This is what I’ve been planning for weeks. A girly night out at a club, in London. This part, the getting there, was always going to be the most nervy stage. That and getting home again after; and taking my first steps into a club full of trannies. Ok, the whole evening is nerve-wracking . . .but I love it.
I’m used to sneaking out of my flat without being seen but standing on the platform at the station made me feel really exposed. Of course, I arrived a long time before my train was due, so that made it worse. The cold almost made me wish I hadn’t chosen a short skirt and 10 denier stockings. Almost. It’s the swish of the skirt against my thighs that is one of the feelings I love most.
I don’t think anyone has given me more of a look than any of the other party girls heading into the city. In fact, I’m sure one or two of the blokes have been eyeing me up with no idea what I’ve got between the thighs that they’ve had a glimpse of.
The train’s slowing down. This is where I get off. Those two young women are moving too. My heart’s thumping. Perhaps I’ll stay on the tube and go all the way round back to the mainline station and catch the next train home. I dismiss the thought and get to my feet just as the train comes to a halt.
I step out onto the platform and head for the exit. On the escalator, I stand with my feet firmly together. Is that man a few steps behind looking up my skirt at my silk knickers? The thought that he might be gives me a strange do I/don’t I feeling. Then I’m through the barriers and heading onto the street. The blast of cold is a shock and I pull the zip up on my leather jacket. Perhaps I should have worn my coat after all.
I’ve rehearsed this stage over and over, poring over the map to make sure I know exactly how to get from the tube station to the club. Luckily, as the website says, it’s only a two-minute walk. The club is right beside the railway line. It’s dark and there aren’t many people around. That’s not surprising as its early for dedicated clubbers; it’s not even nine-thirty yet.
I turn a corner and there is the old brick building ahead of me with a big sign in lights saying simply “The Engine Shed”. The lights draw me and I quicken my step. I’m about fifty yards away and my thoughts are already inside, imagining the music, the chatter, the press of other trannies.
A hand grips my arm. I halt, almost stumbling on my heels but the arm holds me up. I look. The face is dark, hidden by a hood that is itself in shadow. I open my mouth to speak. Another gloved hand covers it.