Monthly Archives: March, 2015

I want to be free (but not for too long)

Yes, they think my working career at William Hill is over, it is now! I finished at 6.30 last night, and went off for some celebration drinks with some of my ex colleagues, most of whom had left as well, though not all of them. Some others will be leaving soon, but for now…they’re still there!

It was lovely to be able to say goodbye to some really nice people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, most just as a woman, though a few of them knew me before transition. Mind, it would seem that some of them at least, I havent seen for the last time, as I’ve been invited to someone’s birthday party (somewhere around the 7th), so will see a number of them again then, will be fun.

Oh, a photo from last night, that I didnt know had been taken

Me, and a glass of wine

Well, officially I started job hunting today (given I’m not going to start before 26th April), but I actually uncovered a couple of options yesterday, which I followed up on today. One, part time (though with plenty of overtime options, seemingly) at a rival betting firm, and another one that piqued my interest, it seems Eurochange, one of these companies who sell foreign currency, are looking for staff all around the area. Even a chance to work in Huddersfield for a summer contract, that would be handy. So I’ve applied for that, permanent work with them in Leeds and Bradford, and sent off a good number, via Reed website, to various agencies and firms too.

Yes, I cant deny that becoming a hypnotherapist would be great, but I’m suspecting it would never be more than part time work, even if quite profitable as such. Hopefully I can fit whatever job I get around that course. Oh, and maybe get some writing done too? None done yet, but hopefully I can later in the week.

No, strangely enough, no job offers as a Jean Harlow lookalike…yet!

So, as Toyah says, for now I’m free, but hopefully not for too long.

Oh, I love her outfit, just saying…

The day they pulled the big top down

Well, apart from a few fans of 70’s music, that might keep people thinking for a while about the video tonight.

Yes, this is the last blog for a while (hopefully a short while) that I will write as a working lady. Thats right, 3 more shifts at William Hill, and they wont think its all over, it will be! Its going to be funny at 6.30 on Sunday, when I clear the desk for the last time, but I’ll live. It will be strange though, all the same, knowing I wont be going back again.

Its been nearly 6 years, unfortunately not near enough (about 2 months short) to get another year’s worth of payments, but such is life. There will be a good number of people I will miss, a few I definitely wont miss, and some in between.

As things stand, I plan to start job hunting next week, which hopefully will give me a nice split (with luck) to be able to start work soon after I get back from Hollywood. But at my age, whether it will be quite that easy, we shall see. The 5 weeks notice pay means that technically I’m employed until the 3rd May, so wont count for unemployment numbers until then. beyond that, I’m on a beginners hypnotherapy course on 23rd/24th May, which might lead to an interesting change in working life. Hopefully, a new job, and do the course too!

I would have hunted earlier, but for 1 thing, the fact that I’m away for most of the second half of April, in Hollywood. No, even if it would be wonderful to do so, I dont expect to find a job out there! But I guess you never know, funnier things happen, but…rolls eyes, this is me you’re talking about!

Oh, and be thrilled, or be warned, I plan to do more writing, as gainful employment in the interim.

But back to points mentioned, that last farewell. Unsurprisingly at my age, I’ve done a few, never cried yet. Hopefully this one will be the same. Which leads me to the video…

Same surname as my author persona, what more could you ask?

I wish it would rain down

In California that is, though ideally I’d hate the drought to break just when I have 10 precious days there, but knowing my luck…

Its not a hidden fact that in Southern California, pretty much everywhere is currently in drought status. I think its now about 4 years, when far too little water has fallen in the area on the whole. So yes, I wish that for the sake of the locals, they could get a decent amount of water, though I’m told they would need an ocean worth to get back to where they should be, but…not going to happen.

But is it wrong to wish, that it doesnt break just as I hit Hollywood? Yes, I have a few places indoors that I want to visit, the Hollywood Museum for example, but lets face it, most things I want to do, you do outdoors! So hopefully I wont be taking the grey Yorkshire weather with me, when I go.

Dont get me wrong, I can live without the temperature hitting 90 too, but at least you can get shelter from that, from time to time, or even quite possibly in the right place while outside. So yes, I’d love the drought to break, but not while I’m on holiday!

Today has been the day when I’ve (finally) got around to sorting things out for the trip. Currency ordered, credit card topped up, and shuttle booked for trips between airport and hotel. Hey, I’ve even been looking for sensibly priced places where I can get my hair, and make up done on the Saturday of the party too! There are a couple of possibles close to the hotel, so hopefully thats sorted at least.

And that it doesnt rain that night!

In other news…

Yes, I’m in the final week at work, so I’m going to hit a few milestones, I guess? Got one last night that I thought had already happened, my last taxi home at 10.00. I have got 1 more late shift on Saturday, but thats a 9.00, so will need to fight my way home on TPE, hopefully they wont cancel my Saturday night train this week!

Beyond that, there is talk of a farewell drink on Sunday, after I finish, which I will probably make a ‘one and done’ thing, as I’m not a great drinker. Then, I need to start job hunting, ah well…

The video, just perfect for Hollywood, in so many ways.

David Bailey, beware!

And yes, that title is immensely tongue in cheek, believe me!

Nowadays, nearly everyone (with the exception of me) owns a mobile phone, that enables them to not only make phone calls, and send text messages (I remember those days), but acts as a camera, and a pretty good connection to the internet as well. Me, I’m delighted that my US phone doesnt have a camera facility, and all these clever tricks, I’d never use them.

But yes, fine, a trip to Hollywood really does require some photographic evidence, so needs must…But not a phone, I’ve bought a proper digital camera! Only a little Vivitar one, but enough for me to snap pictures of my trip, and in all honesty, I think thats all I need it for. OK, fine, I might get back into more serious camera work, but dont hold your breath.

So, for a first, other than pics that Kate has taken, and passed on to me, you might get ‘live’ pics on the blog next month! Including, quite possibly, some of me. I have been told I have to get photos taken of me at that party, so…you will, you will!

Anyway, one of the crazes that has developed out of having cameras on the mobile phone, is something called the selfie. Yes, you know it, you hold the mobile phone up, aim it at yourself, and take a picture. Or as my dear friend Angel De Light does, you stand by a mirror, and take a picture of the reflected image. So fine, as one of my test shots, to prove that I could still operate a camera, and more importantly, could transfer the image from camera to computer successfully, I took a selfie. Here it is

Digital Camera

I know, those boobs! 😀

But yes, generally I only plan to use it for more normal photos of myself (taken by others), and plenty of famous landmarks around Los Angeles. But the odd selfie (and they will be odd until I get the hang of the best way to take them) might just appear, if you’re good.

The video, oh fine, not original

The sweetest thing

Well, yes, today officially was the big day, I hit 57. Unless you have done so elsewhere, feel free to leave greetings. OK, lurkers, I know you wont, but no harm in asking.

But in all truth, because of the way things work out with life, it was actually Saturday that proved to be the magical day this weekend. It wasnt in my plans to have Saturday off, but it suited work, due to the Cheltenham Festival and all that, but it made for a nice change.

And due to Nicole being elsewhere this evening, we took that chance to have my birthday celebration meal a couple of days early. And I took the chance to wear a strapless, green dress, most suitable for this weekend, given the cricket yesterday (not too much about that please), and the fact that its St Patricks Day tomorrow. Yes, I know its a silly thing, but I do love wearing a strapless dress nowadays, even if I’m not giving a big show of cleavage in doing so.

So fine, just after 6.30, we get back home, and I have an email from a friend, asking me for some personal details, for ‘something’. Given I know him well, I passed them on, hey, it was only my name as on my passport, nothing more anyway. He had mentioned leaving messages on Facebook, and Yahoo messenger as well, so I went off to those, to let him know the deed was done. He was still on Yahoo, so we started chatting. All I was told at this point was that something would be waiting for me in LA.

No, not a mad scientist who was literally going to turn me into Jean Harlow lol! Though given its Hollywood, there may well be one!

So fine, after a little while, the news came out, and for those who havent read the follow up comment on the last blog, its basically this. I am going to that party in Hollywood, and I dont have to concern myself about the cost, as the ticket, and dinner have been paid for, and given to me as the most wonderful present by James (yes, he was the one I was talking to), and Kate (who I soon ended up talking to as well). Words cannot describe how lovely a gesture this is, and now all I’ve got to decide is which dress I’m wearing!

Today has been calmer, got some nice stuff designed to make me even more beautiful from the folk here this morning as well, though I’m not sure how much of a miracle me looking stunning would take! But anyway…should look better after tomorrow, as I have a massage, and facial booked for the afternoon.

Oh, the cricket. Ireland did well, won more games than England in fact, but didnt make the quarter finals. But even so, its been a great few weeks, watching them down under. Hopefully at some point this summer, I’ll get to see them in the flesh, though job finding, and schedules may play a part in seeing how much, and when.

The video, from a time when U2 took themselves less seriously. And it sums up perfectly the gift received, from two truly wonderful friends, on Saturday evening. Just under 5 weeks from now, ‘Jean’ will go to the ball!

Well, in just 5 weeks from now…

Well, around the time I guess I will finish writing this blog, I should be at Atlanta airport, trying to grab a decent coffee (and probably some cake) before catching my connecting flight to Los Angeles, and my hotel in Hollywood, hard to believe it will be so soon. OK, fine, short of something amazing happening, this will be an out of work person heading for Hollywood, in a reasonably luxurious manner, but hey, I might as well get some pleasure out of the redundancy pay off, might be the only thing I do enjoy out of it!

Yes, the seats are a grade up on economy, for the second time in my life, though not as extravagant as I would have done, had I got the money, and already had a job lined up. So no, not business class, but what one calls ‘economy comfort’, and the other calls ‘premium economy’. The hotel at least, my normal sensible budget type, though I must say, for me, Quality Inns quite fit my needs.

But then comes the burning question, how wisely should I spend while I’m over there? After all, I’m only likely to get to Hollywood (and Beverly Hills) once, so…No, I dont mean in the sense of Universal Studios, and Disney, those things hold little interest for a vintage loving girl like me. No, what I mean, is if I get the chance to live the vintage life, should I do so, and to some degree, ignore the extra cost?

No, I dont mean drinking champagne at the swanky hotels. Well, not unless someone has fallen for my charms (ha ha), and is paying for it. What I do mean, is something like this.

Now, that would be fun, but given I should be spending pennies wisely at that time (of course I could find a job between now, and then, but no breath holding around here), is that just a silly spend of money I should be saving? I know what my ‘inner Harlow’ would say, go out, have fun, and enjoy yourself, just for once. But my ‘outer, practical Yorkshire lass’ is likely to have a fit at spending money on something like this, at a time like this. Of course, going to something like this might be my big break in the movies, so… (yes, I am joking at this point)

Mind, the funny thing is, if I’d still been in my job, I wouldnt have been extending the trip, and couldnt have gone anyway, it would have been happening the evening I landed in town. Technically, the other practicality should be, packing of clothes, especially nice dresses. And yes, normally when I go away for a week, I can pack comfortably 1 case going out, and just about squeeze everything in coming back. And yes, this time, its 10 days! Thankfully, because I’m travelling in ‘luxury’, I can take 2 cases. No, I’m not planning on 2 large cases, I’m not that strong. But 2 medium cases, given that I will get taken to the airport, and collected at both ends (that wonderful person, Nicole at this end, and one of those shuttle things in LA), I wont have to get cases too far. So, packing an extra dress, or two…?

The other thing that concerns me, is going somewhere like this, when I will quite literally, as a visitor to town, know no one. Also, I’m a non gambler (well, apart from Grand National), and like Ms Harlow, I’m not a good dancer. But…the chance to dress up, 30’s style, in Hollywood, can I seriously resist that? Possibly not! I know, Jean wouldnt care less, and would soon make friends, but this is me, so…just let loose my inner Jean, I guess, and see what happens?

So, if anyone just wants to post a comment, telling me I really ought to just go wild, and enjoy myself, feel free to do so. Hey, use a false name, or anonymous, just say something! I know people read these, I see the stats! I feel I should, but its just the thought of spending money, in this way…aargh!

OK, piece over, lets cut to the video. A group I love, recorded in LA, of a song I love too.

Waiting for the train that never comes!

Honestly, if I never travel with Trans Pennine Express again, after 3 weeks time, it will still be too soon. Though to be fair to them, it would be right to say that today they were only 50% to blame, the other half falling firmly on the shoulders of National Rail.

But, if TPE had been honest on the situation a little earlier, instead of 30 minutes after the train was due, I might have been able to rescue matters. Of course, if I had, you wouldnt be getting this bonus blog rant, so…

So, the story of my morning was as follows…

I left here at 8.30 this morning, to walk across (just under 10 minutes) to where I have to get the bus, when I make an early start on a Sunday morning, as the first bus from the estate is 9.08. As it happens, I could have got the 9.38, but more on that shortly.

The train was due at 9.18. At 9.12, it was showing as on time, quite a rare sight with TPE. But then, it started showing as later, and later, until…at 9.42 an announcement was made. Seemingly, there was a ‘slight’ over run on the engineering works between Manchester and Huddersfield, and to quote the announcer, they had no idea when a train might turn up, but they would let us know later, if, and when one would.

So, I did a rapid dash to a nearby Hills shop, rang work to let them know I wasnt going to be in by 10.00, funnily enough. I went back to the station, nothing had changed. So I gave up the fight, got a bus home, and gave up on the day, and a days wages. I might, even then have got to work very late, with a lift, but blamelessly (not knowing what a joke TPE was today) Nicole had made other plans, so that was that!

I know, I cant blame TPE for over running engineering works, and I dont. But what I can blame them for, is the lack of useful information. All they were doing on the departure board, was every minute, adding another minute to the expected arrival time. In the end, seemingly, the train arrived 61 minutes late! I expect it was ‘slightly crowded’ by then, rolls eyes!

So, TPE, please, just let us passengers, who you rip off so regularly know whats really happening with their trains.

No, given their utter incompetence, its not going to happen!

Yes, the video is dedicated to what I was doing today, waiting for the train that never came!

Could be the last time

Well, given that the next time I will get chance to write will be Wednesday, if I’m going to do this before the big meeting starts, it has to be tonight.

Yes, starting next Tuesday, for 4 glorious days, is the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest jump racing meeting of the year. And though, in theory, it might not be my last one working in the betting industry, it would seem quite possible that it will be. Mind, I wont be alone, as it will also be the last festival for someone who is one of the greatest jump jockeys of all time, A P (Tony) McCoy. He’s retiring, whereas for me, it will just be a different workplace, hopefully.

It will be about my 25th Cheltenham Festival, but dont quote me on an exact number. All I know is, that I’ve seen, and going back to the very early days, heard a few of them. Yes, back when I started in the betting industry, in the late 70’s, we had no live pictures in the shop. My, havent things changed?

Equally, back then, we opened at 10.00, shut at 5.00 in winter, the latest of 6.30 in the summer, so that has changed too.

But the first Cheltenham memories I have, go back a lot further than that. Yes, I remember in the mid 60’s seeing a horse called Arkle galloping triumphantly around the track. Yes, as I say, I’ll be 57, a few days after the meeting is over. Normally my birthday falls within Cheltenham, but this year, its the week after.

I cant imagine it will be the last time I see racing from the Cheltenham festival, just be the last time I’m taking phone calls at work about it. My favourite race nowadays? None of the quality stuff, its the cross country race! I just love something a little different, thats all.

And though I wont be gambling strictly on the racing, I’m pretty sure I will be risking a tenner in the office competition held over the meeting. It would be nice to win something, especially this year, but I will be up against shrewd tipsters, so I doubt it very much.

So yes, I have one more working Cheltenham festival to ‘look forward to’ at least, but this may well be the last one.

The racing? Tips? You have to be joking, dont you?

So fine, the video is about as old as my first Cheltenham memories

The way things were

Before 6 weeks ago, I hadnt visited Newbury since the end of 2001, when I left here, to head back to Kent, for reasons I’d rather not mention here, as they are rather personal. The way I left, to rush home to Kent, did mean that I didnt get much of a chance to say goodbye to the town that had been my home for about 2 years. And to be honest, for a very long time, I assumed I wouldnt be back, given how far it is from where I live now, and the fact that I had no ties to lead me back to the place.

Then, about 6 months or so ago, I heard from someone I used to work with, when I was the contact for reps at Farnell, who had now moved into the beauty business. And yes, as the story has already been told, I had the chance to get some semi permanent make up done, at a reduced rate, and I grabbed the chance. Fine, if I’d known then that 4 months later I was going to be on a redundancy list, I might have been more cautious about the money. Though equally, I must say, having it done has done wonders for my confidence, the look is amazing, and I cant thank Paula Elvey enough for that.

But this blog isnt about me, and the make up, its about me, and Newbury.

When I had the initial work done, it took up most of the time I was here, I stayed 2 nights at Paula’s house, and beyond a brief sojourn to eat on the 2nd night, I really didnt come into town, just passing it by as I headed to the station, and home.

This time around, I’ve had the chance to see a lot more of Newbury, and its been fun doing so. There are one or two places that are the same as when I was here, but most of it has changed pretty dramatically, hardly surprising in nearly 14 years, I guess? But am I glad I stayed 1 extra day, and had a look around? You bet I am! But no, I quickly decided that going out to see the building I lived in for those 2 years was not a wise idea.

Funnily enough, when I left Newbury, I was still living as a man, about the last time that I was, in all honesty. I sort of knew, but tried not to accept the fact I was living in the wrong body then, but it didnt last very long, about a month in fact! So yes, coming back here as a woman makes it extra precious for me.

But I know one thing for sure now, I can never return to Yeovil, where I worked for 16 years up to ’99, or to the Medway Towns (last seen in 2003), where most of my formative years were where I lived. I know that the changes would look strange to me, and for that reason alone, I dont think I want to return to either, after this trip back here. I guess I sort of knew this might be the case, because I know what it felt like when I returned to Jersey after 30 years, but…like there, at least I’ve finally closed the circle on that place in my life.

The last tale from today.

As is my style, when out down town today, I visited a ‘few’ charity shops. In one, I found a pair of absolutely gorgeous dresses, both on sale at £12. The snag, both had zips at the back, not something I can easily cope with, with my limited joint flexibility, and things. One very 20’s style dress was divine, and a size 14. But as it was therefore a perfect fit, there was no way I could get the zip done up from behind me, and no way I could get it on without undoing the zip.

But there was another, a size 18, in silver, that looks like it could quite easily have blown in from the 30’s! Now, because this was a larger size, I can get into it, without having to play with the zip. And thankfully the material clings to a girl’s figure, it still looks snug on me. So yes, I bought it. Oh, and by the way, it still had the original price tag in it, £200! Looks like someone who was a size 18 bought it, couldnt get into it, and just sent it off to the charity shop! Crazy! But I’m glad they did!

The video, well its almost the title of the blog, but its apt

Too clever for my own good, aka train issues!

Yes, thats right, tomorrow I head down south, to Newbury, for the top up session of the permanent make up look, after which I might look so much like a middle aged version of Jean Harlow, it might be scary! Fine, maybe a very slight exaggeration, but possibly not?

The funniest point about all this, and sheer coincidence in the planning, its all going to happen on what would have been Jean’s 104th birthday. Yes, on March 3rd 1911, somewhere in Kansas City, a new baby was born, to be named Harlean Harlow Carpenter, and the rest was history! So what better day could there be, to complete my new Harlow look?

As far as I know, my mind is not being changed to match the look, but dont quote me on that! 😛

But fine, that has nothing to do with being too clever for my own good, does it? Well, unless someone thinks that ending up thinking I’m Jean Harlow would be a bad thing, anyway.

No, what happened was that because I knew when I was travelling to Newbury well in advance, I bought the train ticket about a month ago. Shrewd move, what could go wrong? Well, in this case, and not in the sexual sense, the earth moved, quite literally. Somewhere between Banbury, and Leamington, at about the same time as I booked my tickets, there was a landslide. And yes, you guessed it, the line is still closed! There is a bus service between the 2 points, but it adds an hour to the journey time, which I really havent got to spare.

So now, I’ve cancelled those tickets, rebooked by a different route, all of which costs me a few extra pounds, but not too many. Which gives me the chance to try out the latest in the long line of privatised train companies. Until Saturday, the East Coast line was ran by the publicly owned company, the eponymous East Coast Railway.

But now, for better, or for worse (and judging by todays reports, its worse), it has been added to the privately owned railways, nominally Virgin East Coast, though I gather Stagecoach actually owns a large share.

Part of the problem for many is a simple one. East Coast ran the line very successfully, the private companies who ran it before them, didnt. Virgin, we shall see…

The video, a tribute, or otherwise, to the train company concerned