Monthly Archives: April, 2017

Womb with a view?

Unlike some Trans women, I’ve never missed the fact that I didnt have the chance to give birth to children. I know, lived all my life as a woman, I might feel differently about the whole matter, but I doubt it! I might even be up on some of those women, given that I actually have a womb, that never developed, probably for the obvious reason, but yes, as I found out about a dozen years ago, I do have one! Too old to be a mum to my own child now, but anyway…

Do I think that at some point it will be possible? Yes, would be the answer, especially given that the initial development of an artificial womb is in the process of being tried out, admittedly not yet on human children, but give it a few years…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/04/25/artificial-womb-promises-boost-survival-premature-babies/

Also, at the moment, Trans women wouldnt be able to produce an egg, let alone conceive a baby from one, but I’m sure that in time, yes, that will happen, with genetic engineering, and all that, in the future. Even more so for those with a womb, undeveloped, or otherwise. Me, I’ll probably be forgotten by the time its possible, but it will happen, I’m sure.

Equally, I’m sure that Trans men will be able to father a baby too, probably using the same genetic tricks. Again, its going to be a few years, but equally sure it will happen. What I’m also wondering, especially for Trans women, currently without a womb, will these external wombs be able to be fitted internally one day? Again probably, but again, probably not in my time. But for future generations…?

Me, happy to pass on all this baby love stuff, but I know others feel differently, so…

Yes, that last line gives a big clue to the video. Shows how old I am, I had the single of this, so many years ago!

To get a piece of the action

I must admit that when one of the big bosses called me into an office on Friday, my mind tried to work out what I could possibly have done wrong? Even more confusing when she invited one of the guys in at the same time, especially as he was acting as a team leader at the time. Oh fine, before anyone worries, I’d done nothing wrong!

I had noticed a couple of people from our department spending some time in another department on our floor, which deals with certain cases when they come in. Yes, they are called initial action, for the obvious reason, and why the video link for this was so easy to choose!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was asked if I fancied some training/shadowing time over in that department, and I couldnt say yes quickly enough. It will be interesting to see another department in action, especially one that deals with figures a lot of the time. Yes, mathematics, and figures have always been a love of mine, and I dont mean the hourglass figure I’d love to have lol! The latter, well if I could miraculously develop one in the next 3 weeks, might be handy! Or even by September, as I know a couple of ladies over in the US who would love to see me happily married, and living over there. But anyway…

So I’ve got a day on the phones tomorrow, as per normal, then the rest of the week, seeing how another department does its thing. Yes, starting Tuesday, so dont expect another blog before Saturday, though you might be lucky, as I will be working 10-6, instead of 11-7, but dont hold your breath! No idea, if its 1 week, or 2 at present, so watch this space for info on that. Why not the start of the week, because the lady I will be sitting with does a special task on a Monday, and because last Monday was a Bank holiday…you get my drift, she wont need me around that day!

Funnily enough, over here, next Monday is a Bank holiday too! So now I’ve ended up with a long weekend there, though I’m assuming that if I’m still on this secondment, I might be in on the Tuesday again, which will be weird! If it does, it means yesterday was my last Saturday working until June!

So yes, looking forward to learning something new, and the chance to discover if a department that I think would appeal to me to work in, really is that! Wish me luck!

Right, video time. Not one of Bucks Fizz’s bigger hits, but I liked it all the same!

I know a place to go…

…and avoid at least 10 days of the election hype that we’re now going to have thrust on us, yet again! With luck, I can avoid a lot more than that, but that at least is guaranteed. Yes, could hardly ignore the announcement of a General Election at the beginning of June, could I? No, given my job in the Civil Service, and the fact that my readers will cover the range from Labour, to UKIP, I’m not going to give my views here on any issues, so dont ask! I will vote, and I have a good idea who I will vote for, but I’m not saying more.

The only blessing, as I say, with the timing, is that I’m going to miss 10 days of the campaign, while away in California. Note, I left out the word ‘relaxing’ because in all truth, there will definitely be a good percentage of the time when I will be trying to sell myself to people, or at least I hope there will be. Fine, I will enjoy myself as well, but yes, its probably my last big chance to make it in LA, so…

Fine, I’ll have to kick my unofficial press officer (yes, she will know who I mean!) and see if she can perform miracles at getting me noticed in LA. Yes, Madi, I am joking really, but if you can…lol!

When I was last in LA 18 months ago, I registered with a Transgender Talent Agency, and dropped an email to them, knowing I was only in town for a short period of time, to get myself known with them at least. Yes, she picked it up only after I’d come back, but said to give her notice when I’m going across again, so today, I have! Even if it doesnt provide instant offers, at least she’ll know me, I’ll know her, and who knows where it might lead from there? Movie fame, I doubt it? A decent run in lesser roles in theaters, well who knows, just maybe? I know, it might lead to more, but I’d settle for that chance for now.

Should anyone want to stun her, by asking about my services, before she meets me, the agency can be found here http://www.transgendertalent.com/ Mind, you need to ask for Harlean, not the name suggested by the blog lol!

Sadly, I’ve heard no more about possibly working on a documentary over there, down in San Diego, so I’m assuming thats not now going to happen, but I will drop a line at some point, just to make sure, but fine, that was maybe hoping for a little too much? But if you dont try?

Fine, I might hope that one of the chat show hosts might have been, by chance looking at the Civil Service Blog, and seen my piece, but I would say that ranks somewhere between no chance, and less, but hey, until I come back, you never know? Lol! I must also contact that lovely lady who interviewed me 18 months ago, and see if she wants to do a follow up, or not?

In truth, I only wish I had the time, money, and holiday allowance to extend the holiday by another fortnight or so, and miss the whole ghastly General Election experience, but not to be. Yes, I would still vote, I’d get a postal vote, if that miracle happened! I’ll start one of these funding campaigns if someone wants to provide for the extended stay, mind. No, thought not!

But yes, I know a place where about 650 people will be seeking a job at that time, and 1 person who will hopefully be doing the same in La La Land! I know who I suspect will be more successful, but…?

And that last comment, and the blog title leads to tonights video. Two Petula Clark classics for the price of one, and before you think that its a long video, the last 2 minutes can be cut off easily, and not miss anything.

When do I get to pay my way?

One issue I have found over the years when trying to arrange, or pay for things in the US, is that so many companies, and websites are just not designed for dealing with someone who isnt in North America. I’ve tried to buy things through websites over there, but unless your credit card details have a zip code, that you cant use them. Some, like AT&T have given me work arounds, that using 00000 as a zip code will work on their sites, and some others.

Other times I’ve tried that, no joy! The funniest thing was once when I was ordering a food delivery over there, tried to do it on their website, no joy. Rang up, they settled it, some way or another, no idea how. Another time I rang up, only to be told that I couldnt purchase what I wanted, because I didnt have a US address, no way, no how!

Recently I found out that its not only credit cards that cause issues with US firms. On my 2 previous trips to LA, I’ve used a company called Prime Time Shuttle to get me to, and from where I have been staying in Hollywood, ordering it online, no issues whatsoever. Anyway, somewhere in the last 18 months they’ve changed their site to something that I assume is more tablet/cell phone friendly, as a lot of sites seem to have done of late. Generally I tend to find these sites less laptop/PC friendly, which is what I use of course, but I survive all the same.

No, the snag is now, that before they will take a booking from you, they have to send you an authentication code to your cell phone. Even ignoring the fact that I dont have one over here, I certainly dont have a US one, as indeed anyone travelling from Europe, to LA would be in the same position. So yes, you’ve guessed it, I cant do a booking with them. I actually checked, to see if I had a UK cell phone, if I could get the code that way, but no, it could only be sent to a North American phone anyway! Fine, I have a way around it, by using a friend, while on Facebook messenger, get the code sent to her, she pass it on to me, and then… But seriously, should it come down to doing something like that, just to make a booking for a shuttle?

There is also an alternate company I can use, without the same issue, though of course I have no idea how reliable they are? I’d rather use Prime Time, who I know are reliable, but equally why should I support a company that doesnt seem to realize that people from outside the US would like to book with them? Or that there are still people in the world who feel no desire to own a cell phone! 😛

Of course, if anyone wants to solve the issue for me, by picking me up from LAX, late afternoon on 17th May, and get me to my apartment in Hollywood, then let me know! It would cost me about $25-30 by shuttle, so happy to pay that amount to anyone doing the same job for me, and saving me the whole US company insularity issue! Return trip would be early afternoon of the 27th if anyone wants to offer that too, same arrangement!

Shout here, on Facebook or Twitter (if seeing this there) or email me at stephmajor8@hotmail.com, if a willing chauffeur. Sorry, I’m not yet a movie star, but maybe one day lol…?

Video, a take your pick moment, from one of my favorite LA groups. First one is a live performance from Hollywood Forever cemetery in 2013. Seriously, if you havent been there, and get the chance to, its a must, especially if you like seeing the last resting place of movie stars, including Valentino!

This version is a symphonic version of the same song, which I love, but naturally, no live performances this way!

South near the border, down Mexico way

A trip I’m planning for May had me wondering, if I’d been that far south before in my life? The answer, seemingly, is no! I did wonder if my very forgettable holiday to Tunisia (Monastir) was as far south as I had gone, only to discover that Los Angeles is further south than that, so literally, at this moment in time, the furthest south I’ve ever been in my life, is Long Beach! For reference, the furthest north would be on the Hurtigruten, when it sailed around the North Cape of Norway (in both directions), the furthest west would seem to be somewhere in the San Francisco area, probably Daly City, which looks slightly to the west of Seattle/Tacoma area, judging by Google maps, but dont quote me on that! The furthest east, using the same guide, would appear to be Vilnius, in Lithuania.

I’m certainly hoping to top a few of those in time, as Alaska is planned for a retirement trip treat, which will then (at some point in the state) be as far west as I’ve gone. Unless I go to the very top of the state, around Barrow, I’m not going to go more northerly than that Norwegian ferry line, and thats not on my plans. Nome would be my dream westerly, but being realistic, it will probably be Anchorage! East, I’d love one day to reach the far east of Russia, by train, but whether that ever happens now, who knows?

But going further south, you bet, thought not stretching my limits that dramatically, all the same. Yes, planning to head to San Diego, down towards Mexico way. In truth, I knew it was near the border, but didnt realize it was just 20 miles until I looked on Google maps! No, I’m not going just to stretch my limits, I’m going to meet someone that I know from Facebook, for the first time!

I know, maybe its the actress in me, but I’m possibly a bit crazier that way than most! I have to say that I have got to know some lovely people, purely by taking a chance on Social media, and writers forums, so…It also allows me to see some Californian scenery on the train that I would never get to see otherwise too. Much to my delight, and possible surprise, Amtrak’s website is designed for visitors from abroad! Yes, I know, they should be, but after recent experience, I did go and check!

So fine, next month, I might not be going south of the border, before that idiot Trump gets around to considering building the wall there, but I’ll get closer than ever before!

Yes, a few clues to the video in there, has to be said, but finding a film version was more complex, as most versions of this were recorded a long time ago. Thankfully, I found this Willie Nelson version from 1989, live!

My journey will go on, and on

Yes, anniversary moment tonight. Handy I found out about this, because I’ve got 4 days off, including today, in the next 5, so if you wants blogs for each of those, suggestions might be handy!

Just over 100 years ago, there was only 1 way to cross the Atlantic, by ship. Nowadays, apart from people with a lot of time, and a lot of money, no one does it by ship. Why, when you can reach the East Coast of America in about 6 hours, and if you can get a direct flight, the West Coast in about 11, would you want to spend more than a week on the Atlantic Ocean, with very little to see?

But in truth, it was really only after WW2, and the invention of jet planes, that flying the Atlantic, as a viable means of transport became possible. And it wasnt until the 70’s, and 80’s that it became practical for most people anyway! Nowadays, if you didnt make that trip by plane, well it would be a strange event!

But 105 years ago, and yes, there is a clue in that date, if you wanted to cross the Atlantic for pleasure, to emigrate, or whatever, sailing there was the only way to do it. Given that the only time I have spent a long period of time travelling by sea (beyond a few hours) was up the Norwegian coastline, from Bergen to Kirkenes, and back, I have no idea what its like to be at sea for days on end, and seeing nothing but water. I’m sure if you’re into that sort of thing, fine, but not for me. At least that Norwegian trip, some of the stops were long enough to get off, look around, stretch your legs, but on that trip, bit tricky!

Yes, on 14 April 1912, there was a ship ‘speeding’ across the Atlantic. You might even have guessed its name by now, thats right, it was the Titanic! Supposedly unsinkable, but an iceberg was to prove that claim wrong. Unfortunately, due to the conceit of the owners, and said claim, there wasnt more than a few lifeboats, and more than 1500 people died that night. Its recently come out that there was a fire, which may have damaged the hull a few weeks before, which led to the incident, but in truth, now, we will never be sure. There have, over the years, been many movies made about that moment, though the most obvious is the Winslet/De Caprio movie of the 90’s. In fact, the first was made only months after the sinking, and included an actress who was on board the ship at the time! Most of the movie industry was still on the East Coast at that time, I might add.

But yes, the next time you hop on a plane, for a long distance flight, just remember that 100 years ago, you couldnt do that. A ship to New York took about a week, or just over. To travel to Australia, as many did to emigrate, must have felt like forever! Whereas now…

Yes, the video is the obvious Titanic related one, though no, it isnt Celine Dion! Its a Post Modern Jukebox moment instead. If you prefer the original, it shouldnt be hard to find!

United we stand, United we fall

Its fair to say that most of my flying in recent years would come down to 3 current Airlines, American, Delta, and Aer Lingus. There was also US Airways, but they are now part of American, so…lets talk about someone else!

As far as I can remember, I’ve only ever flown twice on United Airlines in my life. The first, around the turn of the century, was an uneventful trip to Richmond, Virginia, via Chicago from Heathrow. It was in fact my first solo trip to the US, and all I vaguely remember is the long queues at Immigration in Chicago. So long that they actually took my case and loaded it onto my next flight before I got through to get it.

The second, and final time was a flight to Seattle, and though the service was OK, the fun started when I got back to Chicago. At Seattle they had been surprised when they couldnt issue my boarding pass for my second flight, but then I found out why, when I got to Chicago, they’d cancelled the flight, not that they really seemed to care! I actually got out that night, after complaining, via Heathrow, but obviously was late into Manchester, and they didnt do as requested and inform the people picking me up over here as to what was happening. So that was it, never again, I pledged. In fact, shortly after that, the Chicago route changed, first to British Midland (equally as bad), and then American (decent service), and I found it easy to ignore them after that.

So yes, I’d forgotten all about United until recently, and their ‘magic moments’. I dont know enough about their rules for people flying on free/reduced company tickets to comment too loudly on the recent leggings issue, but it was children, not likely to be assumed to be airline staff, so heavy handed was a fair comment. Not as heavy handed as at the weekend, clearly! Just when Delta thought they might get bad publicity for their cancellation issues because of weather in Atlanta, along come United to rescue them, and make them look like saints! Hopefully you’ve heard the tale of how not to deal with paying passengers, to get staff travelling for free on a plane, surely?

Heard tonight that their share price has fallen dramatically, presumably on top of all the bad publicity everywhere, especially on social media, so…I dont think United will be having so many insufficient seat issues in the near future! Hope not, anyway! Seriously, one social media disaster is bad, but 2 in about a month, oh dear me! The CEO blamed the passenger, no one else, absolutely unbelievable. Ah well…

Right, video time. Frightening to realise this is nearly 50 years old, and I remember it, but…For those who remember the 80’s reincarnation of Brotherhood Of Man, this isnt them! This, as Tony Burrows probably gives away, was a session version from 1970. Not one member of this group was in the second band, but anyway…

Dont let me out of here!

No, dont try and think of a song with that title lol. Its a line from the video song, mind. Which is an extended version of an 80’s synth classic! Confused? You’ll find out at the end of the blog.

In truth, it will be a nice completion of the circle if my last office job was in the Civil Service, because in truth, one of my very first interviews as a 16 year old was that sort of work, just a different ministry. That was for a junior job in the Ministry of Defence, which I didnt get. But anyway…

The only interim element of the Civil Service that I had in the interim, were the very hilarious Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister on TV. I dont know if that was anything like the Civil Service back then, or not, but I know its not true nowadays. But yes, most will remember the Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, and wonder if people really acted like that?

In truth, thats the only clue I have to what a Permanent Secretary in a department does, and I’m sure that today, and possibly even then, it was an over exaggeration of the role, anyway. Regardless, I wouldnt expect someone of that importance to notice little old me. Wrong again!

I got back to work on Wednesday, to an email sent on the Tuesday by the lady who did the in person interview with me, that the Permanent Secretary of our department had tweeted about me, and our piece! Wow, just wow! I will probably never meet him, but to know that someone in that position of importance, had noticed the piece about me, wow! Then on Wednesday, my unofficial press officer, Madi, told everyone in our department about the piece, though I know a good number knew before then anyway. Still, if Madi helps to get the message about Transgender people to more people, all kudos to her. I’d better mention someone called Lee at this point, doing his bit on Facebook, or I will get ‘complaints’ during the week lol!

The other comedic touch of the week relates to that big sporting event I mentioned earlier in the week, that happened yesterday, the Grand National. I do my best to study form, find 3 horses I could fancy for the race, and 2 of them fail to finish, and the other was 16th! The comedy moment? The office sweepstake, where I put my hand in a large envelope, pulled out a piece of paper with a horses name on, and got the winner!

Yes, dont let me out of that office until retirement, I love the place too much. Oh, and after tomorrow, I wont be one of the newbies, as a new group start their training tomorrow, and though they probably wont read this, I wish them all well. Oh, and next time they apply for applicants for the grade up from mine, I might well be applying! Oh fine, I plan to. It might be a while, its just happened, but it will happen, I’m sure. There is a plan to let me do some shadowing before then, to see whats involved, which might be handy.

OK, video time. When it comes to synth groups who didnt make it big, and I have no idea why, Ph.D would almost top me list. Jim Diamond did go on to solo success, so maybe that counts, but anyway? This is a super, extended version, and no, before you ask, neither lady is me lol!

Every loser wins…maybe?

Given this will be my last blog before the big race on Saturday, I will mention here and now that the Grand National is being run at Aintree this Saturday, 8th April. Why do I specify the date, you’ll soon see. The first running of the race I actually remember is the 1966 version, though I may have seen one earlier, thats the first I recall, as it was my first bet, at the age of 8! No, I didnt pay for it, my father did, a big sixpence (2.5p) each way on a horse that I picked because of the name, and nothing more. How things have changed since then, and now the heavy gambler that I am, will pick 3 horses out, and put a pound each way on each of them! Probably know as much about the racing now, as I did then, though there was a period in between when I knew a bit more.

I havent seen every race live since 1966 though. Because I was working in the betting shops in the late 70’s, and again from 1983, I missed seeing the big race during those years, until 1986! Why? Because there were no pictures in the betting shops back then! I know, sounds amazing now, but thats the way it was.

This year actually has a few related milestones, it will be 40 years since Red Rum won his last National, it will be 20 years since the ‘bomb scare’ that caused the race to be run on the Monday. But the event I’m looking back on is an even older milestone than that, going back to 8th April, 1967.

To be fair, there was definitely one horse that most serious punters would have given no glance at, as a possible winner. Perhaps a few shrewdies in the Highlands of Scotland would have backed it because of the name, but no one else would. Indeed, as history tells, neither owner, or trainer of the horse even went to Aintree that day, they thought it would be a waste of time.

In truth, 22 fences passed out of 30, they were right, the horse was still standing, but a very long way behind the leaders. Then history was made, carnage at the smallest fence on the track, and out of all that, one horse from the very rear of the field located a gap in the melee, jumped the fence, and yes, the rest was history. I’m sure, as a few of you already know, that horse was Foinavon. I found some film of the race, for those interested

Many others remounted, and chased after him, but the lead was too great, and the 100/1 no hoper had won the big race! 17 years later, that fence was named after the horse that made it famous!

Its fair to say that with all the changes to the fences in recent years, the race isnt the ferocious test it used to be. Still challenging, but not as hard all the same. So I’m not sure the same will happen again, though a 100/1 shot has won the race again since then, all the same. Who wins it this year? Who knows? But on the 50th anniversary, to the day, of that amazing race, will it be another great turn up?

Oh, that hardened young gambler, well, it took me 4 attempts to back my first winner of the race, and 3 of those were placed on the same horse. Highland Wedding, you can tell my Celtic roots! I have backed a few winners, and a few more placed horse since then, but fine, you will always remember your first winner, I guess?

Right, video time. The blog title gives the song away. Its not the greatest song of all time, but certainly works here!

Back to life, back to reality

Well, I’m assuming it will be at least? As far as I can see, Transgender Day of Visibility, which was on Friday, was about the last landmark in LGBT history for a while, so I’m assuming I will now be able to drop back into quiet anonymity, much to the disappointment seemingly, of a number of my work colleagues. For those interested, the last article, which actually made the blog on the main Civil Service page, can be found here

https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2017/03/31/pride-and-prejudices-should-transgender-visibility-be-an-issue/

Yes, I’m proud to be the spokeswoman for Transgender people in the Civil Service, dont get me wrong, and the ride has been amazing, but fine, the boring old biddy that I am would say that I go to work to do my daily job to the best of my ability, and thats the main thing. Fine, I have enjoyed the whole ride, but fine, getting back to ‘normality’ in Bradford will be a good thing to do.

I know someone will tell me otherwise, but I’m assuming that until the same landmarks come around next year, I can go back to being a dutiful Administrative Officer, and leave it at that? I have to say the reaction to everything at work has been amazing, and fine, I’ve quite enjoyed the teasing about my 15 minutes of fame at work too. Fine, it will go on until at least Wednesday, because someone is going to mention the article to the whole team at the staff meeting then, but after that, and probably before that, for people outside Bradford…

I know one thing, if I get this much publicity, and interviews during my stay in LA, I will be thrilled. If so, who knows where it might lead, but no, I’m not expecting that to happen. Except, well, maybe…? Helped someone with some research this morning, and it may lead to a filming opportunity when I’m in California, so I’m told, but I really will believe that when it happens! No, not Jimmy Fallon, yet! Nothing to do with transgender issues, but thats all I’m saying unless its likely to happen! 😛 Lets just say its something I would love to get involved in.

But now, as far as I know, life can go back to the reality of day to day work, with no interviews, no publicity, or nothing. Oh fine, a part of me is really going to miss that, but equally, getting back to just being another worker in the department, without all the other stuff, is probably better for my future prospects. Or maybe not? 😉

Video time. If you havent worked out the song, long before now, be ashamed! Thanks to Sarah for reminding me of this one.