Category Archives: Clara Johnson

Almost born in the USA

Oh, happy Independence Day, America.

Funny thing was, I’d planned to give this a miss for a few reasons. Firstly, I know people are going to want to hear what tomorrow is like for me, with the EEG Scan, and I try not to do too many blogs, as well as too few in a week. But then someone posted a picture, and well, I had to post it, and it could hardly wait a year, so…

Of course, the funny thing about my connections to the USA, so many of them lead to one state, Oklahoma! Of course its where Clara Johnson was born, in territory time, and not only that, but Kate has pointed out to me, its a highly likely target point for my Irish Great Grandparents at the time, if they’d gone west, instead of to England. Given that would have happened just before Clara was born only makes that even more ironic.

Sadly, Kate and I have agreed that even if I get permission to fly, post scans (which I will, if only epilepsy), I wont be going to Oklahoma this year. I think she’d rather have me nearer home, and with the better facilities in New England close by, and in truth, I dont blame her! But if Clara thinks she’s safe, there’s always next year, by which time hopefully things will be really stabilised!

I cant make plans until after the scans on what I will do, as a lot will depend on where, when, and how much surgery I got done, to solve all my issues. A dear friend (or 2) have made it very clear they’d love to find a way to get it done in the USA, and given some of the recent reports coming out about the NHS, who can blame them? But until I know whats the matter with my brain, no comment. But definitely need to get some bits bobbed somewhere in the near future, I’ve pledged for that, and in truth, it will be nice now to get it done.

Its also fascinating to think where I might be now, if my ancestors had gone west to ‘Oklahoma’? Or did one version of my life have that happen, produce Clara Johnson, and only in the other life did they come to England? I know, silly idea, but an interesting thought. Would I have followed Clara’s route, ended up in movies in Hollywood, would I have followed Kate’s route, to New England. Or might I be a happy housewife home in Oklahoma, with children, who knows?

Oh right, that photo, no I hadnt forgotten. Its a picture of another shy, demure blonde, who would never say boo to a goose. Yes, you know I’m joking I hope, because its Mae West, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Would I love to wear this dress, you bet I would!

mae west liberty

Maybe next year, somewhere in the USA, who knows, but I wouldnt put good money on it!

Right, the video. Its the obvious song, but its ironic about the way politicians pat themselves on the chest, and have this blasting out at rallies. Why, because its actually an Anti Vietnam song, and not deeply proud of what the USA did. But they just look at the song title, not the lyrics, and… God Bless America!

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I was passing the studio the other day

The only snag with time travelling back to the 1930’s is if you get caught out time travelling. Its fine if I put on the Clara Johnson look, as no one is the wiser, but if I forget, or the camouflage vanishes, well…

So there I was, coolly back in 1933, walking past Warner’s studio, when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a voice said, “Clara, so good to see you, we need you for a photo shoot right away. Just go put on a sexy dress, get down to the stills studio, and get it done.”

Well, given I didnt want her to get into trouble, what can I say, I went along with it. Short dress, showing lots of leg, enough to get the men excited, and all that. Up until yesterday, no concern, never seen recently, so I assumed it had got conveniently lost, until it hadnt!

1930s me

OK, anyone who believed that story, you’re way too innocent, even if it looks like it was taken 85 years ago, lol. Actually, it was taken about 5 years ago, but you have to admit, it has the look of something far more vintage. This fact is down to the talent of a friend named Frank, nothing to do with time travel, or studio photo shoots at Warner’s in 1933. But yes, look at those legs, lol, all me!

I assume its all done with one of these modern computer filter things, to turn this

2nd Photoshoot picture 4

into my 1930’s self! I actually posted it for a Myrna Loy ‘homage’ photo contest, said jokingly that it should look more 1930’s, and lo and behold…

But fine, if you really want to think that the first picture is genuinely me, taken in 1933, and that the second one is a colourised version of it, then fine. But which is the true story, you decide! πŸ˜‰

So, you might then be asking, what was Clara doing at Warner’s in 1933, in the first place? Well, unsurprisingly, it was for one of those magical Buzby Berkeley musical numbers. Clearly she was a competent swimmer, as she is in this, see if you can spot her? Easiest in the fountain section, but you do see her in the pool too. So…?

Keep trying to do what you’ve been doing

Well, I have to admit that recently I’ve accepted there are more than a few things I used to do with ease, which are either now only be done with difficulty (see Monday’s blog) or not going to happen at all. Yes, I did manage to walk a few hundred yards on Monday, but it hurt. I then did about 4 calls in quick succession on Wednesday, dealing with doctors, and reports afterwards to work with results, and an hour or so after that, my voice was a mess too, but I got by. No, the chances of getting through an 8 hour shift of phone calls, back to back, no way.

But at the same time, I must try not to give up doing everything I used to do, must I? So anyway, events yesterday led to my first non health related trip out since last month, a meal out yesterday evening. Very much looked after, very much with an eye kept on me, but I went. Yes, as you can gather from this, I survived. But yes, I found the walking (again only a few hundred yards) a challenge, and getting the brain to focus on making selections from the menu, well… Lets just say that unless the neurologist (or a handy mad scientist) can revive my brain somewhat, complex holidays on my own just arent going to happen any more! Not saying not going to happen, but someone faces a challenge if it is going to, thats for sure.

Great shame, as it will probably mean I will have to give up on any plans to visit Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, and ‘hunt’ for Clara Johnson, unless I can recover somewhat. Not giving up on something more relaxing with Kate just yet, but active stuff, I dont think so! Well, unless someone wants to swap me out into a fully functioning brain, and body at least, lol. But yes, if anyone has a nice robot body that just needs testing with the aid of a human volunteer…? πŸ˜‰

The other thing I’m keeping doing, was done today, for an event tomorrow. Yes, its that time of year again, the Grand National. I suspect the last time I didnt bet on the race (maybe?) was 1974. I’m not saying I didnt bet on it then, but I just cant work out how I would have done so. I certainly ‘bet’ (well my Father did, on my behalf) between 1967, and 1969, but then he left home, and I have no idea after that? He did still see us until his death in the mid 70’s, so maybe he did still put bets on for me, but I cant be sure, at nearly 50 years on! After that, I was working, I was putting my ‘pennies’ each way on a horse in the race, and the tradition has continued. Some good years, some bad years, but gambled, all the same, in recent years, my annual (or sometimes twice annual) trip to the bookies to put bets on (up to Β£1 each way x 3 now) for myself, and Eric. But seriously, getting out to do that at present, no chance.

So today, with both of us made our selections online, and I checked out to see where the best, reliable prices were (there are some online firms I’ve never heard of, or would bet with, in truth) and what amused me was that the nicest place terms, and prices were with the firm that made me redundant 4 years ago, William Hill! So anyway, account opened, bets placed, and now fingers crossed I can take some money off them tomorrow. So yes, that long streak will last 1 more year at least!

So, in some senses at least, I’m keeping on doing what I’ve been doing, even if there are a few cheats involved now. Which leads me to the video. a real Pre-Code treat. Yes, it shows, behaviour, and shape of the lampshade, lol. Probably tame now, but in the more puritan 1930’s…

That was a week that was?

Anyone looking for cheery news, look away now! At least now I know what happened last Tuesday, though fine, I might wish I didnt. Yes, fine, I had a seizure, OK? How do I know this? Well, could be because I had another one on Friday, just maybe? On a Blackpool tram of all places, before I got to wear my ‘Clara Johnson’ dress and all. No, I dont remember a thing, and from what I’ve heard, thats for the better! So yes, the perfect place to spend your birthday, a hospital bed.

The good news, as you might have gathered by now, I live. The bad news, I have a distinct speech issue, which when thats your job, not good. To put it politely, I sound drunk. Considering I havent had alcohol in 18 months, thats not real. But it sounds that way, and when your voice is your job, I wont be working for a while, if not an awful lot longer. Doctor has already signed me off until end of April, and thats only for starters, clearly. Like the hospital staff, when I suggested early medication retirement (I am 61), the Doctor looked at me as if how I could be considering anything else. So yeah, PIP here I come! Oh fine, yes, my co-ordination is dreadful too.

I must say, that apart from one thing, the Blackpool Victoria Hospital was lovely to me, and the others visiting me. That one thing? Well, they stuck numerous canola’s into me, covered them up, then missed one at removal. Yes, its gone now!

So fine, what a week it was, after the week I was hoping for. No, I dont think I’m blaming Clara Johnson’s ghost for events, though I do wonder…? Probably the end for speaking roles, unless things improve dramatically with my voice, but makes me perfect for mannequin roles, or full body suit, non speaking parts, just saying…

Oh, do you want the biggest irony, the seizures have improved the state of my back! No idea why, but its true! But if its one, or the other, then yes, I’ll have the bad back! So yeah, that Clara Johnson moment remains a challenge!

OK, video time. Not quite as old as me, and yes, my dears, this is an old fashioned jukebox, complete with single record… But yes, its definitely been…

Still KC, after all these years

Old friends, and all that stuff. Mainly because everything else I can think to rant about is my health, or politics, so lets avoid those for once…

The first time Kate, and I met up in Boston, I got to fulfil one of my baseball dreams, a visit to the legendary Fenway Park, to watch a game. What you have to allow for, is that when I buy a baseball ticket for myself, its at the budget end of the range. Not the bleachers, even before my back went, but nothing very stylish either, usually an ‘up in the gods’ job. So, not really knowing Kate all that well before the trip, I was assuming much of the same.

Yes, wrong, one of the much nicer seats, and a restaurant available, where the staff cared for our needs before the game, oh wow. The next time we planned to go to the baseball together, I was therefore suspecting more of the same. Let me add, this wasnt in Boston, this was in Kansas City, but yes, the Red Sox were the opposition, so yes, there might have been some friendly rivalry between the 2 of us. Yes, and nice viewing seats too. Oh, and they got better! Kate has some health issues that make mine now look less of a concern, and though the seats were great, she couldnt get comfortable. So she asked nicely, and we quickly got moved to more suitable seats, and had attentive staff caring for us for the rest of the afternoon! It was the year the Royals lost in the World Series, but they got their reward a year later!

So far, thats the only game we’ve been together at, where there has been a friendly rivalry between us. We do tend to have a friendly tease when Kansas State (my team to follow) play Oklahoma State (her university) each year, but nothing too serious, all the same.

Now it looks like we are going to get an extra ‘tease’ next weekend in the NFL, as the Kansas City Chiefs (won last night) are set to host her New England PatriotsΒ  (35-7 up, as I write) in the AFC Championship. No, I wont actually see the game, as it will start at 11.40 pm next Sunday, UK time, and thats way too late for me. I’ll have to settle for catching the highlights the next day, I guess? But I bet Kate watches it, as it will be early evening for her, and yeah, its the Patriots!

Of course my added amusement is, we could yet have a Jean Harlow Superbowl, lol, though I’m sure Kate wont want that to happen. Yes, KC, where she was born, against the Hollywood team, the Los Angeles Rams!

One of these days, Kate and I will get to another sports game together. When, and where, to be advised, lol!

OK, the video tonight has no relevance to the blog! I know, shocking stuff. But fine, in some of my short mind control story pieces, I use Clara Johnson, and get her turned temporarily into a robot. So imagine my amusement when I found a musical number, where she’s wearing a metal outfit…

2018, a bit of a drag?

So, as promised, the review of the year starts here. It will finish tomorrow, and then at the start of the new year, I’ll take a look at what 2019 might hold, some of it very likely, some of it unlikely, but might be fun if it does.

2018 actually saw something happen, that I’d never done in my 44 years of working life, I was told not to go to work! Yes, a combination of the fragility of my back, and some very cold, and icy weather saw me put on ‘winter weather leave’ for a few days. It made sense in so many ways in truth, but was still a bit of a novelty to me. But agreed, if I’d slipped over, landed on my back, and especially my spine, well you wouldnt want to think about the potential outcome, lets face it. Pretty sure its likely to happen early in 2019 too, especially given the deterioration in my wrist too, but we will have to wait and see on that. In truth, after about a week of that, I was getting a bit of ‘jail fever’ but it was a very wise move, so kudos to my employers for letting me do it.

While on about work, I started working on an LGBT committee at work, which was definitely a fun thing to do. Yes, was, more on that over next couple of posts.

Something else that happened early in the year was also work related. One of my colleagues got notice of volunteers needed for the Blackpool Film Festival in March, and the rest, as they say, is history! I wont claim it as strictly the revival of my acting career (its more a natural performance thing, no scripts), but it was a moment that led to the return of my time performing in public.

This year, it was a flying visit, arrived in Blackpool on the Friday afternoon, left again on the Saturday morning, due to fate, and a memorable date. Yes, the night of my flapper revival was my 60th Birthday! The works celebration was done a week earlier (would have been anyway), but the ‘house’ version was delayed until the Saturday night, which was why we needed to get back as we did.

Yes, a decade or so ago, that would have been it, retirement, which in truth, the body probably needs already. Now, officially it will be March 2024, though I have my doubts my body will hold out that long, but we will see? If it does, I might plan to retire (or take holiday) from work a couple of weeks early, because as things stand, the Iditarod race will start from Anchorage on 2nd March (restart at Willow on 3rd), and that would be an amazing thing to do, and a sort of dream come true. Nome as well? Well, maybe, but all that is a long way off. More on my preferred retirement option in part 2 tomorrow night.

May saw my return to Seattle for the first time in a few years. A few firsts there. Another state bagged, as I flew in via Las Vegas, so getting Nevada as my 24th state. Hopefully get 25 ‘somewhere’ next September, maybe? Ask Kate on that one, lol. She knows the one I’d love it to be, but its not renowned as the most friendly LGBT state in the US, so maybe not? There are a couple of New England options for that title too, so we will see.

The other big first on that trip, was my first Mariners game. It was memorable for more reasons than one, good, and bad. Good, they won. Bad, disability related issues. To be fair to the club, I complained, got a free ticket in the disabled area later in the week, and a few souvenirs as well, they handled it all very well.

Lastly, in the first half of the year, was a return to Blackpool, for World Pier Day. Again I have to thank a colleague for covering my Saturday shift to enable me to do this. Went back even further in time, as an Edwardian Lady, though I never got tightly corseted, cant have everything, lol. Amusingly, it was also Blackpool Pride day, and though I heard a lot of that, didnt get to see it at all. 2 trips already planned for Blackpool in New Year, but more on that on Tuesday, one of which you may not want to miss!

Well, the year certainly hasnt been a drag, but when this came up in my You Tube suggestions tonight, I couldnt resist this 1930 offering. And yes, a certain ‘fluffy haired’ blonde definitely looks like it could be Clara Johnson!

Well, if you ask nicely?

For once, the title of the blog has absolutely zero to do with the video, so dont try to stress your brain cells, lol.

Today was flotation tank day, and in truth, my back really needed it this time around. Sunday, the 4 of us went off up to Skipton, and had one of those canal boat, Christmas Dinner meals. The meal was very good, the service speed a little, err, entertaining, but the seats we were sitting on had all the back support of a brick wall. And yes, when your back is as damaged as mine… The only other entertaining moment was the Sat-Nav system, which insisted on calling Keighley (pronounced Keith-Lee), as ‘Key-Lee’, which of course had me in a total fit of giggles. I think its safe to say that it would probably call Slaithwaite, as spelt, and not Sla-wit, as its pronounced too.

Anyway, with a back that was already ‘grumpy’, I went to work yesterday in the cold, and the rain, and the inevitable happened, it flared up badly. So, halfway through the day, came home, a journey which should take about 75-80 minutes at that time of day. It took 140, and only that short as I gave up on First Buses, and got a taxi home from town!

Thankfully, today, I had the ‘miracle treatment’ booked, the flotation tank. Lets just say back pain wise, if last night was a 10, and this morning about a 7, its now about a 2.5! Yes, that, lack of pressure on the spine is just amazing.

This time around, Donna showed me how to seal the pod properly (assumed I would spot handle first time, and didnt, and someone else showed me through last time), which was simple when shown, but anyway…So, lights out, and yes, that pod really is sound proofed, among other things, never heard a thing once the music stopped, before it started up again.

So, I cleared my mind completely of thought, and imagined being transformed into a ‘beautiful swan’ when I got out again, but no, that never happened. Nor was I turned into an alien, which might have been fun, but anyway… What I did this time, when nice and tranquil, and safe in the womb of the pod, was leave space for Clara to come through in time, but only if she wanted to, under the circumstances. Yes, she took up the offer!

I know it was her, as the second comment she made was about someone fetching her a cigarette, and I’ve never smoked! Well, there was also the fact that she was talking with a very cool, mid west accent, but distinctly noticeable, which is maybe why she never got too many lines in movies, just stuck to dancing. She hung around, saying things about the crazy things that Mr Mayer (of MGM), and Buzby Berkeley got her to do, in the cause of dancing. Lots of toe splashing, and giggling too, but then (I guess after about 15 minutes or so, its hard to tell time in a place like that), the music started back up, and as I told her beforehand, that meant it was time to go. Yes, she did.

I ‘came back’, stunned at what had happened, but thrilled. Lets face it, I wouldnt ask for a cigarette, nor would I naturally have a mid western accent like she did! Of course, I cant get her to answer questions from me under those circumstances, but it was fun sensing things through her ‘eyes’.

Sadly, its going to be mid January before I can follow up on this, as the place is either full, or more likely closed for all the holiday period, or a combination of both. So first appointment I can get, that really works for me is 15th January. I could have got in the week before, but I have the other physio that week, so spreading them out is wiser.

But yes, on that day, is Miss Johnson going to come out to play (and splash toes) again, who knows? But the answer, probably?

OK, video time. 1930 is the oldest date I can find conclusive evidence of Clara dancing in the movies. She may well have danced in 1929, but I havent seen clear evidence as yet. As I’ve said before, 1937 is the last date I have evidence for. This technicolor movie from 1930 features the Goldwyn Girls, of which she was one, but faces arent clear enough to be conclusive that Clara is, or isnt in this. I think I see her there, but cant be sure. But yes, regardless, its something a little different to the normal Berkeley routine

Doctor, Doctor, so whats the news?

Right, for the handful of people who dont already know through Social Media, I’d better let you know (as a bonus blog) the news re my health issues, namely my wrist.

I shocked the doctor by appearing at his part of the surgery on Wednesday (I see the nurse re my pill check appointments) to get it checked over. No, thankfully, its not another bone fracture, just a totally worn out joint/tendons in my wrist. The official name for it is Tenosynovitis, but if you think of RSI, its not much different to that. Basically, after far too many years of thumping away on computer keyboards, my forearm is making an official complaint about that issue, lol. Seemingly not terminal, and a period of rest should improve it, which is what I’m doing for rest of the week. Doctors advice on Wednesday was not to do much typing before end of week, so I’ve learnt the delights of trying to type (to some degree) with my right hand! I’ve also now got the forearm in one of those compression sleeve things, hopefully that will improve circulation, and help with healing. Not that the expert I spoke to at our own Health Group People this morning seems all that impressed by them, but anyway… They’re going to arrange Physiotherapy for me for it, anyway. I think a new body might be easier, but anyway… πŸ˜‰ Something like this, maybe?

Miss Johnson at Christmas

Yes, some might recognise her, its the earliest picture I have of Clara Johnson, from 1929! Might need her dancing skills in March, anyway!

Oh, and last amusing moment, the doctor asked me when I was planning to retire, in that tone of voice that suggested that it was a case of the sooner, the better! So if anyone has a spare couple of hundred thousand pounds laying around, I can make him happy! I’ll go down that route, as I doubt any wealthy man (or woman) would want to marry an old Transgender crock like me! πŸ˜› Half that, I could retire from work, full amount, well, I might know a nice place to live in Portugal, so… πŸ˜‰

Right, video time. For once, totally unrelated to the blog. This is because yesterday saw the passing of one of the great geniuses of the Punk era, in Peter Shelley, best known as a member of the Buzzcocks, at the age of 63. Now, I know I’m getting old,Β  lol. RIP, Pete! Probably their best known hit!

The ultimate choreographer?

I thought I would need to blog on some depressing news relating to an area of Huddersfield, but thankfully I’ve been saved by events, but I’m not going to mention what that was, in case I need some inspiration for Sunday’s posting.

Officially, for most of her known dancing career in the movies, there is one choreographer, who it seems Clara Johnson danced in most of his routines. She certainly did dance for others (she seems to have danced for most studios, despite being a Goldwyn Girl for at least part of her career), but its rare to find a Busby Berkeley movie where she isnt in the chorus line. In fact I’m not concerned there are any she missed, but as I havent seen everyone of them, dont quote me on that, she might have missed one, lol.

Oh, why am I posting this today, you ask? Well, on this day, in 1895, the (probably) ultimate choreographer was born. He did do numerous Broadway productions in the 1920’s, but when sound, and musicals struck gold in Hollywood, he went to work there, and of course, because we still have film record of it, its what he’s remembered for.

The man was a genius in a choreograph sense, but clearly no angel. Married 6 times, had issues with alcohol, but somehow survived to 80, before dying of natural causes. He always said he only ever wanted to touch his previous routines, and in truth, he did a pretty good job of it. What I dont know, is what he was like to work for? I suspect he worked the girls hard, but was he fair with it, or did ambition ever just win out?

Just saying that Clara was happy to dance for him for about 7 years isnt really a big clue. She was never more than chorus line material, he was master of the dance routines, so it might just be she had to survive working with him, to pay for the rent, and other things, who knows? Whether he ever knew her as more than ‘one of the dance team’, again who knows?

But yes, when you think of 1930’s choreographed dance routines, in the Hollywood musicals, there is one name that probably comes to mind before all others, Busby Berkeley.

So therefore, ironically, for the video tonight, you get none of the music that the young ladies danced to, just their amazing routines. But yes, got to go with this, as it shows the full gamut of the dance routines he created. And yes, Clara Johnson appears in this mix numerous times!

Silent Floating

Oh fine, I hope I know what everyone wants to hear about, so lets have a duplicate blog tonight, so I can cover all events.

But before we get to that, let me just mention that today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, to remember those less fortunate than myself, over the years.

OK, to business, the flotation tank experience. I did check, and double check directions on Google Maps before leaving, but still managed to turn the wrong way when I got off the bus, but realised that in seconds, so no great issue.

The owner of the business quickly made me feel at home, and after the necessary form filling, I was soon in the room with the flotation tank. A shower, then in I went, and ‘laid’ down. If the roof was meant to come down to seal you in the pod, I never worked out how to do it. I’ve certainly seen enclosed pods, but whether this isnt set up for that, or was just me being blonde, no idea? Would have loved that, but in truth, once I turned out the lights, it was very dark, and apart from the whole enclosed sensation, would have been hard to tell the difference.

Yes, I relaxed easily, and just lay there enjoying the whole sensation, and loving the lack of any pressure on my fragile back. Anyway, once comfortable, settled, and everything else good, I decided to do a little experiment with self hypnosis, try to empty my mind a little (or ideally a lot) and see what developed from there.

It took me a while to get there (about 5-10 minutes too long, as I was to discover), but when I did, I tried to get a little bit of robot into my mind and body, but couldnt really get it to work, probably because robots dont generally float in water, lol.

So I went to Plan B, this time with startling success. Having emptied my mind of myself, I tried to self regress myself back to Clara Johnson. Incredibly, it worked. Snag was, Clara wasnt quite certain where she was, as these new age things werent around in the 1930’s, and panicked a bit finding herself seemingly floating in a dark room. I did set to trying to calm her down, and had just succeeded, and was just beginning to let her take control when I heard something I didnt want to hear, the music starting up again, which meant I had only 5 minutes left. So unfortunately, I had to say ‘goodbye’ to her, start to switch back to me, so I was back in control at the end of the session.

In truth, I have no idea if I was just going to let Clara experience the float, or whether I was going to ask her questions, as I never really reached that point. Not quite sure if I could ask her questions anyway, or whether someone else would have to ask ‘me’ them, in truth? I suspect would have to be the latter, as my mind was in Clara mode? So asking questions of herself, without a script?

So yes, I’m going to have to go back again, for sure, and this time get her involved far more quickly. If nothing else, seeing life through her eyes, and feeling her thoughts, for more than a few seconds will be amazing.

Another shower, a glass of water, then back to real life. Yes, cold, wet, and lousy services by First Buses!

Oh, and by the way, yes, the back feels a whole lot better too! So 2 pieces of good news, for the price of 1!

I can hear you asking, is she still going to try acupuncture now? The answer is yes, got to give both a chance, lets face it. And besides, they might use the needles loaded with robotising nanites! Yeah, I wish! πŸ˜›

But yes, the whole flotation tank experience, truly amazing for me, and maybe Clara needs to try it again, just to see how she really feels, lol?

Right, video time. Well, I was floating, not running, but otherwise it was certainly silent when the music stopped.