Category Archives: Manchester Airport

Come on, and look at me!

One thing I’ve often heard said by disabled people, especially those in wheelchairs, is that a large number of people either tend to look away, or look over them, trying to pretend they’re not really there. In honesty, I’ve got to the point where I nearly always try to acknowledge them, even if only briefly in passing, simply to prove that I do know they’re there, and are happy to be seen with them.

The other group of people that I always try to acknowledge in a friendly way, are Muslim women wearing either the Niqab, or occasionally the Burqa, simply to show that I want to be friendly, and supportive of them, unlike sadly too many people nowadays. One thing I enjoy about Bradford is that nearly everybody I see, if not approving of such wear, at least doesnt react in a bad way. Mind, that might be because I only really see it being worn in the city center, though hopefully not the case.

But until now at least, the one thing I’ve never discovered is what life is like on the other side of the issue. Yes, I’d be fascinated to know what life is like inside of the Niqab, or Burka, and show my support for Muslim women who wear it that way, but I suspect its too complex a religious matter for it to ever happen. But yes, it would be both fascinating, and probably informative to spend a day wearing the Niqab, and seeing how people react to those wearing it. Probably only brave enough to do it somewhere like Bradford, or similar community, if going out, but as a whole, just seeing what life dressed like that would be a fascinating experience, and probably one that if more people tried it, we might have a lot less religious issues in the world too.

Yes, I am saying that if someone offers me the chance to wear Niqab, or Burka, either privately, or outside, then I would love to do it. And if it can be done in a way that brings up positive publicity for Muslim women, then so much the better!

Equally, fortunately, up to now, I’ve never known what its like to spend time in a wheelchair. I must have done as a child, when my knees were wrecked at the age of 9 or 10, but you dont expect me to remember that, do you? But at least on that point, in 5-6 weeks time, I’m going to get to see how people react to me in a wheelchair. Will they look me in the face, and be supportive, or will they try to pretend I’m not really there, hmm?

Yes, I have to be practical about my flights in a few weeks time. Currently I can walk to a pretty reasonable degree, and I can sit down without too many pain issues, though how much of that is currently clouded by painkillers, I have no idea! However, the one thing I cant do at present for more than a few minutes, is stand still. And yes, while the check in queue, and the security check queue will require some standing in line, you usually move along at regular intervals, which may, or may not be sufficient for my back not to lock up completely. However, when it comes to the queue at Boston, to go through Immigration principally, and Customs to a lesser degree, is that you tend to stand in 1 place, in a queue, for far longer than that. Now it is possible that in 5 weeks time, my back may be less of an issue, but until I’m on proper medication, I wouldnt like to bank on that. Even if on proper medication, I dont want to be confident on that, and not sure we will reach that point in 5 weeks, anyway.

So yes, today I’ve bitten the bullet (you have to give a minimum of 2 weeks warning, but being realistic, I’m not going to improve dramatically in 3 weeks), and requested assistance from the airline for my travels through the airports. Yes, I know I need it, but that doesnt stop the guilt factor, when I can walk reasonably well, but thats just my nature, I guess?

But yes, it will be fascinating to see how ‘fit people’ react to this ‘poor old lady’ in a wheelchair, I must say. So yes, if on 9th September, at Manchester Airport (or Boston later that day), you see a middle aged lady in a wheelchair, be nice to her, it might just be me! Yes, same plan booked for JFK flying back on evening of 18th, just saying…I wonder?

Right, video time. No, I have no plans to be wearing this while sat in my wheelchair, though it might be fun if I was! But yes, feel free to look at me, all the same!

It never rains, but it pours

Yes, given where I’ve just flown back from, you might have worked out what the song is tonight, for the last ‘double’ blog for a while. You might not guess who’s singing it, unless you look though. Thats right, not Albert Hammond!

Yesterday morning, I had a text (well actually they sent me 2, for some reason?) they moved my shuttle time forward by 15 minutes, because we folk who share shuttles tend to have to fit in with others in the area, to save them cost, which is fair enough. Anyway, irony, just as I’m about to shut down the laptop, pack it away, and get ready to go, the phone rang. Yes, you guessed it, the shuttle driver, saying it was actually back to the original time. Yes, stop laughing, there was a good reason, incident on the freeway, or so he told me.

Anyway, at the newly agreed time of 12.30, I’m stood outside, when the shuttle pulls up. That was when the fun started. He’d managed to get hold of me, and warn me, but had no joy with the other 2 he was meant to be picking up, phones not connecting or something, probably given the wrong number? Anyway, as we were heading off in the right direction, his phone rang. Yes, one of them was contacting him, to see where he was. Thing is, we went to the address he’d been given for her, not there. So now, he rang back, and she gave him a totally different address, thankfully not too far away. Even then, she couldnt tell him where she was, as she didnt know the name of the road she was on! We found her, eventually, so one to go…? No joy, no one at the address he had, so off we headed to the airport.

As we were getting close to the airport, his phone rang. Seemingly the woman we’d never found had rung them to find out where he was. Anyway, he got ‘ticked off’ for not telling them, but for whatever reason, he didnt seem to care too much, part of the job I guess? Finally, as he was dropping us off at the airport, he checked for his next job. Now whether this was just the luck of the draw, or someone at head office was feeling vindictive, but apparently it was 66 miles away from the Airport!

I booked in, and was directed to an escalator to get to the security gates. Fine, except when I get there, I get told no, and get directed to the other end of the building! After that, everything went fine, until this morning.

One of the beauties of premium economy flight, is that your case gets a priority tag, so should be one of the first on the baggage carousel at Manchester. Well…It doesnt appear, and when the dreaded sign, delivery completed, comes up, off I head to the rep’s desk, along with a few others, in similar position. However, just when I fear I’m not getting my case today, lo and behold, she finds a few cases that somehow missed the carousel, and were sat out the back. Yes, my case was one of them!

After that, and with the assistance of a lovely lady, with a mobile phone, I firstly warned the taxi driver about the delay, and then sorted out where to meet him. From there, journey home was straightforward, thank goodness.

Oh, one last thing. For September, I had noted that Expedia had a nice price for a Virgin Premium Economy flight into Boston, and back out of JFK was being offered a couple of weeks back. Of course, by the time I’ve got things sorted, back in the country, price has shot up £200! Thankfully, much to my surprise, and delight, Thomas Cook Airlines wasnt as basic as I expected, albeit I was in Premium Economy, but anyway…

To cut a long story short, they have flights to fit, and its about £150 cheaper than the economy Virgin price is now! I know, I’m hoping the leg room in economy is reasonable, but I’ll take my chance, especially as it will be a much shorter flight. In truth, the outbound flight is a better time too, but yes, only some of their flights have premium seats, and this wont be one of them! Ah well… It never rains, but it pours.

Which leads me to the video. Found this Barry Manilow version of said song, and actually, I think I prefer it!

I’ve known from the start

Oh fine, I’m lying, I only wish I had known I was a woman all along, but anyway…Yes, the clues were there from an early age, but how was I to know?

But yes, one thing I’ve known for 18 months at least, is that at some point, I’d complete the full circle, and fly somewhere on a passport that said I was a woman, and tomorrow is that day. I know, no one at the airport is even going to realize how special that moment is to me, because to them, I’ll just be another woman checking in, going through passport control, and other stuff.

So after that, I’ll have had the full set, a male passport while ‘living’ as a man, a male passport when I’d transitioned in every way except the passport, and now, finally, the full female self. And a different name for each too!

I know, its silly, because everything in life is equally important, but for a traveller like me, this passport, and the chance to use it, is just so special, all the same. But yes, that moment when I will do the last thing I did as a man, but never as a woman according to the legal niceties, has only a few hours to go now, cant wait.

So, if you’re flying through Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport tomorrow, and see a very happy old lady, there’s a fair chance it will be me!

I will be amazed if anyone has heard tonights video before, unless like me, you’re a big Rocky Sharpe fan. But yes, the clue is in the blog title

The first time ever?

I know, strictly I’ve been booking in to flights, and hotel rooms for about 6 years as a woman, but all the same, tomorrow will still be a little different. Yes, it will be the first time ever I’ve booked in, handing over a female passport! Well, assuming the hotel even bothers to check my ID, which seems to be a bit hit and miss over here, unlike the US, where it is always done.

Regardless of whether they do, or dont, it still wont be as special as May, when I board a flight, and pass through Immigration, and Security for the first time with a passport showing me as a woman. Funnily enough, that wont make Los Angeles Immigration the first place I’ve entered the US with a passport of both genders, as I’ve never flown directly to Los Angeles before. Both times, its been through Atlanta, and a change of plane.

That honor will actually go to Boston, exactly 30 years after my previous time doing that there, as a man, in September. I’ve actually been through Boston since then, under my interim name, but didnt clear Immigration there, as I had already done it in Ireland. Indeed, its quite possible that the same will happen again in September, funnily enough. In fact, due to the nature of transiting airports, with your first entry point to the US being the only place you do Immigration (unless you go through Dublin, or Shannon), the only places that I could do the ‘hat trick’ are Philadelphia, and Chicago!

But yes, tomorrow evening, when I book in at that hotel, and if requested, hand over my ID, it will be the first time that said ID has actually said female! Not that I think they look, but…its going to feel good! Oh, if someone wants to offer to wine and dine me there, its somewhere near Thatcham!

Of course, job interview wise, I’ve done 3 with a female passport, so its not unique, but its still going to be special. Not as special as Manchester Airport, in May, but its the first step. And then, entering the US on a female passport, for the first time, oh wow!

Right, video. I gather there have been a few versions of this since this one, but hey, this is the one that this teenage ‘girl’ grew up knowing, so…

In The Air Tonight

In fact it was a couple of things that reminded me today, that the last time I flew anywhere, was a year ago tonight, when I took the flight from Atlanta, to Manchester, having first crossed the US, from Los Angeles. And yes, the best bit, that when I fly again (probably next May, unless things happen beyond my belief), not only will I have a new name, but a new gender too. Ironically, the only thing that will be the same will be the city at the other end of the flight, Los Angeles.

Yes, one of the things that reminded me was Facebook, and their ‘on this day’ thing, which I hate, but still find very useful, I must admit. Though in fact, they’d been beaten to it, by a couple of Americans, on ‘Pardon The Interruption’ this morning, though that was actually yesterdays edition, but fine, they mentioned the anniversary of the first game of last years World Series, between the Mets, and my Royals, because it lasted over 5 hours, went 14 innings, and yes, I watched all of it while preparing to fly back home to England. Yes, the advantage I had then, it started at 5 in the afternoon, my time, instead of 1 in the morning, as it does now!

At present, its still the only World Series game I’ve seen live (only on TV), though hopefully at some point in the future, there might be more? Yes, the Royals won, went on to be champions, and as they say, the rest is history! The next morning, I got up early, had breakfast, and waited for the shuttle to take me back to the airport, and home!

Funnily enough, one year on, today, I finished my training course for my new job, and start my regular hours on Monday. Yes, a later start, so a later rising time, but a later finish too. How it will work out time wise, for other things, I will have to wait and see. But I still plan to do this on my 2 days off, before any blog readers show concern. Should be Tuesday, and Sunday in future, for those who care!

But I just wanted to say a quick thanks to 2 men I love watching, Tony Kornheiser, and Mike Wilbon, for reminding me this morning of that amazing match, and wonderful place I watched it.

Yes, this time last year, I was in the air tonight, so there is one obvious video. A recent live version, ooh!

smooth operator

Its funny, how when you expect to have problems, everything goes smoothly. Pretty much sums up yesterday’s journey here.

OK, fine, the roadworks on the motorway getting to the airport was a pain, but in all honesty, I got there with time to spare, and walked to the booking in counter, in about 15 seconds flat, from the queue. The challenge of security…absolute stroll!

Plane took off pretty much to time, landed much the same. Funny point, I started the journey with a double seat to myself, then a few hours in, a man excused himself, and moved in next to me. Said his viewing screen wasnt working, but anyway…Fine, it must have been that, as he went back to his original seat about 30 minutes before landing. Ah well…

Then, the only low point of the whole trip, Philadelphia Immigration. Seriously, they are the main reason I dont travel more with US Airways, they are awful. Transatlantic jet arrives, hundreds get off, and 2 Immigration officers are on! Eventually, and I do mean eventually a couple more turn up, I get through, and… you have to go back through security after clearing customs, and generally at Philadelphia, thats as much joy as going through Immigration. Yesterday, sailed through! I was actually at the other terminal waiting for the Albany plane 20 minutes before boarding, instead of dashing on at the last moment. Hey, I even went to the rest room, got a coffee, and…amazing stuff.

Met at the airport as planned, and a smooth journey to the hotel. Hey, I suspect I even spotted the Albany hotel I stayed at in 1988, but dont quote me on that. But it was in the right area, had the right colour sign, so…

Hotel is very good, not that I expected anything else from Best Western, to be honest.

This morning I went across town, to meet up with James for a short while, then back into town, a bite of lunch, and currently, a little NFL. Oh, the lady in Dunkin Donuts loved my accent!

Tonight, I wont go too far to eat, just tossing up between the restaurant here, or a pub/restaurant about 2 doors up.

Tomorrow, off to New Hampshire overnight, to be hypnotised by an expert, and see what develops. I’m pretty sure, at some point, I will believe I’m Jean Harlow! Still, more of that on Tuesday, I suspect.

For now, a video that sums up how things have gone so far

The one benefit of Transatlantic flight

Yes, I admit it, I’m one of those who fall into the group of surviving the flight across the Atlantic, not enjoy it. Doesnt matter what I do, an 8 hour flight, I get bored. I know, I’m not the only one, but anyway, this time around, the flight out flew by, and the one back wasnt so bad either, though I’ve given my knee a bit of a bashing, trying to get into a decent sleeping position, but…

The difference? I had a really good book to read, the Louise Brooks biography, by Barry Paris, and its really good.

Fine, I already knew Louise could be a ‘bit’ awkward to deal with, but reading this, I’ve discovered just how much of a nightmare she must have been to deal with, throughout her life! It really is fair to say that the only thing angelic about her, was her looks! You could forgive her some of her awkwardness in later life, due to all the health problems she had, but Louise was the same throughout her life!

Still glad I discovered her though! 😉

No idea what I’m reading for the Albany trip though at present. I do have a Jean Harlow biography, but have been advised that I ‘might’ get annoyed by some of the tales in it. Hmm…?

Oh, and lastly, I might be a 30’s girl at heart, but there are some modern tricks that are a boon. This morning, at Manchester Airport, no more showing your passport to someone, my chipped passport gets slid into a machine, a photo check done, and…through you go!

Ah well, tomorrow, back to work we go!

The video, perhaps what we have to offer up for (Mary) Louise Brooks,

And back to reality

Yes, I made it home safely, not without a little entertainment from a stubborn air passage thing at Manchester this morning, that refused to budge for about 10 minutes, but after that…its back to work tomorrow! Just hope I’m not too jet lagged, in all honesty. Normally work decides to give me the Monday off, to get over it, but this year, in their wisdom, I’m working tomorrow, then off Tuesday. Then working Wednesday, off Thursday, yes, great logic there, isnt there?…rolls eyes…

But besides that, what is there to say, beyond hi, and letting you know I got back here. Oh, the fact that I spent a silly amount on a dress, maybe? I went in Macy’s at the local shopping mall, and there was this most wonderful, blue, 20’s style flapper dress. What I would term cleavage cup style, so I wouldnt even have given away any trade secrets when wearing it. Fine, its only a 12, but thats a US 12, so should fit. Snag, its a zip up type at the back, and they can always be a challenge. So it proved, I couldnt quite get the zip to do up, aargh. I should have taken that as a sign, I really didnt want to spend $100 on a dress anyway, and leave it at that.

No, I cant do anything that easy, can I? There was a pink dress, equally flapper style in look, but with shoulder straps, instead of strapless, but…they had it in a size 14! Yes, it fitted, and yes, I bought it! It is gorgeous, but both were above the knee dresses, so I ended up having to buy hose as well, due to the state of my knees, not a pretty sight.

Well, I’ll wear it for the work Christmas do, I might wear it again if we all go out for Christmas dinner, but after that…? We will see!

Oh, and last week taught me one other thing, my knees prefer me wearing a skirt, far less restrictive on the joints than trousers. To be honest, I changed into a skirt Sunday, didnt wear trousers again until coming home Saturday. I know, modern women wear trousers to work, but I’m tempted. The high heels, no, I dont think I’ll be wearing those to work though lol!

Right, the video. No, nothing to do with the blog whatsoever. Just that its a brilliant band, a great song, and I love the gold wig. Well, you could say its about the 2020’s I guess, and my look is 1920’s lol!

Airport security, and yesterday

Its funny how things happen, isnt it. Normally you only get to experience airport security once when setting out to fly somewhere, dont you? Unless your plane gets cancelled, and you have to go back and start all over again, of course. Mind, if you did, you’d expect the same results twice, unless…

This happened to me yesterday, I was meant to be flying to Belfast on the 3.05 flight from Manchester yesterday, but didnt. The flight was cancelled, 15 minutes after we should have taken off, for technical reasons, strongly rumoured to be the fact there wasnt enough people booked on the plane, but I have no evidence of that. But given there was a regular Flybe passenger booked on our plane, and he commented this wasnt the first time it had happened to him, for that reason, so…

Ah, the fun bit. When I went through security the first time, I was in ‘no rush’ mode, and was processed normally. I went through one of the standard scanners, and passed through first time, not a thing. Oh, unamusing point with that team, despite boobs and things (was even in wedge heels), I had to wait for a man to see me, not a woman. I wasnt annoyed, until they started letting women through, but anyway…

Second time around, because I had very little time to get on board, they put me in the fast lane, and I went through one of the more modern scanners, and set it off. Exactly the same things on, watch was in handbag both times, so…I got to do the newest body scanner thing, which I’ve done in the US before (and cleared) as well. So I get the hand scanner thing used on me, seems it was the buckles on my trousers that may have set it off, or the silver metal decorations on my shoes. But they both passed the first time! Oh, second time around, I was female, female scanned, and called madam, so I preferred them, despite everything.

Weird thing is I passed through the most modern version of body scanner in Rochester, in April, with a big metal button on my trousers, and passed! Oh, for those who dont know, this is it, though its now in use, not on trial any more

Today has been a wonderful day at the cricket, meeting up with some old friends, making some new ones in the media area today as well. I saw a century scored, sadly by an Australian. Steve Smith did look classy though, and if he doesnt play in the Ashes, I will be amazed. Back again tomorrow, weather permitting.

On leaving Yorkshire

When I was young, back in the 60’s and 70’s, we Yorkshire folk used to have a joke about going over to the dark side, long before Star Wars came up with the term. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it meant we were crossing over into Lancashire lol! In fact, given that when visiting, the natural route south from the Haworth end was to head to the M6, rather than the M1, I did it quite often!

In those days, it was a different journey to today, when you’d pretty much just cross the Pennines on the M62, and leave it at that. There were sections of it at the beginning of the 70’s, but even then, it was just as easy to loop round under Manchester, through all the mill towns, and before that, that was your only option! Yes, not only does the M62 now make it a relative stroll, the mills are pretty much all gone as well, and definitely have as mills at least. Mind, all their pollution has gone with it, so…we have car pollution instead lol!

Well yes, I’m crossing over to the dark side tomorrow, though nowadays its called Greater Manchester, one of those metropolitan districts created in the middle of the 70’s. But to us Yorkshire folk, its still seen as Lancashire! I guess they are one up on us, they have an international airport, we dont! And yes, thats why I’m crossing over the Pennines tomorrow, or more strictly, going under them, through the train tunnel.

So yes, this is the last letter from Yorkshire for a while, it might be the last from England, but watch this space on that. Only tasks left for tomorrow is to pack, and get my hair cut, if I have time, everything else (I think) is done.

So, to the video. No, I dont expect to hear this announcement at Manchester Airport on Saturday, well, the full version at least. But given my love of OMD, I’m going for a new track, one it wont take you long to listen to,