Saturday, 31 March 2012

Discovery at the Rugby Club

Where to start. Last October just before I left the UK to work in the Middle East, I received a telephone call from my best friend. Also a rugby player, asking if I would join him for a coffee in town. I was somewhat suspicious at the way the meeting was set up as we would usually just pop around to each other’s houses and in addition I had recently been in contact with his gay son who works and runs a series of clubs/bars in Leicester, one of which I had been to as Emma.

Nevertheless, I made the rendevouz and over the first cup of coffee, he told me about his wife being in hospital after collapsing at work. As the time passed we discussed many things and then we moved onto my imminent move to The Gulf and keeping in contact and whilst commenting about security of the internet, he came out with ‘I know’ – the hairs on the back of my neck rose as he elaborated. It seems that his son had rang him almost as soon as he knew of Emma and had told his dad. Well, I don’t remember much of the conversation whilst we sipped a second mug of coffee, suffice to say that he reaffirmed that he was still my best mate, my brother and what I did in my spare time was not a concern of his.

Moving on a few days and I have thrown a dinner party to celebrate my wife’s birthday inviting my closest friends and their wives and partners, including my best mate - my friends all being players in my team. As is the norm when we are entertaining I was in charge of the cooking and with drinks in hand, the guys joined me in the kitchen whist I was putting the finishing touches to the dinner and the girls congregated in the living room and dining room chatting, music in the background.

Whilst stirring the Somerset pork in cider, one of the guys said we know!. One at a time my friends reaffirmed their friendship though expressing no understanding why I did it. These were all big guys and fellow rugby players accepting the fact that I liked to wear womens clothes and go out dressed! I was dumbstruck, and still today none the wiser why my best mate saw fit to say anything to anyone else! When I broached the subject in a personal letter I wrote once back here in the Gulf after Christmas, he denied telling anyone but said they already knew!
Back to the party, the evening went very well and after asking the guys to not mention anything to my wife about their knowing which they all agreed to, I tried to settle down and enjoy the rest of the evening. I did not want my wife to know that our friends knew about Emma before I moved out to the Gulf as I felt it would be unfair and whilst we have, since my disclosure to her of Emma some three years ago, endeavoured to be open and honest to each other, I felt in addition to my departure, this would add an unnecessary burden to her.

Moving on, I shipped out to the Gulf a few weeks later and concentrated on settling down in a new country, a new job and dealing with fresh and new challenges as they presented themselves. No Emma out here, she was left 3,300 miles behind though not out of mind.

I had originally planned to come back for the first time at Easter but soon decided I wanted to be home with my family at Christmas and feeling like Father Christmas was able for the first time in many Christmas’s provide very well for my family.

Christmas Eve, my wife and I decided to eat in a local pub and whilst there, one of my good mates rang to suggest we meet in the local Wetherspoons later for a few drinks to celebrate my return so to speak. This we did and sat down amongst the revelry catching up with what had been happening in my absence. Then after a few more beers my mate came straight out in front of his partner and my wife warning me of my intending attendance at the Boxing Day charity game. They know! Since my departure, someone came across my flickr site and the word had spread like wildfire with everyone taking a good look at my photos of Emma. Everyone is waiting for me to turn up on Boxing Day he warned me. My wife was almost in tears at this point, bearing in mind the fragility of the position and suffice to say it put a bit of a dampner on the rest of the evening. My mate grabbed me in a friendly way and came out with ‘I’m a man’s man!’ my response was ‘So am I!’ it takes balls to go out wearing a dress!! I reiterated that in every situation we had been in trouble we stood back to back and fought as equals, why do you feel that anything has changed! I am exactly the same person that you have known these last 15 years, nothing will change, only your knowledge has coloured your opinion. He then went onto profess no understanding as to why I did what I did and I also told him I had no idea why I was who I was. In the meanwhile my mates partner was comforting my wife. The end of the night came and we made our way home in silence.

Christmas Day whilst being everything we expected with our daughters home and one fiancé and one boyfriend as well, my wife and I were somewhat subdued. In my mind, what was going to happen the next day was preying heavily on my mind. In my own mind, not turning up was never an option.

Boxing Day and the day of reckoning dawned. I bade my wife goodbye and with heavy heart made my way to the rugby club with my camera to take photos of the game being held in aid of a cancer charity in memory of a young player who had died at the age of 23 of cancer several years ago.

I mingled with my rugby club friends on the sidelines whilst taking photos. No comments! After the game, I went back into the Club house to face my fate. Smiling, head held high I firmly entered the lion’s den to face whatever!

With a drink in my hand, I mingled. My strategy was to show that I didn’t give a shit! Let someone start the ball rolling and they did. I approached a group of three of the older ex players I was friendly with and after exchanging small talk, one of the guys finally challenged me. To be honest it was less of a challenge more of a fact finding conversation. Both the others made the point that they didn’t see any problem with what I did and even the original guy who broached the subject and who is a pretty abrasive character agreed that he had no problems with what I did. After about 20 minutes, during which I was subject to typical banter arising from my disclosure, I continued to circulate and now the ice was broken player after player came up to me in ones and twos expressing surprise and support and confirming that they had been fascinated in looking at my photos on flickr. Not one derogatory or insulting comment was made.

Several hours later and quite a few beers down my neck I left the Club the same way I had entered, head held high and didn’t look back. Other than a furtive text to my wife telling her everything was ok, that was that, or was it?
One interesting fact that came out of my conversations was the fact that they were still unsure of my name but to access my flickr site they would have to have known my full name. There was and still is no location or other information on the site which would lead you to myself, yet this is what happened. No one who initially discovered Emma knew my name so how did the whole of the rugby club come to check out my flickr site.

Back in the Gulf, I was upset to find out how fragile and exposed my wife felt being left behind in the full knowledge that all our friends now knew about Emma. With some trepidation I wrote a deeply personal letter to my best mate seeking an understanding as my wife had felt ostracised since my return to the Gulf and even myself started feeling paranoid in that very few of my friends seemed to make any effort to keep in touch with me either on facebook or by e-mail or messaging. My mate explained that there were a few of my friends who were having difficulty in the knowledge that they now shared but that he was trying to educate them on my behalf and in my absence. Suffice to say we exchanged a number of deeply personal e-mails and resolved many issues in my mind. The balance will be dealt with over a few whiskies this Easter on my return to the UK.

Finally, I am joining my team on tour at the beginning of May. This should finally put paid to any doubters and offer the opportunity to those uncertain about myself to seek a better understanding.

If you have made it to the end, many thanks for your patience and I hope that you can see that we all usually fear the worst, but when that doesn’t transpire, we can be pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, I still would have preferred my secret to have remained such – far simpler all around and less strain on my loved ones.

SamanthaHewit wrote:
GillianSL wrote:...I'm bound to say that your friends seem to have been thoughtless on disclosing starting with the gay son who should have known better...

To be fair to the gay guy though, We were out in town in a big group and decided to go to his pub knowing he might be there. We sought him out and said hello to him.
He was not to know that Emma didnt want everyone to be told, in fact i remember him saying that he 'already knew'. So maybe he is not the 'deepthroat' of 'EmmaGate' (pun intended;)


to put the record straight, I had been out in Leicester before that night and called in a pub that I knew he was associated with with the intent of saying hello on the understanding that this was not for general knowledge. I know, naive or not, I knew the guy and thought that that would not have been a problem. However, what did happen was I had arranged to meet Amanda at the pub and when I got there found out that she was going to be about 90 minutes so I took up a high stool at the bar and started chatting to the barman during the course of the conversation I asked if my friend's son was around. In actual fact he was at one of the other pubs/clubs doing something with the lighting for the evening disco etc and was too busy to come over or to the phone, however enough information was passed between him and the barman for him to identify myself and his last comment to the barman was he (me) is my dad's friend - end of story. So you see I did not have a chance to speak direct to him that night and I later found out as per my post above that he had rang his dad and told him. Hence when we visited one of the other pubs a few weeks later and came across him working behind the bar, the damage was already done so to speak and despite my comments to him on leaving not to say anything it appears it was too late by a few weeks.

Interesting enough, when organising the meal and night out for the girls in Nottingham, we had originally opted for going out in Nottingham itself only to have a number of the girls state they were uncomfortable so close to home and hence we switched it to Leicester, and the chance that the bar I had chosen may well indeed have someone there that I knew. Don't get me wrong, ultimately this was my choice.

Following on from that initial foray, the girls from Nottingham have now established a very successful and well supported regular night out each month and I wish them well, my only regret is the fact that I am now not able to join them.


In the bar in Leicester that fateful evening!

Blackpool 1st October 2011

Sitting here in my apartment in the Gulf, I have decided to catch up with some of the adventures I had that last month in October before moving over here.

October 1st last year and I excitedly packed for one last trip up to Blackpool and a night out with my friends before leaving the UK. The weather was unseasonably hot and leaving the house later than I planned (my youngest was hanging around) I made my way to my usual layby to finish getting ready only to find it occupied. There was a bike race down the country road where I usually get changed and so I moved on and finding a suitable place further down the road, and pulled over. Already wearing stretch jeans and top over my underwear I quickly donned my wig and slipped my fillets into the bra and proceeded to put my face on only to have to stop after a number of cars joined me in this layby. Frustratingly, all the rest of the possible stops were occupied ready for the race as I made my way to Kegworth.

Driving onto the A50 I decided to finish my face in the car park at the first services. Parking as far away from the building as possible I recommenced putting my make up on only to have a woman park her car right next to mine and get her dog out to take it for a walk nearby! There were 20+ spaces between me and the next car and she had to park next to me!

Unperturbed I continued with my eyes and noticed that I had now been joined by a gang of old motorcyclists who had parked close by but in the centre of the car park and proceeded to hang around chatting and having a smoke!

Nails on and almost finished, I got out of the car, slipped my heels on and with my bag over my shoulder made my way to the services walking past the bikers and the woman with her dog returning to her car. In the toilets, I finished off my eyes with liner and mascara and checked my overall finish. The toilets at these services are quite small and I couldn’t believe how busy they were!

On exiting I picked up an ice lolly from the fridge and made my way to the counter where I was treated to a courteous welcome from the guy behind the counter and we exchanged pleasantries about the weather before bidding him goodbye.
Once again I made my way past the bikers back to my car and hussy that I was, put a swagger in my step swinging those hips as I walked by.

With the wrapper off the ice lolly I made my way out and onto the road heading West and must admit to licking the lolly quite suggestively as I was driving along with the window down and listening to some AC/DC on the stereo.

As I was approaching Warrington, I noticed that somewhere on the way I had lost one of my nails and for once had not included any spares in my handbag, so decided to stop off at the big Boots at Gemini near Warrington. Walked in and purchased a boxed set of kiss nails and another bottle or Revlon Red nail varnish, paid for them and in the car park replaced my missing nail before making my way back to the M6 and North again.

Coming off the M6 onto the M55 the traffic built up as I realised that Blackpool were at home that day. I then spent almost an hour sitting in crawling traffic people watching until I reached my exit and was able to leave the queues behind.

I finally got to my hotel mid afternoon only to find nowhere to park! I spent 20 minutes until getting tired and needing the toilet, I abandoned the car in a side street, picked my case up and proceeded to walk to the hotel in so doing I walked past a family in their front garden and kids playing in the street. Once at the hotel, my bag deposited in the room I made my way back to the car as I had parked in a zoned area. As I walked past the young woman in her garden I asked her if there was anywhere nearby I could park. She appeared surprised when she heard me speak but recovered quick enough to show me where I could park and as we parted, she commented that I had balls! Ha, ha!

With the car safely parked, I returned to my hotel and quickly changed out of my jeans into a pair of denim shorts and with a pair of flats on my feet, I left the hotel and made my way to the seafront and headed towards The Tower.

Words fail me as to describing the feelings I had that afternoon as I made my way through the busy crowds taking advantage of this late sun, in my shorts, bag over my shoulder and earrings banging against the side of my face. Not an untoward look or comment as I quickly walked to the Tower.

On arrival, I asked about the cost of tickets etc and purchased one which combined a trip to the top with a 4D cinema experience. I joined the many families on the stairs as we climbed to the first stop, a photo opportunity using blue screen technology. I queued up and was asked to sit on the ledge love. After the photo was taken it was a thank you mate! from the photographer – you can’t win can you!Image

I then had to wait in an increasingly crowded ante room before being let in to the cinema during which time I got talking to a young couple with a little hyperactive girl and helped them by taking their photo for them as a family. It was quite oppressive waiting with more and more people crowding in behind us and there was me in a singlet style top and shorts!

The cinema experience was very good and being sprayed with cold water as part of the effects was most welcome. From there it was back to a snaking Disneyland style queue winding its way around until we reached the lifts. As is my usual habit, I got to talking with a family behind me as we were waiting expressing a wish that they should have a bar or sell drinks while we were queuing - they would make a fortune!

Entering the lift I reflected on the fact that the last time I was in the tower was 1970 as a little boy!

At the top, I joined the others and enjoyed the view from the viewing platform and because you have to, took a few obligatory photos standing on the glass floor looking down at the ground some 500ft below.Image Again I helped some of the other visitors by taking their photos and in return had a few taken of me, engaging in conversation and exchanging comments. Certainly no place to be a shrinking violet!Image

With my eye on the clock, sadly it was time to make my way back as Mandy and Tina should have arrived by now and we were due out in 2 hours and I had to get ready.

At the bottom, I decided to pop into Revolution Bar for a quick drink as I was absolutely parched (and hungry to boot) and having purchased a beer, sat down on one of the high stools to enjoy my cold beer. Whilst sitting there I noticed that my thumb nail was coming adrift and so pulling out my nail glue from my bag tried without success to remove the top. In frustration, I walked over to a guy at the bar and asked if he could unscrew it. ImageSmiling he took the bottle and almost gave himself an hernia. His mates saw him struggling and one at a time they failed to budge the top. In the meanwhile I moved over to two girls who were with them and joined them watching the drama unfold. Finally eureka, the lid was removed and I was able to re-secure my nail. I was invited to join them and we had a laugh as I sipped my beer and it transpired that the guys were squaddies who happened to know a friend of mine who had sadly been killed recently in Afghanistan. Before leaving them I had a photo taken with the two gorgeous girls as well as one with the guys. I guess I gave them something to talk about on my departure.Image

With the clock now ticking I stopped off at a chippie on the way back to the hotel and fed myself on steak pudding, chips and mushy peas! Just what you need to party lol! As I was about to pay, two close friends of mine snuck up on me and we shared the walk back to the hotel.

Having met up with my friend and her wife, we walked back to the hotel where I re-joined Tina and Mandy as they were getting ready. My first hiccup was the dress that I intended wearing was a racer back and the strapless bra I had specifically purchased for this was a tad uncomfortable and the dress somewhat shorter than I had thought – end result a total rethink of what to wear.

Luckily (or good planning lol) I had an alternative dress to wear and so resorted to my tried and tested black sequined number with golden lightening emblazoned down the front from Next, keeping to the bra I had been wearing all day.Image

Come 8pm, we joined the other girls downstairs in the basement bar waiting for the last of the stragglers before taking a taxi into town. Image

On arrival, whilst the girls entered Roxy’s, I walked across the road to the cash point to top up my spend. Waiting patiently behind a girl, I quipped on completion of her transaction that I hoped she hadn’t taken all the money. On completion of my transaction, the girl joined me and dragged me over to meet her friends. I was introduced to the bunch of girls out celebrating on a works do. They were fascinated with me and wanted to know all about me inviting me to join them in Walkabout, however, my friends were next door and I needed to get back.Image

Re-joining my friends, we were soon joined by the Blackpool girls and other T – girls upstairs on the balcony overlooking the street opposite The Litton tree.Image It was a great atmosphere catching up with everyone, especially for me knowing this would be the last time for the foreseeable future. Back inside, the bunch of girls I had met earlier joined us and we had several dances with one of the girls trying to play with my tonsils lol! – am happily married – I manage to get out but it didn’t seem to make much difference lol!

From there we moved on to a couple of other places before finishing the night in Mardi Gras night club.Image
Myself and my good friend Mandy

I got to dance with a girl who was from Wigan and as I am from St Helens originally, it was somewhat surreal as both town’s rugby league teams had played each other that day and as I had the game taped and hoped to avoid hearing the score so as to enjoy the game on my return the following day, this girl succeeded in telling me the result!!! She then grabbed me by the hand and dragged me into the ladies and proceeded to do her business in front of me with the door open !!!! – such a high class of girls from Wigan lol!! Image

Anyhow, approaching 4am, we decided to get a taxi back to the hotel and bed.

The following morning, I got dressed, had my breakfast and then recovered my car from where I had parked it Imagebefore changing back to guy mode for my return journey reflecting that it would be over six months before I returned to Blackpool. Another good weekend and one I could draw on in the coming months in the wilderness.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

I came across two extreme examples of acceptance or otherwise whilst out in Leicester last Saturday.
I had late on decided to pick up a replacement foundation from MAC in Leicester as Emma rather than in boring Bob mode and so, casually dressed, Image photo showing how I was dressed

drove into Leicester intending to park at High Cross car park. This was the first time I had ever visited the centre of Leicester as Emma. 

Having left the car, I quickly made my way to the MAC counter and had a nice conversation with the girl there during which I asked her show me how to draw in my eyebrows having taken to shaving them and purchased a pencil as well as my NW30 foundation. Taking advantage of her, I asked her to repair my top lip as it was showing some signs of distress in the heat of the store which she was ok to do. She complemented me on my make up confirming that I was indeed using the correct shade of foundation but did give me a sample of another more longer lasting foundation to try.

As Debenhams was open late, I had a wander around the ladies wear and tried a couple of dresses on and a leopard print ¾ length belted mackintosh but at £80 just couldn’t justify the purchase.

Moving on, I decided to try and find the Dover Castle – a friendly pub in Dover Street. Getting lost, I wandered around for 30 minutes before ending up opposite the entrance to High Cross when I encountered a drunken beggar who asked me for money. I waved him no as I walked past thinking no more of the incident. Further up the street I came across one of those “you are here” maps and found out where I needed to go. Unfortunately this meant passing the drunk again and this time when I refused his kind offer! He suddenly twigged that I was not quite “the real thing” and suddenly started shouting out to all and sundry “Hey that’s a geezer!!” – somewhat disappointed, I recalled an amusing incident related by a girl on the forum and responded with a shocked expression and looking around shouted where, who! Whilst looking a mixed group in the eyes who were passing by at the time. No comment was made by this group as I walked slowly away and around the corner.

Finding the pub in question I sat down on a high stool at the bar and ordered a beer to cool off with. Earlier in the evening I had contacted a Leicester girl Amanda I had met at Sparkle and had arranged to meet for a quick drink before I had to make my way home. Sitting at the bar in the meanwhile, I got to meet a few different guys and girls and enjoyed socialising before the drag DJ started at 10pm. Running out of time, Amanda finally got there and we had a quick drink together before I called a taxi to take me back to the car park.

Back at the car park, after paying for my stay at the machine, I then found out that inadvertently I had parked in the roof top car park which shut at 7pm! It took me over 40 minutes and some frantic walking around the building to discover this momentous problem, during which I walked past two couples only to hear one of the guys say “That’s a guy”, one of the girls however said “No way! She's a woman!” I will take that as a 50:50!

Now as time was approaching midnight I had to ring my wife to come and pick me up (17 miles). To say she was not happy would be an understatement as she had had a couple of glasses of Baileys and was just getting ready for bed! Having arranged a suitable pick up point, I had a more pressing problem, my bladder! Luckily I came across a Spanish bar on my wanderings which was still just about open and so slipping onto a high stool at the bar, I quickly ordered a Blue Becks before making my way to the toilets for a much needed relief and a chance to brush my hair and touch up my face.

Back at the bar I started chatting to one of the Spanish girls as she was tidying up and asked her about the car park, explaining that I was waiting for my partner to pick me up (I normally refer to my wife as my wife but in this instance didn’t). Finishing off my drink it was time for my rendevouz with my wife and as I bade the girls goodnight, she asked me if my husband had arrived! Smiling I left the restaurant/bar and made my way across to the High Cross car park entrance and sat down on a bench at midnight waiting for her arrival. 

During my wait, I was propositioned once and received several in depth stares by guys in cars entering the car park until the welcome arrival of my wife. I recovered my car the following day but will look at changing from a blonde to another hair colour in future!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cambridge Nights

With my departure from these green and pleasant lands getting closer and necessitating the leaving Emma behind, I decided to make the most of the remaining days for a day out in Cambridge and the chance to meet one of my facebook friends and fellow angel, Holly Johns.

Over the last few months I have become quite adept at my Bob to Emma tran$formation whilst on the road rather than incurring the far greater expense of a hotel and yesterday was no exception. I wore my underwear (apart from my bra) under my suit for work (a first for me) and at lunchtime, having taken a half day off got on the road.

The A1 was absolutely hell, between Grantham and Stanford and past RAF Wittering, with speeds hardly exceeding 25 – 30 mph and traffic toe to tail. Finally I pulled off into Peterborough Services for the next stage. Changing in the gents, I put on my bra and top, changed trousers for girly jeans and with a jerkin over the top, got back in the car heading south.

Traffic was somewhat easier now and I pulled into Cambridge Services to complete the change over into Emma. Parking away from the main area, I had no sooner started (wig on, forms in place) when first a van pulled up alongside me on one side, the guy remaining in his seat on the phone and then a bloody car on the other side! WTF, there were at least 10 empty spaces either side of me! Again the driver remained in his seat!

Sod it, I pulled out of my space and took up another spot across the car park only to find almost the same thing happen again. In disgust I finally drove around to the car park for the Day’s Inn and despite various people walking past, managed to put my face on and then do my nails before dashing in the rain to the services and the toilet.

Satisfied with my presentation and rid of that last coffee I had had in the office, I rejoined the traffic and made my way to Cambridge and the Grafton Centre where I parked up and joined the other shoppers inside. Wearing a vest type top, tight jeans and kitten heels, (I carried a nice pair of heels with me in my bag) I certainly did not stand out and once again enjoyed the fact that no one whatsoever paid me any attention other than the various shop assistants whilst perusing the goods.

However, memo to self – when wearing a ¾ cup bra with full forms and a low cut top, ensure that the top remains in place and doesn’t head south when you are not watching!

I started with some new make up from Boots including a long lasting eyeliner gel from Maybelline which comes in a little pot with a separate applicator brush. Well I can report that this does exactly what it says on the package and was so easy to apply. I certainly recommend this product.

I then had a good luck around a few clothes shops including Next before picking up a narrow leather belt fabric covered in a leopard skin pattern. As I said to the girl serving me when she commented that she was going to buy the same on payday, “I have a pair of shoes that match” I decided that admitting to owning a matching jacket and skirt was just a tad too much and refrained.

I finally moved onto Debenhams where they were having a sale “buy one and get a 2nd for free” off the racks. I loved working my way through the racks and found a great pair of jeans in my size only to discover they were maternity – oh well, back to the drawing board! I eventually ended up with Julian McDonald bodycon dress for £35 and a lovely cropped linen jacket in purple for free.

No trip out would be complete without trying on numerous shoes both in Debenhams and my favourite store New Look but I was a good girl this time and managed to leave without adding to my large collection.

With the stores closing, I had a mooch around Accessorise and Claires for some new earrings for my pierced ears, but whilst interested in a number of pieces, I have enough for the moment given the enforced absence of Emma in the months to come.

By now and in need of a drink, I went upstairs to the food hall next to the cinema complex and sat down on a high stool in the Italian Restaurant purchasing cold glass of Peroni. Sitting omn my stool, I got talking to the girls working there and having had a 2nd Peroni decided to have a starter having been tempted by the great smells and the look of food as it was being served around me. Settling for the meatballs with mozerella and bread, I tucked in as the world went by not a care as everyone was busy getting on with their lives.

The great feeling of everything being normal is so hard to get across and the very normality is what gives me such a buzz.

With time moving on, I had arranged to meet Holly at 7-30 and we were going to eat at CB2 – a bistro further into town, so off the stool, gather up my shopping, bag on shoulder and back to the car. No stares, no comments I might as well have been invisible – good feeling and very satisfying.

Plugging in the post code for the Bistro, I joined the evening traffic before recognising where I was and leaving my car in a car park close to the Magistrates Court (I was last there when accompanying my friend Liz during her court case some 18 months earlier). Umbrella up, I dashed across the road past a couple of pubs where the smokers were congregating under awnings and made my way to the Bistro again no adverse comments or reaction whatsoever, however I did note a number of sets of eyes follow me as I walked past!

Taking a proffered table upstairs in the Bistro, I waited for Holly to join me. Whilst we had been at the same meal at Villagios on the Saturday of Sparkle, we had somehow managed to miss each other and so I was looking forward to finally meeting Holly.

Recognising her as she came through the door, I quickly had to excuse myself as I realised I had left my phone in plain view in my car and so I quickly made my way back to the car. Taking a short cut through one of the pubs, I expected the worst but no, nothing! As I retrieved my phone and retraced my steps, I smiled at those who caught my eye. Smiling is one way to defuse any situation, make more use of it girls!

The meal and company was everything I expected, we discussed far ranging topics and to all and sundry were just two women having a quiet meal in a trendy bistro.

I was amazed to hear that Holly had only gone out for the first time last November as she came across very self assured and confident. Holly proved to be great company.

As it approached 10pm, we decided to return to our cars and drive across town and we would finish the evening at a pub where I am only known as Emma, The Pickerel Inn, close to the river.

Leaving the cars at Pound Hill, we walked to the pub which despite the poor weather was quite full. Ordering our drinks, we sat down and continued to chat. The only time we drew ant attention was from a group of French guys next to us and this was due to them overhearing our conversation, perhaps its time for me to learn how to change my voice as it is one aspect I have so far been singularly unsuccessful in when presenting as Emma.

All too soon, it was midnight and we made reluctantly made our way back to the cars and bade each other a good night. Holly was about 20 minutes away and myself just over an hour.

Driving back, I stopped at Cambridge Services for a wee stop and then a coffee at McDonalds at Peterborough before getting home at 2-30am after changing and cleaning off in my usual layby 4-5 miles from home.

Good job I made the necessary changes and cleaned my face as our three daughters were still up when I got home and insisted on trying to engage me in conversation whilst I had my jerkin over my top but still wearing my girly jeans!

A lovely day out and one I will cherish in the months to come when Emma remains packed up back in England.

The Delights of Shopping

Taking advantage of the family being elsewhere, I decided to spend the day shopping at our local centre – Fosse Park, near Leicester. I took my wife’s Peugeot 207 as the family was using the Mondeo.

Due to not being able to leave the house dressed, it was once more, underwear, girly jeans on and top with a long tracksuit top covering up the embroidery on my jeans and my dark pink top.

Stopping off at my usual layby, I quickly added my fillets (wearing a suitable push up padded bra) and with my wig secure, swapped shoes and then applied my make up finishing off with my glue on nails. I had painted them a beautiful shade – soft toffee by Maybelline which we had purchased after having seen a young woman on the tube the day before wearing this shade.

Driving down to Fosse Park I stopped off at the services to check my overall presentation and endured the queuing that seems to be common during the holiday season for the toilets.

Happy with the overall look and my make up, I had a wander around the shop and picked up a bottle of water before back in the car rejoining the motorway for the short hop to Fosse Park

I parked up at the Marks and Spencer’s end of the car park and checking everything was in place made my way to my first port of call the “temple” of Marks and Spencers. I must admit to having an ulterior purpose as on the way I felt the under wire of my bra star digging into my side and realised that the fabric had given way.

Working my way through the lingerie section, I enjoyed the freedom of touching, looking picking up underwear without the guilty feeling of so doing as a guy. Not a sideways glance or nudge from any of the other women there including the bored guys watching whilst their partners were checking out the huge variety on offer. I even was lucky enough to overhear the comments of a young girl experiencing the delights of looking for her first bra in an adjacent aisle whilst looking for a replacement bra for myself. Again the father was singularly disinterested.

Having selected 4 bras I then joined the queue waiting outside the fitting rooms. I must admit that I did have a momentary worry that I may be asked to go elsewhere and the fact that a couple of guys were sat outside waiting for their partners to finish trying on their underwear was slightly daunting, however, my worry was unfounded as I was given a tag for 4 items and escorted to a cubicle and reminded that if I needed anything, to press the button for attention.

Top carefully off over my head, I tried the bras on, all 38Bs of various design configurations, one of which was not for me and whilst trying the 2nd one on I called for the woman to help. I showed her the one I thought seemed to be working and asked her opinion, at the same time as asking her to measure me. This resulted in her fetching a 40B from off the shop floor, which fitted better, but didn’t quite push my breast tissue into the right places. I explained the unique problem I had and we checked out the other two bras, one of which did what I wanted and the original one I had asked for her opinion on, also worked.

Just to make it more complicated, I kept the new bra on and went back to the counter to explain (in front of what felt like a crowd, including men) resulted in being escorted to the pay desk to purchase the two bras.

Now that I was comfortable again, I began checking out the clothes in earnest and soon had 2 skirts, a blouse and a red dress to try on. Once again, no problem as I was shown a cubicle and left to my own devices. The red dress was a beautiful fit in jersey material, but at £65 was not on my short list of wants. I finished by purchasing a black stretch fit skirt and a multicoloured blouse in a lovely satin type material.

Now, suitably thirsty – no air conditioning in the store and very warm in the changing cubicles, I stopped for a bite to eat and a drink. Chatting to the two women in the queue behind me we discussed the temptations of the cakes on the counter! on our way to the till and how warm the shop was.

As I sat at my table, people watching whilst nibbling at my sandwich, an older lady on the next stable struck up a conversation and we had a long chat whilst she was waiting for her niece to return. Once again, just normal social intercourse, it was almost too easy to forget how I was dressed and I remembered fondly that 1st time I had been shopping in daylight some 36 months previous in this very shopping centre and how my attitude and confidence had changed. That day in September, I had spent 7 hours in a skirt suit and 4” heels trying very hard not to have to talk to anyone whilst enjoying the thrill of shopping as Emma. Now here I was dressed in jeans, t-shirt, flats and chatting to just about anyone who struck up contact. How things change.

Having satisfied my hunger and thirst, I made one last sortie around the store until my eyes beheld a vision! – leopard print slip on shoe/boots with a 2” stiletto heel. With the blood rushing to my head I feverously looked on the shelves for a pair in size 8s and was rewarded when right at the back on the bottom shelf, I found them.

Rushing over to the nearby stool to try them on, I almost pushed a woman off as I sat down and yes, they fit! Trotting off to the cash desk, once more my card took the brunt.

Bags in each hand, I made my way back to the car and swapped my shoes for the new shoe/boots and re-fixed my make up before making my way back to the other shops for a more leisurely look in New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Next. No further purchases were made as I felt I had already been extravagant given that soon I would be leaving Emma behind for quite a while due to my new job.

In Boots, I picked up a replacement translucent face compact from Max Factor and two packs of working oval glue on nails from Kiss. Paying for them, the woman on the till commented on the nails and asked me how I found using them. As I explained; for the £6, I get 5 sets of complete nails which I can use twice, the nail glue if properly applied to the whole of the natural nail ensures that the nails stay in place and I cheat by painting them the night before whilst blutacked onto the heads of 6” nails fastened into a strip of wood. She then enquired whether my nails were the stick on variety and took a good look at them, complementing me.

Whilst strolling between shops, I took a call from my youngest who asked if I had any plans for dinner. Replying no, I was asked where I was and explaining that I was at Fosse Park, was asked to pick up something for dinner. No problem, back to the car, I re-parked by the large Asda and checking my face once more, left the car and walked into the maelstrom. The place was heaving as I picked up a basket and made my way around the aisles looking for inspiration. Finally, it clicked, thin crust cheese extravaganza and double pepperoni pizzas as a starter with fresh chicken and bacon and spicy sausage stuffed pasta with mascarpone sauce as a main meal.

I guess this was a first for me as I had never really been food shopping before, however, no problems, but whilst queuing at the till, the girl in front of me clocked me and nudged her friend who stole a glance over his shoulder. I smiled at them both and that was that.

Paying for my food, I exchanged pleasantries with the girl on the till and then made my way back to the car to finish off what most women would find a normal day but for me will remain a wonderful memory and also a reminder of what you are able to do, given the confidence and self belief.