The ultimate aim of every TV, or so they say, is to ‘pass’. This means for no-one to notice you in public – in other words just take you as the woman you feel. Just going out was now becoming relatively easy. Some people would give you an odd look – but I was happy to be out and M didn’t seem to care too much. But I had still never spoken to anyone. I had been in there for nearly 50 years without saying a word to a soul. You can imagine what that is like for a woman. However I wasn’t too keen on speaking with his deep voice so together we worked on something presentable using M’s voice-box. Again we found some good advice on the internet and practiced assiduously in the car – following the newsreaders parrot fashion. Unfortunately most news readers have deeper voices than men – so the pitch wasn’t quite right. Anyway we reached the point where we were happy enough to give it a go and went to a Thai restaurant in Basel. The waiter seemed quite happy to serve us – no funny looks (he was very polite!). Unfortunately I chose a green curry – which was a tad on the hot side and I started sweating – of course the worst place to sweat is on the top lip where that 5 o’clock shadow is lurking ready to spring out and give the game away! For the first time in my life I didn’t finish it – too many dabs and I was getting worried. However I did manage to take a trip to the ladies – a wonderful first. I just had to stop to top up my lipstick – as I’d seen in films. I was beginning to feel like a real woman (as long as I ignored the sprouting tache!).
I just loved tottering around on my heels and flicking my hair, swinging the hips and just being generally girly. You must remember that I was pushed underground at the time I was playing with girls in the primary school playground – so I had a lot of catching up to do. Perhaps I was acting like a little girl in mummy’s clothes.
On one occasion I had a long motorway drive to do and had dressed in a layby somewhere. This was in my earlier days of dressing and I was going through a bit of a tarty phase. I had a red leather short skirt, black suede boots and long crimson nails. I thought I was doing ok – not too many people taking odd looks – until I got to the ladies and there was the cleaner, arms folded, as fierce as a hospital matron and guarding the lavvy like a bulldog. Mmm, I though, perhaps I can hold it a bit longer, and nonchalantly walked past, down the blind corridor looking for – what was it now?? I felt her eyes drilling into my bra straps and I turned and sheepishly walked back to the car. I ended up in another layby hoiking my todger out from my black lacy knickers and relieving myself, thankfully, on the verge.
I do seem to attract the opposite sex for what reason I’m not quite sure. I have, though, been propositioned several times – admittedly, once or twice, when I have been near the red light area near the business hotels. In Budapest the ladies of the night gather near the entrance and one is invariably approached (as a man). On this occasion I was in black with some high black boots on – ok so they were thigh length – and maybe I was a bit heavy on the make-up – but I think it was the madam, with two rather fierce looking dogs (canine variety) who gave me rather an evil eye. I think it may have been her patch – and I wasn’t too welcome. I think she may have been puzzled enough to give me just those precious seconds I needed to make my hip swinging escape along the boulevard beside the river. I toned it down next time I went out.
I do seem to attract them in Basel though – mind you a single attractive (although I say it myself) single lady in the red light district is rather asking for it. Maybe I did it deliberately for a bit of attention – but that would be telling! Once I was sitting on a park bench resting my poor feet – (those heels can make your feet ache) – and this poor 50 something chap appeared at the street corner – gave me a quick shifty and started pottering back and forward – maybe even looking at his watch. He looked just like me plucking up the courage to go into the shoe shop. Finally he came over and said ‘Are you dancin’?’ Actually it might have been quite a laugh to go dancing – something I haven’t tried yet – but thought it might not be the wisest thing to do for a 50 something male(?!#) management consultant…
On another occasion this young 20 something North African chappie sat down beside me on a bench and started chatting. Now I am not Miss Conversationalist but I though here’s a good chance to try out my newsreader voice so I made a good fist of polite conversation of which after a few minutes he said that when he first saw me he fell in love – and in the space of a few minutes I had become the love of his life. He held my hand – I thought – what the hell – then he put his arm on my shoulder – then it strayed down to my boob – which I didn’t notice a first through the three inches of squidgy silicon – but then I thought – hey – a lady wouldn’t let this happen – so I brushed him off and turned away with a disdainful flick of my wavy brunette barnet and pouted those painted lips. He was getting a little too persistent though – so I had to get up and he followed me and took hold of my hand. By now I was starting to get a little concerned – and realised that being a girl is not just make-up and frocks. I eventually managed to drop him by being ever so firm and telling him to ‘Stay!’ in my firmest (but not too deep) dog handler voice. I crossed the road – without looking back, like Lot’s wife.
At most hotels I stay at there are a lot of guests coming and going through reception all the time and you get a card key that you can neatly tuck away in your handbag so you can pretty much come and go as you please (must have been designed by a TV). On one occasion I dragged by 20+ kg bag with 2 shirts, 5 sets of underpants and socks, two pairs of heels, three tops, 1 pair of skinny jeans, bra, knickers, skirt, coat, boobs, make-up, jewellery, etc. up the stairs into the hotel and saw with abject horror, the humungous room keys that you’re obviously not meant to take out with you. Bugger I thought – either I don’t go out or I have to tell the receptionist. Putting on my best manly smile I covered up my disappointment as I signed in and lugged my carefully selected wardrobe up to the room. I sat and brooded. Then brooded some more. Then thought I, am I a girl or am I a girl? A girl’s gotta go out – if only to justify the excessive carbon emissions for that weight of luggage from London to Basel. So I got dressed and then wrote my speech, then rewrote it – then went back to the first version. Rehearsed picking up the phone and speaking. Pitch is important – a bit higher? Dunno. After a few minutes – ok, so it must have been a good half hour – I called down and said that “I would be coming down in a minute” and “I may look a bit different’ (is there a prize for euphemism of the year?) – I don’t want to shock you.” Phone down – high five with myself – and breathed deeply. Unlocked the door and stepped out. You see everyone else I had spoken too had only seen me as one or the other – now this poor girl was going to see me as a man and then a girl. I walked down the stairs, holding on tight to the banister – don’t want any accidents – and as she looked up she burst out laughing. Now – this wasn’t one of my clown looks – I actually looked quite presentable – but it was a laugh of relief. In all my worry about what I thought she would think it didn’t occur to me what she actually thought which was that I had burned my face and she would have to take me to the hospital. She actually commented on how good I looked (although she could ‘still see the man’ which was, I’ll admit, a little disappointing) – but in all I felt like a million dollars. Here was the first person who I had really come out to and she had just accepted me – no problem. No judgement. Accepting me as I was. 45 years of unwarranted fear up in a puff of smoke (purple and scented of course). I went to the hotel a few times and had a couple of chats with her and she offered my various bits of advice and feedback which was most welcome and improved my look quite a bit.
Of course you do have to be careful with the voice. I went into a pizza restaurant once – all ready with my finely honed and delicate voice. Of course you don’t want to sound gruff so I cleared my throat. Woops! That was a manly cough – quickly snuffed out with an embarrassed smile. The waiter was gay anyway and may have found me a bit of a novelty – but the couple in the corner didn’t take any notice – so I must have looked ok – and thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
I’ve also suffered the wobbly ankle syndrome you can get if the heels are a bit high and slightly off centre. After a while, as my fellow girls will tell you, your ankle just keeps going sideways. You concentrate – but there it goes again. Just on one side though (I recommend boots for the extra ankle support). Of course you imagine that everyone is watching you and as a TV you think they will find you out – but since then I’ve noticed it with many girls out about town. I often comment on it to my daughter – she hasn’t seemed to wonder how I know so much about it…
I went to a gay bar on a couple of occasions thinking I might be welcomed – but I was stoically ignored. Not sure that my middle-aged, sexy, nicely made-up, business-woman look worked too well amongst the smokey basement, denim clad, 20 something gay boys of Basel, though.
I used to enjoy watching Colditz on TV. I can remember the tension as the POW, dressed in a carefully fabricated German uniform, casually strolled out past the guards. What tension and excitement. Well, that’s nothing. I had been sitting at the bar with my colleagues after work, watching the clock – after all I’d planned a nice evening with my latest strappy sandal stilettos and jeans. Finally I managed to excuse myself – rushed upstairs and got changed. The usual waiting behind the door for that magic moment and stepping forth… Down in the lift and straight past my colleagues at the bar – who, like the prison guards, didn’t suspect a thing. Unbridled joy! What fun to be me. These are the special moments that bring the greatest satisfaction.
They were still there when I came back in – so I gave them my best haughty ‘looker’ effect – they still didn’t even look up.