changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

book sex and well I never January 26, 2015

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I spent a long time in my local book shop today, mostly on the second floor…a quick scan of the language books (we’re thinking of having a bash at Dutch) and then a long time in poetry, art and design. So many good things on one floor. It’s all wooden shelves and floorboards and the books go all the way up to the ceiling but that’s okay because we(e) browsers are trusted with short step ladders – it’s bliss. And the smell…. I kept taking books off the shelves, sniffing them long and deep and making happy sighs of contentment. I think I love the smell of brand spanky new books even more than the fusty musty smell of second hand well fondled tomes..and some of the new books in Toppings are wrapped in shiny cellophane that hides their smell. I’ve no idea if taking off the wrapper in the shop is allowed or not…I didn’t ask… I bought a copy of ‘On the Thirteenth Stroke of Midnight’ – sight unseen – based purely on the blurb on the back and the fact that it was plastic intact.

Back at home…sitting on my bed, in the middle of the afternoon I opened it.

The rustle of paper bag…followed swiftly by removal of the cellophane – it wasn’t shrink wrapped… but parcel wrapped with perfect folds, sharp corners, tiny pieces of tape and then the chemical whiff of a brand new unopened book. I will never EVER replace real paper and ink with electronic ‘handiness’. The unwrapping experience was either near sexual or near religious..and either way I then lay it down and paused for tea, jaffa cakes and anticipation before breathing in it’s inky aroma – nose to book edge and then diving in between the pages to see what it held.

It’s an anthology of British Surrealist poetry, with quite a lot of academic type stuff at the beginning and brief biogs at the rear and the poems themselves demand to be read out loud. I found I have a special ‘reading surrealist poetry out loud voice’ and on the whole they seem to mention sailors and the colour black too often. I suspect my special voice is Julie Walters based edging into “my eyes are pies”.

My favourite poem on first perusal is by a chap called Desmond Morris..that’s strange I thought – he’s got the same name as that populist Naked Ape chappy…how unfortunate.

I liked his poems so much I nipped onto the internet later in the afternoon to see if Mr. Morris had any books all of his own (whilst trying not to look how much cheaper I could have bought the anthology from the fucking online shysters at Amazon)…I found Desmond Morris, the zoologist, ethologist and expert on the reproductive behaviour of the ten-spined stickleback and that he is also known for his surrealist painting – (combining his dual loves in 1957 by organising an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, of paintings and drawings composed by chimpanzees).

And would you credit it?…he’s the same Desmond Morris, who writes rather good surrealist poetry. How bonkers is that?
So I’ve also ended up buying a book of his poetry (illustrations by himself), and an illustrated copy of his childrens book Inrock (allegedly something Kubrick thought would make a good film)…oh and the entire works of e e cummings fell into my electronic basket too… a not very satisfying experience from an ethical and sensory perspective but all in all bally cheap and so quick was the ‘one click’ system that I barely had a chance taste my dis.


Love’s a complicated thing. February 14, 2013

Filed under: home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 11:51 pm
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It must be so simple if you are a couple in love on Valentines day… supposing you both ‘do’ Valentines day and commercialism doesn’t stick in your craw.

Being in a ‘complicated’ relationship makes Valentines slightly less straight forward. I bought Jane a card ages ago on a day when i had the energy to stand and stare hard at cards for quite a long time…. I went for a ‘Happy Valentines Day’ option.

Last night I sat down to write it and came a blank…. shit.

This is our 9th Valentines and I’ve always tried to write something personal and pertinent beyond ‘I love you’.

This year even ‘I love you’ didn’t seem apt…. what we have isn’t the sort of love celebrated on Valentines day… its a common history, a shared child, a commitment and a coupling on the wane…. but the pink flowery hearts and flowers…nah.

When I opened Janes card to me she’d obviously hit the same sort of impasse and had opted for a sort of get well soon/valentines combo.

I was glad I hadn’t caved in and scrawled some soppiness I didn’t mean… in the end I went for a poem.

“Roses of red

Chrysanthemums frilly

Sending a card

Feels kind of silly.”

But we both got cards, which is what counts.

In fact I got two (having a very complicated relationship status)…. I havn’t spoken to the man behind the other one today. I can’t face that he’s probably spending the evening with someone else (as he also has a complicated relationship status).

Like I said up top it must be so simple if you are a couple in love on Valentines day.

Moving swiftly on for those for whom today was just pants….

In a months time on 14th March we have ‘Steak and a blow job day‘ a chance for every man, who buckled down to the desires of his other and bought pink stuff and flowers and pretended that romance was more important than looking at porn/football/going to the pub/quality shed time (or whatever else he really wanted to spend tonight doing), to get some karmic return.

Failing that… and skipping the obvious Springtime in Paris (which has to come later than february as we found out a few years ago when we spent Valentines there and it was so foggy I still to this day believe the Eiffel Tower is only thirty feet tall and not very pointy at all).

Go to Barcelona for St Georges Day… St George, as well as being the paton saint of the EDL is the parton saint of Catalonia and his day is a day for love.

The whole of Barcelona comes to a halt, the streets are full of book stalls and people selling roses…. the squares are full of happy Catalans in national dress doing folk dancing. It’s lovely.

Actually the main man of my day, is an absolute sweetheart…. touchingly thoughtful at times.

Mum…. do you want a cuppa tea?

And he brought me the first cup of tea made by his own fair hands -on a tray. With chocolate.


Buying books and sharing experience. February 15, 2010

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When i was pregnant i read books….every book i could get my hands on.  I absorbed the wisdom of earth mothers and drank raspberry leaf tea until i was sickened of it. I read mainstream gestational bibles. I even read midwifery manuals….the best of which was a 1930s one in which it described in horrifying detail how to cheesewire a dead foetus to bits in order to get it out.

Faced with anything major in life….thats what i do….i research…i absorb information. What i don’t tend to do is talk to people, talk around things…and that i’m finding extends to reading books about experiences.

Not when i’m this close to the subject matter.

One persons experience is never the same as anothers, we can find common reference points in anothers experience, but are as likely to look for differences as for similarities. The differences can even extinguish the similarities for me.

So, I’ve been buying books.

First up is Man into Woman the transformation of the painter Einar Wegener into Lili Elbe in 1931. The worlds first sex change.

I’m part way through this its compiled from Lili’s own manuscripts and letters and is fascinating.

Second is the Dresscodes of Three Girldhoods – My Mother’s, My Father’s and Mine.

This one i’ve read before, i read it about a year ago. I read it cover to cover and hardly put it down. I remember it made me cry and i remember when i finished it askingJohn if he’d got it from the library for me for a reason. Was there something he wanted to tell me?

I also remember him saying it had been a random choice off the shelf as he often does for me at the library and that it was also several months before he clicked about his gender issues.

I could see so much of the person i loved in this book.

I’ve bought it this time for his daughter to read as its written from a daughters perspective. A daughter in her early teens when she was let in on her fathers cross dressing secret, a daughter who in her early twenties accompanied her father to the hospital for final surgery.

I hope our daughter can find something in the book to help her through this…even if its just that changing gender can make for a happier and more loving parent in the longrun.

I skimmed this book when it arrived last week….it now doesn’t have the same resonance for me. I’m looking at the differences not the similarites.

Which brings me to She’s not the Man I Married. I was so looking forward to this book, to savouring it, to finding common experience, to all sorts of things. Its hailed as THE book written from the perspective of the partner of a trans woman.

A couple of times in the first couple of chapters i stopped reading and cried at some very perceptive points but then i realised Betty (the trans in focus) is still ‘just’ cross dressing.

There is no ‘just’ about it really but cross dressing, even cross dressing full time doesn’t start to scratch the enormity of ‘crossing over’.

I wanted to read someones experience of partnering someone through transition….not someone partnering someone ‘thinking about it’ whilst dressing full time.

I suspect at her present rate the author (Helen Boyd) will wring at least a half dozen books out of the process. Sort of a JK Rowling of trans experience books.

That may be unfair….i did give up on the book part way through and just dip in and out of the back half  to see how it ends.

But as i wrote at the start of all this…everyones experience is different.

I know my journey with Jane is atypical in that there wasn’t a slow build up of cross dressing…

What i’d like to read is less a book of ‘personal experience’ more a handbook, that ties in with the medical process and all the researchy stuff i love to absorb. The hardstanding guts of process is what is common to us all regardless of personal experiences.

I want chapters on ‘my partner cross dresses’ next to a chapter on ‘my partner never cross dressed’.

I want the world to make sense.

I want there to be a book that next time someone sits down to break the news of  their transness to their partner they can hand it over and it can become a guide.

Not a grasping for shared experiences amongst personal outpourings but a guide…with an index….a contents page and further reading.

Books like Helen Boyds and blogs like mine are fine from the outside of the experience but when you are on the inside you just want help making your new reality make sense.

As an afterthought i might add that having read every pregnancy manual under the sun i went on to have two children both by ceasarean section…. the one chapter i used to skip becuase ‘it wasn’t going to happen to me’.



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