Archive for September, 2012


Struggling with steel strings.

Last Christmas I was given a mandolin as my gift. For the first month I split my practice time, two hours per day usually, equally between my ukulele and my brand new precious. Yeah, that didn’t work out very well. So I came to a decision. I would practice my uke exclusively until I had played it a year. Then switch to my mandolin, and pick my uke up for an hour each week so I wouldn’t lose everything.

Well the year’s up, and for the past week I’ve thrown myself gleefully in to playing the mandolin. And mostly I’ve truly been enjoying it. I mean sure, the strings buzz like crazy because I haven’t taught my fingers to fret them correctly on instinct yet. And of course having to learn a completely new set of chords, and scales is tough going sometimes. And it truly is frikkin annoying that it’s so difficult to find tabulations for grade 1 and 2 pieces of music, but that’s partly my fault as I still haven’t gotten to grips with standard notation.

But the one set of things that are completely screwing me up are those steel strings. Those painful, vicious, never to be cursed enough strings.

And what scares me most is that my mandolin, which is this deep, DEEP, red to begin with has now tasted blood. Should I be worried? Will it now hunt me in the dead of night, determined to feast on the rest?

Or is it bad enough that I now regularly have dreams about playing it. Dreams in which ever note is bum, and every fret, every pluck hurts like a hundred thousand sons of bitches?

Well regardless I do love my mandolin. And someday I hope to be this good with it. Have a great weekend folks, and see you all Tuesday with my guide to thrifty high street shopping.





My Random Video Ruminations – Month 1

As I said I a few weeks ago, when I returned to blogging from my holiday, I’ve decided to set up a video blog and a YouTube channel to host it. Well YouTube until I can get a decent independent site of my own running. Anyway here’s my first video, feel free to comment here, or on YouTube. Enjoy.


A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Clothes Shopping Part 1: General Tips.

Who doesn’t love shopping for clothes? You go out with a full(ish) wallet, but empty hands. And come home with an empty wallet and wonderfully full hands. That’s right no pizza money left for the month, but plenty of pretty new shoes, and tops, and bottoms, and jewellery, and even more shoes. Of course it’s all fun and games until your bank manager contacts you and utters those horrible words designed to bring you back to Earth with a coccyx shattering bump.

“Miss Harper, I’m very disappointed to see that you find yourself overdrawn.”

Okay, admittedly that phrase was only used once with me, and it was 12 years ago, a time when very occasionally in the smaller bank branches the manager deigned to endure contact with the merely mortal. But the point remains. A day of clothes shopping can very quickly go out of control when you see that “must have” item, even though your bank balance only stretches to very gently allowing your shadow to briefly play with its shadow. And even then only if no-one catches you.

But do you know what? There is light at the end of the tunnel. Over the next three weeks, starting today we are going to outfit ourselves with some basic skills which allow shopping to still be fun, and a whole lot thriftier.

Next week we will cover High Street Shopping.

The following Thrift Store/Car Boot Sale Shopping.

But this week, we will cover 5 points which are universal to all forms of clothes shopping. Enjoy.

1: Measurements:

So, what dress/chest measurement are you? What’s your waist measurement? How long are your legs? Oh I know, what’s your real bust size? A lot of you, perhaps even most of you know the answers to those right off the top of your head. But many of you won’t. many of you will hum, haw, and then eventually pop out a vague guess based on your measurements back when you were 17. Not good enough Madam, not good enough Sir.

Your actual physical measurements are your first line of defence against unfortunate, and possibly expensive accidental purchases. Because, let’s face it, if it doesn’t fit, you probably won’t wear it, and if you do you may well look ridiculous in it.

Knowing your size is not a guarantee of a proper fit, but it massively increases the likelihood of an outfit you’ll treasure, rather than one you’ll wear once, and never wear again.

How does this save money? You won’t waste time, or money having to return the damn thing.

2: What do you want? Really should be only what you need:

Let’s be honest here. We all want lots of things that we don’t really need. But the vast majority of those wants are things we would use once, and then promptly forget we have. Humans are like that, magpies, always looking for the next pretty shiny thing.

So the first thing to do when considering a piece of clothing is to put it on a list. That list is broken down in to “Need”, “Useful Want”,” Greed”.

“Need” is obviously essentials things like undies, bra’s that fit, comfortable jeans for day-today wearing, a few good “mix and match” outfits for going out.

“Useful Want” are those things which catch our magpie eyes, but which are genuinely useful. Like that delicious skirt suit, that would be perfect for interviews, or picking up pretty girls in the bar, (note to self don’t spill anything sticky on it.) They nay be expensive but they are the things which repay the investment over time. My own personal example are high quality gothboots.

“Greed” items are just plain luxuries. You don’t need them, they probably won’t be very useful, but by the Goddesses you sure as hell want them. They’re almost always expensive, usually rather non-functional, but they can be good for the soul. My ankle length black leather evening gown is one of these. Hardly the thing to wear shopping, or walking the dog, but when worn makes me feel like the living breathing avatar of some random Goddess.

The point here is not that you don’t have luxuries, useful or not. Simply that usefulness should usually take priority. Moderation is the key here.

3: Dead Man’s fabulous shoes:

New shoes are a joy, but you already have a wardrobe floor filled with them, the overflow from the wardrobe is of course stored underneath your bed, and the overflow from there under the stairs. How many of them have you worn more than once? How many have you not worn at all?

I was like that, though admittedly not nearly that bad. Then I decided on the Dead Man’s Shoes rule. To allow myself a new pair of shoes I had to go through those I already owned, make sure I didn’t already have essentially the same shoes, and if not then choose a pair to kill. Thus making space in my life for the new pair.

After all shoes are like the immortals in Highlander. In the end there can be only one, pair on your feet at a time. And too many lead to comparisons to the wives of certain Cold War era dictators.

I would also point out that this rule can be applied to anything you own, but work particularly well with larger items which you have fewer of, like dresses.

4: Mix and Match:

I mentioned this earlier in passing. But mix and match is a really great way to avoid wasting money. You’re in town one day, and see the most divine black silk blouse. But you really need a black skirt to match it, and the right riding crop (Only me on the last part huh? Alright.). Damn it that blouse is getting sort of expensive to own isn’t it?

So how many black skirts do you own? And do you have one which will look right with that blouse? Oh you do, mix and match for the win! Oh sorry I misheard, you don’t…hmmmmm I wonder would somewhere else, somewhere that isn’t so expensive that the staff are trained to see through their nostrils have something that would work?

The simple fact is that once you have an established wardrobe it becomes instantly much, much cheaper to build a new outfit. All you need is one new item, match it to some older items, a good make up theme and bish, bash, bosh new outfit.

If you have nothing that works, there are plenty of budgetish shops out there which make their money from providing a cheaper alternative, which will still usually look damned good.

For the girl, guy, or miscellaneous on a budget, mix and match is one of your best friends when it comes to stretching your money.

5: The Kava Principal:

This is my number one shopping tool for deciding if something is really worth the price. If this item were side by side with a delicious bottle of lovely, sparkling Rosé, all glistening, and carbonated, and beguiling in it’s alcholicy yumness, would I buy it?

If I would skip the clothes for the wine, then I obviously didn’t really want them as badly as I thought I did. On the other hand if I find that the wine has no draw for me, then I should probably buy that lovely kindergoth dress, go home, redo my make-up, go out and start looking for someone to bend over my knee, who should then call me “Mommy Amanda” while I spank her silly.

The Kava Principal could just as easily be renamed the chicken Wing Principal, or the Pizza Principal. And sometimes should be. The trick to using it is to tailor it to the value of the item you want to buy. Kava is about 20 quid a bottle so is ideal for items between 15 and 20 Euro in value.

On the other hand a Terry Pratchett novel in paperback form is about 8 Euro, So we would apply the Pratchett Principal to items priced between 5 and 10 Euro.

And it’s as simple as that.

Next week we’ll cover some of the tricks which I’ve tailored over the years to shopping on the High Street.


Friendships, and Changing Gender.

Around eight years ago I realised that to be able to keep living with myself I had to stop lying. I had to be honest with myself admit that I’m a girl, and change gender. It was that or die by my own hand. I knew that with the absolute certainty of those who’ve already tried multiple times. Since around six years ago there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t been relieved that I made that decision. So that leaves a very obvious question to be answered.

What about those first two years?

Those first two years were the hardest part of transitioning. The time period where every single part of it was terrifying, or upsetting, or just a plain struggle. Those were the years before laser hair removal had really started to work out. The years before hormone treatments had performed their magic. The years where I had not yet developed a personal sense of style, or any significant make-up skills (Though I’m quite certain that there are probably those who would say I still haven’t.) with which to present myself to the world. Those were the years where my mother and I had a fraught relationship. But most of all they were the years when I lost most of the people I thought were my friends.

It felt like one day I was surrounded by people who cared about me, and the next…well there were a lot fewer. Of course that’s not actually wholly true. It took those two years, and a large chunk of the next couple too, for them all to drift away.

What I didn’t understand then, and what I’ve only started to understand recently is that they were never really my friends. And I don’t mean that the way you think. Sure some of them were just acquaintances who seemed like friends due to proximity based, pressure-cooker type relationships. But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that they were never Amanda’s friends.

They’d spent, sometimes, anything up to five years getting to know the old, fake me. They were “his” friends, “his” confidants, “his” support network. They knew…let’s call him, in the manner of only the very “best” PSA’s, Jimmy, not this new strange person with too much facial hair, no breasts, weird dress sense, and a scrawny body, who was named Amanda. Some of them really tried. I have to give them their due. Some of them tried as hard as hell to stay in Amanda’s life. But of all the friends Jimmy had, only a handful would go on to become Amanda’s.

It’s hardly surprising, Amanda is definitely a lot different to Jimmy. For one thing, paradoxically she has bigger balls. Seriously, things that used to make Jimmy curl up and scream for mommy, just make Amanda bear her teeth, ready for a nice tasty bite of jugular.

Anyway, when I think about it now, with the passage of time reducing the pain to a distant memory, I’m grateful they didn’t stick around. You see transitioning was a crucible. It burnt away all the layers of fake which I’d built up over the years to hide away the real me. It forced me to become if not a grown-up then at the very least an adult. It made me take responsibility for my body, health, and life. But it also removed a great deal of the unnecessary from my life, not least of which were the friends who were just, okay.

I’ve learned that not everyone has friends who are amazing, wonderful, loving, supportive, and the types who’ll bury bodies with you (Good friends will only do the killing part, conveniently forgetting to help with the clean up afterward.). But now after transitioning, after losing so much of what I thought was mine, with everything, and everyone who was less than I deserved, I can finally say with certainty that I do.





Little Ruminations on BDSM – Missing Handcuff Keys

What can I say? Passion over took us. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t prepared for, and handcuffs were very definitely involved.

Now it’s important to know that those particular handcuffs weren’t shitty ones bought in a bad sex shop. They were in fact a pair of honest to goodness law enforcement ones. You know, not the ones with the emergency release switches. The ones with the locks which are supposed to actually work well.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, passion had taken over.

And someone was lying on her belly, with her wrists firmly held in the handcuffs. Naughty fun was definitely about to happen. And given that these were two dominant women, one of whom was choosing consciously to submit, there was probably going to be one hell of a fight for supremacy.

You of course noticed the word “probably” in there. Yeah, it didn’t happen that way. Instead someone rang someone. Then someone else realised that the keys to those particular handcuffs were still at the other end of the country.

The moral of this story is as follows;

1: When you decide to have kinky D/s play it’s a really good idea for at least one of you to have it planned out, even a little. Contingency planning is your friend.

2: A little flexibility goes a long way when you’re trapped in a pair of handcuffs

3: Don’t panic, even really, REALLY good handcuffs are stupidly easy to pick with the careful application of a little patience, and an iron nail.

And finally;

4: Before you close those delicious metal, bondage inflicting twin bracelets actually make sure you actually have the keys. Oh and for the love of all that’s unholy, remember to turn off your phones.


Being an Abuser Survivor – They’re both dead.

I found out last Wednesday that the last of my abusers had died.

I found out when my mother rang my Partner in Crime to let her know. She rang my PiC because my mom doesn’t really know me anymore, and wanted to know whether to tell me or not.

That thought actually showed a lot of good sense from my mom. Even though it’s almost 20 years since the last time my abusers touched me, they still have an immense impact on my day-to-day life. For twenty years I’ve sort of peeked around each corner to make sure they weren’t coming the other way. Where ever I am I do my best to make sure that not only do I sit where I can see the whole room, but also that my back is to a corner. I truly believe in fighting or fleeing from a highly defensive position, because of them.

What they did to me echoes in so much of what I do every day.

The first died about a decade ago of AIDS. You can not begin to imagine how many HIV tests I’ve had in the past 20 years. Even though I know I’m clear when I think about it I feel the almost overwhelming need to have myself tested again, just to make sure. But anyway, the first one died long ago, and when he did I felt nothing but relief. One less threat to me in the world, I even got to enjoy the compensation that his death was probably rather hard. Though probably not nearly hard enough.

The second? He died in his sleep. Bastard.

So you’d think I would feel relief. And I do, a lot of relief. I feel like I can breathe properly for the first time in my adult life. But, unfortunately, that’s not where what I feel ends. Not even close.

Being the victim of child sex abuse is a life sentence, with short of an early death, no chance of parole. And learning that they’ve both died has just reopened every single wound. All of them. They’ve never healed, it’s probable they never will. They just scab over a little, and I can sort of pretend they’re not there for a little while, until something new reopens them. Well this has not so much reopened them as ripped them apart. And when those wounds are open the memories come pouring out. And those are not the soft, vague memories of every day life. No, they’re the “Oh my Gods it’s being done to me again.” memories of the abuse victim. The memories that come with the complete set of sights, smells, sounds, and physical feelings. They come with other things too.

I’m having nightmares I haven’t had in years. Nightmares I’d hoped never to have to cope with again

I’m scared to leave my home again. I, 34-year-old Amanda, know they’re both gone, but try telling that to the 8-year-old version of me who’s hiding in her wardrobe.

I don’t feel like eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising, reading, or really anything else.

I’m forcing myself through the motions because I know if I do it for long enough I’ll come back out the other side. The only reason I know this will work for me is because I’ve done it before, many, many times before.

But I will get through this.However, contrary to what most people seem to believe, I will never get over it. It doesn’t work that way. You never get over it. You just fight through to the other side, and survive. Because that’s what even living well post-abuse is, survival, and survival is an ongoing day-to-day struggle. And in that unending struggle I do have one big advantage. I really, truly hate to lose. And I will not let those two creatures win.

And if there is an afterlife, you two fuckers better prepare yourselves. Cause sooner or later, I’m coming for ye. And I will be smiling when I do.


A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Grocery Shopping.

Food is expensive. We all know that, and it’s only getting more so all the time. So with that in mind it surely makes sense to take a thrifty approach to our grocery shopping? Well, I’m going to assume that you’re still reading, and responded to that question with a loud, clear “Hell Yeah!” Here are my five top tips for keeping that grocery bill under control.

1: Eat before you go food shopping. Going food shopping on an empty stomach is a really silly thing for anyone to do. Hunger taps into your reptile brain in a way that makes you want all the food in the world right, frikkin’, now! And grocery stores know this. That’s why they smell so often of fresh baked bread, a scent which, I guess, taps in to the bready doughy centre of our brains. So don’t go shopping hungry.

2: Be very careful before you buy anything that’s in a stand away on its own. these are usually “Special Offers”, often only being special for the company selling them that is. Look selling anything is a science. And the people who study that science know that we’re programmed to go after the lame member of the herd first. You know, the animal that’s standing away on it’s own, trailing well behind the herd, because that’s the one we’ll expend the least energy killing. So something standing out on its own in a shop is going to be “Special”. Sometimes these are genuinely good buys. But often they’re a “new” product, which is in fact an old product in new packaging, at a higher cost, for less.

Which leads us nicely to…

3: Pay attention to the price by weight part of packaging. Here we’ll use toilet roll as our example. There are two packages of toilet roll. Four rolls per pack, but one pack is 5% more expensive. Which should do you buy? Well you don’t really know until you look at how many sheets there are per roll, and work out the price per sheet. The same goes for buying most other things which we tend to buy in bulk. In fact the same can be true of buying just about anything. Whenever you can find out the price by weight, it could save you a lot in the long run.

4: Try to buy special offers, which really are special offers. Super Mega Frikkin’ Euro Stores is having a special this week on a your regular washing powder. Buy 5 boxes for the price of 3. Do you buy it? Or do you think to yourself “How much washing powder do I really need? And then I’ll have to carry it home, and store it, and the cost…nah I’ll just get the one pack.” WRONG!

Look, in my first article in this series I spoke about rounding up your weekly budget slightly to build up “just in case” money. Well this is one of those just in case situations. The fact is that if a special offer appears on something which you use constantly, which is a genuine bargain, then get it. You WILL use that washing powder. You WILL work your way through all that toilet paper. You WILL use all that dry dog food, unless scruffy runs out in front of traffic, in which case you can use it to pebble dash the back yard wall. So be smart, if it really is a bargain for you, then buy it, and save yourself some money in the long run.

5: Don’t shop for everything in the same place. Humans are at heart lazy animals. We’re all the descendants of a species which, barring special exceptions (the Da Vinci’s, Columbus’s etc) has lived by the creed “If there’s nothing needs doing, then do nothing.” Which as all dog owners know is the rule most adult dogs live by, and is I believe the source of the harmony which exists between our species. They like to chill out, and so do we. But if you have to live a thrifty life, you don’t have the option of the lazy route.

Sure, your fresh fruit and veg are cheapest in shop A, but fresh meat is cheaper in B, and cleaning chemicals are best bought in C. The problem is that it takes time, and effort to shop in all three. Your conscious brain says “I’ll save 20 Euro’s if I spilt my shopping.” your lazy primate brain is saying “Ya, but we could be home 45 minutes sooner to watch The Big Bang Theory, while our puppy is all cute, and snuggled up against us.”

Don’t listen to the lazy monkey brain. Let’s make the savings even more modest. You save 5 Euro’s on your weekly shopping by splitting it, and because the shops are close enough together it only costs you time. That’s 260 Euro’s a year. Or in another way of looking at it, that’s a really nice Xbox for Christmas.

Now ask yourself, this…

What would the (adorable) Master Chief do?


A few small suggestions on transitioning.

I recently made the internet acquaintance of a transgirl who is at the beginning of her transitioning from pretend boy to, I’m quite certain, a very beautiful young woman. During one of our chats on Yahoo Messenger (Yes, apparently some people do still use this. I was shocked, I hadn’t used it in about 4 years.) she asked me for any hints that I might have to help make her transition if not easier, than perhaps a slightly less painful. Well here is what I came up with. Please note that everything on this list is very much my own personal opinion, which is based on my experience of transitioning. Also these are listed in no particular order.

  • If you have dark hair start laser hair removal as soon as possible. Nothing else, pre-hormones, will have as quick, or profound an impact on your looks, or your sense of wellbeing. If you have hair which is too fair for it to be effectively Lasered you will have to go down the electrolysis route.
  • Speaking of laser and electrolysis, prices, and skill vary a great deal between places providing these treatments so it’s a very good idea to ask around (people you know, the interwebs, TENI) to find who people recommend, as well as getting a good idea of prices.
  • Make contact with whatever local/national organisation exists where you live. Here in Ireland it’s TENI, and they will have a lot of helpful people, advice, and above all many non-judgemental ears for you to bash with your worries. Trust me they’ll understand, the vast majority of them have been where you are, or have had to help a partner through it all.
  • Don’t go too nuts buying clothes to begin with, for two reasons. Firstly, odds are that you will really have very little idea of what looks good on you. Secondly, while you do need to buy some clothes, both every day and good wear, you are also going to need that money for hair removal, and depending on where you live, travel costs.
  • Don’t listen blindly (wow, that’s a bad way to put that!) to the old wives tales, and horror stories about transitioning which some older transpeople seem to love to peddle. Those stories are their experiences, often back in the 70’s 80’s or 90’s. It may well be as little as 10 years since they transitioned, but I know from my own experience that a huge amount has changed in that time.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about this. They are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of your situation. And while many may not understand some like my current GP are going to be not only willing, but driven to learn how to help you. Also if your doctor proves unable, or unwilling to help, ask a different doctor. There are after all LOTS of GP’s, one of them will be able to help you. Again this is an area where contact with a group like TENI will help, as they be very well positioned to advise you.
  • Your transition is YOUR transition. No-one elses. It is the act of you consciously becoming who you have always wanted to be. Sure, listen to suggestions/advice politely. But nothing what-so-ever requires you to use their advice. For example if I’d listened to one particular ex-friend I would never have transitioned, “You know you’ll never be a good-looking woman.” If I’d listened to some other people I would have been just another normally dressed, but miserable Irish woman, instead of the very happy well-dressed  gothgirl I am.

Yes this really is me. It kind of illustrates why I’m happy I didn’t listen to fashion advice from idiots. I love being a gothgirl!

I know I covered nothing to do with Gender Therapist, clinics, or hormones in this. I may come back and deal with them in the future. This was more in the lines of very basic simple advice that I wish someone had given me when I started out on this particular road. Anyway if you have any ideas that I missed, or want to discuss anything in this post please feel free to add a comment. And I will leave you all to your weekend with two links to why I think being transsexual is awesome.

It really is awesome…

No Really it is!


The newish Random Ruminations line-up.

As some of you will have noticed I just took a three-week break from blogging. Actually not quite. I actually took a three-week break from all writing of any kind, not counting several ludicrously long Facebook updates. Well anyway, I’m back. Technically I was back on Tuesday, but today I’m really, really back. And I’ve had some time to think about what I want my blog to be in the long-term.

Up until now there has been a regular pattern to my posts. Yeah, I know it’s kind of hard to believe. But if you were to go back through my archived articles you’d find that generally Tuesdays were news type posts, Thursdays were reviews of some kind, and Saturdays were completely random though usually about something vaguely personal. I’ve enjoyed writing to that line-up, and I’ve learned an awful lot about writing doing so. But lately I haven’t been enjoying writing as much as I used to.

Writing has always been a joyful thing to me. Something I do almost on automatic, like a waking dream that sort of flows from my fingertips and winds up on my computer screen. And almost the whole time I have this sense of euphoria, like nothing can possibly go wrong because while I write, while I create the universe belongs to me. Yes I know, I’m nuts.

But before I took my break from writing it had started to become a chore. Not a good thing when you truly consider writing to be your career (Even if you have only sold a couple of articles to random websites. But I’ll work my lil ass off, and some day, some glorious day I’ll make enough to pay for an extra-large pizza with double pepperoni, damn it!) the joy was leaking away. Then one morning I woke up with the thought ringing in my mind.

“Amanda, you need to rewrite everything you’ve written in the past five  years, because it’s all wrong.”

Right. Time for a holiday. Yes Ma’am, three weeks of reading military sci-fi, The Big Bang Theory, and playing PC games. Because there is no frikkin’ way in hell I am going to rewrite somewhere in the region of seven hundred and fifty thousand words.

The question now must be asked. Did the break do me good?

And the answer is quite simply, yes. Far more good than I ever expected it to.

It had time to spend sketching, learning again just how much I love to draw, and admittedly how little talent I have at it. That said I did find enough confidence to start drawing my long promised, and delayed webcomic. I also found myself thinking automatically about storylines, and characters.

I gained enough space, and perspective from the novel I’m currently working on to suddenly, and quite unexpectedly realise that I had screwed up the beginning rather badly. Nothing in it was unusable, I had simply put the cart before the horse. I also realised that I had accidentally written a third core theme to the story, and that actually that theme is far more powerful than the two I had intended.

And to top all this off while I was sketching out the ideas for a sci-fi table-top role-playing game, some Muse came by, and hit me between the eyes with a great big mallet. A great big mallet that gave me a vast almost instantaneous  insight in to what I think will be my favourite piece of writing ever. Characters, setting, basic plotlines, themes, morality, everything I needed to get kicking appearing in my mind in one glorious moment.

So, as you can see I was taking a break from writing. After all, a writer can take a break from the physical act of writing, but if you really are a writer there’s absolutely no way, short of a 9mm bullet to the brain stem to stop your mind from writing.

So that was my break, and now we get back to my blog. I have no intentions of stopping writing this blog. I truly enjoy owning, and writing for it. I enjoy putting my thoughts down on the screen, posting them, and letting them flutter out in to the world. But for it to stay enjoyable I need to change things a little.

So from next week onwards I will be posting Tuesdays, Saturdays, and on the last Thursday of each month. Tuesday will be reviews or news depending on what’s caught my eye in the previous week. Saturdays will still be the random intensely personal stuff. The last Thursday of each month will be something completely new, a video blog.As I gain experience in producing them, and thus speed up this may become a fortnitely, or even weekly thing. But for the time being it will definitely only be monthly.

While I do have a lot of ideas for topics, I still honestly don’t fully know what that video blog will turn out to be. Though terrifying is what mostly comes to mind right now seeing as I haven’t even once posted up a picture of myself here, much less video. But I’m sure we’re all going to have fun, and for my readers/viewers a lot of amusement at my expense in the early days, finding out it will become.

So for me it’s back to work. And I hope you’ll continue to read, be entertained, and who knows even occasionally informed by my blog.





How the Famous Five, and other influences, made me a tomboy.

It’s weird how some of the most unexpected things can catch you out. I woke up this morning after half remembering a television series from my childhood called The Owl Service. I remembered it as a really good (sort of) ghost story. Well anyway, I went online to find out about it, and actually confirm that it had existed, my having a long history of mixing up elements of lots of different shows, and thus remembering TV shows that never actually existed. Though they would have been awesome if they had.

Anyway I found it, and yay, delight ensued. I then decided to find out some of the background history of some of my favourite children’s drama programs from the 70’s, and 80’s. This of course led me to The Famous Five. And I don’t mean the sort of alright version from the 90’s.

The version released in the late 70’s is a show that has some meaning to me. It was the first time I ever saw someone with my surname acting in anything. Michelle Gallagher. Who played my very unsurprisingly favourite character from the books, George. Anyway it kind of resonated with my childhood mind, that this tomboy was played by a girl with the same name as me. It gave me this odd sense of wonder which has never quite left me, were we related in some distant way? Was she like her character in reality, or a lil girlie girl. All the usual questions that pass through a child’s mind.

So I did a little research. Wanting to find out how the show came to be made, and what the actors all did after the show. The story of the show was interesting enough I suppose, though hardly fascinating. It was produced by a studio who wanted to make money so that they could pay their staff, and make more shows. But it did interest me that the girl who played Anne went on to be a primary school, religious education teacher of all things. Then when I dug a little deeper I discovered that Michelle Gallagher was dead. That she had in fact taken her own life in 2000.

So pick out the tomboy? (Image via

That information just pulled me up short. I mean sure she must have been 13 or 14 in 1978 when the show was made. (That year being another reason the show resonated with me throughout my childhood, after all it’s the year I was born in.) But that would have only put her in her 30’s when she died.

But what threw me most, is that another of the “girls” who helped to shape my mind, and my view of myself is gone from the world…

George of Famous Five fame, Michelle Gallagher: I learned from her that it was okay to want to grow up to be a smart, tomboy. (bear in mind I was maybe 6 seeing that show the first time, 14 was grown up. Besides at 6 I was really unaware of the other difference between the apparently male, and women of the world.)

Sara Jane Smith, the second best of The Doctor’s companions, Elizabeth Sladen: She showed me that you know what? It’s okay to look damn good, while being smarter than the boys, a tomboy, and to generally be kicking ass good and hard while doing it. All without breaking to many nails.

One of my other two great television influences. (Image via

As for the third? Well as far as I know she is still very much alive and kicking. As for who she is, let’s just say that both her characters, and her reality are equally admirable and leave it at that.

So back to those who are gone. Oh the characters they made still live on in DVD’s, on the internet, and in occasional reruns. But the women who made those characters come to life, who by mixing parts of themselves with parts of people who never existed made the unreal real, at least to my young unformed mind, are gone from the world. (What I actually believe is far more complex but this is neither the time, nor the place for that particular discussion.)

That they’ve left us saddens me. Not because I knew them, but because I always wish anyone who has knowingly, or unknowingly helped me to become who I am only the best. I wish them to be happy, healthy, and to have the chance to help someone else. Many someone’s else. Still at least with actresses their bodies or work still live on, and may be able to help nudge some other lost lil transgirl on to a healthier path that doesn’t lead only to self-destruction.

And while entertaining people is a good legacy to have, maybe, just maybe even unknowingly helping even a handful of girls like me to achieve their potential is a slightly better fate?




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