Well after the last post’s bout of soul searching and navel gazing, as promised this post marks a return to talk of restaurant visits and mini skirts (well mini dresses to be precise). At least it will eventually, but first…
I nearly outed myself in work yet again last week, all borne out of my strong mischievous side. I have written before about my friend and colleague Arthur. Arthur is a genuinely lovely guy, if rather conservative in outlook. As I said in another post, I think he is literally homophobic, i.e. he is afraid of gay people. He says himself, he just can’t get his head around people being gay. Fair enough, I can’t get my head around how anyone could voluntarily eat a banana, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Anyway, Arthur was telling me about a documentary he had watched on YouTube about a Russian gay-bashing gang. It sounded quite horrific, how one of their members poses as a gay man looking for a partner, identifies and entraps the victim. He brings the victim back to his place, then 6 or 7 other gang members emerge from the woodwork to knock seven shades of shite out of the poor man. It appears that the authorities turn a blind eye to this due to the rampant homophobia of the Putin regime.
This documentary seemed to have made quite an impression on Arthur, and upset him quite a bit. He said “I know I can’t get my head round gay people, but nobody deserves that just because of who they’re attracted to”. No sooner had he said that than my “mess with their heads” gene kicked in and I said;
“It’s just as well you don’t know what I get up to in my spare time”
“Now Bob you shouldn’t joke about that”
Arthur stared at me blankly, apparently unable to decide if I was winding him up or not. The thing is, it was both – I was winding him up with the truth. I gave him a little helping hand.
“You think I’m winding you up but I’m not. This is all true.”
So he asked “Would you be in trouble if you lived in Russia?”
Not knowing Putin’s policy toward trans* people, but assuming he wouldn’t be keen, I replied
“Oh, almost certainly”
“And is this just a one-off or has it happened many times?”
“Oh lots of times”
“And is it in the past or is it ongoing?”
“Very much ongoing”
“Is this a secret or does anyone else know?”
“How does she know?”
“I told her. She’s broad minded and I trust her not to blab.”
So then Lauren got called over. Arthur asked her if she knew what my secret was. She replied
“Yes, he’s into animal porn”
“Or”, I added, “as they’re sometimes known – wildlife documentaries”.
By this time Arthur was calling for help in this guessing game. He asked Graham, who said he knew nothing and carried on with his work. But another colleague, Siobhan, joined in with gusto. But I told them they weren’t going to get an answer. I said;
“You might think you want to know what it is. But if I told you, you’d wish I hadn’t told you. So I’m just going to say no comment to everything”
But the questions came
“Are you gay?”
“Are you into animals?”
“Are you into women’s clothes?” (Close, but no cigar)
“Is it a fetish?”
The questions kind of petered out after that when it became clear they weren’t getting anywhere. And they didn’t ask if I was transgender, although with the “women’s clothes” question they were getting close. So for the large part it was just me having a bit of fun messing with their heads, but also a little bit of positioning that there’s “something” about me they don’t know, so maybe it’ll be less of a total shock if I ever do come out at work properly. As it is, I think Arthur now believes that if I’m not winding him up, I have had one or more gay affairs continuing up to the present day. But he has been fine with me in the week since all this took place.
All of which brings us on to more recent matters. Last week’s Butterfly Club was more of the same – no bad thing, but I’ve written about that type of thing many times so I’ll not repeat myself. I will mention one thing that almost happened though. After three restaurant trips with the LLFDC, Michelle had asked if I would mind her accompanying me on one of my Wednesday evening shopping trips. Despite some reservations (I think it will do more for her confidence if she can do it without me, but that will come) I agreed and invited her to join me last week. She was all set for a girly shopping trip when the doorbell rang in the club. A new visitor, well a second-timer to be precise. There always needs to be a key holder present, so since Michelle wasn’t going to go out by herself yet and leave me in the club, she had to deflatedly sit back down again. Poor Michelle!
I had a nice browse round a few shops, went for a very enjoyable coffee & chat with Andrea in Costa, and then back to the BBC. As Andrea and I were leaving, she mentioned that she was unexpectedly free for some Andrea-time over the coming weekend, and asked if I was available at any point. Knowing that I had swimming with daughter no2, a session with my personal trainer and my sister’s annual family Christmas party coming up, I just said no. We had a little hug and said goodnight.
The following evening (Thursday) as we were driving home from work, I mentioned in passing to Mrs Kirsty that Andrea had enquired about my availability at the weekend. Mrs K replied that if I wanted to go out on Saturday night it was OK with her. So I sent Andrea a quick email saying it turned out I had an evening free after all, and could I tag along with whatever she was doing if that was OK. I got a very pleased reply back quite quickly, it turned out she hadn’t arranged anything else for Saturday yet so after a wee bit of back and forth Andrea managed to book us a table in a restaurant for Saturday evening. Getting a table at two days’ notice for a Saturday evening in December is no mean feat, but she did it.
We were going to The Pheasant, just outside Hillsborough. More a gastropub than a restaurant, but none the worse for that. And we were getting the a la carte menu, not the Christmas fayre, although I did notice on their website that all diners could avail of the DJ and disco. I had visions of Andrea and I dancing round our handbags till the wee small hours…
I was in a bit of a “neither one nor the other” quandary with regard to what to wear. I was going out for dinner, so I wanted to get dressed up. But it was only in a pub, so I didn’t want to get too dressed up. There was a solution – a first outing for a red long-sleeved casual dress picked up from Sainsbury’s a few weeks earlier for the princely sum of £9. Yes, £9. To be honest I only bought it because it would have been rude not to pick up such a bargain. Well I matched it with some black opaque tights and my ankle boots and I was good to go. Andrea as usual was bang on the money with the perfect glam quotient, in a black scoop neck top and lacy shrug/cardie/jacket/thingy with patterned skinny trousers.
Food review time: It was good. Very good, in fact. For starters I had scallops with honey glazed pork belly and basil puree, with a few leaves and a delicious dressing. The only shortcoming was that while each piece of dead animal was very good on its own, the pork belly tended to drown out the scallop when they were in my mouth together. I’m the sort of girl who will put a small amount of everything on the plate in my mouth at once rather that try each piece individually. After all, why would you listen to a note when you can listen to a symphony? But on this occasion that didn’t work. However, individually the components were good and I enjoyed eating it.
My main course was pan fried turbot on a bed of samphire and spinach, with a thick lemon butter, prawns and garlic potatoes. Other than the garlic spuds could have been a bit more garlicky, I couldn’t fault it. Very tasty indeed, and a generous portion.
And then the dessert. Chocolate Nemesis. It sounds a bit scary, but it’s more or less a very wet brownie, or a very solid mousse, with a scoop of honeycomb ice cream on top. I do like this type of thing, rich chocolate and refreshing ice cream, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The night went so quickly, we were there for over three hours and it seemed like we had just arrived. As usual, the chat was great and it was lovely to have a girly natter, just the two of us. We stayed so late that there weren’t many people left. Noticing that the tables behind us were no longer occupied, Andrea asked me to take her photo, which I did, and then she repaid the favour, encouraging me to show my teeth when I smile (apparently I can look a bit apologetic sometimes – sorry about that!). I then bounced across to the bench on which she was seated for a joint selfie, which I am not allowed to reproduce here on pain of death. Andrea wasn’t happy with how it turned out apparently…
As we paid our bill and were getting ready to leave, I realised that we hadn’t seen or heard any sign of the DJ and disco that had been advertised. That was soon to change. We emerged into the entrance hall area to the sound of some truly tragic country and western drifting down from the lounge bar upstairs. Andrea immediately made a dash for the staircase – oh yes ha bloody ha – but we soon beat a retreat and made our way back to the BBC premises in Lisburn so I could revert back to Bob. We said our goodbyes, and then with a heavy heart I had to cast aside my real self and turn back into an ersatz man.
There was one other problem that didn’t become apparent until I got home. As I was unpacking my bag, I realised that there was something important missing. No wig. I’m very sure that I left it sitting on a chair in the Butterfly Club, but until I get there and see it again, I’ll not be completely certain. I’m due to be there again tomorrow, and if it’s not there waiting for me then I have a serious problem. I will bring my spare hair with me, but it’s just not as good and I’m not sure if I would have the confidence to go out in it. It’s a bit “wiggy”. Not only that, but Andrea and I are regulars in the Lisburn Leisureplex branch of Costa Coffee now, to the extent that staff know what we want before we have asked for it. I don’t really want to turn up with such starkly different hair. Watch this space…
All in all, I had a very enjoyable evening out, all the better for being unexpected. There no longer seems to be the sense of breaking new ground with us going out as women, that’s just who we are and we seem to both just be accepted for that. The enjoyment of going out now is what it should be – the enjoyment of a lovely night out with my best friend, and really who could ask for more than that?