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Well done Kirsty. Write a post entitled “Enforced absences” and then have another month-long absence. I think I have just got out of the habit of blogging after my holidays. Well, that and another couple of things. I have been very busy.  

Excuse me whilst I digress onto non-trans* matters, but I have been wearing my film-maker’s hat for the last three or four weeks, and a very fetching hat it is too. My sister turns 60 this month (I’m a lot younger!) and as part of the celebrations I have been making a documentary about her life. Using old photos from her childhood and more recently, Super 8 cine footage filmed in the 1980s when her kids were very young, and recent interviews with friends and family, I have somehow managed to pull together a 1¼ hour film thanks to the magic of iMovie. This has taken a frightening amount of time and basically every spare hour I have in the evenings has been dedicated to this for the past month. Until last night, when I finished it!!! She had better like it. 

When I haven’t been trying to be Stephanie Spielberg, I have been out on my bike. I have only taken up cycling recently, getting my road bike at the end of April. From a short 7-mile trip on the day I got the bike, I have gradually built up the miles until the 30th of August, when I was part of a team of five from work completing “Lap The Lough” an 85-mile ride around Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. I know there are some of you who read my scribblings who do quite a bit more cycling than this, but for me I am thrilled to bits with how far I have come in a relatively short space of time.

While I was out on the road during Lap The Lough, one of my colleagues said to another in a stage whisper “I think Bob’s got his legs shaved”. I replied “Oh yes” in an equally theatrical fashion, and we rode on. It was only later in the day that the subject raised its head again. We had arrived at the final drinks stop just after 2pm. In fact, no sooner had I arrived than I received a text from Michelle saying “I expect you are just around finished. Hope it went well”. No I wasn’t finished, I still had 20 miles to go. Way to make me feel like a right tortoise. Anyhow, we were sitting on a kerbstone drinking our drinks and eating our bananas, when my legs entered the conversation again;

“Bob your legs are definitely shaved. Your arms look shaved too. Are they shaved or are they just naturally like that”

“They’re shaved”

“Oh my god, I was only joking. I thought you just weren’t very hairy. You’re taking this cycling very seriously to be shaving your legs and you’re only at it this last four months… …unless of course they were already like that”

“They were already like that. They’ve been like that for a couple of years”


“I’ve always hated body hair. Hairy arms, legs, chest, whatever, it’s horrible. So a couple of years ago I just thought ‘Sod this!’ and shaved it all off. Much better. Mrs Bob even helps shave my back” 

And that pretty much shut them up. The subject hasn’t reared its head again. Now I didn’t exactly lie to them, nothing I told them was untrue, but a rather pertinent piece of information had been omitted. As the late Tory politician and slimeball Alan Clarke famously said, I was being a little economical with the actualité. But as I have said before, if the full truth came out it might not necessarily be the worst thing that could happen.

So anyway, between cycling and film-making, there hasn’t been any time for blogging the last month or so. However, I have still made time for myself. I couldn’t not do that. It might not exactly kill me at this stage to go into t-remission, but it would hurt like hell. So I have made sure to get out and about as the real me. The usual sort of thing, and nothing I’m going to into a great deal of detail about – shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas. I had a very nice meal with Michelle at the Plough a few days before my coughty-coughth birthday in the latter part of August, although sadly lacking in Andrea as she was off walking up mountains in Slovenia at the time. Even as recently as Sunday, I had a good outing around Belfast. Instead of the usual womenswear browsing, I ended up in stationers and pound shops trying to get school supplies for my daughter. I can honestly say it felt amazing to be doing something so normal, and feeling so unobtrusive while doing it. It’s just a little taste of what could potentially be, even if I know in all likelihood that it never will be. Doing normal things in a normal way just being the woman I want to be, what could be better?  

A wee bargain at the M&S end-of-summer sale

 I also met up with Andrea for coffee, cake and a chat once I had done the shopping. She was feeling the cold on her return from Slovenia, walking round in a winter coat while I was happily going round the town in just a light ¾ sleeve jumper with nothing else under it apart from a bra. She seems to have had such an amazing time over there, and indeed has written about it on her own blog. We sat chatting until about 6.15pm when I got up and announced that I needed to go so I would be at my book group on time. We hugged and I departed. 

My car was parked in the car park at the CastleCourt shopping mall in the centre of Belfast. Upon arrival at the mall I could see that it was closed. This wasn’t a surprise. I approached the door, mouthed “CAR PARK” to the security guard, and he let me in. However, as I walked through the mall toward the car park entrance I heard the voice on the tannoy announce “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a customer announcement. We are now closing the security doors. Thank you.” Cue a major Kirsty panic! I picked up my pace, my ankle boots click-clacking rapidly towards the car park while my head was filled with visions of my car being locked in overnight, and of me having to return home in all my girly glory. As I emerged on to the 5th floor of the car park, I heard a very loud metallic “clunk”, sounding exactly like, well, a large security door closing. The panic was rising in me. 

They say there are no atheists in a foxhole. While that is of course bollocks, I did come close to praying for the first time in decades as I drove down the helter-skelter spiral ramp towards the exit. There are three exits from the car park. Two were closed. One, hallelujah!, was open. What. A. Relief. My neighbours would be spared that particular revelation for another while.

  It was book group night again. This month’s choice was “City of Thieves” by David Benioff. The geekier among you may recognise that name as one of the creators (along with DB Weiss) of the “Game of Thrones” television series. And while his status as co-creator of one of my favourite shows did give me a bit of extra enthusiasm to try his novel-writing, GoT is really a bit of a red herring as far as this novel is concerned. It’s something of a “Boy’s Own” adventure, telling the escapades of Lev Beniov (a fictionalised version of the author’s grandfather) in search of a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a colonel’s daughter during the siege of Leningrad. The book fair raced along, by turns gruesome, blackly comic, educational and clever. It was a pacy and entertaining read. However, compared to the very wonderful Poisonwood Bible that we read last month, this was somewhat lacking in depth. A solid 7/10 for me.

The book group itself continues to be very enjoyable. A good group of around 10 “hardcore” readers who go every month, with a few more occasional visitors and a new member this month, who rather excitingly is also writing a novel. I’ll probably get on well with her – after all Mrs K has written two novels and my BFF Andrea is in the middle of writing her first so I must just have an affinity with such people. I’ll just have to content myself with being a blogger.

I promise it won’t be so long next time.