Thursday, 17 July 2014

Nasty surprises

I received the unwelcome news recently that my remaining nephew (my sister's oldest son) had died suddenly - at the relatively young age of 41.  I gather the cause was heart trouble, although I at least certainly wasn't aware that he had any sort of history of it.  That said, we certainly weren't close: in fact I hadn't seen or heard from him since the day of my sister's funeral back in November 2011.  Somewhat ironically, the only real contact I used to have with him was when I'd bump into him unexpectedly in the street occasionally - we were both at the time working in Stratford!

As far as I can make out, he hadn't really had much of an easy life.  He dropped out of school under rather mysterious circumstances which I never really did get to the bottom of, although I had my suspicions.  He had a failed marriage and then coping with my sister's ill-health in her final years must've taken its toll I would guess.  But as far as I could see he always seemed chirpy enough underneath it all.  My one enduring memory of him is of this poor little frozen kid on his moped, going round to our house to visit his grandparents!

It's had one rather unexpected knock-on side effect, though.  I've now inherited the family photo albums, which belonged to my father, then to my sister and finally to nephew and which his father very kindly put on one side for me to go and collect, realizing their sentimental value.  I'd previously borrowed a couple from my sister, back around the Christmas of 2009 I think it was, to scan in some of the old snaps of me (I haven't in fact got any of my own).  So now, with around eight or ten albums, plus boxes of dozens if not hundreds of loose photos, many of which I don't recollect ever seeing before, I reckon it's going to take me the rest of my life to finish the task!  Rather sadly in a way, I shan't then have anyone to leave them to - but then again I suppose I ought to take the pragmatic view that after my death it's really not going to matter much.      

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Showing off my assets

Since my last entry - yeah, I know, that long ago - one of the realities of the sitution has become increasingly apparent.  If you have a pronounced pair of boobs, as I do, there's a limit to the extent to which you can hide the fact.  If I were a female, who would be expected to have boobs and probably have no compunction about displaying the fact, then this wouldn't be a problem and there would be no reason for me to sit here and write about it.  If I were a full-on crossdresser then it would form part of the wider picture which all that entails.  But I'm not and it doesn't.  I dress like a guy (outwardly at least) except that now I'm a guy who has a very obvious set of girly tits!

Up until now, I've either just worn T-Shirts around the house and left anyone to whom I answered the door to draw their own conclusions, or else worn a hoodie or sweater when out.  But with warm spring-like sunshine, and a trip to the supermarket in the offing, it dawned on me that it was time to stop being a wuss about it.  After all, it was my decision to keep them when I found out I'd got them: I love having them and in my own way I'm proud of them.  So sod what everyone else might think,

Armed with that positive thought, I set off.  Most of my T-Shirts are neither close-fitting nor baggy, so I chose a standard blue medium one.  I must admit I did a sharp double-take when I saw a reflection of my profile in a shop window, but maybe the full frontal was a little less obvious?  Who was I kidding?  But then I was forgetting: self-consciousness always magnifies any perceived problem tenfold, and the reality is that in any case the majority of supermarket shoppers are way too wrapped up in their own affairs to even notice what anyone else is doing or looks like.  After all, was I checking out all the other guys to see if they looked like they had girly tits?  Of course not (well, I wouldn't have been otherwise)!

Maybe next week I should wear my "Smile if you wish you were gay" T-Shirt.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Greeks have a word for it

The word in question is "gynecomastia", which I didn't know, because I had no reason to look it up, means the formation of breasts in males.  Or, to use a word which I did know, the development of "moobs".  And the reason for displaying this particular piece of knowledge is that I've come to the realization that I now actually have the aforesaid!

Whereas in photos me taken of when I had my nipples pierced in 1999 I'm as flat-chested as the next guy, the acquistion over I suppose the last couple of years or so of what I rather naively thought was just a bit of fat in the chest area has culminated in the appearance of two clearly defined "boy-boobs" as I like to call them.

I won't say I had mixed feelings at this discovery, I'll be honest and say I was thrilled.  I think they're rather cute: they're very pert and firm (so far, at least), and I think they suit me.  I'd never really consciously wanted them because I'd never really thought about it, and the times over the last decade or so when I'd worn a basque, the little cups were pretty empty.  Now it's different.  Some sort of naturally shifting body hormone balance has given me enough to comfortably fill a 36B, and I say "comfortably", because I now wear an all-in-one corselette to keep them nicely firm and in shape.  I could've chosen a bra instead, but the odd couple of times I tried on one, I didn't go for it much.  Some guys look drop-dead sexy in a bra, but I'm afraid I'm not one of them.

Casting my eye back over that last paragraph, I can't help thinking how lucky I am.  When I researched "gynecomastia", everything I think without exception that I found told me how to go about getting treatment, usally unpleasant-sounding surgery, to get rid of these unsightly, psychologically disastrous imperfections  Had I still been a teenager, I'm sure I'd have wanted to do likewise: I imagine that's what "normal" males do, and I daresay I'm in the minority in now choosing to flaunt them rather than have them removed.

But I'm kinky enough to enjoy my morning routine in the shower, soaping up my boy-boobs and playing with them a little, and then dressing, finishing off with a tight T-Shirt to proudly display my nice girlie bustline.  I can and do hide it under a baggy hoodie or sweater when I go out, though!

I'm curious to know how things will develop now.  From what I've read, my boy-boobs are unlikely to shrink away on their own: they may even carry on growing further.  Will I end-up looking like a she-male, perhaps?  Time will tell, but somehow I'm always going to remember 2013 as the year I grew boobs.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Roads to Hell and other good intentions

Summer has turned into autumn - very noticeably and rather suddenly, I thought.  Lots of things I'd intended to do for one reason or another didn't materialize, keeping this blog up-to-date being one of them.  I won't bother making apologies or excuses, after all I'm quite a long way past the days of getting detentions for not handing my homework in on time!  Not that I actually ever did, just in case you were wondering: back then (as now) I got it down to a fine art doing the necessary the night before - and sometimes even that very morning.

I've written from time to time about my classes at the Uni learning Italian.  We'd been fortunate in keeping together as a group for the last three years - keeping the same timeslot and even meeting up almost every week informally during the long holidays.  Our luck was bound to run out eventually of course and this year there were not enough of us wanting to progress further with their studies to make our group viable any longer - the main catalyst being a change of time to an evening.  Not only that, the low numbers of enrolments generally this year has meant my having to skip a year and go up to the Advanced level!

For a while I toyed with the idea of swapping to doing French instead, for which there seemed to be a better variety of courses being offered.  Out of curiosity I did their 'test your level' thing (for intermediate to advanced) and found most of it surprisingly easy.  A few hesitations here and there meant I ran out of time right at the end, but on emailing them to get my result I found I'd got 67%.  Back in the days when I was doing my A levels I'd have been appalled to have got about a third wrong, but considering it had all lain pretty dormant for four decades, I felt not too shocked.

The upshot was that I found myself rather unintentionally being interviewed for a place on the Academic French course.  I'd expected to be able perhaps to manage a 'brush up your A level' type of thing but the tutor was so impressed by my ability to dredge up enough oral French to insist that I'd be suited to the top level (which equates to a 2-years post A-level!).  I was aghast at the prospect of this, and she compromised by suggesting I could drop a level if I found the going too tough.  Looking back on the encounter now, and writing about it, I wonder if it's perhaps just symptomatic of the grade inflation - a grade A (and an S grade 1) from 1966 equips you to go straight onto a modern second-year undergraduate level course?  Maybe if I'd kept up the practice more it would've done.  The clincher, though, was that it involved the study of a set text - something by Camus, I think.  I vaguely recollect dipping into "L'├ętranger" as background reading when I was doing my A levels, but I certainly didn't and don't feel disposed to embarking on the study of literature once again, given how much I hated it all the first time round.  Perhaps one day I'll find a way of taking up from where I left off 47 years ago, but I'm fairly certain that's not going to be it.

So, with some trepidation, I enrolled on the Advanced Italian course.  It's put me in mind of the time I was eight and was put up a year at Junior School - the logic I suppose being the same, that if you're at a high enough standard to start with and you have the innate ability (and perseverance) to catch up on what you've missed, then you maximise your potential.  It seemed a better idea than either repeating the year, which wasn't an option anyway, or waiting a year and probably losing the impetus.  So far so good: we'd pretty much already covered the bulk of the grammar anyway and widening your vocabulary is as much to do with reading and writing as actually going to classes.  By chance earlier this evening I came across something I'd written about three years ago when I was first starting - and spotted a couple of very obvious mistakes in it.  More to do with carelessness than not knowing what the correct version should've been, I daresay.  But I always find it's a huge step forward in learning a language when you find you're developing an innate 'feel' for when something looks wrong.               

Monday, 15 July 2013

Lazy Sunday afternoon memories

As half-prophesied in my last entry, I made the journey over to Kenilworth on Sunday.  I spent quite a few moments in the peace and tranquillity of the cemetery, but then, realizing I had almost forty minutes' wait for the bus home (it's only an hourly service now on a Sunday) I thought I'd spend some time looking around the town.  Although I'd passed through on my travels from time to time over the years, I hadn't spent any real time there, so in the warmth of a lovely sunny afternoon it was pleasant and quite nostalgic wandering round, casting my mind back to when I used to lived there.

In the light of all the recent attention paid to the impending demise of high street shopping as we know it, Kenilworth seems to be surviving remarkably well.  I only noticed two empty shops, and neither of those were actually boarded up or derelict.  One I remembered as the former Co-op food hall - which had at some point been converted into an Co-op electrical store before closing altogether.  Conspicuous by their absence were pound-shops and mobile phone shops, but it did seem to me that there were more coffee shops/cafes than I remembered there being back in the 1960s.  As was to be expected, many of the shops in the main street (Warwick Road & The Square) had changed hands - Woollies is now a Robert Dyas - but I was impressed to see that Moores the "gentleman's outfitters" is still going strong and looking outwardly the same as it did in my youth.  I don't mean that unkindly, for despite its staid label, I remember at the height of the flower-power era buying a gorgeous psychedelic pink shirt and matching kipper tie complete with hipster flares there!

Not all the shops I remembered from my youth have survived, of course: further down the street, a branch of Sainsburys occupies I think the spot where A H Spicer, the builder/decorator, stood.  My parents used to get all our paint, wallpaper and decorating stuff there.  Duggins the quaint little record shop is no more, and the other record shop I used to patronize - Shears (on the corner of Queens Road), who sold TVs and radios as well on their ground floor  - is now a pizza takeaway.  In fact I think there may not be any record shops left in Kenilworth now, for Discotrak which had opened in the then 'new' Abbey End shopping development seems to be one of the ubiquitous coffee shops.

Talisman Square, the main 'precinct', was built during the time we lived there: it's now fortunately in the throes of being given a face-lift as although quite a modern style of architecture in its day, its distinctive 60s-style "concrete jungle" look has fallen out of favour in recent years.  Rather surprisingly, the little bookshop which I remember opened in the late 1960s is still thriving there, having evidently at least for the moment succeeded in fending off the mighty power of Amazon.  Making my way through and out towards the famous 'Clock', I passed what used to be Bishops (the first supermarket I think to open up in Kenilworth, subsequently Budgens, and now a branch of Wilkinson).  Back in the main street, almost opposite Lloyds TSB, another of the old shops has survived - the picture shop where my parents had an oil painting which they'd bought framed.  Forty years later, it now hangs on my living-room wall.

And of course the library - where I worked back in 1968 when it was new, in my first job before going off to college!  It was closed, so I didn't go in, but now reincarnated as a computerized Council one-stop shop it's I imagine a far cry from my days of checking books in and out manually across the counter!

And so, with more than maybe just a slight tinge of wistfulness, I boarded the bus for the half-hour journey home.               

Thursday, 11 July 2013

In memoriam

Today marks the 25th anniversary of my mother's death.  It may seem a little morbid to want to write about it, but I guess that's as good a way as any of marking the occasion.  It was a Monday morning: I'd gone off to work as usual, totally unaware of what was to come.  For although I'd known she'd been ill over the weekend, I hadn't realized she was virtually on her deathbed.  My boss was very understanding and sympathetic and in a bit of a daze I was soon on my way over to the house - the same house in Kenilworth where I'd grown up as a teenager.  My father ushered me into the front room, which they'd converted into a bedroom to say my goodbyes.

It was the first time I'd ever seen a dead person.  She seemed very peaceful and I half expected her to wake up suddenly and ask "You got here, then...What took you so long?" or something similar.  I touched her gently almost as if try and to rouse her but realizing I couldn't (or shouldn't try), I whispered a few prayers and kissed her for the last time.  I remember not really wanting to leave her, but my father was waiting just outside the door and the undertakers would soon be arriving.

The funeral, I soon found out, was booked for noon on the Friday. She'd had the foresight to write her will sometime previously, appointing my father and sister as executors, so they handled all the funeral arrangements as well as all the paperwork connected with the probate: each day the two of them went off to take care of everything, while it fell to my lot to make sure the house was clean and tidy in preparation.  Not that it was dirty: my mother had always been extremely houseproud but in her final years her failing health had taken its toll as far as the chores were concerned.  I shall never forget how I struggled constantly to hold back the tears: although I'd left home fifteen years previously, everything was still pretty much as I'd remembered it and I only had to touch an ornament or a piece of furniture, or look at the surroundings, for childhood memories of things we'd done together to come flooding back.  At night, I slept in the same bedroom I'd had when I was seventeen, just after my sister had left home.  It was quite surreal, and almost as if the whole of my adult life hadn't happened.

My sister had asked me to stay over and keep father company for the week, and I was wondering what the two of us were going to do in the evenings.  But he seemed content to just sit and talk - or rather he talked and I listened, adding 'yes' and 'no' in what I hoped were the right places.  He'd always been something of a story-teller: some of the stories I'd heard before, others were not so familiar, but a common thread was how vivid his memories were of things which had happened long before I was born.  Occasionally he'd pause, or his voice would falter and his eyes seemed to mist over, as something would perhaps suddenly remind him of the present and of what had happened - but then he'd look up as if to say "Now where was I?" - and carry on from where he'd left off.  Looking back on it now, I daresay he was just trying to get things straight in his mind, much I was doing too, although with considerably less success.  It was on the Wednesday evening I think that he told me the story of how he and my mother had first met.  It was the way he told it as much as anything that gave me an inkling of how much he was already starting to miss her.  

Eventually Friday arrived - the day of the funeral.  I remember my father going out to mow the back lawn while we were waiting for the hearse to arrive, which struck me as bizarre, but I guess it was just his way of taking his mind off things.  Other than that, it all passed in something of a blur.  A Church service followed by a cremation was apparently what my mother had said she wanted: even though I'd never known her ever go to Church, they'd got married in Church so maybe she thought it was 'never too late'?  Back at the house, my father "entertained" those of our friends and relatives who'd come to the funeral whilst, not being one to socialize a lot at the best of times (and this was hardly one of them), I mostly busied myself in the kitchen looking after the supply of food, drink and clean plates.

I'm not sure whether it had been something my mother had asked for or not, but my father arranged for her ashes to be interred in Kenilworth Cemetery - in a double plot which would also accommodate his when his time came.  This couldn't be completed until the following Monday, so I spent an unspeakably awful weekend with an eerie sense of 'unfinished business' hanging over me.  The interment ceremony was for just the close family: the vicar did the customary prayers and as I threw a handful of soil down onto the small wooden box containing the ashes, I was struck by an inconsolable sense of loss.

My mother was gone: the thing I'd feared most in my childhood - the stuff of which periodic nightmares had been made - had finally happened, and nothing was ever going to be the same again.  It was the first time I'd lost a close relative, and my mother had always been the one in the family I was closest to.  I still find it difficult to put into words how guilty I felt, all the "if only"s - and how I'd never in my wildest imagination anticipated the emotional turmoil I would go through in the weeks and months that would follow.  I knelt by her grave each week and prayed for forgiveness.  Eventually of course over the passage of time it's gradually healed just as everyone says it does.  I don't visit the grave regularly any more, and haven't done for many years, basically because I suppose haven't felt the need to.

But I still miss her and the same mixed emotions which have prompted me to write this long and probably rather rambling entry will, I sense, result in my re-visiting her final resting place once again.                       

Thursday, 27 June 2013

What a difference a day makes!

The "day" in this case being the day of one's sixteenth birthday, when - amongst other things - sex becomes legal.  And that's the interesting facet of this story, which in other respects bears striking similarities to the Jeremy Forrest saga which I wrote about in my last entry.  The whole tone of the reporting is different: schoolteacher Emma Ager is not described as a 'paedophile' nor even a 'pervert' (she did, after all, turn down the request for a threesome).  The teenage boy pupil is not a 'victim', nor was he 'abused' - he simply became a "legend" when the inevitable happened and all his mates found out.  And neither was he 'groomed': after all, "I bet you won't be able to keep up with me during sex" is hardly the subtlest chat-up line to use.  Admittedly they didn't run away to France together when his mother got suspicious about the phone calls and told the school - the whole thing in fact seems to have not been a "relationship" in any meaningful sense of the word.

But it was illegal: she was a teacher at his school, he was a pupil under 18 - the whole "abuse of trust" scenario is plain to see, and she quite rightly has now been struck off for it.  She has not, however, as the commentators on the article have been quick to point out, ended up in jail.  Admittedly prosecutions for sexual offences are largely contingent on the alleged victim(s) filing a complaint, and the boy seems to me to have had no obvious reason to make one, since he both started and finished the affair.  Furthermore it's only just now surfaced, six years after the event.

Despite all that I may perhaps be forgiven for wondering if it doesn't stink ever so slightly of double standards - especially with the top-rated comments being along the lines of "lucky lad"?