A poem by Tania

My Little Home

Welcome to my little home,
I live here all on my own,
and when I close the door at night,
there’s never fuss and never fights

I can be who I want to be,
and live my life of fantasy,
I never have to justify,
and never have to tell a lie

Suspension of reality,
as long as i want it to be,
to grow the one inside of me,
like buds upon a winter tree

Until the day that I believe,
when I can walk and I can breathe,
and take my place, no compromise,
to see the world through Tania’s eyes

Welcome to my humble house,
where I used to be a timid mouse,
but now my eyes are open wide,
I have released the one inside,
to flourish like the crocus flower,
day by day and hour by hour…

 

Do you have a poem?

September Zoom Meeting

Dear Oasis ladies, partners and friends

They do say that as you get older, time seems to pass more quickly. In which case I must be getting very old because time seems to be hurtling past! Here we are, coming up to our September Oasis meeting.  For the past few years, Venetia and I have done the catering for our September meeting but, sadly, this one will be another zoom. Petra is, once again, hosting the meeting.

The news is not good. The graph of positive Covid cases shows a marked uptick and the R number is now between 1 and 1.2. All very worrying. Tighter restrictions are being put in place again and I do not think we will be back at St George’s Hall until the spring at the earliest.

Girls just like to have fun

However, on a positive note, people are managing to get out and about within the limitations imposed. I have been able to play badminton at the leisure centre and I met up with five other ladies for a socially distanced lunch – our first for seven months. Eight of us (in 2 groups of 4)will be at The Interlude Tent in Chapelfield gardens on 15th to see the fabulous ‘La Voix’, and there will be a group meeting at Fairhaven Gardens on 18th. Thanks to Theresa and Lorraine for organising these garden outings during the summer. Thank goodness the weather is going to be warm and dry for the coming week.

We have had several new enquiries via the website and I have managed to meet up with Roxy and respond by telephone to another. Oasis still has a very important role to play.

Stay fit and well and I hope to see some of you in person and on zoom in the next few days.

Much love to you all.

Serena xx

Know your cucumbers!

Petra found this on an unofficial WI Facebook page.
Cucumbers… and facts you didn’t know….. I don’t know where I would be without a cucumber!

1.  Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a  cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5.  Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and  place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your taps, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the
shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

and finally failing all this…..

14.  Sliced it up and put it on your salad!

A man(?) leaves a Sect: A true story – Part 3

Hazel’s final part of her story of the struggles of being born, and living in a Sect.  Read part 1 and part 2 here.

So we left. This was at the time of our youngest son being born. My mother asked to come and see him, which she did. My sister drove her to the house but sat in the car while Mother came and held the baby for a few minutes. She then said to my wife, “you realise I will not be able to see him again unless you come back?”  This was the only time she held her grandson.

During this time several of us had become disillusioned and we would meet up Saturday afternoons. We bought a 16 mm projector and would hire films to watch. We would do things for the children then put them to bed and start to party, but of course we got into trouble and were told to repent or be excommunicated. Apparently we were holding drunken, debauched pyjama parties. The only ones in pyjamas were the children! Never the less we chose to leave.

Having found ourselves on the outside, we tried several other churches but sooner or later we left those. We did not fit in. We had so much to learn, so much to find out about. We started to make friends through the school, and cubs and scouts. I became involved in fund raising for them, and it was following an evening organising a jumble sale that, when I got home, Rachel told me that my dad had died. Apparently he had a heart attack in the morning and was taken to hospital.

Later on, after they had visited him, he had three more and passed away. I rushed down the house and asked, “why did you not tell me?”

They said, “you know why.”

I was devastated. I still cry when I hear Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics (listen to it and you might understand the hurt I felt).  The funeral was arranged, which Rachel and I attended, but I missed the graveside service as I tried to get my eldest brother to come and stand together to say goodbye. (His part of the sect had fallen out with the others so he intended to hold his own service after.) So when I got back, it was all over. They could not wait for me.  Some ten years late the same happened to my mother. She had a fall and hit her head on the bath and did not recover. I was told several hours later. All I can say is, I did my best. I visited them both regularly even though it was uncomfortable. They would make me a cup of tea but would not drink one with me.

So during all this time I ran my own business refurbishing pubs, where I met several East End characters. We were told we had a reputation for being honest and reliable. I employed several staff and all would have gone well had we not met and worked for a publican who set out to bankrupt me. Due to my naivety I walked into the trap. He refused to pay a large sum of money, so I lost everything. I took him to the High Court. This took five years to sort out and during this time I had to sell my house to pay off debts, and we became homeless. We were given a council house. We eventually won the court case but most was swallowed up by legal fees, but we were able to buy a small cottage and start again.

So what was happening during this time to my desires to dress and be a girl? I fought hard to keep it away, but it would keep coming back. If I got an opportunity when my wife was out I would use it, only to be caught out. So I started counselling, because Rachel said it was my problem, sort it out. She did agree to come along for couple counselling, but would try and avoid talking about it, until one counsellor insisted and eventually she agreed to leaving me to explore my feminine side for twelve months. I agreed to be considerate and discrete because of the children. I ordered two dresses and spent time on-line where I discovered I was not the only one. I found the Beaumont society and joined. Three months into this period Rachel was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and the prognosis was not good. I felt I was to blame. My father’s comments had come true. Not only had my business failed spectacularly, but the woman who I loved more than anything was faced with this horrible disease.

‘All My Fault’, so I said I would give up. I did everything I could to look after her before, during and after her operation. Thanks to the support of my children and the surgeon’s skill, she pulled through, and ten years later she was given the all clear.

By this time the children had moved away and set up their own homes. Rachel had gone back to work and sometimes was away overnight. So, yes, out came the items I had hidden away, but for most of the time I suppressed my desires. I was always found out. Some would say I wanted to be found out, but rest assured I did not. All the upset it caused her upset me so much, but I could not change. One doctor told me prayer would help but I assured him that God was not listening to me. I had tried so many times banging my head on anything to try and make him answer me, but to no avail.

I resumed counselling hoping to find a ‘cure’. We did the couple thing again but this time she would not talk about it at all, and used the time to talk about anything else. After all she had been through, I did not blame her. To face your own mortality is something not many of us can understand. For me the need to dress grew stronger, but I still managed to hide it. I had learned that it was not okay to wear her clothes, so I bought bits of my own. I learned to be careful. A few time I was able to work away, so I sometimes attended sessions dressed during the day when she was at work, taking great care to clear up when I got back. The only way I could cope was working. I would turn anything into work. We went away together. We had a love of walking, but she would not be able to do as much as she used to, but in any spare time I would find something to work at. If I bought a car it would need work doing to it. We bought a beech hut which I pulled down and rebuilt. We learnt the joy of sailing, so I bought a dingy which I worked on. Eventually a bigger boat which I spent hours on. Was I happy? Yes, I was. Rachel was my soul-mate. We would argue about money, work (both hers and mine), but would never let the sun go down on our anger. Many a night we stayed up until the small hours sorting things out, but we loved each other. My only regret is I wished I could change so as to stop deceiving and hurting her. I came to understand I did not chose to be the way I was.

In 2016 my world came crashing down. Rachel woke up one Saturday morning with a head ache which tablets did not touch. She had been to the GP several times previously; he’d put her on BP tablets but did not take her seriously. I called 111 at midday and eventually at 2am Sunday morning a doctor arrived, and called 999 for an ambulance. She had a blood pressure reading of 210, but as it was a weekend nothing happened until Monday, when they carried out several tests. On Tuesday they told us she had a serious BP problem. What was of more concern was that she had lesions on her liver. The consultant referred her to the oncology department. The following day he came by and was surprised to see she had not been moved to the correct ward, so he contacted them and was told they were too busy. He would have to carry out a biopsy and then they said to send her home to wait for an outpatients’ appointment. After weeks of backwards and forwards, whilst she was getting worse, she ended up at a London hospital where she passed away on 16th June 2016. During her last week’s her two sisters visited her and she asked to see her younger brother. These had left the sect at the same time as us but had got on with their own lives. But none of my family came to see her.

After she had passed away my sister sent me a text saying, “it is good to know she safe in the arms of Jesus.” I replied, “but I want her in my arms.”

My eldest brother sent an email saying, “sorry to hear, if I need help let him know.” My other brother phoned and started talking nonsense so I put the phone down. My youngest sister was the only one who cared.

At the funeral all our friends and work colleagues came, but only her two sisters and youngest brother, also my baby sister.

Her eldest brother came to the door as we arrived with the coffin to greet us but would not come any further. I had told him if he could not join us to stay away and not interrupt us as I and my two sons and son-in-law would be carrying Rachel in but of course he did not have any respect. My daughter, to her credit, went up to him and gave him a kiss on the mouth, (that would have been the first time he had tasted lipstick).

So I came back home after spending a few days with my daughter getting over things. I felt terrible, sad, lonely and hurt, and blamed myself. All my father’s comments were coming true.

Here I was alone in my house. I had a bedroom full of my wife’s clothes with my suitcases hidden in the roof void. What was I to do? I had been doing my wife’s washing. I had things to put away, one item of which was a skirt which I just had to wear. I wanted to feel bad, guilty, but I felt so close to her. That night I slept in a nightdress. When morning came I tried to find work to do, to keep my mind occupied, but for the next few days I was unable to do anything but walk around lost. One morning, as I was waking, I felt her hand in mine. It was so real that I thought the past few weeks had been a bad dream that I was waking from. I turned over expecting her to be there but she was not, but I then knew she now understood, and accepted, I should do what I had to do.

So, bit by bit, over the next few weeks, Hazel came out of hiding. I started hanging her clothes in my wardrobe, I revisited a counsellor but she had got as far as she could go with me. I felt we were going around in circles, so I remembered the Beaumont Society and I re-joined. it was so refreshing to talk to the girls there. I had been on other sites but could not understand all the arguments people were having; the BS was different. I then found the contact details of a lady counsellor on the site and she has been a great help. I came to accept I was transgender. Her help was so practical; she helped me to examine how I wanted to be seen as I came out of hiding. I then decided I wanted to tell my children because I have always tried to be honest with them, so I wrote a letter to my daughter, wondering when would I be able to give it to her, but two days’ later she asked if she could visit for the evening and stay over. I jumped at this opportunity. We went out for a meal, then I gave her the letter to read after we got back home. She was brilliant and understanding. I explained about the BS and my visit to Harrogate, and who I wanted be. She has been a great help. We decided it was not the right time to let my sons know, but by the time you will read this they will know.

I was in touch with my counsellor by phone as she is based in Scotland, but after my first visit to Harrogate, it was pointed out to me I could talk to her via Skype. This was so much better. We have talked a lot about gender and she has introduced me to the probability of a third gender, as accepted by other cultures, which makes so much sense to me, as I have always asked: how did it all start? How was it I was transgender? I had not read about it; I had not met anyone else who was trans. I decided I admired them so much I wanted to be the same. As I keep saying, I did not chose to be so, so where, oh where, did it start?

During my second Skype session she looked at me and, as I was wearing a tee shirt over my bra, she said, “My dear, looking at you, I think it is strong possibility you were born Intersex. You have breast development which I would expect to see on a trans person who has been on hormones for a year.”

Well this took me by surprise, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to be the truth. So many things that have happened since I was a child would support that idea. For example: –

  • My mother told Rachel about my birth being different. I now wonder if Rachel told me everything, or whether she felt it best to keep things from me.
  • It would explain the doll I was given and kept for so many years.
  • I was told as a small boy by my aunt, “Your eyes are wasted on a boy.”  “Your nails are wasted on a boy.”
  • It would explain why I felt so difficult to pass as a brother in the sect. Other men who I have talked to said it was just something you had to do.
  • It would explain why for as long as can remember I felt I wanted to be a girl.
  • It would perhaps explain why the girl my father and her father expected me to marry, who was butch, is still single. Could we both have been born different?  Possibly they hoped we would get by together.
  • And why my breasts have been prominent for as long as I can remember. Rachel had a real problem with them.  She offered to pay for reduction surgery. We were on holiday on a beach once and people nearby were talking loudly in Spanish. She told me they were talking about me, so I have not been swimming since then.

So where am I now? I have visited the gender clinic in Wardour Street following blood tests. I was put on the NHS pathway for this some years ago but somehow my details went astray. I will be referred to specialists who may have answers.

I know I feel female and am more comfortable living as one, but I have to take into consideration my children’s views on how they want my grandchildren to know me.

Do I feel the need for surgery? I have been told I am too old for this to be done by the NHS and most likely the gender clinic surgeon. I can accept that without feeling disadvantaged. what about hormones? I am not sure until I speak to the specialist, but do I feel at a disadvantage without them.

I just want to live my life now as a woman as best I can. I am not too bothered about people around me, but I will be moving to a new area where I can start afresh. The present house has no happy memories, anyway. I have spent so much of my life being male, and learned a male trade. I expect to carry on but with a female view and hopefully female logic, for which I have learned to have a great regard for.

I will continue exploring the concept of the third gender. it seems, in some of our cases, this might be the obvious answer, but also I am sure it is not so in all cases, as we are so different. I do have to say that, if I really was born Intersex, I feel sad and angry that my parents did not tell me as I was growing up. I have a friend who has a grandchild who was born Intersex and has been allowed to grow up and now, at the age of 16, is making a decision of how he wants to be. This is so much better. He is now taking hormones to develop his male side.

And what about my faith, as I am often asked? All I can say is that the sect did not give me any faith worth keeping, but I what little I do have, I can be strong enough to challenge. Maybe I will write about this more, one day.

Well that is all folks! In writing I do not ask or expect sympathy but I feel it is a story that had to be told. So many children are being brainwashed in this sect and others like it.

I also dare to hope someone might find help and comfort from within this ramble. We need each other sometimes to lean on, sometimes to encourage, sometimes to advise.

We need to accept and celebrate the diversity within our ranks.

But I think, most of all, to laugh with.

Also, as the grace says, “Ever mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves.”

Hazel King x    

August Oasis Blog

Well another month has passed us by here at Oasis Central and what a month it’s been with probably the biggest U turn the government has made so far which for once  I am pleased to endorse. The students of 2020 have had such upheaval, they deserve to receive their teacher assessed results rather than those produced by a flawed computer algorithm!  According to the Guardian there has been 12 U turns  by the government unless you know otherwise!

As I rummage through the Oasis archives I think of this time last year and of our outing to the 1940’s event at the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham, and what was meant to be an annual event in the Oasis calendar before that rotten Covid-19 came along and spoilt things! It was such a lovely day with a good turn out of ladies, partners and friends.

We had another good Zoom meeting (despite Serena’s absence) on the 15th of the month. 14 people took part. It was good see that that Carole was recovering well from her back operation and Geri from a repair to her carotid artery, following a minor stroke.  There was lots of interesting conversation taking place as usual and thanks again to Petra for arrange this.

On Friday 21st, a lovely sunny, if a little windy day saw a visit to East Ruston Vicarage Gardens, just around the corner from Stalham, organised by Theresa which proved to be a great success.  See post

Venice, Sydney and Paris.

Of course, being a lady of financial means has meant that while you were all on lockdown I was able to get out and about to all those places other people couldn’t.  So I thought I would share with you my holiday snaps.  Have you got any lockdown snaps to share with us?

We had a lovely socially distanced lunch in a local pub recently to celebrate Vicky birthday.  This was the first meal we had had away from home since February. In these unusual times in which we live, we have now taken to not removing anything from our diary for at least 14 days after they have taken place in case we get a call from Track and Trace!

Finally it seems a foreign holiday is really unlikely to happen this year, unless like me your a lady of financial means or your willing to risk a 14 day quarantine on your return.  So it’s a chance to explore the wonderful countryside and cities of the UK on a  Staycation.  As your standing in your holiday home, motorhome, caravan or tent looking out the window doing the washing up, we can all dream of what it was like before Covid-19.

Travel Plans 2020?

Keep safe, Beccie x

Escape to the Past

Lilly continues with her Escape series…

I’ve always loved history and the history of science. I like the motto; ‘how do you know where you are going, when you don’t know where you’ve been?’.

These days, I have another important history question; how do I get my hands on the keys to Lucy Worsley’s dressing up box?

Gosh which history though, the brief history of humanity or the history of the universe, all 14 odd billion years? Humans, a rather annoying pin prick in time; just ask the planet right now.

These days we are well served with history on the TV, and it’s not all about Queens and Kings. There are plenty of stories of normal folk. I recommend the work of Ruth Goodman, who through her programmes such as ‘Tudor Farm’. In a very ‘hands on’ way, these shows really illustrate how common people (like me) lived. Ruth likes a bit of dressing up too; in fact I rather think that modern clothes don’t quite suit Ruth.

Another great source of knowledge is the wonderful BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’, which covers a bewildering spectrum of history, philosophical and science subjects. The programme is always interesting, and well worth investing a hour to listen each week. I’ve even grown to love Melvin Bragg!

‘In Our Time’ features many women and uses many female experts in the discussions.

Here are a few of the women who’s stories have captured my imagination.

Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and the daughter of the mad, bad and dangerous (no, not me silly!) Lord Byron. Unusually for a woman, Ada was encouraged to study the sciences by her mum. Possibly in an effort to ensure she kept her distance from her dear papa! Through Ada’s friendship with Charles Babbage and knowledge of his amazing mechanical calculating machines, Ada is credited with writing the first ever computer program or algorithm. When I studied engineering, there wasn’t a girl in sight (I certainly wasn’t in sight). I hope the world is changing and we can all be who, and what we want to be. Ada is an inspiration to young women engineers and programmers; she had such amazing insight.

Julian of Norwich (b1343) was a nun in the Middle Ages, who wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language written by a woman, ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. A ‘local girl’, she lived most of her life Norwich, then the second city in England. During her lifetime, the city suffered the devastating effects of the Black Death (pandemics are not new!) and the Peasants’ Revolt. When aged thirty and so seriously ill she thought she was on her deathbed, Julian received a series of visions of the Passion of Christ. Julian’s statue can be seen on the western front of Norwich Cathedral; why not pop round and say hello?

Vera Brittain (b1893), author, socialist and pacifist. I read Vera’s famous, sad and wonderful book ‘Testament of Youth’ in my teens and along with ‘All Quiet on the West Front’ and ‘Catch 22’, heavily influenced my own political views on war.

Vera served in France as a nurse in the First World War and lost both of her brothers in the fighting. These experiences directed her future career as a writer and political activist. She might not have written, ‘War what is good for, absolutely nothing!’ but I think Vera would agree and so do I.

Dorothy Hodgkin (b1910) was the first and only British woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the three sciences. Whilst born in Egypt, Dorothy spend much of her early life in Beccles.

At Dorothy’s school, girls were not allowed to take science subjects but Dorothy fought this decision and won, later going on the study Chemistry at Oxford. During her research career Dorothy advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography.

Dorothy’s influential discoveries include the confirmation of the structure of penicillin, insulin and vitamin B12, for which she was awarded her Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

On Dorothy’s award, one of the newspaper headlines was ‘Grandmother and housewife, wins Nobel Prize’. What rot, like so many women Dorothy simply raised a family and built a brilliant career!

Caroline Herschel (b1750) was the younger sister of the far better known astronomer William Herschel. Caroline’s contribution like so many other women, has been forgotten but are just as important as those of her older brother.

Born in Hanover Caroline and William eventually settled in Berkshire in 1782 after William was appointed ‘The King’s Astronomer’

Caroline discovered eight comets, and catalogued 560 previously unrecorded stars, and was the first women to be paid for her scientific work. King George III gave her an annual salary of £50. She was the first woman to be awarded the Gold Medal of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society in 1838. Not bad for a girl!

History continues to be written and I wonder in years time, how will we view 2020? Covid, #BlackLivesMatter, the politics of statues and (our) Trans rights, all momentous events. Generally history is written by the winners, so we shall see who gets to hold the pen.

If you like recent history, why not try the new show on BBC called ‘Mrs America’, a drama based on the feminist struggle in the USA, in the early 70’s. It is great fun and really interesting piece of social history.

See you all soon. Now where did I put my mask?

Love Lilly x

 

Smelling of Roses

Friday 21st August 2020 was the date suggested as a chance for Oasis ladies and partners to meet safely in a socially distanced environment. East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens turned out to be the perfect venue, lots of outdoor tables and seating in the tearoom area, ample space for everyone.

Arriving not too long after midday, Lorraine and myself found Beccie sitting on her own with a pot of tea messaging others who were expected to arrive on the day. It turned out that unfortunately Vicky and Nina both had motoring related mishaps and weren’t able to join us as planned. Joanna confirmed she was en-route so we decided to stay seated outside and ordered two ploughmen for lunch, this was quite a challenge trying to stop the food flying off the plates while at the same time maintaining dignity with skirts and hair.

Beccie, Joanna and Lorraine posing!

Once Joanna arrived, the Fabulous Four (Joanna, Beccie, Lorraine & myself) set off on our adventures around the garden. It really did turn out to be quite an adventure with something different to be found around every corner, the different gardens and landscapes were amazing. The two guys who built the place certainly have bucket loads of talent and imagination.

While walking around something triggered a thought in my mind, any therapist will tell you, if you’re stressed or racing ahead “don’t forget to stop and smell the roses”, well I took this quite literally and smelled the roses, wonderful.

 

Now you see it now you don’t -mobile phone illusion

Beccie purchased a brochure containing interesting info about the gardens and included the fact there is an unusual view of Happisburgh Lighthouse. Beccie’s map reading skills were put to the test and we eventually found the Light(house) at the end of the tunnel.

Capturing the lighthouse proved to be a challenge for our phones which were determined to make the image simply vanish???

So what an enjoyable day despite the strong winds, would highly recommend the gardens for a visit in future if anyone has the opportunity. They also sell a good range of plants.

Lorraine and Theresa in the Apple Walk

Looking forward to another socially distanced gathering with other Oasis ladies very soon if we can arrange something between us.

 

Theresa x

 

A Boy(?) grows up in a Sect: A True Story – Part 2

We continue Hazel’s story…..Missed part one read it here.

So my school time passed on, with few friends as it was a pointless exercise, making friends. I would not be allowed to visit their houses or socialise with them in anyway, as they had TVs and radios which were “unclean”. A girl who I had got on with during dancing lessons asked if I would walk her home after school. She said she would wait at the school gate, so I found an excuse to avoid this; she gave up after a few days.

I left school at fifteen and started working with my father in a family business. This lasted for a few years until my Uncle, who’s business it was, left the sect to set up his own version, so we had to leave. Father decided we would set up as a building company doing work mainly for church members. We were asked to build a new church hall, which was a massive project for three people to manage. It was made clear to us how privileged we were to “serve the Lord and the Brethren” therefore we should not expect to make much money at it. My wages were £10 per week while others were earning £40.

During all this time I was very friendly with Rachel’s brother and visited his house at every opportunity as it was the only way I could get near her. I used to walk home from church some six or seven miles, (she lived closer) in hopes of getting a chance to talk alone with her, (members would drive by and stop to offer a lift). Little did I know she was doing the same, until one evening I crossed the road when they all had driven past, and walked beside her and we talked, to this day I do not know what we said to each other. This we managed several times, until one evening she suggested she walked a bit further, and we ended up holding hands and we had our first kiss. I was 18 she was 19.  I knew then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, but how could I tell her about my disgusting desires? How could I expect such a beautiful girl to want to be with me?

But I had other problems ahead, I spoke to her father who was happy for us, but I had to tell my father too. It took two weeks before I plucked up courage, he was annoyed by it all. Firstly, I was the youngest boy. Secondly, how had I found the time to make such a major decision without talking to him first. Thirdly, he had decided years ago I was going to marry his friend’s daughter who I had only met four or five times (more about her later), but he said he would talk later with mother and I was to talk with him the following evening. So the next evening I was summoned. He was annoyed because mother had told him about the love letter I had received. He had however talked to her father and realised he was outnumbered so he gave us his blessing, and handed me a cheque for £50 to buy an engagement ring. For the first time in my life I stood up him and refused to accept, I had saved up £28 which I was determined to spend on this ring. We decided we would get engaged and planned a trip to Bravingtons; just the two of us. But before I could do this I told Rachel about me and how dirty and disgusting I was, but she assured me she loved me, and when I was with a real woman it would all sort itself out.

So everything in the garden was fine?  No!  The Leader of the brethren decided to make a new rule, there should be no such thing as long engagements; they should be three to six months at the most. This put the dampers on the whole situation because on £10 a week I would not be able to buy a house. It was also decided that during the waiting time we were not allowed to be alone together. This was to make sure that there would be no sex before marriage. During the next twelve months we met at her house with her family around and talked on the phone. Also during this time another boy proposed to her, and I found out later that my eldest brother was weighing up his chances!

Then we were told her mother had walked past an estate agent and seen a house that had just come on the market for £2800.00. She went in and paid a £500 deposit which would be our wedding present. It was also directly opposite the “meeting room” and my father–in-law to be had arranged a mortgage with an elderly sister for the balance. I should say building societies were not allowed. She was charging 10% interest. I later got a mortgage for 2.5%.

Did we care? No, we could now get engaged and better still be seen together, albeit only at church or home or walking between the two. No cinemas, pubs, meals out and most of the time we had a chaperone.

We could not wait to be alone together in our little two up two down cottage. It had no bathroom, just an outside loo. It needed an extension with a kitchen and bathroom which was done. Father also decided we needed to make downstairs a through room so we would be able to entertain brethren. We were hoping to spend most of our time alone.

Eventually a day in March 1967 arrived: our wedding day. We were told we could not get married on a Saturday, and the service had to be in the evening, so it was a Tuesday at a registry office, midday and we sat around with a few family people, and those church members who never missed a free lunch, eating, if I remember right, cucumber sandwiches and cake. I found out later my new brother had hidden a bottle of sherry which he and my brothers drank.

Then, much to father’s disgust, we went down to Devon the next day to stay with a family. The wife had been one who we had grown up with us and moved when she married. We had little quality time as we were expected to take their children out during the week for visits to the seaside.

Twelve months later our son was born and eighteen months after our daughter was born. It was hard bringing up two children on my wages I was given a raise to £12. Of course wives were not allowed to work, and anyway she had her hands full with two children, but I was kept being told the “lord will provide”. We could not afford a car so every night during the week I would get home from work at about 6.30 pm, have a quick wash and eat dinner and rush up the road for a lift by 7 pm. No time with the children, no time to talk to my wife about how the day had been, but I had to turn up and pretend I was interested in the goings on, which I did as I did not want to go to hell. Sunday was full on, taking two babies to church at 6 am and most Saturdays we would be taken somewhere, but we started to have reasons to stay at home and try and be a normal family. I put my feelings away we did talk a little but there was so much else to discuss.

By this time, we were getting a bit fed up with all the restrictions and nonsense that was happening. This is not the place to go into the details, but suffice to say I missed my lift one evening and for the first time we spent the evening together not knowing what to say. But things started to change, we wanted to be a normal family, and then the straw that broke the camel’s back was the main-man deciding it was God’s will that if he needed/wanted it, he could ask any sister to “wash his feet with her tears”; in other words, he could commit adultery without it being wrong. This was enough. I told my dad I was leaving along with several other people.

He assured me that if I did that I could expect every pestilence known to man to be visited on my head, and as I explained I was setting up my own business he guaranteed it would fail.

So we started to live as normal people, only we had no idea how to do it, we still lived opposite the meeting room, but they would ignore/shun us. I acquired a record player and our love of country music started then. Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, The Shadows, The Seekers, etc. Yes, we got a second hand TV. The first programme we saw was Sergeant Bilko. If they were having a meeting opposite we would watch it with the lights off, forgetting that the flickering light could be seen through the curtains so they all knew how wicked we were.

I had to start working for myself. My father-in law, who had joined in the exodus but was not pleased with how far we had gone down “the Worldly” route, helped by getting me to fit a new kitchen, and more work came in. I will come back to my business later.

We were expecting our third child by now so we decided to move. Our youngest son arrived several months after we settled in to our new house (with a new TV). Rachel’s parents were happy to visit as long as we covered the telly. However, my parents and family were not happy. My mother did get my sister to bring her to the house to see the baby, which she held for a few minutes, then said, “you realise that unless you repent and return to the Brethren, I will not be able to see him again,” and then left.

So time went by. I made a point of calling in to see my father and mother, although these meetings were difficult and filled with constant pressure to make me see how bad I was, which of course I did not need, as the desire to cross-dress was always with me, making me feel bad anyway.

Sadly, one morning my father was rushed into hospital and passed away in the evening. I was not told till later that night. I went straightaway to visit Mother to see what I could do. I ended up helping my middle brother to do the funeral arrangements over the next few days. We were allowed to attend the funeral service but had to sit at the back with all the other “Worldly” families. I should say here that my father became very fond of Rachel and she of him. He doted on his eldest grandson, but as soon as we left this was not allowed to be seen.

We were asked back to his house for refreshments, but the other church members went to my sisters, it was definitely “Them and Us”. It was then I found out that my baby sister was also “out of fellowship”. She had promised my mother and other sister she would keep away from me, as we were seemingly involved in wicked pursuits such as partying, going to pubs and getting drunk, smoking, going to discos, wife swapping. You name it, she had a complete list. We were both gob-smacked as to how they could spread such rubbish. Rachel and I have always been faithful. Yes, we had been drunk on a couple of occasions and yes, we smoked now and then. Yes, we did have friends around for dinner parties. In fact, we were living a “normal life”.  Yes, I did frequent pubs.  I was involved in the renovation of several East End Public Houses!

I made a point of visiting my mother as often as I could. Rachel would take the children but they were difficult times as she was not allowed to eat with us. I always made a point of having a cuppa and biscuit with her, but she would let the tea go cold and refuse the biscuit. Always she would try to get me to see the error of my ways. I would try and convince her I was a good person. If only I could have talked to her about my desire to cross-dress, perhaps she could have told me about my birth. I will always regret I was unable to discuss this with her but I was ignorant as to where I was in the whole matter. Sadly, the same happened to her. She fell early one morning in the bathroom hitting her head on the bath and never regained consciousness and, yes, I was not told. So in both my father and mother’s passing I was never given the chance to say goodbye. This I will never forget, or understand WHY.

To be continued….

Hazel x

Jessica Lynn’s Trans Stories

Over the years, probably like us all, I have read many blogs written by Trans folk which I often find very helpful.

I really try to avoid the negative stuff, and focus on those that are more upbeat and inspiring. These blogs are a constant reminder that I am not alone, and many times express the joy of finding one’s true self.

Jessica Lynn

An American living in the UK, Jessica Lynn’s website has recently produced a series of podcasts together with British academic Dr Sam Martin. Each hour long episode, tells a particular Trans story, focusing on how the subject has over come the issues we have to overcome. Jessica’s website is full of interesting resources and can be found at

https://www.jessicalynn.website/

I particularly recommend this podcast episode with Sarah Stephenson-Hunter who has also overcome losing her sight, and there are other interesting tales too

https://www.jessicalynn.website/podcast/episode/256543e5/sarah-stephenson-hunter-riding-the-waves-of-change/

The podcasts also feature Transmen, which can give a different perspective.

Love

Lilly