Read between January 01 - January 09, 2020
They were measuring the decency of my response, seeing if I reacted like a good friend should.
When I got married, Dru gave us a stockpile of burnable wood that filled a flatbed truck. It was my favourite wedding present.
She was a manual worker, a member of the working class! I was slightly in awe.
Dru had become like one of the characters in Catch-22, possessing ‘a thousand useful skills that would keep her in a low-income bracket for the rest of her life.’
Inevitably, the third question is precise, universally defining, clearly one of the first facts any one person needs to know about another. ‘Have I ever been on television?’
Occasionally I get an ‘I suppose so,’ or the equally non-committal ‘Might be.’ It’s as if she’s wary of fixing the details of her life. ‘Is that because the past is too painful to remember?’ ‘Might be.’
His Tilley hat was supplemented by a maple leaf enamel badge, as worn by travelling Canadians everywhere to stop anyone mistaking them for Americans.
Dru knows a pub there, the Boat. This means there’s just time for Dru to explain that white dog shit, high in calcium, was once highly valued by leather tanners.
I tell her about Kenny Dalglish and she claims, absurdly, never to have heard of Kenny Dalglish. In revenge I get a detailed profile of Albert Tatlock. Never heard of him. Dru can’t believe it.
I think it’s going to be tough if for the rest of her life she’s obsessed by what people make of her. Though as another woman friend of mine pointed out, that would be a genuine and authentic female experience.
I never met a girl who grew up as a boy before. It’s like meeting a girl who grew up alone in the forest. She isn’t going to be like the other girls, but she’s still a girl.
The condition now known as gender dysphoria may be unique in requiring self-diagnosis. No doctor is going to listen patiently to a list of baffling symptoms, reflect carefully for a moment chin on hand, and then suggest a sex change.
The valley is still cleaner than it used to be: the once black and red water of the Ebbw now so clear you can see the sofa lying upside down on the riverbed.
The value of self-knowledge is that it allows us to see what needs repressing, before it’s too late.
But she’s British. Self-knowledge was a way of discovering what she needed to hide, self-knowledge as secret police, to detect and destroy.
At the age when women complain of becoming invisible, I didn’t see them.
I’d intended to contrive an overview, several days into our journey, from an elevated position, of how we were getting along. We stayed low and got lost, but that’s non-fiction for you. You don’t always get the metaphors you want.
Dru wasn’t angry, or jealous of other women. She felt more of an ‘unfocused anger’ that came out as being ‘snidey and sarky’ and getting involved in the Labour Party.
Maybe, I speculate, she was a skilful lover because sex represented a kind of wistful narcissism. She was fascinated by women’s bodies and could give them all the time in the world. ‘Would you say that’s right?’ ‘Could be.’ ‘Good. Because I’ve already written it down.’
We rig up the tent for the last time beside the River Wye, chirpier and brighter here, and then set out to find the least violent pub in town.
‘If you could change into a bird, would you?’ ‘No.’ ‘Ah. Bit of a trick question that one.’ ‘It was crap.’
She loves her dad and remembers him saying, at about this time, ‘If we were women we’d be able to talk more easily.’
Is it better for young children (or children of any age, even those who are now adults) to live with repression and stability, or honesty and calamity?
It doesn’t take much time on the Internet to realise how politicised this world can be, and by politicised, I mean there are a lot of people out there on a short fuse, alert to every opportunity for an outburst of righteous indignation.
‘How much of my life I’ve wasted. I find that very upsetting.’
one day Little Britain will look as dated as the Black and White Minstrels.
the Coast Path is lethal. It’s also a National Trail, so although you might fall off, you won’t get lost.
Gender-reassignment surgery has recently been renamed as gender-confirmation surgery,
‘Previously, I felt like a freak and people treated me as normal’ Dru says. ‘Now I feel normal and people treat me like a freak.’
Reality becomes a shrunken territory, a single, limited version of existence.