Monday, 17 August 2015

an early episode in my life

There are times in life when you reach a crossroads and you make a decision which resonates down through the rest of your life. In 1972 I was at just such a crossroad and had reached a very low ebb in my young life. I had had an epiphany at my boarding school and had become the lover of a local farmer and had been helped in exploring the whole world of female dressing. He was a latent t-girl lover and our unlikely meeting sparked a fervent relationship that was secretive and illegal with me as a 15 year old schoolboy and him a 35 year old farmer. Together we had cautiously explored the world of anal and oral sex and I had become comfortable, with the help of my patient lover, with the various ways a man and a teenage boy could have sex together, exciting each other and reaching some soul shattering orgasms together.

I had left school an effete gay boy and had been playing in a school band that turned professional once we had entered the big wide world outside school. At first it was everything we had imagined and hoped for, then our immaturity led to vast amounts of alcohol and drug consumption and although the glam rock movement was emerging, my appearing on stage in a mini-dress on a number of occasions  increasingly freaked out the other band members and I was fired unceremoniously and found myself after two years of touring continuously in a rock band, in a Clapham squat with two gay guys and three girls. I was dazed and very confused especially about my sexuality, who I was supposed to be and what was my future to be, it all seemed very uncertain and disconnected. I felt that my female side had to be expressed but in those days before the internet and the connected world, it was a very isolated and lonely world for a young transsexual.

I immediately and very maturely decided that the best thing to do, was to march quickly as possible down the road to oblivion, so I didn’t have to make any grown up difficult decisions. I embarked on a marathon drugs and drinks binge session which lasted, I have been told, just under a week. I can’t remember what happened other than crashing at various friends flats and taking anything I was offered on the drugs front and drinking vast amounts of brandy wine and scotch. I ended up unconscious on the floor of a flat in Shepherds’ Bush, covered in puke and in a coma, until someone with a clear enough head managed to get their shit together enough to call for an ambulance and I ended up in Hammersmith Hospital.

Spool forward a few short months and after a spell in Goodmayes psychiatric hospital, I was looking at the start of the summer of 1972 an exhausted and confused little soul.

There was around this time, a strange bubble of androgynous music and fashion. Bowie was on the horizon with Ziggy Stardust and Marc Bolan and various hippyish musicians who all wore make up and long hair and very female fashions. I saw this as a golden chance for me to walk around ‘under the radar’ as it were and I always went out wearing mascara and lipstick most days and had let my hair grow to longer than shoulder length and styled it with a neat, feminine fringe.

I remember being in a room in our squat one evening listening to a friend who had hitchhiked to Kathmandu and back and as he talked the idea grew in my head that I really needed to get away from the turmoil of my current  life and travel to new places to meet new people and have fresh experiences that weren’t connected to the past three years of confusion and chaos.

I decided at that moment as I lay on a scruffy sheepskin rug, staring at the ceiling and  listening to him talking about the wonderful hash he scored in turkey and the wondrous experience of traveling through India, that I would hitchhike to Kathmandu on my own and more importantly, I would dress and be Andrea the whole time. I would finally be the girl I felt I so badly needed to be and would try to experience life through her eyes.

Let me add at this point that there was no intelligent planning of this trip, it was about as spontaneous and unplanned and dangerous as it possibly could be. I Had some cash left over from the band’s touring, so I changed eight hundred pounds, all my savings, into dollars, which I carefully sewed up inside a anonymous leather bag and packed a large canvas shoulder bag and set off for Victoria station and the Dover-Calais ferry, to start my journey.

Before describing some of the journeys highlights, a journey I will call Andrea’s quest for a truth! (not ‘the’ truth.... that wasn’t ironic enough! but just a truth!) Let me give you a description of what I looked like and what I wore and what I packed to take with me.

I was six foot tall and very slim, with long dark brown hair that was curled whenever I was near a power socket and could plug in my small, travel set of Carmen Rollers. I wore masses of kohl round my eyes and thick mascara, either a dark brown or strangely a pale cream eye shadow with, generally, a pale pink lipstick. I wore plum coloured nail polish and to top it all an extravagantly large pair of sunglasses which I almost never removed in order to look 'cool and interesting'.

I was had some really comfortable and worn in women’s knee high, cowboy style boots, decorated with beads and leather fringes, a short brown suede miniskirt and a loose, flowing, low necked white top and masses and masses of necklaces and bracelets’ that I collected on shopping trips to Kensington or Camden market or made myself from wooden  and silver beads, various feathers and twists of cloth.

I had a smelly black Afghan coat and shoved in my bag, a psychedelic plastic poncho, in case it rained and to top it all, I had a large broad brimmed, floppy sunhat. In my bag were my passport, spare knickers, a cashmere sweater a boyfriend had given me and some lightweight flowery print summer dresses. Footwear included a pair of very worn in and comfortable low heeled, red Mary Jane’s and some flips flops!

Finally I have to admit that I was not completely rehabilitated on the drug front, after my short coma and going through a sort of half hearted hospital drying out treatment, that lasted two weeks, I bought from a friend a large block of Arab Gold dope to help even out my fragile mental state. It was carefully wrapped in tin foil in my bag along with large rolling papers and some duty free Old Holborn baccy and as a result I was very very stoned, a lot of the time!

I went through the ferry customs at both ends of the channel crossing, with enough drugs to be given a twelve month sentence or more if caught and as a twenty year old man dressed as a girl. Yet nothing happened and I myopically sailed through and tripped onto the streets of Calais after an uneventful crossing.

Before I continue with a description of some of the things that happened along the way, I need to explain a pet theory I have about fortune and attitude. Looking back at myself then from now, with all my experience and age, it terrifies me to see me making my way as a 20 year old transsexual, on her own, hitching across Europe, carrying drugs and money and clearly an un-missable target for unspeakable acts of violence or rape. Yet for the whole trip, I was never hurt or physically attacked. I did have a few occasions which might have been described as almost rape! I was a few times fucked by men who weren’t going to take no for an answer and I gave in to get it over with quickly and collect my knickers and move on. All that time my guardian angel must have been clocking in a 7 day week and a rolling twenty four hour shift!

I also became accustomed to the me that is Andrea. I had begun to experience my femininity with my first male lover while at school but it was all too soon and early for me and fumbling though it was and although very erotic and sexy, it was only me as a half formed creature.

Now dressed continuously and away from my home, my mannerisms and body language begun to evolve into something that felt much more naturally feminine. I pitched my voice higher and huskier, walked with shorter steps and held my body in a more protective stance, often with arms held across my chest. I always sat with my legs crossed and adopted many of the normal tiny mannerism that women instinctively display.

I always wore a bra, usually with no padding except sometimes when feeling a little insecure! when I would push some tissues into the cups to suggest the outline of a small breast. It was interesting how people I met just assumed I was a tall gamine girl, they would see a bra through the cotton material of my blouse and although it showed a pretty flat chest it was enough of a signal of femininity for them and mostly caused no comment.

Over the first week, I literally became more and more relaxed as my feminine persona matured and blossomed and I experimented and grew into being Andrea. I also realised how I could often use my body to get what I needed on my trip, anything from food and shelter to long lifts along the motorways. It brought home the true nature of the ‘female state’, where physical sexuality is so often regarded by men as a form of currency, especially in 1972 when the feminist movement was just gaining real momentum!

I rapidly became adept at flirting with men, even seducing them and using them to help me through my journey, I realised that on the road a blowjob had a currency value all of its own! which could take you anything between 10 miles to a 100 miles and even on some occasions get you a free meal!.

Interestingly I was most often ‘read’ by women who stopped quite often to give a female a lift. I had some wonderful conversations in broken French with curious mademoiselles! Men were more easily taken in and some were hugely surprised to find out I was a transsexual, more interesting was how many professed ‘straight’ men hit on me even more energetically once they knew my gender status.

I walked out of the Calais docks with the intention of aiming for Perpignan in southern France and if I got there in one piece, to work out my route on to Kathmandu, as you can see I had such simple goals! or rather simple minded goals! It was also to become a genuine journey of sexual awakening and discovery, bringing me into contact with many surreal scenarios and larger than life characters many of whom bedded me.

But those are sweaty details that belong in part two of this story!  

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