Sunday, 10 August 2014

I’ll never fall in love again


For the last five years I’ve had a not-so-secret love affair with a couple of guys called The Freemasons. These (two) guys are a DJ-House-Remix kind of outfit. Over the last half decade their music has had a huge influence on me.

A friend of mine introduced me to “Uninvited” in 2010 and I never looked back. I quickly sought out and purchased Shakedown 1, a superb album of remixed tunes – the like of which I’d never heard before, it was just pulse racing stuff. Some quite ordinary but good songs reworked to sound amazing. I quickly moved onto Shakedown 2 which was an order of magnitude better and easily one of the best albums I have ever heard. Every single track just made you gasp, how could anything sound so good?
Needless to say I have played both those albums HUNDREDS of times – they are that good.
I then discovered other tracks they’ve done; “Green Light”, “Beautiful Liar” and “Ring the alarm” by BeyoncĂ© and many, many more examples of a quite good song turned into an amazing opus by the boys from Brighton.
They then released a number of free tracks, Summer ‘11 Mix and various other ‘bootys’ including Firework by Katy Perry to name but a few.

And all the time we were waiting for Shakedown 3.

Five years is a long time to wait, a long time to build up the anticipation and expectation. The Freemasons had a long track record of simply awesome music. How could they possibly go wrong? Well they did.
Shakedown 3 is quite simply, a three disc set of utter piffle. 46 tracks of bland, anodyne, uninspiring tracks which in the days of vinyl would not have been good enough to make the ‘B’ side.
Now that’s not strictly true.  ‘Believer 2014’, ‘Million Dollar Bill’ and ‘Uninvited 2014’ are lazy and inferior re-works of Freemasons originals and ‘Bring it Back’ had already been available for some time, I purchased it from Amazon some time ago. That just makes a bad situation much worse.
So what’s wrong with the songs on the albums? Well, they are very, very weak.
The performances by Amanda Wilson, Katherine Ellis et al are as one would expect, outstanding, but the songs are weak. And the production has vastly changed. No longer do we have the pulse-racing must-dance mix of, for example Summer ‘11 (see above), we have a mix which allows you to drift off and think about painting the fence.
Trust me, when you’re in a club and the music has been kind of yawny for an hour or so, when a Freemasons track hits the speakers it’s like an A-bomb has gone off. You simply have to dance, their music was SO different and simply damn good. Now I wouldn’t be able to tell their new stuff from the aural wallpaper that clubs play these days.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, looking back over their catalogue the rot set in a few years ago.
The first notable dud was “Wonderful Life” by Hurts, an indifferent version of a mediocre song. But then we had “Good Girl” by Alexis Jordan and the stunning “Finish Line” and “Light Up The World” by Yasmin. Yay, Hurts was just an anomaly.
Oh no it wasn’t. “Mama Do The Hump” (WTF?), “Cheating”, “The World Goes Quiet”, “Nightcall” and “Gorecki”.  Weak, weak songs at best – utter shite at worst. The rot had well and truly set in. Without a half decent song, or the willingness to combine several good songs The Freemasons were doomed to the ‘Difficult Third Album’ syndrome which has affected such luminaries as Garbage and The Cardigans before them.

Well, why am I so tetchy about all of this?
Until I discovered The Freemasons I thought House music was something that short guys in little cars blasted out to an unsuspecting public on sunny days. The Brighton Boys opened my eyes and ears to a whole genre of music which was damn good,  damn exciting and so danceable. I went on to explore other artists but none were in the same league as The Freemasons.
Now I feel like the girl that’s been dumped by her boyfriend for some cheap slag. I’ve lost something precious and the guy has moved on to something much worse.

I feel lost.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

You’re The One That I Want

So there I am, stood on my jacksie in Napoleons, Tanya is off dancing with some random bloke. Suddenly this guy hoves into view. Tall, taller than me, ruggedly good looking, late 30’s and oohhh, sorta funky. He starts to chat me up, which trust me NEVER happens to me. Starts to tell me how fabulous I look etc., so I think, “yeah I know all that – tell me something I DON’T know, like you’re a millionaire and I’m in your will and you’re on your last legs”
Then he tells me I’m not like all the other girls there, I look demure!
Demure I query, with a slightly raised eyebrow.
Turns out demure (in his vocabulary) means dressed like a woman, as opposed to the other girls there who resemble the result of combining twelve hungry and angry polecats in a small box of charity clothes and cheap make-up. You following me?

Then he tells me that I’m so wondrously fabulous that even his Mother (a strict Irish Catholic) would approve. Condescending – yes, back-handed compliment – yes, but hey you have to get them where you find them.
So I try to engage him in intelligent conversation (turns out he is a history lecturer at Manchester University).  He specialises in the 60’s – not sure if that was the decade or the age group, either way I’m good on that one, n’est pas?

He then rests his fingers on the small of my back and gently runs his hand up and down my back a little. OMG, fanny fizz time. I swear I felt an electric shock travelling up my spine. At that point he could have told me he was the bastard lovechild of Sarah Palin and Adolf Hitler and I would still have given him a blowjob. But then he announces he is just going to pop into the smoking area for a cigarette. Ok, I squeak and await his return.

Some 30 minutes later he has yet to return. So I organise an expedition to the smoking area, with nought but a diet coke for supplies and Tanya and her Canadian-Gibraltarian beau for crew.

Upon reaching the smoking area me and my crew take up position and spy … yes, my lofty lothario sat between two trannies (I can use that word). He’s pawing one of them, just as he was me earlier. However, to my horror, the person he’s pawing away at is a sissy. A big, fat, sweaty, effing sissy! She then gets up and announces she’ll go the bar, stands up and turns towards me. What confronted me convinced me there and then that there is no God. Imagine Arthur Mullard, but much uglier and with the gait of an arthritic hippo trying to pirouette.
I simply asked Tanya and her beau, “For God’s sake, tell me I’m better than that. Please!” Mercifully, she concurred.

We made our excuses, News of the World style and left. Later as we were getting our coats from behind the bar Tanya pointed out that he was stood alone at the bar. “He can fucking stay there and rot” was all I had to say.

And then on the way home, my car broke down……………………

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013


On Sunday,24th November at 4:00pm there will be a service to remember our sisters and brothers murdered or driven to take their own lives in 2013.

National Transgender Memorial, Sackville Gardens, Canal Street/Sackville Street, Manchester.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013


Sackville Gardens, 24th November at 4pm.
The service this year will be quite different to previous years, there will also be somewhere to keep warm and there will be a reception in Polari, underneath Via afterwards.
Please come along and remember our sisters and brothers who have left us all too soon.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Like a candle that's been blown out

Last night I had to endure what I expect will be my last case of transphobia.
Whilst walking out of Via in Canal Street with a girlfriend, some guy who was stood at the bar with his friends yelled at me:
"Hey Peter, I didn't recognise you there mate. How are you?"
Since I don't know anyone called Peter I just ignored him and attempted to carry on. He then yelled:
"Peter, why are you ignoring me, you weren't ignoring me last night Peter"
The guys who he was stood with found this amusing, smiles and laughter ensued.
Despite many similar incidents over the last few years, somehow this time I couldn't take it any more.
I stopped, turned towards him and slapped him hard across the face and I think I must have yelled back something at him.
The guy had the perfect opportunity to just shut the fuck up, but he chose to continue his humiliating and demeaning tirade. And it's worth noting here, that not one of his friends told him to stop.
So I gripped him by the throat and pushed him back against the bar and yelled at him to stop. He just carried on.
I turned to the shocked barmaid and shouted to her to get the bouncers and to get this guy out. I needn't have bothered because the doormen were already behind me and had heard virtually every word that the guy had said.

I moved out of the way and made for the main door as the bouncers proceeded to hustle the guy towards another door and out of the bar.
I emerged onto Canal Street and Tony, the owner of the bar came over and asked me what had happened. I broke down into tears and started to explain; but already I could feel something within me beginning to die - I sensed Joanne turning around and walking away from me.

The guy was also now out on the street with his 'friends' and was arguing with the bouncers because he felt he shouldn't have been ejected, possibly because he thought that being transphobic, taking the piss unmercifully out a complete stranger and attempting to ruin someone's night was perfectly acceptable behaviour.
I walked over to the group and addressed the bloke:
"Do you want to apologise?"
The guy just continued his torrent of abuse.
I asked again if he wanted to apologise, but his abuse simply got worse. So I punched him in the face.

I was quickly hustled back to where I'd previously been stood.
It was then revealed to me that all the guys friends were gay and that they'd brought him out to show him what the Gay Village was like; since a couple of his friends had already been over to remonstrate with me about the way I'd reacted in the bar; they and he thought it was obviously good sport to take the piss out of transgendered people. Perhaps they make a distinction between the battle the gay community has had over the years and the battle that we now face. Perhaps they're just as prejudiced as the people they've railed against for so long. So much for support from some of the Gay Community.

And for good measure, the guy broke free from the bouncers and ran toward me; he was quickly stopped in his tracks by the bouncers, but not before he threatened me and called me "a fucking freak".
We trooped off to another bar but I wasn't in a good place. My good friend Ruby correctly identified that I was as upset with the way I'd reacted as I was with what had happened. My spirits were sinking low and so I got up and walked out of the bar, down Richmond Street; the intention being to try and find a quieter part of the canal where I could slip under it's cold waters and let nature relieve me of all the shit I have to tolerate and all the shit that is yet to come.
But cowardice and the fact that Tanya and Ruby's things were back at my place made me turn round and walk back, zombie like to the bar.

The rest of the evening was a blur. I tried to not let it spoil the other girls' night - but mine, along with my new dress which now had blood stains on it, was ruined.
And so today, after the girls had gone and I could feel myself slipping into the quicksand of depression I decided I couldn't put my friends or myself through that again.
I sat down, removed my nail varnish and then cut my nails back so they were short. I've hit a brick wall and I don't feel strong enough at the moment to pick myself back up. I  am going to try and rewind Joanne and put her back into her box. Whether I can or not, I don't know and it may be just the way that I feel at the moment.

But at the moment, I feel just like a candle that's been blown out.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Richard Littlejohn and a "culture of casual cruelty"

In December last year The Daily Mail was unequivocal in blaming two Australian radio DJs for the tragic suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

The Mail accused the pair outright of making "a fatal hoax phone call".

The Mail called Saldanha "A victim of today's culture of casual cruelty". The paper said Saldanha's suicide was a result of "casual, tacky, thoughtless cruelty that has infected popular culture like a plague".

Last December also saw Richard Littlejohn write an article for the Daily Mail attacking a transgender teacher called Lucy Meadows.

Tragically it has transpired that Lucy Meadows has now been found dead. Early reports suggest she took her own life though this has not been confirmed.

If the circumstances were different, the Mail would no doubt be the first to link the media mauling Meadows received to her death. Yet on this occasion the Daily Mail's trademark willingness to point the finger seems to have deserted it.

Meadows had done nothing wrong yet she witnessed first hand a willingness to ruin lives for entertainment. Littlejohn attacked Meadows not because she deserved it, but because he could, having taken issue with the fact Meadows used to be a man, called Nathan Upton.

This post was written by Will Sturgeon and published here.

Saturday, 19 January 2013