It is great doing Biodanza with HAI people, said Niraj- we go into that open-hearted, in the moment state so easily. Here we are, on the grass, among the trees, enthusiastically stroking each others’ faces, or moving around to the music with spaced out expressions on. And why not- it is fun, and arguably a Spiritual Experience. Here I am, just me and the- sycamore, I think- studying it, and seeing that part of its spirit which is within me. The angles of the twigs, and the flexibility of the leaves, fluttering and dancing in the wind.

I looked at the dancers, and had the thought that

all these people are within me

That is, that through the Collective Unconscious, Holy Spirit, or fifty million years of Primate evolved instinct, I have access to all their responses, instincts, and ways of being. I can access these in myself, and develop them. Similarly, scrutinising U over lunch, I sought to drink in that femininity, power, containedness and poise, in order to access these qualities in myself.

And then I come away and I think about it. I intellectualise and classify. That is what I do.

There is nothing wrong with that. When I first started to explore this state I called Presence, I thought of it as a liberation from the analysis, which I demoted in my own mind: it was mere monkey-mind, it was holding me back, Presence was the way I want to be. And now, I see the analysis as an essential part of how I relate to the World. It is my great skill, an ability to mould words and concepts into a verbal understanding, from which I may create a foundation for experience and greater understanding. The greatest understanding is non-verbal awareness and non-dual relating- and words remain useful in getting there.

That line about “always trying to be normal” has got to me, because it was my main desire- in order to survive, first get the camouflage right- and is no longer. I tested that desire to destruction, and now I am self-protecting by hiding away in my living room, and occasionally venturing out among people to try to find better ways of being. Self-protecting, avoiding contact, avoiding my own anger and fear, is still my main desire, and- I try to find other desires in me, even the glimmer of a belief I might achieve them.

I had my human contact, which in May put me into an exhausted, weepy state and last week felt rather good, actually, and now I come away and explain it to you, so that I may understand it myself.


How is it going, this journey through blogging, “a witnessed place from which to process and make sense of the multi-varianced complexities of [my] experiences” as Beth put it for herself- I could not put it better.

I realised years ago that

I lie to myself in order to see myself as a good person

because who I was, certainly was not. Over this year I have seen so much more of myself. I would not have seen myself as an introvert, really, until now, but a friend did- obvious, really, except to me. And I read that ours is a society valuing extraversion, perhaps from having extraverted kings in the past.

I glimpse my reality, I see it more clearly, I see it and realise it, and through all that process I have to value it-

this is who I am,
this is a good way to be

as it is because of not valuing my real self that I have tried to deny who I am- blocked out of consciousness as a self-protection mechanism- until I do not know what I want. I cannot perceive it-


Oh, right.

Mmm. Email from said friend, just as I am writing this: “I don’t think you are an introvert- but people who have been through a lot of trauma as you have have a similar way of responding”.

Ha! Having found a name for a characteristic, a way of classifying, I have it challenged. And indeed she had said that she did not think her thoughts on introversion exactly relevant, “but the withdrawal pattern is the same”.

And I told J that my work is self-acceptance, and she replied, “Yeah, I have my own version of that. I’m always hoping for the day I open my journal (which is all about working through my shit), and say, ‘Nope. I got nothing. All those lessons I keep having to learn over and over again? Done’.” Indeed. Perhaps an end to this is never possible, but I hope I am moving forward in some way.

Always we begin again.

The purpose of all this is to function better and achieve aims.

Clowning workshop. We played Zip Zap Boing and the counting game: in a group of ten, we attempt to count to twenty, but if two people speak at the same time we go back to one. It works. Then we walked around, making eye contact or not, and then made a caricature of our own walk, something idiosyncratic, not the entirety of us but a part, exaggerated. Then we developed this into a clown character. Already that Sunday I have climbed the Eucalyptus tree, with its branches sticking out like a ladder, and now I stand, taking in the pine, looking at just one leaf: there is just me, and it- or We.

A simple task: we have to guess a mime. The audience choose it without my knowing, and I mime and play until I guess what it is: as I get closer, they clap. I got nowhere near, but made a little eye contact, then danced about, then noticed the tree again and stood absorbed in it. This is the state of No-mind, spontaneously responding out of body and feeling in the moment, without words. My strength is in classifying, and I want to do more of this.


 S gave me a massage. I had not had a full massage before. She massaged my arms and back, and my neck. She noticed that I was quite happy to have her hold me round the neck, so that she could easily snap it, but that I was tense: rather than relax and allow her to move my arm, I was predicting how she would move it, and moving it myself, as she wanted.

Twelve years later, I had to have my fingerprints taken for a Criminal Records check for a job. How intrusive the law can be! I had to get it done, but did not like it. The friendly policeman did it with me by the custody desk. “Just relax”, he said. Yet he understood that I just could not, having this man hold my fingers and roll them over the glass screen of the scanner. I was trying to co-operate, but I hated it so much.

File:Christhealingthesick.jpgWith friends, I can relax into a massage or bodily movement. I did this last year, and was happy to note that I could allow my friend to move my arm as he wished, without trying to anticipate him. It felt more trusting. I was also pleased to hear John state that many people have similar trust issues: he can feel them anticipating how he moves their arms. They co-operate, but do not relax. I thought it had showed me as unusually tense, it is good to hear that reaction is common enough. It is particularly difficult to relax and trust when he holds someone’s head. On “float like a butterfly” in kumite, he thinks it possible to think onesself heavy, or light.

Now Graham, who practises “Alphabiotics“, has got his treatment couch out, and a number of people are experiencing a demonstration. I would like to have a go. The couch is lower at the feet than at the head.

He tells me that my right leg is shorter than my left. Well, that is predictable, my watch is on my right wrist so probably I am left handed, and probably my left side larger. My left foot and breast are larger, and this weekend I have been looking at breasts, not out of lust but noting how they fill the bikini top, what the fit is. My fit seems fairly average. One leg being longer will prevent my pelvis from being entirely horizontal, which will in turn affect the balance of my spine. His treatment will correct that. I am always interested in the claims and practices of healers. He needs to do his thing twice, occasionally three times.

He takes my neck in his arms, and pulls my head out and to the right. And I can just about trust him to do it, and not anticipate his moves. He does it three times for me.

S’s knees had both gone. I offered my healing touch, and she accepted, though she put more trust in the painkillers. I felt my hands grow warm.

I am Feminine

Of course, I have been this feminine before. I have expressed it, mostly when first coming out. When I first showed Sheena how I looked, female, she said “I would stare at anyone as feminine as you”. I went out with Carol for eighteen months. She had considered (and rejected) transitioning the other way, but came to a transvestite dance as “Charles” once, and complained to me about how difficult it was to get a hairdresser to give her a man’s haircut. They would go only so far. On feeling that feminine, I wrote this while I was going out with Carol in 1999, and see that when I copied out all my verse into another book, I omitted it. I have not shared it before:

You don't like me in trousers
you want me in a skirt
but that makes me feel vulnerable
sometimes it really hurts

I want to be all fluffy
(the word "feminine" is taboo)
I want to be all girly
playful and childlike too

Tell me that I'm pretty
and smile at me, I plead
without constant reassurance
I'm crushed. I'm weak. I bleed.

Guan Yin is sometimes portrayed as a male, “Kannon”, or as androgynous. Enlightenment has no gender, non-duality precludes it. This statue is flat-chested and narrow-hipped, however feminine the base of flowers may seem.

There is a difference between the femininity of having compassion on all created beings, wanting none of them to have to endure reincarnation any more, and the femininity of passivity, wanting to be asked out, asked to dance, kissed, heard and consoled and cared for. How may I be positive about the latter, see it as Blessing? In one tale, Guan Yin rides on a tiger, like Durga. Perhaps they are two sides of the same characteristic of “Femininity”. You cannot have one without the other. The sensitive flower, vibrating so much she feels with everything, cares for everything, needs to be cared for.

Or perhaps at least they are two facets of me- without both, I would not be me.

Fearing myself and my responses, including that passivity, is the way to hold myself back- I cannot engage, because I might respond in a bad way. What problems does my passivity actually cause?

If I have the unconscious thought, “Oh God, it is that bit of me coming out, that will screw everything up and thwart me” then I go into battle against myself. And I cannot ever possibly win a battle against myself. It is the fighting and the suppression that thwarts me, not the characteristic itself.

Jesus and Law

File:Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” said Jesus. That is, everyone.

The Book of Daniel, which has some resemblance to Revelation, at 7.13 states “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” There, the Son of Man may seem like a semi-divine Messiah. But at 8.17 the angel Gabriel explaining the vision addresses the prophet as “Son of Man”. And “Son of Man” is God’s preferred mode of address for Ezekiel, whose prophecies use the term 93 times. (Search engines are wonderful).

There is also Psalm 80:17, then the term appears 78 times in the Biblical Gospels.

In the Gospels, Jesus is clearly referring to himself, including in prophecies of his Coming in power. The use of the phrase is seen as a claim to God-head: we believe Jesus is the Christ because he said he was. Yet looking at the phrase itself, child of humanity, it means human being. I, too, am a human being. If Jesus or the Gospel-writers had meant “Me, but not you”, he could have used the phrase “Son of God”, or even “I”.

“The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath”- people are more important than rules, and people can decide whether or not to obey rules.

“The Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins.” (Mt. 9:6.) That’s us, too.

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him.” (Mt 17:22-23.)

File:SaintSophia0.jpg“The Father has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” (Jn 5:27.)

How is Jesus with rules? He kicks the crutch away, because we do not need it, and because it is not strong enough to support us. Matthew 5:17-20:

17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’

I can feel righteous, if I obey the rules- or even if I don’t, since I have a fertile mind to find the excuses. Jesus wants not legalism, but Love in Relationship:

21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.’

Kuan Yin

File:Guan yin 100.jpgHold your right hand up, pinky and ring-finger extended, ring and middle fingers curled, thumb out to the side to form an L. This is the I Love you sign.

I met U by the urn when I went to make coffee. I touched the kettle with my wrist, burning it slightly- halfwit- but did not want to interrupt the interaction.

-Give us a hug.
She will not, because I have asked in that way. It is like an order, a claim, and she does not respond well to orders. -But it is just a way of speaking, I would not order you- No buts. Even though she would like a hug, she will not share one unless I rephrase. Oh, OK.
-May I have a hug?

We hug. We have long hugs in this group generally, but U and I have particularly long hugs. I cannot remember what we were talking about, but she objected to something I said, and tapped me lightly on the back of the head.

-You hit me!
-It was a love-tap.
This time I will not let it go. You can’t just hit people! And neither will she. It was a love-tap. It was completely unobjectionable. I went off to cry in the bunkhouse- where I met S, who listened and cared and shared, and then S came and looked after us both.

I did a share in the large group. I am not here, I said, to have a relaxing weekend with friends. I am here to experience intense human interaction so I can get better at it. It takes courage for me to be here.
Up go the hands, in the I Love you sign. Lots of hands. I chortle delightedly, indicating them. -Ha! A full set!!

Guanyin Lung NuThe day before was a Goddess workshop taster, and I got Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of compassion. The picture I had was simpler, even prettier and more feminine. Speaking in the group, I felt self-conscious in speaking in a very high voice, and saying that I had met her, and she had put her white robe on me. And it felt right.

“You’ve changed,” said Anna. “All the anger has gone from you.”


Daienin Kannon photographed by JpatokalI emailed U, saying “I ask your kindness. I do not feel you were kind to me this morning.” I dare to say that this, and my preferring to stroke Talking Tom than hit him, and other reactions, are “feminine”.

Can you imagine how much hurt and baggage I have around that? I have called it weakness. Remembering the example of Thomas Hardy’s character Christian Cantle, who was weak, stupid and cowardly and called these characteristics the virtue of Christian Meekness, I am wary of naming a weakness or vice as a virtue or positive characteristic. I tried to make a man of myself for 34 years, which took me to ridiculous places- a court solicitor who hates conflict, forsooth! Still I am wary of being this feminine, which feels so achingly vulnerable. And the Radfems would leap on it, saying I have no right to say what is “feminine”, the word is Patriarchal and I am an Oppressor. Being who I am is so wrong, in so many ways!

The compliment which has delighted me most over the last forty years is, “You can be serious, but underneath it all you are a joyful, playful child”. This weekend, I have amended that:

I am a joyful, playful adult.

I am feminine. Please tell me it is alright for me to call myself “feminine”!

That burn was superficial, two days later the redness is nearly gone. And- it was in the shape of a heart, on my wrist.

Magic train

After a weekend of blessing after blessing, I took the train home.

The boy could just reach the grab rail above the door of the tube train, and was hanging off it. His mother was a little embarrassed. I hung from the bar, knees bent, and did a pull-up. That started a conversation, and he tried a pull-up himself. We spoke of exercise: who needs gyms?

Getting to St Pancras, I was pleased to see I was late for my train. There is another in half an hour, and I could go and play the piano. I had seen one on the station when I arrived on Friday, pink with “Play me, I’m yours” on the open lid, and I fancied a try. There was a woman strumming at the keys, so I stood to listen. We agreed it had a lovely mellow tone, and I sat down to Giorni Dispari, then walked unhurriedly through the hot station to my train. John tells me he does not know where the pianos come from, but they are popping up all over the place. He meant London.

On the train, I sat beside a woman and across the table from her ten year old daughter, Isobella.
-May I sit here?
-It’s not reserved. She talks all the time.
-Well, actually, I like to talk on trains.
I felt tolerated by the mother in my chattiness rather than openly and entirely welcomed, but I do not think I irritated her too much. As it was too hot, I took off my wig and she asked me how my hair-loss had happened, which raises the possibility that she had not read me as TS. Oh, nobody knows, nothing can be done. Wigs are alright. It means I can have different hairstyles, I have a blonde one in my bag. Later, Isobella tried it on, and her mother (who knows my first name) failed to take a photo with her new iPhone.

Isobella is a precocious child whose role model is Karen on Outnumbered– she makes me watch it, said the mother. She is so bright, it is difficult, sometimes. Delightful problems, I think, and she agreed ruefully.
-If I win a million pounds on the lottery-
-The only way you will get a million pounds is if you make it, her mother rebuked gently.
-I persuaded my secretary not to play the lottery so much by saying how glad I was she played, cos it meant that next time I went to the Opera the seats would be cheaper.

Isobella has just got her first iPad, and when I asked she showed me Angry Birds, and then her other free Apps, which are better than the paid for apps. One is “Talking Tom”, an animated cat which repeats what you say in a higher voice- so I made my squeakiest voice, and it still managed to go higher. You touch a button on the side, and a baseball bat appears and whacks his head. Or you tap his nose a few times, and it is like a punch, a few taps knocks him on his back, where he lies a few moments before getting up.

-Can you tickle his tummy?
I reach out and rub my finger on the screen, and Talking Tom starts to purr.

I phoned Ahmed, an independent taxi-driver, to take me home from the station as the bus does not go on Sundays. He charged me 75% of the charge if I had just found him on the station rank. He came, even though Sunday was Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan and a feast day: I am sorry that he has to work so hard. I had not thought of it when I called him.

Legitimate rape

From this side of the Atlantic, Todd Akins appears to be a gift to the pro-choice side of the abortion argument. What he said:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Then Congressman Steve King weighs in:

REPORTER: You support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would provide federal funding for abortions to a person that has been forcefully raped. But what if someone isn’t forcibly raped and for example, a 12-year-old who gets pregnant? Should she have to bring this baby to term?

KING: Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way and I’d be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter. Generally speaking it’s this: that there millions of abortions in this country every year. Millions of them are paid for at least in part by taxpayers. I think it’s immoral for us to compel conscientious objecting taxpayers to fund abortion through the federal government, or any other government for that matter. So that’s my stand. And if there are exceptions there, then bring me those exceptions let’s talk about it. In the meantime it’s wrong for us to compel pro-life people to pay taxes to fund abortion.

Mr King’s argument interests me, because I think genuinely pro-life people should not be compelled to pay taxes towards military spending, to buy tools to kill people, or, for that matter, to pay for executions. In the early 19th century, when British local militias were paid for out of local taxes (“rates”), Quakers corporately decided not to pay the military rate. Generally, politicians agree that tax is apportioned by government, not directly by citizens, and think that the right to opt out is unworkable.

Akins’ outburst appears to be a gift because he is utterly repulsive, so that even Mr Romney had to denounce him. And yet he is a member of Congress, so must have some political skill: he must have thought such opinions would endear him to his electorate, rather than disgust them. It is terrifying that people might agree with such views.

Even if by “legitimate rape” Akins meant “rape as defined in law” rather than “rape which the law allows”, the proper meaning of the words, it is disturbing: it is as if he says that people bandy about the word “rape”, and so its use needs to be restricted.

No abortion, ever, is his desire. Rape victims are not an argument against this, because they are a tiny proportion of the abortions carried out in the US. Oddly enough I find something there to agree with him. The fact that women who have been raped need abortions is not a useful argument on the pro-choice side, just as the disgust I feel at partial-birth abortion is not an argument on the anti-abortion side. Partial birth abortions were 0.17% of US terminations in 2000. The argument is in the middle. Not a woman who will die if her foetus is not aborted, not a woman who was raped, and not a woman who wants to destroy a foetus which might survive if born. The real argument is about a woman who is twelve weeks gone and feels that she will be unable to care for a child, or to give one up if it is born. Such a case represents a far higher proportion of terminations than intact dilation and extraction on the one hand, or rape victims on the other.

It is only a tiny amount of agreement. Mr Akins has an absolute principled stand, no abortions, never, not nohow. Such a simple principled stand leads to the ritual humiliation of the vaginal probe, as legislators desperately try to roll back abortions. Whereas I want to consider the cases which actually happen, and have compassion on all the human beings involved.

I think an anti-abortion stance fails to have that compassion. It judges the woman. It says she has done a bad thing- whether that is unprotected sex, or sex while not in a loving relationship- and so should suffer the consequences. I would keep the law out of the matter entirely, and provide abortion on demand. I trust mothers not to abort unless it is necessary.


Delving, down, down...

Stalactites - Treak Cliff Cavern

Down through the inverts and the perverts, the outsiders and the disgusting folk. Down through loathing and condemnation and mockery and derision and disgust. Down through my own disgust and desperation, to appear normal and to blend in. DOWN through pitiful attempts at collaboration- “I may be weird, but I am not as weird as that lot”- and justification- “It’s a medical condition!” Down, until at last we reach the Secondary Transsexual, a fruitful object for examination.

There is a certain tinge of self-pity, resentment and bitterness here, but bear with me.


No, on second thoughts, don’t. I started this intending to go on in the same vein, about how even some queers called me queer (in a bad way), radfem lesbians who say I am a man, etc, etc, an oppressor and beneficiary of male privilege-

Oops. Er, Wait. This really is depressive thinking. It is so easy to get into it. It feels so rational and calm to write about all the difficulties, the-

Spotting it is a good thing. I want to replace it.


It is a practice, then. Sit down, work it out, decide on it, accept it, think it. Even feel it, eventually, so that this gets easier.

I experience far more acceptance than rejection.
The rejection does not harm me except insofar as it is my own.
I have a right to my harmless proclivities.
Self-acceptance increases self-perception.
Generally, acceptance increases perception.

And- it is difficult. It is not something I can decide to do and just think I do. It is a habit I need to get into.


O God, I do not want to be this feminine, I really don’t, it feels like life would be so much easier if I were otherwise, and I wonder if it is personality disorder rather than innate, if I may escape it in some way- and I might be better rolling with it than resisting it. Cliché feminine, feminine in a bad way, so unfitting to my body and my ageing face- and if I sometimes glimpse beauty in it I see always this terrible weakness- how can I look after myself, when I am so alone?

Rhinocéros grotte Chauvet


The opening lines of an autobiography should set the tone, create a theme elaborated throughout the rest of the book, like Beethoven’s four note motif at the commencement of his Fifth Symphony, or Austen’s deathless Truth Universally Acknowledged.


Our water supply came from a nearby stream, and our sewer was more private, a septic tank and soakaway. Yet I was never a country girl.


Oh, I know. What about a Trans reference? My name is Clare Quintessence Flourish. But I had a different name until I was 35.

Or, Start in the present and work back. I am old, and full of years, and now I see fit at last to share my wisdom with the World. Nice, that. Get them interested with something punchy, let them know they are getting what they need.

Nature is a good thing to bring in. The Hedgehogs hibernate at the foot of my garden, for I am a friend to all living creatures. Outside my gates, the great city throbs and pulses, but inside is an oasis of calm.

Tell them key facts. Few people have faced such great difficulties in life with such grace and finesse as I.

What would be the first one or two sentences of your memoirs?