First, a Poem:
Please give way to the cyclist, cos the cyclist is me
I’m a squishy, breakable cyclist, and I don’t want to die you see
It’s fun to be a cyclist, in the sun with the wind behind-so-
Please give way to the cyclist, if you don’t mind.
Please give way to the motorist, if you don’t want your frame all bent.
I don’t want to deal with the paperwork, but I don’t mind a scratch or dent
The roads have a plague of cyclists, all getting in the way-so-
Please give way to the motorist, if that’s okay.
H meets me off the train, having taken an hour to drive to the station. The rain is lashing down, and the forecast is worse storms, but people have still got their last shopping. At home, I meet her cats, who are completely gorgeous, and welcome me in. I love to be sat on. Then they jump off, busily opening the presents and rearranging the tree decorations.
Best present for the child, 7, is a motorised ballerina. Press the button and her tutu spins round like the rotor of a helicopter. Up she goes, bounces off the ceiling with her rubber head, drops about two yards then moves upwards again. Her arms out, she rotates in a stately manner against the direction of her skirt. I would love a skirt like that: I have the legs for it! So has C, now 15, in a skirt which looks like a belt: her mother told her she could only wear it with opaque tights, but after I tell her with her black eyeliner she looks like a Goth, her legs are bare. She got an iPad Air, which means she can be completely sociable and ignore all the people around her. She is Snapchatting, a selfie with every text: another social media site I had not heard of.
If the ballerina is knocked off the vertical, she becomes unstable and falls. “Don’t fly it under the light!” says Daddy, with greater emphasis on the DON’T each time. I am unsure. When it breaks, how much upset will there be? Once you watch it going up and down, how much more excitement can you get from it? It is lovely for me, though, spending a day with the toys. She brings out her hamsters, with their black eyes, and H and I cuddle and coo over them. They have hollow plastic globes: put one in, and it can scuttle round the floor and not get stepped on, or escape. The balls are more fun than motorised toys, but they have to be put away before Granny comes, who does not like little mammals.
I have been coming here for ten years, after my father did not want me there after his marriage. I met H at a dinner my trans email support group held, to mark the death of one of us who had killed herself after she transitioned and could no longer see her children.