I am back from Buddhafield, and will write about it shortly. As I schedule in advance, it is too darn hot, and I hope it is still as I camp. So here is the Adoration of the Magi. More artwork for our delight follows:

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Here is Allan Ramsay’s portrait of Lady Susanna Campbell, née Bernard. I am less sure of my old pedantry that the style of “Lady” with her Christian name, as opposed to her husband’s, is only correct for the daughter of an earl.

Here is Charlotte of Mecklenburg, by Allan Ramsay.

Here is the Princess of Wales in 1902, later Queen Mary, for a little Imperial splendour:

Here are two women reading together:

Here is Charity relieving distress, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1727-1788. Is that the Holy Spirit flying overhead? And what is going on with the man on the stairs?

And here is Mrs Thomas Graham.

Neither am neither man nor woman, and it hurts. It hurts Now.

On Saturday, it was too hot to dance with my wig on. Even before we started dancing, the school was too warm- so I took my wig off, and tied a scarf round my head- and it was too hot for that. People I had never met before got to see the male pattern baldness. It is one thing to be read as trans, but that- is as if I am not really trying to appear female. Which I am. I do not want to look like a man half dressed up.

Lots of women want to “look their best” and the sense that they do not is cruel to them- and it is particularly cruel to me. I have seen the fear on the faces of women who have not got their foundation on.

And lots of people feel they “do not fit in”, and I really, really don’t. I wanted more to fit in with my mother’s expectations, her conservative ideas, than my peers at school. Usually a child picks up his accent from his classmates, but I got mine from my mother. (Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, raised in England, is another example.) My sister spoke a different accent at home from at school, and when I visited her in Edinburgh and she met me at the bus station a nursing student friend said, “S, you’ve got your English accent on,” the one she used to phone her parents.

So I created a Shell, a rationalist persona to fit in, and held my rage and terror out of consciousness.

“Why is my life so hard?” sang Paul Simon. Yes, yes, I know. And- “Who will be my rôle model?” Always difficult, but the obvious ones for me were men, and they did not fit at all. I hated many people, for they were wrong too. It still feels a bit weird picking a female role model. I was aware of other transvestites in my twenties, and they were furtive and persecuted, and rightly so for they were disgusting. Chief Constable James Anderton had them arrested, when they went out in public. Watching telly together, in our teens, I said, “Oh look, a man in a dress. What do you think of that?” And my sister said, “I can’t imagine anything more disgusting. That turns me right off.”

I am neither.

I am terrified.

Lana Wachowski is that role-model, for younger lesbian! TSs, hat tip to Mindy.

There is a negotiated path, of transition. It takes determination and courage, and two years or so after taking the plunge one is awarded with a Gender Recognition Certificate, which says “The above named person is, from the date of issue, of the gender shown”. So if I “marry” it has to be a man, I could make a “civil partnership” with a woman, and those M-Fs old enough to have a different retirement age get the woman’s. And if people object to me in the women’s loos, the law is on my side. And- being a “woman” does not entirely fit me either, though it is a great deal more comfortable than being a “man”. I am neither.

Raeburn, Ramsay

Revd Robert Walker

Here is the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn in 1795. If you consider Raeburn’s works on the National Galleries of Scotland pages, you will see that the sitters are mostly men- and one woman- of substance and achievement, rather than mere aristocrats. I am not sure of the full oeuvre of Raeburn or Gainsborough enough to say what proportion of the subjects of either artist are noble, but it seems that at the very least the Scottish galleries can tell a different story of our society and our priorities from the British, and that we do indeed tell that story. It is a story of the intellectual life of the city.

Robert Macqueen, Lord Justice-Clerk

As I understand it they do still dress like that in the Inner House of the Court of Session.

I love his facial expression. “How can you tell a lawyer’s glass eye? That’s the one with compassion in it.” That face could say so many things: is it merely worldweary cynicism, seeing men at our worst, or is there com-passion, fellow feeling? Are the corners of the lips raised because he has seen the amusing agonies of a litigant, or because he seeks to remain positive even in the gloomy recesses of Parliament House?

David Hume

Allan Ramsay has more aristos, but here is David Hume, the philosopher. At University, I thought The Enlightenment a Scottish phenomenon, rather than French, or German, and certainly not English. Alexander Monro was “Primus” as the first of his line of physicians, rather than as the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Constable, Gainsborough

The Hay Wain, by John Constable, painted in 1821, and familiar from biscuit tins and cheap prints. My mother’s more expensive print followed us round various house moves, and I thought all that black cloud to the top left was dirt on the image rather than reproduction, until I saw other versions of it. Compare and contrast

Wivenhoe Park, painted in 1816. Park now means public space, and in this context then it meant private space. See the manor house on the hill. So The Hay Wain is intriguing, because it shows a working man, rather than a nobleman or his lands.

I have chosen Wivenhoe Park for my header, at the moment, because it is beautiful, but also because it contains that sense of exclusion. This land belongs to someone else who does not want me enjoying it on the same terms. I feel excluded, generally. I choose to include myself on my own terms, but am not sure how.

To ram home the point, here is a Gainsborough:

Mr and Mrs Andrews, painted in about 1750. However lovely the fabric of her dress is, however beautiful the image, Mr Andrews owns the land, and the dog, and the lady, and the painting shows off his mastery of them.

I do not see the point, actually, of going round the National Gallery feeling oppressed by all these plutocrats and aristocrats, I am quite happy with an aesthetic interpretation looking at the abstract composition, with that patch of that blue there- but I think the political interpretation is valuable to keep at the back of my mind.