Today On Ujima: Students, Clothing, Theatre & Feminism

Today’s show began with two wonderful guests from the University of the West of England. Noor and Josie are part of a small group who are pioneering an organisation called Equity within the university that will help Black & Minority Ethnic students get the best out of their education, and find good jobs afterwards.

As we all know, the academic system, and the jobs market in the UK, discriminates against anyone who doesn’t fit the default stereotype of white and male. However, much can be done by finding role models, or as I prefer possibility models, that give people the confidence that they can beat the system and suceed in life. I’m delighted to find that UWE is the first university in the country to actively try to help BAME students in this way. If you happen to be a Person of Colour who works in or near Bristol, please take a look here to see forthcoming events where you can help inspire these students.

Now if only we could do something similar for trans students…

My second guest was Jo-Jo from the gender-neutral clothing company, Max Tariq. It is, apparently, Bristol’s first and currently only such label. Jo-Jo and I chatted about the philosophy of gender neutral clothing. We discussed how such clothes could be for anyone who foudn them attractive, and how “gender neutral” doesn’t mean dull and vaguely masculine. We also talked about making clothing climate-neutral.

The Listen Again system is still playing up occasionally. You can listen to Noor & Josie here. Jo-Jo’s interview got dropped, but I have the archive recording and will be putting him up on the podcast soon.

Next up was Yasmin from the Mandala Theatre Company. She’s putting on a play called Castaways at The Station (the old fire station building in which Ujima’s studios are located) tomorrow night. It is a pay what you can afford event, so money is no excuse. If you want a ticket, or just to learn mre about the play, go here.

I kept the final half hour guest-free because I wanted to have a bit of a rant about the whole Kavanaugh debacle over in the USA. I chose some powerful feminist music to go with it. Along the way I also managed to talk about the WASPI fiasco with women’s pensions, and the awful two-child limit on tax credits.

You can listen to the second half of the show in full here.

Not included, because I am slightly nervous about the lyrics, was the new Amanda Palmer song, “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now”. The video, which is absolutely NSFW, is here.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • Big Mama Thornton – Let Your Tears Fall Baby
  • Bessie Smith – Alexander’s Ragtime Band
  • CN Lester – White wedding
  • Prince – Raspberry Beret
  • Minnie Ripperton – Young, Willing and Able
  • Erykah Badu – Drama
  • Janelle Monae – Americans
  • Lady Gaga – ‘Til it Happens to You
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

The first two tracks are, of course, a nod to Black History Month. The Gaga song is particularly powerful and I’m glad I found it.

I’ll be back on air in two weeks with my friend Olivette Otele to do Black History Month properly.

Deadpool 2 Fashion Report

Unsurprisingly, Deadpool 2 is a steaming heap of dingo poo with far less self-awareness than the average Internet troll, at which market is it clearly aimed. It does have some good stuff. The DC joke was actually funny. Domino is awesome and clearly needs her own movie, though of course she is unlikely to get one. Also we have our first glimpse of Teenage Mutant Lesbians, neither of whom get killed off. Indeed, while the cis, white women in the film have life expectancies in nanoseconds, the other women escape unscathed. I’m assuming that the scriptwriters didn’t notice this. Otherwise the film is pretty much forgettable.

While I have little to say about the plot, I was intrigued by one small fashion choice. See above. Ellie (Negasonic Teenage Warhead, on the right) is wearing a green and black, metallic-look fluffy sweater. I recognised it instantly. Something very like that was in fashion back in the late 80s, and early 90s.

This being a Deadpool movie, it is pointless trying to fit it into X-Men chronology. We last saw our favorite mutants in the 1980s, but there are sufficient pop culture references in the film to date this one to at least the present day. Also Deadpool knows that Wolverine is dead, which doesn’t happen until around 2024. Besides, why would the film crew spend any time thinking about setting-appropriate fashion choices when they could be writing another dick joke?

I’m therefore forced to conclude that the sweater is there because Brianna Hildebrand owns it and thought it would suit Ellie’s style. But how? She wasn’t born when it was originally in fashion? Does she collect vintage clothing? Or has someone brought it back? If they have, please point me at it so that I can buy one.

Best Dressed at the Hugos

It is very difficult doing this when you are not actually at the ceremony, so huge thanks to Susan de Guardiola for taking pictures for me. All of the photos below are hers except where mentioned.

Even so I am missing things. In particular I wish I had a picture of the amazing makeup that Julia Rios was rocking. There were doubtless many spectacular outfits in the audience that I have missed.

Having said all that, this was a spectacular year. Having a master costumer as con chair doubtless helped a bit. Here’s Kevin Roche rocking an outfit previously worn by James Tiberius Kirk.

Johan Anglemark had a much more traditional male outfit, but if you look closely you’ll see that he’s wearing a Moomin tie to represent Swedish language fiction. (Photo by Fia Karlsson)

Zoe Quinn is always very elegant. Most photos don’t show shoes well, and I know there were some spectacular pairs around. At least we have Zoe’s. She has some great tatoos as well. (So does Sarah Gailey, but I don’t have a good photo.)

Sarah Felix proved the point that if you have some really great jewelry then you need something very plain to set it off.

One of the best ways to get noticed at an event is to wear a solid block of a bright color. The Queen is an expert at that technique. Seanan McGuire was the most noticeable in bright orange, but this photo of her with Kate Secor (green) and Sarah Kuhn (pink) gives us a lovely rainbow (albeit not in the right order).

Mosty these photos tend to be of women, but Dominic Rowney proves that men don’t have to be boring.

Ada Palmer always has wonderful historical outfits, but my eye here was drawn to Lauren Schiller. I love the dress, and I love the Ascot-style hat, but I’m not sure that they go together.

There being a lot of trans people around, we got a fair amount of messing with gender expectations. Non-binary people like JY Yang can wear whatever they like.

And here’s KM Szpara coming at it from the other direction. (Love that skirt!)

By far the most noticeable outfit of the night was that worn by Tehani Farr who I believe was at the convention as part of the Mexicanx Initiative. You couldn’t miss those horns.

The thing that got everyone talking was Nora Jemisin’s caponcho, which was entirely appropriate for the star of the show. (Photo by Tor-dot-Com)

But my personal favorite of the night was worn by SB Divya.

In addition to being a Nebula-finalist writer (in Novella last year) and a Hugo-finalist editor this year wth EscapePod, she also has degrees in Computational Neuroscience and Signal Processing. And she has great dress sense. I’m very impressed.

Update: Post corrected as SB Divya’s novella was a Nebula finalist, not a Hugo finalist.

Best Dressed at the Hugos Award

For many years now I have been doing fashion coverage of the Hugos. I confess that I am no way up to the standard of Genevieve Valentine and her brilliant reviews of major movie business awards, but these are our people and hopefully that counts for something.

I was disappointed by the absence of the Campbell Tiara this year, but Amal El-Mohtar made up for it with this lovely creation.

Guys can dress up too, and Max Gladstone certainly pushed the boat out here. He told me that the little shop he bought it from was closing the very week he went to buy this lovely outfit.

Sarah Gailey certainly caught the eye in a stunning gold creation. Here she is totally outshining me and the other finalists & acceptors for the Related Work category.

However, the winner for the night was Likhain. She wore a traditional Philippina dress, specifically because she wanted people back home to see their country represented. She had her mother send it over especially for the ceremony. Here she is (right) with Aliette de Bodard (left).

As usual there is no trophy or prize money, just the warm and fuzzy feeling of having outshone everyone else at a glittering ceremony.

All of the photos are by Paula Heinonen.

Jukka Rintala Exhibition at Didrichsen

Didrichsen is an art museum in a wealthy suburb of West Helsinki. It was originally the home of Marie-Louise and Gunnar Didrichsen who collected art and cultural artifacts. As they got older they decided to turn their home into a museum so that everyone could enjoy the things they collected.

The particular passion was sculpture, and the museum has several Henry Moore pieces as he was a personal friend of the Didrichsens. There is also work by Eila Hiltunen who is most famous for the Sibelius monument in Helsinki. Much of the sculpture is in the garden. Inside there are some paintings, including one Picasso. There is also a small collection of ancient items from Latin America and the Far East.

However, the main item in the museum right now is an exhibition devoted to the work of artist and fashion designer, Jukka Rintala. He’s made a lot of dresses for models and actresses, and has also done quite a bit of theater work. Here are some photos. Enjoy!

First Mother

Here’s a little bit of archaeology for you. The figurine pictured above was found at the Turkish site of Çatalhöyük. It dates back at least to 5700 BC. The site had been occupied from around 9000 BC, but the figurine was found in the upper layer.

The resemblance to images of Cybele seated on her lion throne is remarkable, but caution is advisable here. That image was only used for the goddess after Greek culture swept across Turkey. The original Phrygian goddess, while often shown with wild animals, including lions, was not depicted on a lion throne, or riding on a lion for that matter.

It is also worth noting that the cats in the Çatalhöyük figurine are leopards, not lions. Possibly that’s a result of access. If the neolithic people of the region didn’t see lions they would have picked leopards instead to represent feline majesty.

While Inanna/Ishtar and Cybele are more usually associated with lions, the connection of women with leopards has continued for thousands of years. The Amazons, whom the Greeks said lived around the Black Sea, were depicted on vases they were often shown wearing leopard print clothing, or perhaps actual leopard fur.

Which just goes to show that there is nothing new in fashion, and gives me an excuse to wear leopard print with pride.

Yesterday on Ujima – Art, Books, Steampunk

It was a busy Women’s Outlook show on Ujima yesterday. It started with a full studio as three artists came to tell me all about this year’s North Bristol Arts Trail. SF&F readers will be most interested in the work of Lou Gray who is a set designer, costume maker and puppet maker. I’m very sad that I’ll be out of town the weekend of the Trail because I would love to see her work.

For the second segment I welcomed Rebecca Lloyd, whom some of you may remember was a World Fantasy nominee last year for her collection, Mercy and Other Stories. Her latest book is Oothngbart, which is one of those delightfully uncategorizable novels. Hopefully the interview will give you some idea of the flavor of the book. I’ll try to get a review soon, because it is a lovely story.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Next up were Kate and Tina, two fabulous ladies who are setting up the Bristol Steampunk Museum. They are looking for all sorts of fun steampunk things to exhibit and sell. They plan to have an online shop as well, so steampunk fans around the world will be able to order from them. The major interest from my point of view is that they also want to host readings of steampunk stories, and I happen to have an entire anthology full of them. I may end up buying some clothing and jewelry too.

Finally I had a pre-recorded interview with Tade Thompson about his newly released novel, Rosewater (which I warmly recommend) and other forthcoming work. We also discussed the newly-formed African Speculative Fiction Society, and there was brief mention of Piracity.

There’s a lot more of that Tade interview. Some of it has been badly mangled by the Internet, but I hope to be able to post a much longer version on Salon Futura in due course.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for yesterday’s show was as follows:

  • Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley
  • Expression – Salt ‘n’ Pepa
  • You Gotta Be – Des’ree
  • Working Day ‘n’ Night – Michael Jackson
  • Night Train – James Brown
  • The Ascent – Ren Stedman
  • Automatic – Pointer Sisters
  • Loving the Alien – David Bowie

I’d like to draw your attention in particular to the new Ren Stedman single. It is a charity record. All proceeds are donated to Hesten Lodge Activity & Wellbeing Centre to raise the money to build a sensory room for adults with severe learning disabilities. You can buy it for as little as £1 here.

Hugos Best Dressed Award, 2016

Back when I was doing Emerald City I started an award for the best dressed person at the Hugos. It is hard doing it when I’m not actually at the ceremony, but being a hopeless fashionista I try to keep up the practice as much as possible. My apologies to all of the people whose fabulous outfits have not got onto teh intrawebs. Next year I will include you all.

I do try to include the guys as well. Sadly far too many of them seem slaves to oppressive Western cultural traditions and turn up in boring suits because that’s the only thing that is socially acceptable. I think they need a liberation movement. I miss having Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow to liven things up. It’s a shame that Chuck Tingle wasn’t there. I’m sure he would have put on a good show.

Having two women host the ceremony certainly got us off to a good start. Both Pat Cadigan and Jan Siegel looked lovely. Jan dear, I now have serious cleavage envy.

Lynne Thomas always looks lovely at these things, and it is no surprise that someone in the audience yelled out “best dress” when she came on stage. Sadly she’s not a winner this year.

I didn’t see Zoe Quinn’s entire outfit, but she gets an honorable mention for these adorable unicorn shoes.

Photo by Lyda Morehouse

There’s an honorable mention also for Michi Trota, who not only gave the best speech of the evening but also had a fabulous necklace.


Runner up, Hao Jingfang, bravely bucked the ballgown trend and looked positively angelic. Sorry about the poor picture quality, it was the best I could find.


However, the winner was called by Pat from the stage, and who am I, a mere mortal, to contradict her word? Besides, she’s right (as usual). Therefore, for not only looking utterly gorgeous, but also fitting in perfectly with the artistic theme of the convention, the Emerald City Best Dressed at the Hugos Award goes to Alyssa Wong.

Photo by John Scalzi

Today on Ujima – Fashion and Feminism

First up on today’s Women’s Outlook show was fashion designer, Kieran Mceleny. He’s just 19, but he staged his first fashion show aged just 16, and established his own label a year later. That’s pretty darn impressive, if you ask me.

If that wasn’t enough, Kieran also models some of his own clothes, even if they are intended for women. He’s trained as a dancer, and has the effortless grace and control of poise that you’d expect from someone with those skills. He identifies as a gay male transvestite, and we had a little chat about labels within the vast and complicated trans umbrella.

Unfortunately there was a mixup with the arrangements for our second guest, Christina Zaba. My deepest apologies to her for that. Thankfully we have been able to reschedule her for two weeks time. Also thanks to Kieran who agreed to stay on and chat for another half hour.

By the way, Kieran has a crowdfunding campaign going to allow him to hire a venue for a Christmas fashion show. As he lives fairly locally to me, I’m hoping it will happen.

Also, for all you drag queens out there, one of the things Kieran does is make totally over the top dresses for ladies like you. He does understand your requirements.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

For the second half of the show I was joined by Sian Webb of Bristol Women’s Voice. We talked initially about the fact that Bristol does poorly compared to the rest of the UK on the issue of the gender pay gap. Sadly one of the likely explanations for this is the city’s concentration on engineering and IT, both of which professions are somewhat hostile to women. Of course it is a very complicated issue. We also talked a but about Italy, which does much better than the UK, but probably only because it has far fewer women in employment.

In the final half hour Sian was joined by Bristol’s Assistant Mayor, Daniella Radice, and we talked about the campaign to get more women elected to Bristol City Council, which you may recall me tweeting about last Wednesday when I attended the official launch. I have an article about that due up on Bristol 24/7 any day now. I’ll point you at it when it goes live.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Love Will Save the Day – Whitney Houston
  • Love Will Save the Day – Koko Jones
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone? – Savage Rose
  • God on Our Side – Bob Dylan
  • Respect – Aretha Franklin
  • Independent Woman Part I – Destiny’s Child
  • Doubt – Mary J Blige
  • Sisters are Doing It for Themselves – The Eurythmics

Koko Jones is an African-American trans woman and a top class percussionist. Prior to her transition she worked with many great acts, including Whitney and also the Isley Brothers. She has a solo album out titled Who’s That Lady, and I warmly recommend it. Here she is playing the title track.

Evil Is As Evil Looks

Dark Queen
Sometimes the Covet cosplay events are really easy, because I just channel myself. Case in point, we were asked to style a look for the Dark Queen of the Underworld. Here I am, contemplating sacrificing puppies.

By the way, that look is, of course, Hel. I did notice that someone else in the game did a passable attempt at Ereshkigal, but there was no skull jewelry available so it didn’t quite work.

Cersi is a Winner


Every so often Covet Fashion has what are essentially cosplay competitions, in that you have to style a look from fiction. This week, to coincide with the start of the new series of Game of Thrones, they asked us to design an outfit for a ruthless queen of a fantasy kingdom. They weren’t allowed to use the name, of course, but from the background image it was pretty clear which fantasy kingdom they had in mind.

Naturally I had to do Cersi. The dress isn’t really very queenly, but as I’m new to the game I haven’t accumulated many ballgowns and can’t really afford to buy one. However, I had won a green one in a previous contest so I went with it. I’m really pleased with the choice of makeup. I think it makes our girl look suitably villainous yet still very pretty. And she got more than 4 stars, which means she won a prize for me.

The Monet Dress

Monet dress

Years ago, when I had money (because I was still trying to pretend to be a man), I used to buy magazines like Cosmo and Marie Claire and study the fashion pages. I even, for a while, wrote a fashion column for the Beaumont Society magazine. It was probably quite bad. Post transition, I found that I was much better at writing about books than about clothes, and in any case fashion is a young woman’s game. However, playing Covet Fashion has re-kindled my interest. It turns out that while you can take the fashionista out of the journalist for a while, you can’t take the journalist out of the fashionista. Hence this article.

Two of the best scores I have had in the game thus far have involved the same dress. You can see the outfits above. The one on the left is for a tea party, and the one on the right for going shopping in Barcelona. They are very similar, but also have some important differences.

The hair difference is an artifact of the game. When I did the tea party outfit I had only just started playing. Since then I have leveled up and now have access to a wider range of hairstyles. The one on the right, while not exactly like my own hair, is pretty much what I’m aiming for, and can more or less achieve if I devote enough time and styling product to it.

The other differences are deliberate. The pink shoes in the tea party outfit keep it feeling light and summery. In the shopping outfit the black shoes and the belt add a sharper edge for impressing the staff in designer clothes shops. And there’s the big tote bag to carry all of my purchases.

The dress in question is this one by Kaii. At $130 it is fairly reasonable for designer wear. IMHO it looks much better on my dark-haired model than on the blonde on the Kaii website. But what if I wanted this look for myself? Well my hair isn’t that dark either. More importantly I’d have to lose about 5 inches off my waist to fit into the largest size that Kaii has available. I could probably do with losing most of that, but that’s a separate story.

On the other hand, that style of dress is very much in this spring. For example, there’s this one from Next. It has roughly the same silhouette (sleeves obviously excepted), and the same impressionist aesthetic. It is also only £25, and is available in sizes well beyond what I need.

So yeah, that’s how I’m amusing myself these days. I can assure you, it is much more fun than getting into online fights, which is what lots of other people I know seem to be doing.

Hello, Spacegirl

SpacegirlSo, I have worked out how to export images from Covert Fashion. (It wasn’t hard, there’s a Share function which includes options like PDF and DropBox). This is one I’m rather fond of.

One of the nice things about the game is that many of the contests have fun themes. Sure you might be asked for an outfit for a garden party, or a dinner for two at a 5-star restaurant, but you might also be asked to come up with an outfit that would not look out of place in a cosplay contest.

This one was actually a design for a “Space Oracle”, whatever that means, and it doesn’t score that well because it wasn’t mystical enough. However, having seen that top I knew I had to use it. I bet that girl’s ship could out-run the Millennium Falcon any day.

A New Time Sink – Playing Dress-Up

If I have no time to do anything for anyone from now on, you can totally blame Rachel Swirsky for introducing me to Covet Fashion. It is an online game, and basically the idea is that you get to spend game money on virtual designer clothes that you could never afford in real life, and put together fabulous outfits.

Well it is a bit more complicated than that, obviously. There are contests that you can enter to win more game money and status by designing outfits for specific events. You can also get game money by swapping it for real money at a non-ruinous exchange rate. And you can hook the thing up to Facebook and play with your friends.

There are caveats, obviously. It doesn’t appear to be ruinously expensive, but it is ferociously addictive if, like me, you love fashion. The virtual self that you get to dress up will look nothing like you unless you happen to be supermodel material (though she’s a damn sight more curvy than Barbie). And you will never be able to afford the very real designer clothes that you buy virtual versions of, although the game will occasionally try to persuade you to do so. Of course if you are good at this fashion lark you’ll know that the thing to do is get a sense of what the designers are offering this season and then find a cheap knock-off of the look in chain stores.

It occurs to me that if you are new to femininity (and I’m assuming a few of you are) then a game like this can be a really good way of learning about fashion. As I said earlier, the model in the game won’t look like you, so you can’t necessarily use it to decide what to wear yourself, but you will learn a lot about putting a look together, and about how to assemble a utilitarian wardrobe.

Now I need to work out how I can save pictures of the outfits I have designed so that I can share them here.

Oh, and if anyone wants to start playing, let me know. You can earn game money for introducing friends.

BristolCon Weekend

Kevin and I spent much of Friday in Bath, showing Mary Robinette Kowal around the city. This naturally involved visits to the Georgian parts of the city, as opposed to the Roman bits that Kevin and I tend to frequent. This meant visits to the Assembly Rooms and to the Jane Austen Centre. We had Cream Tea, which was OK, though it is just as well that Emma Newman was otherwise engaged or she would have turned her fine Cornish nose up at it. However, we were not there for clotted cream and jam, we were there for research purposes. Special thanks are due to Martin from the Center’s staff who clearly knows his stuff when it comes to Regency clothing.

In the evening Kevin and I went out for dinner in Bristol. It was a (very belated) birthday present for Kevin, so I took him to somewhere rather special: Meluha, Bristol’s top Indian restaurant. Chef Stephen Gomes has won Best Chef in the English Curry Awards three times, most recently last year. I have had a better Indian meal before, but it was here, which is pretty stiff competition. Kevin, having never been to India, was well impressed.

We were up very early on Saturday morning as some hotel issues caused us to have to do most of the art show set-up then rather than Friday night. That made it a very long day. Thankfully the con seems to have gone OK. I won’t relax until I have seen a few online reports, because sometimes people who are unhappy aren’t willing to complain at the time, but I think we did OK.

My panels went OK, I think. I was particularly pleased with the comics one because KT Davies and Su Haddrell were awesome. Mark Buckingham was too, of course, but it is always a pleasure to be on panel with people I don’t know who turn out to be really good.

I’ll try to write more about the con later, but this week will again be very busy so it may take a while.

In the evening Kevin and I had dinner in Turtle Bay. I know it is a bit of a tourist-trap, but it does decent Caribbean food and I’m happy to eat there.

Today On Ujima: Emma Newman, Roz Clarke, Becca Lloyd

Paulette let me have a huge chunk of today’s Women’s Outlook show. Hopefully I did OK with it. I know I had some wonderful guests.

In the first half hour I talk to Emma Newman about her Split Worlds novels. Between Two Thorns is already in the shops, while By Any Other Name is available on NetGalley for those of us lucky enough to count Angry Robots as friends. If you are thinking of buying the books, please do take a listen. Emma does a fine job of introducing us to the complexities of the novels, and the only spoiler is something that happens in chapter 2. I’ll do a review of the books once I’ve finished the second one. I’m really impressed with the depth of thought that has gone into creating the Split Worlds universe.

Along the way we also get to talk more generally about fairies, and I name drop Neil Gaiman because he reminded me this week of one of my favorite pieces of art. Thanks to the BBC’s You Paintings site, I have appended a copy of Richard Dadd’s “The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke” at the bottom of this post.

After half an hour I swap guests and talk to Becca Lloyd and Roz Clarke about traveling to interesting countries. Becca was lucky enough to attend to Jaipur Literary Festival in India, while Roz is just back from a month’s writing retreat in Nigeria. Along the way we talk about how Western travelers tend to be shielded from the countries they are supposed to be visiting, about food and fashion, and a bit about the books that Becca and Roz are working on.

All of that can be found here on the listen again feature.

The second hour opens up with the feature we we still call “A lighter look at life”, despite the fact that it always turns political on us. This week Emma and I have a good rant about how we hate the British class system.

The I get to feature Emma as our “Woman of the Week”. We talk about her publishing career to date, and all of the interesting things that she did along the way. There are shout outs for Paul Cornell, Adam Christopher and Lee Harris.

Our studio guest for the last half hour couldn’t make it, so Paulette took charge and walked us through a discussion of various topical issues. I may have been less than enchanted with a certain recently deceased statesperson.

That lot is all available to listen to here.

All downloads and linkage is gratefully received. I still can’t quite believe that I get total to all these lovely writers on live radio, but we need need the listening figures to back it up or eventually they’ll stop asking me.

The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke

How To Fail at PR and Lose Customers

As many of you will know, one of my favorite things in life is shopping for clothes. I do it lots, and probably have far more clothes than I actually need. I have been very fortunate in life in that I have never been challenged in a shop. I just go in, select stuff, try it on, and if I like it I buy it. Apparently I have been doing this all wrong. What should have happened to me is what happened to this poor girl.

Now it so happens that I’m quite fond of New Look. I have bought a lot of clothes from them in the past. However, I’m also not very good at getting up in the morning, and I really don’t see why I should have to, just because I am “trans-gendered”. Nor do I see why the poor staff should have to open up early so as to prevent me from frightening their regular customers, as presumably I have been doing for years without realizing it.

What I think is going on here is a great deal of flailing around by corporate PR people who haven’t got a clue what they are dealing with. And who can blame them, given how the UK media portrays trans people?

If you happen to read this, New Look, and you will be doing so if you are paying attention on Twitter, what you guys need is some training. I know it would be difficult and expensive to train all shop staff, but people at your head office need help. I know people who can provide it. Get in touch.

Oh, and can I keep shopping in your stores without making a special appointment? Pretty please?

Radio Daze

Well, yesterday was definitely busy. But it was also great fun. Also I got to be on two different local radio programs, which is excessive even for me.

The first event of the day was an appearance on the Outlook show with Paulette on Ujima Radio. This is a radio station based in St. Pauls’, and area with Bristol with a lot of immigrant families. Ujima, unsurprisingly, plays a lot of Afro-Caribbean music. Outlook, however, is a community interest chat show, and I had been invited on as part of their Sound Reads project which, very splendidly, encourages listeners to read. You can listen to the part of the show I was on here. There’s some material about the Bristol Pound before the book panel comes on, and that might be interesting too. I got to plug a lot of good stuff, including Christmas stories, Colinthology and Doctor Who writers.

Part FoodAfter the show, there was a party for the station staff and guests. As you can see from the photo, there was a huge amount of food (and mulled wine too). The things on the skewers were particularly delicious. And down the other end of the table there were mini cheesecakes and mince pies. The filling in the mince pies was obviously home made because it tasted way better than the shop pie stuff. And all of this was done by one person. Yvonne, you are amazing. If I ever need someone to cater a party, I’ll come calling.

I didn’t eat again all day.

Many thanks to Paulette and her colleagues at Ujima for a lovely time. Hopefully I’ll get invited back.

Also, one of my fellow guests on the program was Rebecca Lloyd. As you’ll see from the website, she’s one of us. Halfling is a kid’s fantasy, but she tells me that her real love is creepy Gothic fantasy. And I’m very interested in Pangea, the anthology of stories from around the world that Rebecca edited with Indira Chandrasekhar. Apparently they are planning a second book. I know some people who would be good in that.

After that I went to see Bristol-based artist, Penny Clark, about the portraits she has done of her friend, Martine Shackerley-Bennett. I’m hoping we’ll include one of Penny’s pictures in the LGBT History exhibition that we are putting on in February.

New leather jacketI had a bit of time to kill before my final appointment so I decided to do some shopping. Everywhere seemed to be having a sale, so I figured I should look now in case all of the good stuff is gone by Boxing Day (anyone remember when it used to be the “January sales”?). As it happens, I found myself a rather nice new leather jacket at 33% off. And the original price was very reasonable too. I was very pleased. Then, much to my surprise, I bought a new ballgown, at less than half price. No photos of that as I may want to wear it to an award ceremony one day. Also it is the first time in my life I’ve been able to fit into something sold in Jane Norman. Progress!

The final event of the evening was the live Christmas party show for Shout Out, the LGBT show on Bristol Community FM. We were broadcasting live from the Bristol Bear Bar, a pub in the gay quarter of the city. Mostly it was a silly hour of party games, but I did get to do a quick plug for the exhibition.

New leather jacketThe highlight of the evening, however, was a fellow guest, Louise Goux-Wirth. That’s a genuine London Olympic torch she’s holding, and it belongs to her because she was an actual torch-bearer. London had a system whereby people could be nominated as potential torch-bearers because of the good work they have done for their local community. That’s how Louise got the job. US readers might be interested to know that the part of the UK where Louise carried the torch was the small North Devon town of Bideford. That’s the place where most of the colonists for the Roanoke Colony came from.

Louise’s next project is to go and work with orphan children in Rwanda. There’s a fundraiser going here to get the money for her trip. There’s also a blog here that explains a bit more about how the money will be used and what Louise will be doing. She’s amazing.