Remembering The Rollers

On Easter Monday I went walking in The Stiperstones, lonely rugged hills in the west of Shropshire, not far from the Welsh border. Birmingham, only 50 miles away to the east, could be in another universe, it is so quiet and remote here. The Horseshoe Inn, currently closed and up for sale, is in a wonderful location, its beer garden on the banks of the gurgling waters of the East Onny River. This is just a wonderful place.

And I thought about the first time I ever came here, in 1975 for a school weekend away. We stayed in the youth hostel at Bridges, walked in the hills, had fun even though we didn’t go to the pub! And as our coach meandered down narrow lanes on the way there the number one record of the time played on the radio. This was BYe Bye baby by THe Bay City Rollers. Ever since this song makes me think of Bridges and the Stiperstones. And it is a sad irony that my first visit to the area in many years came just three weeks before the sudden death of the band’s lead singer Les McKeown. I know I am not the only one who felt that a part of their childhood died last week.

A post for Musicall Ranting 17 – Memories

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Not Lost For Words

“Give me words that make my mind curl before my toes.”— Rachel Wolchin

Without words there is nothing. St.John The Evangelist understood this well. Even if you are not a Christian, or even a believer at all, the opening of his gospel is stunning in both its simplicity and its profound truth.

“In the beginning was the Word”

 Words, and the discourses we create with them, are our reality. Nothing that exists outside us can be accessed without language. Words are precious.  The Anglo-Saxon word for vocabulary was wordhoard, meaning that words are literally treasure. Modern German has the same concept – Wortschatz

It follows from this that words are both essential to our sexual self-expression and too precious to be used lightly. Words have too often been used to construct sexualities as deviant, as other, to construct sexualities as dangerous, as things to be controlled. This is especially true  of female sexuality. Words can set us free. They can also chain us tin the prison of  cisheteronormaivity that many of you reading this and so language becomes a battleground, a terrain where we fight for our right to be ourselves.    

This is true too of the world of BDSM with its protocols and rituals, where language is imbued with powerful depths of meaning.

When my slave calls me “Mistress” and I call him “Slave” we are doing much, much more than sticking labels on each other. We are defining ourselves relative to the other, giving voice to the essence of our relationship. We open doors to our souls.

With our language we set in train a dialectic that brings us to enlightenment, to self knowledge, ultimately to freedom. Can a submissive ever be more free than kneeling humbly before their dominant? Can that freedom be realised other than in language, in the dialectical discourse of Mistress and slave? Freedom is rooted in the treasure of words.

A post for Quote Quest. Click here to read more words on words.

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And the Last Fight Let Us Face

I take her flowers. I lay them on her grave. I raise my fist. I sing the Internationale. I stand in silence. Then I turn and go. It is a cold day at Lichterfelde Cemetery in the East of Berlin. I raise the collar of my coat, pull my gloves on tight and had off to get the tram back to the city centre.

There are two women whose graves I visit who I never knew. One, as some of you will know is Marlene Dietrich. She is buried far from here in the western half of the city. Today I have been paying my respects to a very different woman, the socialist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg who died in 1919, murdered by far right thugs, 43 years before I was born.

Rosa was born in the Russian partition of Poland in 19871 and ended up in Berlin after studying in Zurich. She was a committed socialist, a principled opponent of the War as most of her party the SPD obediently danced to the patriotic tune, later on a doomed revolutionary in the chaos that engulfed Germany in the months that followed the collapse of the Kaiser’s regime. She was, above all,  a woman of wide ranging interests, (she was a keen amateur botanist for example, but a woman of intellectual brilliance, fluent in five languages, incredibly widely read but always hungry for new knowledge, new ideas. It was this that attracted me to her. She is my secret crush, a crush that transcends time. I can never know her body. But I can engage with her mind. And engaging with brilliant minds can be deeply erotic.       

My sexual energy is what powers many aspects of my life. It powers my deep reading both of fiction and history and philosophy, it powers my writing, it powers my activism. It opens doors to me. Doors to engage with a range of people in ways that are erotically deeply satisfying, but which do not have to involve my body engaging with theirs. This realisation has been a life saver over the last year. And Rosa is always there for me, as a symbol of this.          

These are dark times for progressive politics generally, let alone socialist politics. The I too will not live to see the overthrow of the capitalist neoliberal order and the struggle will be, for all of us, about scraps, about small gains, I so what I do as an act of love for her, who loved, for love is what will save us all, it is what makes our brief journey through this mess worthwhile.       

A post for Kink of the Week – Sapiosexuality. Click on the badge to see how this theme has inspired other bloggers – some of them with minds more brilliant than my own and who I might, just find rather sexy.

Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

The United States is something of an outlier as a democracy that still uses the death penalty. Although a number of states have abolished or suspended capital punishment in recent years the Death Rows of a number of southern states remain crowded. In states where racism has been endemic for two centuries or more, the operation  of the death penalty, like the criminal justice system generally is tainted by it. If you are poor or black your chances of ending up on Death Row are significantly higher than if you are white and comfortably off. And if you are poor and black, and particularly if you are dependent on the Public Defender at your trial, you have practically no chance of avoiding it.   

Yet it needn’t have been this way. Fifty years ago   the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional and for several years there were no executions. This period ended in Utah in 1977 with the execution by firing squad of Gary Gilmore. In the case of Gregg v Georgia the Supreme Court had ruled that executions could resume and Gilmore was the first to die. Unlike pretty much everyone else executed since, Gilmore wanted to die and fought court battles against the ACLU which had successfully applied for several stays. On 18th January 1977 Gilmore got his wish. The floodgates of judicial killing had been opened.

While the drama of the crime and punishment of Gary Gilmore was being played out, over in Britain the hot summer of 1976 saw the rise of punk rock, an authentically do it yourself movement that produced a lot of raw and raucous music but also launched some lasting and musically sophisticated bands (once they had learned to pay their instruments!)

The Adverts were neither sophisticated not long lasting. They were formed in South London although the lead singer TV Smith and bassist Gaye Advert (who was a real punk icon) were originally from sleepy Bideford In North Devon. They recorded what I consider to be the perfect punk single, exploring taboo in a typically punk way with this clever song, imagining waking up in hospital having received a transplant of Gary Gilmore’s eyes.

Two minutes of punk perfection from the summer of 1977. Enjoy!

A post for Musically Ranting . Click here for more posts on 70s music.

Into Great Silence

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.” – Alphonse de Lamartine“

The wonders of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas are not always apparent to the teenage learner. For one thing most of them are beyond the learners technical abilities, particularly is they were me! Like many before me I concentrated on the two “easier” Opus 49 sonatas. They were drummed into me so well that I can still give a passable performance of the first movement of Opus 49 Number 1 that I actually performed in my Associated Board Grade Five exam. Then there were those frustrating sonatas that lured me in with opening movements that looked to be within my abilities only to dash my hopes with later movements that I could not even begin to tackle. But I had a go anyway and these (mostly early) pieces were the extent of my knowledge.

I was in my mid 30s when I attended a recital in my local church, the programme for which included the Opus 110 in A Flat. The performer had written programme notes in which he commented that Beethoven’s later sonata open doors.  

And they do. I think particularly of the final movement of the Opus 110  where Beethoven sets up a wonderful Arioso Dolente in opposition to a fugue with which it alternates before coming to a glorious resolution. And then I discovered the most wonderful sonata of them all, Opus 111 in C minor, 2 movements of deceptive simplicity, and the second one goes through a range of moods, a range of themes, even a section of syncopation that is quite startling when you first hear it (was this really written in 1822?)  before ascending to a finale of ethereal semiquavers that I can never listen to without feeling a tingle in my spine. And then it fades away to a quiet, totally undramatic ending. We have moved beyond language, we have moved beyond music. Alfred Brendel described this movement as “the prelude to silence” and that is an apt description.

There is actually one other piece that I always think of as a prelude to silence and that is Neptune in Holst’s Planets Suite, particularly the ending as silence is introduced by an eerie choir of wordless female voices. Neptune is the final planet in the solar system (Pluto, discovered in 1930, several years after Holst has composed the suite, has in recent years been downgraded from planet status) and beyond it lies an unfathomable vastness, beyond language, beyond music too.

There are simply things for which words are not sufficient. Music can take us further in expression, in feeling, but even music must eventually yield to the great silence in which our existence is grounded. And often it is in silence that I feel most closely connected to those I love, to the things I cherish. It is in silence that I open my heart, in silence that I love.      

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Jenny Was Sweet, or Three Cars and Three Songs

Three cars, three songs. And they go like this  

I have owned ten cars. My favourite 3 are the sporty ones. Firstly a Mark Two Ford Cortina 1600E which I bought in 1985. It was gold with a black interior, Rostyle wheels and a sporty steering wheel. It had good midrange acceleration, was fun to drive and it looked the part. I loved that car. The first day I had it I drove and drove. I was out in Shropshire burning up the A458 between Much Wenlock and Shrewsbury when She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult came on the radio. This remains a favourite driving song and takes me back to that day.

Sadly in 1987 the MoT man shook his head and said “Sorry love but……”. My beloved Cortina had a terminal case of tin worm. So I sold it to a local enthusiast for £100, was nice t the bank manager and took out a loan to buy an MG Metro Turbo.  And the song for this car is Suffragette City by David Bowie. This was on a cassette tape (remember when cars had radio/cassette players?) and I first heard it in the car one rainy night as I was driving through the Black Country, eyeing up the turbo boost gauge, trying to get the hang of the turbo lag, that thing where you put your foot down and nothing seems to happen for several seconds and then you think you are going to take off. I cold never tire of driving to Suffragette City.   

After years of driving boring cars I have a fun car again, a red Abarth 595. This is turbo charged too. In many ways it feels crude, and the ride is unbelievably harsh, but It is genuinely fast (especially in Sport mode) and just total fun. And that exhaust note……..and my song for this car is Drivers Seat by Sniff and The Tears. No idea why, it just is and it is a great driving song.

“Jenny was sweet
She always smiled for the people she’d meet
On trouble and strife
She had another way of looking at life”

I sing, I floor the accelerator, release my inner hooligan and life is better. Maybe Jenny is my alter ego?

I didn’t have sex in any of these cars but my favourite heroine Claire (in my as yet unpublished novella) had plenty of sex in her Mark Two Ford Zodiac . Or even on the Zodiac. Here is an extract

“Claire pulled him close and kissed him. Then she made him bend over and spanked him hard with the grey leather driving gloves then held him over the vast bonnet of the Zodiac  to let the vibrations of the engine make him harder still. She thrust her gloved hand underneath him and played with him until he starting uttering gasps of pleasure. Then she slipped off her coat to revel the stained and greasy polka dot dress in which she had first been fucked by him. 

‘Remember this?’

Martin nodded and smiled. Claire climbed onto the bonnet and laid herself on it, legs apart. She could feel the warmth and throb in her back. Now, she thought, for some warmth and throb up front. Martin was now sufficiently experienced to know what was required. He climbed on top of her and entered Claire. No foreplay was necessary, they were both gagging for it.   Martin moved in and out with surprisingly delicacy and when he came, without waiting for Claire, she hid her annoyance and kissed him tenderly.

‘Thank you. That was nice.’

Martin was still learning. He would improve under her guidance. With her he would feel a warmth and a security he would never want to leave. All she asked was sex and plenty of it. In Martin she had a blank canvas to mould to her desires. “

And music for this? It would have to be Elvis wouldn’t it?   

A post for Musically Ranting. Check ot the other posts here.

A Splash of Michael Kors

Michael Kors Original is my go to fragrance although there are others that I like and wear occasionally. But Michael Kors is special to me because it is the smell of sex, the aroma of forbidden sex.  Nearly 20 years ago, long before I became Eve, long before I even thought I might one day transition, I began an affair with a married work colleague. I will call her Natasha. Michael Kors was her favourite and, for me, it will forever be the smell of her, of the sex we had in cheap and grubby hotel rooms, occasionally in nice hotel rooms, in cars, once, memorable in a train toilet as impatient fellow passengers banged on the door and her loud scream as she climaxed gave the game away.

The affair fizzled out as they often do. The thrill and intensity of taboo sex can’t last for ever, and maintaining a of facade of deception for other people becomes emotionally draining. But after it ended I always felt arousal when I passed a woman who was wearing it. So t was natural that when I began to change my gender role, I would wear it myself. I feel empowered, I feel sexy, I feel confident, confident enough to seduce a man, knowing that I had a window into his soul. It is still the scent of sex. It is part of the sexual person that I am, something that binds the different versions on me in a way that goes beyond gender.

And what of Natsha? She is now a platonic friend, my closest friend actually and our emotional bond is tighter than it ever was back in the days when we ripped each other’s clothes off in hotel rooms under the guise of “working late”. She has been totally supportive of me. And that time when we walked down Oxford Street in our favourite dresses, both wearing our favourite fragrance and she spontaneously took my hand and we walked hand in hand, not giving a toss what anyone thought, remains special. Natasha has done so much for me, she is aware of some of it but I think that she and her fragrance have actually done more for me than she will ever know.  

A post for Quote Quest in conjunction with Kink of the Week. Click on the badges to read what others have to say about scents.

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On Reading and Sex

“In life there are two things which are dependable. The pleasures of the flesh and the pleasures of literature.” – Sei Shōnagon

2020 was a year of no kink and not much sex. Perhaps it would be better to say a year of not much sex with partners. For I had plenty of solo sex, more than I thought I would.  And that solo pleasure fitted I nicely with the other solo pleasure to which I devoted much of my free time last year. Reading.

I have always been a voracious reader of fiction. I love being transported to other times, other places, using my mind to explore physicality, my physicality, my sexuality. This is true of all literature, not just genre fiction, although I love that too. And on the subject, my new reading is Venus in Furs, one of those books I always think I should have read but never quite got round to. It being a book club selection has given me the discipline (no pun intended!) to pick it up.  

Words exist in the mind, they shape our thoughts even as we use them to express those thoughts. But words have physicality, we utter them, feel them in our mouths, we hear them, soft harsh, beautiful, ugly. They sit on the page, we can feel the paper, smell the ink. Book are sensual on more than one level. I do not have a Kindle. All my books are paper. This is a vital part of the experience of reading.   

My favourite books of 2020 were these:

Quiet Flows The Don by Mikhail Sholokov – a story of war and revolution in Russia seen from the perspective of a Cossack village.  

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – a surreal and sensual story of the Devil coming to Moscow.  

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk – an exploration of the metaphysics of travel, conceptualising travel as movements in time as well as space, set against the background of an exploration of the frozen moment of plastination.  

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh – the story of a woman in an unnamed authoritarian and dystopian society who wants to have a baby when the state has decreed that she may not. The book is a wider consideration of societal control of women’s bodies and the role of the medical profession in that control.     

And, yes, writing too. It is said that reading literary fiction is a means of self understanding. So is writing and my reading and writing feed off each other. In 2020 in particular much of my fiction had a strongly autobiographical element as I processed a range of life experiences and made my peace with people, places, events, that had left raw edges exposed. Reading and writing as therapy too then.

Reading has been so important to me in 2020. It has kept me alive. It had affirmed me as a sexual person even as circumstances have denied me sex. In 2021 I will continue to read voraciously. But I long for the dungeon, the bedroom.      

A post for Quote Quest. Click on the badge to read what others have to say about literature and sex.  

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2020 – Review of the Year

On Monday 16th March 2020 I went, as I usually do before caching a train home from London to the Great Nepalese on Eversholt Street for a curry, As usual I was first in when the restaurant opened. As usual I ordered a large glass of Malbec and then my favourite vegetable jheera. And there usual ended. It was after seven o’clock before anyone else came in. This restaurant is popular with commuters and usually very busy early evening. I would have been reflecting, as I had done exactly a year earlier, on a successful and enjoyable Eroticon (indeed I was scheduled to make my speaking debut at this one) but it had been cancelled as alarming news of a nee respiratory virus swept the country. London, to which I had travelled the day before for a work event on the Monday and also to see if any blogging friends were still about in Camden on the Sunday, had been eerily quiet. National lockdown was still a week away but it was already clear that our lives were about to change in a big way.

What I had would never have imagined was that they would still be mired in the pandemic nearly a year later. But here we are. We now have vaccines approved, and sufficient doses ordered for the whole population but the logistical challenge is huge and it will surely be many months into 2021 before life even begins to get back to normal.

2020 is a year I will be glad to see the back of and yet it had upsides. I have been working from home for nearly 10 months now and cannot imagine going back to the 2 hour daily commute. I can see what retirement will look like. I have slept better with a daily routine better suited to my body clock, I have eaten well, I have done plenty of running, plenty of walking and am fitter than ever. On the other hand there has been little sex and no kink.

There has, however, been plenty of writing, much of it with strong autobiographical elements, which has massively helped me to understand who I am. In addition, I have had a hugely enjoyable collaboration with Posy Churchgate, I have taken part in May More’s Fiction Relay and had my first story published by Frolic Me. This has been my best year for views and visits since 2013 when I was very active on my blog, and doubled my 2019 figure. Apart from the Delphine’s Schooldays posts, my most read post was this which was a very personal post.

Apart from blogging I had a couple of wonderful video chats with Eye whose calm intelligence and sense of proportion helped me to navigate the sometimes choppy seas of my year. She is my longest standing Eroticon friend and, although we very rarely meet face to face, it is a joy to have her in my life. Another highlight was finally meeting the wonderful Anna Sansom, if only, for now, via Zoom. But afternoon tea in a vintage frock will definitely happen in 2021.

And then there was Smutathon which, obviously, took place remotely this year. Maybe we will get to Scotland in 2021? Again, my writing for this was was quite autobiographical.

So, all in all, 2020 was a rubbish year that could have been a lot worse. My writing kept me sane, quite literally. I hope 2021 will also bring inspiration but I hope more that it will bring real life meetings with some lovely people I have really missed. You know who you are.

A post for Wicked Wednesday. Click here to see more reviews of the year.

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So This is Christmas

And what have you done? Well, not much actually. 2020 has been a write off in so many respects. No kink and not much sex either which may be a good thing because I have been a very well behaved girl for Santa.Instead I have written a lot and I am sure that on the 25th I will be writing again because writing has replaced life. Which has not been entirely a bad thing. It has enabled me to spend more time reflecting on who I am, how I came to be this person, and make peace with most of my past. I am in many ways a happier person than I was a year ago. Above all, I have a much clearer idea of who my true friends are. There are a couple of people who were on the periphery of my life who I know will become close friends when we can actually see each other in real life more often. This is actually nothing to do with sex and one of the frustrations (no pun intended)of 2020 has been the online conversations that may, in a pre-Covid age, have led to the bedroom, but which have fizzled out because there was no prospect of actually meeting up beyond the Zoom screen. But, with new profiles on sites, and a better marketing strategy, I know that 2021 brings a measure of promise. I know my sexual self so much better now, and have the confidence to seek out what I want, and to say no to what I don’t.    

So, this Christmas, I am in a better place than many people so I guess we are really not all in it together. I will be spending it mostly on my own but that is not a problem. I have a rich inner life and I have friends I will reconnect with in 2021 as soon as we are allowed out to play again. But I will think of those who are unable to be with friends and family when they want to be, the LGBT people forced into the miserable straitjacket of hiding their true selves from their families,and all those screaming to get out after the turkey stuffed house arrest as Uncle Derek starts to bang on about what a good thing Brexit is and how he has nothing against black people but……   I guess quite a few of us have relatives like that and biting your tongue all day can be a strain. And if you get the question

“This blog of yours what’s it all about?”

Well let’s not go there, at least not before the fourth glass of port. So actually, a solo Christmas can be the least bad option. I will do some traditional things, I will have a bird (a guinea fowl actually) and a pudding, I will have wine, and, yes, I will have port. You know, I am actually quite looking forward to it.

To all of you reading this, I wish  you as happy a Christmas as you can have and a 2021 filled with all the consensual sex and kink you want. And if that is none, that is cool too. Above all, let’s be kind to each other.

A post for Quote Quest . Click on the badge below for other thoughts on Christmas    

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