Review of the Year, Part Two

So, lets get to the last 4 months of the year now, when a few things might have happened!

To do it in strictly in chronological order, the first new experience in September, was being wheeled through an airport in a wheelchair! In truth, I possibly could have survived the security experience at Manchester Airport (especially as I would have got Fast Track routing as a premium economy customer), but there was absolutely no way I was ever going to stand in the Immigration queue at Boston, I went with the ‘full in’ option. So fine, at Manchester it didnt quite work as planned (twice, but more on that later), as I got wheeled through security, and to the gate, but no one ever appeared to take me to the gate! So in the end, I managed to get myself down, and aboard the plane, but ironically that meant I was last on, not first! Boston end, it worked perfectly, and I can safely say I have never got through Immigration so quickly in my life, even if you allow for the time I waited on the plane before I got off!

The first few days on Cape Cod was a delight (Saturday night in Boston, went down there on Sunday) with Kate, just relaxing, and giving my back a wonderful break. Then, on the Thursday, we both headed back to Boston, Kate to head off somewhere with her partner, and me to head to Mahopac, NY, via Stamford (c/o Amtrak) to go to a friend’s wedding. Initially I’d assumed I would be going as a guest, then told I was a bridesmaid, only to find out I was Maid of Honor! Thankfully for all the others there, I didnt catch the wedding bouquet lol! It was an amazing experience, thanks go to Stacie, and Eric for the honor of doing that for me. Also thankfully, I was relaxed enough over those last few days that I managed to lay off the painkillers for just long enough to be able to drink at the wedding reception. Fine, I made up for it that night, but anyway…

Flying back afterwards was entertaining. Firstly, for some reason best known to themselves, the airline staff at JFK started boarding people, before boarding me in a wheelchair. It seemed they realized pretty quickly, and sent me through, but it was an interesting journey through all these people who had no interest in giving way to a passenger in a wheelchair!

On arrival at Manchester, chaos ensued. As had shown at JFK, I was the only person who had booked a wheelchair. Therefore, on arrival at Manchester, one wheelchair arrived, for me. Thing is, 5 people suddenly decided they needed a wheelchair, and one woman (who had the physical strength to push me out of the way!) decided she was taking it! Anyway, in the end, after a bit of a delay, a few more wheelchairs arrived, though only 1 extra pusher, and we eventually got through, but after quite a delay, obviously. Not helped by the fact that one person clearly didnt have the right paperwork (not sure if she was from my plane, or a holdback from a previous flight?). In the end, I sort of got up, collected my case, and struggled through on foot (someone pushed my case, thank goodness) to where I was being met! I only hope Manchester Airport does better next May, we will see!

After that, its fair to say that the year settled into LGBT mode at work. A presentation to just over 100 people on working as an LGBT person in my Civil Service Department, and gaining a position on a committee dealing with LGBT issues within said Department are 2 of the delights that followed. Oh, and on top of that performance, was of course, the performance as an Elf very recently!

Lastly, on Christmas Day, on Facebook of all places, someone posted a picture in one of the groups, of a young lady, in Christmas mode, of an event that happened nearly 90 years ago (1929). Yes, an unknown lady, at a pre-Christmas event in Los Angeles, way back when. Except…she looked familiar to me. Comparison to a few pictures taken about 5 years later, and agreement from a couple of other people on the matter, that lady is no longer unknown, to a few of us at least. Yes, 99.9% certain its a certain Clara Johnson! Talk about dream Christmas present, especially as in total, there were 3 pictures! Oh fine, here’s one of them, of her, at 24!

And thats about it! Two more working days in 2017, Friday all day, and a half day on Saturday! Not expecting anything major to happen, but we will see?

The video, big clue in the title. A live version of the song, from 2012, which means no Kirsty MacColl, but the woman gives a decent, if clearly rather starstruck performance

 
Tomorrow, a look forward to 2018, and what might, or will happen

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A view to a chill

Yes, I know, its been a while, so, what would you like me to tell you about? Being wired up so I rode in a Davros type wheelchair, rather than being pushed in a standard one? That nice mad scientist I met who transformed me into my past life self, Clara Johnson, at the age of 25, with all her dancing skills (and seemingly she had plenty), so I’ve been dancing the nights away at delightful flapper style parties, darlings? Or the journey on that flying saucer that whisked me across the Atlantic, in about an hour, maybe? Flight diverted to Hollywood, so I could sign up for a big acting role? Or would you prefer the dull, actual, truthful version of events lol?

Oh, by the way, if anyone wants to set me up for any of those first 4 events mentioned, I’d love it! I know, I know, in my dreams, nothing more…but… 😉

OK, lets catch up on reality, before I get the full makeover, as mentioned above! Ooh, that would be fun, mind!

Saturday saw my first ride in a wheelchair for 50 years. I suspect it wont be the last holiday I need one at an airport, but we will see… It started off smoothly enough, as I got wheeled through security, and me, and my luggage checked over, without me actually ever leaving the chair. Then, after a slight delay on the flight (plane had to stop inbound, due to a medical issue, so was nearly an hour late leaving), I was wheeled down to the gate, and told someone would be back to take me down to the plane to board. Yes, fine, never happened, so eventually the Rep asked if the 2 of us were able to get to the plane under our own steam, so I went for it. Unfortunately, having taken the brace off, thinking I wouldnt need it again (its neoprene, and warm to wear for very long periods), I struggled the way with my hand luggage, and pulled it off. But yes, instead of having plenty of time to stow my bag, I was pretty much the last one on, but as I had a double seat to myself, I was able to get my bag stowed away anyway.

Arrival at Boston was good, and efficiently done. The two of us might have been the last ones off, but we were probably 2 of the Brits through first, all the same. Given I have a black, expanding suitcase, just like dozens of others, I need to get some pink, or rainbow tagging around the handle, so I can recognize it easier, even more so when you arent close to the conveyor belt, being in a wheelchair, and all that!

The rest of the day, just fine. After arrival at hotel (Kate had already booked us both in), we ended up calling out for food, chatting a lot, just having a good time.

Sunday afternoon, we came down to this glorious place we’ve rented on Cape Cod. Well, Kate did all the hard work booking it, I just paid a share of the costs really. Yes, its gorgeous! I’m sat in the living area, with a stunning view of the sea, typing this now. We ended up having pizza, watching NFL, just having fun.

Monday, being 2 ladies of reasonable leisure for the week, and given that neither of us are in the perkiest of health, we had a quiet day. Finished off for me at least, by getting my annual chance to swoon over Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football!

This morning, I had a couple of cups of coffee, sat outside, complete with a couple of muffins for breakfast, and just enjoyed the sun. Havent seen a lot of it in the UK this summer, so a real delight. Since then, just relaxed, and given my body the break it really needs. We’re here, somewhere near Mashpee, on Cape Cod, until Thursday morning, and I’m loving every minute of it. Might get another ride in a wheelchair at the 2 stations on Thursday, will have to wait and see. Or the next one, may be at JFK on Monday evening!

Yes, Thursday, I need to start getting into bridesmaid mode, but more on that later in the week. Thats when I could really do with that 25 year old, Clara Johnson makeover lol, especially if I’m expected to dance at the reception afterwards, as I currently have 2 left feet, in that sense. Where’s a good mad scientist when you need one, lol?

Right, video time. Yes, the blog title is a slightly tweaked version of that

An English Woman in LA – A brief look back at 2015

Alright, that title is a slight cheat, as I only spent just over 10% of the year in LA (38 days out of 365), but hey, its the second longest period I spent anywhere, so…

Fine, the year started off badly, when in mid January, I was told that I was being made redundant (again, 3rd time) by the company I’d worked for, for 6 years, so this time I decided to take the hint, and take the money and run. No, thats not the video, or the one you might be expecting from the blog title. See, been told lol! I actually left there at the end of March, and if you’d told me that 9 months later I would still be out of work, well…ah well, too late now!

The main thing that allowed me to do, was extend my stay in Hollywood, in April. To be honest, I wondered how I would take to life in ‘Tinsel Town’, but took to it like a duck to water. Fine, 10 days wasnt enough (would have been 7), and I pledged to return. Fine, I wasnt expecting it to be 6 months later, but more on that shortly.

I came back, and started job hunting, with no success. It might be age, but more likely, its the current recruitment infatuation with competency based questions that didnt help. Thankfully, I had the money to help me cope with this. Anyway, by August, I’d reached breaking point with this matter, and was about to snap. So despite having a week in Cape Cod with a US friend booked for mid September, I took a dramatic step! I booked a 4 week stay, in a rented apartment in Hollywood, up in the Hills, best thing I’ve ever done. Oh, and that is so much more fun than a hotel room, even if the place isnt (strictly) your own. Oh, and btw, 38 days in LA still isnt enough, but anyway…enough on that, plans are already in hand, should the chance arise!

The one thing that wonderful trip stopped me doing sooner, was changing my name, as I’d had planned for a couple of months by then. But straight after I got back, the deed was done, and my name is now officially Harlean, even though to some, I will always be Steph, or Stephanie, I guess. Main reason I kept Stephanie as my middle name, rather than Jean lol!

Now, finally (due to needing the passport as ID for job applications) the old passport has gone back, and the last trace of Stevie Nicholls will be no more. Yes, I’m really looking forward to going to the US, as Harlean, when money, and time permit.

So fine, what have I been for a lot of this year? A California girl, just maybe? Yes, its the Katy Perry song, but its not Katy! Its a rather excellent parody by Sarah Gregory, and Mark Douglas, whoever they may be? It is rather good, mind.

Breaking up is so very hard to do

Yes, I know, its been a while, but in all honesty, there hasnt been a lot of wild excitement to report. But in the sense of what I needed in a break, thats been the perfect situation. Another good reason why nothing has appeared in a week, might be the fact that I would have had to write it, with the laptop perched on my lap, and thats not the best way to do anything like that. Wonderful hotel resort, but the socket positioning was a little interesting lol!

Fine, lets go back a week, and get started…

Last Friday, the trip to the overnight hotel went fine (not sure what went wrong with TPE?), beyond the taxi driver overshooting at the roundabout near the hotel, and going the wrong way round (very briefly, as there was no traffic around), rather than circling around, as most sane people would! Meal was fine, room was fine, so…Oh, amusing moment, I paid just over £56 for the room for the night, good value at the price. So I checked for the night before I fly to Hollywood, just in case, got quoted £141! Wtf! I know its a Wednesday, not a Friday, but even so…Ah well, if Nicole cant get me there, I’ll book a taxi from home on the Wednesday morning! Seriously, I dont mind paying a little extra, for a bit more sleep, but seriously…?

Saturday started fine, and stayed that way until I reached JFK. Yes, I’d read a few bad reports about Immigration process there, but even so…it was shocking! 95 minutes, seriously…? Getting back through security wasnt quick either, and it was about 2 hours in all before I was back in the terminal, waiting for my flight to Boston. Thankfully, I had nearly a 3 hour break, so…phew! Trip on to Boston was fine, met up with Kate as planned, and eventually my case turned up. Actually one of the first, but it took forever for them to start coming through. Then on to Cape Cod, and our hotel for the night. Internet was err, patchy, but otherwise, not too bad.

Then on the Sunday, on to the delight that is the Pelham House Resort, at Dennisport. Seriously, a room with a view over the pool, out on to the ocean, a real delight, as were the rooms. Apart from the esoteric placing of sockets in the room, and (for me at least) the lack of a coffee machine, the place was heavenly. As was the result of the Buffalo Bills game lol.

The rest of the week developed into a wonderful period of gentle travel, and lots of relaxation, just what I needed in fact. Oh, and excellent company in Kate, too. Plenty of food, a delightful massage, and generally just a totally relaxed state of mind, heavenly stuff. Yes, a couple of weeks time, when I’m selling myself in Hollywood wont be quite as relaxing, but this trip has got me in the right frame of mind to really go for it then.

Today, we’ve come back to Boston, as both of us are flying out tomorrow. Her to the Mid West, me back to the UK, though her flight is at a much more crazy time than mine, rather her than me! In fact very soon after I finish this, it will be our last meal together, the final farewells etc, though I’m sure we will talk regularly when I’m in LA. Yes, I know, 11 days after I fly back to the UK, I cross the Atlantic again, to the other side of the country. Maybe if both had been planned at the same time, I might have done things better, but anyway…its all part of the fun!

So thats it, no wild happenings, just a really wonderful, relaxing week, with a great friend. Absolute heaven. Now behave, or I’ll get back to writing blogs whining about job hunting lol, for 10 days or so!

OK, the video. A suitable song, with a neat connection to the Republican Presidential Debate, I, err, experienced on Wednesday, see if you can work it out

Crossing to Cape Cod, New England

Yes, lets get in the holiday mood tonight. Fair thing to do, as looking at matters, this is likely to be the last blog from the UK for a little while. Tomorrow is getting my body ready for the trip day, which at my age, is going to take a while. Friday, I will need to pack, get to the overnight hotel, and not be too late to bed, given I will have to be up reasonably early the next morning, for my 10.15 flight. So yes, next blog should be from Cape Cod.

I have been there once before with Kate, I think it was 3 nights, spent at 2 different hotels, in the same group. Why, because the first hotel had internet in reception, but not in the rooms, not much use for either of us. So they moved us along the coast the next day, to a hotel that fitted our needs, and that was that. A trip to Martha’s Vineyard, a trip out whale watching, and some nice places, and thats about all I can remember. Ironically, this time will also be 2 hotels on the Cape, one for the first night only, as we couldnt get in the planned hotel all week. Then back to a hotel near Boston Airport for Friday night, after a relaxing week.

Yes, a relaxing week. Its fair to say that both Kate and I need a break, though for differing reasons. Her, because work has been crazy, and me, because job hunting has got stressful in the extreme! I must say I’m looking forward to the company, and the break.

And then, after that, get ready for part 2, more of which after I get back.

Fine, the video. This is originally a song from the 50’s, but I’ve found a live version from 2004. And yes, I’m pretty sure she’s singing live. So what, she was 77, and still sounding good, thats what!

Holiday, part 1

Yes, probably the posting you havent been waiting for, especially if you’ve been following events in the Garden, somewhere else, or played a part in it, yes James and Kate, I do mean you lol! But for those few other people, who want to know about the holiday, wonder no more. It is fairly brief on the whole, I will take mercy on you in that sense at least.

I will however split it into 2 postings, due to length

Saturday 15th

As mentioned before, there is one huge advantage (apart from them generally being a good airline, though more later) of flying to the US with Aer Lingus, doing pre clearance at Shannon Airport. Seriously, no queue at immigration, through in less than a minute, and he was a lovely guy too. Flight was smooth, arrived early, and case appeared in a reasonable period of time. Somehow I got past Kate in the lounge, suspect it was because I was foicussed on finding Carousel 3, but anyway, she spotted me the moment I’d retrieved it. Shuttle back to her car, and we head off on to the road. Soon work out we arent heading for Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine, when we head south. Otherwise,initially at least, not a clue. Soon on the road to Cape Cod, so worked that much out at least. End up at a hotel with its own private beach, a wonderful setting, but sadly for both of us, no internet in the bedrooms. Given both of us had people and things we had to keep in touch with, the theory of staying there 3 nights went out the window. Thankfully the wonderful Kate found us a sister hotel in Hyannis to stay at the next 2 nights, and believe me, that setting was very nice too.

Sunday 16th

7.30am, I stroll down to the beach in my sandals, admire the view, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. About 8.45, call Kate, (we had separate rooms, because I’m a morning person, she’s a late person, so, let us both go to bed, and get up when we wanted to) tell her I’ll be down on the beach when she’s ready. I was, relaxed on a beach chair, reading my book, wearing my sunglasses, shocking stuff lol. Head off to Hyannis, park car at our new hotel, and via breakfast, head off to Martha’s Vineyard by the high speed ferry. Super lunch, but yes, guilty, when we got back to where the ferry goes from, I ended up with a sparkly t-shirt, only shock to some being that it was blue, not pink lol! 😛 Back to Hyannis by traditional ferry, then book in for the night.

Monday 17th

I’d been told this day trip was something special, and she was right. Did start in a hilarious manner as I had a short sleeved top on, and Kate suggested I might want to reconsider, while not wanting to tell me why. I might be domme(ish) lol, but I’m not daft, I changed! Whale watching, and as it turned out, a bit of dolphin watching too, on the way back. Seriously, absolutely magnificent sight, so glad we did it. Seeing those creatures, so close, absolutely awesome.

Tuesday 18th

We started out relatively early, as this was the day we headed for Albany, and to meet up again with James. Another good reason for leaving early, the weather forecast suggested the 2nd half of the day would be wet, and they were right! We did manage to get into the Berkshires before the weather fell apart, but it was (very) wet all the way from there. So much so, we didnt bother to leave the hotel after arriving, just eating downstairs.

First half music, lets have something obvious. You can tell how old this is, by how young she looks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X7RyGBq2E8

 

Seeking out fond memories

And yes, not only is the title of this piece a corny wordplay on the group in the videos, this blog only really came about through what I term a You Tube hunt.

Alright, the least fond memory, 3 months ago, about this time, I was getting crazy ideas that the Bills might well be play offs bound, given the way their season had started. Sadly the wheels did finally come off the rails halfway through the season, and this Sunday was the day they were eliminated of having any chance of doing so. I know, they beat the Patriots (sorry Kate), but suspect the rematch isnt going to be so pretty on current form lol.

So yes, having pounded through some reading, I thought I’d hit You Tube for a while, and amongst things. I found 2 songs from a group of my youth. Yes, the videos are black and white, though one of them is from 2002! Both are covers of songs from the 60’s by the way.

The first is a Bee Gees song, though not the era most remember them from. I dont actually remember the lights going down any night while I was there, but I suspect they did, it was just that I was asleep by then.  I had a lovely time in Massachusetts, got to meet 2 lovely people there (well more than 2, but 2 principally come to mind) and this song let me look back on that. This is a 2002 video apparently, you can tell by the age of the group, because the black and white film wouldnt give it away otherwise lol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=CUfUNNN68eQ

Ironically the older song has some colour images mixed into the film! Island of dreams might rank as a fanciful title for ‘The Cape’, but it certainly seemed a lovely place on my first visit. Planning to have a few more ‘dreams’ there next September too, really looking forward to that. There is Seatlle inbetween, which I’m looking forward to going back to, just hoping the long plane journey isnt too much for my aging limbs, thats all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrny8mK6gCg&feature=related

The really frightening thing is, I  do 95% know what area I’m going to in April 2013, somewhere in Northern NY state, just the final destination to be decided even now. You could say its a B.A.R choice! 😉 Think it will be the B, but dont quote me on that!