Friday, 23 June 2017

A day away

I saw the front cover of the Guardian newspaper today which showed a group of lads at a school in the south west who'd decided to beat the heatwave by turning up to school in regulation skirts because they weren't allowed to wear shorts. The skirts actually looked quite woolly and probably, as a result, not the coolest items of clothing in the world, but they were making a protest, so the point was made. The story heartened me greatly. Obviously it would have been a far more glorious statement had the lads been supporting a trans girl or fighting for gender equality rather than simply putting a finger up to teachers, but certainly, in my day, no school boy would have been seen dead in a skirt, whatever beef he had with his teachers. We are entering an era, I hope, where men can express themselves visually however they choose. Young lads who want to wear skirts, either for comfort reasons or because they're not that bothered by gender stereotyping, should be free to do so, just as women should be able to wear trousers as and when it suits them.

I saw a young trans-woman on the tube yesterday who looked so fabulous I felt the need to congratulate her. She had a mountain of glorious, blonde, naturally-curly hair piled high on the top of her head, and was wearing a floor length black dress, cut daringly enough to accentuate the fact that she hadn't yet gone down the surgery or hormone route. Perhaps she never will. Part of me hopes she'll always feel happy with a gender fluid identity. The more androgynous that some people opt to look, the less pressure others will feel to be at the polarised ends of the gender spectrum. I personally want to live in a world where ten percent of people are hyper-masculine, ten percent are hyper-feminine and everyone else is happily somewhere in the middle. And one day, I suspect, the same will be true of sexuality.

I spent the entire day today out of the house. I had a meeting first with Wendy at Central School to talk about Em, before heading to Shepherds Bush where I met Michael. We had a gloriously long walk along the south side of the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge all the way to Chiswick and then back along the north side. We stopped for a drink in Barnes and had a little picnic on some steps leading down to the river. The Thames was incredibly high today and as we ate our picnic, a boat came past which created waves which came right over the bank, almost carrying our food back to Central London!

Some of the houses along that stretch of the river are to die for. I spent ages staring at them in awe, wishing I lived there. "You better get writing" said Michael, helpfully!

I took the North London line to Hampstead Heath from Shepherd's Bush. The train takes you right past the Grenfell Tower, which has become so iconic in the last week or so. We all know the shape that the fire made as it cut through the building. Seeing it in the flesh through a train window was a little like seeing it on a television screen: I was somehow still one step removed. But it's certainly a deeply chilling sight, one which I suspect West Londoners will need to get used to because I can't see them knocking it down any time soon.

I met Philippa in a Turkish restaurant in South End Green. We worked out that it was the first time we'd been out,just the two of us, since before her second daughter Silver was born. I suggested we get pissed and then did magic mushrooms on Hampstead Heath but in the end we had a lovely two course meal, Philippa drank rosé, I had a sparkling mineral water and then we went for a lovely walk, at a nice slow pace because Philippa was wearing wedge heels.

We met a young woman, lost and wandering aimlessly by the tree with a hole in it. It was getting dark and I'm not sure it was a very good place to be lost. She was trying to find friends. They'd dropped a pin to show their location and sent it to her phone, but when she tried to put it in Google maps everything went wrong. In the end I asked to speak to her friend to ascertain what he could see in order to establish where he was, "grass, trees..." he said. Useless. "What can you see on the horizon?" I asked. "More grass and trees..." In the end, I managed to work out where he was from the dropped pin and, because I know the place so well, was able to take her to him. Turns out he hadn't noticed he was sitting next to Boudicca's Mount - an ancient tumulus surrounded by a fence. He'd also not noticed a pond at the bottom of the hill, or Highgate church looming large on the horizon. Frankly, he didn't deserve to be found!

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