• Stephanie Ashton

Handbags And Gladrags

Rod Stewart, An Old Raincoat…, 1969

On Sunday morning this weekend past, I departed the scene of the crime and headed off to collect my car in the nearby NCP carpark. Towing my suitcase behind me wearily, I frequently had to stop to put my North Face rucksack back on my left shoulder to stop it falling off. The crime in question from which I was fleeing was the death of the Ibis hotel towels, having used them the night before to dry myself after washing off my make-up. Whilst a warm shower had been welcoming after wondering around Glasgow’s freezing streets past midnight, my happy yet drunken shower at 02:00 had clearly not been that successful. When I rediscovered the foundation covered rags lying on the bathroom floor at 07:30, I winced with embarrassment and decided it was best just to leave.

As I dragged my weary body to the carpark, it occurred to me that early morning starts and dragging luggage around behind me has become an all too common occurrence. Indeed, it had been the same scenario only the week before when myself and Anna De Winter set off from a hotel in Brighton to walk the marathon to the train station. I recall passing comment to Anna that all these great trips always end up towing luggage behind us in a half drunken state and/or getting up at the crack of dawn. Anna being the loveliest person in the world passed some polite response or other, but was most likely thinking “well stop getting us into these situations!”

Now this might seem like quite a strange place to start a blog but the truth behind all these great adventures is a ton of planning, trekking around, and invariably pushing ‘girl’ time to the limit. When boy-me receives the body back, it is invariable worn out with too little sleep and with the expectation that he should now endure some logistical nightmare to get home. Generally involving towing a 23kg suitcase as a minimum.

So why do it? Simple. Because Steffie loves to be set free to party. And the past two weekends have been no exception. Yes, some hardship must be endured but those moments are quickly forgotten when I step out into the street presenting myself as the woman I feel I am. So what if the boy is knackered…phwww…he is a waste of space anyway. Let the girl free and let the boy pick up the pieces…along with some pretty nasty credit card bills.

So, let us now jump to the fun of the part of the last two weeks which started in Westfield Shopping Centre in London a week past Thursday. In preparation for the BWBG Winter ball I flew into London and made my way to Westfield where I had ordered clothes for collection. For some reason the part of my brain that tells me winter has arrived completely failed this year and so I had gone to Westfield wearing a mini dress, nude tights and heels. All fine in spring and Autumn but I froze going to and from the centre even wearing a big coat. Anyway, I love Westfield and in full Steffie flow, I proceeded to try on dozens of dresses and every pair of shoes I could lay my hands on. After a few hours of shopping and some lunch I promptly returned to my hotel which was in Bayswater; not only was the hotel super handy for shopping at Westfield being a few stops away on Central tube, it was near where I would be singing at night. Singing?!

I think my love for showing off my legs got the better of me at the point I was shaking with the cold..

Indeed, one of my big passions that I share with a group of friends in London, is going to Karaoke and singing so badly it scares off cats and dog. All the agony of dragging suitcases around long forgotten my night then proceeds much in the same way so many nights have this year. I arrive to meet Tiffany and Rebecca, and then their lovely friends arrive and the atmosphere is brilliant. In short order, I am now on Insta with these new friends and talking about whether we should do Korean Karaoke next time.

Fun times at the Taiwanese Karaoke

On leaving the Karaoke, we proceed to a nearby pub and en-route I have a really deep and wonderful conversation with a wonderful Pakistani born girl who challenged me on a whole range of ideas, particularly around the fluid nature of gender. Amidst a really thought-provoking discussion with this smashing lady It occurred to me what a great advert we were for diversity. A Pakistani born Muslim with a White Transgender girl. Not a likely combination to be seen every day and yet we got on like a house on fire. For myself it was a reminder that nice people get on regardless and we must not give in to hate and intolerance.

Waking up on the Friday morning of the BWBG Winter Ball, I popped off down to breakfast having been happily awarded a room upgrade and free breakfast. When I arrived at the hotel the day before the receptionist had been delighted to tell me that I had received a free breakfast with the room and upgrade to a Queen room, which made me laugh and reply “well, naturally.”

So, Fridays events running up to the ball involve more of the stuff at the beginning of this blog. Trekking around for trains, taxis and dull stuff like that. The big plus of course was that Anna had now arrived and all the dull transport stuff was largely ignored because I had a brilliant friend whom I needed to catch up with. We chatted at the station, on the train and it was wonderful to be in her company again. Other than staying in a quite wacky hotel in Brighton there is little to write about other than the big night out at the Ball itself which was wonderful. It was an opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, and have a boogie, invariably drink in hand. After some persuasion we managed to get the bar staff to prepare my trade mark Porn-star Martinis and the night proceeded with much fun. It was an ambitious project and a great credit to BWBG that it worked out so well. Looking forward to the next one!

Anna, Janine and Moi

In an unfamiliar turn of events there was no dire rush on Saturday morning to depart and yet when we did leave for the station it was a trudge in the drizzle and hassle with having bought the wrong train tickets. A few tube rides later it was already time to say goodbye to Anna and we both were upset that this meeting had been desperately short. However, we both had places to be and mine would involve pain…lots of pain.

Facial hair removal is no laughing game and session number 4 on the Saturday afternoon burnt that thought into my mind; quite literally. I arrived for my 4th session at a point in my hairs growth cycle where the technician estimated I had 80% facial coverage. Settings cranked up, goggles on my eyes, the lady set to work and by God did I know about it! Other than the smell of burning hair and sharp stabbing pain, it was possibly evident to the technician I was not fully enjoying the experience when I started arching my back on the couch. Damn it was sore! And yet there can be no gain without pain and the joy of that session is that it should put me in a good place with minimal hair when I next go to BWBG at the end of December.

Big time OUCH!

The intervening week between Brighton and Glasgow would not prove to be any fun at all however. Due to the redness and burnt hair, I was quite literally unable to get the hairs to cut and so was left looking like I had more hair than ever, with a very dark looking beard area. So, I focused on work, sorting out the insurance claim after the house break-in and lathered my face in after sun, all in some vague hope I would be able to shave in time for going out in Glasgow.

This is probably a really good time to stop talking about me for a moment and focus on my cat. So, since moving into an apartment I had been concerned that my cat would get depressed in such a small area during the day whilst I was at work. To compensate, there has been a disproportionate amount of roast chicken provided. In addition to the apartment being super warm, it has become a total cat sanctuary. In fact, he no longer looks at me in contempt when I chose to write my blog instead of petting him; he just curls up in a chair with a look that says “screw you.”

The brilliant development of the Self Nursing Cat

Anyway, let us now proceed to the Glasgow trip because it was a blast. I flew back to Scotland and jumped in a hire car so that I could visit family and then go down the road to Glasgow. On Saturday morning I sighed a breath of relief when I finally managed to get a decent shave and promptly became her Steffie-ness in a little under 40 minutes. With a full face of slap and dressed like a MILF, I drove down to the Glasgow fort and proceeded to go shopping for a few hours. I am always shopping aren’t I? Hehe I love it!

Driving the shopping centre

There is a logical explanation for my assault on UK retailers however. Due to the expensive nature of pretty much everything in Denmark, whenever I come home to the UK I take the opportunity to stock up at sensible prices. I always have a shopping list of make-up or cosmetics that are running out, and clothes to collect or find/try on. With the assistance of the lovely lady in Quiz I quickly found a lovely black and gold sequin number. Paying at the till, the lady commented “That is a pulling dress for sure – god luck lassie.” Welcome to Glasgow :D

Shopping at the Fort

It had been my plan to have a rest when I got to Glasgow but as per usual, I got changed and immediately went out to meet Louise, Jen and Alison. After a quick coffee we parted company again and went back to put on my night time slap and get changed. Results were decidedly pleasing even if me mam would have had different views. So now looking like a high-class escort, I go back out into the busy streets of Glasgow on a Saturday evening. Fortunately, it is so busy that people seem to largely ignore me but most men do not miss my legs…well done boys…they are on display for a reason.

Why are dressers drawn to shiny sequins like moths to a flame? I am not different in that regard...

So, the evening started calmly with everyone arriving, introductions made to lots of gorgeous new peeps, and then we do a little adventure to a few places in Glasgow, ending up at the Corinthian which  is super nice. Super nice for drinks, for meeting people and most importantly of all for girlslikeus – a wonderful place for pictures. So, after much picture snapping, we secure seats and a lovely time proceeds.

The gang out in Glasgow

Now a key rule in Steffie’s book of socialising is that you do not meet people sitting on your bum. So, I promptly proceed to have a wonder around the Corinthian, exploring all the rooms and come across a fantastic group of cis girls taking pictures of themselves. As can happen with well made up dressers, they are immediately excited and want me in their glittery pictures. An absolute hoot ensues, then I chat to some of them for a while, and then they come over and join the group I was originally out with. A brilliant time ensues and I seem to recall a discussion with one girl about getting damp patches under your boobs but let’s not dwell on that.

Brilliant group of ladies who needed a sparkly companion for photos. Aces

I then take myself off to the ladies to discover half our group is in there and with only two working toilets. A cis girl standing next to me comments “oh someone has blocked the toilet with their period and toilet paper” to which I respond “well darling that is one problem I will never have.” Much hilarity follows and another quite rough cis girl tells me "to remember to spray my fanny after peeing, after all you might get lucky.” Oh yes; we are back in Scotland.

Steffie and her new pals. A Lovely shot taken by Alison

So, the night out was a blast and great fun. Really enjoyed talking to all the new girls I met in the group and brilliant to be in such nice surroundings. The night ended with us wondering back to my hotel from where the other girls would get taxis. Once sat down in the 24-hour bar (welcome to Scotland) we become almost entrenched again and maybe another hour of conversation goes on before sensible people insist on calling taxis.

Fur coat and not much of anything else to be honest. Not ideal at -6 degrees

And so now we are back at the start of my blog. After a drunken shower, wrecking the hotels towels, I had 4 hours sleep before boy-me was dragging his sorry bum to the NCP car park on Glasshouse Road on the Sunday morning. Was it worth it? Oh yes! Throughout the rest of Sunday, I smiled to myself every time I thought of my legs being on display on Saturday night and going around looking like an Eastern European escort. Did I mention that I also gate crashed a wedding in the Corinthian? No…lets leave that bit to another time :D

No man even in my "pulling dress." I want a refund

Final Remarks

Some girlslikeus are afraid to step out due to lack of confidence. Some become too focused or lost in the complexities of what this dressing business is all about. Auntie Steff’s advice: Forget all that nonsense and live every beat! If you enjoy dressing then smile, laugh and enjoy every moment en-femme because the problems with families, work and towing heavy suitcases around will not go away any time soon. Life is short so get out and own it. And who knows what will happen...you might make friends with random parties of gorgeous Glaswegian girls and sparkle like a princess basking in the welcome embrace of the sisterhood.