Emma Price a.k.a Blondie had always been a looker ever since primary school. Only the teachers and her parents ever called her ‘Emma’. With her naturally blonde hair and brilliant green eyes she was the best looking 5 year old for miles around.
Some parents would have put her into what the Americans call ‘Beauty Pagents’ but Blondie was a real tomboy at heart. She was part of our little gang from the very day that her family moved into Kirdford Close. There was Simon, Trev, Alan and me, Joe. She was just one of us.
You look good in blue
It matches your skin, your eyes dripping with pain
Someone like you
Getting off on the lies 'cause it dulls your surprise again
If it's alright with you
I could give you some head and shoulders to lie on
You look good in blue
I know what you mean when you say you've seen the end
Someone like you
Been at it again, you knew what was up in the end
If it's alright with you
I could give you some head and shoulders to lie on
Even when we became teenagers and we started to take an interest in the opposite sex, Blondie was with us all the way. We helped each other with dates and all that. We looked out for her and she for us. She was family.
When we were sixteen, the gang split up. My Dad lost his job when the airline went bust so we had to move to Wales. Blondie’s Dad was in the same boat and they moved to god knows where. I never forgot that last day we had together before I moved away.
We all decided to make a day of it in London. See some sights, see a film and just hang around together one last time. It was just us. No girlfriends or boyfriends allowed.
Blondie’s current heartthrob, Manuel didn’t like it one little bit but she told him in no uncertain terms that she was going and if he didn’t like it then he could go… well, you know the rest.
Blondie did us proud. For once, she didn’t dress like us but like the beautiful young woman she’d become. We all spruced ourselves up as best we could. I say ‘best’ because Alan was one of those people who no matter what you did to him, he would look like a sack of potatoes.
Blondie dressed all in blue. It went with her long hair that for once was not tied back and her ever brilliant green eyes. She turned many a head that day.
The day went perfectly. Even on the train home, we were all in good spirits despite it being the last time we’d all be together.
As we stood a little awkwardly on the bit of grass outside our homes that evening, Blondie as usual, had a surprise for us.
“Now boys, as this is our last evening together I want to make it something that none of us will forget in a hurry. It is time for you boys to give me a goodnight kiss. Not just a peck on the lips but a full-blown snog. Even you Trev.”
Trev was gay but deep in the closet at home. With us he could be himself.
“Ok,” he said trying to smile.
One by one we gave Blondie a long kiss. For some reason, she reserved me to last.
She gave me a hug first and then kissed me. As we broke apart, she whispered in my ear,
"You are very special to me Joe, we will meet again."
I was in heaven. She was a fantastic kisser and I felt that she was treating me with a bit more passion that she’d shown the others.
When we broke apart, I was almost out of breath. I looked at the others and we all had huge grins on our faces even Trevor.
The next day, the removal van arrived and I went with my family to South Wales but I never forgot Blondie and that last kiss.
Life for me then had its ups and downs. If I was honest about it, there were more downs than ups. We’d only been in Wales for a year when Dad got bowel cancer. It wasn’t nice. When he died, we had to move again. This time to live with Mum’s parents in a place called Prestonpans which was just outside Edinburgh.
Here I was a fish out of water. I found it difficult to make friends and well I was just unhappy. I knew why but there was no way that I could tell Mum or even worse her parents. Grandad was something in the local Baptist Church. I had to go to services which made me even more unhappy. With the regular ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons from visiting preachers I went even more into a fug of depression.
When I was twenty and going nowhere fast, I decided that if I was going to survive then I had to leave home but how was I going to tell Mum?
In the end, I decided to take her to her favourite place for a treat. This was S.Luca’s Ice Cream shop in Mussleburgh.
“My treat,” I said to Mum when I broached the subject to her.
She looked at me with a bit of suspicion but she went along with it anyway.
Two days later we went to the Emporium and treated ourselves. She had the ‘Amerena Cherries’ while I went for the ‘Alaskan Surprise’.
As we waited for it to be made, Mum said,
“Ok, out with it. You didn’t bring me here just for this, nice as it is.”
I looked at the table for a few seconds before replying.
“Mum, I can’t do this any longer. Gramps is killing me. All this religion and stuff.”
“Yes, it does get a bit wearing at times.”
“No Mum, you aren’t listening. I said it is killing me. All those sermons about hell, fire and damnation to sinners. Well, that’s where I’m going if I don’t get out very soon.”
“What do you mean darling? Are you gay or something?”
“Mum, yes, something. I am nothing but a fraud. I’m living a lie.”
“I don’t understand?”
“Mum, you said to Gran the other day that you wished you’d had a daughter. Remember?”
“Yes. What has this… Oh no!”
“Yes mum, I should have been a girl. But it is worse than that.”
She looked crestfallen.
“Worse? How can it be worse?”
“In my mind I’ve always been a girl. That’s why I never got serious with my girlfriends.”
“Are you saying that you fancy men?”
“No. I am a girl inside but I fancy women. I could never tell anyone other than Jenny. She sort of guessed though.”
Jenny was the long term girlfriend that I’d had in Wales.
Mum sat back and looked at me long and hard. Then slowly, a smile broke onto her face.
“It all sorts of makes sense now only I was too blind to see it.”
I reached over and took her hand.
“It’s not your fault Mum. What with having to move, then Dad and then coming up here, you had the bigger picture to worry about. Keeping a roof over our heads was more important than me putting on a dress. I went along with it as best I could but I got to know some really great people who came up for the Fringe. They opened my eyes as to what is possible. To what I could become.”
“And now you want to head off and be with them?”
I shook my head.
“No Mum, that’s not it. I know what is possible but I know that I can’t just snap my fingers and wake up next day and I’ll be a girl. Even a numbskull like me knows that.”
She squeezed my hand. Then our ice creams arrived.
We didn’t say much more until we’d finished and left the shop.
“Fancy a walk at Aberlady?”
Aberlady Bay is a wonderful place to walk. It is around three miles out to Gullane Point and back. Perfect for walking the dog and having a proper talk. We didn’t have a dog but today it didn’t matter one little bit.
“Why not?” I said with a smile on my face.
Two hours later we got back to the car with a plan worked out. I was just shocked by how on my side Mum was. At one point, she said,
“All those days you were with Blondie, you were wanting to be her or just like her?”
“There can only ever be one Blondie. They broke the mould with her but if I could be even half as nice and good as her then I’d be a success.”
“You don’t know where she is now then?”
“No. I expect she’s married to some football player or pop superstar and rich as hell,” I said jokingly.
Mum just nodded her head.
“She was born lucky. Lucky to have your little gang looking out for her when you were growing up.”
I sighed as I remembered that kiss.
Telling Grandad that I’m leaving was going to be difficult. He was trying to get me into a relationship with Pastor McBride’s daughter Naomi. The problem was that she was about as interesting as watching paint dry. All she would talk about was the Church and how she was going to become a minister.
We both agreed that I had to have somewhere to go before we gave out the news about my departure. Grandad had a bit of a temper on him. When Mum had announced that she was leaving home and going to University in Liverpool, she’d been ordered from the house that instant and it was six years before she was allowed to return. Even today, he does not think that women should have a career outside the home or the ministry.
Mum surprised me a few days later by calling me while I was on the bus going to work. I worked in a Betting Office near the top of Leith Walk. It was ok but I wasn’t going anywhere with it. Mum was a Sister at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and was on shift.
“Yes, I can get away for an hour at 4pm,” I said in response to her question.
“I’ll see you there then.”
I hung up a bit mystified but we’d agreed to meet outside a bank on St Andrews Square. The location in itself was not unusual as Mum had to change busses nearby as she went home from work.
She was waiting for me when I arrived a little late as usual.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“We need to go into the bank. We have a meeting in five minutes,” came her curt reply.
Still none the wiser, we went inside the bank. A few minutes later we were ushered into a side room and waited.
A man entered the room carrying a think wad of paper.
“Nice to see you again Mrs Dawson. This must be your son Joe.”
I looked at him. He offered me his hand.
“I’m Hamish McPhail. I’m the executor of your later Father’s estate. Very pleased to meet you after all this time.”
I looked at Mum with a puzzled look on my face. What the hell was going on.
“Joe,” said Mr McPhail as he sat down.
“Your late father left provision for you in his will. It was to be made available to you on your twenty first birthday which I can see from the records is in two weeks. Your Mother thinks it is the right time for you to be aware of the provisions so that you can think about what you want to do with it before the happy day.”
“Mum? Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
“Your father and I agreed that no one was to know about it until you were of age. This especially applies to my Father. Your Dad and he didn’t get along and… well he was right when he assumed that I’d be asked about my finances when I returned home. Do you remember that huge row I had with your Grandfather shortly after we moved up here?”
“How could I forget. He didn’t speak to anyone for more than a month.”
“It was about money. He assumed that I’d been left a load of money and that I should be able to start anew. The truth was that with my agreement, the money from your father’s Life Insurance was earmarked for you.”
I sort of began to understand.
“If I may continue?” asked Mr McPhail.
“Please, carry on,” said my Mother.
“As I said a sum of money was left in trust for you. This was partly in cash and partly in shares in a number of companies. Those shares were converted into a Personal Equity Plan for you. The initial investment has done rather well and even after charges. I have taken the liberty of getting a valuation of both parts to your trust. It is all outlined here.”
He handed me a sheet of paper.
I saw the sum at the bottom and got a shock.
“Mum? You could have bought a house in Dalkeith or even Penicuik with this.”
“I know but then what? You’d have nothing. Your father was adamant and I agreed with him. After what you told me the other day, then you will need all of this and more.”
I sat stunned for what seemed forever but was probably only a few seconds.
Then I said,
“I wasn’t expecting this and I won’t waste it.”
Then I looked up and said,
“Dad, if you are looking down on me right now, you really don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you.”
Then I turned to Mr McPhail.
“Thank you Mr McPhail. When I need to get access to this, should I ask for you?”
“Yes. If you bring some form of Identification with you next time, we can get it all moved to an account where you can access it as you need it.”
When we emerged from the bank, I simply wrapped my arms around my mother.
She smiled back at me.
“I’ve arranged for you to see Dr Murphy at the Western General. He runs the gender dysphoria clinic.”
She saw me stiffen up.
“Nothing formal. You have to go through Dr McNee for that but he’d like to speak to you so that you can be aware of the options you have ahead of you.”
“Thanks Mum. I thought you were trying … well you know.”
“I know better than that.”
Then she said,
“You had better get back to work. I’ll need to get home before your Gran sends out the search parties. You know what she was like the other week when the bus I was on broke down. She was on the verge of dialling 999.”
I hugged Mum again before seeing her onto her bus home. Then I set off down Leith Walk with a definite spring in my step.
I moved out of my Grandparents home a few weeks after I had gained access to the legacy from my Father. Mum and I had become a lot closer in these weeks. She was revelling at the thought of having a daughter at last.
I’d seen the Doctor at the Infirmary and gained a lot of information about my sexuality and transition in general. He referred me to my GP but I refused. My GP in Edinburgh was a member of the Baptist Church that we all attended.
“If that is the case then you need to move so that you can be on the list of a different GP,” said the Doctor.
He was right.
I left Edinburgh and my dead-end job behind me just as the Fringe was finishing. Lots of people with luggage heading to just about everywhere on the planet. I got lucky and bagged a ride to Manchester in the back of an old Transit. I also got unlucky as its engine blew up near Lockerbie. Still, I was out of Edinburgh.
I ended up in Manchester the next day and found a cheapish motel to stay in. I knew that I needed a more permanent place to stay so that I could register with a local GP and hopefully get a referral to a gender clinic. Well, that was my plan.
Anywhere half decent in Manchester proved to be far too expensive for me so I took the advice of a letting agent and looked further afield. Further afield ended up being a charming place called Ramsbottom.
Quite how I ended up there, I don’t know but it proved quite profitable. It didn’t take long to find a place to rent. Thanks to the funds at my disposal, paying a month in advance and a hefty deposit was as easy as putting my debit card into the machine. Determined to build upon my success, and on the off chance, I went into the local branch of the same bookmakers that I’d worked for in Edinburgh. I emerged half an hour later with a job. Things seemed to be going well for once.
I kept my head down and got settled into my new location for the next month. Thankfully, Mum had taught me to cook so I didn’t starve. I even found time to register with a local GP.
Things went well for me over the next six months. I was referred to a Gender clinic in Manchester and I began working towards the start of my RLT, Real Life Test.
That’s when things started to go wrong. Firstly, the manager at my job didn’t like working with me when I became Sophia. Nothing overt but his attitude was obvious from the moment I told him about my plans. He had to stay within the rules laid down by the Company but her went out of his way to make my work experience that much more difficult.
Then my Landlord told me that I’d have to move. Apparently, he was selling up and didn’t want any sitting tenants to mess things up. As I was on a six month lease there wasn’t much he could do without putting his hand in his pocket before that time was up.
I found out later that he played Bowls with my boss at the Betting Shop.
I put in for a transfer to another branch and secured a position in Harrogate so I upped sticks and moved to Yorkshire.
Everyone accepted me as Sophia at work so things were a lot easier and after a few months, I got promoted to assistant manager.
[one year later in Berwick upon Tweed]
“Hello Mum,” I said as she got off the train from Edinburgh.
“Hello Dear,” she said slightly wearily.
I didn’t press things because I knew that she’d had a long day at work before coming south to see me.
“I’ve booked a table at the Queens Head for seven. There is a room for you as well,” I said proudly.
She stepped back and looked at me for a long moment.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Nothing. Nothing at all. I was just admiring how nice you look. That hair colour looks good on you. Far better than that Blonde mess you had the last time we met.”
“I had to try things out but yes it was a mistake. There is only one person we know that can properly handle blonde hair.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“I’ve not seen her since we left Crawley,” I replied trying my hardest to keep a straight face.
“That outfit is nice on you are well. Don’t tell me you chose it yourself?” asked my Mum changing
I hesitated before responding.
“No Mum. I had some help. That’s why I wanted to see you today.”
Mum read between the lines, put two and two together and made a million.
“Is there someone else in your life?”
I beamed a smile back at her.
“Yes. Yes there is. You will meet her later.”
The mum did something very much out of character for her, she wrapped her arms around me and kissed me on the cheek. That was the first real sign of her approval since I’d transitioned.
I was no longer ‘Joe Dawson’ but ‘Sophia Blaine’. Blaine was Mum’s maiden name. Sophia was the name of dad’s Grandmother. The tears that she’d shed when I told her said that she approved of my choice.
An hour later we were waiting to be shown to our table when a waiter approached us.
“Ms Blaine, your table is ready.”
“Thank you. Has the third person arrived yet?”
“Not yet Ms Blaine.”
We’d just sat down when I spotted ‘her’. The smile on my face told Mum that the third member of our party had arrived.
I stood up and went to meet her. I kissed her briefly before guiding her to the table.
“Hello Mrs Dawson. Nice to see you again.”
Mum was giving her impression of a drowning fish as she recognised Blondie. That hair, the eyes and the stunning blue dress made her unmissable.
I sat Blondie down and resumed my seat.
“Yes it’s me. Like a bad penny.”
“How? What? Oh….”
Then Mum leaned over and hugged Blondie. That’s all I needed as a tear welled up inside me. I was so happy.
I took hold of Blondie’s hand and grinned.
“I was on temporary assignment in York and went into a Café for lunch and there she was. I just had to go and say hello,” I said.
“And I wondered who this strange woman was saying ‘hello Blondie, long time no see, you are looking as good as ever’ then I realised who it was. Gave me a shock I can tell you but I knew then that no matter what I wasn’t going to let him or her go out of my life again,” said Blondie.
“So I kissed her just like the last time we’d been together.”
“I felt the same way. I guess I just was as surprised but then I think we both knew from years ago that we should be together.”
Mum was just sitting there grinning.
“Emma, you always did look so pretty in blue,” she said.
“I really am Blondie now. Everyone called me that so I changed it a year or so back. Most people didn’t know my real name or if they did, they never used it.”
Mum just shook her head but smiled none the less.
“What happened to you after Crawley?” asked Mum.
“One disaster after another. Dad got a job at East Midlands Airport and for a while things went great. Then I started dating. Every boyfriend I had seemed to think that I was a dumb blonde and just wanted one thing. I took up Karate which proved very useful more than once. Then I went to University and declared myself to be a Lesbian. That got rid of one lot of admirers. I got my degree and went to do my teacher training.”
“Your parents must be proud of you?” asked Mum
“They don’t want anything to do with me. Once I told them about Sophia and who she had been, they washed their hands with me. I can’t say that it is a big loss. Dad spends all his time on his allotment when not at work and Mum is forever at the bingo. I would not put it past her to be addicted to it. But to be honest, I was glad to get away from them when I went to University.”
She looked lovingly at me before adding.
“I’d drifted around a bit and somehow our paths crossed. I can tell you that you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realised who it was that was calling out to me. It must have been fate or something.”
At the end of the meal, I said,
“We are going to get married if you approve.”
“Approve? Why shouldn’t I? It is as obvious now as it was years ago that you two had something special only you didn’t know it then.”
The two of us locked eyes lovingly.
“Where will you live?” asked Mum.
“We are in the middle of buying a place just outside York. There will be room for you as well if you
want it,” replied Blondie.
“I've hardly touched Dad's legacy in all this time. So we had more than enough for the deposit on the house.”
“Me? I can’t. I don’t want to be a bother, a third wheel.”
“Well, we are going to need at least one grandparent to look after the young one.”
Mum looked startled once again.
Blondie nodded her head and a huge grin spread over her face.
“I am, well we are, in just over six months time,” she replied.
[three months later]
Blondie and I did the deed and got married at the local registry office. I wore white and she a deep, deep blue silk. She just looked magnificent. Mum didn’t look half bad either. She’d left Edinburgh much against the advice of her parents who declared both of us dead in their eyes and only fit to go to hell.
It wasn’t hard for her to get a job at a clinic in York. I hadn’t seen her as happy for years. She’d even taken the plunge and signed up on a dating site.
In fact, all of us were happy especially Blondie with brilliant green eyes who naturally wore at least one item of blue clothing every day.
The icing on the cake was that Blondie gave birth to a lovely girl with brilliant green eyes and blonde hair.
Now I had two ‘Blondies’ to look after which I didn’t mind one little bit.
The lyrics at the start are from a song called ‘Look Good in Blue’ by ‘Blondie’ naturally.
The idea for this little ditty came about after two triggers.
The first was seeing someone on a train from Reading to Worcester who was the model for Blondie.
Then I heard the song (lyrics at the top) on the Radio.
I consider it an antidote to 'pretty in pink'. Blondie would never be seen in Pink, te-he.
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