Sorry that I’ve not managed to follow up the return of the Fish Counter very quickly, because the luckiest girl in North Cornwall and I have just had a nice run ashore over in New England, and a proper job it was too. I got home from the last gig in Birmingham at three in the morning on Sunday the eleventh, woke up dreckly in the day and set off right away for Heathrow.
Before we were elevated to superstar status in 2010 and embarked on our wildly Bohemian sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, casting off all our roots, friends and values in our shallow and superficial surge to success (well, that was the plan anyway…), the FFs had visited New England back in 1997 on a short gig tour. I’ve wanted to return and have a good old look around for ages, and got the chance this autumn. All right, this Fall.
There’s no denying that the sight of the turning leaves over there is wonderful. I think the main difference is in the amount and variety of red and yellow in the mix, not that I know much about trees because there are only three here in Cornwall (one in Bodmin and two in the Eden Project), but I’d seen pictures enough in my Observers Book of Trees to know that they’re big brown things made of wood, with greeny bits called leaves that change colour once a year and then drop off and make a mess. The trees over there are fantastic, and there’s lots of them.
There were plenty of other things to look at as well. The coastal bits of New England are a bit like home, in that at this time of year the vast bulk of visitors (and many of them really are vast bulks) have gone and their kids have returned to school, and the tourist trade is sustained by older, retired people and young couples. This is what is referred to in Cornwall rather unkindly as the season of ‘newly-weds and nearly-deads’. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is so much kinder, isn’t it?
Anyway, certainly not being in the newly-wed category anymore, and reluctant (obviously) to join the other, we travelled up to Provincetown, one of the old clapperboard ports at the tip of Cape Cod Piece. I remembered 1997 when the FFs visited, unaware that Provincetown was (and is) hugely popular with the gay, lesbian, transgender and transvestite community. Nothing wrong with that, and it had been my own choice all those years ago to grow an enticing Uncle Joe Stalin moustache. Still, enough of my insecurities….
This time the Provincetown equivalent of newly-weds and nearly-deads was much in evidence.
Having been brought up on a TV diet of Danny La Rue and then the blonde bomb site Lilly Savage, and having seen at first hand some of the astonishing lady-boys in Bangkok, and watched that geezer with the beard who won the Eurovision a couple of years ago, one has come to expect a modicum of glamour and not a little glitz.
Now bear with me. Back in dear ole Cornwall, if we get an OAP coach trip visit on some sort of mystery tour, it’s invariably made up of old ladies, simply because they tend to live longer and there are far more of them (men are very much at a premium and my, what fun they must have!). When the coach pulled up in Provincetown main street and the elderly passengers disembarked, it was evident that it really was a mystery tour with a difference. It was very mysterious indeed to witness the arrival of a coachload of male OAPs all dressed as old ladies. One of the locals, an elegant and well-presented twenty-something man with a bobbed hair-do and twin set and pearls, was clearly pissed off with their Provincetown equivalent of newly-weds and nearly-deads, and muttered darkly about another coachload of ‘tranny-grannies’.
I’ve been puzzling over whether this is an offensive term. My inclination is that it’s not if used by a ‘colourful’ resident of Provincetown on Cape Cod Piece, like on this occasion. I’ve never heard it before, so maybe I’ll let you be the judges. Then if you decide it is, I won’t use it again.
Not for a few weeks anyway…
There was not the slightest tantalising turn of a stocking. There was no hint of satin or lace or stiletto, nicely manicured nails or eye make-up. It was all sensible, comfy flat shoes, old cardigans, tweedy skirts that had seen better days and frankly rather down-at-heel coats with trimmed collars or flea-bitten fur stoles.
Only a few sported wigs, and these seemed to have been rescued out of mothballs, and were rather dusty and worn at interesting, jaunty angles. The others just had bog standard can’t-be-bothered-anymore scruffy old bloke’s haircuts done at crap ‘That’ll be two dollars, awesome, thanks a million, next please’ barber’s shops (as if I would know).
Stubble appeared to be ‘de rigeur’, and there were several impressive sets of ‘old bugger grips’ (mutton chops to the uninitiated). Those who had bothered with such niceties as lipstick had economically applied it to the very middle of their lips, like Hilda Ogden used to.
It was like a convention for Adam’s-appled Nora Battys.
The weird thing was, I just had this compulsion to take a peep inside their (mostly clutch) handbags. Were there crumbs in the bottom? Were there packs of tissues? Jars of tablets? Were there sticky, fluffy sweets? Did they have purses? Folded see-through-plastic rain hats with chin ties? Did they collect sachets of sugar (always white) or little pats of butter or small packs of digestives, or plastic pots of semi-skimmed? Had any of them wrapped-up uneaten morsels in a serviette from the last diner, to take home for the cat?
Or, dare I ask, were they full of blokey stuff? A biro maybe? A comb? Betting slips? Small bottle of whiskey? Tools? Manuals? Surely, if the contents were too blokey, it could easily blow your cover. I don’t know, what would a bloke carry in a handbag? I’ll check mine out and let you know.
There is one thing I’d like to ask though, does this curiosity about tranny-grannies make me a bad person? Oh darn, I just said it, didn’t I…
Dreckly dears x