Too excitable

Many folk who call upon my services often do so at very awkward times, especially when I am actually out working. They know they want the work doing and most of the time they have been thinking about whether to get the work done or not. That being the case there is no reason to call me during working hours for surely they will know that they are interrupting my work. In fact that is what happens most of the time, I am busy doing something when they call. After struggling with a problem a few days ago I had finally reached the point where I was about to fit something that had been awkward and difficult. My phone rang. I should perhaps ignore the phone but I would lose more work that way. I had to stop what I was doing whilst I answered the call. Why did they not call out of working hours? I am a ‘sole trader‘, not an organisation which has office staff to take my calls and people know this from my advertisement so they should also know I am out at work when they call. Now then, in an emergency situation I can understand people calling me during the day and often I have been able to accommodate them so I don’t mind the calls in those cases. People just do not think. I had a call from a woman one afternoon and she was asking if I could do some work for her. She had moved into a house recently and wanted all kinds of work done, however she was so excitable she spent too long describing her move, the reasons for it and anything else she could think of rather than explaining in simple terms what she wanted me to do. I had to intervene and was then able to make sense of her request. One of the things she wanted doing was to replace a few ceiling lighting fittings but she hadn’t purchased them. I suggested she purchased them first and then call me to fit them so that whilst I was there I could assess the remainder of the work she wanted doing, re-fixing switches, fitting an air extract fan in her bathroom and a couple of other things. She had been trying to tell me all the details over the phone which was totally unnecessary. Once the arrangement was made for me to call later she then told me that her ex-husband was an electrician! She explained that she never had to query anything electrical in the past but was now thinking perhaps she should have.


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More women should take up the sciences and work in the electrical industry I feel. Most women are like her, they don’t want to know until the time comes when they need to. Other women I have met are only too keen to get involved with what I am doing. I could write a book about the people I meet in my working day.

Shirley Anne

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A bit like last week

Loft (2005 film)
Loft (2005 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past week has been very similar to the week before in that the work I have done has been concentrated at the latter end of the week leaving me nothing to do for the first few days. It isn’t often you will see me crawling about in someone’s loft but on Wednesday I did exactly that. Naturally I put on a pair of overalls (coveralls) before doing so in order to keep my clothes clean and to protect them from damage. Some lofts are surprisingly reasonably clean but whilst that is so most are not. Most loft areas now are fitted with layers of insulation material which hides the timber construct of the ceilings below and so there is always the danger of accidentally stepping on the fragile ceiling and putting a foot through it. In all my years as an electrician I have never had that misfortune. Other hazards in loft spaces include the roof beams and rafters and the many cardboard boxes or other stored items people have put up there. Having peeled back the insulation I was able to gain access to the lighting cables on this occasion for my task was to reposition and at the same time replace a ceiling light and remove another together with the pull-cord switch controlling it. Having done what was necessary in the loft I was soon able to close the hatch and continue the work in the bedroom below. Another problem I was faced with was the huge bed beneath where the new light (a chandelier) would be fitted and which couldn’t be moved. Have you ever tried balancing on a wobbly bed whilst trying to fit a heavy light above it? With a little help from the lady of the house who supported the light whilst I connected and fitted it I soon had it done. Of course the bed had been covered with a sheet to collect any dust and always there is! The lady asked me all sorts of questions regarding why I decided to become an electrician and how long I have been working as such. She was very much impressed when I gave her a brief description of the things I have done over the (almost) 53 years I have been in the business. She then asked if I enjoyed my work! I could only reply with a ‘yes’ for how could anyone stick at a job so long and not enjoy it unless they were completely bonkers? Maybe I am a little bonkers but I do enjoy my work.

Shirley Anne

Almost forgotten?

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...
 Extension leaders drilling in physical exercise in middies and bloomers, … 

With all the hard work I’ve been doing at home lately I’ve not really had the chance nor even felt like taking some exercise on the treadmill. I have been out on my bike a couple of times though and I have managed to take some exercise on the treadmill but not as much as I would like. I cannot overdo things however, that would be stupid. On Sunday morning after a nice extra lie in bed I dressed for some exercise on the treadmill and went straight to it. I surprise myself sometimes. Not thinking I would manage much I found the opposite to be true! As long as I don’t leave it too long between sessions on the treadmill I find I can pretty much take off where I left it. I found the same to be true when doing outdoor running too, often going far more than I’d anticipated. I suppose it is down to stamina. At the moment I am building up my stamina through hard work most of the time. Use it or lose it is the key phrase. Sitting on one’s butt and stuffing one’s face with food may be some people’s idea of living it up but it’s not mine much as I like doing those things sometimes. No, I discipline myself and try to do what is sensible, after all it is only myself who will suffer any consequences of a bad lifestyle. I think I am quite a fit person for my age, in fact I know I am. There are not many women my age who could do what I do physically speaking. I know many women my age who really look their age as they say and lack the stamina I have. Many are far too overweight and it is usually down to the way they have lived their lives. They have all sorts of physical ailments which a normal healthy person doesn’t have and they suffer as a result. I wonder why people choose to be they way they are, for it is a lifestyle choice. A week or so ago E and I were in a carvery having lunch, well dinner to be precise when we noticed a couple of, shall we say, ‘extra-large’ women. They were so large they had to sit  on the lounge furniture away from the main dining area. Now you would think they might have limited their meal to something small or even a salad but no, their meals looked twice the size of mine! On another occasion three rather large people came into the same carvery with a child, two women and one man. The women filled their plates to capacity and the man likewise but he left the table after finishing his meal and returned a couple of minutes later with another plate full of food! He even complained that he couldn’t have extra meat unless he paid for it! One can eat as much vegetables as one likes in these establishments but very few take up that offer, I mean isn’t one plate of food enough? Apparently not for some people though.

Shirley Anne

When would you have liked to live?

Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, W...
Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, Woburn Abbey (George Gower, ca 1588). Other versions of the Armada portrait are by different artists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many benefits to living at the present time but if you had the chance to live in another era which would you choose? I have often thought about this and haven’t really decided which I would choose. It is easier to choose from a time gone by rather than one in the future for we cannot know what the future holds as far as living in it is concerned. The past however has already shown us to some extent what conditions were like. With that in mind my thoughts are inclined to choose Elizabethan or Jacobean and also the 1940’s. The first two choices are probably based on romantic ideas about the times but of course they weren’t ideal times for everyone. The third choice is probably more to my heart. It was a time just before the modern renaissance where technology began to take giant strides. It was a time of war however and not so good from that point of view. One of the things which attract me to these times are women’s fashion styles. I simply liked what they wore, especially the 1940’s. I saw a story on television about a couple in their late 50’s perhaps who live their lives as Victorians wearing the clothes of the time. The husband’s duty was to wind-up his wife’s corset for the day which she wore presumably all day long. In fact Victorian women wore theirs all week and were only released to enable them to pass solids, then laced up again! By the 1940’s women still wore corsets but I suppose not all of the time. Steam trains, propeller aeroplanes, hardly any labour saving devices for the masses and a more leisurely lifestyle was a pipe-dream for most. There were many things wrong about the 40’s but things were about to change for the better, maybe! When I was born in 1945 and I remember living in a prefabricated house which had some of the things many folk couldn’t afford to buy for themselves but they were only there because the council supplied them. No-one had a private telephone unless they were well-off financially or were in business. We had a television in 1953, long before we got a telephone. In the 40’s, especially the early 40’s none of these were within reach of the ordinary working man or woman, I think that is probably why I would have liked to live then, as an adult of course, as life was lived at a much slower pace.

Shirley Anne

More and more

Two young men are surprised
Two young men are surprised (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got called to a small job in another town on Thursday and whilst there the lady of the house chatted to me. Her first remark was that she was fascinated that a woman should be doing the work of an electrician. Many of my customers are similarly surprised at that. She was all for it she told me and why shouldn’t women be able to do electrical work? She said that in her day, that is when she was much younger, it wasn’t the norm but over the years since then she said she had witnessed many women entering the traditional male-oriented occupations. I casually asked how old she was and she told me that she was sixty. ‘A bit before your time’ she said. ‘Oh yes’ ? I replied. ‘How old do you think I am’? I continued. She guessed wrong at around my mid-forties. I said ‘Would you be surprised to know that I will be 67 years old next month’? ‘Never’, was her reply, ‘You don’t look anything like that age, your skin is amazing’. What could I say? Even I am surprised by my youthful looks but I do endeavour to look after myself nevertheless. I was reading an article about a well-known beautician to models and to the celebrities of the film industry where he was promoting a product which moisturizes the skin. He maintained that it was just as important to look after the skin through diet suggesting various fruits, vegetables, nuts and pulses together with plenty of fish oil were particularly beneficial. Well I knew this as I am sure many other people do but it is surprising just how many people I meet do not follow such a regime. I guess I am a little fortunate in that I have always looked much younger than I am but added to that I do eat the right food, I don’t smoke, I exercise and I do take hormones. I also wear make-up. Is it any wonder that I don’t look my age? I like the comments I get from those I meet who think I am younger than my age and it happens more and more. There is no reason for anyone of my age not to look their best or perhaps not ‘look their age’ as they say, it is all down to self-discipline and having a good lifestyle. The sad fact is, many women my age have given up on themselves and grow old before their time. Quality of life is affected when we don’t look after our bodies and suddenly we find that we have slipped down that slippery slope to ill-health and have only ourselves to blame. I want to remain as fit and active as I can for as long as I can and I want to remain looking good doing it! Hopefully I will.

Shirley Anne

Ten years on

Chon Buri
Chon Buri (Photo credit: Octanou)

Around this time ten years ago I was just about to start my journey to Thailand and was waiting for my brother and his wife to take me to Manchester Airport for the short hop to Heathrow. It was the 12th October but was the 13th October when I arrived at Bangkok, once there I was taken directly to the hospital in Chon Buri for my operation the following day, the fourteenth. The story is in the ‘My journey’ page above. Well what has it been like these past ten years? At first it was difficult as I still had problems ‘passing’, still hadn’t quite pulled it off after a couple of years transitioning but as the next few years rolled by things got better and better. I can say now that I have very few problems on that front. It is difficult enough transitioning without having the hassle from unsympathetic, insensitive and ignorant people trying to make life even more difficult. Thankfully any problems I might have had in the past were minimum but whenever I was mistreated I didn’t let it get me down, after all it wasn’t me who had the problem! The best years have been the last five or six as far as my life as a woman is concerned and it has all been worthwhile getting to where I am now. It should have happened long ago, longer than the ten years it has been. I am a woman accepted in society and rightly so, for that is what I am. When I first started into transition it was the small things that made me feel good, people calling me ‘madam’, using the correct pronouns, using local colloquialisms such as ‘love’, ‘honey’, ‘darling’, being as a guy, chivalrous opening doors and such things. Now I take them all in my stride, like I have always been treated that way. The natural has taken over and is less nurture now. It has been a journey I didn’t really feel I should have needed to take but one that I had to undertake. I have no regrets in the transition and the way things have turned out. looking back over the ten years I think I have done very well and it gets better every day! I would like to celebrate the occasion in some way but I haven’t decided what way that may be. A meal with my family would be nice but I may have to settle with just one person, E. That would be really nice, knowing that she finally has come to terms with and has totally accepted me as the woman I am, something I feel she still has problems with occasionally. I hope the next ten years, God willing, will be even better.

Shirley Anne

Old habits

Bathroom 1
Bathroom 1 (Photo credit: A30_Tsitika)

Before my transition many years ago I gave no thought to what my life would be like afterward. My thoughts were mainly concentrated on my immediate needs in transitioning and very little else. As an electrician and someone who by next month will have been in the electrical business for 50 years, it never occurred to me that I should cease to continue doing what I had always done in my working life. However, once I did transition I began to think of a career change to one, I thought, to be more suited to a female. I made tentative steps to search for employment but was encouraged to continue doing what I was good at doing instead. At first I was a little apprehensive but I finally decided not to give up my profession. To do so would have been a grave error for as a female electrician I became greatly in demand. I liked my work, I always had and to change to doing something else would have been difficult for me. You know what they say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. Well actually you can but the inclination to learn something new is often not there. Not that I was ever reluctant to learn new things, in my job there are countless things to know and to learn. Over the years I have worked on all kinds of electrical equipment from that using the smallest power supply up to equipment using 11 kilo-volt supplies! Above that voltage I have no experience but the principle is no different. There is very little I haven’t worked on really. The list is too long to recount here, it would take pages upon pages, suffice to say there is probably far less that I haven’t been involved with than that which I have! Along the way I was educated in other fields aside from the electrical  too, refrigeration, air-conditioning, heating and ventilation, plumbing  to name but a few. I am one of those people who likes to do things with my hands and I will turn my hand to any task if I am able. In fact throughout my life I have involved myself in doing strange tasks either for myself or others. At home I am the maintenance person, probably because I am the only one capable! I arose at around five o’clock on Monday morning and paid a visit to the toilet. We had been experiencing a bit of a foul smell in the bathroom over the last week or so and thought it was simply the drains to the hand basin and the bath. We occasionally pour disinfectant or bleach down the plug holes just to stop any unwanted odours but lately it had no effect. I moved the waste bin for some reason and found that it was wet beneath. This bathroom has carpet tiles on the floor (I want to refurbish the room completely some time in the future but that is another story) and so I removed one only to find that the floor beneath was wet. I had to removed another six tiles to expose the extent of the wetness. I discovered a small leak of water on a joint in the water pipe supplying the toilet cistern which had evidently been weeping unnoticed for days! Admittedly this joint was almost completely out of normal eyesight so difficult to spot the leak. Water had slowly trickled down the pipe and under the carpet tiles so that no evidence of wetness could be seen on the surface of the tiles at all. No wonder it wasn’t spotted sooner! The problem was a loose joint which I secured later in the day on returning home from a job. I think I shall need to replace a part as soon as I can find the time, probably in a day or so, maybe the weekend. In the meantime the floor is now dry and the leak in check. It is amazing what females can do if the put their minds to it but old habits die-hard!

Shirley Anne

Looking my best at all times

Dress CodeMany of the women I know do not take pride in themselves at all times. Unless they are going out socializing or to special occasions they don’t seem to bother looking their best. Now I am not advocating that they are dressed-to-kill at all times when in their waking hours or even that they should dress that way at any time but I can’t understand why they don’t bother with their appearance sometimes. For myself I couldn’t leave my bedroom without trying to look my best for what I have planned for the day, whether that be at work or being ready for work should I get the call, or going out for the day somewhere. Even when at home at other times I always try to look my best. At weekends, when I am not usually working, I dress in smart, casual clothes and I wear make-up every day, whether at work or not. I take pride in my appearance because it gives me confidence when I know I am looking as well as I can and presenting to the world. I see women and men too who couldn’t care less what they look like when they are outside or even at home. The majority of people do take care of themselves and the way they dress but having said that many don’t bother dressing to suit the occasion either. I can understand why some establishments insist on a certain dress code because if the decision was left to the individual many just wouldn’t bother making the effort. There’s nothing worse than dining out at a really good restaurant and seeing people lounging about in sloppy clothes and jeans. Well I think so. I will continue to look my best whenever and wherever I go out and whenever I remain at home.

Shirley Anne

Make-up

Assorted cosmetics and tools
Image via Wikipedia

I was just reading an article on AOL about women and make-up and why one-third of women won’t leave their house without some make-up on! The article went on to say that a further one-quarter of those women re-apply their make-up three hours later! I am not quite that bad myself although I do re-apply my lipstick frequently even though it is supposed to be one of those 18 hour ‘paints’. They only last 18 hours if you don’t eat or drink and presumably kiss in the meantime! I never leave my house without wearing my make-up, in fact I don’t leave the bedroom until I am fully made-up, except for bathroom and toilet visits of course. Now you might think that women apply make-up in order to attract men, well that is not strictly true although in some cases it might apply. Most women who wear make-up will probably tell you it is more to impress other women or that it is a confidence booster. I tend to agree with the confidence boost. When I go out I like to look and feel at my best, even if it comes out of a tube! I like to feel attractive and well presented in all situations, that’s why I even wear make-up at my job as an electrician! Many times I have been complimented on my appearance and not just from the guys! I do feel though that many women (the other two-thirds maybe?) could make more of an effort to present themselves more favourably. I often see women who take no interest in how they look and many of them can’t be bothered to even wear decent clothing! I think it is often down to laziness and a lack of self-confidence and pride in one’s self. There is no need to go over the top and walk about like a model all day long, unless you are a model! Sufficient for the occasion, a little is a lot when it comes to applying make-up. I suppose many women are fearful when it comes to applying make-up in case they make a mess of it. Some of them do! It is like everything else in life, practice makes perfect and lessons are often free if you know where to go. I am self-taught when it comes to applying make-up and although I am no professional I think I do a good enough job of it. Many will argue that there is no need for the wearing of make-up but I think Nature doesn’t mind a helping hand, so why not?

Shirley Anne

Why women?

I was watching tv at breakfast time and naturally I saw one or two adverts. Whilst watching the Special K advert something occurred to me. I wondered why all the obsession with being slim? There was this girl admiring herself in the mirror, admiring her slim figure to emphasise the benefits of eating Special K with its low-calorie content. I wondered why it is that we never see guys doing the same thing. Why don’t guys figure in these type of advert? Is it that women are assumed to be more size conscious? Does that mean that we assume all guys to be disinterested? Why do we see women parading round new cars at a car show? It is supposed to suggest some sexual connection? If so then it is degrading women folk who presumably are being regarded by men as merely sex symbols. I wonder why women readily accept the role? I see many women who are ready to be used in advertising perhaps thinking nothing of it. Society as a whole is educated into accepting many things by stealth which subsequently become the norm unless somebody raises an objection. Do you think women get used in our society?

Shirley Anne