I am a bit slow, too slow for life really, “Days are like seconds on my clock of reckoning” I once wrote in a poem. Most things have always taken me a long time to do, from reading a book to getting changed after I’ve done shows, I do eat fast, that’s about the only thing I do quickly! Of course some things in life are far more enjoyable when you’re not so fast, but these opportunities are invariably rare, personally speaking (more on this later!) I used to think, or hope that I was a late developer, (late bloomer), not so sure now, although I still live in hope!
I am a bit thick too, not so much dopey though, (more on this in a bit too),I often go on about the time I quietly left an IQ test after not being able to get my head around any of the 20 or so questions on the sheet of paper!
The thing I’ve been most stupid about in my life is love, desire, flutter hearting! From being too stupid to see opportunities for this, and those that liked me, to more often fancying the wrong, the most unsuitable girl, the ones that don’t or never would fancy me back. Oh I’ve been incredibly stupid with this..prolific in fact! From my late teens onwards I wrote poems, rambling silly often verging on the terrible poems, (though one or two quite good), about unrequited love.
Sex is a mojo giver! Certainly for a bloke I think, deffo for me anyway, which is why I’ve lacked confidence to do so much in my life, I've not had nearly enough of it! And I know from when I have and the times I've been in love that its better than flying!
Oh I've desired many many, many girls over the years. Some of my earliest memories in fact are of liking girls, long before sexual desire attraction was there. From the time I was deliberately naughty just to get to sit next to the threatened punishment of Stephanie Mattocks, the prettiest girl in primary school! Oh I maybe stupid, but not as stupid as the teachers I had! But I became an unconfident kid at puberty who desired girls strongly but was too shy to talk to them and was teased by some girls for being ‘dopey’ This was a nickname I had in class 12-13 years of age. I remember exactly how it came about.
My full, christened name that isn’t even now on my passport, (as I successfully lost part of it it), is Nicholas, Michael Ashley Wood-Jones. I became self conscious of having a double barrelled name in senior school was teased, mostly by the teachers, a chemistry teacher called Turner insisted on calling me ‘Plastic Jones’ for reasons best known to himself, (I do remember calling him ‘Turnip’ back to his face, so unlike others he can’t have been too threatening!) So I was embarrassed at having 3 names on top of the double barrell. Was incredibly sensitive about the Ashley, (my mum loved the character played by Lesley Howard in Gone with the wind), some of the girls were chatting to the teacher Mrs Haughton & going through the register to see peoples second names and to my horror I suddenly heard one of them say ‘Ashley’ out loud with a snigger! Instead of proudly admitting this as my name, like a dick I said “That’s not my name!” So forever after with these girls it became my nickname, even though ironically these girls were far dopier than I, as well as being not the least bit nice in temperament or looks!
I remember a trio from Bollington , (a convoy of Bostocks coaches would bus in the kids from Bolly as at the time Poynton County High School must’ve been the only senior school that would have them!), a couple of which, Janet Turner & Christine White who were just horrible, but the third Ilona Gemmell, who was a very pretty & genteel girl. She had initially been teased by some of the teachers for her unusual christian name, deliberately mispronouncing it Iona or spitefully drawing attention to it’s uncommonness, (God we really did have the most stupid, moronic & spiteful teachers at Poynton County High School!) Sadly even cute Ilona soon fell in with the others to fit in and chorus “Dopey!” At me whenever they saw me! This hurt me hugely because I desired Ilona big time and loved her name & never forgotten it! Christine White, who was ugly in every sense of the word, even tried to pick a fight with me, challenging me to a ‘scrap’. Whilst being sorely tempted to slap her, or intimidate her at this constant provocation, although I never would of course, I instead opted for a jokey reply to try to fuck her off. I said I'd be embarrassed to be beaten up by a girl" Of course with this simpleton this only made matters worse, she actually thought I was being serious and teased me mercilessly for my perceived lack of manliness and this was picked up by some of the more stupid lads! I’d never been bullied in school, (well there was the ‘ginger haired boy’ as everyone called him in primary school who would try and get everyones dinner money off them, but he didn’t last long!). I’d never been the popular sporty lad who gets picked early by the others in a team selection, although I loved football with a passion and was hurt at being in the left overs at selection, but no one bullied me
But after this I was teased mercilessly in my class by all but a small group of allies. Even one of the two most teased/bullied kids in the school, Nigel Milius was egged on by others to pick a fight with me. I let him have his little moment of liberation from bullying
until I'd had enough and snapped. It’s funny I’ve always hated seeing others bullied and I’m glad to say I never joined in with this, just to fit in as many a weak minded kid did, I never wanted to fit into the gang mentality, both Millius and Mark Foster (Fossy) who I think might have had polio because he had a funny leg/stance bit like I saw in Ian Dury later, were lads I hung out with, liked them, stuck up for them. I felt sorry for Fossy, his mum had died and we were told this by our teacher. I remember thinking how awful for him. They were targeted just because they were perceived as weak or different. I was a nice kid. But nice kids weren’t popular, to be popular you had to be a twat! There were rare exceptions, my good mate at Poynton was Bill Jackson. He was teased when he arrived in the 2nd I think it was, some called him ’Nobody’ as he looked a little like the kid playing a Victorian street urchin ghost in a tv series I absolutely loved in the 70s called ’Nobody’s House” Bill quickly rose above it, as he had a enviable natural cool about him, didn’t care about fitting in and being in a gang or giving you a wide berth just because others laughed at you, he just fitted in because he did, not because he tried.
in 1977 I went to see Sylvester Stallone in Rocky with my dad and this made me take on a tougher persona with the twats that had been calling me want to take on the twats who were calling me and facing up to them made them soon back down & go back to targeting the two weakest individuals, silly Milius & poor old Fossy. I hope it all came good for Fossy, I searched for him on Facebook and think I found him, but few details to confirm it’s actually him other than he’s from Bolly & went to the school, his profile photo is a snake!
It’s funny I’m writing this 7 miles away from Poynton where I grew up and only 2 or 3 miles from Bollington, I’m at my friend Che’s house in Rainow dog sitting her trio of cocker spaniels, (I met Ché on Guardian soulmates earlier this year and really, really like her but she just wants to be friends, and since my friend Jacqueline died this year who I gave over a blog a few months ago, I’ve realised how silly and harmful it is to cast women aside simply because they don’t want to sleep with you!). I’m wondering how many of those ‘Bollington bummers’ I knew are still there, Andrew Barber was a great mate of mine, we’d jokingly trade insults of Bollington bummers & Poynton Puftas!
Wonder what became of pretty Ilona Gemmell, the only girl I had a crush on in this low high school. It's hard to search for girls you knew on social media as of course they change their names with marriage which never seems fair or right, (although I’ve long fantasised about my own gorgeous Mrs Wood-Jones!)
Poynton County High School killed two important things for me, it killed my interest in sport, when you start equating games with dread of being forced to do a cross country run again because you didn’t look knackered enough at the end or showers deliberately turned cold and physical & mental intimidation from the dreaded double act of Mr Jones and Mr Morgan then you very quickly lose your love of it. I stopped loving football about 14 or 15, we didn’t even play footie, the school was mad on rugby or cross country running. Of course some might say that this sort of behaviour from your teachers makes a man of you, far mote likely brutalize and fuck you up I think!
I hate school mostly because it killed my love of art. Oh I still want to torch the whole fucking place (without actually killing anyone), for doing this to me. The so called teachers who took us for art frequently disrespected or devalued it’s importance. A horrible bastard called Hebditch who’d say in his whiney Essex-like accent, (And because of him I’ve always disliked this accent the most) “I like to see people rubbing out!” So if you drew as fast as me, yes as well as eating fast the only other thing I was fast at was drawing! You were in for it with him. What a moronic thing to say, and when the cunt was made head of year he’d shamefully spend the entire lesson checking your homework for other subjects, shitting on the very subject that he was supposedly there to teach! Oh I don’t like to have such hate in me, but I still hate Hebditch after all these years, the cunt is probably still alive, because cunts like that tend to go on, but if he’s dead, I hope he died a painfully terrible death for his crimes at Poynton, and not least because I hold this cunt almost personally responsible for killing my love of drawing, something I was always, always doing when I was a kid up to then!
Although I have frequently lamented the fact that we didn’t do drama at Poynton Country Shite School, (apart from hippie Mr Gray in the first year doing supposed relaxation exercises in the laughably named drama studio). Now I’m just glad we didn’t!
Now I didn’t intend this blog to turn into a rant about school, the original intention was to explore, what I frequently visit in these blogs, mojo. I like the word, although for much of my life it, confidence, (although mojo is so much more than that), has been a mystery, an illusive thing for me. I started this months blog thinking I’d tackle love & sex, and it’s absence in my life being the reason I lacked confidence with virtually everything, not because of anything my parents did or didn’t do, and I’ll get back to that.
But school and particularly the 5 years I spent at this shite school affected a lot of my life and I still bear the scars almost 40 years since I left. Oh but the day I left I still remember as the happiest day of my life so far, and it is very sadly still the happiest day of my life so far! God if I could have just one wish it would be that before the 40th anniversary of my leaving school in July of next year that I have a happier happiest day!
It's also clear to me that the major damage that school inflicted on me was lack of confidence and certainly the explanation as to why I had ‘difficulties with girls’ most assuredly comes from school. That and the fact that within a few years of leaving my body was covered with psoriasis, roughly from the ages 17 to 25 until I had special puva treatment in Salford Royal to rid myself of it, (I was a bloomin’ virgin until I was 27), the shape of this scaley red mass which I would frequently itch so much it bled, was shaped like one of the most primitive earliest maps of the world. These things shape you.
There was and is one other significant difficulty with girls that was there from the very beginning, and that I mention in passing in my biography on this my vanity website. From an earliest age, (certainly by 4), I was rummaging around in the dressing up box under the stairs of the house in Poynton where I grew up, the smell of mothballs and the rustle of taffeta. There was a long yellow rustly dress with black netting on it that I would shut myself into this cupboard under the stairs to secretly try on from at least the age of four! I actually blame my sister for turning me into a tranny!
On a few early occasions she would dress me up like a doll and after initially being uncomfortable with it, I started finding it.. fun, though didn't let on to her! I'd never dream of telling her now, I've heard her speaking negatively about trannies, she's not at all open minded about such things.
Dressing up generally was a huge part of my early life, from dressing up in the correct football kit for Manchester City, (my favourite was the away strip of black & red), and cricket whites, the pads, the gloves and a jumper, (even now I want an England cricket tank top with the lions on it, even though I don’t like cricket!), to pulling my longest socks, (Man City, sky blue with claret & white tops), over my jogging bottoms or whatever we called long training or sports kecks back then, borrowing one of my dads shirts and one of his fencing swords, (I’ve still got his marvellous fencing swords), and pretending to be a pirate or a Musketeer. I loved great clothes, but girls were the best and most fascinating of all. I always loved big dresses with petticoats, (even the word ‘petticoat’ is still one of my favourite words),
I never wanted to be actually be a girl though, but I was whole heartedly fascinated by women and wearing female clothes was a touchstone to their world.
When I was about 12 I think I first ventured out dressed up for a little walk down Dickens Lane in Poynton in a blonde wig and a blouse & skirt, It was terrifyingly exciting and I didn't go far, I went on to do this from time to time always when it was quiet early evening, but one day I took I ran into some kids, don't know who they were, but took fright and ran as hard as I could, pulling wig off and someone, shouted "Wood-Jones!" after me. Horrifying I'd been found out and next day in school I feared the worst, but...nothing happened and from that day to this I never found out who it was. My dad almost discovered me once and I'll always wonder if he suspected, as immediately after almost finding me out, he gently said something like, "You can always talk to me if ever you want , and if you ever get into trouble I'll always support you!"
Oh if ever I'd been. a dad and a son or daughter of mine was either a tranny or gay or anything they were ashamed of, I know I'd always be so supportive and do anything I can to make them feel so loved.
I think I stopped for a long time after that, and when I did again puberty had struck and inevitably dressing became sexualised and clothes became fetishistic, and as acting was deep rooted in me long before I realised it or became confident with it, playing the part of a girl became as important as wearing the clothes!
Through years of not having a girlfriend, dressing up as girl almost became my compensation and when I was in love with a girl, more often than not a big crush on someone who had no interest in me, I would become ashamed of this dressing up thing, and destroy any clothes I had bought, (a common trait I have read in trannies).
I have however never felt part of that fraternity of trannies. Being honest I've never felt terribly comfortable with most blokes that do because I do and that's a terrible admission I know, and I'm not saying that I am horrible or intolerant of others that do, just don't feel akin to it. Strange because ordinarily I am hugely accepting of peoples foibles. I once went to a party in North London dressed just for the craic, but felt uneasy. from the start. It was very funny though, mostly old guys wearing miniskirts and crappy wigs sitting around legs apart chatting about the best route off the M1 to Leicester, and a smattering of male admirers, kind of creepy fellas attracted to trannies trying to put their hand on your knees and risking a decking, so I beat a hasty retreat!
Oh yes, I can easily understand unease in prospective girlfs & it has with girls over the years cost me dear.
I kept this all quiet until almost 10 years ago when I decided what’s the point, although there’s mates that don’t know and I don’t feel the need to tell them, and my mum who probably knows anyway, (puts it down to being an actor and she’s right!) but who wouldn’t really understand and my sister who just couldn’t because she wouldnt), I have a small group of friends who do and I’m no longer terrified of everyone finding out). I kept a lid on this for years for fear everyone would think I was gay, even though I never had any doubts that I was straight’. When I first told my friend Tasha, well my way of telling was to set up a facebook page for my ’Tara Power’ (dressing up as a woman is my super power) I've always felt women are really what power is, despite men having always had it on paper. I've always been hugely attracted to powerful women too. A lovely woman who worked at The Yard in Hackney, where we did Wrestling the Walrus, admired my mermaid tattoo, done by niece Dana and I was telling her that I want a witch on my right arm, and she astutely observed "Oh you're drawn to powerful woman aren't you?" Oh yes.
I always like to think that two of my greatest heroes, John Lennon and Robert Louis Stevenson were both drawn to, collaborated with and married powerful and unconventional women, Yoko Ono and Fanny Osbourne. Women who both bore the brunt of criticism for the influence over these great men. Although I don't even in my most Billy Liaresque dreams compare myself to Lennon or RLS, I do dream of a such a love and powerful influence in my life. Behind every great man is a woman rolling their eyes!
For years I saw Tara as a curse, now I now very much view 'her' as a superpower. I am still relatively secretive about her, only a few close & trusted friends know. Of course no one reads this apart from my stalker! (Oh sometimes I feel so lonely I fantasise about a woman stalking me! Yes, I am that sad!)
But Tara deserves respect, she is in a way very much a separate part of me, whilst being deep in my psyche, She's an amalgam of all the women I've desired over the years and she has an Irish redhead boho, gothic vibe! As Tara I befriended my friend Tasha on facebook and when I met up with Tash, (as me), she asked me why I hadn’t come out as a tranny to her sooner and I said because I was terrified girls would just think I was gay, and Tash replied “Oh we all just thought you were gay anyway, so you needn’t have bothered!!!!
Now I don’t see the dressing as the curse that I for years did, see it as a blessing, but of course it certainly doesn’t help in getting a girlf! I often joke with the few close friends who know, about what my biggest hurdle is in getting a girlf, being a tranny, being an actor, having no money, no fixed abode or not being able to drive!!!?
Biggest problem I’ve had with women is that deep in my psyche, entrenched somewhat is this seeing a woman as a rescuer! I know this is fairly common, many people look to love as being a rescue, to save them from being alone, I don’t come across as needy and make a conscious effort to not appear so, but it’s so damn hard to find someone. My niece Gabrielle is getting married on 1st September. I’m happy for her but jealous also as I’ve never even come close to this in my life, seemed to have been labelled a singleton, a Batchelor, terrible word and would love nothing more than to have a ‘plus one’ at the wedding, but it’s a dream, and to some extent all my women have been dreams, including Tara, and for one who loves both mermaids and witches, it seems unsurprising that I still haven’t found happiness here. I dread dying without ever finding love. I haven’t been in love, for a number of years now and I’m getting worried I will again. Oh I’ve been in lust and desired. I still very much like Ché, my ceramic artist friend, but really value her company and friendship, even if I still catch sight of myself being depressed at why we can’t just be boyfriend & girlf as she says she fancied me) The last woman I fell in love with, or was extremely depressed that I lost was Felicity, an arty and well spoken redhead near Cambridge, but that was Tara that did for that and funnily enough just after we’d seen the Eddie Redmayne movie The Danish Girl!
Recently I was in virtual lust with Gerry, a nurse in Liverpool. We met, we snogged and spent a day together but it was clear we’d built each other up too much before hand in sexy messages and it was never going to come to anything. She was funny though.
I still miss Liz, another girl I met on tinder. Gorgeous and nice Manchester girl and we snogged on Deansgate, to the cries of drunks around of “ get a room!” But when we did eventually get a room, tragically our moment of intimacy in a room at the Hanover hotel in Liverpool was ruined by water pouring in through the ceiling! Some clown in a upstairs room had left the bath running! Even though we both saw the funny side, it never really got ignited again after that and anyway I went after Felicity. Later regretful of our opportunity being dampened, I wrote Liz a love poem about all this and even though I know she has moved on I still think of her every August bank holiday Beatles festival in Liverpool in my lonely hotel room and send her a message to that effect to which she responds sweetly, (just as she just has at time of writing this), but with no hint of wishing to revisit.
Also I am still in touch with Jane in York, who I chatted to earlier in the year when I still had ideas on Ché and was honest with her, she's sounds a warm & lovely lady and so easy to talk to and I hope we get to meet, who knows and then again maybe nobody ever will want to be with such an irresponsible, useless (according to my sister), effectively homeless, penniless, (nearly) tranny actor who doesn't drive! Oh God hope Jane doesn't read this!
Oh such navel gazing in lonely hotel rooms will be the death of me I fear, but the great sadness & fear of not having & never having a woman I love in my life increasingly depresses me and I am as equally scared of dying alone as I am of not having made a mark in this world.
A ghostly experience on White Nancy!
In the middle of writing all this I had a ghostly experience when up on White Nancy, itself a ghostly, white 200 year old slightly skewed bell-shaped stone monument, in Cheshire visible from miles around it stands at the end of a ridge overlooking Rainow and at her foot is the village of Bollington.
I was walking away from Nancy heading back to Rainow along the gritstone trail and was almost at the end of long straight path with low dry stone walls on both sides. It was early evening about just after 6pm so not many people about, I’d not passed a soul on this particular path but looking back to see if I could get a glimpse of Nancy I caught site of a couple heading along towards me. At the end of this long straight path there was a gate, and although they weren’t making any noise I glimpsed from the corner of my eye that they were gaining on me, so much so that as I reached the gate they were almost upon me, and so I was just going to politely leave it open as I sensed they were there, but looking up they weren’t. They had gone, vanished. Not a sight of them. But where? The long path with the low wall either side of it stretched back behind me quite a distance. Nowhere for them to go, nowhere for them to hide. I am 100% sure that they were there even though it was from the corner of my eye. Sure as you know someone is there. A complete mystery with no logical explanation.
Now I love stories like this and although I haven’t here, I usually have to stop myself from making them into a more dramatic story, bending the truth. (Just as I have had to do when doing ghost walks in London in the past, just as happened when I worked at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the most haunted theatre in the world when odd things did happen, and they did!) But this did happen and even though as I said at the beginning of this piece, I am bit thick, there is no logical explanation for their disappearance and I certainly didn’t imagine them.
Even though I saw what I saw and then didn’t see them I still don’t however trust it, but that maybe just because I am a bit thick, and I wonder how many truthful such experiences are rejected thus.
STOP THE PRESS!
I’ve just got (28th August) a new agent! ML International Talent, well here’s to being thick being no barrier to me getting lots & lots of acting jobs!