SWAN SONGS - Tarn Swan



Extracts from my life with Stardust Twinkles


29th December 2004:

Hello And Welcome To My Life

I’ve often talked about keeping a journal, but have done little about it until now. I’m no Samuel Pepys let’s be clear on that, but I think I’ve got a tale or two to tell and a song worth singing about life with my partner Stardust Twinkles or to give him his proper birth name Jonathan Lane, and to that end this diary is dedicated. Twinkles isn’t the sort of person you can easily categorize. He’s a gay man with transvestite tendencies. He’s also a drag queen upon occasion and in his case a drama queen pretty much 24/7. If you’re insistent on a label then you could say he’s transgender or gender fluid depending on how you view these things. I suppose the best way to categorise him is actually not to try and categorise him. He simply is who he is and I love him to bits even when he’s driving me mad. I have to report that he’s not always easy to live with.

My name, I may as well get it out of the way, is Tarn. Yep, unusual isn’t it? Scottish in origin I believe, and my surname is, wait for it, Swan…pause for sniggers to die down…yes I know tarn means lake, that’s me, Swan Lake. You can imagine the hilarity it caused at school registration sessions, mainly among the teachers I might add. My parents gave little thought to the fact that the Christian name they both liked, in honour of a Scottish uncle on my mother’s side (who reputedly has lots of money to leave when he finally shuffles off this mortal coil) didn’t team particularly well with the surname Swan. Of course my being homosexual, or gay, or queer, or whatever term you prefer to apply, adds to the hilarity some folk seem obliged to feel whenever I introduce myself. I’m well aware everyone in my office calls me Rudolf Nureyev behind my back. I don’t mind too much. I like to think it’s affectionately meant and they did come up with a cracking Christmas present for me this year, a pair of ballet tickets for a new production of the gay version of Swan Lake. Okay, as gifts go it’s slightly tongue in cheek, but all the same I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t told Twinkles yet. It’s no good telling him such things too far ahead of time; he just goes overboard with excitement.

At the best of times Twinkles, as he likes to be known, isn’t what you’d call a morning person and this morning as soon became clear, wasn’t the best of times. Despite me yelling from the foot of the stairs that time was moving on and he was going to make us late for work he refused to shift his bum from bed. He resorted to retrieving one of his high heels from under the bed and chucking it across the floor fondly thinking it would fool me into thinking he was up and about. I resorted to threats yelling if he didn’t move his little arse out of bed pronto there’d be tears before breakfast, and they wouldn’t be mine.

Ten minutes later he appeared in the kitchen wearing nothing but a sullen expression and a pair of fluffy, silver-pink high-heeled mules. The ones I’d bought him for Christmas. He loves them. While Twinkles and nudity are usually a favourite combination of mine, it was a chilly morning and I did think he was risking getting a cold. I suggested he might like to put his dressing gown on. Cue action. Apparently, his favourite silk kimono with black feather trim was no longer in favour, because it made him look fat and he wasn’t wearing it ever again. I gave an inward sigh at that point. It was that time of year again. The festivities were all but over and people were weighing up the cost, both financially and in terms of over indulgence on the rich foods that had been on offer over the festive period. I told him he looked exactly the same as he had before Christmas, absolutely gorgeous and not to worry about a bitchy comment made by a recent arrival (and new rival) at The Pink Parrot Club the night before. (The Pink Parrot is the hub of our social life; it caters for the cross-dressing and gay fetish communities. The leather boys downstairs and transgender ladies upstairs) Despite my assurances he remained adamant. He’d gained weight. It wasn’t just his kimono that made him look fat either. It was everything.

I pointed out that he’d have to find something to wear as he could hardly turn up at the Jewellers shop he worked in, wearing nothing but a pair of fluffy mules, no matter how pretty they were. He wasn’t going to frigging work as he hated the first frigging day back after frigging Christmas because it was always frigging mayhem with people returning the shit presents they’d been bought and demanding frigging refunds. I could just phone him in frigging sick because he was sick, absolutely sick of frigging work. I told him I’d do no such thing and was it really necessary for him to frig quite so much. As far as I was concerned he was going to work, end of discussion. Sometimes he needs someone to make decisions for him because he gets beyond making them for himself, sensible ones anyway.

Ushering him upstairs I began the thankless task of helping him find something to go with the grey suit that is obligatory attire for assistant managers. 

Sitting on the bed, arms folded, legs crossed, he proceeded to turn his cute little nose up at everything I suggested. The pink shirt was too tight it made him look like a bloated marzipan pig (his words, not mine) The blue shirt was the wrong shade of blue it made his skin look dirty. The lavender shirt was just so out of fashion he’d have to be declared officially dead before even considering putting it on his body, his loathsome fat body, and incidentally, it was all my fault he’d gained weight in the first place. I should have stopped him eating so much chocolate over Christmas. After all I was supposed to be his Dominant and what kind of rotten Dom would allow his partner to get fat on chocolate? I said the type of Dom who didn’t know his partner was stuffing his greedy face with sweets from the giant tin of Quality Street he’d slyly stashed under his side of the bed without my knowledge. Huh, he curled his lip and said if I were a half decent Dom I’d have spotted that one straight away. I said unlike the fictitious domestic Doms he read about I wasn’t psychic.

He continued to reject any clothing I offered. The lemon shirt was just yuck he’d seen more attractive shades of bile, it would make him look jaundiced and he wouldn’t even consider being seen dead in it. In fact it was too vile to even be cremated in and didn’t I know, ducky, that lemon was even more out of fashion than lavender and was I trying to destroy his fashion reputation?  Then why don’t you just wear a plain white one, I said reasonably, through gritted teeth. He flung a fit. WHITE, he screeched. I’m not wearing a white shirt. Do I look like a boring straight accountant? I don’t think so! As well as the fit, he flung the shirt and a copy of Hello Magazine before kicking his mules across the bedroom in one of his trademark, post Christmas, going back to work tantrums. One of them crashed into the wardrobe door leaving an ugly scratch.

I lost patience. In my opinion he was being plain naughty and I wasn’t putting up with it. Hauling him up from the bed I gave his bare bottom a damn good smacking. He still wasn’t speaking to me when I dropped him off at work. I watched him flounce across the pavement looking very smart in his grey suit with white shirt and navy blue silk tie. The bright pink sequinned boots and pink boa he wore in lieu of a scarf looked a little incongruous, but a transvestite come drag queen’s nature will out even when they’re largely in ‘civvies.’ Uttering a prayer for him to be in a better mood when I picked him up, I set off for my own place of work.

31st December 2004:

A Stitch In Time

As it transpired he was still in a foul mood when I collected him from work the day before yesterday. He was horrible to be around, bitching, sniping and moaning about everything. I told him he seemed tired and insisted he went to bed early for the sake of sanity, my sanity that is. He wasn’t much better next morning declaring his intention to live on hot water and lemon juice for a week as a means of losing his yuletide weight gain, which turned out to be a ‘hefty’ two pounds. I declared my intention of being very pissed off with him if he even tried such a silly fad diet. Sensible eating and cutting out rubbishy foods would be more than sufficient. He gave me a sour look and claimed he wasn’t the only one who had put on weight over Christmas and maybe I should consider the lemon juice diet for a fortnight, if not a month. I said maybe I should consider walloping his bitchy backside several shades of crimson, as a means of losing my professed weight gain by vigorous exercise. That shut him up.

Thankfully he was a lot brighter this morning and looking forward to getting dressed up and celebrating the New Year in a new frock…black and glittery, cut low on the cleavage with a matching stole and a new pair of sparkly strappy sandals. He phoned me at the office at half past eleven in a state approaching euphoria. Brian, a good friend of ours and the owner of The Pink Parrot Club, had just called to offer him, at long last, a spot on stage at the PP, and this very night too, New Year’s Eve. The place would be buzzing and packed to the doors with representatives from every sector of the cross dressing community, from drag queens to transsexuals and every variation in between. As luck would have it one of the clubs dedicated chorus girls, Lulukalala, or as his mother knows him, Fred Easby, had come a cropper the night before when he’d been hailing a taxi to take him home. He’d caught one of his six-inch stilettos in a crack in the pavement and badly turned his ankle. The Pink Parrot was therefore short of a dancer/singer to back the resident star of the Cabaret session, esteemed songster and drag queen Ms Cherie Pie. How did that lead to Twinkles being offered the position? Well, Lulu happens to be Twinkles’ best friend and always teaches him his dance routines and show numbers. It was he who put forward Twinks’ name as a suitable short notice stand in.

After putting the phone down I experienced a conflict of emotions, pleasure for Twinkles, because this was a big thing for him. He’s been hankering and pestering to be given an ‘official’ chance on stage for long as I’ve known him, but Cherie and her backing girls haven’t been forthcoming. Amateur drag queens, like any artistes, guard their positions jealously. They don’t like the thought of anyone grabbing their limelight. They’d go on stage even if they had smallpox to prevent anyone else getting a look in. I also experienced some trepidation, which you’d appreciate if you knew Twinks as well as I do. I know what he’s like when he gets carried away with something. Tears and tantrums are likely to follow, along with grandiose plans that have no basis in reality. Still, it was good to hear the happy excitement in his voice. I went out at lunchtime and after ordering a get-well bouquet for Lulu asked the florist to make up an old fashioned corsage of pink orchids and white roses. Twinkles loves those old Hollywood films where the heroine gets presented with a floral corsage shortly before being taken to the ball. I also popped into Debenhams where they had a sale on, and bought him the peach satin, diamante trimmed, Janet Reger bra and matching thong he’d been admiring for a while. When my boy dresses up there are no half measures, he does it properly from underwear to makeup.

It being New Year’s Eve most businesses were closing up earlier than usual, including my office and Twinkles’ shop. I was therefore rather annoyed when I turned up to collect him only to find he’d cried off even earlier, claiming a migraine and had taken a taxi home. Migraine my backside, the little fibber! He’d have been itching to get home and start getting ready for his big moment at the PP. See what I mean about excitement getting the better of him? I geared up to have a few stern words with him, letting me go to pick him up indeed. However, the house was quiet and in darkness when I got home. I was surprised and a bit worried. He’d left work early enough, he should have been home.  He was.

Turning on the sitting room light I discovered him curled up on the couch, his face bearing evidence of some heavy crying. He had red swollen eyelids, a red tipped nose and mascara-streaked cheeks. All my disapproval forgotten I knelt down on the floor, reaching my arms around him. He clung to me, telling me in tragically whispered gulps and sobs what ailed him. It didn’t fit. Lulu’s costume didn’t fit him. Brian had dropped it off, telling him he had to be dressed and ready to go through a quick rehearsal with the other girls at the PP at eight on Cherie’s strict orders. The bathroom scales had obviously lied. He’d put on more than two pounds, he must have, because the red sequinned, split to the thigh sheath dress just wouldn’t zip up, not even when he put his firmest girdle on. He was a fat failure and his life in frocks was over.

I cuddled and comforted, while wracking my brains to find a way of salvaging the situation for my baby. Leaving him steeping in a hot scented bubble bath with two rounds of sliced cucumber cooling and soothing his sore eyes, I took a deep breath and phoned my mother. We had a bit of a falling out at Christmas when Twinkles insulted her new curtains, saying they looked like something you’d find in a cheap seaside boarding house. They had a right old row, too much wine and rich food just doesn’t bring out their best sides. Despite my profuse apologies, she’d taken deep offence and hadn’t spoken to us since, leaving the answer phone on to field calls and not returning any of mine. When my mother takes the huff she does it properly. As expected, I got the answer phone again. I told it all about Twinkles’ situation and was just on the verge of hanging up, when to my relief mum herself came on, enquiring as to the colour of the dress so she could bring the right shade of thread with her sewing machine.

By the time Twinkles was fully made up and wigged, mum had come up trumps with the dress, unpicking and letting out the seams before re-stitching them. It fitted perfectly and he looked divine in it. Swinging mum off her feet he finally apologised for his rudeness at Christmas, told her he loved her and invited her to join us at the club. She gracefully accepted and asked to borrow one of his frocks. She’s never had a problem with his transvestism, she jokes that it makes us seem more like a normal straight couple. In fact she introduces him to people as her daughter in law. Brian has picked up Twinkles to take him to the PP for the rehearsal and mum and I will go down a bit later.

1st January 2005:

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! 2005 lays…lies…whatever…full steam ahead. As I write Twinkles is still abed. He reckons he’s dying and keeps demanding I call a member of the medical profession. I keep telling him that no doctor on earth is going to come out on New Years Day to treat a man with a self-inflicted hangover. He took time out from dying to glare at me over the top of his black satin eye mask and call me a heartless beast. I left a large glass of water and two paracetamol on his bedside table, with instructions to wash the latter down with the former. I suspect he’s exaggerating about how bad he feels, so he can stay safely in bed and put off the discussion I’ve promised we’re going to have with regard to certain goings on last night.

It all started so well. Twinkles was very excited about what he termed his ‘first real showbiz break,’ and couldn’t wait to get on stage in front of his audience. I noted his possessive claim on the assembled crowd with slight disquiet and warned him not to get too carried away with inflated notions of stardom. He nodded impatiently, while mumbling something about stripy leg warmers and auditions for Fame, which was beginning a new nationwide theatre tour. He wouldn’t allow me to give him a kiss for luck before he went on, fearful lest he got an erection that would jeopardise his careful tucking. 

Actually, when his turn to take the floor arrived I thought he was going to get stage fright, poor lamb. He looked terrified, but as soon as the music started up he was fine.  In fact he got a bit over confident at one point, not to mention cocky and began improvising on the dance routine he was supposed to be doing in the background with the rest of the chorus line. He ended up cutting in front of the leading lady, Cherie Pie, just as she was going for a high note in her rendition of, ‘It’s Raining Men.’ Cherie, understandably, wasn’t pleased. Flicking open her large feather fan she had a discreet word with Twinkles. Unfortunately the microphone relayed the discreet word to every nook and cranny of the PP club. I say word; it was actually two words, the first beginning with F. As mum said, rather primly, it was no language for a lady, not even a lady who worked as a brickie on a building site by day. She kept giving Cherie dirty looks after that and at the end of the number made a point of only applauding Twinks and his fellow backing artistes. My mother is one of those people who are fiercely loyal to family and Twinkles regardless of the fact that he frequently rubs her up the wrong way, is family. If Cherie weren’t careful she’d end up with mum’s handbag ringing in the New Year around her ears.

Twinks was as high as a kite when he came off stage. He was still wearing his costume and had pinned my corsage of orchids and roses onto one of the straps. Every inch the Hollywood Starlet he weaved in and out of the crowd, positively sparkling, greeting friends with theatrical screeches, demanding praise for his performance, doling out hugs and kisses, offering autographs and flirting with absolutely everyone in sight. I didn’t mind. I enjoy seeing him happy and I knew the only person taking him home would be me. Midnight came and went. Mum left for home shortly after seeing in the New Year with us. She got a lift from Priscilla the Preacher, a straight cross dresser so called because he teaches Religious Studies at one of the local Catholic colleges.
I was chatting with friends when I suddenly noticed that Twinks was getting rather unsteady on his high heels, in fact not rather, but very. I hurried across to him just in time to prevent him crashing to the ground as he caught his heel in the hem of his gown. I was cross. I’d kept an eye on how much he was drinking, firmly telling him to make his sixth glass of Champagne his absolute last. He’d obviously been quaffing on the sly. I sat him down at a table before he fell down and told him to stay put while I found a quiet place from which to try and summon our pre-booked cab a little earlier than arranged.

I was gone less than ten minutes, stepping outside in the fresh air to use my cell phone. I’d just finished the call when Brian, breathless and wild eyed, shot out of the door and told me to get back inside pronto because Twinkles was involved in a row and it was getting ugly.


copyright Tarn Swan 2011


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