March 2016. Jelly I are sharing a studio condo in Maybunga, in Pasig City, Metro Manila. Previously we were in a larger condo and things were much easier. Now the place is like a pressure-cooker.
As ever the television goes on after our morning sex session. This is when I usually try to work and it appears that Jelly has hearing difficulties.
The diet is monotonous. At noon, it’s Showtime, a variety revue hosted by Vice Ganda, a well-known gay performer. Needless to say, Jelly is mesmerised, smiling. There is nothing coming out of the television – even though the volume is full blast. It’s like an anaesthetic.
Curiously, I am reminded of Grampian Television’s ‘One o’Clock Gang’, hosted by Larry Marshall, that was the daily accompaniment to lunch when I was a child. It shows the depth of the penetration; that was 50 years ago and I can still see the faces of Marshall and Andy Stewart in flickering 405-line black and white.
Nothing has changed; The One o’Clock Gang has emigrated and transmogrified into ‘Eat Bulaga’ and ‘Showtime’. But Showtime has a trans anchor. It’s a killer selling point.
The real televisual clue to the lives of ladyboys, however, is in the ‘tele-series’.
The Philippines has become very important to me over the last four years. It’s now the focus of much of my life and I want to spend more time there. The winters in France are just too cold for me now.
When you visit a country for longer periods, months at a time, as I do, you can’t do quite what the holiday tourist does. It’s partly to do with budgets but also with burnout. You have to learn to chill and take it easy.
Flying out to the Philippines
Before the start is always the bit that has me in a fankle. I get travel stress a week before The Flight. No matter how long I give myself for preparation the last few days are a nightmare — and I always forget something. (This time it was the sandwiches for the train — but I had time to go back.)
Because I live in rural France, just getting to the airport is a journey. I take the train from Chagny to Charles de Gaulle airport. You can either go direct to Paris Gare de Lyon and then get the RER across to Roissy, or take a direct train. I do the latter. And after nearly missing the flight on a previous trip to the Philippines — because of a train delay — I always leave a lot of time now.
When I find myself on the platform at Chagny, it’s OK. The pressure goes away. I’m in the pipe now, and at the other end of it is the Philippines. All I have to do is get on the right trains and planes and I’ll get there.
Chagny station — the beginning
Flying over China
Some serious badlands down there
This is Shanghai from the air. Huge.
And this is the airport there. Much nicer than Beijing.