Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Friday, 2 November 2012

"The Affair" Part One - by Lauren Harries

I did not intend to send out a part of my ongoing autobiography until the book was finished. However because of recent events I decided to show this preview. This preview is a very small part of my autobiography which records my life from the age of 16. I remember that age and older for many traumatic, dramatic and I hope interesting reasons.

This is un-edited and not proof written, it might show my poor grammar and occasional colloquialisms. No criticisms of any of the above please. Any mistakes will be rectified before publication.

                                                             “THE AFFAIR”
                                                             Lauren Harries

As I wheeled my suitcase out of Paddington station I looked around to see where my mother was. She had two broken hips and was tottering a bit on her high heels. I took one of the  heavy bags from her shoulder. My mother was perspiring under the weight of the bags. The bags contained two sets of heated rollers, a large box of my jewellery and a large picnic. My father always made us food to take on our trips as we seldom ate in hotel restaurants.  

I saw a man holding a large board with my name on it coming toward me. Ms. Harries? He asked politely. I acknowledged and was glad when he took my luggage from me and led mum and I to the exit.

We gratefully entered the air conditioned limo, and grabbed the two bottles of the water he offered us. Not exactly a cocktail bar, but air-conditioning, a polite, silent driver, fabulous.

We were being taken to Elstree studio the 10 mile journey could take from one hour to ninety minutes, depending on the traffic. On this hot August day, the traffic seemed quiet so we were hoping for a quick arrival.

I was booked to appear on the TV programme 'Big Brother's Big Mouth', an offshoot of Big Brother. The show aired live at 6.30pm and I was expected at 4.00pm. TV producers like to have their guests at the studio at least 21/2 hours before the programme aired.

Mum and I, as always marvelled at the fabulous London architecture as we sped through the streets. The driver cleverly avoided a group of Japanese photographers standing near the zebra crossing on Abbey Road. They were photographing the beatles studio. I wondered at the enthusiasm of fans. Being a fan of no-one, I couldn't understand it.

A large Bentley with tinted windows stopped beside us at some traffic lights. "I'll get one of those for dad when I get my own show, he still regrets losing his Rolls Royce,” I said. My mother answered with her beautiful wistful blue eyes, "I know you will love, and it won't be long now".

I had noticed my mother eating one of her homemade 'herbal' cakes as the train approached London. She was now pleasantly stoned. I guess she needed that feeling to be pleasant to the television people, whom she often found false and egotistical.

My mother also had bad memories of London where she had lived for many years. She had made a fortune with a business she had opened in Mayfair but during that time a man had broken her heart. I couldn't help seeing the sadness in her eyes when we drove through parts of London she had lived with this creature.

We reached the studio at 4.30 pm, I was met by two runners, male and female, I thrust my luggage at them and they led us to a dressing room. It was as big as my ensuite bathroom at home, and also shabby. I had never used such a bad room in a studio. It was pointless saying anything, as they had already indicated that this was the largest dressing room, accept Russell's of course. I told the female runner that I needed to go to make-up as soon as possible, although I managed my own sparse make-up, I needed the facility of a good mirror. I hoped someone could do something with my hair. The runner looked amused, "I'm sorry she said, it’s only small and Russell is having his make-up done at present.” She added that there was one make-up girl, and the room was small. I asked her to let me know when Russell had finished with the room. The other runner asked if we would like a drink and we ordered two teas and some water.

My mother had removed her black suit jacket and high heels. Mum had been preparing me for shows for many years, she knew that time was of the essence. T.V. crews don't wait for anyone, especially on a live show. She had plugged my two sets of electric rollers into the one available power point. My make-up bag had been placed on the shelf of the room. I looked in the miniscule dressing room mirror and thought my hair looked like shit.

My mother was on her knees sifting through my small overflowing suitcase to find the outfit I would wear that night. Although I was spending one night in London, as usual I had packed for a week.  I imagined after a live show, I would get calls the next day from agents, or be asked to do other TV work.  When I was James, it happened often and I would go from one show to another.

I had been wearing women's clothes for only a few years since my gender reassignment operation, and I was trying to find the right look. After my operation I would wear bodices and skirts up to my arse. Now I went for a more understated look. This was one of the reasons my mother accompanied me to shows. She had been a model in the sixties. She had good taste. In fact I often wore her size 10 vintage sixties pieces from Biba and other good fashion houses.

My mother hung up a black mini skirt and a black cashmere sequined short sleeved jumper. We had agreed this would look good for an early show. Thank god the outfit was not badly creased; there was no wardrobe lady here to iron artiste’s clothes. Mum brought out a pair of sheer tights and the black high heeled shoes that would accompany the outfit. The room was stuffy and smelt of body odour from previous occupants. The one window was open but the room was airless. When the rollers were heated I sat on the floor whilst my mother manipulated the rollers through my wild frizzy curls.
I had removed the clothes I had travelled in and was dressed in my bra and pants under a long black silk dressing gown.

The male runner returned with our drinks. I noted the time and asked if Russell was finished with make-up yet?
He shook his head with fear and embarrassment; I knew I would have to handle Russell vacating make-up myself.

It was 5.15pm and I knew I would be called on set at 5.45 at the latest. I knew the time it took to get miked up etc., and I had to appear at the beginning and throughout the show.

I took my tea and walked down the corridor to the room allocated for make-up. The room had a large mirror stretching across a small room. The table under it was cluttered with dirty drink containers and make-up. Russell was sitting on the chair closest to the door. A pretty blonde girl was fiddling with his hair as he flirted outrageously with her. I was really pissed off. I passed Russell and sat on the only other chair which was next to him. He looked shocked. I ignored him and spoke to the make-up girl. I asked her if she should do something with my hair. She was quite annoyed and said she would do something when she had finished with Russell. “You're the lovely Lauren" Russell Brand said, as I was cleaning my face with baby lotion. Always wanting to get on with a show host I said "Yes Russell, lovely to meet you", Always putting my career first I said charmingly "Give me some time to talk Russell" I had watched the show once, for research. I was aware that Russell took over the show and had verbal dihorea when before a camera. He didn't reply, and I said, "Come on Russell, you have a show, give me some air time". I was pissed at talk show hosts giving me the usual two to three minutes, because of ego or because producers think that this is the average person's concentration level limit.
Russell was taken aback and said "I'll give you all the time I can you lovely Lauren.” I didn't want to talk any more, my appearance was too important. I rubbed my Dior foundation all over my face & neck as Russell rudely continued to take up the time of the make-up girl. I had applied waterproof mascara that morning and fortunately it was almost as good as it should be. I put baby oil on some cotton wool and removed the pale make-up. This would show my pink cheeks. I always aimed to get an English rose look. I was about to apply my pink lipstick when Russell rose and pulled me gently from the chair. This had never happened to me before and I was completely taken aback. He pulled me to him and gave me a hug. His body was skeletal; I liked someone I could hold on to. "Goodbye the beautiful Lauren" he said and left. As a few of the Television hosts I had worked with here and abroad weren't averse to having a snort of something before a show, so I thought it might be the case with Russell. Most heterosexual men who know who I am wouldn't dream of hugging me so closely they acted as though they would catch something or they would be guilty by association.

I asked the make-up girl to remove my heated rollers. Appearing down at Russell's departure, she half-heartedly removed the rollers. In those days I liked my shoulder length bob to look a bit wild. As my hair is very heavy practically each strand needs to be back brushed. This girl didn't have a clue. I patiently asked her to bring my mother to the room. My mother understood my hair perfectly. The male runner called into the room that I was due onstage in 10 minutes; my mother rushed past him with my black jumper in her hand. "You had better put this on now sweetheart, it will spoil your hair otherwise“. I removed my dressing gown and pulled the jumper over my head covered my black bra. My mother grabbed a hairdresser robe over my shoulders and began to back brush my hair as if my life depended on it. I never panicked before shows, but my mother has O.C.D., time limits always panicked her a bit. When my hair was back brushed to the limit my mother teased it back into springy curls. My hair is naturally very curly, which can be a curse or a blessing.

I was pleased with the finished effect and even the make-up girl complimented me, which was a rarity for me, I seldom received compliments from any one accept my close family. I agreed when the girl asked to apply my lipstick for me, I wasn't that good at that.

Wearing my jumper and a pair of panties I ran back to my dressing room. By the time my mother returned from collecting my rollers, dressing gown etc. I had donned my black tights and skirt. The runner called thro the open door "are you ready Lauren?”. I said I would be ready when my mother returned, she was picking up my rollers, dressing gown etc. I decided to wear simple jewellery with this outfit, small pearl earrings and a cocktail watch. I then went to the bathroom. I had a habit of going to the loo whilst runners waited. I started doing it when I was ten. I didn't necessarily need to use the toilet, but I used to get a kick out of hearing the runners looking for me, thinking I had maybe disappeared. I would appear just at the nick of time as everyone was about to have a panic attack.

My mother was back when I returned. She said she would remain behind and clear up the dressing room as she usually did. She said I looked beautiful, which is all I needed to hear. She kissed my cheek and said "Go for it Girl" She gave me my ‘channel No. 5’ perfume so I could have a spray before I left with the now impatient runner.

As I walked outside toward the BBBM studio, I saw the big brother house on the other side of the road. I could hear the noise of the hundreds of excited BB fans who would wait hours to see Davina McCall evict some poor sod.

I had to wait outside the studio whilst the BBBM audience were seated. Besides the man who was applying my mike, there were a quite a few crew members waiting with me. A young man with glasses introduced himself to me, he said he was the producer, and he was also a big fan, that was nice. I realised he was the reason I was on the show, thank god for fans I thought.

I was introduced to Shabaz, my fellow guest. He was a young asian man who had been evicted previously from the show. Like all big brother housemates he was on the usual contract to appear on this show with no fee, just a night in a hotel, and the hope of becoming famous. I then was seated on an uncomfortable high chair, which swivelled. I hoped I wouldn't fall off.

The studio audience were seated; some were staring at Shabaz and me whilst others were chatting loudly. I watched the television monitor as it ticked its way to show time. Three two, one, Russell Brand appears ahead of us and behind the audience. Can't remember if there was a warm-up man, there usually is, but Russell would have got this warm audience response anyway. He was a natural before a camera, he shone; I liked his regency style of clothes and his diction which varied from medieval to Dicksonian.

After introducing me to the audience, briefly, Russell began his show.  I wasn't really appreciative of his humour, nor his interaction with the audience. I had things to say, how was I to get a job like Brand, if no-one gave ME a chance to speak.

I can see people’s auras and looking at Shabaz I saw he was quite dark. Being in close proximity to dark people wasn't pleasant for me as I literally feel their negative energy. However the show is all to me, so I completely concentrated on Russell. His aura was red, and like any ambitious presenter he adored to be in front of the camera.

My mother was in the hospitality or ‘hostility’ room as she called it. She was accompanied by the partner/agent of Shabaz. He was so keyed up for Shabaz; his brown face looked a shade of white. I think he thought he and Shabaz had it made. He was already visualizing a regular suite at the London Dorchester.

I appreciated the cup of tea my mother gave me; she had been watching the show in the hospitality room. "You were great!" she said, “you looked really good on screen“. “Shame Russell didn't give me a word in edgewise” I said. She said, "You came over very well, I'm sure you will get other work from this". I am aware now that my mother was sick and tired of me wasting my talent on this type of show. She knew my ability, and couldn't understand why more producers couldn't see it.

Unexpectedly, Russell appeared with his entourage of young men. He's gay I thought. He left his followers and sat next to me and mum. "I remember you young Harries", he said. I thought you were a stuck up opinionated spoilt kid on Wogan, I saw you with Jonathon Ross as well, and I loved it when he called you ‘Damian‘. "Yes well he had to invite me on his show to apologise after that" I replied.

My mother went to the buffet table to get some more tea and left us talking, she had little interest of what she called the ramblings of most television folk. My mother always cuts to the chase, she doesn't talk trivia.

"Are you and mum staying at the Holiday Inn"? Russell asked somewhat sarcastically. "No" I said she is taking a train back tonight, she has to be home tonight. "So the beautiful Lauren is on her own tonight" he said, "Fancy a drink at the hotel?” My usual routine after a show was to go to my hotel room, eat the picnic my father had prepared and watch television.

But I suppose this would be a change. He looked at his band of followers and said, I'll have a drink with them and call your room, okay? You mean your apostles I said. He laughed and said "Not quite yet Lauren, not quite yet” and he kissed my hand.

As he left my side I already felt apprehensive, "What was his game?” I was picking up sparks as he sat next to me. As he kissed my hand I felt a surge of electricity. Jesus,
he certainly wasn't gay I thought. I was glad when at that time the runner said our car had arrived. Mum had packed my travelling clothes etc. and was handing them to the runner. Russell looked at me as we left. "Goodbye, the beautiful Lauren" he said, "Goodbye the beautiful Lauren's mum“.
My mother, as usual couldn't wait to leave yet another studio, I know she hated the places.

I was glad the journey to the holiday inn was short. My mother could read me like a book and I know she sensed something. Instead of stopping off at the hotel, she said she would use this car to take her to the station. I kissed my mother goodbye and tipped the driver. He was the same driver who had picked us up from the station and he had done a good job. I only tip when it is earned.

I told the driver to leave the bag with my rollers and jewellery which my mother would have usually taken back. But I had a feeling that I would need to redo my hair on this trip.

Thank god my hotel room had a window that opened as I had requested. Air-conditioning was never enough for me, I needed an open window. It was 8.15pm, usually my time for changing into a negligee and cuddling up with my picnic, but tonight was different. Tonight I had a date. I had little experience of dating men in Britain, as soon as they knew who I was, they were frightened off, not because of my small fame, but because I used to be a man. Is this too much for as man to accept? I knew it would take a man with real awareness and strength to take me on.

Had I been gay I would have other gay men queuing up, but I had never been gay, simply born in the wrong body, I was a woman. A woman who likes heterosexual tall dark well built men. I had travelled through Europe alone shortly after my operation. I had met men who didn't know who I was. But those experiences so soon after the physical and mental ordeal of changing my biological sex were a big mistake.

I had dates when I returned to the UK and I foolishly thought they wouldn't know who I was. Give me time to break it slowly I thought. But they always found out. One night I was with a man in a quiet hotel/restaurant on top of the Brecon Beacons. I had chosen the venue because I thought there were more sheep than people in that area. However after a great start to the night, no the man didn't know me fabulous; he was talking to me as a woman. A drunken resident approached our table and said "Aren't you a fella, aren't you that James Harries who was on the tele". I have blocked the rest of that evening out.

And now Russell Brand was calling me any moment.

My outfit was becoming hot so I stripped and had a bath, listening for the phone. He would have to wait if he rings now I thought. I donned another pair of bra & panties and sheer black tights. I chose a short black figure hugging silk dress from my suitcase. This dress was fabulous because it never creased. I wiped away all make-up except my mascara. I only wore facial make-up for television. I am lucky as I have peaches and cream skin. I added some more pink lipstick. As the dress had quite low cleavage I wore a choker necklace. It was a butler piece, a black ribbon with a medium sized red enamelled and diamante rose threaded through the centre. I clipped on the matching earrings. I chose my favourite white gold and diamond small cocktail watch. For a bit of goth I wore a huge red crystal skeleton ring on my right hand. On my left hand finger I wore a butler ring with large red lips. If that was over the top, so what; I love jewellery, why not show it.

That was it, a splash of my Chanel and I was ready, but ready for what?...