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Second Chance

Second Chance

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Second Chance

146 página
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Oct 19, 2010


John's a (FtM) transgender man. In 1950s UK, prejudice about sex change was rife. Joan helped, through private surgery, Jo’s change to John. Both emigrated to NZ, married, & lived happily until Joan’s death in 1989. ‘Second Chance’ is the sequel, a new love story. John, now retired, married Zella, who won her own battles with depression and cancer. Anyone can have a second chance.

Oct 19, 2010

Sobre el autor

In my childhood, brought up as a girl, I had a white West Highland terrier. My romps with the pup should have indicated my true sexual nature, as did my interest in the tool shed and car. My father understood but mother just thought me a tomboy who would outgrow it. She never knew of my later change, dying of cancer a year before.My London school was evacuated in wartime, when women took over men’s work and joined the forces. During those years sexual differences were of little consequence. After the war, however, when roles returned to normal, my life became increasingly unbearable.In the late 1950s, Joan, then my only friend and love, saved me from suicide and helped me through private gender reassignment surgery. To avoid the British paparazzi, we emigrated to New Zealand and married. In Auckland, I was lecturer in chemistry at the University. Later I moved to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) to start a Tribology Section, working on the science of friction, lubrication and wear.In 1973 we moved to Wellington where I continued my research at DSIR’s Physics and Engineering Division. When Joan developed heart trouble I retired at 55 years old, in 1982, to have some years together ( Joan being older than I) before the unthinkable happened.We bought a 10 acre bush section in Coromandel, our favourite holiday location. The land rose steeply to a hill top, the harbour clearly visible from our cottage, located next door to Barry Brickell’s famous pottery and tourist railway. Sadly, in 1989, Joan died of a stroke.After several years alone, I joined a singles club and eventually, after many introductions, met Zella who gave me my second chance. We married in January 1995 and moved to a 5 bed-roomed house on half an acre, sited on a peninsula between the sea and Coromandel harbour, where we ran a Bed and Breakfast business for the next five years. In the year 2000, we sold the B and B and built a house overlooking the Firth, in Thames.Here I joined the local Writers Group, published my autobiography ‘A Change for Good’ in 2006, and wrote the sequel ‘Second Chance,’ now published here as an E-book.

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Second Chance - John Thorp

Second Chance

John Thorp


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Mackay Books on Smashwords

Second Chance

Copyright © 2010 by John Thorp

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.



1 Companion for a year

2 Introductions

3 Zella

4 Treachery ahead and Zella’s second chance

5 The proposal

6 The visit to Japan

7 The Guest House and the Wedding

8 Unforeseen diversions

9 The move from Coromandel

10 Cancer strikes again. This time life-threatening

11 Chemotherapy and Rotorua beckons

12 My hip prosthesis

13 ‘A Change for Good’ - published at last

14 The ‘Clayton’ cruise

15 Cherry blossom in Japan

16 Trials ahead

17 Satellite navigation

18 Welcome Aboard to a transgender ex merchant navy Master Mariner

19 Those special dogs in my life

20 The battle of the sexes

21 Lessons of a lifetime

22 No regrets

23 What next?



I WAS ALONE. The unthinkable had happened. Joan, the love of my life, the only love, best friend, wife, sometimes mother, had died. For thirty-three years we had avoided people, even in New Zealand where we had sought refuge from the press hounds of our home country, England. I was a transgender man. My degrees, achievements and research publications came to nothing when such news was heard. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s transsexuality was not understood. You were rejected - not nice to know. Except Joan. She had known and understood from the day we met. She left her family, saved me from suicide and stood by me during the months of illegal operations in London so I could have the body my mind decreed.

At that time my mother had died of cancer, and my father, then divorced, had lost touch. My only relative was a cousin, my change in the late 1950s being an embarrassment, coinciding with the time of her prospective marriage. So, except for Joan, I had been alone.

After the gender operations, the British press had even followed me to New Zealand. A vindictive British reporter who had been refused an interview cabled my details to a New Zealand newspaper dispatched throughout both North and South Islands. My new position in 1960 as a lecturer in physical chemistry at the University of Auckland had hung in the balance. I was saved by my head of department who valued both my teaching and research work. From then on Joan and I kept ourselves to ourselves, living quietly in the bush outside the city, our love for each other not needing others.

After our retirement in 1985 to a remote ten-acre block in Coromandel, folk from a local church helped me during the months I looked after Joan, following her paralysis from a stroke. Now there was no-one. But I knew I had to go on or else Joan would have lived her life for nothing. And then someone did call - a lady from the church who had held the fort while I did the shopping. She invited me to an evening service when a couple were to give testimonies. I’d nowhere else to go so I went. The couple spoke of their life change from drinking and ruin to abstinence and prosperity. A fellow beside me kept urging me to go up for a blessing at the end of the service. In the end, to shut him up, I went. Things felt no different afterwards. That night, however, I slept for the first time in three months. And when I awoke, I knew I could start life again.

Before Joan died she said I should marry again. I couldn’t even face the thought then. In fact it was two years before I felt I could look for another partner. My first attempt was a disaster which lasted but a year. But then, a year later, after joining an ‘Introductions Club’ I met a remarkable woman from Auckland who had also overcome troubles: a husband who’d left for another woman, years of depression, her grown son and daughter leaving to live overseas and, later, overcoming life-threatening bowel cancer. Zella loved people, even a transgender like myself.

It is surely love that makes the world go round. Love makes life worthwhile. Love can uplift us from life’s inevitable crashes. And with love there is hope. With love, ordinary folk can face and come through devastating crises.

I was lucky to meet Zella. Not that life was then happy ever after. It takes determination and work. One never forgets those loved before but love has no boundaries. One can love again, life can be full again. We may be ordinary but the power of the human mind and of the spirit within us can conquer all, even death.

This is a sequel to ‘A Change for Good’ (Cape Catley Ltd., 2006). It tells of my life after Joan’s death, the years of search for a companion and of eventually finding love again. It is a story relating how an ordinary woman also overcame obstacles and finally came to love me, a transgender man, and turn my life around.

Chapter 1

Companion for a year

NEWS OF MY WIFE’S DEATH brought several sympathetic women to my door. My neighbour from an adjacent lifestyle block brought me a week’s supply of cooked vegetables, a thoughtful godsend at the time. Barbara, our local doctor, called after hours and stayed for an off-the-cuff meal. It meant so much to talk to someone.

Lonely and grief-stricken, I renewed my long-abandoned Christian allegiance. Joan had been a devout Christian until her divorce. The Anglican church in those days would not serve Communion to divorcees. She rarely attended church afterwards, especially as I had given up going, myself, after my college years. I believed in Christianity but not with church dogma decreed by early Church Fathers several centuries after the death of Jesus. Nevertheless, the warmth of many of the members of the Elim Church I attended at Coromandel helped me through those first lonely months. A large part of my grief was self pity. On recognising this and concentrating on the needs of others my life took on a new meaning.

Some months later my baptism took place at a quiet sandy bay with a small congregation on the beach, together with a few curious onlookers. I began to look at the Bible again, now nearly forty years after I’d first read it together with my university girlfriend in the late evenings, after our studies of the day were finished. My degree in chemistry and interests in science, I found, gave an explanation of many things I formerly questioned. Lot’s wife, for example, supposedly turned into a pillar of salt, could be a salt deposit, common in the Dead Sea area, on an obelisk of rocks placed over her body to mark her demise. The fall of Jericho could be explained in terms of the vibration of marching feet bringing down the walls. It is well known that soldiers never march in unison over a bridge. Further, the resurrection of the crucified Jesus became a strong possibility, with matter a form of energy. I started to write a manuscript on science and religion, working for over a year, often into the early hours. The sole publisher approached did not accept it, saying they already had similar proposals. But the writing kept my mind occupied and put my Christian belief on a more firm foundation than proposed church dogma.

It was during this year on my own, struggling to gain acceptance in the community and believing among my best friends were those who knew of my past history, I confided in too many acquaintances. It was a period of weakness in my life. I still sorely missed the love that had encompassed me during my thirty-three years with Joan. I was now hoping for understanding and comfort. Coromandel is a small town. My confidential news of transsexuality was probably broadcast widely. Nothing was actually said, but it was still something one did not mention openly at that time. I noticed some people seemed to react differently, even a few from my church. I became increasingly lonely, my ten-acre bush section, formerly enjoyed, becoming an isolated confinement.

After two years it was no secret I hoped to find a companion, perhaps even a partner. I joined a professional singles club and was introduced to two ladies in Auckland. It proved an expensive and dismal failure. My Elim pastor, however, said he knew of a suitable lady, though she attended the Anglican church. After several weeks waiting in anticipation we finally met at a combined service. Afterwards we talked while awaiting her transport which, as luck would have it, failed to turn up. So I offered to take her home, or rather, to where she was staying with a friend. We continued to talk long after I pulled up outside her address.

Naomi was also from England and like Joan had been a school teacher. She formerly taught at a school in Colchester, my mother’s home town which I knew so well. We had a lot in common. A widow of seven years, slim and energetic, six months younger than myself - my hopes went sky high! That night I slept fitfully, excited I had perhaps met the one. From then on we spent a lot of time together, sometimes the entire day, telling our life stories. Soon we exchanged our innermost secrets, mine the change in sex, hers a short period of depression in a mental hospital. To my pleasant surprise my sexual history seemed to have little impact. She said it made no difference. Nor did I take much notice of Naomi’s mental illness. It was in the past, wasn’t it? Today was what mattered. In six weeks she moved into my farmlet cottage, my second bedroom a vast improvement on her previous accommodation, virtually an outhouse with a leaking roof.

Naomi had already booked a trip back to England. We decided to get married so I could join her and meet her family in the U.K. To obtain a joint British passport, we hastily tied the knot in the local postmaster’s office. In the following weeks while awaiting this document we arranged a more romantic service in the Anglican Church, the reception attended by many of our friends. We had only known each other a ridiculously short time many said. However, in those few weeks we had spent as much time together as working couples during a year of weekends.

Then out of the blue Joan’s grandson, Alex, now eighteen and six foot tall, turned up and was able to stay and look after my property, my golden Labrador, Rufus, and the two cats. And so in due course, our joint passport having arrived by courier in the nick of time the night before, Alex drove my new wife and me to

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