An English Country Garden is a powerful real life story about how crossdressing has impacted the life of Julius Braddock, a former press photographer from South Africa. It is a serious study of crossdressing, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
At times frightening and poignant, the story explores the extremes of human emotions and looks at how crossdressing helps, and how one particular person can change the experience of crossdressing radically. Looking at stages familiar to most people who crossdress, this narrative provides a touching and helpful insight to allowing feminine aspect of oneself to develop.
The narrative is delivered in four sections, and readers are encouraged to comment and share thoughts about each part, to provide their own insights and experience to others on this journey.
An English Country Garden is free but I do ask you to use the comments as you work through the four parts. It helps others. FD
You can continue to Part 1 by using the link below.
An English Country Garden – Part 1
I was sent to boarding school at the age of seven, and prepared for a world that disappeared long before I was born. I was given values that would guide me, and prepared with beliefs that were meant to protect me.
Each morning we would go to a church service in the school chapel, and we’d say The Creed. Here’s how it starts:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I was a good boy.
Today I’m wearing a beautiful kilt, some eye makeup and a little lip gloss. My journey was one you may find surprising. I hope you enjoy it.
I didn’t just suddenly start crossdressing. It’s a little more complicated than that. I’d like you to join me back in 1993.
You’re going to need some combat boots, and it’s going to be hot. That’s because we’re going to South Africa – more correctly Meadowlands, in Soweto. The township is in revolt. It’s early morning and the sun is pushing through the smoke of burning tires, and the dust that the wind carries off nearby mine dumps.
I’d not slept well that night. I watched the moons glow painting silver shadows on a monochrome nightscape. It was cold, but I was fine. And the day started as it usually does.
I’d got an early call to get into the township to cover the rioting that was expected that morning. There was an ANC funeral scheduled, which meant that the rival IFP faction would likely use the opportunity to lob in a grenade or two. It was routine, though saying so today seems flippant. It was just the way things were going at the time.
Three of us were driving in from Johannesburg. I sat in the rear seat behind Juhan. The highway passes under a couple of bridges as you get into Soweto. We were approaching one of these overpasses, and I said to Juhan, “You fixed the Land Rover up nicely.”
“It cost me another thousand rand,” he said sounding bitter. “That’s everything I made on the Alex stuff last week.”
Juhan was a freelancer, and not on the deal that I got with an agency. I was riding with him and another photographer, Kobus. We often hung together when there was rioting. Between us we managed to cover most of the harder situations and were pretty good at it. Most of the photographers chose who they worked with carefully. You never were quite sure what you might need from your friends. A roll of film? A transfusion?
I should explain that a little. Being ‘good at it’ meant that we’d come back in one piece with something the newspapers or magazines could use. For the freelancers this was a speculative gig, sometimes they did well and sometimes they couldn’t get a sale. I was lucky, being a staffer on an agency. In many situations we’d not work so closely together, but when there was going to be serious trouble it made sense to work in a group, there being plenty of material for everyone.
“That headlight alone cost four hundred to replace,” moaned Juhan as we passed under the bridge. For a moment I thought he was going to ask me to contribute. “I think those buggers think I’m their ticket for life.”
“You want some cash from me,” I ventured. “I can contribute, if you like.”
A moment later the vehicle shuddered, and the windscreen went blank as a breeze block bounced off the bonnet and came through the window, bringing most of the glass with it.
Juhan swerved wildly across the road and into the oncoming lane, which was deserted as no one was travelling that morning unless they had to. We slid to a halt on the grass shoulder. I threw my door open and hurled myself into the ditch by the road. There was the familiar pop pop of shooting about a hundred yards away, on the bridge.
I could hear Kobus groaning. Juhan was already in the ditch a few yards away.
“Dammit, Juhan,” I said. “You’re a goddam bullet magnet.”
“That wasn’t a bullet, it was a breeze block,” he pointed out.
Kobus didn’t sound good.
“We’d better get him out, they’ll be shooting at us in a minute,” said Juhan. He paused a moment and then we both ran to the vehicle together and pulled Kobus from the passenger seat. There was more blood than I expected. As we pulled him from the vehicle the pop pop sounds changed as someone spotted us dragging Kobus to the ditch. We heard the buzz saw hum as the shooter found our range and started peppering shots in our direction. The slap slap slap sound of shots hitting the edges of the ditch sounded a hell of a lot more menacing than what had been happening before.
A round took out the back window of the Land Rover. Another a tire.
“Fuck!” said Juhan. That damned Land Rover was his pride and joy. A shot found the spare tire.
As we sheltered in the ditch, in comparative safety, I looked at Kobus. He’d never been exactly handsome. A breeze block in the face hadn’t done much to improve his looks, though. There was a horrible gash across his forehead, and it was bleeding profusely. I pressed my hand to the wound, but it wouldn’t stop bleeding.
“We gotta get some help,” I said. My hands were shaking, but I didn’t think much about it at the time. Stay focussed.
“If we work our way up here, we’ll be able to make a run for it into that tall grass,” said Juhan as he surveyed the scene. “It’ll give us a bit of cover, and we might be able to make it to those buildings.”
I looked where he was indicating.
“The ones that are burning? Does that really seem like a good idea?” I said doubtfully.
“You got anything better?”
We crawled on our bellies up the ditch, dragging Kobus, now unconscious, behind us. A few more rounds had hit the Land Rover, but while they were shooting the vehicle up, they weren’t shooting at us.
By the time we reached the grass another car had been hit and sprayed with fire. Whoever was doing the shooting wasn’t that interested in us. We broke for the tall grass dragging Kobus between us. A small block house was smouldering, a tire burning nearby releasing clouds of smoke across the road. Between the smoke and the long grass we had enough cover to make it to the block house and get behind it to find shelter.
That’s where we ran into a bit of luck. Sheltering behind the block house was a Buffel armoured car. We’d not been able to see it from the road, and I guessed the snipers by the bridge were unaware that the vehicle and its complement of eight SADF soldiers were there.
We dragged Kobus to the vehicle, and a young white faced officer looked down at us and then climbed down.
“You able to get him out of here?” said Juhan in Afrikaans, nodding at Kobus.
“Journalist?” asked the officer.
“Photographer,” replied Juhan.
The office went to the rear of the vehicle and talked to one of his men. A moment later he was on the radio and calling in some support and talking about the wounded photographer. One of his men climbed down and started bandaging Kobus’s head, stemming the copious flow of blood.
It seemed to get hotter, and Juhan and I were soaked in sweat from our exertions already. Like us, most of the SADF boys didn’t want to be there. Many were young, and just trying to get through this alive. They were young, and they were white and most looked frightened. We certainly weren’t sympathising with them, but given enough blood and the prospect that we might be in real trouble, we’d be co-operative with them. After you were there a while, you realised that for their part they were generally ok guys.
The soldiers were well concealed here behind the block house. From this position the officer could guide in a counter strike against the people on the bridge, or even mount it himself with his small force of men.
“There’s a couple of zulu snipers up there.” Said the officer.
“No shit,” I replied.
“They’re hitting anything that comes in for the funeral,” he continued. “They’ve got that whole road locked down.”
We coughed as the wind backed and a cloud of rubber tire smoke engulfed us. Juhan looked at the tire ablaze in the distance and I could sense his curiosity.
“Jeez,” I said. “That crap stinks.”
Juhan was carefully moving to get a better look at the burning tire. He climbed on the back of the Buffel, switching out his lens to a three hundred, and focused on the tire a hundred yards away. He seemed fascinated by it.
“Shit,” he said. “The poor sod’s still alive.”
“What are you talking about,” I said, pulling myself up onto the rear of the vehicle to get a better view.
“That’s a necklacing. Someone’s burning up there.” Juhan banged off a couple of frames, and called the officer.
“I think that guy’s alive,” said Juhan staring through the long lens. “Yes, he’s definitely alive.”
Necklacing is a very South African pastime. The victim is usually bound, a tire secured around their neck, and he’s then doused in gasoline. The tire catches fire and things run their course quickly. The victim is usually horrifically disfigured and dies in agony.
“These fuckers are animals,” said the young officer, looking through his binoculars. He seemed at a loss for a moment, then shouted an order to his driver and the other soldiers. He left two to guard the young soldier administering first aid to Kobus, and the other five readied their weapons.
Crouching down in the rear of the armoured truck we felt the Mercedes diesel bark into life and the powerful vehicle jumped forward spitting up dirt from all four massive wheels and then raced up the road. Almost immediately the Buffel was spotted and started taking concentrated fire.
“Jesus,” said the officer. “It’s an ambush. It’s going to get sticky.” Considering the circumstances, he was incredibly calm, and brave.
Inside the rear of the vehicle I heard shot after shot slam into the armoured skin of the Buffel. Some of these were a damned sight heavier weapons than the sniper fire. These were GPMG rounds. This was a set up. Each round hammered the armour and inside it rang like a bell.
Keeping my head down I held on and a moment later the Buffel skidded to a halt. There was some backing and maneuvering, as the driver shifted the vehicle to a position to allow the soldiers to climb down and shelter from the shooting, which was now coming from several directions.
“This doesn’t look so good,” said Juhan. “I mean, it really doesn’t.”
The side door fell open and we saw what we’d come up the road for. There was a man (if that’s what the poor wretch could still be called), tire around his neck, aflame and thrashing about screaming. His legs were tied together, so he couldn’t run far. The burns were all over his upper body, but from the waist down he seemed untouched.
The officer was shouting at his men, and one found an old blanket from his pack, all the time shooting kicking up gravel, and ringing off the Buffel. I gotta say, what happened next took some real guts. The young officer, maybe 23 years old, jumped out of the buffel, and smothered the flames that were engulfing the poor man. He struggled to get the screaming man closer to the vehicle. The shots were hammering into the hull of the Buffel, and the both Juhan and I watched as the officer dragged the poor creature toward the Buffel door. I got a frame or two off as he propped him up and began lifting the man aboard.
I framed up a shot and as the officer and a couple of his men lifted the man, still thrashing and screaming, burned flesh dropping from him in strips. It was horrible, and loud and hot and then, as I framed the shot I watched the back of his head explode and felt the warm wet…
No, I won’t describe it further. I don’t think I need to. If you wonder at my memory and all the detail, it’s easy. You see, I saw it every night for months, and occasionally I still do. And that was over 25 years ago.
Juhan later said that the poor fuck was dead the moment they put that tire around his neck. He was just bait to draw out the SADF unit. He was going to get it all along, and we happened to be in on the thing. Juhan would know, he’d done several years in the SADF before becoming a press photographer.
Kobus never saw another of his pictures in print. He was blinded by the breeze block, so he didn’t see much else either.
There’s a smell of toast coming from the kitchen. It’s mid morning and we’ve got that west coast rain coming in off the Pacific. It’s nearly thirty years later.
I’m dozing, and people are at work. It’s not me being lazy, it’s just that today I don’t feel much like getting out of bed.
Shannon painted my nails last night. I love it when she does that. She has no idea. She does things, and she laughs and is playful, like a child. Not bad for 45. And that body.
As I lie here I’m playing the video in my head of the last twenty four hours. We were in the hot springs, the darkness and the warm water, and the magic of her sensuality, that is anyone’s dream. How did I ever get so lucky?
I can smell her, feel the warmth of her face against mine as she comes back to bed. My god, what is it that makes a woman so magical? And how do some have so much of it!
I can see the sun trying to break through and fall on the folds of the sheet, and the shape of her legs beneath the whiteness. In this state of half wakefulness I can feel her warmth. The scent of her drifts over me and I see in my mind what we did last night.
There was a tenderness in the way she passed me the panties. Her soft touch as she helped pull the stockings up my legs – newly shaved. She helped me into a corset, and she said something about ‘good to have such a tall girlfriend.’
My heart skipped a beat at that. Her soft voice, echoing in my memory, saying things I feel rather than hear. How wonderful that she helps me in the heels. What can I say to her that will ever convey my happiness and gratitude for what she’s doing.
Each beat of my heart is turned to music by the thought of her. In my mind I see her lips, how soft they are as they brush my face, and she touches me with such gentleness.
I could see the dawns glow warming the colours of our skin in the morning light just a few hours ago. I listened to her sleeping breath, and I felt wonderful.
I am relaxed. I am happy. I am safe.
I was prepared for life by well meaning people who told me that love conquered all and that I’d grow up, work hard, marry, have children and we’d all live happily ever after. The only problem was that the world doesn’t work like that.
No one told me that monogamy might not be the answer for everyone. No one told me that sometimes life changes us, and we end up as different people. No one told me that some scars don’t even show up for ten years.
Then one day I woke up to find the whole world had changed. Things I thought had always been one thing, had been something else all along. One day I woke up and didn’t even recognise myself.
To continue to Part 2 please proceed to this page – https://fionadobson.com/an-english-country-garden-part-2/.