Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that are the most successful. And so it is with the video for piglet‘s (aka Charlie Loane) current single ‘building site outside‘. The London-based Irish singer-songwriter has written a song which is a deeply personal exploration of the trans experience. Knowing the full backstory of a song’s creation can add such emotion to the experience of listening to it. piglet shares the following:
“I wrote this song at the final hurdle of receiving a prescription for gender affirming hormones. I’d been through the bulk of the ridiculous assault course of NHS assessments, a process which took at least three years (which sounds like, and was, a long time but by today’s standards would be considered a mad stroke of luck). Some highlights of this absurd process include obtaining a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria (being trans is not an illness lol, but here we are) and being asked extremely invasive and irrelevant questions along with a hundred other things that I have no interest in revisiting. I wrote this song after going to my GP for my first testosterone injection, only to find that they hadn’t received the necessary documentation from the gender identity clinic. They told me to come back in 10 days in hopes that things would be sorted by then.
This was by no means the biggest obstacle I had faced in accessing treatment, but for some reason it hit me particularly hard so close yet so far or something like that. Its quite a literal song which describes me walking to and from the GP surgery and how I was feeling throughout the verses, interspersed with the chorus which describes the interaction I had with the pharmacist a while later after receiving the prescription. We had always had a very nice relationship previously I’d been in and out of the pharmacy every couple of weeks for the previous year and a half and we would always have a nice chat and a bit of a laugh. When I handed her the prescription for testosterone her attitude towards me changed completely. She no longer looked me in the eye or made small talk, instead staring straight through me as if I wasn’t there. Again, this is on the very lowest end of the scale in terms of the hostility trans people face in every day life but sometimes the small things stick with you. They’re easier to address than the bigger things anyway in my experience. I’m very lucky to be able to say that I’ve been on hormones a good few years now and have been able to have surgery on my chest through the nhs too for which I am eternally grateful. I can’t describe the immensely positive impact that these things have had on every day of my life since then.”
The video is perhaps an unexpected visual accompaniment to the track but it’s an utter joy. I wonder if it was filmed in one take? Also, how much practise did it take to get it right? The details such as not tripping over the dog made me smile, as did the cycle helmet being lowered into the frame. But what struck me the most was the theme of the song, and yet this video was made in collaboration with three helpers – arguably the opposite situation of the experience being described.
The section of cycling uphill through the backdrop of the building site is completely understandable, the struggle of the trans experience. Followed by the dark clouds and rain. But then hope as the sky clears. This beautifully crafted emotive acoustic track is so heartfelt but the video has such warmth and humour. The shuddering shoulders of the laughing helpers towards the end are obviously completely authentic. And do watch to the very end. A video that probably cost peanuts to make, but will stay long in the memory.