50 Random Facts About Me

Hey Readers

I think it’s fair to say that many of you if you are regular readers will know a reasonable amount me.  You will know for example that I am a trans woman, a poet , a graduate,
a member of the Scottish National Party,  and  a Celtic fan. These are things which if you’ve been reading this blog or know me in personal capacity you will or should be aware of This post however will reveal some deeper secrets and hidden gems on the things I’ve done and the people I’ve met in my journey through this life. When it came to the title it suggested itself and I just run with it, so here goes for the rollercoaster ride that is 50 Random Facts About Me. I hope you enjoy both the read and the journey.

50 Random Facts About Me

(1) You all know  I love Donny Osmond and was a member of the Osmond’s Fan Club in my teens but you might not know that I also love Scottish and Irish traditional music and in particular I enjoy the work of Dick Gaughan, Siobhan Miller, Matt McGinn, Christy Moore, and the amazing Rachel Sermanni.

(2) Jackie magazine was my secret read as a teenager (it had to be secret it was the 1970’s

(3) My childhood nicknames were curly and half pint

(4 ) My favourite TV shows are The Waltons, Not Going Out, Only Fools And Horses,  and City Lights.

(5) I love blogger chat groups and now have a virtual family because of them.

(6) I can speak a bit of Gaelic and I’m reasonably fluent in Scots

(7) I am a massive Rugby Union fan and support Glasgow, Scotland, and The British And Irish Lions

(8) I love Scotland’s two national dishes Haggis and Curry  but my favourite meals are Fish and Chips, Mince And Tatties and  Lasagne.

(9) My favourite three songs
are Puppy Love for obvious reasons. Marigolds by Anna Meldrum, and  Handful  Of Earth By Dick Gaughan

(10) My favourite perfume is Ghost Sweetheart.

(11) I can’t stand acidic foods so oranges beetroot and pickles are an absolute no-no.

(12) I have toured Scotland with various community theatre companies. 

(13) I’ve worked as a Disability Equality Trainer

(14) I love Blue Chair Brownies

(15) My favourite bars include The Hoops, The Polo Lounge, and The Banshee Labyrinth

(16) I’ve tried my hand at Stand Up Comedy and appeared on stage with amongst others Des MacLean, Janey Godley, Michael Redmond, and Miles Jupp

(17 ) My favourite countries apart from Scotland, are Ireland ,  The Netherlands,  Germany and Italy (The last one is for the food, the fashion and the men.

(18) My favourite poems are In The Snack Bar By Edwin Morgan,  The Life Of Mrs Reilly By Liz Lochhead , Change At Preston By Des Dillon, This Is My Body and When Did You Realise By Agnes Török, United Colours Of Cumnock By Jim Monaghan and Alba By Victoria McNulty. The last four  are available on You Tube if you to check them out.

(19) l once wanted to be Princess Diana so I could marry Prince Edward. I don’t know what possessed me but I’m guessing it was hormones.

(20) My mum finally allowed me to wear black tights when I reached my 16th birthday and bought me 3 pairs as a present. 

(21) I would love to play a musical instrument especially guitar or the fiddle.

(22) I repeatedly tried to write novels on subjects I knew nothing about but always gave up in the end and decided to settle on poetry.

(23) I kept some lines and phrases from my failed attempts at prose and a few of them are now titles of my best known poems.

(24) I love cookery programmes but I can’t cook to save myself

(25) My favourite colour is black as it has a lovely slimming effect.

(26) I love Strictly Come Dancing

(27) Christmas movies make me cry

(28) I enjoy going to the theatre especially for comedies I love anything by Wildcat or 7:84. My favourite show of all time is Jackie The Musical.

(29) I have performed my poems in some very strange venues including Shettleston Tesco and a swimming pool in Govanhill baths

(30) My favourite flowers are Tulips and Roses

(31) I have an Apple shaped  figure

(32) I have epilepsy which is controlled by medication 

(33) I am a fierce woman who has two birthdays per year my real one which celebrates the day I was born and my transformation day which is the 19th December.

(34) The Labour Leader of Glasgow City Council Frank McAveety  is the reason I joined the SNP. He knew independence was the deal breaker that stopped me joining his party but said my party needed me for my passion and knowledge on equality issues.

(35) I am a keen follower of Gaelic Games and support Donegal in Gaelic Football and Galway when it comes to hurling.

(36) In 1989 I was a member of the cast of City the biggest community play ever staged in Glasgow and the opening night was on my birthday.

(37) I love River Island Woman’s wear, Boux Avenue lingerie, and Wolford tights.

(38) Attending Girls Day Out was one of the best days of my life

(39) I was introduced to the Lisbon Lions on the opening night of the play The Lions Of Lisbon in 1992. The play was written to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Celtic’s European Cup win.

(40) I host the Southside Words And Music night and have done officially since 2006. Though my predecessor had been training me up for it.  since 2003

(41) I once shared an interesting bus journey with former Rangers captain and manager John Greig. We talked on a wide range of issues and I found him to be very pleasant company.  

(42) On coming out as a trans woman to my former writing tutor Linda McCann in 1992, she gave me a stunning size 10 red taffeta dress which I really loved and could fit in to. Trust me I was was heartbroken when it no longer fitted me.  I think I got about two years wear out of it.  Size 10 dresses are now a far distant memory.

(43) I see Christmas as lasting from St Andrew’s Night till the final night of Celtic Connections.

(44) I have met lots of senior figures in Scottish politics including former First Minister Alex Salmond who officially welcomed in to the SNP at a new members event and went out of his way to give me some private words of encouragement.

(45) My favourite poets are Edwin Morgan, Carol Anne Duffy, Jenny Lindsay,  and the star of YouTube generation Agnes Török

(46) When I was in my teens what my mother called in an all in one to give me a feminine shape.

(47) I read Charles Dickens  A Christmas Carol every single Christmas.

(48) I received a gift of a three volumed edition of The Oxford Collection Of English Poetry from the late of former Govan Labour MP Andy McMahon who despite being a political opponent was a cherished friend and mentor

(49) I was one the first  performers with physical impairments given a place in a one week summer school what was then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1990.

(50) I have performed at least once at every Edinburgh fringe since 2005 

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

A Day For Tartan Rainbows And Stepping Out In Style 

Hey Readers

As you know or perhaps I should say as you are beginning to know I love my fashion. Well just because I’m a fifty something trans women doesn’t mean I’m in to twin sets and pearls. This would be so not me it isn’t even worth contemplating. No even at my age I like my outfits to be comfortable to wear but bold enough to make a statement and I think the one shown here which I’ve chosen for this outfit the day post, does exactly that.

I decided to wear the outfit shown here to Tommy Sheppard’s campaign launch as Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party. As it was a lovely sunny August day I decided that my top should reflect the seasonal weather and selected my best summer bargain my £5.00 rainbow coloured top from Logo to give me some much needed colour.

As it was Tommy’s launch there was a mildly political message to this top and indeed to whole outfit. What’s that I hear you cry politics can influence your fashion choices? Well yes, at least they can to a certain extent and I’ll explain why.

My rainbow top was chosen to illustrate my personal commitment and indeed that of my party to a fairer more inclusive Scotland. It I hope shows that I support a Scotland of diversity where everyone who wants a home here can feel free to do so regardless of the colour of their skin or indeed their political belief. Indeed as our former Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill so memorably said it takes many shades to make the tartan. 

Talking of tartan lets shift the focus of the post to my tights which are of the Henderson tartan and cost £10.00 from Tartan House in Argyle Street. Yes I know some people were their political colours on their sleeve as for me I prefer to wear mine on my legs as it helps to give my blog a wee bit of free advertising.  

As for my what’s covering my modesty I can reveal it’s a black pencil skirt from River Island with an ever so slight slit. Yes I know,it could be considered a wee bit daring but to put a feminine slant on a phrase from one of my favourite comedy characters,  she who dares wins and this skirt is certainly a winner for me when it comes to the style stakes. 

Yes I know that combining rainbows with tartan is an outlandish some would say risky combination but I think it works as the are threads of yellow in both my top and my tights. Indeed when you look at my black jacket from Top Shop with matching  shoes which cost £7.99 from Shoe Zone at The Parkhead Forge and my wonderful bag from River Island (where this picture was taken) and then shift the focus to the badges on the lapel of my jacket you may be forgiven for thinking there is a definite yellow and black theme going on with this outfit and if you did think that you would probably be right to do so. Well it’s fair to say that the SNP play a significant part in my life and so do tartan rainbows.Believe me when I say that I’m a woman for all seasons who dares to wear what she likes and I love nothing better than stepping out in style. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X. 

In A Busy Month For Poets Filled With Festivals And Fringes I Made Fierce Friends And Partied On Wherever Words Were Spoken 

Hey  Readers 

I’m two thirds of the way through October and I’m finally ready to post my photographic journey through August. Yes I know its late, this is late even by my standards but you see though I often claim to be a lady of leisure this isn’t strictly true as  I attend so many events these days that I quite often meet myself coming back and this is why there has been such a delay in putting this post together.  Well that’s my excuse and I’m damn well sticking to it as it happens to be at least 90percent true. 
Anyway I hope your getting ready for a rollercoaster ride because believe me this is a journey well worth sharing and like all or at least most of my journies it starts and ends in Glasgow though I will concede that for this month at least most of the action took place in a city 50 miles to the East and yes I do mean Edinburgh. However, as is almost always going to be the case our story starts on a Tuesday night on the south side of Glasgow in a place that’s made for Words and Music 

Picture (1) In what is the busiest month of the year for us poets is taken at Words and Music where featured writer Victoria McNulty held court entertaining a small but select gathering

Picture (2) is of Bob Leslie who provided the music for the company on that early August evening.

Picture (3) takes me on the the first of many visits to Edinburgh. The venue is the salubrious surroundings of the Merlin Hotel for the Pick Of The Fringe night organised by Rose Ritchie. Here you can see Rose on the right with Michelle Hogg belting out a song to the highly receptive audience.


Picture (4) This sees us at the Scottish Poetry Library where the amazing Katharine MacFarlane was a joy to behold at the Women with fierce words event.

Picture 5 Is one you could makar up as current Federation of Writers Scotland makar Elizabeth Rimmer imparts her words of wisdom to the gathering.

Picture (6)  Sees me reading my poem The Lemon Dress on the topic of transformation

Picture (7) We were fierce, female and fabulous and we were prepared to shout it from the rooftops and here’s the evidence to prove it as Katharine and I show what it’s like to be on the top of the world or at least the Poetry library with Nancy Lippold Ingram smiling in the background.

Picture (8) By this time the fierce women had left the poetry library and were enjoying each other’s company over a coffee in the local Starbucks.This picture shows from left to right  Rose, Michelle, and the otganiser of the event Lesley Traynor

Picture (9) This is possibly the best action shot I’ve taken so far as Carla Woodburn has her warrior moment as she performs a poem from her phone.


Picture (10) Shows a poet I always look forward to seeing and not just for his poetry but I also enjoy the company of  David Lee Morgan as this is a man who always has interesting stories to share. Here I capture the man outside the place I call home at every Edinburgh fringe the Banshee Laberinyth.

In Picture (11) The girls are banging the drum for Glasgow and who better to do it than Sheboom, Glasgow’s finest all female drumming band who had been playing at the Merchant City festival earlier that morning


In Picture (12) I’m in political mode as I attend the campaign launch of Tommy Sheppard’s bid to become Depute Leader of the SNP. This picture shows me smiling for the camera with the candidate I am proud to have supported.


Picture (13) Shows me bargain hunting at River Island which is one of my favourite fashion Festival

Picture (14)  was taken at the indoor market at the Merchant City Festival at the indoor market and showcases some of the amazing jewellery on offer at very reasonable prices.

Picture (15) Was also taken at the indoor market and contains the best advice anyone can ever be given. If you look really closely you will see it written in pink.

Picture (16) Shows me standing at the entry to my home in my new dress from Logo and if any bloggers reading this post think you recognise the dress you would be right as I have since featured it in an outfit of the day post.

Picture (17) features James Christopher whose one man show What’s The Tory Mourning Glory? took a very witty and topical look at the fiasco surrounding Brexit.

Picture (18) reminds me that I’ll always make time to for music especially when the music is provided by one of my favourite musicians the lovely Josephine Sillars in salubrious surroundings of the Gin Bar.

Picture (19) Sees me tired but happy as I make my way down the North Bridge to get the late night bus from Edinburgh back home to a very sleepy Baillieston. Well it was sleepy by the time I finally got back to the village.

Picture (20)  Demonstrates that the more things change the more they stay the same as I make my annual visit to see my good friend Matt Panesh aka Monkey Poet entertain the audience in the Cinema Room in the Banshee Laberinyth.

Picture (21) Shows the lovely Catriona Knapman performing poems from the heart at the Merlin Hotel at part of the pick of the fringe event.


Picture (22) sees us back at the Banshee for some early evening entertainment in the company of David Lee Morgan


Picture (23) Shows that Every girl loves her girl cave and on a wet and windy Friday night the girlie comedy of Harriet Kelmsley seen here really was just the tonic I needed.


Picture 24 Takes me yet again to the Banshee or as I prefer to call it my Edinburgh home as I attend a show which shows no topic is off limits as the brilliant Chella Quint talks periods in a most unusual way. Now I know you might not think that this is a topic for a comedy show but this is an educational comedy show as Chella takes us through Adventures In Mensuration.


Picture (25) Is the sign that all performers want to see on the venue door before they start the show.

Picture (26) Shows the best poetic fitness instructor on the planet Katharine MacFarlane in her show Home Words. It was during this show I learnt of the ancient Scottish tradition of Waulking and the lovable if slightly mischievous Katharine made sure I learned of it the hard way along  with fellow fierce woman Emma Mooney, and Janet Crawford as we tried this traditional job and reached the conclusion that the women of the Highlands and Islands would never need to go the gym after such heavy manual labour.

(Picture 27) Is of yet another poet Tyrone Lewis. (Yes I know a lot of them) This was taken on a lovely Sunday when I went to the Pilgrim Bar just across the road from the Banshee (The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree) for an event which I’m sure which will keep pulling me back every year from now on. Poetry at the Boomerang Club was an excellent way to spend an hour and I even managed to perform one of my poems (Two Hours) on my first of two visits I made to this night.

Picture (28) Sees  me back at the Cinema Room at the Banshee for some late night comedy from Kane Brown 

Picture (29) Sees me back on home turf attending the launch of Verse Clique Glasgow’s newest spoken word night which is hosted by one of the most exciting new talents in years the highly likable Michelle Fisher.


Picture (30) Shows the amazing Hollie McNish rocking the opening night at Verse Cliqueimage

Picture (31) Sees Jenny Lindsay performing Verse Clique on what was a spectacular opening bill.
and a great night for Scottish poetry


Picture (32) Mark McGhee and his band the Giro Babies supply the music to provide a fitting finale for the first ever Verse Clique. Michelle Fisher should be very proud she put on such a fantastic night.


Picture (33) Every year there is one show you need to see twice and this year it was Chella Quint’s Adventures In Mensuration. This picture was taken on my second visit to the show and shows me embracing the stain for every girl whose ever had a difficult period.


Picture 34 Shows a poet at work as Jenni Pascoe inspired by the muse suddenly decides to get writing.


Picture 35  Captures my friend and fellow poet Andy Bennett in thoughtful mood as he muses over the fringe in that part of the Banshee which will forever be his office. 

Picture 36 Shows the wonderful Tina Seiderholme during her final performance of her show Till Debt Do Us Part.

Picture (37) This picture sums up what the fringe is all about to me. The wee stage in the banqueting hall is where I have made more appreances that any other venue except for the poetry library and the majority of those appearances have been at Other Voices cabaret. This groundbreaking event gives a voice to those who are traditionally underrepresented in mainstream poetry such as members of the LGBTIQ community, disabled people, people of minority ethnic groups, and women. Superbly hosted by the brilliant Fay Roberts, this is an event I am so proud to play my part in and it is also a place  where I have taken risks and made friends I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. 

Picture (38) is for the woman I call boss and I mean that in the nicest possible way as it shows the wonderful Fay Roberts doing what she does best performing at other voices. 

Picture (39)  This picture is of a poet will never need Permission to read her thought provoking poetry and that’s why I love Hannah Chutzpah.

Picture (40) This is the face of poetry’s future and her name is Malaika Kegode 

Picture (41) is of a power packed poem who performs with passion and pride that poet is Katherine McMahon 

Picture (42) Demonstrates as if there were ever a doubt that can’t visit Edinburgh without doing the tourist bit and if ever a shop summed up Scotland it’s this one. 

Picture 43 Shows a view of Scotland’s seat of power  Edinburgh castle. 

Picture (44) Shows that though locations may change the spoken word world never stops. So with the fringe over and Edinburgh drawing drawing the curtains after three weeks of excess we move to the wild west. Well the wild west end of Glasgow where I spied a young poet with a great future in Ross MacFarlane who was first familiar of the many I saw at Last Monday at Rio 

Picture (45) Shows Robin Cairns back in his rightful place as our genial host welcomes us back to Glasgow and Last Monday at Rio much to the delight of the expectant crowd 

Picture (46)  Having got the crowd in focus I decided to get a clearer picture of the man I call the maestro commanding an audience as only he can and I think this action shot shows Robin at his best 

Picture (47) As is always the case at Rio Robin had lined up a top quality poet as his headline act for the night  and this month it was brilliant Edinburgh based poet Kevin Cadwallender who I hadn’t managed to see in the whole run of the fringe. Kevin is in my opinion a poet I always enjoy seeing as anyone who can give beauty tips to daleks is a man to be taken seriously. Well I was scared of the daleks when I was wee so anybody brave enough to tell them to clean up their act has got to be admired. 

So that was my journey through what was I’m sure you’ll agree a very busy month but it  was also a month when I made a fierce friends and partied on wherever words were spoken. It was a month in which I made friendships and memories which will warm my heart in the coldest days of winter.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

On A Cold Monday Night I Cry Tears For A Principled Friend

Hey Readers

As I write this post my emotions are and it’s fair to say it all over place. Tears have have been trickling down my face and make no mistake they didn’t come from watching a weepy movie or a soap.These tears came from a Facebook post I wish had never had to read, they came from a Facebook post I wish the author never had to write.
This however was not my choice to make as the author is a principled young woman and felt she had no other choice to make but to resign from the Scottish National Party.

I know this was not a decision she has taken lightly and having campaigned with her in the run up to the independence referendum I know how much of an asset she was to the party. Be under no illusion with her resignation from the party the SNP have lost one of our most articulate and compassionate voices. Fortunately for the broader independence movement her commitment to our cause remains as strong as ever.

This is the one crumb of comfort I can take from what was a devastating post to read. This would have been difficult news to read at the best of times but it is particularly hard for me coming as it did the day after my party’s very enjoyable equalities conference. At this conference I met many party members from all over Scotland who shared my determination to make sure equalities remain at the SNP vision for a better , fairer more inclusive society. This is a vision I know my friend shares, but she no longer believes that the party in its current position can truly deliver.

I have to say I share some of her reservations but as yet I haven’t reached that breaking point where I would finally give up my membership card. Yes there are times when its been hard and believe me I’ve suffered my fair share of disappointments both personally and politically. There are however many fantastic activists some of whom have gone on to represent the party as elected members and some of whom who surely will who have sustained me with their friendship and personal loyalty during the dark days. I’m sure it will come as a shock to nobody when I name Chris Stephens MP, Alison Thewliss MP, and Stewart MacDonald MP, amongst those to whom I am most grateful for being there when I needed some advice or just friendship and to know that my work was valued and appreciated.

Within my own branch I feel I have to give special mentions to the brilliant Steven Tierney, our excellent branch secretary Laura Doherty, Linda Pike, Jennifer Fairgrieve ,her mum Maureen Fairgrieve, our convenor Alex Kerr, and the magnificent force of nature who has been office manager for our last two successful election campaigns the one and only Alexis Deans, and I couldn’t leave out our amazing branch organiser the wonderful Jennifer Layden. It is for these people and many more throughout both our party and our country that I keep fighting and though not all of them will share my socialist beliefs we share one common vision that unites us above all others and that is that only with independence can we take the steps we need to build a better Scotland for those who will inherit our country.

To me independence is not and can never be a vanity project with foundations built on sand. It has to be focused on creating a better society or there is no point to it. This is not about flags and banners it is about creating a nation with which we can all identify and the SNP alone cannot achieve that on our own. Yes we have a significant role to play in winning the victory we need, but to do as some have done and claim we are the only way forward is wreckless, irresponsible, and potentially damaging to our cause. As one of my favourite journalists Gerry Hassen said in a recent article the SNP have got us this far but they can’t win independence on their own and even as an SNP member I believe he is right to make this claim.

By stating this Hassen is acknowledging the fact that due to the tribal nature of Scottish politics there are some people who support independence that the SNP even at their best will never be able to reach. Now whilst this may be bad news for the SNP it is in the opinion of this blogger good news for the broader independence movement which needs people outside the SNP and needs members in all parties and none and by all parties I mean those parties who campaigned for better together in 2014.

Tonight I read a facebook post which broke my heart on reading it and make no mistake I cried real tears when I read that one of my party’s most talented young activists has decided she no longer had a place in the SNP family. But then the lightbulb came back on and I thought of those committed yes supporters who whilst not being members of my party and in some cases actually loathing it contributed so much to the yes campaign last time. So heartbroken as I may be on a personal level I realise that this move by a principled intelligent young woman may actually be a good one both for her and the cause she will always hold close to her heart.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

A Personal Pledge To The Girls Of World From A Trans Girl Of The Jackie Generation


Hey Readers

This is a post I hope you will show your sisters, nieces, daughters, and grand daughters. It is a post which comes from a very personal place and one I simply had to write on finding out that this is the international day of the girl.

I write this post as someone who though knowing I was a girl form a very early age was because of biology and the social conditions not allowed to be a girl. This was despite the fact that I joined I liked the same pop stars as my girl friends and at primary school before it was socialised out of me by a stricter society than now joined in all the girls games.

It may have been hard for trans girls in my teenage years but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be a girl rather than a boy and looking back on those years I realise that it was women who were my main roles during my formative years particularly my mother , my gran, and my English and Modern Studies teachers Mrs Dowling and Miss Whiteford. Yes even in those days I was miss prim and proper and had I been born as the girl I knew I was I would have been a cert for Girls Brigade. 

I make my last comment as someone who is now a woman of the church and is very proud of the excellent girls brigade company we have in our parish. However our girls have been well brought up with loving families there to help them grow and shape their values whilst allowing them the scope they need to express themselves. Sad though it is, not every girl is so lucky and in many countries girls are often seen as no more than a commodity by families and societies which put an unequal value on the importance of boys.

This is not just unfair to girls it’s insulting. To be viewed in such a derogatory manner because of biology is distasteful in the extreme.  Sadly however, msyoginist views are still far more deep rooted even in Scottish and British society than should ever be acceptable. This irrational hatred of girls and women is not only wrong it is also dangerous and when unchecked it allows men and boys to treat women and girls to treat women as lesser beings who are dependent on them for survival.

Now this may have worked in the days of the caveman when the males of the tribe were hunter gatherers but we live in different times now and women have discovered we can do things. Well we always knew but we couldn’t hurt the feelings of those poor boys could we. Well we could but I suspect we would have received a lot of sexist reminders from those in ivory towers and told to get a sense of humour. Yes even now there are men and boys who use Fred Flintstone as their role model but to be honest I even they have more in common with his pet dinosaur than they do with Fred.

Personally I find  this to be absolutely shocking but there is no doubt that it is learned behaviour and they learn it from male relatives, friends, and peers. Embarrassing though it is I am grateful to say that it is on the decline, but not fast enough for my liking. You see whilst girls are continually outperforming in school exams and at University women are still paid less than men in many areas of work for doing exactly the  job and the fact that this is still happening in 21st century almost 50 years after the first Equal Pay Act is nothing short of obscene.

It is this kind of inbuilt discrimination which is the result of years of prejudice  which makes it far more difficult than it should be for girls to achieve their potential. This kind of behaviour is not only harmful to girls in terms of self esteem it means that many girls abandon their ambitions and dreams and this is something that can’t be allowed to continue. So it is up to the adults of today to protect the girls of tomorrow both in this country and in others and on this international day of the girl I promise I will play my part by making this pledge from a girl of the Jackie generation who never got the chance to be girl she knew herself to be but who wants every chance to get the chance to be the best she can be.

For every girl everywhere I pledge to fight for you
I pledge to build a fairer world
where girls dreams can come true
I pledge to fight for girls rights
my duty is to serve
I pledge to do the best I can
to give you the world you deserve

And I promise to keep the pledge I’ve made.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

A Stand Up Guy Who Will Make Members Matter (Why I Voted For Tommy Sheppard As Depute Leader Of The SNP)

Hey Readers

Finally and much later than I should have I have cast my vote in yet another election. On this occasion however, I didn’t need to go to a polling station and instead I cast this particular vote from the comfort of my living room whilst enjoying my after dinner coffee and I did it using my mobile phone. I was able to do this as the ballot paper was sent to me by a personalised link from the Scottish National Party (SNP) of which I am a member and have been since April 2010 and a supporter for many years before that.

As I am sure you are aware if you are a regular reader of this blog I rather like the idea of participatory democracy and tend to vote at every available chance no matter what level of election it may be. This however was the most important vote I’ve cast since my yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

I make this claim by saying that though there have been two elections UK and Scottish and the European union referendum this vote was more important to me as it signals not only what kind of Scotland I want to see but what kind of party I want to be a member of. It was with this very much in mind that I voted for my choice as to who I want to be Nicola Sturgeon’s number two and Depute Leader of the SNP.

Let me say that though I had a very definite preference as to who I would be supporting I believe my party are very fortunate to have four outstanding candidates contesting this important post. In Angus Robertson, Alyn Smith, Chris McEleany , and Tommy Sheppard we have candidates who are blessed with a wide range of skills, knowledge, and expertise they can bring to the top table and whoever is successful will be a worthy successor to Stewart Hosie who resigned for personal reasons from the post earlier this year.

As for my vote I decided to give my first preference to Tommy Sheppard and I did so for a number of reasons. The first of these of reasons is that like myself Tommy Sheppard has a long and active history within the broader Labour and trade union movement. This is important to me because as someone on the left of the party who has always been committed principles of a socially just Scotland which is built upon the rocks of equality of opportunity , fairness, and community empowerment I want someone who reflects those values and Tommy’s commitment to giving branches a greater say in the decision making process speaks to my left wing political condition.

Another key reason I selected Tommy was the fact that Angus, and Alyn are already playing important roles within our existing leasership team. Angus is doing a brilliant job as leader of our Westminster group of MP’s where he has faced down former Prime Minister David Cameron and is now doing the same job on current incumbent Theresa May as he makes sure Scotland’s voice is both heard and respected as never before in the corridors of power at Westminster. As for Alyn this is a man who has grown in confidence and stature since first being elected to the European Parliament and is now recognised as the party’s main voice on European affairs. As a party I believe the SNP will be best served by supporting the existing leadership teamm rather than stretching it and adding an even greater degree of responsibility to one of its existing members. It is I believe important indeed essential to let both Angus and Alyn get on with their current jobs without adding to their already busy workload.

This same argument can also be used to explain why I didn’t vote for Chris McEleany. As a councillor facing re-election Chris has other concerns to prioritise particularly in the run up to and in the imeadiate aftermath of the local government elections in which the party hopes to perform well.Should we do as well as we hope we will it could be that Chris may be in a very senior post in local government and may not have the time to devote to the post that I as a party member believe it merits. This to me means that Tommy Sheppard though an elected MP would be able to carry out the duties of the post more effectively and indeed more efficiently than his rivals would be able to do.This would be especially true if his plan for regional officers at local level were to be implemented by the party.

Organisation aside another important reason I voted for Tommy is the fact that I think of all the candidates in this election he is the one best placed to reach out the hand of friendship and comradeship to those voters who at this stage in their political journey are SNP voters but reluctant SNP voters as disenfranchised by the Westminster parties they searched for a new political home. I make this point as Tommy himself has made that political journey and therefore say with greater authenticity than any other of his rivals I know how much you must be hurting I’ve been there and I feel your pain.

As a former member of the Labour Party Tommy like Jim Sillars before him brings a different kind of passion than those of us who and I include myself in this have been with SNP for all or at least the vast majority of our political lives. This I believe will be beneficial not only to the SNP but to the greater independence family as he will be to reach out to the undecided or the soft no voters we will need to win in any future independence referendum far more effectively than others who rightly or wrongly could be perceived by this demographic as traditional SNP establishment.

This to me gives Tommy Sheppard a clear advantage in this contest as he can reach a wider group of voters than his opponents but I am not voting for Tommy in spite of the fact he was a member of the Labour Party I am voting for him because he was a member of the Labour Party though the fact that he shares my long held belief that Scotland should be a Republic was also a significant factor in my decision.

The fact that Tommy Sheppard is a successful businessman having been part owner of the Stand Comedy Club is another reason for what is and I’m going to be upfront about this a very public and I hope passionate endorsement of my preferred candidate. You see I have greater personal knowledge of Tommy than I do of the candidates and that counts for a lot in a contest where we have a very able and talented field.

The knowledge I have was primarily gained in the period I refer to as my comedy years, when I in my pre transition years with only half a stockinged foot out in the world and often retreating to a closet which at least outside was as blue as a Scotland strip even though the inside contained more pink frills than Barbie’s wardrobe, received support and a few bookings from a man who encouraged me to develop my comedy, and my poetry and always be true to myself. It is true to say that those dark days have long disappeared in to the distance, but what hasn’t vanished is the memory of the support I got from a stand up guy in more challenging times than now so believe me this is personal and I am happy to declared it as such

Having attended his campaign launch at the Glasgow Centre For Contemporary Arts I was impressed by a candidate whose main focus was, is, and ever shall be making members matter. To Tommy Sheppard politics should driven by the communities to the establishment and not the other way round. This is a value I have always shared as my late gran who if she were alive today would without doubt be a Sheppard supporter often told me without you the activists there would be no leaders. Tommy Sheppard recognises this and speaks with clarity on his vision for my party and our country. It is a vision I share and I hope you will support.

You see good as things are for the SNP we have to realise we lost the independence referendum in 2014. There are many different reasons for this but one of the oft repeated reasons I hear from those soft no voters who we need to win over to cross the finish line and win the independence I believe our country needs is that the yes campaign in general and the SNP in particular spoke from to narrow a base. Tommy Sheppard is in my opinion a man who can help us change that and help us focus on the kind of Scotland we want to see for both ourselves and the generations who will follow us as inheritors of our nation.

So it is my opinion that at this time in our history we need a candidate who is not only committed to the idea of an independent Scotland, we need a candidate who is committed to listening to the voices of the members and making those voices matter. Tommy Sheppard is that candidate and the stand up guy I am proud to have given my support.

Yours For Scotland

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X


We Are Scotland

Hey Readers

This poem is my response to those on the right who want us to list what they call foreign workers and I call fellow global citizens who were born outside the UK. Personally I find this idea both offensive and ridiculous. So in support of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who says we will have no part in this I have written this poem entitled We Are Scotland. I hope you enjoy the read.

We Are Scotland

As a child
I had teachers from Switzerland and France
classmates from India, Ireland and Italy
so I say with dignity
they are Scotland.

Through family friendships
I knew Poles, Lithuanians,
Germans and Australians
so I make the claim for them
they are Scotland

With relatives from Ireland ,
England, Canada and several other countries
I gained different inspirations
Xenophobia disgusts me
so I say with pride 
they are Scotland

At university I was tutored by scholars from various nations
made friends from many others
humanity was my passport to the world
I know the haves and have nots
Scots by birth or by adoption
they have a home here
they are Scotland

As a friend I have dined
with Indonesians, Syrians, Palestinians Turks and Chileans
I’ve had Eritrean food
and it tasted brilliant
they are Scotland

As a poet I have shared stages
with performers from Portugal New Zealand, Spain, Jamaica and Sweden
so this mouthy wee Glaswegian
shouts from the rafters
they are Scotland

as a trans woman I have met trans sisters
from Mexico, Nigeria, Italy, and the USA
In the name of Equality
It’s my privilege to say
If they are Scotland
its time to replace
they with we
and say to the world

We are Scotland
and we are a voice for fairness.

@ Gayle Smith 2016