50 Years Since Lisbon 


50 years ago today I was a five year old child as the men in this photograph took the field for Glasgow Celtic in the European Cup Final in the heat of the Lisbon sun. 

They went in to the biggest game of their lives as underdogs against the mighty Inter Milan and it’s fair to say nobody gave them a chance of bringing the European Cup back to Glasgow.

To win this game according to many  more than a dream, after all better teams that Celtic had tried and failed to break Inter’s impregnable defence and when Inter scored from a Mazzola penalty after only 7 minutes it looked to some at least that the doomsayers may have been right. But undaunted Celtic kept attacking in the hope that an equaliser would come. However, when the referee blew for half time Celtic were still a goal down. Lesser teams would have buckled when they saw the half time scoreboard reading

Celtic 0 Inter Milan 1

This however was not a lesser team this was Glasgow Celtic

The second half started as the first had ended with Celtic on top on everything but the scoreboard. As they relentlessly pushed for an equaliser there was always a danger they could be caught by a sucker punch on the break but this team was not to be beaten and in the 62nd minute a pass from Jim Craig set up Tommy Gemmell whose shot from the edge of the box flew in to Inter net faster than a speeding bullet and as it did so, it changed not only the scoreboard but the game. With Inter’s resistance now broken, the Celtic players scented victory and from that moment on there was only going to be one winner as the scoreboard read 

Celtic 1 Inter Millan 1

As Celtic pressed forward it was only a matter of time before the winner came and come it did when Stevie Chalmers scored from inside the penalty box with five minutes remaining. Inter now were a beaten side and they knew it from then till the end of the game it was simply a matter of playing out time.

Finally  as the referee blew for full time, the fairytale became reality and the scoreboard told the story of the club’s most famous victory and and it’s greatest ever game as it said 

Final Score Celtic 2 Inter Millan 1

As club captain Billy McNeill lifted the trophy to show the travelling faithful it dawned on the world that  Celtic were champions of Europe and the team of local boys who defeated a team of superstars by playing them off the park had won the ultimate prize in European football and in doing so  had become the Lisbon Lions 

They will be forever immortal 

Hail Hail 

Till next time

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle XX 

My Thoughts On The Manchester Terror Attack

​ Last night the people of Manchester were the victims of a cruel and barabic attack as another misguided individual used religion to justify evil. 

I first heard of the attack as I scrolled down my Twitter feed to catch up the events of the night. On doing so I imeadiately switched my television on to the BBC news channel to catch up on the latest developments on this breaking story. As I did so , I was stunned and heartbroken to hear there had been both injuries and unfortunately fatalities. 

Now those who know me well will know I family in Manchester and though my cousins who are a fair bit older than me would be nowhere near the Ariela Grande  concert where the bomb blast took place, there is a possibility that their grandchildren could have been in the crowd. However, strange as it may seem it wasn’t my biological family who were foremost in my thoughts last night It was my blogging family and one member of that family in particular. 

Yes you did hear me correctly I do have a blogging family and that family are a very diverse crowd who come from far and wide. My blogging family is like my poetry, traditional music families,  a family which is both local and global and in that tight knit clan, I know and count as friends, many younger bloggers from the North of England who are shall we say of the age appropriate demographic to be attending the event themselves or taking a younger sibling along to see their favourite pop star. 

Now due to the interactive nature of Twitter blog chats it is possible to form friendships across the miles and I have developed a number of such friendships with a demographic young enough to have been my children had I been able or lucky enough to have any. It was due to one of these friendships that I gave a Twitter shout to one younger blogger who I know to be from the Manchester area and asked her to contact me to let me know she was safe. Naturally I was delighted and relived to receive her tweet telling me she was safe though she told me had been in the area and it was very scary. 

On hearing her news we had a short conversation and she said there was a sadness about the city today. This is I think underestandle in such horrific circumstances but from both mainstream news and my social media feed there seems to be  a determination not to let the terrorists win nor to scapegoat the local Muslim community.

That is as it should be, and I hope during these difficult days people  remember to cherish the diversity for which their city is known and stand proud of the multi cultural melting pot that is modern Manchester. It is by doing this that they can and will defeat the forces of prejudice and hate no matter where they come from or what disguise it wears.  

Till next time

Gayle X

I Learned Some Valuable Lessons From The Queen Of Modern Suburbia As I Discovered A Voice Which Said I Am My Mother’s Daughter

​​​It was a quieter night than usual on the First Tuesday of April for the monthly diet of Words And Music but as my gran always said it’s on nights like this that you learn to appreciate the little things and the small acts of kindness which make a difference to our lives. Before the night had started our featured writer Angela Strachan presented me with a gorgeous bunch of flowers. Needless to say this put me in good sprits for the night ahead and through we had more vacant spaces than a car park on Christmas morning the six  of us who did turn up enjoyed what was  a cosy wee gathering and made the most of the opportunity for what was a less formal night than is usually the case on these occasions.

As is customary I kicked off the night with one of my own poems which in this case was the most recent effort which was written on what was the third day of this year’s NaPoWriMo. The poem entitled Lessons was written on the lessons that I believe those of us who support an independent Scotland need to learn if we are to win the next referendum whenever that may be held. 

Having got the night under way I introduced the first of the readers on what was always going to be one of our  shorter  nights.  This was a writer I had only met three days before at a poetry workshop  on Gender and Sexuality and Alana, or AJ as she prefers to be known  made a very impressive debut with her  short prose piece Masterpiece. This was a highly enjoyable piece from a writer I look forward to hearing a lot more of. 

AJ was followed by Mary Wilson whose three poems Only Three Dozen,  More Parrots, and Garden Tigers showed that Mary , a poet we are only just getting to know, has wide variety of subjects in which she is interested and I’m sure we’ll hear more of her work in future. 

Next up was to stage was club regular Susan Milligan who read two pieces of her work entitled Present, and My Time before finishing her set with a song entitled Let Me Count The Ways This is a lovely song which Susan performed well and I hope she includes it in her set when she takes the featured musician slot in August.  

Claire McCann followed Susan and performed a very short piece entitled Chalk which took us up to a longer than usual break before it was it time to reconvene the evening in the only way we know and that was with our featured writer. 

On this occasion it was Angela Strachan who claimed that spot and those who missed her performance, missed a top quality writer who delivered a highly entertaining set which went down well with the small but appreciative audience. 

Angie (pictured below) started her with a poem for her granny before moving on to a poem about her dog entitled Old Jock. Though I’ve never been a dog owner I really enjoyed a piece which illustrated the bond between the dog and its owner. 

Picture (1) Our featured writer Angela Strachan 

Angela’s next poem was on Being  followed this one with Hair Of The Dog before moving on to one of my favourite poems of hers The Queen Of Modern Suburbia 

This poem  describes brilliantly the unrealistic pressures faced by professional middle class women in the 21st century as they try to cope with the ever increasing demands of modern life in the face of press and media pressure which tells them they are the have it all generation who need to have it all to be a real success. 

For her next poem Angie continued on the middle class suburban theme with The Book Group. This may be a rap on the unlikest of the topics, but it’s  also hilarious and it works. As, you may have gathered by now , Angie, has a tendency to draw from personal experience and in her penultimate poem  A Love Letter To Mr Berkeley Menthol she tells of her battle to quit smoking in a way which is filled with honesty and humour. On finishing her set with her final poem Slugs Angela Strachan had delivered a set filled with variety integrity, and intelligently crafted poems and believe me when I say this is a writer we’re going to hear a lot  more of in the months and years to come.

Having no featured musician, since Pauline Bradley had to call off due to an unavoidable last minute emergency I decided to treat the company to a song though under the Human Rights Act I’m not sure I should have done this. However cometh the hour cometh the woman  and I decided to go ahead with it. My song of choice was a favourite of mine by the Irish singer/songwriter Paddy Reilly entitled Flight Of Earls. The song tells the story of youth emigration from Ireland to seek greener pastures elsewhere. As I said in my introduction to the song which none of the company had heard before though this song relates to Ireland this in my opinion will be the future for Scotland’s youth, unless we gain our independence. Controversial I may be, but one thing nobody can say about me is that I don’t tell it as I see it.  

At the end of my impromptu rendition I asked anyone in the company if they wished to perform again. As nobody accepted my request I brought the evening to an end by performing three poems the first two of which, Sanctuary and Discovered, were were my first two efforts for this year’s NaPoWriMo  I read my final poem of the evening titled  My Mother’s Daughter.

This  was written on mothers day in memory of my mum and  though she had  her reservations about my transition I think she would be proud of this poem which deals with my relationship with her with honesty and integrity she always placed such importance on.It was she said a mark of your character to have qualities she regarded as essential in anyone with even a shred of decency. 

With my final poem completed  I concluded a night which though short on numbers wasn’t on heart or on quality and of which it can be said that I learned some valuable lessons from the queen of modern suburbia as I discovered a voice which said  I am my mother’s daughter.

Till  next time 

Gayle X 

Mirrors Of Time 

​This poem was inspired by my good friend and current tartan tights man of the year Johnny Cypher as he gets ready to vote in his first General Election and has to make a choice between two contrasting visions of the future. In the poem I look back I hope with empathy at the 1983 UK General Election when I was in the same position Johnny is now. I’ve titled the poem Mirrors Of Time I hope you enjoy the read.  
Mirrors Of Time 

An intelligent thoughtful twenty something

contemplates his decision 

as yet unsure as to where he’ll place his cross on election day 

though he does know 

it won’t be for Theresa May 

and her selfish brand of conservatism

hatred and division are not his way 

he seeks to help others 

building bridges rather than barriers and walls 

he is aware of the fact 

his dreams may fall under a pile of ashes 

yet still he clings to them

hoping he might see change 

live in a better society 

than the one he has grown up in

this is someone who does something 

many people don’t 

he listens to opinions

in a way that others won’t 

taking an extra second to think things through 

before deciding what to do 

I understand him 

I respect his point of view 

I look back to 1983

and the women he knows 

can see herself 

through the mirrors of time 
© Gayle Smith 2017

The Press Wee Ruth And The Tory Truth And Deliberate Miscalculations (My Thoughts On The Scottish Local Elections)

This post is my personal take on the Scottish local elections  and now  that the dust is at last beginning to settle on them it is I think time to give my slant on the results  and explain why despite the fawning schophancy of a very compliant press and media deluding Ruth Davidson in to believing she had won these elections the results may not be as good as she thinks for herself or her party.

 I make this point because Tory expectations have been raised to what I think are unrealistic levels and this came through loud and clear as I followed the results on Twitter all through Friday from  morning till late afternoon. 

As a political campaigner it is fair to say that my twitter feed was buzzing during this period  as bit by bit we or at least of us who are actually interested discovered the composition of Scotland’s councils. There was I am sure some mixed feelings for activists of all hues as the picture from the results became clearer. Well as party members (whatever our party of choice) we will have friends standing for our parties and whisper it maybe even for some of our opponents. 

Yes it’s true,  elections are emotional times for all in party colours.   I make this point because those who are not involved in politics seem very quick to forget this and often tar everyone involved with the sane  heartless brush by commenting that they are all in it for themselves. This is not only untrue it is very unfair and if people knew how many hours potential candidates put in, in the run up to any election often after working in a full time or part time job they would be less inclined to parrot this nonsense.

As a member of the SNP it is fair to say that I had friends standing for election on Thursday many of whom were elected and some of whom were not and it broke my heart that due to injury I was unable to help out with the final push in the last week of the campaign or do my duty at a polling place on the day itself. Trust me with a badly sprained ankle it was hard enough to get to the polling station to cast my vote let alone do my usual shift for the party so being at home for most of the day meant I was unable to guage how the wards were going and catch up with the chat that is a feature of these occasions. 

As the first results came in it was evident that the SNP had  done well and held our ground in terms of vote share from the last council elections in 2012 though the electoral geography of our vote had shifted westward with gains in the Labour heartlands of Lanarkshire Renfrewshire and Glasgow and modest losses to the Conservatives  in what some would call the more traditional party strongholds in the north east of Scotland such as Angus where along with Dundee the party lost its overall majority’s  Perthshire, and Aberdeenshire. 

 To be fair these results weren’t entirely unexpected  especially since the Tories have been given a free ride by a unionist press desperate to dent the fortunes of the SNP in any way they can. It must really upset the powers that be that most of the conservative gains at least in terms of voters came not from the SNP but their fellow unionists in the Labour Party as those of a unionist mindset played musical chairs with the council seats in towns and cities from the Highlands to the Borders  Yet despite the large number of  conservative gains and downright lies on certain television channels that Tories had won Scotland  it was the SNP who energed victorious from these elections and winning 431 seats to the Conservatives 276. This means that the SNP 155 more councillors than the Conservatives. 

This is by any stretch of the imagination a significant victory for the party as when you compare like for  like elections this represents a five fold increase in the SNP majority over the second placed party from 2012 when they had only a 31 seat majority over The Labour Party. So this is not quite the fairytale comeback the Conservatives would have you believe. That however will not stop the press and media both in Scotland and in the UK from trying to peddle this non story as the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Make no mistake there are agenda’s play here as a  predominantly right wing establishment tries to rebrand Britishness to Scotland after what it sees as our disastrous flirtation with independence. They badly need the voters to believe the  story that the Tories are as popular in Scotland as they are in England and Wales. The results however give a slightly different narrative, and whilst it is true to say that they did make gains including some  in places one would never have thought of it is I think important to stress one key  fact which may have come in to play which may not be so beneficial to them in a General Election 

Younger Voters Often Ignore Local Elections But Older People Always  Vote 

A simple statement but nonetheless a true one, many younger voters don’t vote in local elections. This may be due to a combination of reasons including the following 

  1. Younger voters have busy lives and some of them may be busy with important college or university exams. 
  2. Many younger voters will have a heavy workload and will be trying to climb the career ladder  or out searching for employment 
  3. local government elections are seen as less relevant than national elections 
  4. you can’t get as excited over bin collections as you would over independence,  Fracking, or The NHS. 
  5. Some younger voters may feel disenfranchised and feel that no party speaks for them 

Any or all of these reasons can be applied to an individual’s circumstances as to why as a younger person may not have  voted on Thursday and there may be  half a million others I haven’t began to contemplate but whereas our younger voters may not have went to the polling booths our older voters  did and they did so in great numbers. Since the majority of older voters are pro union, this when combined with the voting system used at this election disproportionately assisted The Conservative Party and indeed to a significant extent The Labour Party which I believe it saved from electoral oblivion. This I think can only benefit the SNP at the forthcoming general election as I believe it will have shaken many of the SNP voters out of any complacency which may have been creeping in after 10 years as the dominant party in Scotland.  

There is no doubt that in my opinion even as an SNP member our party needed to be challenged to prevent it becoming stale. However few if any of us would have expected that the challenge to come from the right  especially  the hard right Conservative Party.  The fact that this council election saw the return of working class conservatism and saw Conservative councillors elected in Shettleston , and The Calton should be a worry. for all of us on the socially Liberal left and that this at least to some extent was due to the hard-line orange vote should be of significant concern to those voters on both sides of the constitutional debate who value the kind of inclusive society the Conservative  Party stand opposed to.

It  is my opinion that  those involved in politics  can  clearly see, that the incendiary language the unionist parties and in particular the Conservatives have been using to describe the prospect of a second  independence referendum has been framed to target this demographic  by a party  who due to their toxic stand on the independence issue need all the unionist votes they can get 

Whilst it’s true to say the SNP will be disappointed not to have gained overall control of the city the fact they have become the largest party in the city chambers cannot overlooked and is in itself a magnificent achievement of which the party can be justifiably proud. This result and many others throughout Scotland is I believe all the greater when one considers the toxic campaigns of both the Labour and Conservative parties who refused point blank to conduct debate  which actually mentioned local issues.  Instead both main Westminster parties showed what in my opinion amounts to  a hysterical obsession with independence. 

  Now whilst the almost constant reinforcement of this message through the press and media may have benefited the Conservatives to some extent it worked against Labour in pretty spectacular style and succeeded only in diminishing both their influence and profile in many of their staunchest heartlands. With a snap general election called for June I would suggest that this tactic has backfired in the sense that a Labour Party who are sitting in second place in most of the constituencies held by the SNP have now been upstaged by the Conservatives who despite both their  Scottish and UK leaders boasts are nowhere near to winning the majority of votes or seats in Scotland and Ruth Davidson and Theresa May  might be about to find out that they are nowhere near as popular as the press has led them to believe.Indeed the Conservative party are only the majority party in four council areas in the whole of Scotland whereas the SNP occupy that position in 16 councils and tied for control in another three, now pardon me for shining a light on the Tory spin machine but I think 16 is more than 4 just as I think 431 is more than 276.My reason for that is simple, when I went to school I actually learned to count. I also learned how to distinguish  fantasy from reality.  I don’t think the Scottish Conservatives can say the same. 

Yes it’s true to say they made the greatest number of gains but we start allow their supporters to eulogise on the virtues of Saint Ruth I should point out two important facts that the media are ignoring. I have already mentioned one of them but both need to be put out there so the public know the truth of this so-called Tory revival

These Are The Facts The Media Ignored 

 (1) The vast majority  of the Conservative vote increased were gained at the expense of The Labour Party whose more hard-line unionist voters voted to endorse Ruth Davidson’s message to send a message to the SNP that they didn’t want a second independence referendum.  This is despite the fact that local council authorities are powerless to stop such a referendum taking place 

(2) The Conservatives were starting from such a low start base having only polled 13%  in 2012 they could have a made as few as 50 gains and still promoted it as a revival. Indeed if we are honest about it all parties can find something to smile about and  some causes for concern as they analyse the numbers from the vote.

As for me, I have already said that this was an emotional election and that was due to the fact I knew so many good candidates who were primarily though  not exclusively  from the SNP.  Due to the results particularly in  Glasgow, I now have a number of friends who have been elected to serve their local communities and yes there were tears both of joy and sorrow as the results were declared. 

The Joy came for Christina Cannon and Graham Campbell in Springburn/Robroyston, Stephen Dornan in Govan, David McDonald in Pollok, Greg Hepburn, and Jennifer Layden in Calton, Laura Doherty and Michelle Ferns in Shettleston where the SNP got more councillors than The Conservatives despite what the  media would have you believe, and Elaine Ballantyne in my local ward of Baillieston. There were also personal  reasons to cheerful outside Glasgow with great results for Katy Loudoun in Cambuslang  East, and Lorraine Cameron in Paisley South West.

There were however even on a good night, some disappointments for me and my party. In my local ward  we lost a fantastic and hard working  councillor in David Turner who had served his community well since first being elected at a by-election in 2008. There were also  tears of sadness for two excellent first time candidates, Alex Kerr who lost out in Shettleston, and Linda Pike who suffered a similar fate in the  Calton. As members of my branch I know that both  Alex and Linda would have been hard working and committed councillors who would have made a real impact in their communities  but on this occasion at least it wasn’t to be. However I am sure both of them will continue to be great assets to the SNP in general and in the East End of Glasgow in particular.

Those defeats aside these elections were good for the SNP especially when you consider they are now a third term  government in the Scottish Parliament so I think claims by unionist politicians and their supporters that we have reached peak SNP are at best propaganda  and at worst competely deluded. Had this been true  I think the SNP would almost certainly have incurred at least the same scale of losses as the Labour Party and probably much worse. After all, we are told every day how bad they by a fanatical pro UK press how bad they are.  

There is however only one problem with this narrative and that is that at least 45% are becoming  incessantly bored by what  they see as unionist whining in which they paint a very bleak future of Scotland under the SNP  but offer precisely nothing in the way of alternative solutions and that is where the would be empress Ruth is found not to be wearing any new clothes but the second hand  rags of  the most hated UK Prime Minister in the history of the union.

The name of that Prime Minister in case Ruth needs reminding was Margaret  Hilda Thatcher. Now Ruth may like to delude herself that the Tories have moved on from those days but she is fooling only herself. You see no matter how badly the opinion formers try to shape our thoughts through the press ,wee Ruth and the Tory truth and deliberate  miscalculations . The statistics of these elections show the Conservatives whilst  doing well when compared with 2012 have at best improved only marginally since  last year’s Scottish Election and may not be as loved by the voters of Scotland as they are by the chattering classes in the unionist press and media. 
Till next time

Gayle  X

I’m Back From A Break I Had To Take When Life Got In The Way 

As you may have noticed things have been a wee bit quiet on here in the last few days so I thought I’d better explain why I have taken my longest ever blogger break and why I’m delighted to be back.

As regular readers will be aware my last post was my final poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo. As any poet whose tried to write 30 poems in 30 days well tell you it is not an easy task.Whilst it may be enjoyable, it is also very challenging and can be emotionally draining. However draining though this was there were other factors at play  not least of which was the fact that just a few days before the end of NaPoWriMo I had a very bad fall just yards from my home as I walked home from the shops after purchasing my lottery ticket.  

The fall which occurred as I walked down a lane I have walked down thousands of times in my 15 years living in the area had a catastrophic impact on my social life and on my mental and emotional well being so I was shall we say a wee bit under motivated as I focused on my recovery from injury.  

There was also the not so small matter of the run up to the Scottish local elections to consider. Though I have my own very definate political views and will share them on here from time to time it is not uncommon for me to take a break of a few days in the lead up to the campaign as I am usually out assisting my party in whatever way I can but this year I couldn’t even do that and to make matters worse I couldn’t even jump up to celebrate Celtic’s goals in our 5-1 demolition job against Rangers at Ibrox and when I can’t celebrate our  second 5-1 thrashing of our main rivals this season ( we had already  done a job on them at our place last September) then you know that something is definitely wrong. 

Indeed it is fair to say that my social life has also been shredded since my accident and  it wasn’t just Celtic and the SNP who didn’t get the benefit of my natural cheerfulness and repartee my injury stopped me  from attending church last Sunday and also meant I had to cancel this month’s edition of Words and Music which was scheduled for  Tuesday evening. This was a very difficult decision to take but bearing in mind my inability to walk for more than a few paces it was the one I had to take. Well when the host can’t get to her own event there really is no other choice they can make. I mean things were so bad for a few days that I was given time off  from campaigning in the local elections a lift to my local station in order to cast my vote by our former constituency chairman Lachie McNeil. Needless to say I was grateful for the lift but was gutted that I couldn’t do my shift at Swinton Primary as I had hoped as I always enjoy the banter on election day with both voters and political opponents. 

On the subject of the local elections I  was going to post about them yesterday but with emotions still raw I decided to make this my comeback post and when I eventually do post my thoughts on them it will not be the usual analysis of results and  will be slightly more personal in tone as my blog is my space for me to share my thoughts and believe me that is exactly what I’ll be doing now I’m back on tartan tights.  
Finally I will end this post with an admission. I didn’t actually mean to take a blogging break it just kinda happened when life got in the way  and you know what , I’m glad that I did.  Looking back there are other times when I could and possibly should have taken one but plodded on regardless and I’m sure my content must have suffered at those times. Maybe I didn’t take a break because I was scared you would forget about me and I would  lose a readership I have worked hard to build. Now however I’m a more confident blogger and if I need to take a break I’ll do so and I’ll do confident in the knowledge I’ll come back refreshed and writing better content because of it. So that’s my self imposed blogging break over and it feels really good to be back writing and doing what I enjoy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. 

Till Next Time 

Gayle X

Glasgow Boy 

On day 30 I reach the end of my third NaPoWriMo with a poem in tribute to the late Scottish folk singer Ian Davison who  died on Christmas day last year after a battle with illness.I first got to know Ian at a Songwriting workshop in the summer of 1995 and over the years he became a regular guest musician at the Words and Music event I now host. It is therefore fitting that I post my last poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo in honour of his friendship and his memory. I hope I’ve  done justice to a fine singer and songwriter and a gentleman I am proud to have called a friend. I have titled the poem Glasgow  Boy I hope you enjoy the read. 

Glasgow Boy 

 
A man I knew well 

a friendship formed through mutual friends and music 

Ian was a Glasgow boy 

whose clydeside roots were rooted in internationalism

his socialism flavoured songs 

 written with hope for a better world 

he saw Mandela dance 

and said there was room for us all 

as lyrics told  stories of hogmaney parties 

and the welcome we give to others 

reminding us to have a dram 

and raise a glass to friends and neighbours .

both at home and overseas 

Maryhill or McKinleyville 

it mattered not to a proud Scot 

and even prouder global citizen 

with a mission for peace 

ring fenced by a red heart and a CND membership card 

this was a man who marched in October 1982

and even the man in the Whitehouse knew 

knew the power in his songs 

as did an innocent man 

in the jails of echolon 

on whose case he educated me 

now at last his body free from pain 

I can listen to the Glasgow boy 

wrapped in the warmth of memories 

© Gayle Smith 2017