Hey everyone. Just like every newspaper magazine or journal I have decided to look back on the year just passed before getting back to the business of so-called normality & just as those publications give out their awards to those celebrities who have shone brightest in the previous year. I have decided to honour those who have in whatever way made my world a better place in the past 12 months. So its my pleasure to Welcome you to the tartantights awards 2012.
These are the first tartantights awards as this is the first year of my blog however the man of year & woman of the year were started last year on facebook & won by the poet Kevin Cadwallender & equal marriage campaigner Laura McLachlan respectively so whoever wins those awards have I’m sure you’ll agree got big boots to fill. However more of them later so let’s crack on with the awards & name my winners.
My first awards are given to those in the political village who regardless of persuasion have impressed me with their passion to make Scotland a better place to live. My overall politician of the year is a woman of talent & substance. A woman whom I am convinced will lead a post Independent Scotland. She has drive ambition & hunger to make sure that her vision of an Independent Scotland is a nation based not only on the principle of self determination but also of equality & fairness My Politician of the year is our Deputy First Minister & the woman with the best sense of humour in politics Nicola Sturgeon.
My next award is for Young Politician of Year & this young women is living proof that even when a party is going through hard times you can if you look hard enough find jewels amongst the wreckage. A Liberal Democrat she has like Nicola Sturgeon a passion for fairness & a better more socially just society. I forecast we will be hearing big things from this rising star. My Young Politician of the year is Sophie Bridger.
My Vision of Scotland Award goes to someone who has campaigned tirelessly for a better Environment & Social Equality A fierce supporter of equal marriage he made sure that the SNP Government were held to their promise on this issue. He also offers a different vision of what Independence can mean to the people of our country. A radical with the language of pragmatist his star is rising & I believe he will play a significant role in the development of a new politics for a new Scotland & that is why my Vision of Scotland Award goes to the co-leader of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie.
The unsung hero /heroine award goes to an unassuming woman who works with dedication for her party. That party is the SNP & trust me the party know how lucky they are to have the amazing Natalie McGarry.
For the next award I once again look across the party divide. I see a new MSP who hates the idea of the people suffering & being exploited by companies trying make a quick buck. For her work in fighting pay loans My One to Watch Award goes to one of the Labour Party’s brightest stars Kezia Dugdale.
My penultimate award in this section is the Impact Award & since his election as a Member of the Scottish Parliament he has certainly done that. Now a minister in the SNP Government the first Scots-Asian to hold a cabinet post He has held a surgery for deaf people complete with signers. He has represented the party on question time where he outshone his more experienced political rivals. An ambassador for Glasgow Scotland & the cause of our National Independence. My Impact Award goes to Humza Yousaf.
Talking of Impact the fact that we now live in an information society is of critical importance to how we view the world. Social media is a very important tool with which you can not only put your opinions out there but also gain support for your particular cause or group. With that in mind I have to nominate a blog of the year, & though I have read many quality blogs it is only fitting that my award for the best blog of the year goes to the woman who inspired me to take up blogging the tartantights award for blog of the year is Kate Higgins for BurdzEyeView.
Now I move to my Activist of the year award. This goes to a man who has worked tirelessly for the Re-Opening of Govanhill Baths & has even organised words & music events at the venue at which I had the honour of performing My Activist of the Year is Jim Monaghan.
My young activist of year may not have been involved in the Govanhill Baths Campaign but she has been involved in just about everything else. From woman’s rights to LGBT equality where there’s a campaign there is a Sophie, for her second award of the year step forward Sophie Bridger.
Now I move on to culture & my first award in this section is for the Best Poetry Performance in Scotland in the past 12 months. I have seen so many quality poets choosing the winner of one was not easy. However I have to say that all things considered I have to say I eventually chose the man who as the man I call the maestro Robin Cairns so rightly said inspired a generation of us. The winner of the Best Poetry Performance 2012 is the genius that is Jem Rolls.
Next up its the musician of the year. There were many contenders for this one but only winner. She has in my opinion reclaimed the flute for music rather than the instrument of hate it was used as by people who were only too interested in talking me down. These flute playing idiots every one a unionist kept trying & failing to tell me I was not good enough to get anywhere in life. This despite the fact I have qualifications not too mention talents they will never equal. So forgive me if I give this award not only for excellence in the ability to play the instrument of choice but to soothe my soul as she does so. My musician of the year 2012 is Patricia McArdle.
My vocalist of the year I always think this should be a separate category from the Musician of the year is a satirical miracle whose performances are always likely to get the blood pumping. His own unique version of Scotland the Brave & the excellent We’ve Earned The Right To Be Free have made this choice an easy one My Vocalist of the Year is the brilliant Alan Smart.
Now I move on to the Event of the Year. Though I have attended many top quality events in the past 12 months the event that really stands out in the memory took place in Edinburgh on a cold night in early March when I made history as the opening female poet in the first ever All Female Poetry Slam. This event provided women poets with the chance to showcase our poetic talents in a more supportive non combative atmosphere than one would normally find at slams which are often very male dominated. The event was won by Rachel McCrum. & organised by the one & only Claire Askew it was a highly successful evening & proves we sisters really do it for ourselves we can & do have a wonderful time. For those reasons & a hundred million others that is why it has to be the logical choice for this award. I have to say though the Alternative Burns Night at the African-Caribbean Centre & The Great Big Poetry Splash did run it very close.
Now for the Campaign of the Year there were two or three campaigns which though they didn’t win are definitely worth a mention. These include the debt busters campaign against pay day loans fronted by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale. The Equal Marriage Campaign which aims to give the same right to marriage as their heterosexual friends & family members. The Say No to NATO campaign at the SNP conference in which party members argued against a change of party policy & were only narrowly defeated. However the winner of the Campaign of the Year 2012 is Yes Scotland the campaign for Scotland’s Independence.
If the Campaign of the Year was one of the hardest awards to for which choose the winner, my next award has to be one of the easiest. When it comes to the Venue of the Year there was only choice to make. In a spoken word career which now stretches to 20 years, I have performed in some top quality venues & some very bizarre ones, but if I live to be 100 & perform my poetry until the day I die which if I do reach 100 will be just under 49 years I don’t think anything will ever beat the first time I ever performed on a stage inside an empty swimming pool. It was totally surreal. So for that reason alone never mind the fact we had poets attending the event from all parts of Scotland & even flying up from London for a ten minute slot my Venue of the Year is the Stage In the Swimming Pool at Govanhill Baths.
My next award is that of Discovery of the Year. As a compare at a long standing Words & Music night I always enjoy attending other gigs. Partly for the performances & the banter with other writers & musicians but partly to find new performers for Words & Music. 2012 was an excellent year it this respect as I met many new talents in the past 12 months. These included poets such as Steven Watt & Kevin Gilday bands like Cherry Grove & Wolfe Ruby & vocalists who could hold any audience in the palm of their hand like Unoma Okudo. However it is a musician whose big brother has already been mentioned in this list who is the clear winner of this award. I first met her at the Open Minded Open Mic & immediately recognised an excellent talent. I was determined to get her to Sammy’s as soon as possible which I am glad to say I did. She shone like a sparkler at our bonfire night edition in November & showed why I rate her so highly. The Discovery of the year for 2012 is Lisa Gilday.
My Best New Band of the Year was a really difficult choice & amongst the many I managed to see in a packed 12 months three were absolutely outstanding. The fresh new face of Celtic music Cherry Grove really impressed me with fantastic up beat tunes which would warm up the coldest nights of winter. Wolf Ruby with their magical melodies & powerful harmonies left me both speechless & spellbound when I saw them at the Open minded open mic on a rain soaked night in late autumn/early winter. However, close as they came, they were just pipped at the post by the band who as far as I’m concerned provided some of the most memorable musical moments of the year. They say the test of a good band is that you come away from a gig humming or singing their tunes & I certainly did this the first time I saw them at Govanhill baths in early June. I had the privilege sharing the stage with them that night & since then I had managed to bring them to Sammy’s for Words & Music where they shone as our last featured musicians of the year. Equally at home with their own songs or covers my Best New Band of 2012 are San Fran & the Sisco’s.
I have already talked about my Discovery of the Year & what a discovery she I found in Lisa Gilday. However to me there is something every bit as exciting as discovering new talent, & that’s when someone you thought was lost to any community makes a welcome return to the fold. As the bells rang in 2012 the winner of the this award was having quiet Monday nights with his family but after a long absence from the spoken word scene he ends the year as our champion. The Winner of the Words & Music Open Poetry Championship & the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy the award for Comeback of the year 2012 is Steve Allan.
Good News of the Year Forget about the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement guaranteeing an Independence Referendum I much prefer the moment I knew our Independence will be won so my Good News of the year came when Tony Blair Joined Better Together or as I prefer to call it the day that Toxic Tony joined the Tories. Unless we Scots prove that we are the most gutless nation on earth & the laughing stock of the world, which isn’t going to happen, this to me was the day we stopped counting Yes votes & started weighing them. Well let’s be honest even Satan wouldn’t want that on his team. I mean his PR is bad enough as it is.
Now I move on to my Sporting Moment of the year & you can forget Olympic glory or medals in the sun it was the night Celtic made a mess of Messi My sporting moment of the year was Celtic 2 Barcelona 1
Staying on sport my team of the year was an easy choice this year. Some Scots like baseball or American Football & for the life of me I’ve never figured out why, my other sports are Gaelic Football & Hurling & the 2012 team come from Gaelic Football. Despite going in to the year as defending Ulster Champions few outside the county gave them a chance of retaining the title. After all no Donegal team had ever achieved this feat but with a more convincing victory than the previous year they claimed their place in history. Written off in the quarter final against Kerry & the Semi Final against Cork they proceeded to beat both of them before winning a stunning All Ireland Championship Final victory against Mayo to take the Sam Maguire trophy back to the hills for the first time since 1992 & ending a 20 year wait to take the most coveted title in Irish sport for only the second time in their history. My team of 2012 coached by the brilliant Jim McGuinness are the Donegal County Football Team.
My song of the Year shows my roots in support of just political causes anywhere in the world. Its a song in support of our national independence & also a very clear dig at those hypocrites amongst us who support Independence for every nation but Scotland in case it stops their pension plan which is ermine robes & a seat in the House of Lords. Its a song which we will hopefully hear all over Scotland in the next 21 months or so The Winner of Song of The Year 2012 is Alan Smart We’ve Earned The Right To Be Free.
The next award is the I think I Must Be Mad Award. This award though given a comic title is actually one for those who have put up with my rantings at hours above & beyond the call of duty & believe me this year award winner has done exactly that. She has put up with my madness at hours when most sane people should be fast asleep & has even talked sense into me at three o’clock in the morning. Why she insists in doing this I will never know but the winner of the I Think I Must Be Mad Award is a young woman with a fierce intelligence & a kind heart to match Siobhan Marie Downes.
The lifetime achievement award is given only to those who by what they do make a significant contribution to enriching the lives of others. This year’s winner was in 1989 on a steering committee to set up a small performance event for writers on the south side of Glasgow & April 1990 Words & Music was born in the wee room of Samuel Dow’s Bar now affectionately known to its monthly regulars as Sammy’s. It has grown from those humble beginnings to become the longest running Words & Music events in the West of Scotland & has regulars from all over Glasgow & indeed other parts of Scotland & has seen performances from some of the top names in the Scottish Spoken Word scene. It is therefore my honour to say that the first ever tartantights Lifetime Achievement award goes to the woman without whom Sammy’s just would not have been possible the first lady of Sammy’s Pamela Duncan.
Now for my Man of the Year. There were a few contenders for this one Chris Stephens for his solid & unflinching support for me on a personal level was most definitely one of them. Marc Sherland for commitment to creative writing & capacity building both through Glasgow Writers & of course the Federation of Writers which he started with the aim of promoting all types of writing & performance of the written word was another. Andy Fleming was also considered for his steadfast reliability & commitment to Sammy’s where he often stepped in at the last moment to fill a slot when others couldn’t make it. However a decision had to be made so in the end after much thought I selected as my choice a man who is not only a poet but a radical activist in the truest sense of the word . Originally like James Keir Hardie a son of Cumnock I am reliably informed by no less an authority than Mr Kipling that he writes exceedingly good poetry of which the late Mr Burns would have been proud my Man of the Year 2012 is Jim Monaghan.
Finally last but by no means least its time to name my woman of the year. No one who knows me will be surprised that Natalie McGarry was on the short list for this award as was the wonderful Kate Higgins the woman who inspired me to take up blogging. Former SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin was also another whose efforts merited serious consideration for all her magical open mic nights at the African-Caribbean Centre. However in the end their was a very clear winner. The young woman who claims the title tartantights Woman of the Year wins it for lifting me out of my worst mood of the year for being a constant & consistent encouragement with my poetry & my performances & giving me her honest opinion as & when required. For these & a million other reasons My Woman of the 2012 is Althea Maxwell.
So there you have it my first ever tartantights awards & as I look forward to the future with faith hope & optimism I wonder who will be the winners when I do this all over again 2013? That is something only time will tell me but as 2013 takes its course I’m sure it have many surprises in store for me. I look forward to sharing those surprises during my adventures in what is sure to be another eventful year.
Love & Best Wishes