When Girls Like Me Have Perfect Attendance Rebellion Is My Badge Of Honour

Hey everyone Saturday was my 5th and most recent visit to the fringe so far though I will be back through before it finishes. It was a busy and enjoyable day but one that almost never got started.

You see my flatmate Janette is a big football fan and whenever possible enters a team in the Sun’s fantasy football dream team competition. Frustrated because she couldn’t get permission to do it at the library I was now called in to action to see if I could enter it using my smart phone.

This meant I had less than two hours to enter her beloved Inter Tweety to this year’s competition or face dramatic consequences on my return from our capital city. In fact I was forbidden from leaving home until the task was completed, thankfully I got the team selected and submitted by 11.30 just an hour and a half before the deadline as all teams had to be in 15 minutes before the first game of the new season kicks off. So all was well and I was off to Edinburgh even if it was on a later bus than I had planned.

On arriving in Edinburgh I rushed up the North Bridge and was on the mile in next to no time. As I had no breakfast due the last minute transfer deadlines on behalf of Inter Tweety I decided to stop at Bene’s the best chippy on the mile by a mile and believe me never has a roll on chips tasted so good as it did on the steps of the poetry library.

As is often the case on Saturday’s the attendance was slightly down on the previous few days but there were still enough poets there to give the day a good ambiance and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. With regulars like Anne Hay, Anna Maria McGuire Tony Lawrence, and Shalpa Ray in attendance, It was a good final day of courtyard readings.

Yes you did read me right, I did say final day as due to renovations there was only one week of readings this year. That said however this year goes down in history as the only one of the 10 years I’ve performing at the courtyard that I’ve ever had perfect attendance. Do I get time off for good behaviour next year? I certainly hope not, I mean this is me we’re talking about here and wear my rebellious streak as a badge of honour. Therefore, it goes without saying that I hope I would never be that boring. I mean heaven forbid it and you know what I think heaven probably would.

My first set yes I managed more than one I actually managed three because the of the round robin rotation comprised of two poems from the contrasting worlds of fashion and politics opening with Thunder before moving to yet another pro independence rant with one of my favourite poems from the referendum campaign I. Am National Collective. I enjoy performing both of these poems for very different reasons. I love Thunder because it hints at a suggestive side to my nature in which I show that given the chance I can be just a little bit naughty when the chance comes up and it’s based a real event but it’s one of those conversations women only have with each other.

As for I Am National Collective I think this poem shows my deeply personal vision of independence and why I support an organisation which is far more diverse than any other in politics in fact I would go further and say that the National Collective have been significant game changers in bringing people to yes especially the young, the young at heart and the gifted.

In my second set I read I Speak For Scotland, in which I speak in the voice of Alastair Darling and believe me the voice I give him is no way flattering it’s as if he’s been injected with a truth drug and is no longer responsible for his own words. From politics I moved swiftly on to a much more personal poem. Girls Like Me illustrates the issues for a girl growing up in the 1970’s in a traditional West of Scotland environment where men were men and boys were sold macho baggage as something to carry with honour

My last poem of that set was another one which shows the softer side of me, Mother Hen is about the relationship I have with many of my younger female friends many of whom see me as a second mother and how not being able to be a mum is my one and only regret in an otherwise fantastic life.

After great readings from Tony and Shalpa Tony’s poem entitled Quantitative Easing For Beginners showed a talent for satire which shows that just because you are getting on a bit, Tony’s words not mine that doesn’t mean you lose the biting wit which makes you such an excellent social commentator.

Shalpa’s set focused on family celebrating it for all its faults and flaws. I have to say I really admire Shalpa’s poetry. I think she writes with an honesty and integrity which allows her to be proud of her ethnic origin without any way seeming to indulge in false patriotism or parochialism.

My final set both for the day and indeed for the courtyard readings of 2014 and it consisted of just one poem and The Lemon Dress was the perfect way to close what was easily my best year of the fringe so far. Well delivered and well paced it was a confident performance from someone who has seen her confidence grow with each year that passes and believe me I am as Ann Connolly says a world away from the poet who first graced the courtyard stage in 2005. Well in those days I had only just come out to my flatmate so the idea of living permanently as a woman as I do now seemed like an unattainable dream rather than the reality of my every day life.

I think this has been reflected in my choice of poems this year as it has been the first year I have openly read any of my trans related poetry. This to me is the perfect illustration of my growing confidence both as a poet and a more importantly as a woman. There was however something or should I say some people missing from the readings this year and it would have been a better courtyard had we been graced by the presence of Colin Will, Derek Read and Jim Ewing as I’m sure we will be next year.

After completing my duties at the library. I went to see White Man’s Burden a comedy show by Inder Manocha based around race, culture, and ethnicity. This is the show that asked the awkward questions that you always wanted to ask your parents but you knew they would answer. These were questions such as who is racist and is it ever alright to be offended on behalf of a group we don’t we belong to and can never be a part of. The result was a hilarious hour of brilliant breathtaking banter which made you laugh and think at the same time as Manocha asked can you be racist against your ethnic group and did you know there was a hierarchy of colour growing up? Honestly some of his one liners shone so brightly their brilliance was like finding jewels in the dessert.

After this amazing show I made my way to the Banshee and decided that it was time to pay my second visit of the fringe to see the excellent Sophia Blackwell in Becoming Wonder Woman. Just as I had taken my seat in the audience I received a tap on the shoulder from my good friend and Words and Music regular John McGlade.
John said he had liked the look of the show and decided to give it a try. I immediately informed him that he had chosen wisely and would not be disappointed.

Needless to say I was right in my judgement Sophia was at her brilliant best and on a night when the stage was invaded by another Wonder Woman not to mention the fact we were plunged in to darkness trust me she had to be but fortunately Sophia is the consummate professional and so wasn’t in the least bit phased despite all the drama unfolding around her.
The result of this chaos was that Sophia produced 50 minutes of brilliance and John McGlade said it was one of best spoken word events he had ever seen.

As John and I enjoyed a drink at the bar he said that Sophia’s performance was brilliant and he would put her up there with Monkey Poet as the best acts he had seen at the fringe. Personally I find it very hard to disagree with his choices and as a poet of some quality let me say John like myself knows talent when he hears it.

As I boarded the bus back to Glasgow I was satisfied that this had been a brilliant day to bring the first half of my fringe to an end. I reflected on events I can only sum up by saying when Girls like me have perfect attendance rebellion is my badge of honour.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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