It Was The Best Of Times It Worst Of Times But I Always Try To Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Hey everyone As I look back on 2014 I can’t help but think that the old Charles Dickens quote ‘It was the best of times it was the worst of times is the perfect summary of the year which is now in it’s final round of the clock.

Speaking personally this year has had it’s fair to say more up’s and downs than a rollercoaster ride at the shows as we Glasgow girls would say. There have been some moments which were truly magical many of them poetry related and others which were and I’m putting this politely beyond my wildest nightmares.
These were mainly due to my flatmate’s depression which resulted in her losing her job and
trust me it has not got any better or at least not yet. You see I am one of nature’s optimists, after all being Scottish I see this as not only my nature but also as my duty.

So if begin this review in a wet and windy when my life was centred around. Celtic Connections and SNP Burns Suppers I would say that even in a difficult year the good has tended to outweigh the bad yes I know I’m a proper little Polllyanna but sometimes you have to be and that was certainly the case for yours truly in the 12 eventful months of 2014.

With the Independence debate being the key theme of the year
There was of course the excitement of campaigning for something I really believe in and no words can describe the privilege I felt at 7.45 on the morning of the 18th September when I voted Yes for the proposition that Scotland should be an independent country. Then the next day there was the searing pain of defeat and temporarily at least I have never felt such hatred towards many of my fellow country men and women. I soon realised however that hatred was not the way to go and slowly but surely I started to love my unionist friends again.
It was during the referendum campaign that I met some of the most inspiring women I have ever known and many were young enough to be my daughters. On my side of the campaign there was the lovely and highly energetic force of nature that was, is and ever shall be Saffron Dickson, and we were also blessed with one of main the driving forces behind the national collective Glasgow sessions the brilliant Victoria Kerr. On the other side of the debate I was particularly impressed by the articulate intelligent and passionate commitment of Alison Clark Dick. This is a young woman who like Saffron and Victoria is destined for great things in life and I wish all three of them well in the coming year.
Talking of the National Collective, the Glasgow sessions at Stereo provided me not only with great entertainment and motivation to get out and do my bit for my country but also with several new creative contacts and some friendships which I am sure will only grow stronger with time. One of these friendships was particularly inspirational in providing ideas which have resulted in new poems being written. Yes I do mean you Margaret McCabe. Those Monday night discussions on why the price of a pair of tights is more important to the Scottish economy than the renewal of the trident missile system resulted in a poem which has been performed at various venues throughout both Glasgow and Scotland and Tights Before Trident is amongst my top five of all the new poems I’ve written this year.

Still on the subject of the National Collective it was perhaps my greatest honour in over 20 years of performing my poetry to get the chance to perform at the Glasgow session in July which was held just three days after my birthday. To perform at a pro independence event when I’ve campaigned for it all my adult life meant more than many of you will ever be able to imagine, so setting out the kind of independence I would like to see for Scotland I read two poems. The first of them centred on the issue of immigration and why as a progressive Scot of the sensible centre left, the UK government’s stance on the issue truly appalled me. Twenty Four Romanians was written at the beginning of this year as a response to the ludicrous claims of UKIP and the right wing press that the UK was going to be overrun by more than 24 million economic migrants from Bulgaria and Romania then a month later red faced they had to admit that only twenty four had in fact made the journey to their not so Great Britain. I think they were what you call flattering themselves

My second poem on that never to be forgotten evening was written to celebrate what I liked and for that matter still like about being a member of National Collective. Titled I Am National Collective needless to say it went down a storm with an audience who were very clearly onside. However I have to say when you were as I was personally thanked for performing the first of my two poems by a young Romanian woman who just happened to be in the audience that night I did tend to put the cherry on top of a lovely cultural birthday cake.

On the Wednesday of the same week I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend the installation of the new Glasgow poet laureate Jim Carruth at the Tron Theatre and privileged to be asked to perform one of my poems as part of the celebration. Jim is a poet I respect tremendously and a man I respect even more. With Glasgow at the heart of this event Jim wanted all those who compare or organise events in the city to be part of an inclusive evening which whilst celebrating his new role would showcase poetry and spoken word events around the city, Naturally I was proud to attend such an event and to read as part of the programme on behalf of Words and Music was indeed a great honour. The poem I selected My Glasgow was I thought the most appropriate given the circumstances of the evening.

As if that wasn’t enough celebrating in one week I then went to Pride Glasgow the following Saturday where I was VIP guest at a transgender tent which was hosted by Out At Tesco and my good friend Lisa Tait. This was the day I finally knew how Cinderella felt nothing was too much trouble for Lisa and her team and it was the perfect end to one of my best weeks of the year.

In late July the world or at least part of it came to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games and it was impossible not to get swept away by the atmosphere of the event as peace and goodwill threatened to break out in our city for which I hope I like every other Glaswegian was a good ambassador at this time as I managed to chat with athletes from England, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Zambia. I even managed to have a chat to an official goodwill ambassador when I was attending the Merchant City Festival. The ambassador concerned was none other than Words And Music’s very own Steve Allan.

My next stop was the Edinburgh Festival where I packed in a lot more than I ever thought possible performing at more events than ever before and taking in some wonderful shows the highlights of which have to be Becoming Wonder Woman by the multi talented genius that is Sophia Blackwell and Can’t Care Won’t Care by the equally lovable Sophia Walker. As for performing I really enjoyed every set I delivered but according my good friend and Words and Music regular John McGlade My slot at Other Voices on the final Saturday of the fringe was the best he’d ever seen me perform my work. Personally I have to say that my performance at the May edition of 10red hosted by that ever genial dalek fan Kevin Cadwallender would give it a run for it’s money but it was certainly nice to receive such a great compliment from of life’s good guys.

After the festival it was back to reality and what in my world passes for every day life. This meant attended my first ever mammogram screening and having to do it not once but twice. The reason for my second invite was the fact that a couple of the x-rays didn’t show up first time. Thankfully the x-rays which needed redone were the ones you have to be able to stand like a ballerina rather than the ones where your breasts are actually clamped like a car parked somewhere it shouldn’t have been. This I have to say was a considerable relief as though Darcy Bussell is under no threat from me it is by a mile the more the comfortable of the two positions.

After the mammogram was sorted it was back to the referendum campaign and I have to say the week before the vote was probably one of the best weeks of my life. The gatherings in Buchanan Street on the last Saturday before the vote and in George which the yes vote reclaimed for a time as Freedom Square were history I was proud to be a part of. I think I must walked the road of a long distance runner that hot September Saturday when I helped out at the Women for Independence stall and I also distributed leaflets on behalf of Labour for Independence, Business For Scotland and the Scottish Green Party well Patrick Harvie was and remains a real asset to our cause that I was glad to do my bit to help his party’s vision of an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable Scotland to let the voters know there was more to our campaign than just the SNP of whom by the way I am proud to be a card carrying member.

Looking back over the course of the campaign this was a time which shaped my poetry more than perhaps I realised at the time. Also I have to say that amongst many great memories
of a fantastic campaign will be the September edition of Words and Music. On this night the poets of one Glasgow spoken word event showed the politicians how it should be done as poets of all shades of opinion be it yes, no, or don’t know, selected their poems of choice and the rest of the gathering listened intently to what they had to say. No friendships were lost that night indeed I believe quite the opposite to be true and many politicians may have been better behaved if they had attended an evening where genuine respect shown to all sides by all sides.
My choice of my very good friend and no voter Chris Young as featured writer for that evening was not made by accident, it was made to show that you can have principled differences of opinion with those who matter most and in all my years at Sammy’s I have never been prouder of the spoken word community than I was that night.

Eventually the votes were cast and counted and it is I think fair to say that the result did go the way I had hoped for. After the disappointment of the vote I needed something to cheer me up and preferably quickly so a singsong with Citizen Smart and guests was the perfect tonic before heading along to the Centre For Contemporary Arts for the launch of Prodigal the latest collection of poetry by Jim Carruth. It has to be said that this not so manic Monday was the perfect pick me up for my post referendum blues.

After this and Glasgoes Poetic which followed almost immediately after my year began to wind down and draw to it’s inevitable close. This though would not be without some drama from a flatmate who is struggling to cope with her depression and mother nature who decided on a cold November to send me to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary because n the words of Kylie and Westlife I was Spinning Around and Flying Without Wings perhaps to remind me that I am not as invincible as I sometimes like to think.

This resulted in me being out of commission for a few weeks gave me a chance to focus on my blogging. This has I think been a good year for yours truly as I have hosted my first guest post from senior SNP member and former parliamentary candidate Iain Lawson on why Scotland’s Conservatives should embrace Independence. Not only I have hosted my first guest post I have also written my first guest post for another blogger. The blogger in question being the weegingerdug as to why as a Transwoman I said yes to independence. This to me is a sure sign that tartantights is maturing as a blogger though not too much I mean you don’t want me turning sensible that would never do. Please notice I did say maturing and not growing up, let me say here and now I have no intention of doing that in coming year or any year. I am only sensible when I have to be and when my injury forced me to rest more than I wanted to, I focused on tartantights and began to think of plans to improve it and bring in a touch more variety in this post referendum Scotland.

So I used my health setback in the most productive way possible, but having said that I was disappointed to be missing two events I would have been very proud to attend. The first being Nicola Sturgeon’s sell out appearance at the Hydro and the second being the launch of the new clinical services for trans people. Missing these events hurt me more than you will know but sometimes you’ve just got to take the bad days and make what you can of them. I did however make it to both the Christmas Words And Music at Sammy’s and the Tinsel Tales event at GoMA to finish off my year in spoken word.

This I thought would be a perfect place to finish my review of my 2014. Then in Christmas week disaster hit my city and reminded me that no matter that whatever challenges 2015 decides to present to me at least I am still here to face them and for that I thank God and remember the that though this has not been the easiest of years at least I’m still here to make the most of the coming one and hopefully many more after that. You see to me 2014 really was both the best and worst of times but I always try to look on the bright side of life.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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