From Poetry To Protest Marches From Pews To Pamphlet Launches I Shared A Common Space Or Two In The Name Of Faith And Friendship

Hey  everyone  Not only was Sunday was the longest day of the year but this weekend was the longest and most action packed weekend I’ve had for a very long time.  Honestly even with all those extra hours of daylight and the added bonus of sunshine and believe me it a bonus if you live in Scotland I still quite how I managed to fit everything in. I am however a woman and women as you know just get on with things and ain’t that the truth. Well we have to, we have no other choice.

Anyway, i was as i said active from beginning to end of a very busy weekend and is was a weekend which offered plenty of variety. It started with me making my now mandatory appearance at Baillieston Library to print a  copy of my poem for this year’s McGonagall supper which was happening later on Saturday afternoon. Print job completed i headed off to my monthly trans support for the first  time in longer than i care to remember.

Though i arrived later than i would have liked i still had time for a coffee and a chat with other women in a similiar position and when you’re trans peer support even in the smallest of ways is always a very handy thing to have. Being a political activist and member of the SNP  i gave my campaign report to the group from a trans perspective and said that i had been generally received by voters during my work on street stalls which goes to prove that our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was  right when she told me not to worry about a trans-phobic comments as the voters would judge me on the comment of my character and the merits of our party’s policies and not on the content of my wardrobe.  I also took great pleasure in reporting that my party candidate now local MP Natalie McGarry  used my talents and skills to the full and that this had been one of the best campaign’s i have ever been involved in.

In other news i said that i now felt more comfortable in my own skin than ever before and i believed that making the transition far from narrowing my friendship base had actually increased it.  It does however have to be said that not everyone is as confident as i am and  i have to say that i had a full and frank exchange of views with someone who said that they felt it was unfair that we have to live as women 24/7 to qualify for gender reassignment surgery. Needless to say i disagreed profoundly with this comment as i believe that the rest life test serves a very valuable purpose which is to demonstrate our commitment to living in our acquired gender and therefore avoid any mistakes being made in the process. The person concerned tried to fob me off by saying that they lived in  a rough area  and were too well known in the area to take the risk. Unfortunately for them however this is an area i know having grown up in a neighbouring  area  and i wouldn’t say it’s any rougher than the parts of the East End i need to travel through to get home or the area i used to work in. That said however we parted on amicable terms and i got on with the rest of my Saturday.

On leaving the group I decided to take a wee wander down to George Square or as the yes  movement call it Freedom Square. Personally I think this is a far more suitable name for my city’s civic  square than an outdated name which stinks of wealth and empire. This however is not how our city fathers see the issue.  Remember fellow citizens our glorious guardians are members of the anything for ermine brigade and would sooner see it retain the name of a long dead German king than rename it after a noble concept.  Re-naming it they say would to be concede that those horrible yes voters were right all along and the Loyal British Labour And Unionist Party will never surrender to that. Talking about no surrender it was really nice that our city guardians allowed that nice orange order to have a cultural day at the beginning of the month? Well it was in their opinion even if that opinion was not shared by those of us who put Scotland first  and believe in  a fairer more equal society. Anyway the square  was still pretty packed at around to 2.30

As tradition dictates I always bump in to a fair few fimiliar faces and believe me I wasn’t disappointed. I saw many friends from struggles past and struggles yet to come in a crowd much than the official figures of the press and media. Star attraction amongst them however goes to Mandy Morgan who informed me that she was about to be vetted to put her name forward as an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament and should she be successful in the vetting process it is likely that she will consider putting her name forward for the Provan constituncy.  Let me take this opportunity to say that I hope she has been successful in the vetting process and that she goes on to win the party’s nomination for Provan the seat in which she was born and raised.

After listening to some excellent speeches, mingling with everyone of all pollitical hues from Business For Scotland to the SNP from Communists to Greens  and being entertained by Gerry Cinnamen I finally left the square and made my way to Riddrie to the home of Colin and Irene Storrie for the 10th annual McGonagall Supper which Colin and Irene have turned in to a unique cultural feast where we pay homage to the man who has become renowned as the worst poet. in the world Dundee’s very own adopted son  William Topaz  McGonagall.

This is always an excellent day as most of those in attendance enter in to the spirit of the event with one noticable exception whose eyes are bigger than their belly and who only turns up for the food.

The format of the event is simple. We have some social time at  the beginning of the day and then after our genial host welcomes us all to the day we then get down to the business of celebrating the Bard of the Tay.

In the first part of the day we play to Oor Wullie by reading something from the great man’s work. Having done we adjourn to feed our faces, some more than others it has to be said, before reconveining to read our tributes to McGonagalll as we read the poems written in the style of the man whose name we honour. Topical topics this year included Glasgow city council leader Gordon Mathieson, who was brilliantly saterised by Catherine Baird, who was making her McGongall debut.  Alex Frew wrote about unfair pay and conditions in the workplace I tackled the topic of climate change and its impact on the Scottish weather and Andy Fleming wrote on the impact of austerity on the diet of the vegitarian proletariat. These were but a few highlights of what was a memorable event for all  the right reasons. As is always the case this event did not finish early and it was not until the wee small hours of Sunday morning that I finally returned to the village.

Bearing in mind my rather late arrival back home it was perhaps a wee bit of a miracle that I made it to church on Sunday morning but I did grace the kirk on the corner with my presence.  I have to admit though I was shattered and I think making to church did me the world of good and set me up for the rest of the day and it was good to be in attendance on the day of our Sunday School prizegiving.

After the service and the social time for fellowship with friends,  I made my way back to the flat for a quick coffee and freshen up before heading to the Art School for the Common Space launch party

Though it started six months ago this was the official launch for an innovative new media project whose aim is to break the news stories that the mainstream would tend to leave unreported. Having said that however Common Space which was set up in the aftermath of  the independence  referendum to provide an alternative service to the pro unionist media believes in collabaration rather than competition and this point was made by its editor Angela Haggerty in her welcome speech to a well attended gathering.

During what was a busy and productive afternoon for me I was chatting not only to fellow members of the SNP but to Greens and members of  Left Scotland and general movers and shakers within this much needed new media organisation. I even managed to get both a word and a couple of selfies with Angela Haggerty and chatted with Common Space journalist Liam O’Hare. I also enjoyed brief chats with video and technology expert Stephen Paton, and Kaleido Scot’s editor  Dan Littaeur . Well part of my reason for attending the event was to mix and mingle with those who are attempting to bring us the brave new journalism that Scotland wants, needs, deserves, and in my opinion has every right to demand.

One of the most informative parts of the day was the meet the bloggers which was held in the downstairs cafe. During this relaxed informal session i chatted with one of my favourite political bloggers James Kelly of ScotGoesPop.  It was at this time that I also caught up with some of those who have worked for Common Space. On meeting them I was quick to let it be known that I was a blogger who may be interested in covering the Scottish trans scene such as it is and reporting the issues that concern one of my many communities of interest. I said I had spoken to Angela about this and she had given me her e-mail address and advised to look for the Scottish angle on trans issues rather than just thinking of the issue in a more generic way. 

On returning upstairs i  had the same conversation with Dan Littaeur and he like Angela said that  he would welcome my input at Kaleido Scot as the mainstream LBGT  media tended to be biased in favour of gay men but Kaleido Scot already had two trans reporters and were far more receptive to trans related stories.  

Looking back on the event I would say that it was not only an enjoyable day but also a highly productive one for me at which I made what may yet turn out to be some really useful contacts. 

At the end of the event I went to the CCA for a wee refreshment before heading to The Griffin for what was my last event of an action packed weekend. This was a double pamphlet launch of two poetry collections Notes On AQuarter Life Crisis and The Man Who Loved Beer by the excellent Kevin PGilday.

On arrival we had a brief chat in which Kevin said that I had  probably heard all the poems in his set at least  a hundred  times. Personally I think that the ever modest Kevin is underselling himself as I couldn’t  give a flying fish supper how many times I’ve heard them because I never get tired of listening to quality and believe me Kevin P Gilday is a poet of very considerable quality 

However though he was without doubt the star of the evening and gave his audience which included friends and fellow poets Kirsty Nicholson and Jim Ewing a brilliant set of some of his classic poems such as Welcome To Dennistoun Hitler’s Moustache, The Man Who Loved Beer, Middle Class Love, Jesus In Possil, and The Workie, Kevin wasn’t content to keep the spotlight to himself and prefered to share it with fellow performers In what has to be one of the best most entertaining variety nights I have ever been lucky enough to attend.  

In young comeadianne Gemma Flynn Kevin had the perfect act to kick off the night. With material which could best be described as Guardian reading girl with Cosmopollitian lifestyle  Gemma took us all on a journey  in to Gemma’s world with carefully constructed lines which were fiesty, female, and funny. As I chatted  to her after her set this very talented twenty something said she had a show  at the Edinburgh fringe in August. Now I have to say that’s one show I’ll be going to see and I recommend dear readers you also put it on your must see list  

Next up was Edinburgh based musician A Dull Boy. Now if ever a performer didn’t live up to his name then this was that performer and I for one really enjoyed his set which was filled with quality songs from start to finish. In my opinion 21st century man was probably my favourite song of the selection but that said there  wasn’t a single bad song in his repretoire.

Next up was the main man in whose honour we had gathered the one and only Kevin P Gilday. Since I’ve already listed my favourite poems from his selection I don’t think I need to say anymore except that I will be buying both books at the earliest financial opportunity. 

At the end of his set a happy but exhausted Kevin introduced our final act of the night and believe me when I say I don’t think I have ever seen anything like The Creative Martyrs in all my years on earth. Honestly this dynamic duo were breathtaking from beginning to end of a set which was both high octaine and high quality and tackled the issues many safer performers tend to stand well clear like state control, war and death. I particularly lked their opening number The List in which they launched a brilliant attack on the horrors of too much state control and had Kevin’s wee sister the ever lovable Lisa doubled up with laughter,well it was either or terror during a song in which she was singled out for particular attention.

As they started the next song I wondered where they could go next and we didn’t have long to find out as they continued their all out assult on capitalism by reminding why the capitalist system loves war. Now when an act can openly engage an audience to think of this idea no matter how disgusting we may find it that act really does deserve those over used titles radical and cutting edge and believe me this act are worthy of these descriptions. I do however have to say that I felt really sorry for poor Lisa when yet she was the target for their brilliant if ruthless banter in the hillarious Spare Parts Baby.  

At the end of a wonderful event perhaps the wisest words of the night were spoken by Jim Ewing who advised me to ‘Get them to Sammy’s. With this very much on my mind I went over to the guys and, congratulated  them on a mind blowing set and asked them if they would ever consider appearing at our words and music night and much to my surprise and delight they were only too happy to take the details of it

And so  it was over. The busiest and best weekend I’ve had in months maybe even years. This was a weekend I will remember for the diversity of the cultural, poltical, and social opportunaties it provided  From poetry to protest marches from pews  pamphlet launches I think to its safe to say I shared a common space or two in the name of faith and friendship.

 Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

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