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It’s Good To Have A Friendly Chat And Bloggers Do It Better 

​At this time last week I was bricking it and it had nothing to do with pre election nerves as to how my party may or may not perform. Trust me that wasn’t even on my radar  as I physched myself up to prepare for something which was in at least in my world, much more important. 

You see, last week marked my debut as a monthly host of the blogging twitter chat Bloggers Do It Better. Using the @BDIBChat twitter handle I had to think of at least five questions to ask the participants who would be arriving in the chat space at 7 pm 

Remembering that I had worked as an equality trainer I reminded myself that the secret to the success of the chat was just like the secret of a successful training session . In other words it was all about the preparation so it was time to questions sorted, fast. 

Having decided on the questions I then saved as draft tweets to be asked at roughly 10 minute intervals during the chat. Job done it  was time to get changed in to my smartest skirt ,get my lippy on and wait for my guests to arrive. 

And arrive they did, bang on 7 o’clock from Scotland the other nations of the UK Canada , and believe it or not Sweden. Yes those of you who aren’t bloggers may find this difficult to grasp but bloggers can and do chat to each other from just  about every corner of the globe and boy can we talk 

After getting everyone to introduce themselves we proceeded with the chat and had a  lively, interactive, and fast paced discussion which made my first @BDIBCHAT pass really quickly and the healthy turn out of Scottish bloggers and many of my closest blogging friends made me made me feel really supported and you know what I’m really looking forward to doing it a again on the First Monday of every month and any other time Claire may want me to cover. Well , its good to have a friendly chat  and Bloggers Do It Better 

Till next time 

Gayle X

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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 they wear.  

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

On Tartan Tights Fifth Birthday It’s Time For Celebration 

​I can’t quite believe how it happened but according to WordPress  tartan tights has reached its fifth birthday. Well it was actually yesterday, but since my post was published in the dark of a Glasgow evening it probably took  till the next day for WordPress to know that a new blogger had arrived on the Scottish blogging scene.

 Yes time passes quickly when your having fun and my wee blog has had it’s own corner of the internet for five whole years. No matter how many times I say this I can’t quite take it in. There is however one thing I do know,  and that is that from first post till now  it’s been one helluva rollercoaster ride. 

 When I started tartan tights I wasn’t even sure if anyone would read my thoughts and musings, now however I have a core of regular readers, not only from my home city of Glasgow but throughout Scotland , the UK , and the world.  

The last year has been a period of change for tartan tights and the changes I’ve made have resulted in more personal posts which have allowed  my readers to get to know me better. I now believe my blog is more diverse than ever before and topics covered in the last 12 months include everything from theatre to fashion shows from bra fittings to the homeless world cup. I even posted 50 random facts about me which you’ll never know if you don’t read the post. 

Of course this has been a challenging time for me with the change of focus which I mentioned in last year’s birthday post  but challenges are something I’ve never shirked and I don’t intend to start now. Well anyone who tackles both NaPoWriMo and Blogmas has to be fond of undertaking the odd challenge or two. Either that or be completely mad and I can list both of them  amongst my accomplishments since my last  blogging birthday.

You know I’ve often been told that women get bolder as we grow older and believe me this also applies to trans women and trust me I speak from experience. Well how else can I in my mid fifties possibly explain my decision to post outfit of the day posts.This is something I would never have considered at this time last year, but you know what I’ve been stunned at the positive reaction I got from them and the confidence that has given me. 

So what or should I say who  encouraged me to take this leap of faith? Well if I’m honest, I could say that Becky Bedbug is a bad influence on me but I won’t, I’ll just say it was a number of bloggers who talked me in to going for it and I have to say I’m really glad they did.

Since I wanted to make my blog more female focused such a gamble was always on the cards and as I said  I’m very happy at the feedback my forays in to fashion have been getting. I was especially pleased when   Laura Doherty, (pictured with me at the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper) who is not only a regular reader of this blog and  but also one of our council candidates for  Shettleston told me how much she was enjoying them at our  branch’s biggest social event of the year . It’s a really good feeling when a risk pays off and to have one my party’s brightest stars giving me this kind of support means a lot to me

Talking of support I don’t know where I’d be without my support network of poets, political activists,  and fellow bloggers.You know who you are and you have inspired me in more ways than you know. Without you tartan tights would never have become the blog it has and I would never have done so many interesting things in the past year, or over the lifetime of this blog. 

So I’ll finish this post by making a promise to you  and that is to make tartan tights the best it can possibly be by producing what I hope will be enjoyable and  interesting  content on a wide range of issues. As I do so I ask you to raise your glasses to my blog, to the next five years and beyond and whatever else you do 

Keep reading tartan tights 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

Chatterbox

On the 18th birthday of one of my favourite vloggers (that’s video bloggers for those unfamiliar with the term ) I’ve written this poem to let her know that she is in my thoughts as she starts the next part of her journey. As she is quite a chatty wee soul, an essential quality for a vlogger in my opinion I have given it the title Chatterbox I hope you enjoy the read.

  Happy Birthday Jodie X

The Chatterbox 

It has been said I can talk 

but trust me you are in for a shock

if you ever meet the chatterbox 

this one can blether on any topic 

from the weather to fashion 

lovable but yappy 

she is a very important part of my virtual family 

and has been since the day she found me 

on my difficult days I’ll watch her video blogs 

to ground me in reality

and stop me losing my temper 

when the no surrender mob 

get on my  nerves 

thoughtful , intelligent and kind 

I give her the credit she deserves 

for putting herself out there 

as a star to shine on YouTube 

she’s a good girl and when I’m watching her 

it’s  like seeing what your favourite niece 

is getting up to 

and sharing her special times

she brings out my gentler side 

well contrary to what you might think 

it does exist 

it may take time to find it 

but the chatterbox knows the secret 

and I think she’ll keep to herself 

well there are things she isn’t fond of sharing 

and my heart might be one of them 

she knows the value of the  virtual long distance auntie 

she gained  when she was just 16 

now, on the next part of her journey 

I’ll see her talk about hopes, fears , ambitions , and dreams 

and I’ll listen with without offering opinions 

though I will provide support

as and when necessary 

as she sets out to conquer the world 

I know the chatterbox will be a success 

on her terms and in her time 

like good wine she will  get better with age 

as she realises the stage is hers 

to be the leading lady in the movie of her story. 

© Gayle Smith 2017  

 In The Early Days Of A Better Nation I Got Ideas Above My Station. (A Personal Thank You To Bella Caledonia 2007-2017

Hey Readers

Many of you, particularly those of you from outside Scotland will not know how much it saddens me to write the post on which I am now about to start.

Tonight at around 7pm GMT I received an e-mail from Bella Caledonia editor Mike Small informing me that the online magazine which played such a prominent role in supporting yes vote for an Independent Scotland and has been such a significant part of the Scottish cultural, social , and political landscape for the past 10 years would more than likely be no more.

To say I was disappointed to receive this news would I think be understating my reaction by a county mile. I was and this is putting it somewhat politely absolutely heartbroken. Eventually my heartbreak gave way to rage as I asked myself the question How could we let this happen?

Be under no illusions my friends this is a massive blow for those of us who support not only independence but the vision of a fairer more equal society which attracted us to independence in the first place. For many of us Bella Caledonia represented those values and gave us an outlet which expressed those values in the face of a very hostile print and broadcast media which seemed to oppose any kind of reform to Scotland’s constitutional settlement which it took great delight in telling was the settled will of Scottish people and could never be changed so it impossible was to even consider attempting it.

Thus went the prevailing unionist orthodoxy as we started 2007 and yes the more entrenched members of unionist political class still hold to those beliefs but be in no doubt the stage Bella Caledonia now exits is a very different one from that on which it first appeared 10 years ago.

During this period in our history in which Bella played its part Scotland has changed and changed for good. We are a more confident nation than at any time in our recent history and despite the shrill, almost hysterical whinging from the more deluded unionists we will not be going back in to what they think is our wee parochial box where we can be put away and ignored ever again.

This confidence did not come overnight. Like the best and most beautiful of nature’s creations it took time to grow, and had to be nurtured in the correct and appropriate way and that is what Bella was so good at doing. From its earliest days, it urged to us live as if we were living in the first days of a better nation.

This was much more than a slogan it was a request to the people of Scotland to behave in a certain way. The thinking behind it was that if we act in a manner which is independent then independence will eventually become dominant social and cultural norm. When Bella first started such an idea could and I’m sure would have been considered dangerously radical by our ultra cautious political establishment. It is perhaps one of the magazine’s greatest achievements that this mantra is now part of our country’s political lexicon.

The last 10 years have been a time of tremendous political change in Scotland. When Bella first started many Scots were in the process of switching what seemed like a lifetime of loyalty to the Labour Party to the SNP and they did so in enough numbers to give the party more fanatical unionists such as George Robertson and Brian Wilson claimed would never govern Scotland the chance to do so as the party won the Scottish Election of that year by the narrowest of margins winning 47 seats to Labour’s 46.

On winning the election the outgoing Labour leader Jack McConnell pledged to make governing Scotland difficult for the incumbent SNP administration but in Alex Salmond the SNP had a far shrewder leader than any of his predecessors and while Labour went through leaders faster than I go through after eights at Christmas, Alex Salmond got on with the business of governing Scotland and it came as no surprise to anyone outside the Labour Party when he was re-elected First Minister as the SNP were returned to power in 2011 and this time with a landslide majority.

I bring up this matter of historiography purely to illustrate that after an election which saw the route of both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats it was Bella who provided a voice for authentic political progressives and despite their opposition to its pro independence stance many of the more politically aware amongst their number knew the value of such a liberal left site speaking for many of the more culturally and socially radical voices of the yes campaign. It was a place where principled disagreement could be had without the same rancour of some of more dogmatic yes sites like Wings Over Scotland.

After the referendum was lost by a far narrower margin than many unionist commentators had predicted, Bella continued to represent all the various strands of what had been the yes campaign and continued to give support to SNP government where appropriate and criticism where necessary. Whilst this may not have been appreciated by some within the ranks of my party to those of us who put the long term interests of the people of Scotland before short term party political gain not only welcomed this we actively embraced it.

Unlike others who would hear no criticism of the SNP or Yes Scotland I had realised that however much it may have pained me and believe me it pained me more than you’ll ever know that we lost the referendum and if we were to win the next one we needed not to pat ourselves on the back but examine why we lost what could do to persuade those voters we didn’t manage to convince in 2014 and set about doing it. The fact that Mike Small and his team of writers were able to challenge us to challenge ourselves to think bigger than we would previously have dared to is in my considered opinion no mean feat especially at a time when we could have got too self congratulatory for our own good.

Since reading on the demise of Bella I have read many comments online the vast majority of which have been very positive but one which stuck out for me was from a yes supporter who seemed to damn it with faint praise by stating that we should never forget the small part it played in the 2014 referendum. As someone who though not in the position to contribute to its financial security was a regular reader of the magazine and often pointed others in that direction if they wanted to see the news from a sensible well argued yes perspective I found this comment to be both insulting and infuriating.
to me Bella should be given enormous credit for the role it played in the years leading up to the independence referendum and indeed those in articulating the voices of some of Scotland’s most creative and talented citizens and giving them the chance to air their views on the future of our country.

It is I think a fitting tribute to what was a ground breaking magazine to say that as Bella reaches the end of it’s journey. The future of pro independence media has never been brighter even if I exclude the controversial site Wings Over Scotland whose vision of the kind of society it wants to see in a post independent Scotland is shall we say very different from mine.

With regards to blogs we have sites like Wee Ginger Dug , and the multi media based Common Space to fill at least part of the void which will be created by Bella’s loss. With regards to, the more traditional printed media we now have both The National and the Sunday Herald to put forward our views to those less familiar with the internet.

However in darker less enlightened times than now, before we had these quality news outlets to state the case for Scotland, Bella was the first to stick it’s head above the parapet and encourage us to be bolder in our thinking. In the days when we as a movement were at the beginning of our yet unfinished journey Bella encouraged us to be the best we can be and its call to live as if we were in the first days of a better nation was one I was proud to take up. Speaking from a very personal perspective I owe the team at this amazing magazine a debt of gratitude for giving me ideas above my station and for me and many others like me that will be the legacy of Bella Caledonia.

In memory of and with thanks to
Bella Caledonia 2007-2017

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Tartan Tights 2016 My Year On The Blog 

Hey Readers.

 It’s that time of year when I post my yearly review of what’s been happening on the blog and there is a lot to talk about for this blogger as I’ve been a very busy lady in the last 12 months.

As the bells rang in 2016 I made a resolution that I was going to make changes to my tartan tights and I knew that these changes may surprise a few of my readers pleasing some and disappointing others but sometimes there are risks you have to take if you want to grow and develop your blog and take it to the next level.  

2016 was a year of challenges for me and I was certainly up for meeting them head on. Not only did I complete my second NaPoWriMo in a row I also attended two blogger events, posted no fewer than five outfit of the day posts which is five more than I’d posted at the turn of the year, and successfully completed my first Blogmas and trust me this is much harder than NaPoWriMo.

As for my overall performance I would say I am reasonably satisfied  and though my post views dipped from just under 15,000 to just over 12,000. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the change of focus from one where political commentary featured prominently to a more personal narrative which focuses strongly on female and trans related issues. 

This is not to say that political issues will not feature on tartan tights. Politics has always been and always will be a big part of my life and as my blog reflects my life  it wouldn’t be the same without the odd considered political rant it’s just that I made a decision to post fewer of them and I think this have a beneficial impact on my blog in longer term. 

As for my top five posts of 2016 let’s just say there were a couple of surprises in it which both delighted and to some extent astounded me. Topics which covered in these were the death of a neighbour and friend. Transgender Remembrance and why it’s important to me. I also looked at Sectarianism and extreme British nationalism and how its supporters made fools of themselves just after the Scottish Election, the  EU Referendum and journey of former no voters to saying Yes to independence and my friendship  with a brilliant young feminist poet who is the greatest talent to come out of Sweden since a certain Henrik Larsson.Yes I do mean you Agnes Torok. The list is 

(1) Driving Instructor 172 Views This post makes history as it becomes the first poem ever to be my top post of the year.  It was written in memory of my much loved and respected neighbour Ed Cullen who died in May after a battle with illness.Ed was described at his funeral as the quiet man who knew everyone and would I think be smiling at the fact that the poem written to celebrate his life beat poems written for  far more famous entrants to heaven such as David Bowie, George Michael, Ronnie Corbett , and Muhammad Ali. This is I think a fitting testimony to one of the genuine good guys.

(2) The Girl The World Never Knew Has Become The Woman It Does 167 Views. The fact that my very personal story of my gender transition and why commemorating World Transgender Remembrance Day is a matter of honour to me was my second most popular post of year surprised me only slightly as it was the kind of post I had thought would reach my top ten but if there were posts which I thought would fair better than they did there were also those which exceeded expectations.

(3) Billy Boys And Bully Boys Are Running Out Of Options As Nicola Was Scotland’s Choice To Play A Better Game  166 views My third most popular post was one of my most contentious in a year in which I tried to steer clear of controversy. This was I have to say one of my most overtly political posts and I didn’t miss my targets who in this case were the foaming at the mouth brigade of extreme British Nationalists that Better Together and the unionist press and media were in constant denial about during the 2014 independence referendum.

It didn’t take long for the unionists very own demented tendency to make fools of themselves after the Scottish election. They achieve this by demanding the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon who had been democratically elected First Minister of our country just weeks before for the crime of congratulation to Hibernian for winning for the Scottish Cup.Final.Unfortunately for them they were put in their place whilst Nicola despite the their deluded rantings remains very much in hers. 

(4) Family Tree 131 views This poem was written to welcome former no voters who voted against independence in to yes family. I wrote it  in the aftermath of the EU Referendum in which the United Kingdom proved it wasn’t as united as some would like to believe as Britain voted narrowly for Brexit and Scotland voted the empathetically to remain in EU. 

(5) Learning Swedish 128 views This poem which I wrote for my friend and fellow poet Agnes Torok after she received hate mail for her ground breaking feminist poem This Is My Body. When it comes to my own work this poem is not just one of my favourite poems of last year it is one of my favourite poems ever because of who it’s about and I was delighted that it got a place in my top five posts.

As for where my visitors came from, I got traffic from 73 countries and my main sites for driving traffic were Facebook, Twitter, WordPress Readers and later in the year Google Plus. As for the geography of my readers the top five countries for generating traffic were the United Kingdom , USA, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. This to be honest I think the was pretty much the top five I thought it would be. Other countries which featured reasonably prominently in my tartan tights visitors list included Spain, India, France, Germany New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Whilst my page views may have dropped in the 2016 it
was a very positive year in other areas as I finished 2016 with 147 new comments on my posts. This is almost double the 76 I received in 2015. This is a great result for me but I don’t intend to rest of my laurels and I will try to improve on this trend in 2017.

During a year which was very active for social engagement my main contributors who posted comments on the blog or on other social media sites are named here and in some cases I will refer to them by their blog name. They are in no particular order, Bob Leslie, Charlene McElhinney, Suzanne Egerton, Last Year’s Girl, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On, GisforGingers, Political Tourist, SoulMurmersBlog, Iain Moss, Colours Of A Rose, Dash Of A Fashion Girl, OfmgFaye, Derek Read, Steve Allan, Katharine McFarlane, Jamie-Lee McHugh, Kelly McGhee, Angela Strachan, Lesley Traynor, Linda Grant, Janet Crawford, Rona Fitzgerald, Jim Monaghan, Sheila Templeton, The Curvaceous Vegan, Victoria McNulty, and Carla Woodburn.

As for my most commented posts of the year. It comes as no surprise that my poem 16 Cinderella’s on the day we launched Women With Fierce Words  got more feedback than any other post. Indeed my only surprise about that post (see fierce women picture below) is that I didn’t finish much higher up the list than it did.

Other posts which performed well included The Great Debate That Never Was which was my poem about the Scottish election debate, my outfit of the day post I Wore My Seasonal Colours With Just A Touch Of Satin, Scotland We Need To Talk About Sex Banish Our Tartan Taboos, and 50 Random Facts About Me.

2016 was as I said earlier a year of challenges and I believe accomplishments. Successfully completing both NaPoWriMo and Blogmas were both rewarding experiences and I will taking on both again this year. However in a year where I believe I have grown as a blogger I believe  my biggest blogging achievement in the past 12 months was getting the chance to write for Common Space on World Transgender Remembrance Day. Common Space has for those who don’t know , been at the cutting edge of blogging and is in my opinion the best  social media news outlet on web,so to be given the chance to share my thoughts on a very personal issue meant a lot to me both as a trans woman and as a blogger.

So as you can see 2016 has been a very busy year for me and the fact that I managed 22 consecutive posts from late November to mid December was no mean feat. In truth the last year was a bit or a rollercoaster ride for tartan tights, it had to be with the changes I made to it. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and are ready for more of the same in 2017. I know I am, well I quite like rollercoasters

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X