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A Conservative Christmas Lesson From A Very British Bible

As a Christian who is conscious that this is the season of goodwill I remember that there are people in this country who believe that the goodwill most of us take for granted during the festive season should not be extended to those less fortunate than themselves. These people have a name by which we can identify them they are called The British Conservative And Unionist Party. 

These people most of whom have inherited fortunes the voters of Britain can only dream of, are constantly looking for new and more inventive ways to punish the poor for being…  Poor.  So in the spirit of the season I thought I would share this graphic which to me at least sums up perfectly this clueless government which is intend on doing everything but the day job they were elected to do. You see the Tories don’t believe in improving the life of our citizens they believe only in improving their wealth by any means they can. 

This being Christmas Eve those of us who attend churches  all over Scotland, Britain, and the world will hear the good news of the Christmas story as a babe born in a manger came to earth to save us and bring peace, love, and goodwill to all humankind. The picture above however represents a very conservative lesson from a very British bible. 

Now I don’t know who came up with this graphic but to them be the glory, praise, honour, and credit for telling it like it is. I love the idea of the book of morons to show the cold hearted thieving Tory profiteers up for what they are. To me this says all that needs to be said on the ayslum that Tory Britain has become and illustrates all too clearly why I want out of the United Kingdom rather than out of Europe. You see nowhere in any bible I have ever read any verse that says if there old abuse them or if there sick send them to work but that’s a Conservative Christmas and their scripture comes from a very British bible 

Till next time 

Gayle X

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Mince Pies 

This poem may appear to be written on a favourite festive food, but look beyond the title and you’ll find it’s really about the greed and self satisfaction that Christmas can sometimes bring and the cold hearted indifference in our attitudes to others and especially to those most in need of our help. I’ve given it the title Mince Pies I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read. 

Mince Pies

Mince pies 

a festive favourite 

with custard or on their own 

hot or cold 

perfect with coffee 

or even Irn Bru

comfort food until twelfth night 

then they disapeer from view

till mid November

when suddenly we remember 

that Santa will soon be coming to town 

thanks to adverts and christmas songs 

which are played non stop

on TV screens and shopping centres

in an effort to get us 

to part with our money 

as consumerism runs riot

masquerading as the feel good factor 

we are all told we need 

in a land where greed is sold as good 

is it any wonder we need comfort food

we need mince pies 

to survive the harsh realities 

of the bleakest mid winters 

where those with cold hearts 

walk past shop doorways 

where the dispossessed lie sleeping

as Jack Frost haunts their dreams 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

On Remembrance Day I write a poem which is based on the concerns of a 94 year old veteran who served in the Second World War. This former soldier believes that we are now standing at the brink of a third world war and potential global catastrophe due to what he calls the greed and self interest of a group of sociopathetic leaders who have no compassion or empathy for those they lead or for the greater human race as they seek only power no matter the cost to the rest of us. I hope I have done justice to the words of Harry Leslie Smith in this poem which I’ve titled As Lands Lie Bleeding. I hope you enjoy the read. 

As Lands Lie Bleeding 

I can’t stand by and watch the world explode

these are not my words 

but those of a former soldier

in the winter of his years

who genuinely fears for our human race 

this is a man who has faced unspeakable horrors

the likes of which we hoped we would never see again 

like hearing whilst stationed in Germany 

that atomatic bombs had been dropped on japanese cities

and turned the souls of inhabitants 

in to what he describes as chalk marked stenciled drawings on pavements 

in the fragile peace of a cold war world

we had believed those days were behind us 

yet now we stand at a crossroads

not seen since the 1930’s and rise of Nazi Germany

as once more the conservative right 

squares  up for a fight without realising the consequences 

these people have a glorified sense of self 

but no sense of other nor compassion for their plight 

without a moral compass they play games with our lives 

in contrast to those who rebuilt a shattered continent 

at the end of the last global conflict 

who in this country brought us

The NHS and welfare state 

but now the politics of fear and hate are on the rise again 

as the disadvantaged look for scapegoats

to blame for their decline 

shortage of housing and rising crime statistics

blame it on the forigners not the British 

say those who preach exclusion 

as if by doing so we magically solve all problems 

I support an independent Scotland 

but I recognise that independence alone would not solve our problems overnight 

however in the dreamworld of the British Conservative right

they are prepared to make no such admissions about their United Kingdom

and by perpuating their delusions 

they are sacrificing the ambitions of their children 

to live in a better world than this 

an old soldier is warning us 

with autocratic governments in positions of power 

the world stands at the darkest hour 

since the days of Hitler and the reich 

life he says cannot go on like this 

something has to give.

we are standing on the brink of war 

he urges us to take a step back 

not for the Saltaire, stars and stripes, or union flag 

but for humanity 

he worries about the sanity of sociopathetic leaders 

with no respect  for others 

as they lust for power at all costs

and watch lands lie bleeding 

as they play war games by remote control 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Diet Of Kindness 

With all the madness of Brexit and and an ever growing culture of individualism and the me first society, people are increasingly putting their own needs ahead of the common good. In this poem i take a look at what local, national, and global society could be like if we could move to from the cult of personality politics to a kinder way of communicating with and responding to the needs of others. Ive given it the title Diet Of Kindness i hope you enjoy the read .

Diet Of Kindness 

As evening approaches i am aware 

it will soon be time to dine

but i think not of food 

though a fish supper is appealing

it is not a meal i want right now

rather a change in the way we treat others and ourselves

this will be beneficial to the emotional health

of our communities and nations 

we should seek inspiration from volunteers not millionaires

we need to change what we aspire to be 

this is not about food

 it is about the common good of the human race 

too often we are told to know our place 

and accept this order without questioning those who served it up

or asking them why they didn’t put respect on the menu

from Hitler to Stalin from Franco to Caucescu 

we have been taken to the fast food  politics

of instant gratification

only to hunger for commodities  dished out on our individual platters

by the tabloid press and 24 hour  television

to limit our ambitions 

to what they believe is right for them 

as half the world starves to death 

and the other half craves what they can’t posses

are we too blind to see the answer that lies before us 

humanity is not about building borders barriers or walls

pride will always come before you fall from a very great height 

as evening comes i am aware 

it will soon be time to dine 

but it’s not food i have on my mind 

it is change in the way we live

it’s about taking less and giving more 

talking to the outcasts 

those until now you have chosen to ignore 

it’s about changing who and what we aspire to be 

setting ourselves free from authoritarian chains

it’s raising our voices in anger when we  see others being demonised and labelled 

it’s about accepting people

 be they LGBT , disabled or from different religious groups 

it’s a recipe not for the stomach but  the mind 

and replacing individualist self indulgence 

with a diet of kindness served up with compassion and humanity 

© Gayle Smith 2017

When Women Are Visible In All Shapes And Sizes It Really Is Something To Celebrate 

At the beginning of the month  I had the privilege to be part of the Visible Women festival a two day which celebrated who and what women are through the context of art, workshops, and discussion. 

Organised by the human dynamo that is Keira McLean, visible women had an action packed programme of theatre and discussion including the premiere of a one woman show by the hottest property  on the Scottish spoken word scene Victoria McNulty, the controversially acclaimed show Gaslight by Darren Loki McGarvey, and workshops on feminist music , comedy and film festivals. 

As a trans woman I was delighted to asked to submit a poem to this festival but me being me I e-mailed three to Keira and let her decide which one she wanted to include. The poem she selected was Does My Lipstick Scare You ? which I wrote for World Transgender Remembrance Day in 2014. On chatting with Keira she told me that she made her choice due to the fact it was the best fit for the event as it challenged those in attendance to redefine their notions and images of women and of womanhood. Looking back I can quite clearly see why she made this poem her choice and I believe that I would have made the same decision.  If you look at some of the artwork featured in the exhibition you’ll see why. 

Picture (1) Women And Words asks a fundamental question on the power dynamics in male- female relationships 

Picture (2) This picture uses a word which is usually used to describe power and authority that an individual or organusation may hold over us in certain situations. Don’t get me wrong the word obey is fine when we use it in it’s proper context like for example reminding children to obey our parents or school teachers, or if we are members of a group, or a club we promise to obey the rules of that club or group. Unfortunately however,when it comes to women the word obey has very negative connotations. In our case it is usually inferred or even stated that we should obey the men in our lives no matter in what capacity. Yes even in 21st Century Scotland/UK this attitude still prevails albeit to a lesser extent than was once the case,but it is still very much out there.

 To me the idea that I should be considered of secondary importance and therefore subservient  to male family members, work colleges , or lovers, just because I’m female is fundamentally flawed but attitudinal barriers are often the hardest kind to break down and we need to remember that it is only  30 years ago that this word was included in every wedding ceremony in the country as part of the bride’s promise to her husband.  Yes I know it says in the Bible that wives should to their husbands but it also says that nobody should eat pork and people can sleep with family members, and I don’t either of these argument work well in today’s consumer based society .

Picture (3) Words,can be used as weapons and they very often are as capitalism promotes inequality between the sexes as the collection captured, in this photograph amply demonstrates.

Picture (4) Gives you a message the established order don’t want you to know and that message is freedom is power. It also asks the most fundamental of questions which is how can you have no home? For women however, this question still needs to be addressed as  more women than men will be homeless due to changes in their domestic circumstances so though freedom may very well be power for men locally, nationally, and globally this doesn’t apply to women who often find themselves out in the cold due to changes in living arrangements.  

Picture (5) If every picture tells a story then the images on this wall speak of judgement with slogans like to cover up and shut up and not fit to be a mother informing us of the standards men or the more neanthadal among that species think women should aspire to.  Now I hate to shatter the illusions of these delicate little creatures but maybe they have their centuries confused. For the avoidance of doubt  this is the 21st and it’s time they stopped living in the 12th

. Picture (6 ) I find this image both challenging and powerful and I’m sure many people will have their own personal take on it.  As for me, my interpretation of the phrase walk with me is that men need to spend a day walking in our shoes to understand the prejudice and discrimination, we still face in Scottish/ British and Global society even in these so-called liberal and enlightened times.  

Picture (7) This image tackles the thorny image of stereotypes. If you look closely you will see a picture of a women’s crossed legs. This in my portrays the idea of woman as seducer, and temptress. It is if you like the typical male view what femininity is about though it doesn’t constitute an image of any women I know.  Indeed if truth be told it provides only one representation of what may or may not be at any given time and as such should not be given a greater prominence than it deserves.  

In the same photograph you can also see the word hysterical. This is a word, which is only ever attributed to women and the implication behind it is that unlike men who are always perfectly balanced, women are not in control of our emotions are liable to throw a temper tantrum if we are not given our own way.  This sexist use of language gives the misleading impression that men are more rational than women and is often used to discriminate against us.

Picture (8) If visible women means making women proud of who we are   then this picture of my friend and fellow poet Carla Woodburn which shows her looking happy, confident, and relaxed  is the perfect picture to include in this post. Carla is a very visible woman in the Glasgow poetry scene and has recently set up her own spoken word night Tell It Slant  at The Project Cafe on the last Friday of the month and with her friendly but professional attitude and her warm and welcoming personality I am sure it will be a fantastic event which will become a valuable part of our spoken word scene in the months and years to come.  

Picture (9) Shows my poem Does My Lipstick Scare You? Hanging on display in the exhibition. Though the text is not clearly visible in this photograph you can quite clearly see that it is a poem in the way it is laid out and I was proud to have it featured at an event which looked at who women are and how we are represented in every way imaginable. On chatting to others who attended the festival , I found that many had viewed my poem and were very complimentary about it saying that it challenged heteronorative norms as to who and what women and told the story of a very visible trans woman who wasn’t afraid to be herself 

Naturally I was delighted to receive such positive feedback on my  work particularly on a poem which I believe challenges everyone but especially alpha males to recognise that trans woman are women and will not be bullied by anyone Looking back at the festival I can honestly say I completely understand why Keira selected this poem to represent my work and trans women more generally as it challenges the notion of patriarchy and illustrates that women come in all types , shapes and sizes and when we can visibly embrace the fact and enjoy being ourselves then  it really is something to celebrate.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

Global Warning 

Hey Readers This poem looks at my mother’s unspoken passion for nature and what I would now refer to as green tv programmes.Though politically unionist which I  think was due to being a wee girl at the time of world war 2 and from listening to friends and neighbours than any firm conviction to that cause my mother was never unfair or at least not intentionally and I would describe her as a liberal with green tinges. Due to fundamental differences in our opinions particularly on Scottish independence and Irish unity (I , like my dad and my maternal gran supported both unconditionally and still do without any concessions)   I seldom discussed domestic politics  with my mother. International issues however were a different matter and something on which we found areas of agreement. For example my mother was the first person I knew to mention the Rainbow Warrior and supported the Greenham Common women,  but I must admit I giggled when she referred to Global Warming as Global Warming. However with the benefit of hindsight I think she have been more right than I thought on that call. So it is to my mum Mary Roberson Russell that I dedicate this poem written in her memory  and entitled Global Warning I hope you enjoy the read.

Global Warning

My mother got it wrong

when she called global warming

global warning

for a woman of her generation

it was an easy mistake to make

but she may have been more right

than she thought

and she was certainly a fan

of recycling

often taking clothes to charity shops

and encouraging me to buy from them

before it was cool or on trend

she thought unleaded petrol

was a good idea

when others condemned it as an unworkable dream

my mother was a wee bit Mrs Bouquet

when she talked of living in the suburbs

rather than the schemes

which to her were someone else

I think it was it was her village mentality

which made the good life required early evening viewing

she would watch documentaries on trees and polar bears

before comedy or programmes on poverty

as for her politics I would described her as liberal with green tinges

I think she would have liked Partick Harvie

though she would have been more at home with Robin Harper

he was more of her generation

she would have related to him better

seeing Patrick as more my style

she often watched wildlife on one

telling me we needed to look after the world

because David Attenborough said so

I couldnt argue with logic like that

If I tried I’d be reminded

everything has its place

and we shouldn’t endanger species or plants

but tend them with care

on studying the physical environment

I told her of the damage to the ozone layer

to which she replied this had been a long coming

we didn’t have as many white Christmasses

or long hot summer days as she once remembered

maybe it was her memory playing tricks

or perhaps we had taken too many risks

in the name of progress

and what Adam Smith called

the wealth of nations

geography has to come before economics and politics

it’s the only way to create a better society

whilst ensuring our survival

in the longer term

the slash and burn approach

of so-called capitalists

who think of only of themselves

and the potential profit margins

they could make whilst others starve

or die forgotten in dull dark spaces

which nobody wants to inhabit

has caused untold misery

in every country you could name

it’s time to raise our game

my mother may have been

more accurate than I thought

this is a warning shot

and as tempretures rise

and weather becomes more extreme

with greater seasonal variations

than any time in history

we will unravel the mystery

and in doing so

we might finally get the message

the insanity has to end 

@ Gayle Smith 2017

 

The Verdict

Hey Readers

In this poem entitled The Verdict i aim my sights firmly in the direction of the UK Parliament and ask why our political leaders talk a lot of hot air and put profit before people whilst doing as a little as they think they can get away with on climate change. It is my opinion that lack of action will not be viewed favourably when these politicians meet their makar it is for this reason I’ve given it the title The Verdict I hope you enjoy the read 

 The Verdict 

It seems to me that British politicians

talk a lot of hot air

when it comes to making changes

trying to avoid them just in case

they might not work

we they claim, are by nature risk averse

preferring safety first

or better the devil you know

personally I think this is madness

you can’t keep doing the same thing

and expecting different results

that is not how the world works

but this is something Britain fails to understand

an isolated island we are told

we are a happy land

and those who want change

are viewed with distrust

or even suspicion

blamed for causing divisions

which in reality have always existed

no matter what Westminster thinks

you can’t paper over cracks

by wrapping everything in union flags

yet they seem to believe

that singing a chorus of Rule Britannia

will make everything better

there will be no surrender to the truth

facts will be dismissed

as lies which get in the way of a good story

the British establishment live in a bubble

unable to comprehend

the importance of taking care of the land

or that the world has evolved over time

and may not want the benefit of our advice

which will always come at a price

when it’s wrapped in corporate pin stripes

by the city of London

as gamblers disguised as traders

get away with whatever they like

it’s the way they play the game

meanwhile the ragged trousered philanthropists

live in poverty in areas where dreams died long ago

I thought they would have known by now

this is the inevitable result

of trusting Tories with democracy

it is they and their wealthy friends

who want to frack the land for profit

extract shale gas from under the ground

without a thought for the long term damage

this could do our environment

not to mention the impact

on our tourist industry

food crops or drinking water

whilst gullible sheep are led to the pen of self interest

and deliberately misformed by the press and media

to ignore these trendy liberal leftie causes

as many gladly will

preferring tabloid horror stories

which are exaggerated for effect

by journalists who know

there is always someone to blame

and that rule applies

whatever the problem may be

the UK leaders need to be made to see

what Scots Sudanese , Senegalese, and Swedes already know

this is not the time for showboating and grandstanding

we need to develop an understanding of our habitat

and stop referring to those who value nature

as tree huggers

those who put profit before people

are no better than muggers

stealing priceless gifts of nature  which do not  belong to them

if you think that sounds like

I’m singing a song of sustainability

then that would be correct

I value my world I treat it with respect

this plundering of the planet

cannot be allowed to continue unchecked

we need to learn where things are at

and see that next summit we attend

debating the problems facing the earth

we have to open our eyes and see the solution

if this takes a revolution in our thinking then so be it

we can’t just wish these issues away

global warning does  exist

we must open our eyes and actually listen

believe it or not the world does not revolve round the united kingdom

far less the stockbroker belt in the home counties of England

we have bigger issues to consider

than playing petty political games

where short term goals

are all that can be scored

a problem ignored is a problem doubled

if we don’t sort it out

we’re heading for trouble

we need to focus on cleaner greener energy

cutting down on waste

not acting in haste now

and regretting decisions at a later date

for the sake of humanity the future can’t wait

we need to act locally, nationally, and globally

or slowly like desertification

tomorrow will speak of our shame

when that happens the judge of the earth

will deliver a verdict on our environmental vandalism

and the scandal is that

on the charge of death by hot air

we will be found guilty of murder by apathy

@ Gayle Smith 2017