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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

Founders Of The Feast 

On a lovely summer Saturday it was my privilege to, attend a poetry themed barbecue in honour of the world’s worst  poet otherwise known as William Topaz McGonagall. This annual event now in its 12th year is hosted by my good friends Colin and Irene Storrie who every year open their hearts and open their home for a fantastic day of poetry, music, and friendship where having celebrated the best poet in the world at our Burns Suppers in January we can focus on commemorating the self styled worst poet in the world who even on our worst days can make every one us look like a genius. That’s why I dedicate this year’s McGonagall poem to them. I’ve given it the title Founders Of The Feast I hope  you enjoy the read.  

Founders Of The Feast 

​It is one of my favourite my summer traditions 

In the land we call the United Kingdom of Great Britain 

as we gather together the many and not the few 

to have good food and companionship 

and enjoy a very sociable barbecue

   
It is always great fun, but I cannot deny 

that sometimes it is not just the food which will be grilled or fried 

as the natives of our land have a tendency get very badly burned 

when we see that big yellow object 

which is know by  metrologists and weather forecasters as the sun 

 This is however, not something about which we should complaining

as in Scotland and the United Kingdom Of Great Britain 

the weather has a nasty habit of raining 

If this is the Almighty’s idea of a summer joke 

I do not find it funny as many of out citizens 

could get caught in a downpour and end up getting soaked. 

This I fear would not be very good 

however I hope it would not spoil their day or stop them enjoying their food 

for that would be a very great shame 

especially at the poets barbecue 

which every year since 2006 

has been held to celebrate the honour of my name. 

This barbecue is not held in the Magdalene Green or the fair city of Dundee

Nor even in Edinburgh the city that gave birth to the poetic genius I was born to be 

it takes place in the heart of Glasgow’s East End 

and founded by most uniquely talented collection of friends

it is however to the founders of the feast 

I must now proclaim my gratitude

though I have heard said they prefer good companions

 to a diet of well meant  platitudes 

but alas as the my story has now reached it’s end 

I ask you to raise your glasses 

and toast, Irene , Colin, and the company of  friends.  

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Glasgow Boy 

On day 30 I reach the end of my third NaPoWriMo with a poem in tribute to the late Scottish folk singer Ian Davison who  died on Christmas day last year after a battle with illness.I first got to know Ian at a Songwriting workshop in the summer of 1995 and over the years he became a regular guest musician at the Words and Music event I now host. It is therefore fitting that I post my last poem of this year’s NaPoWriMo in honour of his friendship and his memory. I hope I’ve  done justice to a fine singer and songwriter and a gentleman I am proud to have called a friend. I have titled the poem Glasgow  Boy I hope you enjoy the read. 

Glasgow Boy 

 
A man I knew well 

a friendship formed through mutual friends and music 

Ian was a Glasgow boy 

whose clydeside roots were rooted in internationalism

his socialism flavoured songs 

 written with hope for a better world 

he saw Mandela dance 

and said there was room for us all 

as lyrics told  stories of hogmaney parties 

and the welcome we give to others 

reminding us to have a dram 

and raise a glass to friends and neighbours .

both at home and overseas 

Maryhill or McKinleyville 

it mattered not to a proud Scot 

and even prouder global citizen 

with a mission for peace 

ring fenced by a red heart and a CND membership card 

this was a man who marched in October 1982

and even the man in the Whitehouse knew 

knew the power in his songs 

as did an innocent man 

in the jails of echolon 

on whose case he educated me 

now at last his body free from pain 

I can listen to the Glasgow boy 

wrapped in the warmth of memories 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Disciples 

On day 15 of NaPoWriMo my poem is on the topic of faith and was inspired by my friend and fellow poet Janet Crawford.Like me Janet is a woman of faith and church plays an important part in her life  so it really was no surprise that when I asked for suggestions for potential topics she  came up something which is deeply personal to both of us and enables me to write my personal take on the Easter story. As for  the title , there really was only one logical choice and that of course is  Disciples I hope you enjoy the read. 
Disciples 
Hanged on a cross 

an innocent man 

paid the price for our sins 

as Pontius Pilot washed his hands 

of the truth he knew 

in the heat of that Friday afternoon

he turned his face to the father 

pleaded for sinners

 asking forgiveness 

he interceded on our behalf 

the crowds laughed and cheered 

when the spotless one 

the lamb of God 

was brutally put to death 

by those who didn’t understand 

saw him as a pest 

but God knew his mission 

and that come Sunday 

he would be risen 

the conquering  son 

would give him the glory 

the tomb would be empty 

and death would lie defeated 

faith triumphant 

he would once more walk among us 

till ascending to heaven 

at the time he knew was right 

and the father made disciples of us all 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

The New Cruyff

​On day 12 of NaPoWriMo my topic is fate as I write a poem for a football loving poet whose friendship I value and whose work I greatly respect. The poet in question is Stephen Watt and though he may never have reached the heights of some of his footballing heroes I believe that by writing poems on the most challenging of subjects the impact he will leave on Scottish society may very well be greater than many of those he’s cheered on whilst supporting his team or should I say teams as both Aberdeen and  his home town team Dumbarton for whom he is official poet laureate have played and will continue to play an important parts in  his life I’ve given it the title The New Cruyff  I hope you enjoy the read

The New Cruyff 

Our  environment shapes us 

especially in the formative years

so when a well mannered child 

contemplates the fact 

that the beautiful game

may not be so beautiful after all

you have to realise 

he’s not daft just neutral

which is why the boy who likes his football 

supports two teams 

rather than make a choice 

between blue and green 

he decides to support Aberdeen 

whilst also following Dumbarton 

his home town club 

his character shaped by rocks and granite 

he spends his Saturday’s travelling

for 90 minutes of dreams

he never quite became the new Cruyff 

 the Dutch genius who almost signed for his team 

 his pen and his voice 

have been to him 

what boots were and  remain 

 to the heroes he cheered 

and still does 

they are the tools to hone his craft 

you have to understand 

the lad’s not daft 

he’s  a poet who uses words 

to score goals for  a better world 

It’s what he does

he asks questions in his work 

on topics others ignore 

he knows the score 

on issues on polite society ducks 

he’s been on the night bus

he knows what it’s like 

the poet who brings words to life 

with the bite of a tough tackling defender

delivering rapid fire rhymes 

with the pace of a flying winger 

this is the man who still plays  fives 

there’s nothing like keeping the dream alive 

on floodlit Tuesday nights 

though to me his place is on a bookshelf 

or rhyming behind the  mic 

this is where he really makes an impact 

in the way Cruyff did for Ajax, Barcelona, and  his national team 

some five a side players

may have dreams of following their heroes 

but this one was destined for a different path 

I am glad the pen replaced his boots 

and the new Cruyff became the voice 

for a kinder country .

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Lessons 

On day 3 of NaPoWriMo it is time for a political poem and it may not come as too much of a shock that the  topic of choice is independence. What may however be a bit of a surprise is that the tone of the poem comes as a warning to yes supporters to learn the lessons of history to avoid repeating the mistakes and indeed disappointments of 2014. In this poem I urge our supporters to offer the hand of friendship to those voters who voted no in 2014 and set about winning them over to Yes and winning a better Scotland because of it. I have given it the title  Lessons I hope you enjoy the read 
Lessons
If Scotland is ever to see the day 

when we become an independent self governing nation 

we must learn the lessons of the last campaign 

we cannot afford to win the day 

and lose the future 

economics may be not my seducer 

but it is effective for many 

and that penny needs to drop  

we have to recognise its power 

or the flower of Scotland will never truly bloom 

our country will not be won 

by slogans, clipboards, and demonstrations 

though they will play a part 

we must use the head and speak from the heart 

be inclusive of all communities 

and not be afraid of tackling deeply held prejudices 

amongst our own supporters 

as to why we think the way we do 

this will be a challenge 

but it has to be faced 

we can’t simply wish it away 

and hope our opponents are magically cured 

of the loyalties which bind them to  union 

this is why we never won last time 

we need to engage and say clearly and with honestly 

we can offer no guarantees 

but neither can our opponents 

and we need to call them out 

when they claim otherwise 

there are no such thing as certainties 

to pretend that the present is set in stone 

is not the solution 

we were told we would never leave 

the European Union 

yet Brexit and the isolation it will bring 

will turn us more selfish and right wing

as gradually the UK becomes ever more insular 

with xenophobia masked as the new patriotism 

this is a vision I do not share 

I despair that our civic Scotland will be under threat 

and every word we say will be scrutinised 

the smears and lies have already started 

winning the future is not a job for the faint hearted 

we have to offer the hand of friendship 

to those who voted no in 2014 

not accuse them of killing our dreams 

in moments of anger and frustration 

it is too easy to throw about words like independence and nation 

without explaining why we would better than Westminster 

at running our own affairs 

I want to live in a country that cares 

for our most vulnerable citizens 

not a United Kingdom based on wealth patronage and privilege 

that’s why my identity is Scottish not British

I don’t want to live a land which still fantasises  

about a past when they called other countries colonies 

whilst keeping their own people poor in the name of empire 

 telling them they should be proud 

they couldn’t feed their families 

I don’t want to live in a country 

where people are devalued due to race , religion , gender or sexuality 

where diversity is demonised 

and difference is viewed with fear 

to me  these kind of attitudes

are barriers to the progressive society 

I’ve always believed in 

I know there will be some in both the SNP and yes

who will be uncomfortable with me 

because of the way I dress 

and the fact I am a woman with a trans past 

but I’m prepared to take the chance

 that our very different versions of what independence should mean 

will be keenly contested in elections in which Scotland’s voters matter 

as for now I’ll accept them as allies 

in defeating the spin and patter 

coming from unionists with agendas 

the way the Tories have been behaving 

they might as well start singing no surrender or Rule Britannia

or giving pensioners free photographs of Margaret Thatcher

rather than trying to pretend 

they give a damn about our country 

we need to debate them on the issues

we need to win ugly 

by convincing those voters who are willing to listen 

that Britain belongs in the past 

though I admit it  may have been good for some 

 this battle needs won 

not for Auld Lang Syne 

nor memories of old 

we’ve got to be bold for the future generations

those growing up 

and others still to see the day 

it is their future that’s at risk 

we can , we must, we will do better than this 

when we learn our lessons 

the future will be ours. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

When Company And Camaraderie Are Mixed With Compassion It Really Is Something To Celebrate. 

As regular readers will know I love a good night out so when I recently had the chance to attend two in the space of two days I grabbed both opportunities  and enjoyed two excellent evening of quality entertainment as a result  

The first of these events was my was on the Monday of that week when I made my long overdue debut at the Aloud spoken word night which is held in the salubrious surroundings of Jim’s Bar in Glasgow University’s Queen Margaret Union. As is often the case at spoken word events I performed a set of my poems but since this was my first time at Aloud I thought I would mix it up and include some trans related comedy. This was better received than I could have hoped for and gave me the encouragement I needed to develop it further through to be  honest I think the fact that it was a mainly female audience, helped considerably as they tended to understand why my material contained references to chocolate mammograms, and vibrators.

 The next night saw me change roles from performer to audience member as I attended a traditional music concert at the Star Club in the Admiral Bar in aid of The Beetson Cancer Charity which was organised by Eric Grant. Though these were very different nights I enjoyed them both very different reasons and have posted photographs from  each event to let you know why 

Picture (1) Is the first from Aloud which was celebrating its third birthday on the night I made my debut. As at all good parties the first person you see is the host and who better to host a party than the gabby , brilliant , and highly lovable Shannon McGregor. 

Picture (2) Shows the perfect party guest as Molly Frawley shares her considerable poetic talents with a crowd who were happy to listen to her words.

Picture (3) This is one party goer you’ll never find in the kitchen. Like myself , he prefers a stage to share his talents. He is Aloud regular and all round good guy Ross McFarlane 

Picture (4) Shows a picture of someone who is rapidly emerging as one of my favourite poets on the spoken word scene Jade Mitchell. Jade is an amazing talent who really speaks from the heart and her poem Girls is one of the poems I’ve heard for a very long time.  

Picture (5) Takes me from performer to audience member as I listen to the music at The Star Club. in the relaxed atmosphere of The Admiral Bar. The event which featured the superb vocal talents of father and daughter Eric and Eilidh Grant and many of their random connections of friends from the folk music community was organised by Eric on behalf the Beatson Cancer Charity. This shot shows one of those connections Dave Gibb belting out some songs to a highly appreciative audience. 

Picture (6) Shows Eric ,with Dave Gibb, and Fraser Speirs on tin whistle. 

Picture (7) Shows Eric and Eilidh doing what they do best and that of course, is sharing their music with those who want to hear it.  

Picture (8) Is the final picture of what was a highly enjoyable, and successful night raising over £2,000 for the Beetson thanks to Eric , Eilidh , and their random connections. It is on nights like this and indeed Aloud that we see the triumph of the human spirit at its finest. 

The fact I share this post in the light of the events of last Wednesday is no accident. I refuse to let circumstances no matter how challenging or adverse they may be, stop me from enjoying my life,and I believe this belief is shared by people throughout Scotland , Britain, and the world. You see, I was worried last Wednesday. I was worried for SNP MP’s who I as a party member know and call friends. I was worried for honourable members of all parties even those I profoundly disagree with. I was worried for the many poets, and performers I know who are based in London or call it home and yes I was relieved when one by one I heard on social media they were safe.  However, as the photographs in this,post show, I celebrate my life with every day I’m given. I cherish the friendships I’ve made and every experience I’ve has helped to shape the woman I’ve become and believe me that is a woman who enjoys mixing and mingling with others. Yes I really like people, and it’s occasions like these with friends and good companions that remind me why.  

On two successive nights and in two very different capacities I shared company and camaraderie and when that is mixed with compassion we see the very best of humanity and that really is something to celebrate 

Love And Best Wishes.

Gayle X