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Kindred Spirits

On Halloween I post a seasonal poem to celebrate this important day and the beginning of the Celtic winter. Bearing in mind the ghostly goings on that this night will hold I’ve given it the title Kindred Spirits. I hope you enjoy the read. 

Kindred Spirits. 

Halloween

 the last day before the Celtic winter starts 

the time when  spirits walk among us 

on the evening of the day of the dead 

this is why we use disguises 

in the shape of masks and costumes 

to keep ourselves hidden from those 

who would do us harm

only those who guard us will know the real truth of our story 

they keep us safe as children when we go round the doors guising

on in later years 

when as adults we party with friends in  city centre bars

all they ask from us is 

that we hold them in our hearts

thoughout the coming year 

and get ready to celebrate the gatherings winter will bring 

remembering the coldest of seasons 

 is a time when the warmest of hearts join with loved ones 

to cherish memories made by kindred spirits

in stories songs and friendship

© Gayle Smith 2017

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A Spoonful Of Horror Served Up With Pride Was Part Of The Cabaret Show

Hey Readers

Last Friday I was amongst of number of poets, musicians and other entertainers who attended a Halloween celebration. This however was no ordinary Halloween night though it did have its fair share of gremlins, ghosts, and ghouls, this was Halloween night with a difference. You see this was a queer horror cabaret in aid of Glasgow Free Pride and I was there to perform a selection of my poetry. Here you can see me taking the mic as I perform to what must surely be the youngest crowd I’ve ever played to.

Picture (1) I tell it like it is as I deliver my set at the Spoon cafe for the Queer Horror Cabaret

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Picture (2) shows Gabriel Featherstone on the mic whilst the star of the night Roisin Caird who was responsible for inviting me to the event looks on.

Picture (3) Also shows Roisin Caird.This one sees her doing what organisers do and looking sensible doing it. Now that’s what I call serious multi tasking.

Picture (4) Captures a crowd scene which I think encapsulates the mood of a night  which was friendly, entertaining and inclusive and represented all that’s best about our diverse community.
At this time I went for a three card tarot readings and I have to say this threw up some interesting challenges not least of which was telling me to let go and not attempt to take charge of things over which I have no control. This was a fault I didn’t know I had but the more I look at myself the more I get this message and why I needed to hear it. 

Picture (5) In my final picture of what was a wonderful evening of entertainnent I get a close up of Amelia who in my opinion should have won the best fancy dress costume award on a night when there were plenty of ghosts ghouls and gremlins to be seen in the Merchant City that night. 

Looking back on the night I was honoured to play my part in a fantastic night which combined both the brilliant and the bizarre. As for my favourite part of the proceedings I have to choose Elaine Gallagher who though usually more renowned for her poetry read two wonderful and thought provoking short stories the second of which,  Agenda, saw her unapologetically say that she does have an agenda by writing on her trans experience and that is to let other people know that they are not alone on their journey.

As for my set I read four poems The Lemon Dress, Two Hours, Lost The Plot, and Her Father’s Smile which I wrote for our Roisin. At the wns of the evening I conducted a straw poll to see which poem from my set had went down best with the audience and I’m delighted to say that all poems received at least a few votes which indicates that I delivered a strong set of good quality poems.

As I hope you can tell I really enjoyed playing my part in this event and I say this for a reason. You see I’ve always believed that pride should be free and the accent should be placed on talent from within the local community. This to me would give each pride its own distinct and authentic voice rather than trying to make each pride part of a global corporate identity which does as much to unwittingly stereotype the LGBTIQ community as the frothing at the mouth journo types so beloved by the nuttier elements of the right wing press. The fact that I was able to do just a wee bit for such a great cause made me a very happy woman and it was great to see a spoonful of horror served up with pride being part of the cabaret on a truly majestic occasion. 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

A Reason To Remain (Why I Voted To Stay In The European Union )

Hey Readers

As today is day of the European Union referendum this post is by necessity a wee bit shorter than usual. No matter what else transpires in the next few hours this has been a historic day for the people of Scotland and the greater British isles as decision day was finally upon us and soon we will know whether the future of our country whichever version of it you identity with is in or out of the European Union. However no matter how historic or not you may think this referendum may be, it proves the truth of words of the chorus of Bucks Fizz Eurovision classic of 1981 which says I think you will find that there comes a time for making your mind up and today was the day you had to do exactly that.

Make no mistake the choice you made when you went to your local polling station will be one of the most important you make for many years and possibly even for decades.  This is in my opinion a choice between moving forward with friends and comrades throughout Europe or a journey back to a land that time forgot in a Tory time machine where Boris Johnson would be Prime Minister and Michael Gove would probably be chancellor.

Trust me if you think Cameron and Osbourne are bad these two and their not so merry men would make them look like paid up members of the Liberal Democrats.  My apologies to my Liberal Democrat friends but I think you know where we are heading with this one.

You know matter how uncomfortable I may have felt in agreeing with the last four Prime Ministers of the united kingdom Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and the current incumbent David Cameron and believe me I felt very uncomfortable about it I was not prepared to hand my country or my neighbours countries over to the likes of Nigel Farage and the Daily Mail whose disgraceful anti immigrant attitudes shame both Britain and humanity. This to me would have been an act of wanton destruction the consequences of which could be devastating for many people not to mention communities throughout this collection of nations. Thankfully I had Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, Patrick Harvie , Jeremy Corbyn , and Willie Rennie arguing the case to stay in and fight for a better Europe.

To me this referendum was about more , much more than just the economy. It was about the values I have had all my political life. It was about making a statement as to the kind of country and the kind of society I want to live in and that is a society built upon the rocks of equality, fairness and inclusion. It is a society which accepts and embraces difference and values the diversity it brings to our people.

There is however a more fundamental truth as to why I voted in the way I did and it is that I don’t want Scotland or for as long as we are part of it, Britain left to the mercies of these hard-line right wing lunatics who would strip us of our human rights without a second thought. These people are the kind of people for whom compassion is a dirty word and society doesn’t exist outside the Bullingdon Club.

As a transsexual woman I am terrified of being isolated from Europe. I don’t want to be part of a remote island on the fringes of reality I want my country to be  forward thinking, socially progressive and outward looking. I want us to be where the real decisions are made not sitting on the sidelines congratulating ourselves on how wonderful we are whilst no-one else is actually listening to a single word we say.

You see in September 2014 I rejected the dark forces of what I saw as the insular xenophobia and narrow minded politics of British nationalism when I proudly voted yes for independence. Today I rejected those same dark forces once again and for that reason and many others I found a reason to remain in The European Union and grasped it in the hope of building a better Europe. On this historic day  I voted remain and I hope you did same.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

I’m Saying Yes To A Euro Vision And Rejecting A Nightmare On Downing Street (Why I’m Voting Yes To Staying In Europe In The E U Referendum)

Hey Readers So now we know, the date when the UK must stop whining and decide if it wants to be a part of Europe and an ever closer union or go further back in time than Doctor Who’s tardis and delude itself it is a special little island with no need for Johnny Foreigner. This referendum will split two of the three main unionist parties with only the pro European Liberal Democrats remaining largely unscathed by upcoming events. Opinion polls say this will be a very close call in the UK as a whole but Scotland looks like being the most Pro European of all the UK nations with a substantial majority expected to vote to remain within the safety of Europe rather than voting to leave and leaving our future fate in the hands of Westminster. Decision Day will be the 23rd of June, and believe me when I say I have already decided how I shall vote in this referendum and I will be voting yes to remaining in Europe and rejecting a nightmare made at Westminster.

Now I know there will be some people who were opponents of mine during my country’s independence referendum who will ask and they will be perfectly entitled to do so, why I opposed remaining in one  union yet will enthusiastically campaign to remain in another. My answer however is a simple I only want to be a part of union’s that actually work and benefit the people of Scotland and the European Union works better for Scotland than Westminster ever will.

You see, to me whether I want to remain part of a union has a lot to do with why that union was set up and the intentions
behind it. The United Kingdom was set up in the pre democratic dynastic days so that one elite could join with another elite and increase both their personal wealth and their political stranglehold over their respective nations. It was also engineered by fanatical anti catholic bigots to empower England in its fight with Roman Catholic France and empower it in it’s imperial adventures. 

Compare this if you will to the circumstances which led to the birth of the European Union. This union was born not from the actions of conquest but from a continent ravaged by the most brutal and savage war ever fought in the whole of human history. This was a union born out of hope of a better tomorrow for Europe though as more cynical amongst the population will say with a degree of justification it also served American interests providing a bulwark for the continent to resist Soviet overtures and contain the threat of communism thus preventing it from spreading beyond the Russian – Soviet sphere of influence.  However, true though this may be slowly but surely the European Union gained some teeth a real democratically elected which had the power to shape change the lives of those citizens in member nations. This I think has a lot to do with why Jim Sillars 1988 came up with The SNP flagship policy of Independence in Europe to illustrate that the SNP were not an isolationist party but a party who were both nationalist and internationalist. It is policy which has been supported by former SNP leader and First Minister of our country Alex Salmond, and his successor in both posts our current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

You see the SNP realise that EU membership has made so many improvements to the quality of life for the people of Scotland and also for the other member nations of the United Kingdom and we know from bitter experience how much this was used as a stick to beat us with during the independence referendum. You see during that referendum UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and his Labour Party sidekicks Alastair Darling, and Gordon Brown spent the best part of three years bullying and intimidating the people of Scotland by threatening us that if we left their little dynastic arrangement where unionist political hacks get their palms covered in more grease than John Travolta’s  hair and get the right to indulge their self importance  by calling themselves by a title which is only fit for a village panto, that we wouldn’t be allowed to join what they regarded as their exclusive private members club. The only problem with this argument was that sooner or later it’s was going to expose their lack of principal and backbone. Indeed I would argue that a no vote in this referendum would expose the better together campaign as a  mockery built on no more than a house of sand. Indeed former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has openly admitted this by stating in a rare moment of truth that if The United Kingdom votes to leave the EU then Scotland will vote to leave The United Kingdom. Personally I think we will leave the UK anyway sooner rather than later, but to blatantly reject the EU after being warned of dire consequences by better together if we left the British mother ship would be at least in my opinion the cruellest of all ironies. You see I never did believe we were or would ever be better together with Westminster and one of the main reasons why they failed to convince me was their rampant right wing brand of British Nationalism which and it has to be said attracted than its fair share of xenophobes to good old jolly roger.

You see this negative campaign contained a far greater number of those those who have strong anti European sentiments than did the more forward thinking Yes Scotland which was the grass roots movement  for independence. This can be supported by the fact that listed amongst their supporters were not only members of the three mainstem UK parties namely the Conservatives, Labour, and  Liberal Democrats who gave it veneer of respectability but also those who shall we say we say belong to either the eccentric imperialist tradition such as UKIP and those who are more malevolent in their views of others such as the loyal orange order. These people are unreconstructed British Nationalists and by creating an exclusive British is best mentality they exist on their own little fantasy island which is about as far removed from reality as you can get whilst still remaining on earth.

It should be noted however that unlike Yes Scotland who were perceived, as the anti-establishment camp in the Independence referendum and received little or no support from the mainstream media The no campaign in this fight will have some vocal and powerful support amongst the chattering classes with The Daily Express , The Daily  Mail, and several other newspapers campaigning to remove the UK from Europe as will certain populist politicians such as UKIP leader Nigel Farage Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson, and that man of many faces not one of which I have ever appealing the original Mr self important and former Labour and Respect MP George Galloway amongst their number.

Believe me whether you or  like them or not these people will be given plenty of air time not to mention column inches to spread the message that we would be better off removing ourselves from Europe by a sycophantic press and media  sympathetic to their view and nostalgic for the golden days of empire. Though it may be tempting for some culturally conservative members of the chattering classes to paint  this rose coloured picture of a Britain which never really existed outside  the fictitious surroundings of Downtown Abbey it is also being somewhat economical with the truth. This however will not bother in the slightest an establishment determined to hang on to the power that privilege has brought them.
They will sneer at the benefits that the EU has brought to Britain and seek to convince us we are better off trusting them to make our decisions but believe me when I say that an isolated UK without what they will undoubtedly call the restrictions of Europe will be the country not of dreams but of nightmares and I for am terrified at the prospect of a British withdrawal from Europe and what the potential consequences could mean for us particularly in terms of Human Rights.

It is after all no great secret that the Conservative Party would dearly love to scrap the Human Rights Act which they have long viewed as an unnecessary inconvenience by a Government which likes to portray itself as the champion of individual freedom. Indeed there are some members of the Conservative right who have long argued that Britain should come out of the European Union  at the earliest possible opportunity and have used evocative and emotional language to stir up anti European sentiment. The fact that  Europe accounts for  57 percent of all British trade somehow seems to escape these 21st century anti heroes who wish to make a new generation of ragged trousered philanthropists of the ordinary British citizens.

 Indeed if their plans were allowed to succeed the consequences for the UK economy could be catastrophic as for those who believe that we could somehow make up this trading deficit by re-engaging with the Commonwealth nations. Not only do they ignore the assistance to the nations and regions of Britain from the European Union structural fund which was set up to provide economic assistance to areas decimated by the poverty caused by unemployment they also forget how much geography matters in the modern world and that despite the improvement in global communications the costs of transportation could put many small to medium firms out of business. So, nice as this fantasy may be for some people of Britain for the British or British Jobs for British Workers (Gordon Brown Labour Prime Minister 2009) it falls down when it comes to the facts and is about as realistic as Brown’s wet dreams of a British Day with a Union flag in every garden or renaming Scotland as North Britain in other words it makes as much sense as the no voters other delusion of taking back l the colonies and proclaiming the restoration of empire.

But to me at least the debate on Europe is about so much more than just trading. During our 43 years of membership of the European Union the impact  of Europe on this insular little island has I believe been far more positive than negative. These include cheaper air travel which makes it easier for Britons to travel abroad thus broadening their horizons in terms of culture and understanding of others. A recycling culture which cuts down on
waste and creates a cleaner, greener and healthier environment for people to love in. Still on the topic of environment being in Europe has brought us cleaner air, beaches and rivers and with regards to transport it was Europe which gave us lead free petrol and brought in the right of workers to smoke free work place. This is something from which I benefitted enormously as I worked with a couple of very heavy smokers and not to put to fine a point on it there was one in particular you could smell before you could see so god knows how polluted my former working environment could have been had it not been for the foresight of the European Union. Also on the issue of workers rights the EU introduced the directive that no workers in member states should have to work for more than 48 hours a week. Personally I think it should have been 40 hours maximum but this is an ongoing issue which can be debated further to bring about greater reforms
but if we don’t have a place at the table or in the parliamentary chamber then we can’t fight for the progressive changes we want to see.

As a creative who writes and performs my own poetry I am delighted that it was the European Union who brought forward a Europe wide copyright protection act to protect the right of artists to be identified as the authors of our work throughout, all member states.

Yes I know that last one is a personal one but for all the reasons given and at least a million others I am proud to declare along with members of all other mainstream parties such throughout these islands I will be voting yes because though I will continue to campaign for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom I will until that day comes fight for the rights of everyone in these islands and to me those rights will be far better protected by Brussels than a Westminster elite who feast on a diet of fear and a distrust of others They want you to vote no not because it will be better for you but because it will be better for them and further entrench their power which will remain in the hands of a privileged elite and you and I the average voters will be even more powerless to stop them. The prospect of this terrifies me to such an extent there are no words to describe it. You I am afraid of an isolated Britain a Britain where the unreconstructed right could impose even more ruthless repressive policies than they are now with no credible UK opposition to stand in their way. This is the nightmare on Downing Street I’m voting to stop and for the sake of democracy I hope you’ll join me by saying yes to a common Euro Vision and give a decisive rejection to the politics of yesterday’s Britain

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X