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No Way To Treat A Legend 

On looking through some old poems tonight I came across an unfinished effort I had started to write  on American Olympic legend Jesse Owens. It had some notes scribbled beside it which were key words and phrases I had taken down with the intention of adding them to the poem which was to be written on his achievements in Berlin and the subsequent mistreatment of one of America’s all time sporting greats. I noted that the inspiration for this poem was the anger I felt on watching a documentary on his life and times which was shown in the early noughties. On finding this poem and the notes I had taken to complete it  I set about finishing it and have given it the title No Way To Treat A Legend. I hope you enjoy what I think will be a challenging and thought provoking read.  
No Way To Treat A Legend 
Dateline 1936: Berlin. Olympic Games 

an athlete shattered Nazi dreams and ran his way to fame 

winning four gold medals he proved he was king of the track 

but Hitler wouldn’t shake his hand as Jesse Owens was black 

the champion was American from from the land of Uncle Sam 

and he’d met Hitler’s type before they called themselves The Klan 

those good ole boys who used the lord to justify their bigotry

no matter what they put him through he won with style and dignity 

by winning his Olympic crowns he captured people’s hearts 

he gave them dreams to cling to at a time when days were dark 

for unemployment plagued the land at a time of great depression 

but Jesse Owens had now become a global sporting legend 

This should have been a guarantee of national hero status 

for the man who mocked the master race and left them devastated

but Jesse’s dreams would be destroyed because he dared to say

athletics was a serious game and.he should earn some pay. 
Now this to those who ran the sport was regarded as a crime 

they banned him from all track and field until the end of time 

because he wouldn’t toe the line and wasn’t afraid to speak. 

in just four months he’d been reduced from a hero to a freak 

On boxing day of that same year his fall from grace completed 

he faced humiliation in the way that he was treated 

forced to race against a horse to see who would come out on top

a great Olympic champion had now been cruelly mocked 

he never gained another chance to show his record pace 

although he smashed the fantasy of the fascist master race 

but in his nation’s darkest hour he was given great acclaim

he should have been rewarded and enjoyed the fruits of fame. 

but this alas was not to be as Jesse’s dreams were crushed 

by those who held the reins of power who trampled him to dust 

though his place in history is assured by his victories in Berlin 

nobody knows his tormentors names but the world remembers him 

the suits who brought about his fall poured shame upon their country 

they revealed the truth they couldn’t hide their hate filled hearts were ugly 

when Jesse brought the glory home a brilliant future beckoned

until they destroyed a hero’s dream 

that’s no way to treat a legend. 

 © 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 

Alarm Bells

Hey Readers

This poem was inspired when I read an article in the Guardian which reported that Swedish population in the UK were the latest group to feel the wrath of the Brexit Brigade. You know the we hate Johnny Foreigner little Britishers the ones who will never speak for you and me no matter how much they claim to the contrary So this poem is for all of you who voted yes to independence in 2014 and those who voted to remain in the European Union in last years referendum. I’ve given it the title Alarm Bells I hope you enjoy the read. 

Alarm Bells

They are not the usual targets
for abuse
but according to reports in the guardian
even the Swedes are getting told
we voted for Brexit to get rid of people like you
meanwhile cheerleaders for the red white and blue
proudly proclaim they are taking Britain back again
to them Europe is that place
across the water
a continent that they have no interest in being part of
let alone at the heart of
their excuse is that they are
an island
and don’t need anyone else
we should be more British they say
forgetting the days when Britannia waived the rules
and treated the rest of the world like fools
are well and truly at an end
this friendless nation
wants to live in the ivory towers of isolation
as far away from reality as it’s possible to be
whilst attacking those they see as other
in the press and TV
almost at will
I have to admit it takes lack of social skills
to disturbing new heights
when you are picking fights
with nations who have done you no harm
this is establishment thinking
trickling down to the working classes
who are being told all sorts of lies
to disguise the truth
and avert their gaze from
this shambles made in Westminster
where envy seeps in every  trough
from which they’ve been drinking
god knows critical thinking
is something they would never attempt
they are far too content
with views
not held in civilised lands
since the old black and white news reels
you see on the yesterday channel
they are scraping the bottom of the barrel
and to be honest
Europe will be glad there leaving
it’s time to call time on the intellectual under achievers
who walk among our number
or before we know it
we’ll be sleepwalking on the road to oblivion
United Kingdom my backside
this land of no heroes
misplaced pride and oversized ego’s
has no place in the civilised world
despite the plastic protests
from sociopathic so-called socialists
whose sense of entitlement
leads them to believe they can act as overlords of others
and cover their sins
with rags and ermine robes
now the truths they didn’t want you to know
lies bare for all to see
exposed as a fantasy
the reality of the situation
shows xenophobia at the core
of a nation
which if it is to survive
badly needs a new arrangement
it needed it decades ago
but instead of looking to the future
their leaders yearned for yesterdays
and a golden age, which never truly existed
where people worked up chimneys
and went down mines
with no thoughts of silver linings
when Britain as they wrongly call it
was a happy little island
with no blacks,  no dogs and no Irish.
now their  useful idiots
are picking fights with nations which have done them no harm
as alarm bells ring to herald the death of democracy
in a country where others are viewed with suspicion

@ Gayle Smith 2017

Flag In The Wind ( A Christmas Message For The Comfortable Tendency)

Hey Readers

On day 7 of Blogmas I’m getting ever so slightly political as I send an uncompromising message to those Brexiters who are in the I’m alright union jack brigade., You know, the comfortable tendency who seem to think that the only threat to the Britain they love is whoever the Tory press tells them it is rather than realising they will never get the change they seek by supporting the establishment and demonising people whose only crime is to move to this country as migrants have always done in search of a better life.

It was to get rid of these xenophobic attitudes I voted yes to independence 2014 and to remain in the European Union earlier this year. You see I recognise the contribution that migrants have made to both Scottish and British society. Indeed a few generations ago some members of the paternal side came over Ireland to settle in Scotland and it’s with those roots firmly planted in my heart that I say no to the Brexiters and their toxic anti immigrant views. I have given the poem the title Flag In The Wind I hope you find it a thought provoking read.

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Flag In The Wind.

Britain must ban migrants

says a man who;waves his flag in the wind

standing isolated on the edge of the cliff

he tells me we’ve started to win

our country back for its citizens

I listen not wanting to reply

before hearing him out

he tells me about our glorious history

of the magna carta and defeating the Armada

I politely inform him his story is English not British

the United Kingdom didn’t come to being

till long after these events

he seems nervous as if I’ve shattered his contented view

of this mythical green and pleasant land

he was brought up to believe in

I say as a Glasgow girl I have different priorities

and excluding those he calls foreigners

it not amongst them

he claims it’s disgusting what they do

says he believes in the red, white, and blue

I ask him how he came to this conclusion

he countered it’s the right solution for our country

If we don’t get rid of them

things could turn ugly

after all they are stealing our jobs and our money

taking our homes and not contributing to our economy

no wonder our country’s in poverty

he stops for breath as if collecting his thoughts

I inform him there are many of us

who wouldn’t agree with his beliefs on migration

people from other nations

have always done their bit for our economic health

done the jobs natives felt beneath them

as a Glaswegian I know my city was built on immigration

the beating heart of the nation

and the empire’s second city

imported workers to fill the jobs

in heavy industries like coal and shipbuilding.

the Irish turned parts of the city green

the Italians, Poles, and Lithuanians

filled the gaps left by Scots

who ventured to Canada and Australia

Immigrants are not money grabbing failures

they are made out to be

by UKIP, Britain First , and BNP

and the Conservatives and the Labour Party

should not be pandering to this belief

when the evidence supports the opposite view

we don’t need to teach anyone British values

or Scottish ones come to that

Diaspora’s have generations of success

to use as examples to the Romanian family in Castlemilk

or the Syrians who settled in Shettleston

and see that Baby in Bethlehem

he was a Palestinian

I challenge him by saying

If you’re going to call yourself a Christian

then act in the way that Jesus would want

don’t haunt the hearts of the gullible

this country may be in trouble

but it’s not the so-called foreigners who cause it

I know there’s unemployment

but it’s Tory austerity that’s causing the issues

the man then says Scotland should let Westminster decide what’s best

I tell him attitudes like that

are the reason I voted yes

and though we didn’t gain our independence

we got a large enough vote share to make the city nervous

but why you would want to leave us

he asks without a trace of irony

not realising that Thatcher and Blair left a toxic trail

Jesus was nailed to a cross for less

but this member of the comfortable tendency

still refused to blame anyone but those the daily mail demonises

I tried mentioning the House Of Lords

making him aware of how much of his money is spent

on this unnecessary white elephant

the only purpose of which is to gift the wealthy elderly

the chance to sleep indoors

rather than face the cold they gift to others

less fortunate than themselves

he shakes his head refusing to understand

his poverty will never be cured

by the establishment he defends

they have no interest in him

to pretend otherwise is to lie only to himself

and wave a flag in the wind

which will blow him away on the coldest night of winter.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

Dear  United Kingdom

Hey Readers

This poem is written partly in sorrow and partly in anger at the United Kingdom’s attitude to Scotland in the post referendum period.

In the run up to the vote when the unionists were begging us to stay with them we were promised that should we vote to remain in the UK we would see Scotland treated with greater respect than ever before for staying in the family of nations. Now I don’t know why but I didn’t believe this statement at the time and at the risk of being smug time has proven me to be right. You see I knew this promise would last only until the voters counted and then we would see the British establishment turn on Scotland with the kind of feral vindictiveness you usually only associate with wild animals.

I could sense the beginnings of this hysteria in 2012 when we had both Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympic Games and some of us had to endure our favourite food being wrapped up in the Union Jack. Honestly it was so bad I found this absolutely cringeworthy. Even the X-factor got in on the act and named one of their boy bands Union J and for those who thought this would die down after the referendum it hasn’t in fact if anything its actually got worse as the Westminster establishment try a botched attempt at cultural brainwashing in to this One Britain One Nation British nationalism. I say botched attempt as one only needs to look at the rise in support for the Scottish National Party during this period to see this strategy hasn’t quite worked as well as those who believe themselves to be our imperial masters thought it would.

In fact to be honest it is getting ever so slightly ridiculous now and I have recently seen that there is a company who are trying to sell British Haggis when no such product has ever or indeed will ever exist. Not only that it was widely reported, that Tesco have now put the butchers apron (aka union jack ) on Scottish Strawberries because certain loudmouths in the shire counties couldn’t cope with seeing the Scottish flag on Scottish produce. To me this shows Tesco in a very bad light as I believe they should have just told these idiot’s to get over themselves because you can be gaurenteed that if we had made the same complaint about an English product we would and quite rightly in my view have been racist.

Fortunately, however we don’t go down that route but the inequality of treatment in this so-called union of equals has started to get on my nerves and that’s why I’ve written this poem in the form of a letter entitled Dear United Kingdom to warn the British establishment that sneering at or attempting to bully Scotland will not be tolrrated and to remind them once for all that they had to beg us to stay so bearing that in mind I think it’s time they showed Scotland a bit more respect as failure to do so could have consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom.

Do I think they’ll learn that arrogance doesn’t pay , to be honest no I don’t and their failure to do so can and will only hasten the demise of this unequal union. Anyway, that’s my rant over so I hope you enjoy the read.

Dear United Kingdom 

Dear United Kingdom
I write this letter
because you said we were better together
but it seems you need lessons
in history and manners
as your attitude to Scotland
leaves a lot to be desired
you seem to think we need to be lectured
rather than inspired to stay with you
in your arrogance you reject
any view that contradicts your imperial agenda
or refuses to surrender to Westminster’s will
You do this by attempting to place limits
on our aspirations
you need reminding
we are a nation
not a region
and this straight talking Glaswegian
has had enough
you don’t like it
that I answer you back
tough but that’s the way it is
Scotland holds the aces
so you play ball
or we wipe the smiles
form your smug sanctimonious faces
once and for all
and by doing so
we will liberate others
our comrades
our sisters and brothers
in England, Wales, and Ireland
we will not be silenced
by your union jackanory
your land of dope and Tory
only works on those who are prepared to let it
as for me forget it
your united kingdom died
a long time ago
as soon as I learned of the
of the genocide which masqueraded as famine
and heard of the blood on the snow
in the coldest month of a highland winter
what happened to Scotland and Ireland
taught me we will never be
better together
as four different traditions
will only blend into one
if the other three are erased
from history
and force fed a multi national cultural dominance
there is no such thing as British haggis
despite what Anglo normative narrative tries to suggest
this British is best
let’s bring back the empire
and the cricket test
is not the way to build a nation
it may be ego masturbation
for certain politicians and their cronies
you know the ones who made Tories
out of the Labour Party
and gladly went along with their every wish
to secure Scotland for the union
except it’s had the opposite effect
and driven a wedge between the people’s party
and those they are supposed to represent
Scotland is no longer content
to see union jack pillows
in every TV soap
or have this fake identity
rammed down our throats
on programs on just about
every subject you could name
yet somehow we get the blame
if we speak out against this indoctrination
as I said we are a nation
not a region
and remember you had to beg us to stay with you
keep the blue in the union jack
I voted yes it was never my flag
your country can never be mine
nor if they are honest
can it belong to any of the nations trapped in this union of elites
we are four nations not one
so Dear United Kingdom
as the sun sets on the last remnants of your empire
I have to ask why
you failed to inspire us
to mould a common identity and instead embarked on a relentless quest
to force us to accept
a Westminster centric view
where nothing else matters but you
this is not way to impress
your union jack dress always did look tatty and ill fitting
Mrs middle aged blue rinse Britain
can no longer pretend to be young
though flutes and drums will play your songs
this is country where I don’t belong
Dear United Kingdom
you never did style
forced smiles and stiff upper lips
were more your scene
like an aging drama queen
who can’t escape her past
you still think you are
star attraction on the casting couch
and can’t understand
why no one else wants to know
I learned of your cruelty in songs about Glencoe and Athenry
my ancestors where forced to emigrate or die
yet still you refuse to apologise
for the clearance of our lands
you have to understand
you need lessons in history and manners
but near death I suspect
you are too old and embittered to learn
and as you yearn for the certainties of yesterday
I look forward to the challenges of tomorrow
in a country which is ready to  embrace the future
and deal with whatever it brings

@ Gayle Smith 2016

Sometimes Events Mean A Last Minute Change And Writing A Brand New Script. (My Review Of What’s The Tory Mourning Glory ? By James Christopher)

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Hey Readers

It was on Tuesday I went to
see the first of the shows on my must see list. The show in question was What’s The Tory Mourning Glory? by Yorkshire based comedian James Christopher.

To be fair James is on my must see list every year and has been since I first saw him back in 2012 and has become a member of my August family. This year’s production was a  different type of show for James who departed from his usual gentle style of what I would call comfort zone comedy. You know, the kind of show you could take your granny to see. Indeed his fiancé Maxi who is a talented comedienne herself, said to me You’ll be proud of James this year he’s doing an adult show about real issues and she was right because James tackled the recent Brexit vote for Britain to leave the European Union and they don’t come more current or topical than that.

From the moment he came on stage to the backdrop of Oasis songs this was a man on form  and as he asked What’s the Tory mourning glory? a pun on one of the best albums ever made in my  opinion, James commanded his audience with that  confident yet relaxed delivery which has always been his trademark. 

James started by asking his audience if they remembered where they were when they heard the result. It seems that on this occasion at least that he had quite a few sensible audience members in attendance who unlike this political activist said that they had went to bed and the first they had heard of it was on the news bulletins the following morning. Yes I confess I was one of those who had stayed up until the bad news was officially delivered.

Our man then asked how we had voted in the referendum and there was an almighty sigh of relief when we found out that practically every audience member had like James voted to remain in Europe. However as James said disappointed as we are we’ll just have to Roll With It and it was important we Don’t Look Back In Anger. Yes I know I know Some Might Say these puns are a wee bit cheesy but this is my blog and I’ll give my review my way and I happen to like them so there staying in.

James said that there would would no doubt be some people who would say he was a peace loving, leftie , liberal, Guardian reading stoner and he would admit to all of those things except one as he is no longer a Guardian reader since they’ve taken a disturbing turn to the right.

With the show now well and truly under way James reminded us that is was important that we didn’t stereotype all leave voters as elderly racists though to be honest a significant number of them were elderly racists and it was difficult to understand why places like Hartlepool would listen to the Tories as they aren’t exactly well placed to benefit from the British Brexit.

The bold James then talked of the consequences of Brexit. which he correctly in my opinion claimed was caused by anti immigrant opinion, as a section of voters blamed Foreigners for rise in foodbanks and cuts in the benefits system rather than blaming The Tory Party and their austerity cuts. These he said were people whose political views were formed by right wing papers such as the Daily Mail.

In a very clreference to Daily Mail readers he said they are the kind of people who believe they’ve done everything right. They’ve went to the right schools, got the right jobs, married the right partners, live in the right places, had the right children, and in general just lived the right lives. Having told us this he then asked us to imagine what it would be like for them to imagine they could get anything wrong. Personally I can imagine this happening on a fairly regular basis whether they would agree with me however is a different matter entirely.

In an excellent and entertaining show a confident and composed Mr Christopher refused to panic when an audience member who was obviously a member of the grammar police corrected him on a technical point that the SNP were not the Scottish Nationalist Party but the Scottish National Party. Instead of worrying he dealt with it with the good humour for which he known and said that with such an educated audience his show would be the most factually accurate show at the fringe. I have to say in all my years of attending the madness that is and always will be forever Edinburgh I have never heard a classier comeback.

This was the mark of a polished performer whose show covered this significant historical event from all angles with clever and witty references on everything from Guardian readers, to Glastonbury, from Nicola Sturgeon, and Scotland’s vote to remain to David Cameron, Boris Johnson, The Daily Mail, and of course UKIP. This was topical comedy at its best and I thought his portrayal of Boris Johnson being the foreign secretary who doesn’t like anyone was both brilliantly funny and devastatingly accurate.

This was I have to say a very enjoyable way to spend an hour and make no mistake my first show as an audience member was a good one.
This was a show where a stream of one liners flowed in to the river of comedy and made waves on the intelligence of the audience even if it wasn’t the show James had originally planned to bring to the fringe this year. That of course was because nobody had anticipated the EU Referendum turning out in the way that it did. Everyone I know had expected Remain to win the day in which case James would have stuck with his original plan and I would have been reviewing a show on David Cameron and George Osborne’s austerity cuts. However it was a famous Scottish poet by the name of Robert Burns who said something profound about the best laid plans not turning out as we would have thought but sometimes events mean a last minute change and writing a brand new script. Strange as it seems that exactly what happened and James made it work by lifting the Brexit Blues.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

A Very Ugly Valentine

Hey everyone I can’t make up my mind as to whether this poem was written too late for this year or if it’s just a bit early for next year. It’s based on the idea of receiving the valentine from hell, you know the one you wouldn’t ever wanted through your letterbox from someone you really despise. I’ve given it the title of A Very Ugly Valentine. I hope you enjoy the read.

A Very Ugly Valentine.

Thank god I never got it through my door
not on valentine’s day
it would have spoiled the romantic ambiance
I was trying to create
as I strutted round the house
in my black silk lingerie
dimmed my the lights
I was ready for hot sex
my mood relaxed with scented candles
I didn’t want a valentine
in the shape of a union jack heart extolling the virtues of Nigel Farage
saying how proud he was
to represent woman like me
except he doesn’t and never will
I am a woman of taste, culture, and sophistication
I wouldn’t trust him with my nation
or for that matter anyone else’s
I just hope whoever got
this very ugly valentine came to their senses
and put it in the recycle bin quick
Mr I Love Britain may think he’s slick
but his image doesn’t do it for me
you see sometimes I wear tartan tights
and a t-shirt which says yes, yes, yes to Scotland
in pink or in green
I think not of England, Britain, or any other place
I know what puts a smile on my face
and that is private information
which unlike your last rolo
is not meant for sharing
sometimes I am daring
not afraid to take chances
I will make the first move
faster than Nigel can climb up the polls
I do not want to know about his plans
for immigration or border controls
my heart is my country
a place of which I can be
and am rightfully proud
all areas can be accessed
but ugly valentine’s are not allowed
which is why my lingerie is black
you see I have discovered
he and his kind are not fond of that colour

@ Gayle Smith 2015