Tag Archive | Becky Bedbug

On Tartan Tights Fifth Birthday It’s Time For Celebration 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading tartan tights 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

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A Birthday Letter To Jessica Lauren Hatcher

Hey Readers

I start this post with a trigger warning if you don’t like emotional posts read no further than this because believe me this post going to be as emotional as it has it ever been in the history of tartan tights. You see this is a birthday letter to a younger blogger who though I haven’t met have has become one of my closest and most valued friends. Yes bloggers do form friendships before we’ve ever met and believe me I’m so glad I’ve found this one.  So for those of you who can cope with the emotional stuff I hope you enjoy reading my birthday letter to my friend and virtual daughter Jessica Lauren Hatcher.

Dear Jess

As a Glaswegian and a Celtic fan who supporters an independent Scotland, I used to hate this day  and despised it with a passion you will find difficult to understand.  Well it was the day after my birthday and was also my parents anniversary. I was their fourth year anniversary present but these weren’t the reasons I hated the 12th of July. The real reason I detested this day more than any other, was a so-called cultural event which barely registers a blip in the South west of England where you were born and raised but causes untold stress and fear in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. I refer of course to the orange walk.

To me this was the day that represented everything I loathed about being British. It was a day for the most obnoxious kind of protestant to parade and flaunt their hatred of catholics with tunes of bitterness on the streets of our towns and cities.  It was a day for staying indoors and battening down the hatches to keep myself safe from the drunken hoarders who were littering my city with those bigoted bile ridden attitudes.

You see being a child of what some people in the west of Scotland would call a mixed marriage a protestant mum and a catholic dad, it is fair to say that I never had any issues with what church my friends choose not to attend on Sunday mornings but trust me Jess in Glasgow this was an issue and to some extent it still is. Though I will admit, the impact on my city is nowhere near as bad as it was in the years of my youth. So having set it in context you can see why this day divides both communities and families.

I have to say my attitude to this particular day has changed in the past year or so and there is one reason for that change and it’s you. Yes you have read this right you have changed my outlook to the 12th of July and changed it totally and completely You see to me it is no longer the day for prejudice and fear it is a day for princesses and fashion and if that last statement sounds like I am
wearing my rose coloured glasses then let me admit that I am and I am happy to do so.

I say this despite the fact that as yet we haven’t actually met , but in spite of this you bring out that softer maternal side I know I was born to have. It is and I’ll admit it very openly the biggest regret of my life that as a trans woman I can’t have children of my own. However I have to say that becoming part of that wonderful community you and I know as the blogosphere has given me the gift of virtual daughters from all over Britain.

Now you will know who I’m talking about when I say that Amie, Becky, Davina, and Jasmine have very big places in my heart but trust me missy, nobody can beat my golden girl. Why is this ? well I think it’s because I see slightly more similarities in our natures than I do with the others and you know how much I love each one of them and the reasons why.

To me you’re the most openly  sensitive of all my blogging family and like me you wear your heart on your sleeve. I know emotions can
get messy on occasion and when that happens it can be a nightmare but if  everyone was as honest as you then it would happen far less frequently than it does and the world would be a far kinder place because of it.

Now I can’t remember exactly when we started chatting though I would guess it wasn’t long after the 2015 General Election as that’s when I started getting involved in the blogger chat groups which now play such a massive part in my life.

What I can remember however, is that time when you were looking for guest bloggers to cover your blog whilst you were on a well deserved holiday. On reading that you were looking for bloggers to post for you, I seized the day and asked for a slot. To be honest I was gobsmacked when you accepted and gave me the chance to guest post for you. I thought the topic would be a challenging one for you but no, not only did you embrace it you also encouraged me to do something I had never done in any post until then and that was to use photographs in my post.

I must admit I was a wee bit apprehensive at trying this, but you told me I could do it and by sending you the photographs I wanted to include (and I have to say you did a fantastic job by the way) they you used them to highlight my story and give the maximum impact for the post

As far as I’m concerned our collaboration has to me has resulted in two significant benefits for me. The first benefit is blog related as due to your persistence I have learned a new skill and that is to use photography in my blog as and when appropriate. The second is a bit more personal and that is I have gained a friend who I hope will stay in my life for a very long time. I hope you realise the difference you have made to me and you know how proud I am of all you’ve done and all I know you’ll do.

On the face of it ours is unlikely friendship the middle aged trans woman whose a member of the SNP and has met our first minister on more than a few occasions and the shy young English girl who was still in her teens when we first chatted. But, and this is an indisputable fact it is that unlikely as it is it’s a friendship that’s worked.

I think I’ve said almost everything I needed to so this letter is almost over Jess, but I’ll end it as I started by taking you on virtual journey to Glasgow. There are people I need to tell you about and though they are no longer here among us it’s important that you know about them. You see 59 years ago John Smith married Mary Russell and four years later they brought me in to the world. Due to my biology they were never blessed with a grandchild Yet 21 years ago a baby girl was born 600 miles from the place they called home who if circumstances had been different would have been the perfect granddaughter for them a girl they would have loved and who I know would have made them very proud. I think you may know the girl
I’m talking about.

Her name is Jessica Lauren Hatcher.

Lots Of Love Always
Gayle XXX

Here’s To The Future Wherever It Leads Me

Hey Readers This morning I got a message from WordPress congratulating me on my 4 year blogging anniversary. Naturally I was delighted to receive this message but it set me thinking what have I achieved in my four years as tartantights? and how have I improved as a blogger?

Well I would like to think that blogging is a journey and like all journeys the further you travel the more you enjoy it though it can take you to some unexpected destinations. This has certainly been the case with me and I believe I’ve got bolder with each passing year in terms of what I share with you. This has improved both my blog and my confidence as I really believe me in my blog and I think it’s beginning to show.   No longer is tartantights dominated by politics and poetry reviews I have I think begun to show you more of myself in my blog and this is I hope a good thing as it let’s you get to know me better.

In the last year i have tried and achieved things I would never thought was possible when I started tartantights.  I have tackled and completed the NaPoWriMo challenge where I had to write 30 poems during the 30 days of April I have joined UK wide blogger groups and value the support I receive from fellow bloggers many of whom I now count as friends. Indeed there are a few who seem to manage without trying too hard to bring out my maternal side and without naming names they know exactly who they are. 

Talking of my maternal side it is these bloggers who have encouraged and influenced me a lot they know One of this select group has let me lead a blogger chat for her #AskABlogger group another got me to write a poem on Glasgow as it isn’t seen by the BBC or MSM but the the one who gave me the chance to write a guest post for her site and challenged me to import photographs in to my post stretched me more than any other. Now  I have to say I was apprehensive about this as I had never attempted it before but she gave me the confidence to go for it and I now use photographs in my posts whenever I think it’s appropriate. I think the peer support you can gain from other bloggers is invaluable and I know I’ve become a better blogger just by participating in these chats which is why I try never to miss them. So from not knowing these chats existed a year ago they have now become an integral part of my life and inspired me to do things differently than I otherwise might
have done.

This past year has also seen my blog take on a greater focus with regards to my transgender identity and more general equality issues particularly relating to women’s issues. In the last 12 months I have reviewed Caledonian Dreaming which is in my view one of the most important books to date on the case for Scotland’s independence, and one of the best days of my 54 years on earth at The Girls Day Out Show to which I give my most emotional review in my four years as a blogger. With regards to statistics I am pleased to report that 2015 was most successful year to date particularly in terms of page views so I must be doing something right and whatever it is I hope I keep doing it.

So what does the future hold for tartantights? To me at least that’s a question only the future can answer. However whilst I have no doubt I will still post in support of Scottish Independence and review the best of the spoken word events I regularly attend I would like to think that I will continue to post on a variety of topics and that I will do so in way that will make you want to read my posts. So here’s to the future wherever it leads me and I hope you’ll enjoy reading my adventures as much as I will enjoy writing on them.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

The Tartan Tights Awards 2015

Hey Readers Welcome to the fourth annual tartan tights awards and every year they seem to get bigger. This is the case again this year with more than ever to give out so forget the golden globes these are the awards to win. Apart from the awards for which I hope you are all dressed up in your virtual finery, this is a time to celebrate those who’ve made my world a better and more entertaining place by simply being in it. So let’s crack on and see whose won what this year and given me moments to cherish and made 2015 a  better year than it might have been.

I start these awards with my politician of the year and though First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has had a brilliant year leading the SNP to the most sensational results in her party’s history, it is a beneficiary of that never to be forgotten night in May who succeeds her party leader  in picking up this award.  In defeating Douglas Alexander she caused one of the biggest political earthquakes on a night which had plenty of them,  she became the youngest MP ever to be elected in the democratic age. Make no mistake this is a young woman with a very big future Indeed her maiden speech  was widely acclaimed as the best heard at Westminster for many years. This however is not a woman who is content to rest on her laurels and in the time since her election she has shown that she is a woman of  passion, power, purpose, and principles. My 2015 tartan tights politician of the year is the brilliant Mhairi Black.

My young politician of the year is like her predecessor Laura Doherty a member of the SNP and is also a member of the Shettleston branch of the party. Since this is my local branch I know this fighting force of nature well and during the successful campaign in Glasgow East she seemed to be everywhere. Not only was this dynamo buzzing all around the East End of Glasgow she was also encouraging others to do the same. I am, I have to say very happy to announce that the thoroughly deserved winner of the young politician of the year is the flame haired genius pictured below, the lovely Morgan Horn.

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My vision of Scotland award goes to that politician or member of the public who by their actions have made Scotland a better and fairer place. This year this award goes to someone who rose to prominence during our independence referendum in which she gave many impassioned speeches in support of a yes vote which she believed would bring about a fairer more inclusive Scotland than would be possible under Westminster a socialist Scotland which she said would be bolder than the version of independence offered by the SNP. This fair but feisty feminist was a great asset to the Yes campaign and was able to connect to voters who for so long were thought to be beyond the reach of traditional nationalists. Now a columnist for the pro independence newspaper The National , her columns are always insightful, thought provoking and a damn good read. So for her commitment to a fairer more inclusive Scotland and presenting alternative vision of independence which I believe  not only needs to be heard but also needs to  articulated my vision of Scotland award goes to Cat Boyd.

My next award is the Unsung Hero/Heroine Award. This award goes to the politician who represents their party quietly and without fuss and often restores people’s faith in politics and political system as they do so, Last year this award was won by Caron Lindsay of the Liberal Democrats but this year it goes to a member of the Green Party A fellow poet she will speak out the issues that concern her, she is after all well versed on such matters. Ladies and gentlemen my  unsung heroine for 2015 is that patron saint of poetic polemics Anna Crow.

Now it’s time for my One To Watch award. As the title suggests, this is someone who I think will go to bigger and better things and become more widely known than they are at the moment as they have the talent and potential to shape to the future of our nation Our winner this year is someone who I think is great asset to their party and yet again their party is my party On election night she defeated one of my least favourite opponents when she removed Jimmy Hood from Lanark And Hamilton East My one to watch award goes to Angela Crawley.

My Impact Award goes to the politician who has made the biggest impact on one or more issues in the past year and like my politician of the year this was a straight fight between two members of the same party Mhairi Black and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. This time it was Nicola who prevailed though Mhairi ran her a lot closer than any of her political opponents. In what was a memorable year for her she managed something even Alex Salmond couldn’t and working in partnership with Plaid Cymru and The Greens  got the UK General Election debates increased from what the UK press and media like to call the three main political parties Conservative, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats increased not to four as the so-called big three parties in the Westminster village wanted . I  believe they were going to include UKIP probably because every village needs an idiot, but to seven which was a much fairer representation of British democracy.

Not content with winning TV appearances  she then set about winning the debates and with team progress of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and The Greens set about the Westminster old boys network in spectacular style. A force for change Nicola also launched the first ever SNP woman’s manifesto slaughtered Jim Murphy in the Scottish TV debates and has regularly trounced unionist party leaders in the Scottish Parliament by maintaining her dignity whilst they lose theirs. If that’s not making an impact I don’t know what so the winner of this year’s impact award is Nicola Sturgeon.

My last political blog is for political blogger of the year and despite some brilliant posts by Bella Caledonia, and the ever wonderful Burdz Eye View, in an outstanding year when he published two or is it three volumes of his work he has been yapping, yelping, and biting the hand that patronises more often than ever before my winner for the second year in a row is Paul Kavangh for Wee Ginger Dug.  

Having given out my political awards it’s now time to focus on the community awards and what better place to start than with blogger of the year.  This is never an easy decision but this year I have split this category in to two separate awards  Scottish blogger of the year and International blogger of the year. The later category is for bloggers not resident in Scotland but more of that in a moment, firstly let’s focus on Scotland  It is I think fair to say that Scotland has a number of talented bloggers and last year’s winner Last Year’s Girl is the perfect example of what I like in a blog it has to be informative with content worth reading but it also needs to written in that kind of chatty style that would make me want to read it again and this year’s winner certainly has that style. It is for that reason she beat off challenges from A Life With Frills, Colours And Carousels, and Frankly Ms Shankly and the winner of the Scottish Blogger of the Year is Claire Smith for G Is For Gingers.

2015 is the year that I began to chat more to other bloggers both inside and outside Scotland. This meant joining lots of blogger chat groups and I’ve even hosted a couple of them.  It is with this in mind I have come up with a new award of International blogger of the Year. This is in tribute to all the fantastic bloggers from the other nations in the British And Irish Isles. Most prominent amongst them are  All Things Beautiful , AliCaitrin, Becky Bedbug, Blogs All Beautyy, Cardigan Jezabel, Colours Of A Rose,  Country Pearls, Dorkface Blog,  Dungarees And Donuts, Forever Amber,  Jessica Lauren Hatcher, Mini Mouse Chic,  and  Naturally Beige, As you can imagine trying to pick a winner from that little list wasn’t easy but in the end I had only had one choice to make, and I make it not just for the quality of her blog but for the fact that she isn’t afraid to speak out on the issues that matter to her. She is similar in that respect to the wee ginger dug and her post on challenging the main stream media (the dug will be proud) to use plus size models to advertise woman’s wear was the best I’ve read all all year so my first ever International Blogger of the year is Olivia Jade Thirsten for Dungarees And Donuts.  

My next award is activist of the year and since i think of activism in terms of community empowerment rather than just in it the political sense of the word then it is in the right category 
Explanation over I can now tell you that this was the easiest decisions of the night You see my winner is a fellow blogger who in an effort to empower other girls and indeed some more mature women invented the idea of the girl gang to help us encourage each other to become better bloggers. So to those the blogging world it will come as no surprise that my winner of my Activist of the Year is  Dorkface Blog also to her family and friends by her given name Jemma Humphreys.

My Young activist is of the  Year someone who was has made her mark not just in the world of spoken word but also a fiery campaigner on issues which range from woman’s rights to Scottish Independence and was very active in the campaign to save the Blue Chair Cafe. A regular supporter of Words And Music she was the featured writer who led us in to Christmas my tartantights young activist of the year pictured below enjoying the company of friends is the lovely and highly talented Kirsty Nicolson.

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Now the focus switches from communities to culture and where better to start with the awards for poets and poetry it is after all my art of choice and the one with which I have most direct involvement.

The first poetry award is that for The Best Poetry Performance of the Year. In a year filled with top quality performances I decided that this year’s winner would not be a 50 minute show at the Edinburgh though I ,did see some good ones. Well, I always do you know. However, after much consideration I selected a set from the Christmas Words and Music in the wee back room.  Far giving us a fuzzy festive feeling our winner read a set of three poems on the devastating impact of depression and left those who heard it gobsmacked by the power of what was one of the best sets  heard at Words And Music for many a long year  My winner of the best poetry performance of 2015 is JJ Turner.  

My next show is for the best show at the fringe. As always I saw a lot of quality shows and there were many others I would liked to have seen but of those who did there was a very clear winner.  I say this because with Agnes Torok and Hannah Chutzpah I knew at least to a certain extent what to expect namely top quality poetry of the highest possible calibre and that is exactly what they delivered but knowing how I hated sketch shows it was going to take the mother of all sketch shows to convert me from a deeply entrenched position. There are however exceptions to every rule and when a young London lass handed me a flyer for her show she was so confident I would love her show she even offered to buy me a drink if I didn’t enjoy it.  Needless to say the woman in question  Yes I do mean you Katie Norris was proved right and in the words of a certain Simon Cowell ‘I didn’t like it I loved it and that’s why my choice for the best show at the fringe is the best double act to hit the British and Irish Isles since the days of Wood and Walters and The Two Ronnie’s the brilliant Norris And Parker for All Our Friends Are Dead. Thankfully as you can see  from the picture below where this deadly double act are pictured with yours truly the girls are very much alive.

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Next I turn to the Most Original Show of the year and this year the award goes to a show which had the most multi cultural cast I have ever been involved in. Well when you’ve got South African gospel choirs , and Canadian jazz musician as well as the fantastic Anti-Poets it’s going one of those mights which will live long in the memory.  To organise such a cast takes time and effort of the magnitude which deserves be recognised  and rewarded  and that is why the most original show of 2015 goes to Rose Fraser Ritchie for Fringe Of The Fringe. 

My next award is new award and it is given in memory of the late Sandy Hutchison a well respected poet and traditional musician who passed away at the end of the year. Sandy was a man who loved language be it expressed in the lines of a poem or the lyrics of a song, he also loved both Scotland and the wider world but had a particular passion for the country he called home  To win this award the winner needs to demonstrate both their love of both language and Scotland. Indeed I want them to show their Scotland and make it so real I can imagine being a part of it so strong is the power of  their words and images and this year for showing his Scotland in such an authentic even the BBC/MSM can’t deny the reality of it I award the first Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award to Shaun Moore.

As some of you will no doubt know, I am a big comedy fan so I thought it was time to introduce award which reflected that so this new award is for the Live Comedy Show of the Year. This is the event which had me giggling so much I nearly proved the truth of that tenna lady advert that oops moments happen. I went to this show at Webster’s Theatre in the spring of last year and I’m still smiling and giggling now as I do every time I think of it. With an amazingly talented cast of talented local performers my choice of my comedy of the year is The Graduettes  . 

Next up is an another new award for the most inclusive show of the year. This takes me back to a windswept Evening in February when as part of LGBTI History Month I along with many others including  the excellent  A J McKenna, and the magnificent Dave Lee Morgan was privileged to play my part in a truly amazing night of poetry, stories, and song this was a show in which everyone felt valued and proud to be a part of. The winner of the most inclusive show of the year is Colin McGuire for Talking Heids.  

Talking of the LGBTI community brings me on to the topic of equality and it’s now time to name my Equality Champion and this year this award is a very easy choice.
It goes to someone who when just a party activist came up with the innovative idea of holding the biggest LGBTI event Scotland has ever seen. Thanks to his determination  the event took place and was held in early February to great acclaim from not only from participants and received favourable coverage from press and media. It was I have to say  one of my few regrets of the last year that I was unable to attend what I heard from all I knew who attended a truly inspiring day.  In May this talented and determined young man was elected to Westminster to represent his local area and the people he grew up amongst as he won Glasgow South East for the SNP as he played his party in the party’s landslide victory. In his acceptance speech he said he had done ‘no bad for a boy from Castlemilk ‘ and how he right he was  It is fair to say that  I think we will hearing a lot more from this year’s equality champion Stewart MacDonald.

The award for Quote of the Year comes from the maiden speech of yet another newly elected MP. This time Ian Blackford takes the title for warning the Westminster establishment that  they are in for a big disappointment if they think we are going to play the game by their rules with little gem  as he told them ‘We are not here to settle down, we are here to settle up’.

Moving on from words to music It is time for Musician of the year This has yet again
been a difficult choice to make as every year I seem to find more and more top quality musicians from which to choose to add to those I already know Those considered include Bob Leslie, Pauline Bradley, and the lovely Chrissy Barnacle, but my winner is a lass from
Montrose that I had the privilege of seeing at the Royal Concert Hall at the Danny Kyle Open Stage and she warmed my heart on a cold winter’s Sunday with a lovely easy listening voice. The fact that she writes her own songs is also something that gave her an edge as did the fact that is was only 17 at the time of that performance So my musician of the year for 2015 is Rona MacFarlane.

Next up is my event of the year and believe me there was only ever going to be one winner. As a trans woman no words can describe  how happy I was to attend this event and to do so as a VIP guest was beyond my wildest dreams. From the moment I boarded the train to the SECC to when I reluctantly had to make the journey home, I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier or more empowered and that’s why  my event of the year  for 2015 is The Girls Day Out Show.  (see deliberately placed promotional photograph) Well I can’t wait till this year’s show and I want to tell the girls of all ages to attend and enjoy a great day)

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The Girls Day Out is for the future but it’s time to get back to present and get on with the awards and whilst the X-Factor may claim it’s time to face the music I prefer to celebrate it and what better way to so than by naming my Best New Band and this year my choice proved that just like my football team the glorious Glasgow Celtic I can also score last minute winners. I say this I saw this band at the December edition of Rally And Broad and they blew all other competitors completely out of the water with a set I can only describe as sensational.  My best new band of 2015 pictured below are the amazing Teen Canteen.

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Next up is the Campaign of the Year and my winner demonstrated spirit and guts in taking on Glasgow City Council and winning the right to stay open . A  community cafe which has become a haven for poets and performers with weekly Wednesday night spoken word events, it was a campaign in which I was proud to play a small part, though so many people did so much more. My campaign of the year goes to Save The Blue Chair.

From campaigns I move on to songs and my song of the year was heard back in the cold dark days of January on yet another night at the Danny Kyle. This was one of those songs which was so catchy you just couldn’t help wanting to sing along. A comedy song it not only made me want to sing it gave me a doze of the giggles My song of the year for 2015 is Martha Healy and Too Many Vodka’s In My Cranberry Juice.

Now on to my venue of the year. and this year of all years and Words And Music celebrated 25 years at Sammy Dow’s before continuing our story at the Stag’s Head which is the same place under a new name, my venue of has to be the wee back room in the place we call home.

As you know I always get a buzz from seeing new talent on the performance scene and I have to say that the standard
of poets, musicians, and performance artists both in Scotland and the UK has never been higher. Amongst those considered for this award were Anna Crow , Kirsty Nicolson, and Peter Russell, who as regular readers of this blog will know are all top quality poets, From the world of music Rona MacFarlane was also carefully considered and to show that age is no barrier to talent Russell Wilson was another I thought of in this category. However this year’s winner comes from the world of comedy. No it isn’t Gordon Brown seeking a new career, comedians are supposed to be funny so my award goes to yet another member of the Blue Chair family. Our winner describes himself as the Alice Cooper of Stand Up Comedy his style is educational, edgy, and entertaining. My discovery of the year is Gabriel Featherstone

As for my comeback of the year I would normally give this to a poet who returned to the performance scene after a long absence. This year it is slightly different and I give my award not to an individual but a group. This is a group I was proud to be a part of back in the day but in 1995 the group disbanded as we all went our separate ways and got on with what we had to get on with. 20 years later, the group had not only re-formed with many of the original members and put on their first show in two decades. Under the direction of Neil Shackleton their production of The Hired Man led to one of my most emotional nights of the year and my comeback of the year award goes to GAP Community Theatre Group.

My best sporting moment of the year is dedicated to the voters in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for selecting Andy Murray as the well deserved winner of the award for his decisive role in winning Britain their first Davis Cup Win since 1936.

My Team of the Year is the British Davis Cup Tennis Team also known as Dunblane Tennis Club. Well where would British tennis be without Andy And Jamie Murray? I’ll tell you exactly where it would be playing Division Z matches and losing to Luxembourg that’s where and I won’t hear blinkered fools attempt to tell me otherwise.

From sport I move on to one of my favourite awards The I Think I Must Be Mad Award. This is given for friendship which goes above and beyond the call of duty. In other words this award is for the friend who not only puts up with my bad days but as and when required steps in to sort them out and as I’m sure last year’s winner Audrey Marshall would be only too willing to testify this is not an easy task. I have to say however in this year’s winner Audrey has a very worthy successor. You see our winner is a woman of faith who by her gentle kindness, keeps my feet on the ground, my head out the clouds, and my heart in the book. It was she who selected the passage on which I based my entry for the Faith and Unbelief poetry competition, she is to me at least Scotland’s Hidden Treasure, and the well deserved winner of the I Think I Must Be Mad Award is Samantha Hands.

Now I move on to The Lifetime Achievement Award This award is not given lightly and recipient has to have served their community, culture, or organisation, for at least 20 years. Like all of previous winners this year’s choice has served this time and more. Our winner is from the world of traditional music and has taught generations of young musicians at the Comalthas Irish Minstrels over the last 40 plus years Inducted in to Scottish Traditional Music Hall Of Fame at the recent Traditional Music Awards, former BBC Young Musician of the Year Paddy Callaghan said of this year’s winner that he doubted he would be the same performer without the help he received from him, and in a chat at St Patrick’s family fun day my friend Maryanne Hartness said on seeing one his daughters playing with St Roch’s Celi Band that he had done so much for our Celtic community and deserved to recognised for his contribution to our culture. These are sentiments with which I wholeheartedly agree and I pay my small tribute by awarding the 2015 tartan tights Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank McArdle.

So at last it’s time for the main choices that of my man and woman of the year and as always I’ll start with my Man of the Year. The past year has been an interesting one for many of the potential candidates I know and a significant number of them rose to the challenge the year provided in innovative ways and around eight or so were viewed before I selected the final three from which to choose my winner. The three candidates who reached the podium places this year were Shaun Moore, Stewart MacDonald, and Chris Young. Of those nominated I will if I may, start with Shaun. My reason for nominating Shaun was for his commitment to both the independence movement and the more importantly the spoken word scene in which he is gaining a deserved reputation as a poet of considerable stature. This reputation was greatly enhanced when he organised the first Paisley spoken word slam the sma shot’s big shot was an outstanding success and showed that Shaun is a man who is as passionate about poetry as he is his political beliefs.

The next candidate to be considered was Stewart MacDonald whose achievements have already well documented in this post and quite rightly so. After all, organising the biggest ever LGBTI political event ever staged in your country is something of which you should be justifiably proud , but Stewart is not one to seek the limelight so I guess I’ll have to trumpet his achievement for him and believe me I am happy to do so.

In the end however both guys were beaten by a man who had a very mixed year and proved the truth of the old saying what you lose on the roundabouts you gain on the swings. You see our man of the year, like so many of us on spoken word scene has an interest in politics his party of choice being the Liberal Democrats so it has to be said whilst he was at long last enjoying success in the world of poetry winning practically everything he entered including the Words and Music championship he had long coveted, his political adventures were somewhat less fruitful failing to save his deposit at both the General Election where he fought the Glasgow Central constituency and the subsequent Carlton by-election caused by the election of the local councillor as the local MP. However it has often been said that you learn more about the character of someone by the way they react to defeat than you do when they celebrate their victories. In this case the man concerned showed humility in his successes and dignity in his defeats, it for this reason and a million others that I am proud to say my tartan tights Man of the Year for 2015 is Chris Young.

Chris pictured below receiving the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy as Words And Music Champion from myself and Jim King.
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Finally I come to my last award of the evening and that is my Woman of the Year. If selecting a man of the year was a hard task and it was, then choosing my woman of the year was even harder as more women than men play an important role in my life. Among those considered before I made my decision were Agnes Torok, Leanne MacKay, Lesley MacKay, Kirsty Nicolson, Samantha Hands and Victoria Hamilton and believe me when I say all of them had a real chance of winning right until the last half hour before decision time. Eventually however after much procrastination I finally made my choice and that choice was in favour not of a poet, nor a woman of faith, but a kick ass beauty consultant who has been a constant support and encouragement to me in more ways than I can ever list. So my tartan tights Woman Of The Year is the lovely Cheryl McHugh.

So there you have it, we’ve finally reached the end of our tartan tights awards ceremony for 2015. I offer my congratulations to all our winners and all those nominated and thank them for making 2015 an entertaining and enjoyable year for me and as I raise my glass to them all I look forward to 2016 and what ever challenges it may bring us I am sure we will face them with dignity It is with this message I wish you all you wish yourself and hope you’ll continue to read tartan tights throughout the coming year.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Twelve Pictures Show You The Story Of A Most Glaswegian Christmas

Hey Readers  As I am sure you will know I am very proud to be Scottish what many of you may not know however,  (though Becky Bedbug does) is that I am also very proud to be Glaswegian. I mention Becky purely because during one of our early chats she inspired a poem entitled the Unseen Picture.

The reason  I wrote the poem was because I didn’t want her or not any  other of my English or non Scots friends to get the wrong impression of either my city or my country especially since we had in rather large numbers voted SNP at the UK General Election an act which sent the UK press and media in to anti Scottish hysteria as they filled both the printed press and visual media with as many negative stereotypical attitudes as they could find. Fortunately Becky and the  other friends I have made through my blogging chats have enough intelligence not to fall for this spin regarding Scotland. Glasgow however is usually the prime target for the negative stereotypes from the BBC, MSM , and their other  associated friends. So it’s with this in mind I have taken twelve photographic snapshots of my city in the run up to Christmas  so that when I talk of a certain area or event  my new friends will get more of a feel for where I’m chatting about.  I’ve titled the post Twelve pictures show you the story of a most Glaswegian Christmas. I hope by the end of the post you feel you know  me just a wee bit better than you did at beginning of this photographic  journey.

Picture 1 St Andrew’s Church, Baillieston. This is where I go to pray for you lot on Sunday morning’s. Not that you need it of course

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Picture 2 A rather festive  Suzanne Egerton at The Tinsel Tales event at The Gallery Of Modern Art.

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Picture 3   Me at The Tinsel Tales event reading my  Christmas poetry. Amongst the poems I read on the day were Stocking Thrillers about an attempted present gone wrong, and Christmas Lies  (Just What I’ve Always Wanted). The later poem is dedicated to everyone who has ever had to pretend they loved a Christmas present when they actually thought or no not again another disappointment. (Both poems mentioned are posted as pages on this blog).

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Picture 4  George Square all lit up and a fully decorated for Christmas. (If you see any political posts I sometimes refer to it as Freedom Square to wind up certain no voters) but I mainly call it George Square or even just the Square if any of you said to me Ur Ye Gaun Tae The Square (translation Are you going to the Square that’s where I’d be heading to meet you.

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Picture 5 Mark McGhee at The Christmas Fail Better. When it comes to spoken word I just can’t  get enough especially when it comes to ranting rebellious rockers like the man pictured here.

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Picture 6 The Tree at The Baillieston Lights This is literally five minutes from my home and is a prominent local landmark which always looks amazing at this time of year.

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Picture 7 Back to St Andrew’s to show off Our lovely Christmas Tree

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Picture 8 Still at Church this snap shows a picture of what no woman can ever find on a night out at the dancing. Three Wise Men.

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Picture 9 The Staircase Of The Royal Concert Hall. This venue plays a very significant part in my Christmas celebrations as it always during Christmas shopping that I make my annual pilgrimage to collect my Celtic Connections brochure for the greatest winter festival on the planet.  OK so I might be biased because of my cultural heritage but trust me this place will be seeing rather a lot of me in January, and I can’t wait to see those friends who are and will always be part of my January family.

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Picture 10  This picture was taken at the festive Rally And Broad on the last Sunday before Christmas and featured the band Teen Canteen
definitely gained a new fan that day. It was the first time I’d heard them and believe me I’ll make sure it won’t be the last. Yes they really were that good and the lead vocalist Carla has a dream like quality to her voice I could listen to for hours on end.

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Picture 11  No post on a  Glasgow Christmas would be complete without this picture of The Pavilion Theatre which to me at least is the traditional home of the Glasgow Pantomime

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And Finally: Picture 12 The one that sums up both of the spirit of both Christmas and Glasgow. Taken in the foyer of Buchanan Street Bus Station, this seasonally decorated sign spells what this time of year is or at least should be about with one seven letter word and that word is welcome and for those of you who’ve never been to Glasgow or are a wee bit apprehensive about visiting I hope this post will help you change your mind. Yes we have our problems what city of our size doesn’t but we also have a people filled with warmth, humanity, and humour, so  to paraphrase the words of Mae West maybe you should come up and see us sometime.

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Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Why The New Assertive Me Is A Fighting Female Force Who Gave A Christmas Present To Myself

Hey Readers Merry Christmas to one and all. Now it may surprise some of you that Christmas eve is one of my favourite days of the year not for the late night shopping or the panic of buying last minute presents, I love it for a very different reason. As I’m sure regular readers of tartan tights will know, it was on Christmas eve seven years ago that I got my name legally changed from the male name my parents gave me to something more suitable to reflect the female identity I’ve always had and the woman I had always known myself to be. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since that cold wet winters morning  when I went to the city chambers and in the presence of the former councillor for Carlton Alison Thewliss (pictured below with Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry, signed my statutory declaration which legally changed both my name and my gender.  Yes I know that only a gender recognition certificate can change my birth certificate but to all intents and purposes this does 90 per cent of the job. 

You know sometimes, particularly at this time of year   I really do have ask myself where has the time gone? Honestly it’s flown by so quickly I can hardly believe it and believe me I’ve learned a lot about myself since I slipped in to the wee gold metallic dress to attend my then work’s Christmas night out just a few days before I  made this  momentous life affirming change.

As with any trans woman my journey has been a gradual one but I feel the pace of change has quickened both physically and emotionally in  the last 12 months. This is a year when I have found out who my true friends really are and who won’t be there for the haul with though I will name no names some surprising results on both sides. There are certain people whom I  would never expected to become friends who have become really good sources of support and there are others I have known for years with whom I have been very disappointed.

In a momentous year for my party It is fair to say I  was busy with political activity as well being kept busy with my real obsession spoken word poetry. In other developments the growth of my blog has kept me far busier than I would have an anticipated in this new post referendum Scotland. Part of the reason for this is that I have joined a great community of blogger chat groups and since this this community is both predominantly female and UK wide I have yet another group of teens and twenty something in which I can be mother hen. Believe me this group of talented and creative women have inspired me much more than they know. The result of this is that I have at least to some extent
feminised my blog and have written far more posts on women’s and trans related issues and it’s young women with blogger names like  All Things Beautiful, Becky Bedbug,  Blogs All Beauty,
Colours Of A Rose,  Colorful Stuff,  Dorkface , Dungarees And Donuts Frankly Ms Shankly,  Last Year’s Girl, and Luxury Blush who  though we have become friends through cyberspace are more important to me than they will ever realise as they have given me the confidence to truly embrace my womanhood for the wonderful chaotic rollercoaster ride that it is and probably know more of the secrets that could make me blush than just about anyone outside my closest inner circle.

To me this year has been filled with challenges it has also given me room to grow and develop both as a performer but more importantly as a woman, I have if you like begun to walk with a more confident air. I feel equally at ease at the Girls Brigade prize giving or a night with the Ladies of the Guild as I do at Women For Independence meetings or on wonderful all female social occasions such as Girls Day Out. 

As time has past I think it is fair to say I have grown more confident in my skin and I am no longer worried about what others think of me. I have spent far too long both pre and early post transition seeking the approval of others most people of whom have only and will only be bit part players in my life As a woman in the early part of her mid fifties I have all of sudden realised this life is mine and mine alone and I intend to live it my way for those who can’t  deal with that then they’ll be no loss when I  evict them from my life once and for all.

There are of course what some would say are delicate issues such as  sexism and misgendering which need careful handling. Well some might say that but I don’t and I’ll tell you why. You see sexism and misgendering really get on my tits. No excuses this is discrimination pure and simple. Now whilst everyone knows about the everyday sexism that girls and women face in our daily lives, I suspect misgendering is slightly less well known. This occurs when someone knowingly or unknowingly calls someone by an inappropriate pronoun like son or Mr for a transsexual woman or lady for a trans man.  There is a school of thought that says I should accept this with good grace and move on but I’ve walked this road and it doesn’t work
all it does is give your abuser the green light to do it again and not for one moment do I let people away with the but I’m getting tired and bored of  old excuse that some of our senior citizens seem to think they can get away with. The other excuse that this generation and also male chauvinists attempt to use but I knew you when you were (insert other name ). This doesn’t work with me either  as it shows total contempt for the trans person concerned and this year I decided to take no more of it. 

This new assertive me is due to a combination of three factors. The first is an increase in confidence, this comes not only from knowing who I am but accepting it. The second is when you move on from acceptance to comfort. This is important because you are making a bold political statement in the most ordinary way by saying this is who I am every day of my life
and more comfortable I am with myself the more comfortable other people will be around me. The third and most  important factor is that I am much more open with people than I was previously it is almost as if showing the real woman I know I am has removed the fear of being
outed. This is a burden the trans community have to carry around with us until the day we take the leap of faith which says this is me take it or leave it and the change of name plays a really important part in that.

You see changing your name means a lot more than some people may think. For a start , it says this is who I really am and it is how I want to be known from now on. This is how I want to the world to see me on everything from the electoral register to store cards from my organisational cards (in my case Trade Union SNP, Glasgow Libraries), to my council tax bill. Bearing this in mind,  I think Gayle was a sensible choice. I mean let’s be honest I couldn’t have called myself Kylie as no-one had heard the name Kylie in the year I was born (1961) This is important because I think your choice has to say something about you and who you are.

You know some people usually those with no imagination who are usually male and quite often gay think my given name must have been Dale which I’m sure must have been a very popular name I’m the early 1960’s and I don’t think. There are others who think that I must have chosen my name after the Coronation Street character Gail Platt. Now I hate to inform them but though is my favourite soap I think I have more imagination than to name  myself after fictional character in a television drama and the way character spells her name is the shortened version of Abigail

As for reason behind my choice it was to reflect my
Irish-Scots identity as Scotland and Ireland are known as the lands of the Gaels. Given not only my roots but also but my cultural and political leanings perhaps this isn’t going to go down as shock of the century. It will therefore come as no great surprise that I also considered Catriona, Fiona, and Mhairi  along with Claire, Donna, and Grace. So as you can see I had a few ideas before settling on Gayle in 1993 a full 15 years before my eventual transition would begin.

This did however coincide with my first forays on the Glasgow LGBT scene in when the scene was much smaller than now and I also have to say a lot more small minded and though these were only fledgling steps it has to be said that the rainbow was not always trans inclusive and I often got the impression that we were distinctly unwelcome. I though was not going anywhere and it was around this time I decided that Gayle was definitely the most appropriate choice as a
gale has the power to decimate anything in its path and it was this message of being a life affirming force that I wanted convey. I wanted the world to see that I was not only a woman but a strong confident assertive women and on Christmas Eve seven years ago I made a start on that road. Believe me, there is more to selecting a name than you might at first think and that is why this Gayle  is a fighting female force with faith in the future.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Unseen Picture

Hey everyone Sometimes people ask me if social media has ever influenced my poetry and I think most of those who ask this question are slightly taken aback at how quickly I answer yes. Today’s post for example is a poem which could never have been written had it not been for social media and the fact I have this blog. You see one of the joys of blogging when compared to other forms of social media is that by nature bloggers being a chatty bunch tend to form online community groups to give each other support and advice and also just have a nosey in to each other’s worlds.

It was whilst in one of these groups that a fellow blogger gave me the idea for this poem. I was chatting with Becky Bedbug who is a twenty something beauty blogger from somewhere south of Gretna Green was saying that she is hoping to take her blog to a different level and make it almost like a second source of income for her.

As I wished her well on this challenging endevour I realised that she may not have got some of the cultural references I had used in our chat and it would be wrong of me to assume otherwise as a lot of people from the other nations know very little of Scotland apart from what is reported on the BBC and the mainstream media.

It was with this in mind I decided to write a poem dedicated to her about not only the Scotland I know and love despite its faults and flaws but also the fact that I am first and foremost a poet and the main duty of a poet as I see is to champion those who need someone in their corner against the established order  I have titled the poem the Unseen Picture and I hope you find it an enjoyable, challenging and thought provoking read.

Unseen Picture

I write poetry for the masses
what some would call the working classes
I write from the heart say what I see
speak of the world of according to me
I was raised in a scheme a proud Glaswegian
I didn’t have a silver spooned passport to Eton

The Glasgow I know is the Glasgow I report
I write about causes i support
I view the world through reality’s window
so I thought I’d let you know
It is not rose tinted I couldn’t afford it
poverty and homelessness will not be ignored
by someone who knows all too well
what its like in a low wage hell
when I wake up starving in the middle of the night
and I know I can’t switch on the light
or afford a pair of decent tights
have toast with my coffee
before going to bed
and saying my prayers and they needed to be said
for a world where people don’t seem to care

A girl from the schemes
I hated Blair
I say what I see
I paint the picture free of inhibitions
poetry should have no restrictions  it is not a tool to be used by oppressors
I will never be forced in to walking the line
where only those who play safe get acclaimed
If that is what poetry is about
I am ashamed
but I know it isn’t
a poet should accept no limits
my words will not be prisoners
held in captivity by others
Instead they dance in rhyming dictionaries
waiting to be discovered

If poets are anything
we are visionaries and language is our weapon
It is the armour we need
to fight against those in gated communities
who lock us out of their unequal society
I write to give voice to those
the press and media would deny even exist
I write for those who know what’s real and what’s fake
who would forge chains of humanity rather than break them
I live in the Scotland you won’t see on the BBC or Sky
where we don’t believe the big lie we will not allow Westminster to bleed our land dry as they have done too often before.

This time our lion roared
we elected 56 SNP MP’s to fight our corner
and they will but they will do it with honour
this is the Scotland that rejects the myths and cultural stereotypes
I am the poet who wants to set the world to rights
I want to be one of many voices  in a country where choices are not limited
to those with double barrelled names and triple locked pensions
If poetry is my way to make sense of the world
then I must use my skills in the same way as an artist would

to capture a landscape or image

I don’t identify as British
I view it as a manufactured corporate identity  more like a PLC than a nation
I see inspiration in people, their struggles and truths
It is with dignity I try to be honest in all I do
I see the country others view through the only lens
to which there allowed access  creativity must never be repressed

it is with this in mind I use words to paint the unseen picture

the picture I paint for free
on the landscape of your heart

@ Gayle Smith 2015