Tag Archive | Britishness

Golden Age 

I write this poem on the topic of hate crimes which have seen a dramatic rise since the UK voted to leave the European Union after being sold what I believe was the political version of magic beans in the form of a vision of a British Golden Age where Westminster would take back control of their country. This of course is a complete and total fantasy but conned by a very euro sceptic and xenophobic press and media they bought in to this idea of Brexit and a general distrust of foreigners. I’ve given it the title Golden Age I hope you enjoy the read .
Golden Age

Boots the uniform of the heavy handed 

are regulation wear for little boys in adult bodies 

those with attitudes and anger management issues 

against anyone they see as different

or in other words not like them 

the colonial types who live in a world far removed from reality 

where disability and sexuality were never discussed 

and those of a different race knew their place 

in a land where men were men 

 women were women 

and nobody ever complained 

where every family had roast dinners on Sunday 

and watched a John Wayne movie

where the indians were the bad guys 

but sometimes history tells us lies 

facts according to some are known to be the mythology of others

as the world moved on we discovered

the indians as Hollywood called them 

were actually the real native Americans 

who  ruled their lands peacefully 

before Europeans ever knew they existed

some people would say that this traditional view of life 

with the male breadwinner and stay at home wife 

was what made Britain great 

they want to take us back to this golden age 

a simple time when it was legal to hate without question 

where suppression of self was normal

but at least they had formal rules to follow 

which shaped their socially conservative views 

taught them to mind their P’s and Q’s 

whilst leaving their betters 

to make the rules they never kept themselves 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

 locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using language and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always known my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Dissenting Voices 

On day 29 of NaPoWriMo my penultimate poem of this year’s collection deals with the authoritarian politics of the increasingly right wing British Conservative Party whose Prime Minister, Theresa May has recently  boasted about crushing dissenting voices in the United Kingdom. This is something which I find very alarming indeed as I happen to believe that debate is an essential part of the political process in any civilised democratic society. It is with my democratic values in mind that I have written this poem and given it the title Dissenting Voices. I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read. 
Dissenting Voices
When someone talks of dissent

rather than debate 

the spectre of hate speech 

appears like a dark shadow 

on the clouds of an early morning 

this is a stark warning 

of darker days to come 

the slow beginning of the demonsation of others

the creeping use of ghostly figures 

used to represent a past which was never glorious 

but in which we will be told we were happy 

because our country was victorious over our enemies

in this language of blame  

prejudice rears its ugly head 

time and time again

so instead of making progress 

on the journey to equality 

or helping working families find routes out of poverty 

we will collectively be known as the silent majority 

who thought it best to stay silent 

in the face of hostility from authority 

and generations to come will ask the question 

why did our ancestors not fight 

for the yesterdays that were our grandparents tomorrow’s 

they will speak with sorrow and shame 

when they see the causality list of rights 

we sacrificed at the temple of self interest 

because we thought it was the best thing to do 

to secure our future regardless of who we hurt

disabled people were trampled into the dirt 

as were those with different gender identities , sexualities , or races 

this is what happens 

when someone talks of dissent rather than debate 

couched in that language

is the place where hate begins

where fear and ignorance wins over hope 

and the road to a better tomorrow lies decimated

 before the fight for it has even begun 

yet some would want us to walk that path 

of selfishness and loathing 

ignoring the fact we have been here before

when a wolf wrapped himself in the clothes of a sheep 

so no-one could see the swastikas hidden underneath 

and a beaten people danced when they were told 

falling in to line behind the master 

there were no dissenting voices in the Reich 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

 

Smelling The Roses

​On day 24 of NaPoWriMo I decided that political satire would be my poetic weapon of choice after seeing a UKIP candidate’s response as to why they are standing for election on social media. After laughing so much it nearly split my sides I remembered what I’ve always known namely politics is a serious business and though UKIP might like to portray themselves as lovable eccentric guardians of tradition they are in reality anything but. In fact truth be told these people are of the hard right conservative school of political thought and have some very  extreme and dangerous views. It is with in mind I decided to write this poem in the form of a UKIP candidate’s speech to highlight the type of country I don’t want to live in. The title for the poem was chosen for me by my Norwich based friend and fellow poet Andy Bennett  who selected the title Smelling The Roses. I hope you enjoy the read. 

Smelling The Roses (The Thoughts Of A UKIP Supporter) 
You ask me why I want to be elected 

well I’ll tell you 

it’s because I believe

  the British way of life is under threat 

and I want to put forward  solutions 

I couldn’t give a damn for devolution

the revolution has to be stopped.

I’m a proud Scot but I know my place 

so here’s what I think we need to do 

to put some pride back in the red white and blue 

I’ll start with sports

 I am convinced every child  should learn to ride a horse 

but as for golf , those courses are environmental disaster 

and a threat to the safety of our people 

and that is something I cannot abide 

still on environmental matters 

I want plastic bags abolished 

they are a threat to animals especially whales and dolphins 

as for an independent Scotland forget it 

I’m a proud Scot but 

Westminster is our colonial master 

and we should be content to keep it that way 

Mrs Thatcher was wonderful back in the day 

I’m a plain speaker and say what’s on my mind 

which I think you’ll find enlightening 

some people find my views on capital punishment frightening 

I think the death penalty should be restored 

but I wouldn’t bring back hanging 

the guillotine would be better 

and I’ll tell you something else

we’re heading in to world war three 

due to China, India , and the SNP 

that lot are a public danger 

and it’s all to do with 

money, and greed  

we in Britain do a lot for charity 

comic relief is wonderful 

so is children in need 

talking of children 

I think poor people shouldn’t have them.

now this is only my view 

but in my united kingdom 

mother’s should stay at home

to look after their little darlings

there should be no support for nurseries 

but all schools need classes 

and education needs reforming 

 this is a warning we are heading for  world war three 

I blame it on the SNP 

it will have nothing to do with Tony Blair or Theresa May 

personally I think we should go to war with Spain over Gibraltar

after all we’ve beat them before

when we sunk their Armada

remember the Falklands it was great wasn’t it 

yes I know there were millions unemployed

and living in poverty 

but we had pride in the flag

we were respected then 

now it’s all this political correctness lunacy

there is no such thing as an LGBT community

that kind of thing should be kept private

behind closed doors

you get good and bad people of all types 

talking of rights

I believe Margo MacDonald’s right to die bill

should be put to referendum 

well old people are living too long 

though working them till there 70 

should tire some out 

well if there dead  we don’t need to  worry about their living expenses 

we really need to come to our senses

the free bus pass scheme has to stop 

these people should be encouraged to walk 

I know you’ll be shocked at some of my views 

but here’s the bit you didn’t hear on the news

I would reopen public loo’s 

and create community gardens

yes I know I maybe hard on some issues

but believe me we don’t have time for tissues 

 it’s time to wake up and smell the roses. 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Stiff Upper Lipstick 

Hey Readers  In this post I share a poem on the topic of mental health from highly personal perspective which is that of identity  in particular relating to gender. As  a trans woman, I do not believe nor have I ever done that my gender identity is a mental health issue, but I do believe  where an identity is repressed it can trigger this type of issue and I will openly admit that coming out and living as my real self probably saved me from not only an episode but from a complete meltdown. It is with this in mind I have written this poem on pressure to conform to what society sees as the acceptable cultural, social, and political norms and why sometimes you have to defy them to be truly happy and live the best life you can. I’ve have given the poem Stiff Upper Lipstick as challenges the dangerous and potentially damaging myth that people in the UK are not allowed to show emotion and must remain controlled at all times. I hope you enjoy the read 
Stiff Upper Lipstick 

you must keep a lid on emotions

it’s for the best 

you understand 

you were raised in the British school of thought 

Scottish identity suppressed 

deemed unworthy of recognition 

by those and such as those

who fantasise that a united kingdom 

can be anything other than a fairytale 

these people ignore reality 

any discussion of sexuality 

would be bound to make them blush 

god help them with gender identity 

to them  it wouldn’t matter

if you knew from an early age 

your body didn’t match your  brain

preferring pink to blue

tights to socks

and skirts to shirts and ties

a conservative society tried to downsize your dreams 

as parents, teachers, and youth leaders 

focused on  reinforcing the dominant cultural theme 

boys were boys and girls were girls 

you couldn’t be somewhere in between 

let alone change sides

someone born a boy 

couldn’t dream of a big white wedding

let alone being a bride 

this was something you had to hide 

and you couldn’t complain 

you had to  wear stiff upper lipstick 

whilst reading secret copies of girl’s magazines 

you kept hidden under your  bed 

and only you knew why your face went red 

when you saw that boy you liked 

and had to keep the door to your heart closed 

even if you wanted to open it 

and show the world 

the girl you knew was real 

feelings ignored but never quite crushed 

you blushed as you went in to your room 

dressed yourself in your mum’s old clothes 

and wore stiff upper lipstick 

as your heart cried tears 

and you longed for a kiss from a prince.

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

We Are Scotland

Hey Readers

This poem is my response to those on the right who want us to list what they call foreign workers and I call fellow global citizens who were born outside the UK. Personally I find this idea both offensive and ridiculous. So in support of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who says we will have no part in this I have written this poem entitled We Are Scotland. I hope you enjoy the read.

We Are Scotland

As a child
I had teachers from Switzerland and France
classmates from India, Ireland and Italy
so I say with dignity
they are Scotland.

Through family friendships
I knew Poles, Lithuanians,
Germans and Australians
so I make the claim for them
they are Scotland

With relatives from Ireland ,
England, Canada and several other countries
I gained different inspirations
Xenophobia disgusts me
so I say with pride 
they are Scotland

At university I was tutored by scholars from various nations
made friends from many others
humanity was my passport to the world
I know the haves and have nots
Scots by birth or by adoption
they have a home here
they are Scotland

As a friend I have dined
with Indonesians, Syrians, Palestinians Turks and Chileans
I’ve had Eritrean food
and it tasted brilliant
they are Scotland

As a poet I have shared stages
with performers from Portugal New Zealand, Spain, Jamaica and Sweden
so this mouthy wee Glaswegian
shouts from the rafters
they are Scotland

as a trans woman I have met trans sisters
from Mexico, Nigeria, Italy, and the USA
In the name of Equality
It’s my privilege to say
If they are Scotland
its time to replace
they with we
and say to the world

We are Scotland
and we are a voice for fairness.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

Footnote

Hey Readers

This poem is my reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Labour Party conference. It was a speech in which Scotland a country in which Labour has to make gains to win a UK general election was virtually ignored getting only one mention in a 40 minute speech. Now as an SNP member that suits me fine because I know you don’t win seats by ignoring target voters.

Whilst I agreed with a reasonable amount of what Mr Corbyn said when addressing more general themes I couldn’t help but think as I caught up with the speech on internet of the old Bananarama song from the 1980’s It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It. You see it’s my view that by ignoring Scotland he is conceding Scotland to the SNP because it may have finally dawned on him that the UK is finally reaching its sell by date despite his earlier comments that not only will there be no second independence referendum but there will be no more devolution either.

Personally I find these comments laughable as shows just how far British Labour will go to preserve an outdated constitutional arrangement which in my opinion has more to do with feudalism than the federalism we were promised by another Labour leader when he vowed to save his united kingdom .Yes he really was that far up his own backside.

Now while Jeremy Corbyn is a much better more principled man than that particular individual will ever be, I can’t help but feel he made a big mistake in not at least giving Scotland a bit more coverage. You see it may send out a message to the people of Scotland but the message it’s sending is more like a distress signal than appeal to be trusted with our votes. It is for this reason that I have written this poem and have given it the title Footnote I hope you enjoy the read.

Footnote

One mention in a 40 minute speech
when it came to local elections
Labour it seems still haven’t got over
what they see as a tartan insurrection
when insurgents claimed what they viewed
as their private property
this is democracy Westminster style
where chameleons smile when they need our votes
then change the colour of their coat
before most have even noticed the difference
they once told us resistance was futile
they were our only hope
now having got the Scotland they want to see
an obedient colony of a multi national PLC
we are dismissed
as no more than a footnote
since rejecting them
so decisively in recent elections
by taking slow and steady steps
Scotland will eventually regain our independence
take our place in the modern world
as a democratic nation
we will create a society worthy of the name
not blaming our neighbours for mistakes we know were ours
using our powers wisely we will build a caring compassionate country
which has no place for ugly politics
where many are left to struggle
whilst the few pool and share the resources between themselves
we will place no part of Scotland on the shelf
out of reach of ambitions and hopes
which should be common currency for all
we will not build walls we prefer to leave that to others
who believe in the narrowness of limits
that’s what defines them as British
It was after all a British Labour Prime Minister
who talked of British jobs for British workers
and another though of a different hue
who referred to strivers and shrikers
it was a former Labour cabinet minister
who called for a ban
on Muslim women wearing the burka
and another who claimed Scotland has no culture
yet was content to feed off our votes
to maintain his lavish lifestyle
pretending to be a socialist for crown and union jackary
well it had to be done to earn his ermine robes
this uniform of rogues
which the Labour Party
keep promising to abolish but never do
is what weds so many to the red white and blue
and the imperialist past of a corporation
which plundered other nations
for their financial gain
now having done the same to us
we are ignored
fed lies and deception
they still can’t get over the tartan insurrection
we are now just a footnote in their speeches
one has to wonder
if recovery is beyond their reach
if they have written us off
knowing that no matter what they say
we are no longer listening
and sooner than they think
the chameleon who continually changes colour
from red, to pink then to lilac then the most conservative shade of blue
before trying to change back to red
will and it has to be said be no more
than a footnote in our history.

@ Gayle Smith 2016