We Learned Of Local Characters And A Rock Chick From Devil Gate Drive

As we recover from the February edition of Words And Music it was over a fortnight ago, it’s time to look back at the events of a January night in which we welcomed in the new year in typical Words And Music style. Though the crowd may have been smaller than we’d hoped for due to a combination of illness, and family reasons there was no shortage of talent amongst those of us who gathered to see in the first night of what promises to be cracking year for us. Jen and I know this as we’d already had our first planning meeting on the first Friday of the year at the Ashoka in Ashton Lane. And yes it was a planning meeting and we didn’t make a meal of it. Indeed we served up a number of suggestions for featured slots for the next 12 months so let’s just say it’s going to be an eventful year for us and hopefully an enjoyable one for you.

As I’ve already stated it is usually the case in January that the gathering is smaller than the Christmas and this was no exception to that time honoured rule. That said we started bang on 8 o’clock as Jen introduced me to the stage and I first footed the company in the style of the Reverand I M Jolly with two new poems on the subject of death and homelessness. I opened our new year with Wordsmiths which was my tribute to two giants of the Scottish writing community Janet Paisley and Tom Leonard both of who went to their final rest in the last weeks of last year. Both were incredible writers who passed their skills and talents on to many fledgling writers and left us a legacy of which Scotland can be proud. Indeed when it comes to Janet we should remember that she was the original founder of Words And Music and that is something of which Jen and I are very proud. I then moved on to my second poem Leftovers in which I looked at the way this country treats those on the margins of society such as the homeless and those who are in need of the greatest support.

Having finished my set I went back to my seat and Jen called Angie Strachan to take the stage. On this occasion Angie started her set with a fairly new poem Intricate which showed us how we are all interlinked in a complex tapastry. But just when we were getting worried she might be turning sensible Angie put those fears to bed with her brilliant new poem Don’t Say Alexa in which she takes humorous look at the influence that technology has on our lives

As Angie rejoined the company it was Jen’s turn to shine on our New Year stage and she did exactly that by performing two pieces Remember Lagare and Waiting At A London Train Station both of which were excellent and the later did make me feel slightly on edge in the way you would when you are waiting on a train and it really brought the atmosphere of the situation to life.

Next up was Michael Jay who was making his first appearance since he started to live as a transman. In an excellent set Michael read four poems, In his opening poem Address To The Lock Breaker he explained the feeling of powerlessness you have when your home is broken into and the impact such an event can and does have on your confidence. Michael followed this up with The Morning After Fear, about the impact of the morning after as you examine the consequences of the actions you may or may not have taken. This was followed by Re-Con before he concluded an excellent set with Mirror Image.

After Michael’s cracking set it was a pleasure to welcome a new face to our gathering as Morag Steven made her Words and Music debut and trust me this was a debut well worth seeing. In a cracking first appearance Morag performed two amazing poems which both had a distinctly Scottish flavour. Morag started with a poem on one of our country’s most recognisable comic characters In The Day I Found Out in which she reveals her shock and disappointment on finding that Jimmy Krankie was actually a woman. This was followed by a poem titled Missing in which Morag lamented the day Irn Bru changed its recipe. Honestly, this set had us all in fits of the giggles so much so in fact we had no other choice but to follow it with a bar break .

On coming back from the bar break Jen and I decided it was time to draw the raffle. As you can see from the picture below had plenty of prizes up for grabs due in no small part to our much loved matriarch, Pamela Duncan, though Jen and I also made contributions and I am pleased to report that there were more than enough to go round and everyone got at least one prize to take home with them.

Having had the raffle it was now time for our Featured Writer and this year it was Jim Monaghan who claimed the title of featured first foot. Jim started his set with Pastor Blaster before moving on to one of favourite of his poems What Did You Do In The War? which he wrote for his paternal grandfather Jimmy Monaghan. He followed this with Indefensible and then shared a childhood memory with us with Blackcurrents in which he recalls picking them whilst growing up in the Ayrshire of his youth.

In his next poem Jim (Pictured Below) took us from rural Ayrshire to the India of the first world war for a poem dedicated to his maternal Grandfather Archie Kirk’s Last night in Calcutta. He then went back to Ayrshire for The Lapwings in which he recalls visiting relatives with his father and being fascinated with the flight of these birds. However this poem has a sadness about it as Jim relates there are no family members left in those towns and villages he visited as a boy and there are no Lapwings to be seen in these communities.

Featured Writer Jim Monaghan shares his thoughts and poems with a small but appreciative crowd

From childhood memories Jim moved on to the adult environment of the pub and his poem The Local captures to perfection every local bar I’ve ever been in on what passes for a typical Scottish weekend. This poem showed Jim’s humour its best as the man his friend and fellow poet Victoria McNulty described as the Scottish Jack Dee illustrated that his wit is as dry as a cooper’s throat at five o’clock on a Friday night. This followed by his shortest piece of the night The Songs Were All Wrong he then moved on to Noises, and Young People Are All Dicks I Know I Used To Be One and What I Got For My Birthdays which relates the story of important landmarks on his journey through the ages. He then read his penultimate poem First World Fish Philosophy before concluding his slot with That Summer in which relates the story of that night when you go out with your pals for what you all know will be the last time before the inevitable parting of the ways. This is a beautiful poem as it captures forever that moment in time with genuine authenticity without being overly sentimental about it. Make no mistake this was a top quality set of carefully crafted poems which demonstrate that Jim Monaghan is a poet of genuine quality and Jen and I were glad to have him as our first featured act of our year.

Following the featured act or acts as is usually the case is never an easy task at any time but if anyone can do it it’s Andy Fleming and as if to prove the point that’s exactly what he did and to paraphrase a well known Frank Sinatra song he did it his way. Andy started his set with Adonis, before moving on Tiny Tears Of Troon. He then entertained us with a Haiku on West Of Scotland Tolerance, and the wonderfully witty Scottish Poetry Tonight and finishing up with No-One Will Comment.

As we reached the end of the night Michael Jay asked if he could read a new monologue he had written on The Immaculate Conception. Naturally Jen and I were delighted to grant his request and thoroughly enjoyed on this most topical of subjects.

With everyone having performed who wanted to Jen invited me to close the night and I did so with a set of three poems. I started with a poem on my early days on the LGBT scene The Rock Chick From Devil Gate Drive when I attended Karaoke nights with my friend and fellow poet Chris Young. I followed this with Neon Lights which is Ailie Wallace’s favourite poem of mine and concluded both my set and the night with my anti nuclear classic Tights Before Trident.

As is now a Words And Music custom Jen and I had our traditional after show debrief and we both agreed it was a cracking night and a great way to bring in the Words And Music new year bells. As I made my way back to the village I was happy that we had a night with something for everyone when we learned of local characters and a rock chick from devil gate drive

Till next time.

Gayle X

A Treasure Trove Of Memories In A Room Full Of Friends As We Came To One Last Carnival And Said Farewell To Rio 

Last night was an emotional one for the Scottish poetry community as it signalled the end of the cultural institution that is , was and ever shall be Last Monday at Rio after 10 amazing years in the heart of the both the west end and the Glasgow spoken word scene.  

 
Picture (1) The main man and host of this event Robin Cairns kicks off the final night of his reign at this cracking wee venue by taking us down memory lane as he performed the poem that opened the very first night at Rio and we meet the school teacher called Old Lochgelly. 

Picture (2) Peter Russell takes his turn at the mic 

Picture (3) Shows A R Crow and Shannon McGregor relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of the night 

Picture (4) Sees Jim Monaghan share his thoughts on Rio and why it will always have a special place in his heart. It is the mark of a man of principal that Jim would sooner speak with integrity on the part that Rio has played on his spoken word journey than perform on such an important occasion. 

Picture (5) Is of a stalwart of this event and many others over the years. A man who has entertained us in his boxer shorts and worn his party candidate rosette on stage and had his hand up so many puppets that he could were he not so principled get a job as a Tory Chief Whip. I refer of course to the one and only Chris Young. 

Picture (6) Shows Shannon McGregor taking her turn to entertain the company .

Picture (7) It was an emotional night for Stephen Watt who regarded Rio as his poetry home and has done since making his performance debut on this stage in 2010. Over the years since first meeting him in this cracking wee cafe I have come to respect Stephen as a poet and even more so as a man and have valued his friendship support and advice. 

Picture (8) Has our very own Falkirk bairn Janet Crawford at the mic. In her introduction last night Janet informed us that it was Stephen Watt who encouraged her to go west with her poetry and I for one am very glad he did. 

Picture (9)  Shows a poet whom you can always rely on to raise the bar, the brilliant Katharine MacFarlane who went for a poem on sex and brought us all in to a fit of the giggles.  

Picture (10) Shows the man whose had more headline slots at Rio than anyone else the man who Robin described as the best poet in Scotland today the amazing poetic tour de force that is Kevin Cadwallender. 

Picture (11) Sometimes in life it’s the small things that make us happy and that’s certainly the case in the poetry world when Sam Small performs his work. 

Picture (12) As reached the penultimate open mic slot it was time for A R Crow to share their thoughts on what happens when Scots get a glimpse of the sunshine with their hilarious poem Taps Aff. 

Picture (13) Kirsty Nicolson makes history as the last open mic poet ever to grace the stage at Cafe Rio with one of my favourite ever poems Being From Lewis Is on the stereotypical images people have on the island where she was raised and her family roots are planted.

Picture (14) Our last ever headliner who took not only to the end of the night but to the end of an era was the excellent Hamish MacDonald. A consummate performer Hamish’s poem Ma Bit is an outstanding example of what can happen when people become too territorial and attempt to exclude others from what they believe to be ‘their’ communities.

And so it was over. 10 years of not only of quality spoken word but a valuable part of Glasgow’s cultural and social history. During a decade in which Glasgow has undergone many changes we have heard 1,000 voices speak their truths on a wide variety of topics and listened to everyone who shared them.  In doing so we have created a treasure trove of memories and we’ve done it in a room full of friends. I can think of no better legacy than that. 

Picture (15 ) Our host and compere for the last 10 years.

Thanks Robin. 

See you somewhere else. 
Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

When Two Wise Men And A Very Wise Woman Shared Their Stories And Songs To Make Merry The Rest Of The Company Were Watching The Night And That’s Just What We Always Wanted.

Hey Readers

As we gradually return to normality after the festive season so the time has come for the first Words And Music of the New year. But before seeing what 2017 has in store for us all it is time to go back to the event which started the poetic festivities and look back on the December edition of our event and I have to say we saw 2016 out in far greater heart than was the case in 2015 which with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the club turned out to be our last Christmas in the place we called home for 25 years.

As the crowd began to assemble for our first Tin Hut Christmas cracker it was good friends both old and new among the gathering and I could sense an air of optimism in the company which hadn’t been there in our last Christmas at the venue formerly known as Sammy’s.
Don’t get me wrong, we made the most of it and had a good night, but now settled in our new home, we could sense we were going to have the Christmas cracker to end them all and give a right good Christening.

As is now customary I opened the night and with this being our festive event I started the night with Christmas At Carol’s. This poem is my comic look at that friend you know the one we’ve all got that starts singing Christmas songs on the 1st of November though we secretly suspect she’s rehearsing them since Easter Monday. Anyway it seemed to get the job done and now the night could proceed as normal, or at least as normal as you’re at a Tin Hut Event.

As I gave way to the open mic crowd it was one of our newer members Angie Strachan who was next up to entertain us and she did so by reading a poem written in the style of Burns for what she said was the most Scottish wedding she had ever attended. This was despite of or maybe because of the fact that the happy couple came from Wales and The Czech Republic. Angela then followed this with a poem entitled Nickola Tesla’s Bird and finished up her set with a brilliant and thought provoking poem on Armistice Day.

Next up was our other new face Mary Wilson who read two pieces Time And I and Sam. During her second Mary got a wee bit emotional and apologised to us for doing so. Not that any of us thought an apology was necessary as it was quite obvious that this was a very emotional piece of work and the fact that she felt moved by the story she was sharing with us made us feel all the more privileged to hear it.

After such an emotional piece I hoped we may get a wee bit of humour to lighten the tone and Alex Frew delivered exactly what the doctor ordered with his first piece From The Pulpit for which Alex assured us he had done research as this poem was made up entirely from lines spoken in church by men of the cloth. Alex then slightly more serious for his second piece Moon Boot Muriel Is Going To Barbados. This piece was written about a real character that Alex knew from working in day care and was related with a warmth and sensitivity with which I’m sure she would have been pleased. For his final piece Homer The Winner Alex returned to his more natural comic style as he took what I would say was a deserved swipe at home town winners in poetry slams and knowing that scene well I think it’s safe to say that the bold Mr Frew could touch a few raw nerves with this one. Fortunately though those sensative souls weren’t in attendence and those of us who were there throughhly enjoyed it.

Next to the stage was Alex’s friend and sparing partner Andy Fleming. As Alex And Andy were the featured musicians Andy’s set was like Alex’s a mere taster of what we would be in for later in the evening but boy that taster was good as he performed the Sex Pistols classic Anarchy In The UK and his own rather unique Christmas classic Grandma’s Turkey which I’m convinced would be the perfect song to get him the Christmas number one.

Andy was followed by Chris Young and on this occasion Chris started with a brilliant and thought provoking poem in which he examined what his life could have been like he been born female in If I Were A Woman. This is a poem of genuine quality and had many of us in sitting in silence and in awe as as Chris took us on this journey and asked some people to step out of there comfort zone.

Speaking as someone who is a transsexual woman as lives the life Chris is asking others to imagine I must admit I loved this poem and could readily identity with what he had to say. However just when we thought it was safe and Chris was going to be sensible he pulled his Christmas cracker and out came Aunt Matilda for her seasonal visit. This parody of Christmas to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus is one of my festive favourites mainly due to the chaos which this seasonal relative seems to cause.

Having had visits from the Words and Music version of the three wise men it was time for a woman to restore some sanity to the proceedings and Susan Milligan was the woman chosen to provide us with something different. She did this with a cracking wee set of two poems and a song. In keeping with the spirit of the evening Susan read Resolutions and Santa’s Dilemma and concluded with a song which through not a traditional song was a classic Christmas number one. The song in question was The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and I have to say she more than did it justice.

Next up was a man who I know celebrates Christmas but like me remembers the reason for the season and Jim Ewing gave us a cracking set as he looked back on the year. In an excellent set Jim read two of his most poignant poems as he paid tribute to both David Bowie and the victims of the Orlando massacre before lightening the mood with his last poem Gay When I’m Sober And Straight When I’m Drunk.

As Jim went back to his seat it was the turn of Suzanne Egerton to lead us to the bar break. For those who don’t know Suzanne will be our featured first foot and take in to us 2017 and she showed why with two brilliant pueces the heartwrenching Auntie May Declines , and the hillirious Snow Black which is her personal take on the Snow White story and if you ask me snow black had at least initially a lot more fun.

After the break we finally opened our featured cracker and who did we find but Jane Overton. Jane to me is the idel featured writer for an occasion like this. With her mixture of humour and pathos she has a catalogue of poem which any poet would be proud to call their own. Jane started her set with something we all need at Christmas just in case we have to take that unwanted present from our very own Aunt Matilda back to where she got it.

This was followed by her excellent take on the classics, and she read on an Old Woman In A Hurry, This poem contained one of best phrases I’ve heard in a long when Jane mentioned the Glam Reiper. I don’t know why but I just love the messsge of this image, it’s as if a scary ghost comes to visit women of a certain age to tell us our days of getting dolled up are over.

In her next poem which is on the topic of art, this versatile poet switches the focus from maturity to youth as she tells us that Antonia Gormley Aged 15 Considers Her Future. After showing us a teenager considering her future Jane herself considered religion in an thought provoking piece titled Absolution. This was followed by yet more cracking poems which showcase the variety of work including Balance Of Probabilities, Self Portrait, Lullaby In Pink, Convenience Dreams, and one that every poet will like In The New Small Print.

In Unreal Estate Jane wrote a poem on property and still managed to make it entertaining. This to me illustrates that the festive period really is the season of miracles. Jane then finished her set by performing her Christmas classic I Have Watched Too Many Cop Show Christmas Specials. This concluded a set which was enjoyable, educational, and highly entertaining and kept the audience engaged from start to finish.

Now there are times when the featured musician is the sensible voice of reason after some featured writers. This however was not one of those occasions. Well it couldn’t be because the featured musician was Andy Fleming with a guest appearance from Alex Frew. To say this was comedy gold of the thought provoking kind doesn’t even begin to do it justice though it is a very accurate description.

It was Andy who was first to take the stage and he opened what would turn out to be an extended set with The BLR Has Ruined My Sex Machine. This strangely titled introductory piece was followed by the song with the title every show, or Christmas panto hopes they never will see One Star Review. After this Andy performed An Obituary For Che Frobisher and Nosferatu The Vampire. Well Andy always likes to look at the unusual aspects of life and they certainly don’t come any more unusual, than the man who was the topic of the first song for which Alex joined him on stage the one and only David Icke.

This was followed by the nearest they will ever get to a Christian song as they used their considerable talents to remind us of the consequences of disobeying the Lord with a song titled Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass.

Having dealt with God this dynamic duo then delved in to the world of nursery rhymes giving it their satirical treatment in Nursery Rhyme Calypso. This one always goes down well the Words And Music crowd as does the one they followed it with, well even when it’s not Christmas the Pound Shop song is always a winner.

After these two traditional favourites they then played Toilet Cubicles In A Field. This is a first hand account of what life is like on the last day of a festival and trust me it makes me glad I don’t really do the outdoor festival scene. They concluded the set with their classic song There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible as they brought to an end one of the amazing featured bills that Words and Music has had the privilege to enjoy. On thanking both the guys and Jane for making the night so majestic I was minded to inform the gathering that in 1983 Fun Boy Three released a song entitled the lunatics have taken over the asylum and this fantastic featured bill proved that not only had they done it but they done it style and brought smiles however all round as they did so.

Following these two wise men and a very wise woman would under normal circumstances be a very difficult job, however this is words and music and we don’t normal under any circumstances. Fortunately our penultimate performer Pete Faulkner has been part of the words and music family for long enough to know we don’t do normal under any circumstances.

On this occasion Pete read two pieces. Museum Of Winter and The Forge. Whilst I enjoyed both pieces I particularly liked his first poem in which he shared memories of his formative years in home city of Dundee. To me these poems in which geography and childhood memories play a significant part show Pete at his best and illustrate the strengths of a poetic storyteller who takes his audience on a geographic journey through time and space with place used to ground us in the memories he creates.

As Pete left the stage I was up to me to bring both the night and the year to a close and at this Christmas cracker I did it the only way I know how by getting out the Christmas poems and seeing the year out in style.

I started my set with The Best Christmas Present. Then having lulled the gathering in to a false sense of security by starting off with a sensible poem, I thought it was time to liven the place with a bit of seasonal comedy by reading Stocking Thriller.

Of all my Christmas poems one has to be my favourite as it is ever so slightly suggestive and tells the tale of a romantic adventure which goes tragically wrong I then decided despite protests from
the music lovers union to sing my take on the Cliff Richard Christmas hit entitled Mistletoe And Whine. Thankfully there were no Cliff fans in the crowd or at least no-one who was willing to admit to being a Cliff fan so I think I just about got away with it.

Anyway, with the musical interlude completed it was time to get back to the poetry and my penultimate poem of the year Watching The Night told the story of the arrival of the baby Jesus in slightly more Glaswegian terms than you’d find in Luke Chapter 2. Those who know their bible will get the reference.

As for my final poem of 2016 I ended the Christmas cracker in what has become the traditional way in the last few years by performing Christmas Lies or if your diplomatic to your relatives than I would be when you get that unwanted, present you can think of no earthly use for Just What I’ve Always Wanted. This one always gets a good reaction and is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on what was a year that got better for us the longer I went on.

When we started 2016 little did we know that our January edition would be the last at our old home and due to circumstances beyond our control we had an enforced break until we June as we searched for new premises When we eventually reconvened in June, we did so not only in our plush new surroundings but also on a different night of the week as first Monday’s at Sammy’s became first Tuesdays at the Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s club or as we’ve come to know it the Tin Hut and as we end the year our club has consolidated our place in our home and goes from strength as a part of the Glasgow spoken word scene. So as I look back on the night and the year, I think I can say that when two wise men and a very wise woman shared their stories and songs to make merry the rest of the company were watching the night and that’s just what we always wanted.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

As We Reassigned Our Memories At The River Of Reflections Everyone Played Glasgow Games With Spoken Words And Songs

Hey Readers

As this is the First Tuesday of the month and I thought I review the events of the first Tuesday when the residents of Words and Music finally moved in to our cultural home. Now before I recall the events of what was a truly excellent evening and a very important occasion I would like
to give public notice of thanks to Colin Skinner son in law of our founding mother Pamela Duncan for his assistance in helping us find the Pollok Ex Servicemen’s Club which is as of last month is the new headquarters of Words and Music

The Tin Hut as it is known locally is a cracking wee venue which I am sure will become as beloved to our community as the wee back room at Sammy’s always was. The only concession I had to make to the secure services of our new home was to move the event from the first Monday of the month to the first Tuesday and that’s exactly what I did to the Words and Music family back on the road. From a personal point of view it was great that Pamela (who is pictured below with myself) was able join us to commemorate this special occasion.

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Having set the scene it is time review the events of an action packed in which we were joined by a mixture of faces both new and more familiar and it was all smiles all round as we kicked off our first night in our new surroundings. As compare I was my duty to get this party started and on this occasion there was only one appropriate way to do it. Well as Steve Allan said there are times you have to remember what certain people did for our club and one of those people was the late great Hughie Healy.

It was in my opinion only fitting to give the first words and indeed first poem of the evening to Hughie, the man who was to many of us our other poetic parent and read one of his poems to start this night in style. With Hughie being a Partick Thistle fan there was really only one poem I could choose to launch our new home and that was Against The Odds his homage to his team’s greatest ever achievement when they beat one of the best ever Celtic teams in the history of club 4-1 in the 1971 League Cup Final leaving this compare who was then only ten a wee ten year old deeply traumatised. Come to think of it Hughie left us all deeply traumatised on many occasions but that was part of the act. it was just the way he was, and he was our poetic dad so that was allowed. So on our opening night at our new venue I sent this message to heaven we still miss you wee man and love you more than you know.

Having got the new home christened it was time to read my first poem in The Tin Hut what better way to kick off my contribution with a poem entitled Spoken Word on what these types of night are really like just in case anyone had any misconceptions which needed shattered. It went down well and having done my duty it was time to welcome the company to the stage.

First up was Rosie Mappleback who along with Jane Overton had travelled all the way from Ayrshire to be with us. Rosie read two poems both of which tackled serious issues with sensitivity. In her first poem Reassigning Memories Rosie gave a very moving account of her own journey as she supports and empowers her transsexual daughter to be the woman she knows she has to be.

This was followed by the Vaginal Monologues a poem which speaks with honesty and pathos on what being a woman is actually all about Trust me as a trans woman myself I know that being a woman is not an easy shift and I have faced a different kind of prejudice and discrimination than I had in the past. Women need to speak out and address the issues we face with honesty and integrity and it is refreshing to hear a woman do exactly that and telling it like it is.

Next up was Lesley Mackay ( Traynor) whose Alternative Burns Poem went down far better than she thought and was thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance.

Lesley was followed by Jane Overton whose poem Toilet Walls raised more than a few giggles amongst the gathering as it exposed the naked truth on more than a few secret thoughts none of which were written by Jane I hasten to add at least I don’t think they were. My reason for making this bold pronunciation is that having read some of the stuff written on the toilet walls of ladies rooms some of the spelling is so appalling no self respecting poet would put her name to it and we definitely wouldn’t leave our phone numbers as calling cards to prove we’d read it. Anyway this was the first of many great contributions Jane will make to make to Tin Hut Tuesday’s and believe me they won’t be bog standard.

Next to take the stage was Susan Milligan who read two poems Make The Change, an excellent and suitable choice on such an occasion and Music, a poem on a subject which as those who her well will know, is Susan’s real passion. Susan then finished her set with a song and this time it was Changes. This again was a good choice when you the consider the importance of the night.

After Susan and to prove it wasn’t a hen night we welcomed our first man of the night and in the history of the Tin Hut and Alex Cuthbert was the man who claimed that momentous place. A cracking poet and good friend to the company, Alex was saying that Tuesday nights may be better for him than Mondays. I have to say I’m delighted at this news and Alex performed two poems On The Turn, and Two Years Later both of which were of the highest possible calibre from a poet of quality and substance.

Talking of poets of substance they are a few better than our current Words and Music Champion Chris Young. As many of you will know Chris has not well of late and his appearances at spoken word events have become less frequent than they once were as he recovers from the ill health which has plagued him in the last year to 18 months.

Bearing this in mind it was brilliant to see him in attendance at our first night at the Tin Hut. On this occasion Chris performed three poems Clean Sheet, Confinement, and Siren all of which allowed him to show his abilities as a writer and a performer. Indeed Clean Sheet which details a wee bit of Chris’s bedroom adventures was the kind of poem which if our event had been televised would have meant it would have to been broadcast after the watershed. Indeed as our friend Steve Allan remarked to me during the break we could be the only club in history to be banned after one night. In the second of his poems Confinement Chris (pictured below with Jane Overton, seated next to him and Maryanne Hartness) tackled the issue of gender identity from a male perspective and he did so with a sensitivity which is his trademark when dealing with serious topics. You see though Chris likes to use humour as much as the next poet he is as I said before and will say again a principled man who is not afraid to see what he thinks on things that matter to him.

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As Chris rejoined the company it was time for our bar break and it was time to get some pictures taken to commemorate such an important evening in our history and as you can see from the picture below there were smiles all round from a very happy company.

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As we returned from the break it was fitting that the next performer called to the stage was our much matriarch Pamela Duncan to share her thoughts with the gathering.
On this occasion Pamela read two pieces, The Devil’s Island which highlighted her talents as an award winning prose writer, and The Land in which Pamela who was born in southern England pays tribute to Scotland the land she calls home. Well as she says it is the land in which she has lived most of her life, married and gave life to her five children. It is also a land which is as proud of her as she is of it and values her amazing contribution to the Scottish cultural scene over the years not least of which is her legacy which is Words and Music.

At the end of an excellent, entertaining, and if I’m honest quite and if I’m honest an emotional set, it was time to welcome our featured writer to the stage. Now I had to think about who should be given this honour for all of two seconds, as to me there could be no other choice than Carla Woodburn (pictured below). You see Carla had been scheduled to take up the featured writer slot In February when I was told the club would be no more as our former premises no longer opened on Mondays.

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As Words and Music is a continuing event rather than a new one I thought it was only right and proper that Carla should take the slot which was rightfully hers and denied to her only through a change in circumstances. Thankfully Carla agreed to take up the offer and the 20 Minutes which followed illustrated perfectly why I was so keen to get one of the most promising performers on the spoken word scene to grace us with her presence.

Carla started her with an interesting poem on Cyber friendship which was appropriately called Cyber Friends This was followed by. The Clown, Heart Of Stone, Half Man And Half Machine, Cables And Leads, Barcelona ( A Master’s Piece), Chasing My Fairytale which was one of my favourites of what was a brilliant set.

Carla then read her first ever poem entitled Who Knows What The Millennium Will Bring? This was written by a 17 year old Carla, and is as relevant today as the day it was when she wrote it. This was followed by Black Eyed Bob, I Am A Balloon, I Could Fix A Broken Heart, and the poem which is probably my favourite of all of her poems Just A Girl. Trust me there is not woman or girl on earth who wouldn’t be moved by this poem. Yes it is really is that good and I will never tire of hearing it. Our featured writer then continued her set with A Quiet Voice, before moving on to The Guide, Sunken Ship, Dreaming, An Ambivalent Structure, A New Opportunity, Blood Red Lipstick, before bringing arguably the most fast paced set in the history of Words and Music to an end with her final three poems of a breakneck breathtaking and brilliant 20 minutes.

This started with the first poem I ever heard her read in the Words And Music Championship last year the brilliant I Once Knew A Woman Who Swallowed A Spider before moving on to Fountain Of Youth, before concluding her contribution to the night with Mouldy Soup. Trust me this set had everything it had comedy, it had dreams, it had memories, there really was something for everyone and I’m so proud we had such a wonderful talent as our featured writer

Just like Carla our featured musician Daryl Sperry had never been a featured act at Words and Music before. In fact unlike Carla he had never been to Words and Music before. However when I saw him sing at the launch of Jim Ferguson’s new poetry collection I knew this was someone I wanted to be featured musician as soon as I could get him and believe me he lived up to and exceeded my expectations of him.

Daryl started his set with I Don’t Want To Be Everybody which he followed with A Week On, The Sun Is Out Today, Me Myself And I, Teenage Heartbreakers, and finally concluded it with Seagull. As for personal favourites from his set I particularly enjoyed The Sun Is Out Today and Teenage Heartbreakers as I thought the lyrics were superb and the melodies transported me to a dreamy kind of place. Well I can’t help it if Teenage Heartbreakers reminds me of Donny Osmond and The Bay City Rollers as they were my teenage dreams in the early mid 70’s but seriously this is a young man who star is on the rise and from whom I expect to hear a lot more in future.

After two fantastic featured acts it was back to the seasoned performers who make our nights so enjoyable and such a privilege to be part of. Now anyone who knows Words and Music knows that to be next up after the featured slots is the hardest place on the bill. Yet one regular above all others seems to relish this position is Steve Allan. (pictured at the bottom of the paragraph with Alex Cuthbert) Steve, whose mix of poetry and comic tales are a surefire winner with the regulars is always entertaining and his a natural ability to see the absurd in the mundane moments of life and find humour where most of us may miss it.

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On this occasion Steve like myself paid tribute to the memory of Hughie Healy by reading one of his poems. The poem he selected was Age Limit which had the audience smiling. This is in my opinion the ultimate tribute to both Steve and the man who inspired a generation of us who he famously called the young team. You know, it’s funny how as time those once called the young team are now seen as the establishment in the Words and Music family though whether we would see ourselves in this role is a very different story.

When Steve returned to his seat it was time for the penultimate performer and in this case it was Maryanne Hartness to take the stage. I really enjoy Maryanne’s work as it always gives the audience plenty to think about and this was no exception. Maryanne read three poems all of which were of the quality we have come to expect from such a talented wordsmith and River of Reflections, The Waltz, and Glasgow Games were an enjoyable listen with last one in evoking memories of childhood and early teens for many of us myself included.

So finally having through the sensible readers it was up to me to conclude the night and bring the evening to a close. I did this by performing a set of four poems starting with Forgotten Soldiers a poem commemorating the soldiers who never got to D-Day as they were busy fighting in the Italian campaign to stop Mussolini’s fascist army advancing northwards and in doing so preventing them lending from lending Hitler a helping hand.

My next poem also covered the topic of death but this time it was a much more recent one as I paid my poetic tribute to David Bowie In Ode To A Martian Transvestite which was how my mother referred to a musician she would later admire in the early 1970’s.

I followed this up with Learning Swedish a poem written in support of the young Swedish poet Agnes Torok who has been receiving a lot of online abuse for her excellent poem This Is My Body in which she asserts the right as all women should, to claim her body as her personal and private space.

Over the last few years as Agnes studied at Edinburgh University I got to know her both as a poet on the Scottish spoken word scene and more importantly as a friend and believe me I have never been so proud to read any poem as I was to read this one which speaks truth to power on behalf of all women who wish to claim it.

Finally I ended my set and indeed the evening by performing the first poem I ever read at Words and Music back in 1993 and Every Saturday Night proved just as popular as it always does and was I think a cracking way to finish our first night in our new home.

At the end of what was an excellent entertaining evening I reflected on the events of a night where we were valued and made welcome that this in many ways was just the Sammy’s of old before corporate interests took it over and made it feel like a strange and alien land which had no room for nights like ours. This is in total contrast to our new home which has taken Words and Music to its heart and believe me the feeling is mutual and as we reassigned our memories at the river of reflections everyone played Glasgow games with spoken words and songs

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Forget The Fascist Salad Or The Pile Of Dirty Dishes Its Nice To See A Woman Of Words Who Has That Champion Feeling (A Review Of The Scottish National Poetry Slam Final 2016)

Hey Readers It’s hard to believe it’s been over a week since i witnessed one of the best nights of spoken word poetry it has ever been my privilege to attend. However, it really last Saturday evening I went to The Tron Theatre at the edge of Glasgow’s Merchant City for what has to be one of my favourite events of the year and that is the Scottish National Poetry Slam Final. As a poet who has competed in slams and has at first hand experienced that lethal cocktail of bravery, excitement and insanity I knew that the performers would be eagerly awaiting their chance to show us what they and more importantly were made of.

As I took my seat you could there undeniable air of both anticipation and tension in the the Tron’s main auditorium and that was just amongst the crowd who had gathered to watch and enjoy one of my favourite events of the spoken word calendar. As the audience got settled in to our seats we were treated to the ultimate slam song by way of introduction to our gold star evening of spoken word that song is what every slammer craves A piece of the action and the band who made it famous, The Sweet were fronted by Glasgow born singer Brian Connelly On taking the stage our compare Robin Cairns introduced our panel of judges and informed the audience that 22 of the 24 winners of slams who had qualified  by winning a slam in Scotland had arrived to compete in the event that would decide who represents Scotland in the International World Series Slam Championship in Paris in May.

The poets were divided in to two group of six and two groups of five with the two highest scorers from each group qualifying for the semi finals before eventually getting down the final three from which the winner would be selected by our panel of judges who included last year’s champion Bram E Gieban and the well respected force of nature who is one half of Rally And Broad the wonderful Jenny Lindsay.

As the battle commenced Kate Ailes was first up to the stage. Having seen Kate perform before I knew what to expect , and what I expected was quality and believe me she didn’t disappoint. In fact if I’m honest I was more than slightly surprised she never made the semi finals though to be fair she was in a very difficult group alongside Kevin Gilday , Kevin MacLean, Matthew Nicolson, and one of the rising stars lof the spoken word scene Jack MacMillan. Like Matthew and a good few others, Jack was a new voice to me and I must admit I liked his gusty, rapid fire style of delivery and I know that Shaun Moore a poet whose opinion I greatly respect has a very high opinion of his talent. To me however it Was Kevin Gilday with his excellent and cleverly written piece I’ve Fallen Out Of Love With Poetry who produced the top poem from the opening heat of what would prove to be a very hotly contested slam.

As the night progressed the second group was opened by Blue Chair slam winner Lesley Traynor (MacKay) whose performance of Threads was well received by audience who know their poetry. Lesley was followed By Hamish MacDonald whose Existential Blues was one of the most intelligent and best performed poems of the night in a championship which seemed to get better with every passing poem. Iona Lee’s My Blood was one of my first round highlights and to me at least the easy winner of this heat from which she qualified along with a man who turns polemics in to an art form, the excellent Liam McCormick.

In heat three it was Jess Smith with her powerful and thought provoking piece Demons and Darren McGarvey aka (Loki) who sealed the qualifying places as yet again I thanked God I wasn’t a judge. Personally I thought Isabella Mulder’s Dirty Dishes was the best poem in this round if that is one was judging purely on content. As we know however slams are not judged on content alone, and with performance and audience reaction both taken in to account Isabella and Sindigo can count themselves to be unlucky on this occasion that like Scotland in world cups they didn’t advance beyond the first round though unlike Scotland I would confidently predict that they will put that right in future tournaments.

The fourth and last of the first round group saw me donning not only my tartan tights but my tartan scarf, Scotland strip and mini kilt in support of an English born poet now resident in Ibrox. Now before you think this Celtic supporting SNP member has completely lost the plot I should perhaps explain that the poet in question was Chris Young and that my personal loyalty to my wee poetry brother is so strong can overcome even the most challenging of circumstances Of all the heats this was the one where it was hardest to retain my normal impartiality as I was also supporting Colin McGuire whose Fascists Guide To Salads was a brilliant take on the dangers of right wing extremism and this poem with the funny title tackled a very serious subject as it illustrated the emptiness of this prejudice so often wrapped up the rhetoric of traditional values.

As for Chris, his poem entitled Jimmy Saville Stole My Virginity grabbed the attention of the audience and kept them engaged by revealing to us the horror of someone once revered now quite rightly reviled, and the lost innocence of children’s dreams which were ruthlessly exploited by a man with darkness in his heart.

In a heat which also had Doug Garry, Ross McFarlane and Joe With The Glasses I feel I must give a special mention to Joanne MacKay’s poem Washing which was a brilliantly powerful take on the power of colour which harked back to the days of 1950’s America at the time of the McCarthy witch hunts when communists and African-Americans were singled out for particularly horrific treatment. This was one of the most emotionally evocative poems of the night and some of the imagery used was disturbingly and brutally brilliant. I have to say when the result of this heat was announced I was stunned that Joanne never made it to semi finals the qualifiers being Colin McGuire and Joe With The Glasses but as I know only too well poetry is to some extent subjective and there were twenty two potential winners from which our judges had to select only eight for the semi finals. Did I disagree with some of the decisions yes of course I did and had I been judging there would have been possibly as many as five fearless females in the last eight and I know for sure there would certainly have been four but surely the beauty of the art is that on any given night there would be few if any audience members who would completely agree with the judges choices 100 per cent of the time.

That said, the eight semi finalists of six men and two women gave those in attendance a cracking semi final of poetry which was both high octane in performance and even higher quality in the quality of work As for selecting the final three who would be competing for the title all I can say is that I would have needed the skills of a juggler to get this right and that no matter what three were chosen for the ultimate battle they would be a credit to both spoken word and to Scotland.

As for me, my selections would have been Iona Lee whose poem Nice was not only of the best of the night but in my opinion one of the best I’ve heard in over 20 years on the performance circuit. Now I know this is a big claim to make but I do so as I believe it exposes with a gentle ruthlessness what goes on behind the so-called social respectability of those nice middle class homes in the leafy lanes to which we are conditioned to aspire to dream of and the fact the performance was so eloquently executed meant it ticked all the boxes for me. I would also have chosen Liam McCormick for his thought provoking poem on how hopelessness how lack of opportunity leads to prejudice and Kevin Gilday or Darren McGarvey for the third slot, though I think Kevin would just have got the edge as his poem The Workie got the better audience reaction.

In the end the judges made their decision and called the three finalists as Iona Lee, Kevin Gilday and Joe With The Glasses and after a tough and brilliant final round it was time for the result to be announced. As tension filled the theatre I turned to my friend and fellow poet Shaun Moore and called it for Iona.
With the air of anticipation now tangible the judges handed their the result to our compare. The decision had been made and there was no turning back in a matter of seconds Scotland would know our champion. As Robin announced the results in reserve order Kevin Gilday was placed third for the third time in the last four years and it was now between Iona and Joe and by the slimmest of margins it was Iona who was crowned the 2016 Scottish National Poetry Slam Champion and who will carry the hopes of the nation at the world series in May. Trust me Scotland, our hopes are in good hands.

As I tend to do, I managed to have a few words with our new champion and congratulated her on what I thought was a well deserved victory. After our brief chat and indeed earlier in the evening at the first round bar break, I managed to catch up with a number of performers and other poets and friends who were there like me, to enjoy the poetry and craic. These included Chris Young, Colin McGuire, Darren McGarvey, Kevin Gilday , and Lesley Traynor, Anna Crow, Kirsty Nicolson, and Stephen Paton. Eventually however as so often happens at these events Derek Read being the good guy he is offered to buy me a drink which was I have to say gratefully accepted even if it did for a wee while at least put a stop to mixing and mingling.

As we charted on the events of the events of a thoroughly entertaining evening we both agreed that on balance the judges had got it right and that Iona will do us proud in Paris. Towards the end of the night I got chatting to two of the judges both of whom I know well Jenny Lindsay, and Bram E Gieban, and said that I didn’t envy them on a night when the standard of poetry was so high. It is perhaps no great surprise that both of them echoed my sentiments on a night when the real winner was poetry.

As I made my way back to the village I call home, I thought to myself that if this night is one of the highlights of the Scottish poetry calendar which it undoubtedly is then there must be a reason for that and I think I’ve figured out what that reason is. To me the Scottish poetry scene in which I am proud to play my small part is like one big and for the most part, happy village and this event encapsulates that feeling. It is in my opinion like a big poetry party with all the right guests and that’s what makes it such a great night However though there was as there always is a brilliant party atmosphere we had gathered to find a champion and that is what we did. So forget the fascist salad and a pile of dirty dishes it is my belief that in crowing Iona as our champion we have found a woman of words who will speak from the heart with wit, warmth and wisdom and be a fantastic ambassador for her country and her craft.

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

Why I Said Yes To The Scotland I Believe In And The Scotland I Believe We Will Win. ( Referendum Reflections And Memories From An Independent Poet)

Hey everyone. As we approach the first anniversary of the referendum many of us will look back on our personal memories of the campaign which regardless of how you voted on the day invigorated and energised Scottish people like nothing I had ever seen before and got people engaged with the political process after years or possibly decades of being apathetic to the idea of any kind of political involvement. With this in mind I have decided to share some of my highlights of an enjoyable campaign even though we got the wrong result at the end of it.

My first highlight of this memorable period in our history was being accepted in to what was then an online group and has now grown the a national campaigning organisation that is Women For Independence. As a trans woman was a big deal for me and I now make sure I attend as many branch meetings as possible as we continue to campaign not only for Independence for our country but independence for our country’s women and a better fairer more equal society.

Part of the reason I enjoyed the campaign as much as I did was the fact that I was always busy and didn’t have time to get bored. As a committed yes voter I was eager to spread the word to as many people as possible and I did this not only through the traditional methods of campaigning but also by informing undecided friends as to the benefits of independence on social media outlets such as facebook and twitter and also my at that time fledgling blog tartantights as the referendum campaign gained pace my blog gained momentum and it’s some consolation to know that I was responsible for convincing some people to embark on their journeys to yes.

Speaking of tartantights and more importantly of the impact blogging I was delighted to be invited to write a guest post for the wee ginger dug on why as a trans woman I would be voting yes. This was a big moment for me both politically and personally. It meant a lot to me to be asked asmy blog is not a political blog in the strictest sense of the word. It is if had to put a label on it, more of a lifestyle blog but more than that it is my personal space in virtual world for me to express my thoughts and opinions on a whole range of issues of politics is but one. I don’t have the financial resources to compete with the likes of the dug, Bella Caledonia, or Wings Over Scotland. So to be invited to post on a site I respect on an issue of importance to me was a great boost to my confidence not to mention my blog traffic which I’m delighted to say has continued ever since.

Another highlight for me was my involvement in the National Collective. This holds some very special memories for me as this non aligned group of creative artists provided our nation with a summer of hope as they staged the summer of independence festival also known as the yestival at venues all over Scotland. This dynamic group of artists made me so proud to be a part of it that I even wrote a poem to celebrate their memory entitled I Am National Collective and those tuesday night meetings and eventually Monday night sessions in Stereo gave me a sense of passion to add to my purpose.

It is also true to say that I made many good friends through my involvement at National Collective with special mentions to Del Eoin McKinnon and the wonderful Margaret McCabe who inspired me to put my poetic talents to use in the name of the cause and produce a few poems not only for Scotland but for my personal vision of Scotland. The Scotland I wanted and for that matter still want to see in a post independent nation. It was these discussions with a woman who has become a valued friend which inspired me to write Tights Before Trident. This is not only one of my favourite poems of those I wrote during the campaign it has also become a favourite of many poets on the spoken word scene even though many were and possibly still are deeply traumatised that I used examples learned at the legally blonde school of economic theory to dismantle the case for nuclear weapons. Yes the influence of my favourite movie still holds true.

As for my fondest memories of National Collective  well there were three which stand out above all others. Firstly there was the night at the July Glasgow sessions when I performed two of my poems to the gathering. The poems of choice were Twenty Four Romanians and perhaps not too surprisingly I Am National Collective. This was a really emotional night for me especially coming on Bastille Day just three days after my 53rd birthday and to be asked to bring the night to its end was a very great honour I was proud to accept.

The second memory was signing the creatives for yes declaration. Seeing my name and my talents listed alongside both contemporarys and icons of our national culture who have made such an impact on our society gave me a buzz I still can’t put in to words. Well its not every day you see your name on the same list as people such as Agnes Torok, David Greig, Des Dillon, Jenny Lindsay, Liz Lochhead, and Pat Kane, so I was privileged to sign this important historical document in support of the cause I had supported all my life and continue to support to this day and beyond.

My final memory of Natonial Collective  was that last Monday meeting in September just ten days before the vote. There was an atmosphere of optimism that night which was so tangible I swear you could actually touch it. You see we know how far we had travelled and we knew what our opponents would throw in the final few dangerous days of the campaign but we also know that we had a vision for the future they simply couldn’t match. All they could do was hope that apathy and fear the union’s only friends would triumph over hope in the name of what they call stability.

Just before that September meeting there was another cultural event which I have to mention in any look back on and that was the last pre referendum edition of Words and Music which I billed as a referendum special. Having compared the event since 2005, initially as a stand in for the man who taught me everything I know about hosting events the one and only Hughie Healy, then as his eventual successor after a death which saddened us all. To host this kind of event was I told going to be risky and of course I kinda knew that. However If there is one thing I learned from Hughie it was no-one can call themselves a poet and duck the big issues facing Scotland or the wider world. Thankfully my so-called risk paid off big time and with no voting Chris Young as featured writer we had a night of which both sides of the debate can justifiably proud. Indeed I would like to think Hughie would have smiled and said well done to both sides you showed the politicians how debate should be done. You see that in my view is exactly what we did.

Looking back over the course of the campaign, it is fair to say I feel I did as much I as possibly could to support the cause of a better Scotland . I delivered many leaflets, worked at street stalls both in the city centre and in my local constituency. I stuffed envelopes, spoke for alternative visions of my country as part of a rainbow movement, I encouraged friends to get involved in politics, I got smiles and abuse, handshakes and hatred, met old friends and made new ones across the political divide. I was in Buchanan Street on last Saturday of the campaign when I delivered so many leaflets for so many pro yes groups I thought I was Postman Pat’s glamorous assistant. I was there on the nights we turned George Square in to Freedom Square, and wrote a poetic letter to the future Scotland. However to me my proudest moments came on the day 30,000 of us marched on the streets of Edinburgh on our way to Calton Hill for what has been the biggest and best demonstration of my life and at 745 Am on referendum day when I placed my hopes in the future and voted yes for the Scotland I believe in. The Scotland I believe we can, and will still win.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

 

 

When Voices Of Promise Showed Modern Cavemen Ten Things To Buy On A Budget The View That We Saw From The Living Room Showed We Could Have A Window Of Hope

Hey everyone As I near the end of the month it is I think time to look back on eventful entertaining and enjoyable evening of Words and Music at Sammy Dow’s. It is i think fair to say that headquarters was not as busy as it was for our 25th birthday but then bank holiday Monday is never our busiest night of the year especially when like this year we were blessed with good weather. Also the fact that many of our regulars are politically active the meant that with the small matter of a general election coming up this would perhaps even more than the bank holiday impact on our numbers.

There are some people who will no doubt claim that now we have reached our 25th year that we really need to start growing up being sensible. Now i hate to inform them but that kind of behaviour is simply not acceptable at Words and Music and never will be for as long as I have anything to do with it.

Before we started the evening I let people know that amongst the absentees this month were Monica Pitman and Suzanne Egerton as both had fallen to Illness. Andy Fleming who couldn’t make it due to family reasons Chris Young who was on political duties campaigning in Glasgow Central where he would be standing as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats and Derek Read who had been taken to hospital after taking a stroke.  

I also informed the gathering that as our featured writer Jim Monaghan was another causality of the illness list and unable to join us we would not be having a featured writer but instead would let everyone else take a few minutes extra with their sets but our featured musician Francis Lopez would join the gathering to take his place among us.  

As it was election week I kicked off the night with Condemned This is a poem which is dual purpose in many ways. Not only did it provide an overview of the last election it told it in the style of a certain William Topaz McGonagall. This gave me the chance to plug this year’s McGonagall supper, this will be the 10th year of the event which has a fantastic atmosphere thanks to the genial hosting of Colin and Irene Storrie and is always one of the highlights of my cultural summer.  

Having set the tone for night it was now time for others to take the stage and first up was musician Frank Somers. A relative newcomer to Words and Music Frank was making his first appearance since February and I think he sang the same songs as he did on that occasion. The songs Chasing The Dragon and Venus Has Ailligned With The Sun are both good songs and the later is an original composition but I would like to hear different songs next time he comes to the event as he does have a genuinely good voice and his easy laid back style makes you want to hear more.   

If Frank was a relative newcomer our next two readers actually were and both made highly promising debuts, First of two to take his chance was Colin Strathdee. This talented young poet who is a member of the Glasgow Writers Group was discovered at the Love Words event at the Gallery of Modern Art which is held every year by the Federation of Writers Scotland on the Thursday closest to Valentine’s day. There was however nothing remotely romantic about his choice of debut poem, though it was delivered with plenty of passion Let Them Eat Cake may have been quote from the time of the French Revolution but this was a powerful poetic polemic searching for an end to austerity. It was a brilliant debut from a voice worth hearing and the spoken word scene will hear a lot from that voice in the months and years to come. 

After Colin it was the turn of Scott Smith who was also making his first appearance at the club. Dundonian born Scott had an excellent debut performance and his poem the Modern Caveman was a fantastic take on the problems of 21st century masculinity. 

After the new boys had sparkled on the stage it was time to welcome one of our most faithful regulars and on this occasion Pete Faulkner read us an extract from his novel on the adventures of a young idealistic teacher. At the end of his set Pete had a moment which reminded me of the Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket when he used the and there’s more catchphrase made famous by the comic. However in Pete’s case he is actually right because there is a lot more from a man who is at home whether writing poetry or prose. 

After Pete it was the turn of another well kent face to entertain the company for the first time In a fair few months and it was great to see Alex Frew use his five minutes for a mixture of comedy and education. As should be the case in Scotland it was the education that came first and Mr Frew gave us a valuable lesson in how to survive in these austere times in which he told us of Ten Things To Buy In Pound Land. He then  present a theory on clucking like chickens,before finishing his set with Ghost Chickens In The Sky This is his unique take on the Johnny Cash song Ghost Riders In The Sky. 

After the madness of Mr Frew Fred Fingers became Freddie The Frenchman and in doing so related not only some of the worst puns about history but arguably some of the worst puns in history. Luckily Fred also showed his sensible with his poem Martyrs which is written on the idea that dying for the promise of paradise and 72 virgins may be somewhat misguided. 

After the puns it was back to the serious business of politics, and Jim Ewing provided an intelligent thought provoking set with a message for the voters of Scotland and Britain. Jim started his set with a haiku on the man I call the patron saint of dishonesty or if you’ve ever watched charmed the source of all evil Tony Blair. After this short start to his set Jim read a very political poem and Manifesto was right out of the top drawer. This was a poem that packed a punch and that I really enjoyed. This was followed by Unrequited Love before he concluded with his Referendum Haiku. Yes I think it is safe to say to that this man likes his haikus and this carefully constructed piece contained a message that unionist politicians in particular would be well advised to listen to.  

As Jim went back to his seat it was time to welcome back another long standing friend in the excellent Jane Overton. I’ve always admired Jane’s work for its quality and topicality. In this set Jane read three poems Tidying Up Afterwards, Gold,and Evolution, all of which show a poet of talent and power. 

Next up was Paddy Hannrahan who performed a story in his own inimitable style and like all of Paddy’s yarns there was a twist in the tale which showed the moral of the story and more importantly the moral compass of the man. 

Susan Milligan followed Paddy and in a nice touch started her set by wishing Derek well. Having expressed her good wishes Susan got on with what was an interesting set in which she performed two poems Homosapians, and A Strange Habit Of Nodding before finishing with a song. This month’s choice was Moon River and she sang it well and with style.   

At the end of Susan’s highly enjoyable set it was Linda Grant who had the unenviable job of taking us to our well deserved bar break. Taking advantage of the slightly extended set Linda performed four poems starting with the Burns themed As Others See Us, before moving on to Cold Snaps, Whose Bed Have You Been Sleeping Under? and Words Of Yours Words Of Mine. This was perhaps not the best set Linda has ever delivered and she could certainly be doing with changing some of the titles which are a wee bit on the tame side. This is I think a consequence of sticking too closely to set themes rather than interpreting them and using them as a guide.  On the upside however it has to be said when it comes to performance the Linda I saw coming to the stage and commanding it, is the mark just how far she has come as a performer and dare I say it entertainer.   

After a slightly longer than usual bar break it was time for our featured musician to grace us with his talents and believe me the talents are considerable when we talk of Francis Lopez. Francis started his set with a homage to the Peter Nardini song In Larkhall by adapting it for the post millenium era with the title In Scotland. This song has always had and still has powerful anti sectarian message a message our country cannot afford to ignore and I for one was glad to hear him sing it loudly and proudly. 

In a set which covered all the bases Francis sang two of his own songs Last Of The Breed and Wishful Drinking before performing a cover of the Matt McGinn classic Troubled Waters. This in my opinion was a masterstroke as McGinn was one of the first people I got in to when I began to develop an interest in the traditional music as a teenager in the mid to late 1970’s. Finishing his set with another his own songs Keep Me An Island Francis had given us yet another excellent set in the easy going laid back style which has become his trademark and is one of the many reasons he will always be a valued member of the words and music family.   

It is unusual for the featured musician to be the penultimate act of the evening but it was the case on this occasion. So earlier than planned I made my way to the stage to bring the night to a close. However, before starting my own set I read on a poem on behalf of a cherished friend. It should come as no surprise to anyone with a brain that the poem An Exiles Lambment was by a certain Derek Read. Now everyone who knows Derek knows he has a catchphrase for when he can’t make events and that catchphrase is a’m no very well and I quite often used at his expense. Well this time it was actually true and I just wanted to show how much he was missed and wish him a speedy recovery.       

After my tribute to my friend it was time to get on with my set. As is appropriate on May Day Monday I did give a nod to my political opinion with my opening poem View From The Living Room Window which is an overt attack on the nationalism nobody talks about the British nationalism of the hard right. This kind of ugly nationalism was all too prevalent in the ironically named Better Together campaign where the political chattering classes of the three main unionist parties combined with the press and the BBC in an attempt to save their necks. In contrast to these deluded souls marching backwards to the past at breakneck speed, this poem offers a real vision of a fairer world where workers in all nations are paid a decent living wage for their labours.  

I followed that with another of my political poems which though written at the beginning of the referendum campaign still has as powerful a message now as it did then. The Quilt which is a particular favourite of the more thoughtful and considered amongst those of us who voted yes last September reflects my hope that Independence will bring a better relationship with our neighbours and friends in the rest of Britain and a better British Isles will take the place of the current culture of blame which the Westminster parties and their friends seem so found of.      

I finished the night with one of my favourite poems and in Lost The Plot I related the story of what really of what really goes on a girl’s night out. From the optimism at the beginning of the night to the potential pitfalls at the end of it and that was where we parked the taxi at the end of a night when 16 people attended a cracking First Monday at Words And Music 

This however would not be the last time we would see the wee back room in this eventful month as there would be another night to get together on the third Monday of the month and this time there would be a trophy up for grabs as it would time to crown the Words and Music Champion of 2015 but that as they say is another story. This night though was a night when voices of promise showed modern cavemen ten things to buy on a budget and the view that we saw from the living room showed there could be a window of hope. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X    

The Day Our People Found Their Voice Was Scotland’s Beautiful Thursday

Hey everyone It is now a week since the General Election and the tartan tsumani that was the election of 56 MP’s to Westminster. As I had said in my pre election post on this blog I expected the party to do well, after all the polls had been predicting we would for at least a year but as many SNP supporters and members know there is no day like polling day for having your dreams cruelly shattered.

At least that’s the way it used to be but this year I sensed there was something different in the air and something wasn’t just optimism it was genuine belief. A belief we could do something we had never done before we could go in to the traditional Labour Party heartlands and win at a UK election.

I think there were four factors at play which helped us in this fight. The first and probably primary amongst them was the fact that the independence referendum had galvanised Scotland in a way the likes of which had never been in my lifetime. Secondly voters did not see Jim Murphy or indeed Ed Milliband as leadership material and did not believe they could win. There was also the fact that Nicola Sturgeon played a brilliant campaign which no unionist was able to match coming across to voters as a genuine but capable woman who was prepared to reach out to the forces of progressive politics throughout the United Kingdom. And last but by means least the fact that the Labour Party campaigned with The Conservatives for three years during the referendum buries once and for all that these parties are in any way different.

When faced with these facts the Labour Party adopted a campaign style which can only be described as shambolic. It would seem to me at least that they knew what was going to happen and had neither the will nor the ability to stop it. From the first declaration when the SNP’s Alan Brown gained Kilmarnock from Cathy Jamieson the writing was on the wall for a party which had become both arrogant and complacent to a Scottish vote they regarded with haughty disdain.

It was all smiles from the Western Isles when the next declaration came through and the likable charmer that is Angus Brendan McNeill held the seat he first won in 2005 when he gained it from Labour’s Callum MacDonald and brought it back to the SNP family for the first time since 1987 Labour had on the retirement of SNP stalwart Donald Stewart.

If this result wasn’t entirely unexpected then the next one most certainly wasn’t at least not in my opinion. The political commentators may not have expected this result but I had been expecting it for months as I had been very positive reports from friends in the constituency. This marked the defeat of the first of Labour’s big beasts as Paisley And Renfrewshire South returned the youngest MP in Scotland and in Britain as 20 year old student Mhairi Black gained the seat for the SNP from the man who was Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander.

To his great credit Douglas gave one of the most dignified concession speeches of the night and his congratulations to Mhairi came from a heart of a man who accepted his defeat with good grace and was a credit to the colours he wore.

You know there are certain people of my acquaintance who say that Mhairi is too young to be an MP as she hasn’t been properly tested yet. Quite what planet these people are living on I really don’t know as I believe this campaign in which she had take on one of Labour’s most formidable fighters and a man who has been at the top table of British politics and would have been there again had his party won the election has tested her in ways unimaginable to me or many others and she has passed those tests with flying colours.

Personally, I think anyone who doubts the calibre of this amazingly talented young woman must have graduated not from university but the Craig Brown school of optimism. Craig Brown for those of you who don’t follow the fortunes of the Scotland National football team was once our manager and was so over cautious at giving youth a chance that the in joke amongst Scotland fans was that when giving a 27 year old their debut he would describe them as a promising youngster. Now I don’t know about you, but I prefer the attitude of Scotland’s greatest ever manager Jock Stein who held fast to the view that if you were good enough you were old enough and Mhairi is certainly good enough.

The next result was Dundee West. As Dundee had given the highest yes vote in last September’s independence referendum this was a seat I fully expected us to win. This was one of our top target seats in 2010 and that occasion despite a great campaign it was held by Labour’s Jim McGovern with a majority of over 7,000. Realising the tide of public opinion was against his party Mr McGovern dramatically resigned as candidate during the campaign and it was a fitting reward for Chris Law that he turned a Labour majority of 7,000 to an SNP majority of 17,000.

This result was followed by West Dunbartonshire where Labour’s Gemma Doyle was dramatically unseated by SNP candidate Martin Monaghan in a seat even I, and I’m optimistic by nature wasn’t sure we could win. Though the area like Dundee the area had voted yes in September. On hearing this result I began to realise that I had over estimated the support for all opposition parties and particularly Labour.

One by one the seats to started to fall and I was reminded of that classic Paul Weller song Walls Come Tumbling Down. Falkirk West, Ochil And South Perthshire and Glenrothes early gains for great candidates and John McNally, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, and Peter Grant whose swing was one of the biggest of the night in a seat I had hoped but not expected to come to the banner will make brilliant representatives and give their areas a voice which for so many years has remained unheard

East Kilbride so long a Labour stronghold had been gained in the 2011 Scottish Election by Linda Fabianni so it is fair to say I was expecting victory for Dr Lisa Cameron and she didn’t disappoint ending the parliamentary career of Labour’s Michael McCann. In Midlothian the SNP council leader Owen Thomson gained a seat which I thought would be a Labour hold. I had based my belief on the fact the Labour candidate Kenny Young had won a council by-election against the tide last November so I therefore believed he may be able to do the same again by playing the local card against a man who as council leader has had to make some very tough decisions. Fortunately however this was not the case and Midlothian was another addition to the list of SNP gains.

The next result really pleased me and I was delighted when I heard Dundee East had been retained by our Depute Leader Stewart Hosie whose sterling work for our party and our country was rewarded with an increased majority. This is a seat which like the Western Isles has a long standing tradition of voting for the party but Stewart Hosie is a man who will never take that tradition for granted and that is why this dedicated nationalist just keeps on winning. Like Alex Salmond who went on to win Gordon later on the night, despite Liberal Democrat predictions he would lose to Christine Jardine this is a man who knows the only way to make a seat safe is to do the job you were elected to do and represent the people of your constituency. That is exactly what he has done since his election in 2005 and why he was re-elected to serve them again.

The results at this stage indicated that Labour were on course for a disastrous night in Scotland but it was the next three seats which turned that disaster into their greatest ever nightmare when Margaret Ferrier gained Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Roger Mullin gained Gordon Brown’s old seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and party leader Jim Murphy lost his East Renfrewshire seat to Kirsten Oswald. Of these results I had only expected potential gain and that was Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. As for Rutherglen And Hamilton West and East Renfrewshire I had said that Labour were to lose these seats they would be in meltdown and now I was beginning to realise how accurate that comment actually was.

Another seat I put in the hard to win category was Motherwell And Wishaw but as was the case with the case with the rest of Scotland this was yet another SNP Gain with Marion Fellows defeating the sitting MP Frank Roy. This declaration came at the time when Glasgow was getting ready to declare and this was the city Labour even a bad night could not afford to lose. However they did lose and lose spectacularly failing to hold a single seat in the city which was once the beating heart of Red Clydeside. One by one the dominoes fell starting in my own seat of Glasgow East where Natalie criused home defeating the outgoing Labour MP Margaret Curran by more than 10,000 votes This it has be to said was personal highlight on a night where there were so many it was almost impossible to choose. This was my seat, my conmstitutency the place where i campaigned and to see our magnificent Glasgow East campaign rewarded for all our hard work was a truly fantastic feeling. Natalie’s success was quickly followed by a stunning success in the seat even our most optimistic supporters said she couldn’t as she unseated Willie Bain in the seat we even told ourselves we wouldn’t take with one of the largest swings of the night to claim Glasgow North East. Indeed not only did Anne win the seat she gained the biggest majority in Glasgow in the process.

There were fantastic wins for Chris Stephens in Glasgow South West where he crushed unionist hardliner Ian Davidson, Stewart McDonald in the neighbouring seat of Glasgow South where he unseated the equally hard-line Tom Harris and Alison Thewliss who defeated former Deputy Leader of Labour in Scotland Anas Sarwar. The route was completed when Patrick Grady gained Glasgow North And Carol Monaghan claimed the scalp of John Robertson the man who succeded the late Donald Dewar in the part of Glasgow which was formerly Anniesland and is now known as Glasgow North West.
So Glasgow had given the Labour Party the red card and replaced the red hand of the past with the bright yellow jersey of the future

It was a similar story in North Lanarkshire with Airdrie And Shotts, Coatbridge Chryston And Bellshill and Cunbernauld Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East all changing their political colours. These results meant the end of the road for Labour veteran Tom Clarke who lost Coatbridge to Phil Boswell and not a moment too soon in my opinion, and Greg McClymont who was widely tipped as one of Labour’s rising stars and whose chance I am sure will come again if he gives it a decade or so.

I have to say I really enjoyed the victory of Angela Crawlwey in Lanark And Hamilton East where she ended the political career of the woeful Jimmy Hood. This gives me particular pleasure as this was a man so blinded by prejudice that he said he would vote against Independence even if Scotland could prove it would be the richest country on earth. This to me was stupidity beyond belief and unworthy an elected representative and it more than likely playerd a significant part in his downfall.

I also was happy for Hannah Bardell who won Livingston the seat her mother contested in 2010 and Tommy Sheppard the man who co-founded The Stand Comedy Club and is a former member of the Labour Party’s Scottish Executive who became SNP MP for Edinburgh Eastern in the wee small hours of Friday morning.

The unionist parties did gain some very small crumbs of comfort winning one seat each. Alasdair Carmichael holding on to Orkney And Shetland for the Liberal Democrats David Mundell keeping his place as Scotland’s only Conservative winning Clydesdale Ettrickdale And Dumfrieshie for the 3rd time and Ian Murray holding on in Edinburgh Southern in a seat which saw the SNP rise from fourth place to second. Well to paraphrase the classic Meatloaf song I say to them ‘Don’t be sad cause 3 out 59 ain’t bad. Indeed to paraphrase another line from the same song ‘Unionists can talk all night but that ain’t getting them nowhere. This is especially true whem you listen to embittered Labour candidates such as Tom Harris who had the audicity to blame the voters for not listening to Labour who in his words were winning the arguments on the doorsteps. This is completely delusional and shows just how out of touch his party really are with the ordinary Scottish voter. Indeed I would go as far as to say that the trouble for the Labour Party was the voters were actually listening and they didn’t like what they were hearing one little bit.

With Eilidh Whiteford retaining Banff and Buchan, Angus Robertson holding Moray. Mike Weir keeping Angus in the SNP family, despite my fears of a potential Tory tactical vote and Pete Wishart doubling his majority and reclaiming Perth and North Perthshire the SNP retained all of the six seats which they held in the last parliament.

As the rest of the Scottish results came in it was clear this was going to be a landslide for the SNP who took both seats in Aberdeen from the Labour Party and won seats I wouldn’t even have thought were possible at the beginning of the evening. These included North Ayrshire And Arran where SNP candidate Patricia Gibson got an early birthday present defeating Labour’s only real socialist at Westminster Katy Clarke. Irvine And Central Ayrshire where Doctor Philpa Whiteford ended the career of long serving Labour MP Brian Donahoe and Ayr where Cori Wilson gained the seat from Labour’s Sandra Osborne.

Whilst the Liberal Democrats may not have had as far to fall as the Labour Party they still fell from a significent height and lost some real political big hitters in the process. The wee small hours of Friday morning saw the end of the road for former Scottish Secetary Michael Moore who lost his Roxburgh Selkirk And Berwickshire seat to Callum Kerr in the last Scottish seat to be declared. Mr Moore would be joining former party leader Charles Kennedy whose 32 year career was brought to an end by the voters of Ross, Syke, And Lochabar who elected the SNP’s Ian Blackford to take his place, and Danny Alexander who lost out to the SNP leader of Highland council Drew Hendry and paid the price for being George Osborne’s Scottish voice at the treasury.

On a personal level I have to admit to having a degree of sympathy for Jo Swinson who lost to John Nicholson in East Dunbartonshire and perhaps more than any other defeated MP I can say I’m truly sorry to lose her from parliament. The work she has done on behalf of women and girls has been important and it is in future generations we will see what I am sure will be known as the Swinson legacy.

So with the Scottish election all wrapped up it was I have to say a great night for my party. As for the results in England And Wales that is a matter for the people of those nations to decide and they decided that as a whole they wanted a Conservative government. Whilst this is a disappointment to me on a personal level I fully support their right to make that decision even if I disagree with it profoundly. Like Scotland there were some big name causalities who will no longer be walking the corridors of power, the most noticable being Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls and two leading Liberal Democrats in Simon Hughes, and Vince Cable.

So, many big beasts have been removed from both Scottish and Brittish politics but I have a very clear message for those Labour supporters and believe me I’ve met them already who would attempt to claim that the SNP success cost them the election. This is a message they need to hear whether they like it or not. You see I deal in facts the fact is their numbers don’t add up. Even if Labour had retained every one of the seats they lost even if they had won every seat in Scotland the fact is Scotland would still have a Conservative government. So you see voting SNP didn’t get Scotland a Tory government voting no to our independence did.

This is a fact from which there is no escape and no hiding place. This result proved that the people of Scotland are angry but believe me this is no protest vote this is the voice of an angry nation a nation which feels badly let down by the failures of unionist politicians many of whom cared more about self interest and their place on the expenses express than they did for people they were elected to represent. So with this in mind I would say that though I am confident I will see independence in my lifetime that for as long as Scotland remains in the UK we have to vote SNP to make sure we are not ignored.

Make no mistake this is not the same Scotland as it was at the time of the last Westminster election in 2010 or even in the early part of 2012 before the referendum was called. You see something happened to Scotland during the referendum that hadn’t happened before. We began to talk about politics and from that we gained our confidence. After being told for centuries what we couldn’t do last Thursday showed what we could and to me and I suspect many others it proved beyond all doubt that the day our people found their voice was Scotland’s beautiful Thursday.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

On The Night We Changed The Colour Of Scotland’s Political Map I Gained Some Honourable Friends

Hey everyone With the election over it’s time to confess not only that I celebrated my party’s stunning success in changing the political map of Scotland but also why the SNP success story that was Scotland 2015 meant so much to me. You see this election was the election when the political became personal and after 27 years of campaigning twenty two as a party supporter and the last five as a party member, this was the election which without doubt has given me the most satisfaction and not just because of the tartan tsunami which resulted in 56 SNP Members duly elected to the Westminster Parliament.

Though that statistic both surprised and delighted me, the reason for my happiness is this when Chris Stephens, won Glasgow South West, from Ian Daavidson, When Stewart McDonald took the neigbouring seat of Glasgow South from Tom Harris when Alison Thewliss removed one of Labour’s biggest beasts in Anas Sarwar by gaining Glasgow Central, when Anne McLaughlin won Glasgow North East, the seat even i didn’t believe we could win until just after 8 P.M when i heard it was game on and she would beat Willie Bain and most of all when my new MP Natalie McGarry triumphed in Glasgow East she unseated Margaret Curran I was not only celebrating victories for my party i was celebrating victories for my friends.

Yes I really do mean friends. Those named have been there for me in darker days than now they know my hopes and aspirations and in the case of Chris and Natalie they also know my fears. It was this group and a few selected others who were there for me when I almost lost my flatmate to depression in both 2011 and 2012. Thankfully she is still here and like me she cheered on every SNP victory as they came in though the Glasgow results got the biggest cheers of the night from her apart from her original home seat of Rutherglen And Hamilton West

Natrually the biggest cheer of the evening came when Natalie McGarry became our local MP defeating Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran by more than 10,000 votes. This was the campaign I was involved in so it was only natural that Janette who had voted for Natalie would be pleased with the result in our local area. God knows she knows how hard our magnificent SNP family campaigned to make it happen and elect a woman who will always stand for the principles of equality, and fairness.

On a more personal note i am very protective of our new member of parliament who is one of best friends in the party and knew how to make the most effective use of my talents and skills to her maximum advantage. Natalie like the others mentioned in this post knows both of my strengths and my weaknesses and realised along with our brilliant office manager Alexis Deans where they could best be deployed in a campaign which was never going to be easy. Yes folks Natalie knew that canvassing would not be good for me not because i couldn’t get the message across to voters but because she knew that my writing speed would slow me down due to a physical impairment i have had since childhood.

It was because of this Natalie wanted me to work on street stalls which i was more than happy to do. I was also given the what some would call the less than glamorous but i would call very necessary job of stacking leaflets in to bundles for highly effective leafleting teams and assigned the task of on working on publicity material for her with regards to a personal profile and her candidate statement. This to me was the job from heaven especially when you consider that i am both a blogger and a poet so you can imagine how honoured i was to take it on. This was a task i could undertake at home from the comfort of my own living room and when you consider my flatmate has mental health issues this was an intelligent and constructive use of both my time and my talent. Indeed i would go as far as to say that i felt more valued in this campaign than any other i have ever been involved in and by the time i did my polling place duty at St Michael’s school in Parkhead which by the was a great choice of school for a Celtic fan i felt i had did my bit for my candidate, my party, and my cause, and most importantly of all my friend.

Another victory which also received a rather noticeable cheer from Janette was that of Chris Stephens in Glasgow South West saying to me I know how much this one will mean to you. Believe me she isn’t wrong, Chris Stephens is a man who cares deeply about humanity and It is fitting he was elected on a night when we the Labour Party were all but obliterated from the Scottish political landscape for not caring or being seen to care enough. So i say to the voters of Glasgow South West they have chosen well and have elected a man who will fight every hour of every day on their behalf.

As a comrade and friend Chris has been there for me during some very difficult times and on more than one occasion has given me the support i have needed to cope with my flatmate’s depression. That to me is the mark of the man and it is also why he has not only my respect but my friendship and perhaps most importantly of all my trust and believe me i know who i can trust and who i can’t and Chris Stephens is a man I would trust with my life.

One man i can certainly trust is the newly elected is the newly elected member for Glasgow South Stewart McDonald This victory for one of our youngest candidates was in a my view a brilliant result for the people of a constituency which contains areas of affluence and poverty within a few streets of each other and Stewart will be able to speak to both communities with the passion for a fairer society which drove him to get involved in politics and join the Scottish National Party. Stewart believes as i do that the true wealth of a nation lies with people and wants a better more equal Scotland than the Westminster will ever be able or indeed motivated to provide for our people or our country

As part of that drive for a more equal society It was Stewart who organised the biggest LGBTI political conference that Scotland has ever seen. It speaks volumes for the calibre of the man that the day was an outstanding success and and received very favourable reports in the press and media. This is a man who not only takes his politics seriously this is a man on a mission for a better Scotland. A Scotland he is determined to play his part in creating.

Just next door to Stewart’s constituency lies that of Glasgow Central where local councillor Alison Thewliss stood against and beat the Labour’s Anas Sarwar. This was the man many had tipped to become successor to Jim Murphy should the results be as bad as they feared. This indeed did turn out to be the case but somehow i think the idea of a millionnaire leading anything other than a conga in the Bullingdon Club made many true Labour voters more than slightly afraid as they asked the question what does a millionaire know about poverty and concluded in the words of Paul Daniels that the answer was not a lot. So the voters of Glasgow Central decided to place their trust in a young mother of two children under the age of five Someone i’ve known since April 2007 she attended a disability related hustings at my then workplace as the election agent for our candidate for Glasgow Shettleston at that year’s Scottish Elections. Like the other new Members of Parliament mentioned in this post the friendship i forged with Alison on that spring day will i know endure for the rest of my life thanks to common bonds which unite us. These are not not just a shared party membership card but a shared vision of a better Scotland forged on the principles of fairness, equality, and social justice where our country enjoys the same rights and freedoms as any other nations including the right to make our own choices and decisions and responsibilities which that comes with such power.

Knowing Alison for as long as i have I was delighted at her victory and I know just how hard she will work for each and every one of her constituents. I do that this victory was tempered by my only note of sadness on an otherwise brilliant night. You see one of my closest friends was stranding for the Liberal Democrats in that seat and believe me when i say that Chris Young is one of the good guys on this planet and i have to say that i was genuinely saddened by the fact he didn’t manage to save his deposit gaining only 612 votes. However and let this be said loudly and clearly the dignity with which Chris conducted himself in what was a very difficult night for his party should be a lesson to certain members of other parties on how to behave decently in defeat. Trust me it is a lesson they would be very advised to learn and quickly. Blaming the voters is i think you will find not the way to go about winning them back.

With regards to our candidates in Glasgow North and North West Patrick Grady and Carol Monaghan i don’t quite know them as well as i do the rest of our Glasgow MP’S though i have met them both and heard some really good things about them for people in their local areas. i First came across Patrick during his student days at the University Of Strathclyde where he was an active member of SNP students and later went on to become student President of our esteemed Alma Mata Yes i could tell he was destined for great things even then. As For Carol i think our paths crossed a few times during the independence referendum and i know her to be a hard worker who will n common with all of our magnificent Glasgow MP’s fight with all she has for her constituents no matter how they voted on Thursday.

I do have to say that I expected Patrick to win Glasgow North and had high hopes that Carol could do likewise. There was however one victory even I wasn’t expecting at least not until very late on polling when I had heard as i said earlier in this post that it was game on for one of the biggest shocks of thew night and that the woman who has given me the nickname the strident missile could be in line to defeat Willie Bain in what was supposed to Labour’s safest seat in Glasgow and in Scotland and that woman is Anne McLuaghlin.

When i first joined the party it was Anne and the others in this mentioned in this who made me feel welcome, included, and valued as a new member even though i had been campaigning for the party for over two decades. I remember Anne saying to me that she was delighted i had finally joined the SNP family and claimed the place that was always rightfully mine. One little known fact about our new Member of Parliament for Glasgow is that she is a keen supporter of Spoken Word poetry and has with others including her partner Graham Campbell organised many fantastic events of this kind at the African-Caribbean Centre which for those who don’t know is located in Osborne Street in the heart the city centre. As i often said to Anne i prefer to call this street Swinney Street as i believe it should be named after someone who can actually count.

This was a particularly pleasing result as there is nothing which makes happier than achieving something which people say can’t be done. Well remember the medical profession wrote me off as a child and said i wouldn’t reach my first birthday and yet here i am five decades later much to the annoyance of the unionists still living, still, breathing, and still kicking ass,and let’s be honest it’s usually theirs. So you can see why i was so happy at this result. Like me Anne McLaughlin is a fighter who doesn’t know who to quit and it’s only fitting that Thursday night brought her the reward she so deserved for all her efforts over the years. As for the strident missile joke that happened at one of the spoken word nights when on introducing me Anne said that ‘An Independent Scotland would ne more than capable of defending itself as we could replace the trident missile with the strident missile and then called me up to read.

Make no mistake I really enjoyed Thursday’s result and trust me we earned it. Like no election before this one was personal and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Believe me when I say I am very proud of all our candidates who helped change the colour of our political map. I have to say however and I speak very much from the heart that I am proudest of all of those who stood with me in far darker days than now the people I can really call my honourable friends.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X