Tag Archive | Climate Change

A Memorable Journey Where Bards Were The Stars And Musicians Made Magic In Song  (My Cultural Review Of 2017)

As I look back on the year just ended it is fair to say that it has been both enjoyable and challenging and that some of the challenges in both poetry and blogging have proved to be both enjoyable and rewarding in ways I would never have expected . 

 As I started 2017 I did so with my customary optimism.  Well I’ve always been a glass half full kinda girl and my year got off to a good start as I met my first challenge and completed a whole new set of poems specifically written on climate change for my first billed appearance at Extra Second. With that and an excellent Celtic Connections and SNP Burns Supper under my belt and a good start to my poetry events at both Words And Music and Rio I had hit the ground running and given the New Year the start it deserved.  

February slowed me down as usually always does, well if nothing else it gave me time to reflect and focus on my writing. It was towards the end of the month I wrote what I believe was my best poem of the year in a highly personal tribute to my late dad it was also around this time I wrote Game Changer a poem in support of LGBT football fans and made what has so far been my only visit to Aloud. 

As we moved towards the lighter nights I not only hosted Words And Music I was once again a billed reader for Extra Second and this time the subject was Mental Health and yet again I produced a completely new set of poems for the night. I also attended the Visable Women festival at the Kinning Park complex on the first Saturday of the month where I was privileged to see Confessionals a brilliant hour long spoken word show by my friend Victoria McNulty and the  last ever last Monday at Cafe Rio as we bid  an emotional farewell to one of the spoken word scene’s most loved poetry homes hosted for 10 years by the genial Robin Cairns. On a more personal note I was delighted to learn that I had two poems selected for publication in the Mind The Time football memories anthology. The poems chosen were Rampant Lionesees about Scotland’s Women becomming the first team to represent our country at a major championship for 20 years and Through The Hoops which was written about my journey as a transsexual Celtic fan.  

April started quitely enough in terms of performance and continued  in the same vein till the middle of the month.  This however can be a blessing particularly during a period when some poets like this are demented enough to participate in the NaPoWriMo challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days. As the month wore on I made the opening night of Last Monday at Waterstones during which Robin had asked me to captain a team in the four ages slam at The Tron in mid May. Needless to say I accepted the challenge and relished the idea of it. Though I must admit that putting a team together is a harder job than you think.  By the end of the month  I had added a new event to my list of places to go as I made my debut appearance at Express Yourself which is excellently hosted by Carla Woodburn. However on the Wednesday after Rio I had a nasty fall whilst returning from the newsagents where I had gone to play the lottery. Make no mistake this was a bad one which resulted in a sprained ankle and left me unable to walk for around 10 days and a distinctly wobbly feeling for most of the summer. 

Unsurprisingly perhaps my injury meant that I had to cancel Words And Music and that May was almost a poetry free zone. I say almost because I did honour my promise to Robin and captained my team at the four ages slam. Not only that I captained them to victory though it has to be said that my team mates Angie Strachan , and Lesley Traynor (see picture below) were the real stars of the show especially Angie who actually won the individual event and a place at the 2018 Scottish Slam Finals.  The day after this momentous victory I decided to launch a second blog skirting round my life also on wordpress. Wheras tartan tights is as you know the place for my general musings I decided this one would focus more on trans and women’s issues. Yes I know I’m mad but you know what its improved the quality of my blogging and I’m glad I decided to do it as allows me to show a more personal side and I think it helps readers to get what makes me who I am.  

Also on the blogging front I was invited to join the hosting team for the Bloggers Do It Better twitter chat This was a challenge I accepted and embraced and I’m delighted to still be part of the team as we move in the new year. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy and can be stressful at times but it is also really enjoyable  and the buzz I get from hosting is incredible. 

Picture (1) Angela, Myself and Lesley pose for a victory photo after winning The Four Ages Slam At The Tron. 

If May had been quiet due to injury June at least initially looked like being the same, and though I did manage to attend the Extra Second snap election special and also to focus on my main priority which was to host Words And Music. To be honest I thought that might be all I’d make  it to, particularly since injury prevented me from taking my usual place at a polling station to help the party I’m member of win my local constituency.  Still, there was a positive in this situation as at least I didn’t need a lift to the polling place as I did to the local elections just one month earlier. As it turned out with a new candidate in place my party did hold the seat though with a much reduced majority on a night which wasn’t our best.  If ever I needed a pick me up it was now and it came that Saturday at the annual McGonagall supper which I made a last minute decision to attend. Though my mobility was far from perfect it felt great just to be in the company of friends. 

It was another last minute decision the faith/unbelief open poetry competition the following Saturday which gave me my biggest surprise of the year as I went on to win the title and a £50 book token which has since been very well spent.  I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at this result if only because my poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic appeal for the Church of Scotland to modernise may have been a bit too controversial for some people’s tastes. 

With Edinburgh and the fringe looming ever closer it is no great surprise that I was very cagey during July appearing only at my own event at Words and Music and an Extra Second for which the theme of activism was too strong to resist and yet again I got on the billed readers list and produced another new set of poems tailored to suit the occasion. I also returned to express yourself for the first time since my fall but time I was purely there to enjoy the evening and believe me I did as some of us including yours truly ended walking all the way from The Project Cafe in the heart of Cowcaddens to Delmonicas and eventually Speakeasy in the heart of the Merchant City and that by the way is a longer walk than you think. 

Come August and all roads led to the fringe. Well they did eventually though not before my usual stint at Words And Music, my attendance at the funeral of our much loved sister poet Catherine Walker, my participation in Pride’s Got Talent, where I tried my hand at stand up comedy and a fantastic Extra Second on Sexuality to coincide with the upcoming Glasgow Pride weekend. As a trans woman this one had my name on it and  I made sure I was not only on the bill but that I produced my set yet and believe me judging by the compliments I received I think it’s safe to say I delivered.  

When I eventually did get to the fringe I was welcomed with open arms by fringe favourites and friends such as Jenni Pascoe, Fay Roberts, David Lee Morgan, Hannah Chutzpah, Sophia Blackwell, and Matt Panesh, to name a few. I may not have made it through as often as I wanted but I saw all the shows I needed to see and some extra gems which were recommended by friends including what was in my opinion the best show of fringe 2017 The Door To Door Poet By Rowan McCabe. All that and I still managed to take part in three shows including my now compulsory appearance at Other Voices. Well let’s be honest the fringe would never have been the same without it. 

Picture (2) Sophia Blackwell rockin it at The Banshee Labyrinth as part of the Edinburgh Fringe

As the fringe ended for another year it was back to Glasgow and last Monday at Waterstones. With that we moved on to September and the usual round of cultural engagements in what was a low key month for yours truly in terms of performing my poetry but not in terms of culture. However this slight shift in scene was just what I needed after the drama that was August. It has to be said however the highlight of what was  an enjoyable month when I actually had time to relax, was without doubt the official launch of the women with fierce words poetry anthology at the Griffin Bar in Glasgow city centre. This was an amazing and uplifting night and shows what can done when a group of women have both talent and determination. On a slightly different note the following Saturday I attended the  hope over fear rally and on the same night I went to see a play called Adam  about a young transgender man and it was a brilliant and thought provoking peace of theatre.   I also made my return to the last Monday stage and believe me it felt good. To conclude the month I received the news that one of my poems had been published in the 10 Red anthology and on  the final Thursday and a week earlier than usual I was one of the hosts of the National Poetry Event at the Gallery Of Modern Art which had been moved from its usual slot on the first Thursday of October to accomadate Hull’s place as city of culture.  

October saw me doing my stuff at Words And Music and at Last Monday at Waterstones with another team slam sandwiched inbetween. My team didn’t win this team but hey you can’t win them all.  I was also interviewed for a spoken word radio show by my friend Carla Woodburn which I have to say was an interesting  and enjoyable experience, and thanks to impromptu Facebook conversation with Jim Monaghan I managed to get a last minute ticket for what had to be Glasgow’s poetry event of the year with Hollie McNish at Oran Mor. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Hollie McNish is the best poet in Britain today. Well when you’ve got Liz Lochhead as your support act it speaks volumes for your ability. I also had a lovely night at Extra Second where I ended up on a date with a gorgeous man called Brendan. We finished our evening at Katie’s Bar where we enjoyed each other’s company in a relaxed and intimate manner. 

As we got to November Words and Music kicked off the month in style with brilliant featured sets from featured writer Katharine MacFarlane and featured musician Bob Leslie. It was then back to the Tron for another Sunday team slam but this time I was on the judging panel along with Kevin Cadwallender. After that I performed at Extra Second even though I didn’t expect to as it turned out this would though I didn’t know it at the time be my last apperance at the Blue Chair before it closed its doors for the final time. It was as always an enjoyable night made even better by the fact Brendan turned up and just like the last time we ended up at Katie’s for more special times. During what was an eventful month I made my second appearance at Express Yourself which just so happened to be on Angela Strachan’s birthday and ended up forming the female version of The Proclaimers with my new karaoke partner the wonderful Antonia Seaward. Honestly the regulars of Lauder’s Bar have never heard anything quite like it. I finished the month at Waterstones where I gave my best performance since the move from and ended November on a high. 

December saw me have a quiter month than I’d planned managing to attend only three events as a combination of icy weather and a seasonal illness ruled me out of at least four events I had planned to attend. I did however host an excellent Words And Music Christmas Cracker  at the Tin Hut with Karen Jones and Bernadette Collier in outstanding form as the featured acts. My final performance of the year at the Tinsil Tales event at the Gallery of Modern Art on the Thursday before Christmas when I compared the first section of this four hour poetry marathon before focusing on  my set. In my set I lulled the auduence in to a false sense of security by reading two new sensible Christmas  poems on consumerism and homelessness before reverting to two of my Christmas comedy classics to have the audience howling louder than a winter gale to finish my performances for the year on a high. 

For my last event of the year I journeyed west as I accompanied my friend Janet Crawford the Dram Bar where she was competing in the Loud Poets political slam which was deservedly won by Jim Monaghan to finish off the year 

So there you have it my poetic year. Thanks to all who made it what it was, a memorable journey where bards were the stars and musicians made magic in song . Here’s hoping that the next twelve months will be just as exciting. So I’ll close by wishing all my readers A Happy, Peaceful, Successful, New Year.   I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2018. 

Till next time 

Gayle X 

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I May Not Be A Person Of Interest But I Do Have An Interesting Life

As a blogger of over five years I would like to say there are few if any issues which have caused me concern since starting tartan tights in March 2012 .

I have put a lot of effort in to what I hope is now a site worth reading and strive to create quality content on a number of diverse topics in which I could be said to have an interest. This has not been an easy journey but it has in the main been an enjoyable and rewarding one . However at this stage of my blogging history I am perhaps for the first time experiencing a very slight unease and if you’ll allow me the privilege I’ll explain the reason why 

It started at the beginning of this month when I suddenly noticed a spike in my stats. Now normally this would be a good thing which would leave me feeling pretty positive but to me at least it was a problem, you see though the views were substantially up the only real increase was in my home page. When added to the fact that this increase was coming not from the UK (my site doesn’t give separate figures for Scotland) but from the United States I was shall we say ever so slighty puzzled .

As a political activist I worried that since I hold views which would lead to the alt right calling me a snowflake that I may have become a person of interest but even for a Celtic fan that may be taking paranoia to a whole new level. I mean I know I have been a vocal critic of President Trump and his friends in the UK Conservative Party but person of interest surely not.  

After putting my paranoia to bed I thought about other potential reasons for this sudden spike in my stats, and the only reason I can possibly think of is that unlike my genuine American readership they don’t actually know what my blog is about and perhaps because of the name they believe it to be focused on one of the following areas. 

(1) Tartan 

(2) Tights

(3) Both 

When they discover it is about neither the tartans of the clans of Scotland or the latest fashion hoisery I can only begin to imagine the horror in their faces, no doubt this will be made even worse when they realise that the blogger concerned is a spoken word poet who is also a transsexual woman and an ardent supporter of both Scottish independence and environmental issues such as climate change. Yes I am really what some would a liberal minded progressive which in Scotland we call normal. I guess this is why most of them don’t make it past the home page. To me the fact they don’t read my posts is their loss rather than mine and message to them is clear if you don’t want to read my content then don’t re-visit my site in the hope it will change,  because it wont and neither will I. Anyway as you should know the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and hoping for a different result. 

So having made all the points I wanted to make,  I will conclude by saying this is my blog. It is my space on the information super highway that is the internet . It a place where I’ll share my thoughts in my way and I’ll try to produce the kind of content I know my regular readers enjoy reading and after five and a half years of tartan tights I think I know what that might be. Why do I say this you may ask, well I’ll tell you why and it all comes down this simple fact, I may not be a person of interest, but I do have an interesting life. 

Till next time

Gayle X

Global Warning 

Hey Readers This poem looks at my mother’s unspoken passion for nature and what I would now refer to as green tv programmes.Though politically unionist which I  think was due to being a wee girl at the time of world war 2 and from listening to friends and neighbours than any firm conviction to that cause my mother was never unfair or at least not intentionally and I would describe her as a liberal with green tinges. Due to fundamental differences in our opinions particularly on Scottish independence and Irish unity (I , like my dad and my maternal gran supported both unconditionally and still do without any concessions)   I seldom discussed domestic politics  with my mother. International issues however were a different matter and something on which we found areas of agreement. For example my mother was the first person I knew to mention the Rainbow Warrior and supported the Greenham Common women,  but I must admit I giggled when she referred to Global Warming as Global Warming. However with the benefit of hindsight I think she have been more right than I thought on that call. So it is to my mum Mary Roberson Russell that I dedicate this poem written in her memory  and entitled Global Warning I hope you enjoy the read.

Global Warning

My mother got it wrong

when she called global warming

global warning

for a woman of her generation

it was an easy mistake to make

but she may have been more right

than she thought

and she was certainly a fan

of recycling

often taking clothes to charity shops

and encouraging me to buy from them

before it was cool or on trend

she thought unleaded petrol

was a good idea

when others condemned it as an unworkable dream

my mother was a wee bit Mrs Bouquet

when she talked of living in the suburbs

rather than the schemes

which to her were someone else

I think it was it was her village mentality

which made the good life required early evening viewing

she would watch documentaries on trees and polar bears

before comedy or programmes on poverty

as for her politics I would described her as liberal with green tinges

I think she would have liked Partick Harvie

though she would have been more at home with Robin Harper

he was more of her generation

she would have related to him better

seeing Patrick as more my style

she often watched wildlife on one

telling me we needed to look after the world

because David Attenborough said so

I couldnt argue with logic like that

If I tried I’d be reminded

everything has its place

and we shouldn’t endanger species or plants

but tend them with care

on studying the physical environment

I told her of the damage to the ozone layer

to which she replied this had been a long coming

we didn’t have as many white Christmasses

or long hot summer days as she once remembered

maybe it was her memory playing tricks

or perhaps we had taken too many risks

in the name of progress

and what Adam Smith called

the wealth of nations

geography has to come before economics and politics

it’s the only way to create a better society

whilst ensuring our survival

in the longer term

the slash and burn approach

of so-called capitalists

who think of only of themselves

and the potential profit margins

they could make whilst others starve

or die forgotten in dull dark spaces

which nobody wants to inhabit

has caused untold misery

in every country you could name

it’s time to raise our game

my mother may have been

more accurate than I thought

this is a warning shot

and as tempretures rise

and weather becomes more extreme

with greater seasonal variations

than any time in history

we will unravel the mystery

and in doing so

we might finally get the message

the insanity has to end 

@ Gayle Smith 2017

 

Causalities Of Greed 

Hey Readers 

Later this month I will be reading at the January edition of  Extra Second spoken word event at The Blue Chair on the theme of Climate Change. As a Geography and Politics graduate this topic really  appeals to me and I want to do it justice by writing some new poetry to the theme of the evening. This poem freshly written this afternoon, is one I will consider performing at the event. I have given it the title Causalities Of Greed. I hope enjoy the read. 

Causalities Of Greed 

It’s been gradual 

a slow change 

which happened over time 

an environmental crime 

 caught us unaware

as we were guilty of neglect

for our living space 

our disgrace was the fact 

we failed to realise the problem

the damage it could do 

was doing will continue to do 

If we don’t change 

some dismiss it as strange 

the product of liberal thinking 

unpatriotic 

a fantasy which gets in the way of their profit 

their right to be a money making machine 

ensure their security and wealth 

those in robust health don’t think of long term solutions 

the damage pollution causes 

interested only in short term gains 

they conveniently ignore the victims 

as they watch the world chocking 

unaware they too 

will be causalities of greed 

@ Gayle Smith 2017