Tag Archive | Gayle Smith

When Women Of A Certain Age Decide To Get Fierce The Golden Girls Can Really Rock The Mic. 

​Due to an unforseen accident in the last Wednesday of April, It’s fair to  say that May was a quieter month than usual in my poetry calendar. Indeed I had to postpone my own event due to a badly sprdined ankle.

This meant  there was no Words And Music at the Tin Hut on the first Tuesday of the month. I also missed cracking nights at Fail Better, Extra Second,  Express Yourself, and Last Monday At  Waterstones. In fact the only event I made in the whole of May was on the second Sunday of the month when I captained the over 40’s team in the four  ages slam at the Tron Theatre 

 This was an afternoon which I simply had to attend comes as 0ou I was  chosen by the host and organiser of the event Robin Cairns to captain the team for my spoken word demographic but also the fact that it was my first journey outside Baillieston since injuring my ankle at the tail end of last month Since I was still a bit shaky in the terms of my movement I got taxi’s to and from the venue well it made more sense than going for a bus and potentially making things worse. 

Having been made captain, I had to select my team for the events in which we would be doing battle with the teams representing teenagers twenty something’s and thirty something’s and with an emvarrasnent of  riches to choose from I made a few tentative enquires as to who may or may not be available for selection. Eventually I settled on my choices and in Angela Strachan and Lesley Traynor I knew I had chosen well, whether we would would be able to take on and beat the other teams would be as it is in all slams in the lap of the gods, the aududnce, and the judges.

I arrived early for the big event and was quickly joined by rival team captain and close friend Victoria McNulty who since she was taking a social media break had not heard of my recent accident. As we chatted I told her that this was only the second time I’d left the house since it happened and the other occasion was to cast my vote in the local elections. Eventually I was was joined by my team mates and other competitors including fellow team captains Carla Woodburn , Matt MacDonald. As kick off time drew ever closer we went through to the Victorian Bar took our seats on the stage and waited for the battle to  begin. The rules of the competition were simple all poets would perform twice in a round robin fashion and the two highest scoring teams after the two rounds  would progress through to the final to compete for the title of the Four Ages Slam Champions 

After the prelimaries like deciding  on team names and  the running order,  we were treated to a sacrificial poem from one of our judges Brighton based poet Deborah Martin. Sacrifice made It was time to start the competition and it  was the Young Team who were first to the mic as Aidan Rivett opened the slam with his take on Karaoke.One by one the  poets made our way to the mic when it came to our turn to put our first poem out there I decided to take a captain’s responsibility and lead from the front as I performed Jewel Of The Clyde in which I looked back the impact of Glasgow’s year as city of culture on both the politics and culture of our cityThis being my first ever team slam though I have competed in and judged individual ones, I was understandably nervous as I didn’t want to let Angela or Lesley down so I was glad to get it out of the way and get back to my seat. 

On a day when we played to what was a predominantly non poetry audience who had paid £7 for the privilege of seeing us I think we saw the poetry community at it’s best and those gathered  heard poems on a wide range of topic including domestic violence ( Victoria McNulty) family from both (Adam V Cheshire and Moki , male anger Loki, Sex and taming the bad guy Lesley Traynor with her hilarious take on the big bad wolf, nightclubs, me (lost the plot,) and Aidan Rivett , facebook friendships, Jess Smith , shopping and the perils of giving up  smoking (Angela Strachan) and the dangers of swallowing spiders  from Carla Woodburn. 

At the end of the second round of  poems it was four quality teams who waited for their fate to be decided by the judges two of whom would be judging every poem but the third judge was a different story as this was a different member of the audience for every poem and I must admit I rather liked the idea of what I call poetry democracy in action.

As we waited for the judges decisions I talked tactics with my team to decide what poems to perform if we made it through and also I had to consider who would be placed where in the running order. I took a captain’s decision that should we get through I would be going first , Lesley would follow me and Angela, would be our final poet standing. Eventually , the judges made their decision and we had qualified for the final where we would pit our wits against the young team. It was set up as the classic final a battle of youth against experience. 

Having lost the toss it was the young team who went up first then it was my turn to step up to the mic and I performed one of the few poems I know well enough not to need a paper copy or my phone  and when Karaoke Queen got a maximum score of 10 from the audience member I knew I had played my part to the best of my ability. 

One by one we took our turn at the mic and when Lesley performed her poem my sister sleeps I thought we had grounds for optimism and then finally it was Angela who went all out for glory to prove that the so-called oldies can be Goldie’s and believe me The Queen Of Modern Suburbia didn’t let us down.Now having done all we could do it was two nervous teams who awaited the decision of the judges 

Eventually, they made their call and much to my delight they called it for us. The wise ones had  won the day and our all female team had proven that when Women of a certain age decide to get fierce the golden girls can really rock the mic. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

I Learned Some Valuable Lessons From The Queen Of Modern Suburbia As I Discovered A Voice Which Said I Am My Mother’s Daughter

​​​It was a quieter night than usual on the First Tuesday of April for the monthly diet of Words And Music but as my gran always said it’s on nights like this that you learn to appreciate the little things and the small acts of kindness which make a difference to our lives. Before the night had started our featured writer Angela Strachan presented me with a gorgeous bunch of flowers. Needless to say this put me in good sprits for the night ahead and through we had more vacant spaces than a car park on Christmas morning the six  of us who did turn up enjoyed what was  a cosy wee gathering and made the most of the opportunity for what was a less formal night than is usually the case on these occasions.

As is customary I kicked off the night with one of my own poems which in this case was the most recent effort which was written on what was the third day of this year’s NaPoWriMo. The poem entitled Lessons was written on the lessons that I believe those of us who support an independent Scotland need to learn if we are to win the next referendum whenever that may be held. 

Having got the night under way I introduced the first of the readers on what was always going to be one of our  shorter  nights.  This was a writer I had only met three days before at a poetry workshop  on Gender and Sexuality and Alana, or AJ as she prefers to be known  made a very impressive debut with her  short prose piece Masterpiece. This was a highly enjoyable piece from a writer I look forward to hearing a lot more of. 

AJ was followed by Mary Wilson whose three poems Only Three Dozen,  More Parrots, and Garden Tigers showed that Mary , a poet we are only just getting to know, has wide variety of subjects in which she is interested and I’m sure we’ll hear more of her work in future. 

Next up was to stage was club regular Susan Milligan who read two pieces of her work entitled Present, and My Time before finishing her set with a song entitled Let Me Count The Ways This is a lovely song which Susan performed well and I hope she includes it in her set when she takes the featured musician slot in August.  

Claire McCann followed Susan and performed a very short piece entitled Chalk which took us up to a longer than usual break before it was it time to reconvene the evening in the only way we know and that was with our featured writer. 

On this occasion it was Angela Strachan who claimed that spot and those who missed her performance, missed a top quality writer who delivered a highly entertaining set which went down well with the small but appreciative audience. 

Angie (pictured below) started her with a poem for her granny before moving on to a poem about her dog entitled Old Jock. Though I’ve never been a dog owner I really enjoyed a piece which illustrated the bond between the dog and its owner. 

Picture (1) Our featured writer Angela Strachan 

Angela’s next poem was on Being  followed this one with Hair Of The Dog before moving on to one of my favourite poems of hers The Queen Of Modern Suburbia 

This poem  describes brilliantly the unrealistic pressures faced by professional middle class women in the 21st century as they try to cope with the ever increasing demands of modern life in the face of press and media pressure which tells them they are the have it all generation who need to have it all to be a real success. 

For her next poem Angie continued on the middle class suburban theme with The Book Group. This may be a rap on the unlikest of the topics, but it’s  also hilarious and it works. As, you may have gathered by now , Angie, has a tendency to draw from personal experience and in her penultimate poem  A Love Letter To Mr Berkeley Menthol she tells of her battle to quit smoking in a way which is filled with honesty and humour. On finishing her set with her final poem Slugs Angela Strachan had delivered a set filled with variety integrity, and intelligently crafted poems and believe me when I say this is a writer we’re going to hear a lot  more of in the months and years to come.

Having no featured musician, since Pauline Bradley had to call off due to an unavoidable last minute emergency I decided to treat the company to a song though under the Human Rights Act I’m not sure I should have done this. However cometh the hour cometh the woman  and I decided to go ahead with it. My song of choice was a favourite of mine by the Irish singer/songwriter Paddy Reilly entitled Flight Of Earls. The song tells the story of youth emigration from Ireland to seek greener pastures elsewhere. As I said in my introduction to the song which none of the company had heard before though this song relates to Ireland this in my opinion will be the future for Scotland’s youth, unless we gain our independence. Controversial I may be, but one thing nobody can say about me is that I don’t tell it as I see it.  

At the end of my impromptu rendition I asked anyone in the company if they wished to perform again. As nobody accepted my request I brought the evening to an end by performing three poems the first two of which, Sanctuary and Discovered, were were my first two efforts for this year’s NaPoWriMo  I read my final poem of the evening titled  My Mother’s Daughter.

This  was written on mothers day in memory of my mum and  though she had  her reservations about my transition I think she would be proud of this poem which deals with my relationship with her with honesty and integrity she always placed such importance on.It was she said a mark of your character to have qualities she regarded as essential in anyone with even a shred of decency. 

With my final poem completed  I concluded a night which though short on numbers wasn’t on heart or on quality and of which it can be said that I learned some valuable lessons from the queen of modern suburbia as I discovered a voice which said  I am my mother’s daughter.

Till  next time 

Gayle X 

When Rabbie’s Lass Got Fierce With Words And Mused On Political Valentines We Searched For Silver Linings In A Tapestry Of Talents 

Never before in the history of  Words And Music have we held the  April edition of our club before I’ve had to reflect on the events of a March,  but such is the madness of NaPoWriMo that is what’s happened on this occasion and if it ever happens again it’s bound to  be in  the chaos that is such a regular feature of April these days.

As I look back on this night I am happy to say that was a night in which women played a very prominent part. After having no musician in February I was delighted that Bernadette Collier a well known and respected voice in the Glasgow folk scene was making her debut at our event. As I kicked off the proceedings dead on 8 o’clock, I was as always excited yet nervous as to what the night would hold. Well I’ve been attending spoken word events long enough to know that the only thing you can predict about a night like this is its unpredictability.  

I started the evening by reading The Clothes Of An Honest Man a poem written in memory my late father John James Smith who would if still among us  have been celebrating his 90th Birthday in the last week of February. It is I think fair to say that like most poems on my family this one was not without controversy as raised a few topical issues such as   the political cultural differences between my parents and on these issues I was very definately a daddy’s girl. 

After the opening poem it was time to hand the night over to the company and get on with the show as only we know how. First to take the stage was Angela Strachan who was making her first appearance since our Christmas Cracker in December. Angela who is April’s featured writer celebrated her return to the fold by reading a story titled Dandelion Feicht which she narrated from the perspective of a teenaged boy. Before starting to read  Angela asked me if she could have a wee bit of extra time to read her story and I said that wouldn’t be a problem because unlike some performers over the years Angela had the decency to ask rather than assume she could take it and get away with it and I must it was an enjoyable story which was well worth hearing. 

Angela was followed by Mary Wilson who read three poems Pigeons On The Menu , Robotic Cleaner, and Fitting Time. Like Angela, Mary was also making her first visit of the year and it was good to see her back. 

As Mary returned to her seat it was the turn of a man who needs no introduction to Words And Music regulars as Alex Frew has been entertaining us for more than 20 years, both at Sammy Dow’s, and now in our new home at The Tin Hut . Be it poetry , prose , or music Alex can always be relied on make us smile and think in equal measure. This time, Alex chose to read  a story or should I say the first part of a which told a tale of childhood and I look forward to hearing the second part of The Note as and when he decides to share it with us. 

From an experienced performer we move on to a debut girl and Susan McKinstery showed why I moaned the face off her to come and share her work with two  excellent pieces When Bad Things Happen, and the brilliant You, I , Us. You know I’m really glad that Susan decided to come along as her powerful , thought provoking pieces challenged stereotypical prejudices and added something extra to the evening . 

Next up was the other half of Ayrshire’s dynamic duo Andy Fleming.  Like Alex, Andy has been coming to Words and Music for over two decades since making his debut in 1996.  Having attended pur monthly gathering for as long as he has, it is fair to say that Andy has a large volume of work so large in fact that he is never quite sure what to perform on any given night. Andy however is a great believer in democracy, and more often than not will let the people decide his set for the night by getting those of us in attendance to shout out random numbers and his set will be selected by whatever numbers we decide to call out. On this occasion Andy’s form of democratic participation meant that the audience were treated to three of his all time classics  and I for one thoroughly enjoyed One Star Review, Trashwalk, and his environmental rant You Are Not A Cyclist. This was a set which brought back memories for some of us and created them for those who are just getting to know a man I am proud to call my friend. 

Next up to the stage was Susan Milligan whose set focused on romance. This was no great surprise to me as this was the first Words And Music since Valentine’s Day. In this post Valentine’s set Susan read three poems Parting Kiss, One Last Look, and All Alone. I am also sure she sang a song and I enjoyed it but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. 

As Susan took her bow and rejoined the company to enjoy the rest of the evening it was Alan McGlas in his now customary position who led us to the bar break with his hillirious piece titled Ten Reasons Why I Dislike Dying In Hospital. This piece of quality satirical brilliance was the perfect way to end the first half of the night and get us in the mood for our featured performers but first it was time to catch up with friends and enjoy the social side of life which always plays such an important part on nights like this.  

After the break it was time for the first of our featured performers and as always we started with the featured writer and this month that was was the none other than the fiercest woman in poetry otherwise known as Lesley Traynor. Now those of you know Lesley (picutured below) will know she has a naughty side and she showed that mischievous streak with her first poem Big Bad Wolf in which she got more than a wee bit suggestive about this character in a fun filled poem which gave us all a fit of the giggles.

Picture (1) Our featured writer Lesley Traynor takes tin hutters on a very interesting journey

Having shown us her naughty side, it was now time for her  to show her sensative side with her poem My Sister Sleeps. This poem illustrates Lesley’s gentle tenderness as it tells the story of her close bond with her sister with the use of loving evocative language and stunningly beautiful imagrgy. 

In her next poem Rabbie’s Lass Lesley looks at the relationship between our national bard Robert Burns and the love of his life Jean Armour and does so very much from Jean’s perspective. This is a poem which narrates a tale of compassion from a 21st century woman who would never have put with even half of Rabble’s chat but times were different in Jean’s day and Lesley shows genuine warmth towards her subject in a poem which takes a look at Burns through the lenses of both feminism and time. 

In her next two poems Dancing At La Garre , and Secret Place   Lesley tells of her time in Eithopia and the adventures she had and the challenges she faced as a young woman in what was at that time a  very troubled land. As if to demonstrate her versatility Lesley then moved on performing Threads before taking us on yet another adventure, this time to Milan where after visiting a gallery in the city she was inspired to write Cover My Mouth In Gold. 

Lesley then concluded an excellent set with her final poem Thrawn. This is a poem which is  close to her heart as it was written for the women with fierce words event she organised for the Scottish Poetry Library for the first day of the Edinburgh festival fringe. The idea behind the event was that every poet brought with them a poem and a fierce word which described something about them and Lesley chose the old Scottish word Thrawn which can be used to mean stubborn or determined and Lesley is determined to get as many women as possible to record it in as many unusual venues as possible to illustrate that there is no place on earth on which a woman can’t be thrawn which reminds me I’ve still to record my version of the poem outside Celtic Park. This was an excellent way to end a top quality set which was enjoyed by all in attendance. 
After Lesley it was time for our featured musician and this month that honour fell to Bernadette Collier. Though I’ve known Bernadette (pictured below) for many years this was her first time at the club. Bernie started her set with a song that appealed to my pro independence sentiments titled If You Were Free. She followed this with a jazz flavoured number Killing The Blue

Picture (2) Featured musician Bernadette Collier makes a long awaited debut at Words And Music supported by seasoned regular Bob Leslie.

 For her next number she was assisted by Bob Leslie, as they dueted on  one of Bob’s songs Hook Your Train Up To My Wagon. Bernie followed this up with another transport related song when she covered Chasing Cars. For her penultimate number Bernadette sang a Spanish song which I not knowing the title can’t spell, pronounce, or translate but I did enjoy it.  For her final song Bernadette sang Dance Me and with that she did the quickstep off stage to enjoy what was left of the evening 

As Bernadette and Bob rejoined the company it was time for the penultimate performer of the evening and this month it was Claire McCann who had the unenviable task of following the featured acts and she did it by singing a song titled Look Whose At The Door. 

As Claire concluded her performance it was my job to bring the evening to a close  I did so by performing four poems I kicked off my set with my tribute to the late great Tommy Gemmell. I titled this poem The Goal That Changed The Game as that is exactly what he did with the equaliser which broke Inter Milan’s defensive wall and with it their resistance thereby setting up Celtic up for my club’s and Scottish football’s greatest ever victory. I followed this up by reading Quartet.This is my tribute poem to Orcadian band Fara who I go to see at every chance I get. For my penultimate poem I decided on a bit of satire with my Valentine’s Day poem Political Musings On Valentine’s Day in which I take a no holes barred look at the Valentine’s that certain politicians and organisations should have got. For my final poem I stayed on the theme of politics and in Silver Linings I took a reflective look on my journey back to normality after the disappointment of the referendum and the part poets and musicians played in brightening my mood. 

It was with that optimistic note that I ended this edition of words and music and yet another night was written in to our history. It was a night when the 13 of us who made it along were thoroughly entertained.So when Rabbie’s Lass got fierce with words and mused on political valentines we searched for silver linings in a tapestry of talents. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

The Little Lessons Teach You A Lot About Yourself If You Listen To The Voices In Your Head

As I prepare for the March edition of Words and Music  it’s time to look back on the events of a very eventful February. To me February is the month when we cast aside our party clothes after the excesses of the festive season and return to a place of normality as we wait to see what the coming year will bring us. It was with this in mind that I allowed myself a quiet smile of satisfaction as we began to gather for the evening ahead. 

 You see it was at this last year when we started our enforced break having been told by our previous home only at the very last minute that  they no longer opened on Monday and Tuesday nights news which threw both myself and the event in to chaos. Eventually however we did find a new home and having settled in to it baptising with the kind of Christmas and New Year shenanigans that only we can have , it was now time to settle in  and enjoy it as the surroundings take on that comfortable feel you can only have when you feel truly secure on your journey to the future.  

Talking of journies, our featured writer had travelled from Edinburgh to be with us and Matt MacDonald being the kind of sensible organised man that he is had even arrived at the venue before I had. Now that’s what I call dedication and as we enjoyed some pre event social time Matt told me how much he was looking forward to the night. 

As the crowd gathered I got the night started dead on 8 o’clock as I tend to do these days. I think the change of home has been good in this respect as whilst at our old familiar venue that was our home for 25 years I was mindful that Pamela would often get me to hold back from starting to wait for some latecomers to arrive, however on moving home I decided to change this and start as soon as the clock strikes 8 and welcome others as they arrive. 

As soon as the clock told me to,  I started the evening with a new poem which hadn’t even been written when we gathered in January to bring in the bells.  The poem Winter Miracle, recalls a childhood memory in which I relate the story of a boy who had never seen before in arriving in Glasgow and how  our teacher didn’t share our excitement at sharing a winter memory with our classmate and friend.  

With my job done, it was time to move on and enjoy the rest of the night and who better to kick off the madness that will forever be Words and Music than Andy Fleming who marked his first appearance of the year by singing Voices In My Head. Now I don’t know if Andy does get voices in his head but if he does they must be very talented ones to produce the kind of work he does. 

Andy was followed to the stage by his friend and mine Alex Ftew who read three pieces Land Fever, No Parrots, and a cowboy story entitled Lannigan which reminded me of the kind of wild west programmes my dad used to watch in the 1970’s. 

As Alex returned to his seat it was the turn of another of Words and Music’s most regular contributors to entertain the company and Pete Faulkner did just that with a witty yet sensitive story about a shy boy who becomes a superhero This was an entertaining and heartwarming story with which despite the gender differences I could easily identify. Well it’s a little known fact that the minute I put my tights on I become the tartan wonder woman 

Anyway that’s enough of my ramblings for Pete’s sake and as Pete Faulkner left the stage it was another Pete or should I say Peter who was next to bring his talents to the table and trust me Peter Russell is a man of considerable talent. 

On this occasion, Peter read three poems The Becks Blue Blues, Mr Murray’s Words which is written as a tribute to Les Murray, before concluding his set with the brilliant America First, a poem which offers hope for a troubled country as he reminded us of the resilience of the American people 

Next up was one of my favourite poets and one of my favourite people, I refer of course to the excellent A R Crow. A R, started their set with a poem on mental health issues titled Ask Me If I’m OK. This is not only a wonderful piece of powerful thought provoking poetry but also serves as a reminder to the audience and society at large that we should be looking out for each other more in these turbulent times . 

A R continued their set with a poem on anxiety, before concluding on a poem entitled Queer Is This I poem I really enjoy despite the fact that as a trans woman  I would never use the word Queer to identify myself. I do however recognise that A R who identifies as a non binary person in other words does not identify with the notion of male or female gender identities is using the word in a positive context to empower themself rather than the negative stereotypes which were associated with it when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s 

As A R rejoined the company it was time for Susan Milligan to claim her five minutes and take us on a trip to her world. On this occasion Susan performed Mia, Love Lust and Lullabies, My Not Sonnet , and A Laddie which was written in Scots, and finished as she usually does with a song . As Valentine’s Day was just a week away at the time of our event I think the song of choice which was the Conny Francis number Where The Boys Are was I think a fitting one and I know that it’s a song she likes singing. 

After Susan it was Alan McGlas who led us to the bar break as he performed three pieces which started his classic Honey Nonny Nay before moving on to Hors D’oeuvres and bringing the first part of the evening to a close with his take on A Happy Marriage. 

During the break I caught up with Robin Cairns who was making a welcome visit to Words and Music and he told me of a new project he’s working on which is by far his most ambitious to date and his most serious piece of theatre since Sawney Bean and believe me it sounds intriguing and like all of Robin’s projects I’m sure it will be top quality entertainment.  

Talking of quality we started the second half of the night in   traditional way with our featured writer and in Matt MacDonald we had the kind of poet whose thoughtful well crafted work is always a joy to hear  

Matt started his set with poems on his home city of Edinburgh kicking off with a poem on friendship entitled 29th September 2011. He followed it up with Bloodlines , before moving on to Arthur’s Seat and then the last  poem of this part of his set The Island Of Broken Sky. At the end of this poem Matt took us on a journey not to broken skies but to the Western Isles of his ancestors and in particular the isle of Harris which his cousins still call home.  In his first poem in this section of his set Whisky Pebbles relates a tale of childhood adventures that warmed the hearts of the audience as we travelled back in time to share the experience with him. This was followed by Little Lessons a poem Matt wrote for his grandfather.Matt then moved on to another Harris based poem and Packing Up in which he shares a memory of a trip he made with his mum. For  his final poem Matt (pictured below) read Signposts In Gaelic To My Edinburgh Eyes and in doing so completed a  truly magnificent set which was both educational and easy on the ear. This is a poet  worth hearing and enjoying a poet grounded both in the craft and his heritage who writes lovingly of his family and trust me his family have a lot to be proud of. 


Having  Matt travelling all the way from Edinburgh and being up to my neck in Celtic Connections for practically all of the festival meant there was no featured musician but this meant I decided to double Matt’s fee and I don’t think there was anyone who would object to my decision.  

After Matt’s sublime performance, it was Claire McCann who had the challenging task of following him and to be fair to Claire she  gave it her best shot performing  two poems The Room, and The Square. Personally I thought The Room, was the stronger of the two as it focused on the impact of social class on  friendships and relationships and I have to  say I quite enjoyed it 

Claire was followed by January’s featured writer Suzanne Egerton whose storytelling skills have won her many friends over the years she’s been attending Words and Music. On this occasion Suzanne read a story entitled Patience and as usual her characters were brought to life using the  warmth and gentle  wit for which she’s become know.

At the end of Suzanne’s set it was time for which the penultimate performer of the evening and it was great to welcome Robin Cairns back to the Words and Music stage. On introducing his set Robin said that he had been inspired by Eveline Pye’s set of poems which documented her time in Africa and as a result of this inspiration he has written his own set of poems on a topic he knows well and that topic is commerce and industry. In a highly enjoyable set Robin read commerce and industry before finishing with That’s Why The Lady Is A ….. in which he showed that if satire’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. 

With everyone who wanted to perform having done so , it was my job to conclude the night and bring it to a close. I did so by  performing two poems Global Warning which was based on my mother’s unique and slightly eccentric  reaction to the idea of climate change and Yesterday When I Was Young which takes a reflective look at my life to date

With the evening now satisfactorily concluded we made our way in to the night and started on our homeward journies. As we did so I mused on the fact that the little lessons teach a lot about yourself  if you listen to the voices in your head.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

  

When A Sleeping Princess Was Awakened By A Midnight Lullaby Then I Knew I’d See Tears At The Bells

Hey Readers As we get ready to enjoy the February edition of Words and Music , It’s time to look back on our first New Year party in our new home.  It is I think fair to say, that as the cultural bells rang in another year we started 2017 in far better spirits than was the case twelve months ago when that  January saw though we didn’t know it at the time our last ever night at the venue formerly known as Sammy Dow’s. So it was with grounds for cautious optimism that we  welcomed our first visitors of what I’m sure will be an enjoyable  year.

 Among the visitors were a few members of the Words and Music family we hadn’t seen for a while such as Catherine Baird, and others without whom no new year would be complete such as Pete Faulkner , and our eternal matriarch the one and only Pamela Duncan. 

As hostess of the evening it was my duty not only to welcome the participants as they arrived but to get the night under way but before doing so I, asked the company to raise their glasses and join me in a toast to friendship and to Words And Music. 

Having toasted the health of the company it was now for the first poem of both the night and the year. This year I started with  Tears At The Bells.Though this is a poem which may on the surface show my football loyalty by celebrating  Celtic’s hogmanay victory against Rangers, I think it demonstrated to a far greater extent the close bond I had with my father and why in a house which was divided on such occasions (my mother and elder brother were  Rangers fans ) It is sometimes  when  I am celebrating  victories against our greatest rivals that the most emotional of all buttons can be pressed. 

After kicking off our new year party I called on our first foot to take the stage. Now normally, it is the custom that your first visitor should be tall , dark , and handsome. At words and music  however we like to things differently, so our first foot wasn’t in the traditional mould. Instead of tall , dark, and handsome, we went for small , ginger, and loveable and invited Derek Read to be the first billed reader of 2017. Needless to say the wee man (pictured below ) in his own unique and entertaining way. Derek performed two poems In My Madness, and Harmonies before finishing a quality set with a tune on his recorded.

Picture (1) Our first foot Derek Read kicks off Words And Music 2017 in his own uniquely enjoyable style. 

Derek was followed by Shaun Moore Shaun is a great supprter of Words And Music and attends the event as often as commitments allows. Though in saying that he was making his first appearance at our new home. 

On this occasion, Shaun performed two poems. In his first poem Calling The Shots Shaun pays a warm tribute to the tradition of radicalism in the Paisley and Renfrewshire area which though originally a Glasgow boy he now calls home and where he is very much involved in the local spoken word scene. 
In his second poem Revenge of the Nerds Shaun (see picture) looks at those gtoups so often marginalised by society and puts forward a  compelling case that far from ignoring this collection of those who the chattering  classes may dismiss as irrelevant we should actually be listening to them as they may be the only people on earth who care enough about it to save it. This poem is I illustrates the talents of a mighty wordsmith whose powerful, passionate, polemic , punchy poems rattle out rhymes of the highest quality that never miss their intended targets and the line ‘she’s one pickle short of a chippy ‘ served both as good use of language and a powerful reminder not to judge others. 

Picture (2) Shaun Moore makes a welcome return to Words And Music and an excellent first appearance at our new home showed why a poet of substance will always have a place among the gathering. 

If welcoming Shaun back to the fold felt like the return of my poetry brother, then things were about to go in to full emotional overload with the return of my wee poetry sister Catherine Baird. This was and have to admit a delightful and unexpected surprise as Catherine (see picture) performed an excellent piece of flash fiction entitled Degree and a story appropriately titled Come Back which is exactly what she did and hopefully we will seeing a lot more this very talented writer in the months and years to come. 

Picture (3) The Return of the Prodigal Sister as Catherine Baird rocks the Tin Hut with fiction that was over in a flash

As we moved on to our next performer, we welcomed a Falkirk bairn who unlike Shaun, and Catherine wasn’t making her first visit to the Tin Hut she was making first ever appearance at Words And Music. Yes there is a difference, and those who performed at our former home will know why I make the point that though Words And Music may have moved 10 minutes down the road we are still Words And Music and we still welcome allcomers from all over the central belt of Scotland and occasionally beyond. On this occasion Janet Crawford (pictured below) was our debut star and I and the rest of the company enjoyed a quality set which comprised of a poem written for New Year and a very enjoyable rendition of the Karine Polwart song I’m Gonna Do It All.  Being a fellow fierce woman I knew of Janet’s poetic talents but I wasn’t aware she had such a pleasant singing voice.

Picture (4) Janet  Crawford looking relaxed on her Words And Music debut as Lesley Traynor and Susan Milligan look on. 

After Janet had become our latest debutant and multi tasker it was time for one of the club’s stalwarts to take his five minutes in the spotlight and Pete Faulkner entertained the company with two pieces both on a slightly seasonal theme and January , and The Sleeping Princess well very well received by all in attendance.

As Pete made his way back to his seat  Jim Ewing gave us his offering for the month. Jim started by providing us with a poem written for the Extra Second event later in the month entitled A Meditation On Recent Events in which he expressed his views on both climate change and Donald Trump from a faith based perspective. This was followed up with Neil’s Prayer and In The Beginning in what was a thought provoking set which got me motivated to work on my own material for Extra Second as I was also scheduled to appear on that bill. 

Next up was Susan Milligan who performed two short prose pieces entitled Two Things I Need To Do and New Things And Thoughts before concluding her set with the Kay Star song Rock ‘N’ Roll Waltz. 

Susan was followed to the stage by Lesley Traynor,( see picture) who performed Thrawn , Waiting For The Train To Millan , and Cover My Mouth In Gold. Personally I prefer a nice red lipstick but as the old saying goes you pays your money and you make your choice.

Picture (5) Lesley Traynor takes the gathering on a cultural journey   

As Lesley rejoined the company it was Alan McGlas who led to the bar break with the hilliarious Murder Of Crows or A Balderdash Of Collective Nouns. In this piece the ever pendantic Alan decided to be grammatically correct and explain whether or not he thought the terms used to describe  certain collective nouns made any sense. This was in my opinion a bitingly funny piece of observational humour and the perfect way to end the first half of the night.  

As tradition dictates we started the second part of the evening with our featured writer who in this case was Suzanne Egerton. For those of you like me who have become familiar with Suzanne’s work over the years you will know why this was a long overdue featured slot for one of our club’s most regular supporters. 

Suzanne (pictured below) started her set with her tribute to David Bowie and in doing so made me think on how quickly time passes Yes, as Suzanne reminded us it is really is a year since the star man left this earth. 

Picture (6) Our first featured writer of 2017  Suzanne Egerton who really was the perfect choice for a party 

 Suzanne followed an excellent opening piece, this was followed, by a biting and brilliant story on the dynanics of writers groups entitled The Camaraderie Of Writers. This had me in stitches as I thought on the writers groups I’d been in and believe me the characteristics described in the story most certainly apply to some of those I’ve met over the years.

Ever one for a bit of variety Suzanne who is better known as a storyteller performed her poem Mister Kiwi Digs and proved she is a better poet than she gives herself credit for. Indeed it is my considered opinion that this is a versatile writer who is at home with both poetry and prose and though more comfortable with prose I have enjoyed any poem I’ve heard from her. 

 For her next piece Suzanne was back on her familiar terrain and her story State Of Independence  had me hooked from beginning to end, this was of course due to the fact that Suzanne has a lovely storytelling voice and creates highly believable characters with whom the listener can readily identify.  

Suzanne finished her immensely enjoyable set with Getting A Life which was I think a fitting way to end especially with New Year being a time of resolutions when people resolve to change our lives for the better. Now, I know better than most, that there are many changes which I can make to improve my life but one thing I won’t be changing is the quality of featured acts I bring to Words And Music. Believe me this is something on which I refuse to compromise and I will endeavor to bring you best quality performers I possibly can to grace our stage and I believe that with Suzanne Egerton I have started as I mean to go on in 2017 and beyond. 

Having had our first featured writer of the year, it was now time for our first musical foot of the year and who better to provide our new year musical, madness than our good friend Bob Leslie. Bob (pictured below) started his set by reminding us that Life’s Too Short To Wait For A Miracle before  continuing with a song which  I think was entitled Jack Knows though what Jack knows I’m not entirely certain. 

Picture (7) Our musical first foot Bob Leslie entertains the gathering with his songs 

Drawing on his Orcadian roots Bob  then sang Bess Millie a which tells a tale of the sea, and its power over island communities. This song brought out the softer side of a man often known for his more upbeat and satirical numbers a number of which are quiet political in tone. 

Talking of politics, Bob’s next number Comes A Time was a song in support of Scottish independence which is a cause in which he has long believed in. This I have to say was very well received by the vast majority those in the room many of whom including yours truly could be considered fellow travellers on this particular journey. 

From politics Bob moved on to comedy with political overtones with one of my favourite songs of his One Size Don’t Fit All in which he takes a gentle shot at those who would stereotype others. 

As he reached the final section of his set, the  musical mayhem was completed with The Seanachai   I Would Dance, and his final song  A Moussy Went A Walking brought a top class twenty minutes plus to a highly entertaining conclusion. 

After two top class featured acts it was time for one of those timeless traditions which make the January Words And Music so special. I refer of course, to the Words And Music New Year raffle.  I’m pleased to. report that everyone who turned up did end up going home with a prize As for me,   I’m delighted to say I won what I would call an autumnal green top which I had been eyeing up all evening and I have received many compliments  on wearing it to events at Celtic connections. 

The raffle now over, it was now up to me bring the night to its conclusion with the final set of what had been a busy and enjoyable evening. I did so by performing two poems the first of which Midnight. Lullaby, was like my opening poem on the death of a  much loved family member who had a very significant influence on me and in shaping the woman I’d become and that was my maternal grandmother Jessie MacDonald Robertson Russell who passed away on a cold and frosty morning in January 1982.  

As both my previous poems had been on death I thought I should lighten the atmosphere a wee bit with my final poem. It was with this in mind that I decided I should perform Every Saturday Night as this tale of a would be Casanova and his misadventures at the dancing always leaves the audiences giggling  and that to me at least is the perfect way to end a night. 

 And with that the first Words And Music of 2017 had been safely put to bed.  It was a night when old friends came home to the family table and new ones spoke with ferocity but when a sleeping princess was awakened by a midnight lullably  then I knew I’d see tears at the bells. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

An Eclectic Cultural Selection Box Was Just What I’ve Always Wanted. (My Review Of The Christmas Last Monday At Rio) 

Hey Readers

I start this my 22nd Blogmas post  with a very serious question.

When is an event which is usually held on the last Monday of the last month held before the last Monday of the month?

The answer is when the event is Last Monday at Rio. Now come on readers especially the poets amongst you I said Last Monday at Rio. The poets should now be shouting Rio as they read this. You see the reason that there is a slight change of date for December is because the man I call the maestro and genial host of this amazing night, Robin Cairns likes to take a nice wee break during the festive season so by tradition we congregate just a wee bit earlier than ususal for the December edition of the event.

On this occasion coming so close to the day itself there was a very festive atmosphere with everyone in top form for what was for many of us myself included, our last performance of the year.

Amongst the highlights on excellent evening of entertainment were fantastic contributions Alisa Williamson whose set on the joys of married life made me wish I was in my mid 20’s rather than my mid 50’s, Jim Ewing (see picture below) whose poetic review of the year went down a treat and Suzanne Egerton whose story The Christmas Tree illustrated why I have selected her to bring in the cultural bells as January’s featured writer at the New Year Words and Music

Picture (1) Jim Ewing At Christmas Edition of Last Monday At Rio


There were also outstanding sets from Jane Overton who was this month’s featured writer at Words And Music, Anna Crow, Nancy Lippold Ingram, Peter Russell, Lesley Traynor, Janet Crawford whose poems about her love for sons had me welling up emotion, Alan McGlas who had us all in stitches with his bagatelles and Monica Pitman whose set included a traditional Lithuanian Christmas song. 

To perform in such exhaulted company is indeed a great honour but I seemed to get a few giggles and some audience reaction with my performance of Christmas Lies, (Just What I’ve Always Wanted ) Having enjoyed my short spell on the stage I decided I wanted to do only  one poem to get maximum impact, I went back to my seat to take in the rest of what was a fantastic night with Karen Jones, (see picture below) and Alain English the pick of a very merry bunch open of mic slots. 

Picture (2) The brilliant Karen Jones entertains the company as Karen Cairns, Suzanne Egerton, and Alain English look on. 

As for our featured act Colin Donatti I must admit to having a very slight bias. You see, Colin was one of my earliest influences as he was one of my first writing tutors back in the early 1990’s. So I knew I would be getting a writer of quality and substance as that was exactly what we got as Colin shared his poetic thoughts and musings with a crowd who were only too willing to listen. 

And so ended this year’s Last Monday at Rio and with my performances for 2016. You know it’s strange to think that despite the event now coming up for its 10th birthday which I believe Robin said it celebrates this coming April and me having hosted an event for 11 years and performed at venues at various locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond, it took me till March this year to make my debut at this event. Now however, I’ve performed a fair few times at this excellent evening and see it as an important part of my cultural landscape. One thing I love about Rio is the variety of acts and topics which make up this manic but magical Monday and from Christmas Trees to reviews of the year and Lithuanian Carol’s this electic cultural selection box really was just what I’ve always wanted  

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

The Spicy Girls Sampled A Taste Of The East. (The Story Of A Blogger Meet Up Meal At Nakamusa )

Hey Readers

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Since starting tartan tights it has given me many opportunities I may not have had otherwise, and it’s fair to say I’ve taken advantage of each and every one of them as they presented themselves so on hearing there was to blogger meet up meal I decided in the way that Glasgow Girls do I’m up for a bit of that.

The meal was to be held at the Nakasuma Japanese Restaurant in Sauchiehall Street and was organised by Glasgow blogger Kaitlin McManus who used to work in the restaurant. I had never really tried Japanese food apart from one visit to a sushi bar almost a decade ago so I was looking forward to a new experience.

With a number of bloggers having expressed interest in the event I thought the place would be buzzing but unfortunately there were a number of call offs and there were only five of us in attendance.

This however, did not spoil the night in any way and in my view, my actually have enhanced it as it gave us a chance to chat to each other in a way which may not have been possible had there been a larger crowd.

I was first to be welcomed by Kaitlin on arriving just after after the 6 o’clock start time and we had time to have a lovely chat before being joined by Claire Smith from What Claire Bakes. (See picture below)

Picture (1) Claire Smith of What Claire Bakes

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Claie barely had time to take her seat before Kaitlin enthusiastically demanded that she show us the ring as Claire has recently become engaged. I have to say that judging by the size of the rock on her finger, her future man has serious taste in Jewellery as well as fantastic taste in partners. No doubt Claire will be very pleased when she reads highly accurate assessment of her man, her rock, and herself.

As we gabbed like the three wise women (Now there’s something you won’t find in a Christmas nativity) we were joined by the lovely Emma Burke who like writes a food blog Emma Eats and Estelle Chiu

As we had originally anticipated a bigger crowd we waited till almost 7 o’clock before ordering our food and for me the choice was a simple one, the non spicy Chicken noodle soup (pictured below) This was I have to say absolutely delicious. Though my experiment with chopsticks was a dismal failure.

Picture (2) My non spicy chicken noodle soup.

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On realising how badly I was losing my one woman noodle war, Kaitlin who will be moving to Barcelona in the new year, showed leadership, sensitivity, by providing appropriate assistance and getting me some normal cutlery to empower me to enjoy my meal. Unlike Brexit this really a case where taking back control resulted in a positive outcome.

As we chatted I enjoyed some cracking banter with Emma (see picture) who I discovered was a Tipperary girl and on telling her I was a big fan of both Hurling and Gaelic Football, she made me ever so envious by revealing that she had managed to get a ticket to the All Ireland Hurling Final to see her home county Tipperary win the title by defeating the defending champions Kilkenny. I teased her by saying that I hoped she had taken a week off work as winning the All Ireland from what I’m led to believe usually results in a three day hangover for the victorious team’s supporters.

Picture (3) The lovely Emma Burke of Emma Eats

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Needless to say however the main focus of conversation was our blogs and I said that people who aren’t bloggers don’t understand how hard we work. It is I think fair to say this was met with agreement all concerned.

As the time passed we learned more about each other and our blogs and ,I know that if I’m looking for a place to eat I’ll certainly be checking out where Claire and Emma have been in the past and what they thought of their experience. Well if they recommend a good place to dine then it goes without saying I would have to give it serious consideration. As for Estelle well all I can say is what’s not to love about a cracking lively, and highly likeable character.

As the night neared its end it was time to pay our bills. After this we swapped both blog information and Twitter handles and posed for the group photograph. Well the night wouldn’t have been complete without these essentials.

As I smiled for the cameras I thought to how I felt at the beginning of the night and I’ll admit to more than a wee touch of nerves on meeting the girls. I needn’t have worried I was not only welcomed I was made to feel part of the team and I really feel like I’ve made four great new friends and as you can see in the picture below it was all smiles at the end of a night when the spicy girls sampled a taste of the east and enjoyed both the food and the company.

Picture (4) We might have posh in our line up but we definitely don’t do scary. Forget the Spice Girls we are Spicy Girls and have a quality line up.

The group from left to right Me (Gayle) Estelle, Nicola, Claire, and Kaitlin

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Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X