Tag Archive | Gayle Smith

As A Poet Talked Of His Mother’s Faith And The Dread Of A Black Forever A Musical Minstrel Made Memories As He Told Of An Amber River

There are sometimes when I really can’t believe how quickly passes and one of these times is when I write up my review of the previous edition of Words and Music . It seems like only yesterday I was preparing to welcome to our wee Tin Hut and now it’s time to tell you about the events of an very enjoyable and entertaining evening when we welcomed both old and new friends to our club . The fact I’m doing it two days after our October meeting is due a combination of a very busy life and my haphazard style of organising my notes 

At the clock struck 8 it was time to get under way. Since this was first night since the fringe I decided to kick off with Jewel Of The Clyde which is my take the events of 1990 when Glasgow was European city of culture.

Having done my duty it was now time to introduce the billed readers to the stage. First up was Susan McKinstry who though a recent addition to our team is a very welcome one. Susan read two poems Tolerance and Intimidation and both were excellently delivered by a writer with something to say about the state of both our nation and values. While I enjoyed both poems I particularly liked  tolerance as far from being what many people aspire to as the benchmark of democracy Susan explained in a carefully crafted way that tolerance should be the least we expect of others in a civilised society and that acceptance of others rather than merely tolerating them is the key to building the fairer more inclusive country we say we want to see.

As one Susan returned to join the company another took her place on stage and Susan Milligan performed two pieces Cats and Holiday In Heaven both of which had that quirky humour which has become Susan’s trademark. As usual Susan finished her set with a song. In this case the song of choice was The Carpenters classic Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby after which she went back to her seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.

After two writers called Susan the next performer also had a similar sounding name and it was a pleasure to welcome Suzanne Egerton back to the stage for the first time since March having been absent from the company to a combination of holidays, hillwalking, and hospital appointments. I have to stress at this point that the hospital appointments were in no way related to either the holidays or the hillwalking . Anyway it was great to see her back where she belongs . Unusally for Suzanne,she started her set with a poem on growing older entitled No Mauve . This was followed by the tale of A Curious Incident At The Falkirk Wheel she then read a poem on hillwalking which she described is the lot of the older lesbian titled I Loved A Girl Wandering, before concluding her set with a story titled Autumal which was both enjoyable and appropriate since we were now in what the romantic poets described as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. 

As Suzanne went back in to the body of the kirk,  it was time to welcome our first male reader of the night and Jim Ewing would take us to the bar break with a set of three poems Granny Barbour, Orange, and a poem on suicide written in memory of the late Catherine Walker titled  It Is Never The Only Solution. In this the final poem of his set Jim appealed to anyone harbouring these thoughts to speak to someone who may be able to help them and this seemed the appropriate time and place to take a break and enjoy the company of those in the gathering including what looked like half of Skelmorlie who had come up to support our featured musician Billy Pryce. 

It was due to half of Skelmorlie turning up for Billy and the cooperation of our featured writer Adam V Cheshire that I was able to make an intelligent adaptation to the programme and reverse the featured slots to suit the needs of the many not the few as some of the Skelmorlie crowd had to return earlier than they would have liked. This meant that instead of the featured writer kicking off the second half of the evening that task would on this occasion fall to the featured musician and as a seasoned Words And Music regular though he was making his first apperance at The Tin Hut , Billy delievred in the way I knew he would. 

Billy started his set with an old favourite of mine Spontaneous Acts Of Sorrow,  before moving on to Beautiful Suit. This was followed by  songs which could be considered ever so slightly topical and both The Invisible Hand, and Drones, have powerful messages contained within the lyrics.  After this Billy (Pictured Below) went for a change of dirrction with the more gentle Autumn Song. This was followed by Keep Talking, and the brilliant Amber River which has not only a beautiful  melody but stunning lyrics which move me every time I hear them. He concluded his set with Cats Contentment and showed why he’ll always be welcome at Words And Music and valued member of our family.

( Our Featured Musician Billy Pryce makes a welcome return to Words And Music as he enjoys his first appearance at The Tin Hut since we took up residence in our new venue in June 2016)


Having waited patiently for his turn in the spotlight it was time for our featured writer Adam V Cheshire to share his thoughts with us and he certainly gave us plenty to think about in a passionate and powerful set which that a featured set doesn’t need to mean a lot of poems if as he and Billy did you place the accent on quality rather than quantity. Adam who made history by being our first Welsh featured act in the 27 years of Words and Music started  his set by drawing on his roots with My Mother Is A Christian. This poem in which he talks with openess and candour about his mother’s life and how her faith has helped her through difficult times and how despite his own lack of belief he will still go to church with her on Christmas Day. In his next poem Poetry Is,  Adam (Pictured Below) gives his personal insight in to what poetry means to him and explains his relationship with it. Adam then moved on to a poem on Mental Health Issues with particular reference to depression  entitled The Pining Dread Of A Black Forever. This is a topic on which Adam has very intimate and personal kbowledge and this really comes home in as  authentic voice as you’ll hear on what has always been and always will be a highly emotional issue.

Adam V Cheshire makes history at the Tin Hut by becoming the first Welsh featured Writer in the 27 years of Words And Music. 


Adam finished his set with a brilliant polemic on capitalism titled Capitalism Is Eating Itself Alive. In this amazingly well thought rant our poet puts capitalism the world’s most globally  powerful economic system in the dock and makes a compelling case for the prosecution. This was a top class set from a quality poet and a principled compassionate man. A man I was proud to have at our club.  

After two great featured sets it Claire McCann who had the difficult shift of following them and she gave it her best shot performing a piece called Chalk before rejoining the company.

With all the billed readers having performed it was up to me to bring the evening to a close which I did with a set of four poems. I started with Ten Days,  a poem on  both the ski similarities and differences of two girls born only ten days apart. The two girls in question were myself and Princess Diana who was only ten days my senior .

I followed this up with Glasgow Boy,  a poem in memory of the late Glasgow folk singer Ian Davidson who died last Christmas and who for many years was a Words And Music stalwart gracing our stage on many occasions when the event was held at Sammy Dow’s.  As those of you who knew Ian will know he was a principled man of the left and campaigned fervently for CND so I’m sure he would have enjoyed my penultimate poem of the evening which used a combination of comedy and feminism to make the case against neuclear weapons in Tights Before Trident.  This poem in which I look at things from the legally blonde school of economics shows why we should focused on a millon little things rather than wasting money on an expensive white elephant. Well little things contribute to the  economic well being of the country whereas neuclear weapons only contribute to destrucstion of global civilisation and could bring about the end of the world as we know it.

I concluded my set and the night with a poem which was written about one of my favourite events at the Edinburgh fringe. The event is an alternative caberet which caters for those acts you won’t see too often on mainstream bills which is why it is called Other Voices and funnily enough so is the poem with which I brought the curtain down on this edition of Words And Music. 

You know after the excitment of Edinburgh and the fringe the September edition of Words And Music is a welcome reality check as it’s good to get back in to the routine of attending local events , especially when it’s my responsibility to host the night. Though it is seldom one of our busiest 2014 being the obvious exception it has that relaxing atmosphere that lets you know your home and whoever said 13 was an unlucky number wasn’t at a night where a poet talked of his mother’s faith and the hole of a black forever and a musical minstrel made memories as he told of an Amber River. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

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As Poets Told Stories Of Martian Transvestites And Men With Contrarian Blues A Song Told Us All We Had No Need To Fear We Wouldn’t Get One Star Reviews

As we return from the madness of what will forever be the fringe and get ready for the September edition of Words And Music, It’s time to look back on the events of August night which set me up well for the upcoming fringe. With Andy Fleming and Susan Milligan lined up for the featured slots I was ready for a night to remember and it was with an open heart and mind that we welcomed both old friends and new to our wee Tin Hut we call home.

As always I kicked off the night with of my own poems and in this case I selected  my tribute to David Bowie A Vote Of Thanks To A Martian Transvestite as this was how my mother first described Bowie a man whose music she would come to admire in my pre teen years of the early 1970’s.

Job done it was time to call the first of our billed readers and Mary Wilson read three poems By The By Bucketful, Have A Nice Day, and Happy Days before returning to take her place among the gathering. 

After Mary it was the turn of one of rising stars of the spoken word scene Angie Strachan to share her thoughts  and musings and believe me the self styled queen of modern suburbia entertained us in that unique way that only she can. Angie started her set in a way only a mammy can with Fat, a brilliant and emotional poem her  daughter Chloe over her concerns regarding body image and why a mother’s love is and will always be unconditional. This was followed by her election poem Ma Dug Is Better Than Your Dug in which she expresses all too clearly her frustration with all the petty points scoring which is or at least seems to be the lot of election campaigns these days. Angie concluded a thoroughly enjoyable set with Random Temptations her poem in praise of her favourite supermarket which for those of you who don’t know just happens to be Aldi. This is one of these poems which is always enjoyable to listen to and shows that even the self ordinary activities can provide inspiration. 

Next up was Peter Russell. Like Angie, Peter is a poet whose work I really enjoy. On this occasion  he started with Prohibitions By Order in which he expresses his concerns for humanity and the direction of political traffic. He followed this by performing Contrarian Blues. In this poem Peter laid out the five arguments he had with himself during the course of a day. Being a political animal myself I  love this poem as it reminds me of someone I see  every time I look in the mirror. From politics Peter moved on to music and in particular Jazz which has always been a passion of his with a poem entitled What I Know About Modern Jazz , The Bird, The Train, And Getz. He continued the jazz theme in his next poem Kinda Blue which was written for another of his heroes Miles Davis, before finishing a very entertaining set with Whose That Knocking At The Door.

As Peter returned to his seat it was the turn of Alex Frew to take the stage. As regular readers will know Alex often uses humour as a weapon to make his point  and he did so again in the second of his two pieces. In his first piece however Alex showed that when it matters he can be serious with his story Careless In The Community in which he highlights the issues facing the most vulnerable members of our society.For  his second piece Alex performed a  tongue in cheek song I Got A Silver Cape about his experience of working in social care and demonstrated the truth of the age old saying if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Fortunately he chose the first of those options to make some very important points and I for one am glad he did so. 

After Alex , Claire McCann stepped up for her five minutes on stage and performed a song entitled Devon Remix. Claire, was followed by Derek Read whose poem A Quiet Land spoke of the sectarian tensions this Whirral lad witnessed growing up  in the Merseyside of the 1960’s . This poem  has always been one of my favourite pieces of Derek’s work as the story very similar to my own and shows that the sectarian problem of the July of the Ulster  marching season has impacted on other areas of mainland Britain and is not unique to Scotland. 

As Derek returned to his seat it was with great pleasure I welcomed back Suzanne Egerton to the Tin Hut for the first time since March as a combination of holidays and hospital appointments meant she had been unable to take her place among us. On reading her story Conked Out Suzanne reminded us what we’d been missing and that was a quality performer and  fantastic storyteller who has a natural way with words  

After Suzanne’s welcome return it was time to welcome a new face to our night and though Robert Neill was known to me from nights at the Kilmarnock edition a few years back this was his first appearance at the Tin Hut and he gave one of the performances of the night as he took to the bar break in style by performing four pieces all of which I found very enjoyable listening Robert started his set  with a break up poem Ayrshire style titled You Left Me For The Man That Works The Road.  This was followed by a song titled Fascist Girlfriend , in which he laments the idea of abyone ever going out with someone with such dodgy political views. He then movved on to a poem entitled Beep Beep before concluding his set with a brilliant take on the latest time lord or should that be time lady shenanigans in Doctor Who’s A Women Noo in which he muses on the fuss being made by some of the whovian fraternity about a development most of us would call progress. 

After an excellent first half and the chance to catch up with friends at the bar break it was time for our featured writer and this month it was Andy Fleming who was given the task of entertaining the company and he  duly did so by performing  his own brand of Words And Music as only he knows how.

Andy started  his set  with two pieces written for past McGonagall suppers  and since they both have incredibly long titles which I can’t actually remember off by heart I will say that I enjoyed them both and both contained references to vegetarianism. 

Having established his vegetarian credentials with his opening poems Andy (Pictured Below)  then established  his musical ones with his song Middle Aged Part Time Punk. This followed by Too Bad,  and the song which describes every fringe performers nightmare One Star Review. Having reminded me why I’ve never yet taken a show  to Edinburgh Andy moved on through his repitoire with I’ve Been To Places, City Of Strange Delights, Everybody Knows, and The Party Dress before concluding his set with one of his classic songs as he took us on a visit to The Pound Shop and like the pound shop Andy  is very good value who will  never get a one star review from me . Well let’s be honest the man is  a five star performer and Words And Music regulars know it.

Picture (1) Our featured, writer Andy Fleming


As our featured writer went back to his seat it was time for our featured musician to have their time in the spotlight and in Susan Milligan we had someone who loves to sing and is particularly fond of songs she heard growing up. Susan (Pictured Below) started her set with a  song which I must confess I hadn’t heard before called I Begged My  Mum To Stay before moving on to more familiar territory with The Carpenters classic from the 1970’s Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby.

Picture (2) Our featured musician Susan Milligan 


 Susan followed this with the Marianne Faithful hit As Tears Go By and the Perry Como song For The Good Times which was a favourite of my dad’s  and wasn’t easy to listen to but I thanked Susan for singing it at the end of her set. For her penultimate song Susan  stayed with the ballads and  performed Help Me Make It Through The Night which was made famous by Gladys Knight and The Pips. This is a real power ballad and Susan put everything in to it and gave a cracking performance of a song which isn’t really in her natural style. Susan finished what was a very entertaining and enjoyable set with what I consider to be her signature song Rock And Roll Waltz which was originally made famous in 1950’s by American singer Kay Starr . On this night however  it was Susan who starred on the Words and Music and gave her best performance to date in the six years she’s been attending the event. 

After our two excellent featured acts there was only one thing left to do and that was for me as the last poet standing to bring the night to its conclusion. I did this by performing a set of four poems starting with my fiercest poem of all and for those of you who don’t get the reference the poem was The Lemon Dress which is the one I performed at the Women With Fierce Words event at the Scottish Poetry Library on the opening day of last year’s Edinburgh fringe.

I followed  this up by reading Two Rolls On Sausage , a poem on the challenges faced by people with Mental Health Issues. For my penultimate poem I switched the focus to activism and read Frontline a poem on the power of protest marches and the role they’ve played in my life. For my final poem Our Stories,  I stuck with activism but this time it had an LGBT theme to it as I told the story of my coming out and  the importance of pride especially during the early years of my transition.
With my set completed  I thanked everyone for their attendance and 12 happy campers made our way in to the night ready for whatever challenges this festival month would bring our way and as poets told tales of Martian Transvestites and men with contrarian blues a  song told us all we had no need to fear we wouldn’t get one star reviews 

Till next time 

Gayle X 

Brownies Bromances And Missing Bits From Bibles Really Was The Best Of Summer Nights 

As tradition dictates the summer brings a mellow mood to Words And Music I think it’s the combination of sunshine and the upcoming holiday season that does it. That said , whatever the reason for it there is always a relaxed atmosphere in the summer months, especially July and as the 12 performers and friends who made the night what it was would agree,  it’s the perfect opportunity for  faces  old and new  to showcase their talents. 

July is the kind  of month which suits the kind  of performers who are easy one on the ear it was with this in mind that I selected Jim Ewing to be featured writer and Charly Houston as featured musician. Well that was the plan but when Charly was unable to make it due to work commitments I had to get another musician at the last minute. Fortunately our resident multi tasker, Andy Fleming was ready and able to step in and take over that particular brief as he has so often in the past. 

Comforting as it is to see Andy and the core regulars who make our nights what they are  it’s always good to welcome new faces to the club and July saw two newcomers find a home at our place. In Natasha Newman and Moki Goddess Of Mischief both of whom I first met at the Blue Chair Extra Second nights I knew we had unearthed two stars of the future and was delighted they had graced us with their presence. 

As host it was my duty to this summer night off to the best possible start even if I shamelessly plugged the fact that I had won the Faith And Unbelief title with my opening poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic warning to the Church of Scotland to modernise or die. 

Having kicked off the night it was time to introduce the first of the billed readers and Mary Wilson read two nature based poems Fledging Bluetits and Fledgling Sparrows based on her knowledge of watching new birds finding their way in the world .

After Mary’s gentle start to the evening, it was time to welcome the first of our newcomers to the stage, and Moki Goddess Of Mischief hit the ground running with a powerful thought provoking poetic package which was very well delivered by a poet who gets better with every performance. Her selection of The Demon Queen and Winching showed two very different sides to a poet of real potential who gave a very relaxed and confident performance. Like me Moki hails from the North of Glasgow and in fact grew up not only in the same scheme I had a few decades ago but in the very next street to the place I once called home so forgive me if I’m just a wee bit proud of a local girl made good who is keeping up the scheme’s reputation for producing quality poets and before you say anything yes I do mean me.  I have to say I enjoyed both of Moki’s poems and I did notice that The Demon Queen produced more than a few shocked expressions whereas Winching had the audience giggling and contained more than a few nuggets of comedy gold. 

With Moki’s debut over it was time for a seasoned regular to entertain us and in Alex Frew we had the perfect poet for the job. Well, I say poet but on this occasion Alex being the contrary type decided to start his set with a song Leonard’s Lactose Lament in tribute to Leonard Cohen and followed it up with a short stand up set. This wasn’t so much Not The Nine O’ Clock News, it was more like Not The Weekly News but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that it was both funny and enjoyable which it definitely was.  

After Alex it was the turn of Susan Milligan to take the stage. This month Susan performed two poems Changing Your Mind, and Political Effects Two, before finishing her set with a song Carolina Moon

As one Susan left the stage another took her place, and Susan McKinestry performed two fabulous poems on the impact of social and economic disadvantage which left the audience spellbound. This was an excellent performance from a poet who was making only her second appearance at Words And Music  and had to be coaxed in to making  her first. Trust me this is a poet you will hear a lot more of  and a voice which needs heard in the fight for compassion and equality a fight we shouldn’t need to be having in the 21st century but unfortunately it is more needed than its ever been. 

After Susan It was time for the second of our newcomers to take her place and be the latest poet to add her name to the tapestry which makes up the history of our event and trust me Natasha Newman didn’t disappoint. As she led us to the bar break Natasha preformed a set of  four poems of truly excellent quality.She started her set with Summer Executions in which she  gave us her thoughts on what was for her and many others myself included was  a very disappointing election result. This was followed by Whole, before moving on to  the brilliantly titled Destination Unknown. This is a place that this poet and many others have visited a  lot more than they will ever care to admit but it also sums up where the future will take us as nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. For her final poem of what was a top class debut set , Natasha read Ignited Rhymes.  This was a great way to conclude the  set and indeed the first half of the show as Natasha’s rhymes have certainly ignited the spoken word scene since this quiet softly spoken poet made her debut on it earlier  this year at Extra Second. Make no mistake this performance marks the  arrival of a major new talent and when I’m proved right then remember where you heard it first. 

After the break it was time for our featured writer and on this occasion it was Jim Ewing who entertained the gathering with a set which showcased his versatility at its best.  In 20 minutes Jim got through more subjects than mastermind as he took us on a journey through his work.

 Jim started his set with Trumped Up , a political haiku on American president Donald Trump . He then moved on to a poem l entitled For Her in which he described the lack of compassion shown by a mourner at the death of an addict . In his next poem To A Mother Jim illustrates the full horrors of the Orlando massacre and   his grief such  senseless slaughter

For his next poem Jim journeyed much further back in time and read Martyrs a poem on the political climate 100 years ago at  a time when the world was experiencing both wars and revolutions and the social and political upheavel that resulted from them. 

After this it was time for a change of direction as our featured writer showed his humorous side with the ghostly ghoulish goings on the world of The Man With The Iron Teeth. This was followed by  a trip to the past with Self Portrait 1900 before Carp Diem brought us back to the presen. Well it is the Latin for Seize The Day. 

In his next poem Bromance Jim took a light at the bonds of male friendship. This I have to say of one my favourite poems by any poet on this topic and is possibly only eclipsed by Robin Cairns Homeland Songs as my all time favourite on it.  

From this Jim moved on to Neil’s Prayer before reading  his Dusty Springfield poem Definitely  He followed this with Retrospective before concluding his set with Men At Lunch. 

As regular readers will know the featured writer is usually followed by the featured musician. However as Charly couldn’t make it due to other commitments  there was no featured musician at least not officially I was able to make an intelligent adaptation to the programme and let Pete Faulkner take the stage. This was a very good move as Pete is highly entertaining as well as being a consummate performer 

As was the case in June when he was featured writer, Pete read an extract from his novel. In this chapter the school is visited by a group French students as part of a foreign exchange and  Christopher is mortified by both students and staff alike particularly by the head of department who is doing the stereotypical Scot routine to perfection. 

As Pete returned to his seat it was time for Andy Fleming to be the featured musician for the night . As regular attenders will know Andy has more than one than string to his bow, and when he takes the  stage, you never quite know what happen you only know you’ll enjoy it when it does. 

Andy started his set by reading a very short  poem from his girlfriend Christine  before getting on to the serious stuff with his word association poem Genetic Typing Pool Shark Bait. I hadn’t heard this poem in  a long time and I really enjoyed listening to it again. He followed this with another piece from the achieve and it was great to hear and sing along to  the Job Centre Plus song.  From unemployment Andy moved on the topic of neighbours and aimed his creative fire at the kind of neighbours we would all hope never to have with  his classic poem Neighbours , Everybody Needs Good Neighbours ,  But Mine Are A Shower Of  Bastards. This poem never fails to hit the spot as almost everyone has had or knows someone whose had neighbours like the ones Andy so eloquently describes in this piece. 

Andy followed this up with  his own unique take on the disco classic I Will Survive before moving on to Roadrunner before concluding his set with that nice little sing a long number There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible.

With Andy’s set completed it was up to me to finish up the night  and I did so with a  set  of four poems . I started with  Slice Of Faith ,  a poem on celebrating. the end of  lent by getting back on the chocolate by enjoying  my favourite chocolate based treat otherwise known as the Blue Chair Brownie. Well if Burns can  do it for haggis than why can’t I do it for the brownies. I mean  it seems fair to me. 

I then got slightly more political as I read Scroungers which explains what can happen when people are faced with the reality that the press and media don’t always tell the  truth  and. you face them with alternative arguments they may not have been exposed to. 

 I then moved on to a poem on activism  entitled  Snowflake which illustrates that those who use this term to insult us are making  a big mistake as snowflakes like activists never arrive on their own.

I concluded  my  set with a poem the place I call home and My Glasgow showed you exactly that  my city for better or worse in what I hope is an affectionate but realistic portrayal of   my city. 

With that, another Words And Music came to an end  and as I made my way home I reflected on an evening of brownies, bromances, and missing bits  from bibles really was the best of summer nights. 

Till next time

Gayle X

When Cheeky Boys Met Karaoke Queens We Talked Of Childhood Days  And When We  Went To The Rock Jam Night We Knocked On Heaven’s Door 

​It seems slightly mad that my post on the June edition of Words And Music is being posted nearly a week after the July event  has taken  place. Note to self I really must stop misplacing my notebook .That said it  was with a sense of relief that the night actually went ahead.  I say this because the May edition of our event had to be cancelled as  your  host was unable to attend  due to a leg injury and not having a replacement compere on standby who could have stepped in to take over. Though not fully recovered from my setback I was in no doubt the show had to go on even if it meant taking a taxi to the venue and arriving before it had officially opened.  

There was at least one up side to my early arrival which was that I was there to welcome each and every guest as they arrived to play their part in the evening’s entertainment. This helped me to get myself in the mood for whatever the would bring and  as is always the case with any Words and Music event it would be what it would be and I for one was glad for whatever that was 

As I started I had some good news to share with the assembled company and that was that a team made at Words And Music and captained by yours truly  had won the Four Ages Slam which had been the only event I had attended in the  whole of May. Well as team captain I had not only to attend but lead by example and my teammates who were  our two previous featured writers for March and April Lesley Traynor and Angie Strachan were absolutely brilliant. This was of course exactly what you’d expect from two stalwarts of our club and shows the standard of featured writers I try to being to the club. 

Having performed my duties, I thought it was only fair to start the night with one of the poems I performed in our team’s set so I opened the night with Jewel Of The Clyde in which I take a reflective look to back to 1990 and Glasgow’s year as city of culture and examine the legacy it left it us both. culturally and politically.  

Having done my job and opened the night it was now time to crack on with the billed readers. First up was Derek Read and he had told me prior the event kicking off that he wanted to read what he teffered to as long poem which was written in memory of his former partner Gilbert particularly since this coincided with the anniversary of Gilbert’s death.  Unfortunately the occasion got a bit too much for Derek and he found himself too chocked with emotion to perform and asked if someone else could read it on his behalf.  Since I had met Gilbert on a few occasions I was more than happy to undertake the task of reading Luss Pilgrimage and I’m pleased to report that Derek thought I had performed it well. Derek then returned to the stage to read a short poem entitled Power before taking his seat to enjoy the rest of the evening. 

Next up was Susan Milligan who gave arguably her best performance so far at Words And Music with a themed set on friendship. Susan started  her set with a poem on friendship with in the family unit with a very moving poem entitled Absent Friends which was written in memory of her dad and youngest of her brothers who was her words taken far too early. She then moved on to her now customary song  giving us her rendition of the Andrew Gold hit from the late 1970’s Thank You For Being A Friend. 

As we thanked Susan for her contribution it was time to welcome another well kent face to entertain the gathering and that was Alex Frew who as is so often the case brought his own brand of mischief to proceedings. Alex started his set with a piece on Childhood Days though I’m not sure they any way resemble any childhood days I can ever recall. Alex than shared a song written by his friend Michelle who like Alex attends the South West Writers group. The song titled I Love Your Bum attracted more than a few chuckles and kinda made me think on The Cheeky Girls. Alex then concluded an entertaining set with what he calls his cycling songs Big Chunky Buttocks which I have to say has a very catchy chorus 

Next up was Alex’s partner in rhyme, crime, song, and lunacy , yes it was the other half of the Ayrshire version of the Cheeky Boys the one and only Andy Fleming. Andy performed three songs two of his own and one in tribute to a much loved late friend of our nights. Andy started his set with  Odin’s Dedication aka  There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible and The Rock Jam which though not one of his  most sing a long songs is strangely enough a song I love singing along to and demonstrates his talent for writing brilliant and bitingly clever lyrics. Having treated us to two of his own catalogue Andy concluded his set with a song made famous by one of our former favourites Crispin Allen titled footprints On The Dashboard Upside Down .For those of a certain vintage and I mean that in Words And Music years it brought back more than a few memories of a consummate performer  from another consummate performer.  

As Andy rejoined the company it was Alan McGlas who led us to the bar break with  his story A Small Boy in which he recalls memories of his grandfather and why he seldom talked  about the war.  This  is a very moving story narrated with warmth, compassion, and dignity told in an authentic voice of which his grandad would be proud. 

After the bar break it was time for our featured writer and on this occasion the slot was filled by a Words And Music regular Pete Faulkner. Being a writer who is equally at home with poetry and prose I wondered what Pete would treat us to in his 20 minutes in the spotlight  

As it turned out Pete’s treat was to share a couple of chapters from his  novel in which the hapless  lead character a young English teacher Christopher Isherwood  is a facing a very stressful day at work and his journey to the school where he teaches makes a day which is already potentially fraught even worse as everything that can go wrong does so and that was just the start of the day from every young teacher’s hell 

On arrival at School the idealistic Isherwood would face an assessment from one of his harshest critics, who just happens to be head of department. As she sits in on his class she watches in despair as Christopher is continually interrupted by the class clown who interjects  with the comment ‘And what’s that got to do with the price of fish at every chance he gets and of course encouraged to do so by his peers who see this act as some sort of teenage rebellion and no doubt see themselves as very anti establishment in their actions. 

The fact that Christopher would in all probability as Pete hints but never states be a far better teacher for them if they had given him the chance to do his job is completely missed by his students who only seemed interested in what act of rebellion they could become known for.  

It hard not to feel at least some empathy for likable but hapless Christopher and I think the fact that Pete is a teacher by profession shows in the very real way he portrays his character complete with all the faults , flaws, and idiocincracies  which made him so authentic just the writer who created him. 

As Pete went back to his seat it was time for our featured musician to take stage and it was a pleasure to welcome Darryl Sperry (Pictured Below back to the Words And Music It was especially fitting that it was a pleasant evening in June when he made his return as it was exactly a year since he made his Words And Music debut as our first featured musician in our new venue.

(Picture 1 Darryl Sperry our featured musician)

Darryl started his set which was mainly comprised of his own songs with Seagull before to moving on to Me Myself And I. This was followed by I Don’t Wanna Be Everybody. This song illustrates the pressures of trying to be everything to everbody, pressures which I think are unfairly placed on so many people particularly the millennial generation. 

Darryl then moved on to  my favourite song of his set  The Sun Is Out Today. I love the fact that this song is so relaxing and the melodies are absolutely sublime. This is a top quality song from a top quality musician. Darryl concluded an excellent set which, showed why I booked him with an excellent version of the Bob Dylan classic Knocking On Heaven’s Door . Honestly this was an amazing set which was thoroughly enjoyed by the small but intimate crowd (well there were  only 9 of us in attendance and to those who haven’t seen yet , please rectify that  at your earliest convenient  opportunity I guarantee you’ll enjoy the  talent of one of the rising stars of the Scottish Indy music scene.  

At the end of Darryl’s set ànd with no-one else left to read it was up to me to bring the night to a conclusion. I did this by reading a set of four poems starting with Smelling The Roses in which I look inside the mind of a UKIP voter and reveal what I believe they are secretly thinking.  Well, I had to perform a political poem on this occasion. I had  no real choice to make ,especially as  it was only two days before the snap General Election Theresa  May had insisted on calling and I’m pleased to report that my satirical take on the kippers was very well received. 

From political comedy I moved on to more observational humour as read Lost The Plot which tells the story of a Glasgow girl’s Saturday Night at the dancing. This is one of my favourite  poems to perform and it always seems to get a good reaction. For my penultimate poem I paid a very personal tribute to former Words And Music stalwart  Ian Davison who died on Christmas Day with  my poem Glasgow Boy which was written in his memory. I finished my  set with one of my best known poems and one of the few I can perform  completely from memory or at least I can on most occasions  but this time I seemed to miss a verse of Karaoke Queen. The fact that nobody seemed to notice is neither here nor there . I noticed and me being the perfectionist I am I was somewhat less than pleased about it. Other than that I was happy enough with my performance on the other poems I read. 

As I made my way home I reflected that my little trip on my final poem should guard as a warning against complacency. However , all things considered it was an enjoyable night,  indeed you could say that when cheeky boys met karaoke  queens we talked of childhood days and when we  went to the rock jam night we knocked on heaven’s door.

Till next time 

Gayle X

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