Tag Archive | Glasgow

The Flying Winger

As this is Friday the 13th I thought I would share this newly written poem in memory of my late uncle Arthur Smith who was born on Friday 13th October 1929 . Arthur was my dad’s youngest brother and his story though challenging and the kind of tale that many families would sweep under the nearest available carpet deserves to be told as a mark of respect to a good man whose life was by blighted by the choices he made and the circumstances that shaped them. Due to the stories of his footballing skills I’ve given it the title The Flying Winger. I hope as he rests  enjoys the peace he never had in life. 

The Flying Winger 

Forgotton by an uncaring society 

which neglected those with issues

it was harder in your day 

some will say you brought problems on yourself 

you always had troubles with health 

the youngest son in the family 

you were named after your dad

the most talented footballer of the brothers

my dad always said you would have been discovered 

if only the flying winger had been 

more of a team player 

 you had the flair

but were far too greedy on the ball 

you were the boy who wanted it all

and could have had it 

when the chance came to take that job in England 

you should have grabbed it 

but you chose to stay to provide for the family 

as with brothers and sisters all married

you wanted to help your mammy

as your dad had been lost to cancer 

it was her death that broke you 

unable to cope you left a well paid job 

the calling off of your engagement

was a bitter blow which proved too hard to handle 

you turned to alcohol for comfort 

but your friend became your master

and would eventually leave you with only one kidney 

and living rough on the streets

you died in the great eastern hotel

a place where our city kept its lost sons

the ones that some would call scum 

but you never that 

you were a kind man who made choices 

you believed to be right at the time 

you are part of me and your story deserves to be told 

I wish I had known you better 

maybe been able to help in some small way 

on the day of your funeral 

only my dad and my aunt Betty

said their goodbyes to their brother

and comforted by each other 

shed a tear for the flying winger. 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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The Longest Fortnight

As this weekend starts the period that was traditionally known as the Glasgow Fair Fortnight I thought I would write a poem about this late lamented part of Glasgow history the significance of which has become somewhat diluted since my teenage years of the late 1970’s due to the diverse nature of the post industrial nature of our economy and the greater flexibility and choice both of timing of holidays and potential destinations. As  I struggled to think of a suitable title for the poem I asked friends for some ideas and as usual on these occasions there were plenty of replies. Eventually , I decided that The Longest Fortnight suggested by fellow poet, and independence campaigner Shaun Moore best summed up the sentiments expressed in the piece which captures the  memory of a Glasgow which has slowly faded in to history. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Longest Fortnight

This was the day the factory gates closed early 
and  the shipyards and steelworks ceased production

as Glasgow shut down for the fair   

for many this meant a holiday by the sea

usually the Ayrshire coast or Blackpool 

If they could afford it 

budgets were a factor which couldn’t be  ignored 

of course I had dreams 

but living within our means 

was a lesson learned early 

looking back on my memories 

those days seem like yesterday

reality is the thief of time 

and time the burglar of years

now I realise the hopes and fears 

my parents had 

which adolescent me dismissed as sad 

were genuine to them 

but on this the first day of the workers break

I thought not of where we would go 

that was tomorrow’s concern 

I learned only of possible options 

in the Scotland of 1970’s 

and  knew boredom would drive me up the wall 

meanwhile my mother paced the hall 

wondering when my dad would come home from the pub 

and what state he’d been in on arrival 

looking back on my childhood memories

I realise the workers were celebrating their survival 

with their well earned break 

their work was hard work 

what my dad called a real job

where they were given a weekly wage 

for their eight or nine hour shifts

no wonder so many homes were rented 

people were conditioned to be content 

with what they were told they could afford 

our families accepted these attitudes

and showed gratitude by saving their  pennies

for what my mother would call rainy days

It was important she said to have some spare change 

for essentials and a few wee luxuries

the fair fortnight was an escape 

from the drudgery of their routine 

for the other 50 weeks year in year out 

when there were such things as jobs for life

where people worked from leaving school till retirement 

the ability to graft and learn on the job 

the main requirements for success

in the not so good old days 

so revered by those on nostalgia trips

eventually and usually a lot later than my mother liked

my dad would  come home mildly drunk 

with fish suppers in hand 

 a fair Friday tradition you understand 

on the day the factories closed 

and a city took a fortnightly break 

until one by one the jobs disappeared 

and the gates were closed 

for the final time 

and the last to leave switched off the lights. 

© Gayle Smith 2017

50 Years Since Lisbon 


50 years ago today I was a five year old child as the men in this photograph took the field for Glasgow Celtic in the European Cup Final in the heat of the Lisbon sun. 

They went in to the biggest game of their lives as underdogs against the mighty Inter Milan and it’s fair to say nobody gave them a chance of bringing the European Cup back to Glasgow.

To win this game according to many  more than a dream, after all better teams that Celtic had tried and failed to break Inter’s impregnable defence and when Inter scored from a Mazzola penalty after only 7 minutes it looked to some at least that the doomsayers may have been right. But undaunted Celtic kept attacking in the hope that an equaliser would come. However, when the referee blew for half time Celtic were still a goal down. Lesser teams would have buckled when they saw the half time scoreboard reading

Celtic 0 Inter Milan 1

This however was not a lesser team this was Glasgow Celtic

The second half started as the first had ended with Celtic on top on everything but the scoreboard. As they relentlessly pushed for an equaliser there was always a danger they could be caught by a sucker punch on the break but this team was not to be beaten and in the 62nd minute a pass from Jim Craig set up Tommy Gemmell whose shot from the edge of the box flew in to Inter net faster than a speeding bullet and as it did so, it changed not only the scoreboard but the game. With Inter’s resistance now broken, the Celtic players scented victory and from that moment on there was only going to be one winner as the scoreboard read 

Celtic 1 Inter Millan 1

As Celtic pressed forward it was only a matter of time before the winner came and come it did when Stevie Chalmers scored from inside the penalty box with five minutes remaining. Inter now were a beaten side and they knew it from then till the end of the game it was simply a matter of playing out time.

Finally  as the referee blew for full time, the fairytale became reality and the scoreboard told the story of the club’s most famous victory and and it’s greatest ever game as it said 

Final Score Celtic 2 Inter Millan 1

As club captain Billy McNeill lifted the trophy to show the travelling faithful it dawned on the world that  Celtic were champions of Europe and the team of local boys who defeated a team of superstars by playing them off the park had won the ultimate prize in European football and in doing so  had become the Lisbon Lions 

They will be forever immortal 

Hail Hail 

Till next time

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle XX 

Soundtrack 

On day 14 of NaPoWriMo My poem looks at the importance of music in creating memories and shaping who we are. I have given it the title Soundtrack I hope you enjoy the read. 
Soundtrack 

A musical journey through my teens 

when dreams were left unshared 

by girls like me 

with no-one to confide in 

closets were the hiding place 

where I found the personal space

to keep me safe 

the 70’s were not the time 

and Glasgow was not the place 

for those born in one gender 

to say they wanted to be another 

I had many fights with my mother 

on this and other issues 

where she wanted me to keep my opinions

to myself 

but I knew staying silent would not be good 

for my mental health 

anyway , I digress 

this was a night 

when I thought of party dresses,

I never got the chance to wear 

it was a time for shared memories 

for women of a certain age 

as Jackie the musical took to the stage 

 the theatre came alive 

a chorus of voices sang about Dancing On A Saturday Night 

whilst dreaming of puppy love with Donny 

the story of our lives

 told through the eyes of the leading character in the play 

my only criticism was that there were no Bay City Rollers songs 

to get the audience singing along 

not even shang -a lang 

the song that got me wishing 

I was kissing Les  McKeown 

behind the bikesheds 

in my school lunch break 

as teenage lust replaced all previous crushes 

from now on I wanted boys to hold me close 

kiss me in the back row of the movies

and be  the kind of boyfriend 

my parents wouldn’t approve of 

to me this show was more than just a night at the theatre 

many of the songs contained within it

were signposts on a journey 

the soundtrack of my life 

the songs that helped to make me 

the girl I was and the woman I’ve become 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Jewel Of The Clyde 

On day 11 of NaPoWriMo my topic of choice is culture as I look back to 1990 when Glasgow was European City Of Culture and look at the legacy this has left us. I’ve given it the title Jewel Of The Clyde. I hope you enjoy the read.  

Jewel Of The Clyde 
I remember it well 

  1990 

when Glasgow was cultural capital of Europe 

and we were told by our so called betters 

we were the Jewel of the Clyde 

this marketing slogan for the middle classes 

never sat well with ordinary lassies like me 

well not at the time 

though we eventually got used to it 

maybe even liked it 

we never got excited at the prospect the big ticket events 

not when the prices were at least a month’s rent 

we weren’t in to Pavarotti or Sinatra 

but a bit of Love and Money went down fine 

there were lines to be drawn 

between the Scotia Bar and the Tron 

my dad said 

though  I must admit I felt at home 

in both 

well one had ambience the other had heart 

less than a mile apart they symbolised the contrast 

between new and old Glasgow

the geography of conflict 

between socialism and gentrification 

where culture wars real and imagined 

began to be fought 

1990 showed the haves and have nots 

were warring tribes on the hunt  for new recruits 

aspiration and tradition the badges of honour 

claimed by opposing sides 

you could have one but not the other 

in the world according to my mother 

I wanted both and believed I could have them 

I was never wedded to the idea of class as identity 

my view that it was a bigger social construct than nation 

sat well with my radical dad 

but not my socially conservative mum 

who heard distant drums

 as a symbol of her white Protestant Britishness 

the togetherness unionists still bang on about 

even though its days are numbered 

2014 saw generational cultures colide 

but the Jewel of the Clyde voted yes 

to independence

and did it for MacLean and Jimmy Reid 

greed  has never been our way 

the big ticket events have their place 

but if 1990 showed us anything 

it was that our communities 

are what make us strong 

there were lots Glasgowing On 

to give us a sense of belonging 

and a sentimental longing for yesterday 

but times moved on 

and we found our voice

telling stories with authenticity and dignity 

 in plays in community halls 

and poetry nights in bars 

the ordinary people were the stars 

of the Glasgow show 

the roots we planted have grown 

we have flourished beyond recognition 

aspiration and tradition have married 

and the Jewel of the Clyde 

 is the voice they gave to their children. 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Ingredients 

On day 9 of NaPoWriMo My poem was inspired on enjoying a bowl of soup after church this morning.  In it I reflect on the fact that we are all made up of many parts, ingredients if you like and it is when these ingredients are blended together they are combined in to the recipes which makes us who we are. I’ve given this poem the title Ingredients I hope you enjoy the read. 

Ingredients

When it comes to the  recipe 

which was used in my creation 

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration

for me to claim 

I am a mixture of ingredients 

I am gabby wee Glaswegian 

who says things as I see them 

 I am a poet,  a thinker,

a coffee drinker who is concerned

about cash crops ,cash cows, and sustainability 

I try to use what abilities I have to help others 

I have discovered myself 

and I like who I am 

I tend not to plan 

but live in the moment 

savouring every experience 

life has to offer

I campaign for an independent Scotland 

not for wha’s like us shortbread and tartan 

my yes vote wasn’t born cheering the team at Hampden 

it was a product of the schemes 

Tory governments destroyed 

I get annoyed with those won’t take a stand against poverty 

because they are doing alright 

fairness is everyone’s fight 

I won’t write poetry on nice safe subjects 

nor do it for family occasions

Hallmark do celebrations so much better 

I have a poetic agenda and yes it is political 

some would say overtly so 

but I have always believed 

as you sow so shall you reap 

I weep tears of anger at the not so great unthinking 

who think that acting tough 

in front of their drinking companions 

gives them credibility 

it doesn’t it just makes them look thick 

diplomacy is not one of my skills 

honesty however night be 

whether they  like or not 

I will enlighten them 

by shattering their fragile sense of self 

if that is what it  takes

I will use humour to break them 

if they even dare to start 

their sexist , racist, misogynistic, or transphobic crap 

believe me this would not be a smart move 

I am a fighter who knows

 what tactics to use and when to use them 

that said, I have a kind heart 

for those who really  matter 

I’m not attracted to patter merchants 

who think they can talk me in to bed 

when I like someone intellect 

rather than my hormones 

will make the decision 

ambition is my biggest turn on 

I want someone who smart and successful 

confident in themselves and in  others 

as I said I have discovered myself

and I like who I am 

more importantly I like the ingredients that make me 

and gave me the recipe for success 

© Gayle Smith 2017  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Robin. 

See you somewhere else. 
Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X