Tag Archive | Ireland

The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

the locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using lsnguage and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Marching Backwards

Hey Readers

It is my considered opinion that there is something very wrong with politics in democratic nations. With regards to the UK, there has been a disturbing rise in the number of racially motivated attacks in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and there have also been a significant increase in transphobic and disability related hate crimes.

Whilst not everyone who voted to leave the European Union is a racist and many decent and honourable socialists voted to leave for a completely different set of reasons but there can be no denying that post Brexit Britain has unleashed a very unhealthy strain of right wing British Nationalism which if unchecked could see Britain more divided than at any time since the 1930’s.

As a supporter of Scottish independence some people might say this should please me but those who make such wild assumptions do not know me and will never know me. I may be a member
of the Scottish National Party but I was raised an internationalist and I will hopefully many years from now die an internationalist. So believe me when I say I take no pleasure in watching this horror story unravel and the recent victory of Donald Trump will I fear drive this right wing agenda still further. It is with this division and politics of fear clear in my mind I have written this poem entitled Marching Backwards I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read.

Marching Backwards

Good morning Britain

I am now going give you a wake up call

ignore it and one day you will be

welcome to the UKKK

an insular xenophobic
small minded island

led by a right wing authoritarian regime

where a very privileged few
will fan the flames of fear

Who needs the facts when you have cheerleaders

like the BBC and 90 per cent of broadcast media.

If we try to find the truth they’ll ban the internet especially Wikipedia

they may deprive us of our human rights

but they’ll do it under the guise

of keeping us safe at nights

whilst numbing our minds

by remote control

EastEnders and Coronation Street

are light family viewing

not manna for the soul

but this is their strategy

they want you to talk about some fictional characters

having problems with their sexuality

this will prove how liberal you are

to friends and neighbours in your street

and your drinking companions at the bar

providing nobody like that lives next door to you

that would to be too much to handle

in this new fantasy land

where the only scandal is getting caught with your morals down

It just isn’t right and all those Muslims and other foreigners

frighten granny’s in Gloucester,

though she won’t say that when visiting her Syrian doctor

or her Bosnian care worker

In this land of strivers and shirkers

her Polish bank manager is always so nice and eager to help

but in this gray unpleasant land

she and her fellow Brits tell anyone willing to listen

this is their United Kingdom

so everyone else has to look , think , speak like them

they see 10 Downing Street
as the epicentre of civilisation

believing that Jesus once walked in their nation

claiming foreign fields as forever English

forgetting or dismissing that Scotland Wales and at least a small part of Ireland

are still for the moment form part of the United Kingdom

they talk about only when it suits

meanwhile as union flags, flutes and Nazi salutes

are dismissed as harmless fun

tabloid Tories like The Sun, The Mail, and Daily Express

make me proud I voted yes in the independence referendum

and if they think I’ll by led like sheep to Armageddon

they must be living in an alternative reality

televised trivialities will not stop me

 pursuing my vision of a better world

where inclusion and attainment are not dirty words

and aspiration is viewed as normal

not dependent on a formal by which I mean private education

we must remove walls not build them

to keep others out

this isn’t what progress is about

nor is it about labelling, demonising, or stereotyping

to provide the few with silver linings

at the expense of everyone else

this mind thyself attitude

which puts Britain first

is the refuge of the cursed

the curse which if ignored

could see the wolf enter through the back door

and wreck havoc if unchecked

this is supposed to be
a nation of fairness and respect

where all lives matter

but the shaven heads who hold their flags

and chant Rule Britannia

don’t agree

these poster boys for the BNP
Britain First

and others on that side of the political spectrum

are the kind of Brits who don’t contest elections

this type of subject has no time

for anything as complex as choice

only wanting one nation one voice, one race

the world will be a safer place
they claim

point the finger of what they see as shame

at any group they don’t like

disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

people of different ethnicities

these people are not truly British

according to their way of thinking

as the sinking ship austerity

brings their ideas into the mainstream

if this poem doesn’t make uncomfortable reading

we have not learned the lessons of history

and will be condemned to repeat its mistakes

by marching backwards to the right.

@ Gayle Smith 2016.

Playing The Game

Hey Readers

In my second poem in my series of the Homeless World Cup I look back on chats I had with players from many nations on the pride they had in playing for their country. Now as I relax at home in the still of an autumn evening I only hope their countries are treating them with the same respect and they will gain a better life having worn their national colours than they did before they were honoured. I have given it the title Playing The Game I hope you enjoy the read.

Playing The Game

As I mixed and mingled with players of all nations
Poles, Romanians, Irish, Norwegians
in the gentle heat of a Glaswegian summer
I discovered their ambitions and dreams
they knew the value of being part of a team
the friendship the sense of belonging
the pride in the jersey
and more importantly in themselves
I hope they’ve kept the belief they had for that week in July
when playing the game brought smiles from the faces of strangers
I pray they are safe from danger
have been given opportunities
valued as part of their communities
in the countries whose colours they wore with pride
I hope they were kept onside
with no flag happy uncivil servants to stop them
and their goals were allowed to stand

Two of the team from Team Romania
image

@ Gayle Smith 2016

Midnight Lullaby

Hey Readers This is my first poem of 2016 and it’s written in tribute to my grandmother Jessie MacDonald Robertson Russell who died on this day 6th of January 1982 aged 90
34 years have come and gone since the frosty morning she went to sleep for the last time and her Tam the Granda I never met came to take her hame. My gran who was 70 before I was born was mu karaoke probably have you back the one they won’t complain swapping Just Dance India Dance with driver lateremigrantas foxtail but not his last you know I’ve been married when he married ch more than just a gran to me, she was also a teacher of family history and the value of Celtic by which I mean Scottish and Irish culture stressing their importance in our identity. A principled woman with strong political opinions she hated unionism with a passion something her granddaughter has and I am proud to say this inherited from her and in many ways she was my earliest political mentor. You would however be very much mistaken if you believed her independence was about flags and banners. They she said will try to be belittle us but that’s because they hold the power and gain great personal influence by doing so and they will do whatever they have to keep that power at all costs. They fear fairness and redistribution of wealth and land she once told me I know now the truth in the wisdom of her words. I think of my gran every day particularly when I see unfairness or inequality of any kind. I know she would be proud that I continue to fight for her vision of a fairer society and indeed a fairer world where everyone gets the chance to be the best we can be She would I am certain have demanded nothing less.
I have titled this poem Midnight Lullaby I hope you enjoy the read.

Midnight Lullaby

On a cold winters day
the angels came
to take you on your final journey
90 years had come and gone
since you arrived
a child of the late Victorian years
a baby whose mother never heard her tears
my great granny Robertson died
bringing you in to the world
my granda’s first child but not his last
14 sisters and brothers
would arrive later
when he married again
to a cold hearted woman
an orange cruella de vile
who treated you badly
I understood your hatred
for her loyal order
her attitudes would mould
a child of the kirk
Into a hard-line Republican
Independence and nothing less
for Scotland and for Ireland
by whatever means we must
was you said the only acceptable solution
you would hear no talk of devolution
you sneered at their walk
calling them nothing but Ill educated drunks
taught me the songs of freedom
they would never know
told me stories of Red Clydeside
and your friend MacLean
to fight till we were a nation once again
taught me not to be compliant
but to complain if things were not to my satisfaction
action speaks louder than words
you would remind me
when telling me the family history
your principles and dignity
were and remain the benchmark for my life
a loving wife you and Tam
brought five children in to the world
your youngest being my mother
I remember her hurting
on the day the angels came
to take you hame to Tam
though she had to be strong
for her big brother
Dan always was soft hearted
and couldn’t cope with the emotional stuff.
even though as a Scots guardsman
he had witnessed death at first hand
as a young man during world war 2
the thought of not seeing you
his beloved mum
caused his heart to break
we all felt the loss
but I dealt with it better than most
because of what you told me
to do
look to the stars you said
and when you see
the one that hears
the songs of the heart
you’ll know I’ll be watching you
and singing a midnight lullaby.

@ Gayle Smith 2016.

Cargo

Hey everyone. This poem was inspired by an article I read on the internet about The Irish as the forgotten white slaves in the colonies of the so-called greatest empire in recent history. Is this the kind of behaviour that would make me proud to be British? No there is not enough money on earth which could make me proud to be British unlike James the Sixth was bought and sold for English gold long before Burns ever wrote Parcel O Rogues. What it does do however is make me even more proud of my Irish-Scots heritage if such a thing were possible. I haven’t held back in this poem I know who my targets are both past and present and let’s just say I haven’t missed. I have titled the poem Cargo I hope you find a challenging and thought provoking read.

Cargo.

Sold,
they were human cargo transported thousands of miles from the land of their birth
to imperial colonies
in poverty.
they were tied in bondage to plantation owners.
an act of brutally
in the name of the king
the traitor James the sixth
or as I say it Jamie the saxt
a man who called himself
a christian
a man who united kingdoms
but lacked the fibre
to feicht fur his ain
Not that he could complain
this fawning little sycophant had his every need met
lest we forget the terror
of the Ulster plantations
sowing seeds of hate in a nation
then there was the reckless abandonment
o his ain kin
you wouldn’t know where to begin with this scunner
let’s start with the mass murder
inflicted on Erin’s green field
the selling of those who refused to yield
to his one Britain agenda
to colonial masters
those who would carry out his dirty work
do his bidding
tak the kings shilling
some call them patriots
I call them chancers or worse
the first North-Brits who worked with England
rather than defend their honour
unworthy of the title Scots
like so many who have followed since
begging to the crown
for traitors wages
ego demanded greater stages
than they thoucht Scotland could provide
they can run but they can’t hide
no ermine can cover their shame
they must accept part of the blame
for this shameful human trafficking
slavery didn’t just happen to the Africans
It happened to the Irish before them
this is not well known
It is ignored not spoken about
in polite circles
It is not nice therefore it cannot be said
many were dead before they the reached the colonies
prisoners of deliberate cultural poverty
by this vicious vindictive regime
When I hear God Save The Queen
I think of our last real monarch
Mary Queen of Scots
I am comforted in the faith
that the prophesy will hold true
we will take the blood of the butchers apron
remove it from our bonnie blue banner
and what came wi a lass will gang wi anither
then when freedom’s bell chimes we must say sorry for the crimes committed in the name of our people
an apology is owed for the unspeakable evils
carried out on our family in Ireland
for the murder o celtic kin
who were used as cargo
to be servants in the colonies
while courtiers slaves by any other name
dined in palaces
wi Jamie and the deil

@ Gayle Smith 2015

The Day Of The Rainbow Rising Put Me In The Mood For Dancing

Hey everyone  Yesterday was a great day and I was to paraphrase a song from my youth in the mood for dancing. This had nothing to do with The Nolans or the fact that I backed Sweden to win the Eurovision song contest though it does have something to do with The Nolans country of origin.

Unless you have just arrived on earth from the people’s republic of Jupiter in which case  may  I offer you earthly greetings and salutations you will probably know that the Nolans hail from Ireland. This small country on the edges of northern Europe has often been much maligned particularly by opponents of Scottish Independence who seem to take great delight in mocking the achievements of small nations. Indeed those of us who campaigned for a yes vote in last September’s rerferendum were often told by opponents more interested in ermine than equality  that should vote to place their union in peril we would be as poor and uncultured as Ireland. Not only that, they then claimed we would have to do without the world class BBC.  

The fact the Ireland as a land of playwrights, poets, and musicians has a reputation for punching above its weight and which a Scotland restricted  within the social and cultural pereametres of a union which refuses to listen to their needs will never come close to emulating matters not to these people. Well why let the truth get in the way of a good story.   

This weekend however the story is set in the country they have often mocked as being backward  and less sophisicated than ‘their’ United Kingdom and the story is going global and making headlines all over the world.

It is a story with two themes which like interwoven threads in a quilt or a tapestry cannot be unconnected. The themes are equality and trust in the people’s ability to make good decisions based on informed choices. You see on Friday the people of Ireland were asked by their government to decide by public vote whether or not the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender population of their country should be allowed have equality in marriage with their heterosexual countrymen and women. This was the government said far too important an issue to be left to the will of polliticans.  

To understand why this was the case one needs to understand that Ireland’s constitution requires that any major change to the constitution be subject to the will not of the parliament but the people.  

In a country where religion has always had an important place, the result was expected to be close. The no campaign had the clergy behind it and this may explain its popularity among older voters but in the end Ireland took the boldest step of any nation on earth and became the first country in the world to approve marraige equality by public vote. Addressing the country after the result of the vote Irish Premier Enda Kenny said that with this result ‘a small country had made a big statement on equality’.

As  a transwoman of Irish-Scots heritage I watched the result with interest and was immensely proud that the people had not only spoken they had spoken decisively for a fairer more inclusive land where embracing change would be seen as the best way forward. Let it be said and said with pride the people of Ireland are not afraid to take chances, indeed if truth be told, I think you will find the reserve is true.

In 1916, the people of Ireland took a chance on declaring their Independence from what was at that time the biggest empire of the modern era. Though many of their leaders were tried and executed for treason a crime of which in my opinion no freedom fighter can ever be found guilty. The longer term vision of independence would be won as the deaths of those heroes had sown the seeds of nationhood.

Now as we near the end of May 2015 it is almost a century on from that Easter rising but the battle fought and won this weekend was no less important. In fact in many ways it was even more so. You see this was a fight not for a nation that victory had already been secured, this was a fight for fairness within that nation this was a fight for equality and when we look back on this historic result we will realise the importance of the rainbow rising in shaping the new dawn for her people and why it put me in the mood for dancing.

Love And Best Wishes.   Gayle X

 

Tartan Tights 2014 My Year On The Blog

Hey everyone As it’s the first Monday of the new year it is I think time look to forward but to do that, there are occasions when we have to look back and in this post I want to take a look back at how WordPress saw tartantights in 2014.

I start by saying that my site was visited over 13,000 times during the last year This according to wordpress is enough to fill the Sydney Opera House which has a capacity of 2,700 for five sell out performances or if your Scottish like me, it is the equivalent of one Nicola Sturgeon tour show at the Glasgow Hydro.

So where did they come from? and who the devil are these people who read my thoughts rants and musings? Well I will attempt to answer these questions in reverse order. As for who reads my posts or indeed my occasional pages many of them are known to me as residents as facebook and twitter communities and indeed personally through my involvement in poetry, traditional music, and political communities. There are also fellow bloggers I have got to know through this wonderful if sometimes dark art.

As for where my readers came from well it is no great surprise to say that the vast majority were from Scotland. And though the United Kingdom is officially listed as the top country for visitors to tartantights, we are or at least so we are told part of a family of four nations or my opinion three nations and one occupied and partitioned province. However if we play along with the idea of it being four nations it is I think fair to say that of the four Scotland would be expected to come out on top and would probably do so by a considerable distance. As for the more global picture, the traffic came from 81 countries in total and apart from the UK most of it came from the United States, Ireland, Australia and Canada

As you may have noticed all of these nations are predominately English speaking, this is I believe very handy as my musings tend to be articulated in a very Scottish, very Glaswegian working class style and those who only understand a formal style of English which my former
boss would often refer to as the Queen’s English may not fully benefit from my words of wisdom. Having said that however I must admit to being slightly surprised that I got more views from readers in France than I did from English speaking New Zealand and that Italy, India and Brazil were amongst many nations where I received more traffic than I did from South Africa

Next I move on to my top posts for the year just ended and it is I think no great surprise to anyone least of all me that living in Scotland and being an avid supporter of the yes campaign for my country’s independence my top five posts were all in some way related to the Scottish Independence referendum. This I suppose only to be expected, indeed my top post for the year
Tales From The Fantasy Factory ( A Revisionist History Of Scotland) which was written on the 2nd of April helped me to set a new record for blog traffic the following day when 278 visitors came to tartantights. The second most popular post was Alex Salmond A Personal Appraisal which was written as my personal tribute to our former First Minister on the Monday following his resignation after losing the Independence referendum. This was followed by Invitation To A Better Land which was my personal and poetic reply to a letter I received and have got from a young Better Together supporter who was campaigning for women to vote no and remain within the United Kingdom. This was the only poem to make the top five.

The other two posts to their places in this group were See This Referendum It’s All About Alex Why Salmond Matters And Why Unionists Hate Him and the last of this selection Freedom’s Flame Burns For One Of The Good Guys Who Will Never Be Yesterday’s Man came in response to the Burning of an effigy of Alex Salmond by some Tories in the home counties of South East England. Apparently this was and I have it good authority not meant as an insult indeed quite possibly the reverse as those who selected Mr Salmond will lampoon another political leader or celebrity next year. I await with interest to see if the BBC and other media outlets report it with quite the same glee. If they do then that’s fine, if they don’t then it’s racism.
Though these were most widely read posts none of them received any comments and indeed my most commented posts was written in the aftermath of the unionist victory in our referendum on the morning after of their less socially enlightened supporters disgraced the cause they were supposed to believe in by ransacking Glasgow city centre and taunting yes supporters with Nazi salutes and the Anti-Irish Famine Song. The post was entitled This Isn’t A Land Of Hope And Glory It’s The Land Of The Union Jack Boot. Yes believe me I was in no mood to be gentle with my unionist opponents after the referendum and was looking to find their weaknesses in any way shape or form and pounce on every mistake I knew they were going to make. Fortunately with this lot having more donkeys than you would ever find at Blackpool Beach I didn’t have to wait very long before the first of many gifts started to arrive and this gift just keeps on giving. So with the referendum settled some people may have wondered what direction my blog would take in the new post referendum Scotland. The great thing was however that there are plenty of topical issues to discuss and this being the case it is I think safe to say I will have opinions on those issues. With both traffic and comments at a record high I think you could say I’ve had a very good year at tartantights and I hope that trend continues throughout the coming year.

With regards to consistency of posts my longest streak for posting on successive days was a ten day period between July 20th to 29th. This was at a time when the city was buzzing with the Merchant City Festival and The Commonwealth Games and I look through the posts I wrote at that time I have to say it does a show a blogger at her most diverse covering as it does posts on gender stereotypes, the commonwealth games, some new poetry, and an event to celebrate the new Glasgow poet laureate. Diversity it seems really is the spice of life.

Being reasonably at home with technology I find the best way to publicise tartantights is through facebook and twitter and in March 2014 I started a facebook page for the blog which so far has 62 likes and will I am sure continue to grow in the year ahead. My thanks go to everyone who has given a like so far and I will maintain it on an even more regular basis this year. Unlike last year there will be no summer breaks which stretch in to autumn. In my defence however I do have to say that last year was the first year of the page and there were exceptional circumstances in Scotland which will not apply this year.

Bearing in mind the fact that I have almost doubled my traffic since this post last year and quadrupling it since my first in 2012, It is think appropriate to name some people who have supported my blog during the last 12 hectic months. These include Graham Stewart of Political Tourist my most regular contributor in the last year Anne Kennedy aka Big Anne, Oneironaut, Lisa Marie Ferla who writes brilliantly under the title Last Year’s Girl and Annabel Marsh as they were my most regular contributors. Other commentators who were also not short of an opinion or two include the very talented John McGlade, the inspirational Maggie McCabe, the fearless Kirsty Lowndes, the ebullient force of nature that is was and ever shall be Bob Leslie, and the ever chatty and ever article voice of reason Heather Caldwell.

Also I must thank Alastair Gordon Rennie, Andy Fleming, Audrey Marshall, Caron Lindsay, Caron Lindsay, Chris Stephens. David MacGille-Mhuir, Gerry Diamond, Jim Monaghan, Stephen Watt, and Steve Allan for comments on posts and sharing them on facebook and twitter. I also add the names of my first guest columnist Iain Lawson, Paul Kavanagh at weegingerdug for asking me to write my first ever guest post and the brilliant Jenni Pascoe who has agreed to be my first regular contributor. So as you can see it has been a busy year on the blog and I hope that the coming year will be as busy as thought provoking, as stimulating and challenging as the last one and I for one don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be the case.

As this post draws to a close all that’s left for me to say is that hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read on tartantights in 2014 and will continue to read my thoughts and ramblings be they poetic or political in the coming twelve months.

I wish you and all those who matter to you a happy, interesting eventful, and enjoyable new year.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X