Tag Archive | Jim Ewing

It’s Not The Gifts Beneath The Tree Which Bring You Christmas Cheer It’s Moments Of Mistletoe Madness When We Learn The Truth About Snow 

As we get ready to welcome in the Words And Music bells in the usual creative but chaotic  fashion these nights demand of us it’s time to look back on a Christmas Cracker which have all three E’s I would expect of these occasions it was eventful, enjoyable, and entertaining. 

As is always the case I kicked off the night bang on 8 o’ clock and I started with a couple of newly written festive or should that be festival themed poems.  I opened the night with a short Christmas poem titled Beneath The Tree in which I hope I captured the spirit of Christmas and the dreams, hopes, and expectations of the season. I followed this with a poem on the event which is without doubt my favourite musical highlight in the run up to Christmas and that and those who know me well will not surprised by this is the Scottish Traditional Music Awards also know as Na Trads. The poem titled Runrig For Milenials was inspired by my flatmate Janette who shall we say is not quite as well versed in the traditional music scene as I am and on seeing the bilingual band Tidelines said that they were the world’s first gaelic boyband. This gave me the idea for the poem and when I jokingly said they could be the new Runrig. I had no choice but to write it and Runrig For Milenials seemed like the only natural choice for the title. 

Having debued two new poems and got the night started in the usual manner it was now time to hand over the night to the billed performers and first up was a long standing friend of both myself and Words And Music and Steve Allan. On this occasion Steve shared two of his classic pieces starting with his excellent and thought provoking poem Anti-Clockwise before moving on to his hilarious story Bear Necessities. 

Steve was followed to the stage by debut girl Eileen Ellis whose excellent modern day take on the Christmas story Bridie And The Evil Warlock was a wonderfully heartwarming way to show her talent to a new and appreciative audience who I’m sure will see a lot more of her in the months and years to come. 

 Jim Ewing was next to take the stage and in a short but  enjoyable set he read Four Weeks In Advent and a told a joke about the Christmas Grinch .

As Jim went back to his seat I was reminded that it is Christmas brings families together and that includes poetry families so it was a lovely surprise to welcome my prodigal fierce big sister Lesley Traynor back in to the fold.  On taking the stage Lesley performed two poems Autumn Is A Good Month On Which To Float On Trees and Scones which she wrote on the Greenock poet W S Graham. 

As the prodigal sister exited stage left it was time to welcome Susan McKinestry to her first ever Christmas Cracker. After a few months of persuasion Susan finally made her debut in March this year and has become a club regular in the last few months with her hard hitting style of social commentaries becoming her trademark style for a performer who says it as she sees it.  Like many of the performers on the night Susan decided not to go down the seasonal route and instead performed two pieces Good News and Hey Listen which were more in keeping with her topical style. 

At the end of a thought provoking set, one Susan was replaced by another and  it was the turn of seasoned regular Susan Milligan to make her contribution to our cracker and she did it in the style she’s made her own with two poems a song. Susan started her set with In Ma Ain Wee Way and in it told the story of how she celebrates Christmas with her cats.  This was followed by Tinsil in which she had a gentle dig at the commercialisation of the festive season before finishing with a song entitled I’d Rather Be A Pauper Than In Debt and you know now that we’ve reached January I’m sure there are many families thinking it would be nice Susan if only we’d the choice. 

After Susan’s entertaining set I welcomed our very own Christmas Robin and the Robin in question was of course the maestro himself Robin Cairns. In this set Robin performed two poems the first of which Easy Tiger has the theme of compassion. This is a value which  fits in to the Christmas story as in it he narrates the story a young lad who had one mistake and why he cut him some slack when others of a more judgemental ilk wouldn’t have done so. Robin followed this with Socks a light hearted poem on what every man gets for Christmas when people can’t think of what else to buy them and I have to admit it got more than a few laughs from the assembled gathering. 

As Robin ended his contribution for the cracker and indeed the year it was time for Scotland’s best loved editor Alan MacGlas to take us to the bar break in his unique style and he did it by performing his enthralling piece Quarter Days in which he tells the story of people paying their debts to society. On that cheerful note it was time to conclude the events of an excellent first half of the night and look forward to fantastic featured acts. As I enjoyed catch up’s with old friends and new it was with anticipation I waited for the start of the second half 

As I brought the break to an end it was time to reveal what message I had found in the first of my Christmas crackers and that message was the name of our featured writer. Honestly I was gobsmacked at this revelation especially since this year the crackers had been put together not by Santa but by his assistant Buddy The Elf and Buddy you did an excellent job when you found me Karen Jones to step in to Christmas and on to the stage as featured writer for the Christmas Cracker of 2017. 

Karen for those of you who don’t know and have just arrived back from a parallel universe is a story teller of supreme quality and I was delighted to have a woman of her talents to lead us in to Christmas and beyond and eagerly anticipated a brilliant set which is exactly what I got from a performer of real star quality. 

Karen (pictured below) started her set with Clairvoyant a story about a boy who is best pals with his cousin and there close bond leads them to think they can read each other’s minds. This is anyone who has had such close bond will know is often a recipe for chaos, calamity and confusion but hey that’s entertainment and this highly entertaining story got Karen’s set off to the perfect start. 

Picture (1) Featured Writer Karen Jones leaves the audience spellbound with her storytelling magic at the Words And Music Christmas Cracker. 

In her next story Karen takes us back to her teenage years and the world before the days of the social media. In those days which were also my teenage years we had to resort to the magic art of letter writing and Karen captures this beautifully in her story The Truth About Snow where she recalls her distant relationship with her Japanese pen pal as she had wanted to write to someone from a more as she thought glamourous nation.  I confess here and now that had I been in Karen’s shoes I would have had exactly the same reaction. Disapointed that her pen pal only wanted to learn the truth about snow Karen longed for what she might have considered a proper pen pal with whom she could share teenage talk on music, boys and sex. Well it was and is perfectly natural to want to talk about these things I remember having these interests myself and if you substitute boys for men I still do. However there is a moral to this story which is to be careful what you wish for , as when  Karen finally got a Swedish pen pal she discovered more about real boys and real sex than she did when our 1970’s school teachers tried to give us that embarrassing facts of life chat that the school insisted they must and looking back at the end of a lovely trip down Karen concluded that she wished had made more of an effort to be kinder to her pen friend and wished she had told her the truth about snow. 

In typical Scottish style our storytelling sensation moved us with effortless ease from friendship to sectarianism when she detailed the challenges of working in her grandparents shop in the largely Celtic supporting Gorbals area of Glasgow  during the orange marching season. The story titled How Smiles Shine In Darkness which has since been published in The Nottingham Review shows the lengths people including me will go to in order to avoid this annual scar on a Glasgow summer. I loved the idea of the narrator’s grandparents bringing down the jukebox to drown out the tunes of hate. 

From sectarianism we journey to feminism and in Flipped, Karen relates the story of a woman who decides to stop domestic duties and fulfil her duty to herself and that was to be happy. This is a story which for very personal reasons I can strongly identify with and I have to admit listening to it was an empowering and liberating experience for me. 

Karen then went on to Grief For Beginners which is about a mine at a funeral and The Girl She Never Was which relates the story of a homeless girl in the railway station and the way society reacts to both her and her problems before finishing a wonderful 20 minutes with the heartwrenching story When Nobody’s Looking. This story narrated from the point of view of a child tells of an old woman who the child believes is dying but nobody listens to her believing that the child is exaggerating and the old woman should be left alone to enjoy her privacy. Unfortunately for the adults the child was proven right and the old woman slipped away when no-one was looking.  To me this story sums up the cultural attutude both in Scotland and the UK in this current climate. We have as the child in this  story moved away from caring for others to being a nation of individuals where everyone looks after number one and shuts the door on the rest of the world.  As this well told tale clearly illustrates we’ve created a country where nobody talks to anybody anymore.  This is bourne out by the fact in a recent survey 1 in 10 older people speak to someone less than once a week. This was a brilliant story on a really challenging topic and the perfect way to end an enjoyable and thought provoking set. 

As our fetured writer departed the stage it was time for our featured musican to entertain us and as I opened the second Christmas cracker this morning I knew that Buddy had been a very wise elf when he selected Bernadette Collier to perform this task. 

Needless to say Bernadette rose to the ocassion as I knew she would and performed six songs which not only showed the range of her repertoire but also won many new fans including some of the snooker players who stopped playing just to give her a listen. 

Bernadette (pictured below) started her set with A Proper Gardiner before moving on to the more up tempo Asking Us To Dance. This was followed by Travelling Soldier,  and My Old Friend The Blues, before concluding a fantastic set with   what 80’s comedian turned author Ben Elton would describe as a little bit of comedy with The Quine Who Did The Strip At Invarary and finishing up a real feel good 20 minutes with The Yorkshire Couple about a more mature couple who were at it like rabbits but not with each other. This was a brilliant way to end our featured slots for the year and I know we’ll get more great featured acts throughout 2018 and beyond. 

Picture (2) Our featured musican Bernadette Collier won a number of new fans with a wonderful set at the Words And Music Christmas Cracker.

Having had both our headline acts show exactly why I booked them and with nobody else left to perform it was left to me bring both the night and the year to a close and send us all in to what I hoped would be a funfilled Christmas poetry season with my final set of the year. I started with two new Christmas poems before finishing up the year with an old familiar favourite which hints at a wee bit of mischief which may have taken place. In my first poem Christmas Cheer which was inspired by the positive faith led actions of my friend Samantha Naidoo  I relate the tale of how the homeless are or at least appear to be locked out of our homes and our hearts on Christmas Day as we comfort ourselves with that seasonal combination of a  turkey dinner  and the Strictly Christmas Special.  

Moving on to my next poem A Good Result I show my faith at a more personal level by taking a light hearted look at the Christmas Fayre  which was held at my local church. This being my penultimate poem of the year I wanted to show a personal side to my work and how proud I am of a church which is rooted in our local community and I hope I did so with a touch of both reverance and humour. 

For my final poem I reverted to one of my Christmas classic and performed Stocking Thrillers. This poem tells the tragic tale of what happened when a girl sought the chance to spice up her love life by the misseltoe in a very unusual location. The result was chaos confusion and calamity at the end of which her boyfriend claims that this year’s present will be of a very different nature. 

And so it was over and another year of Words And Music goes in to the history books and becomes  part of the folklore of the event. As I look back on the last 12 months I see a year in which we have settled in to our new surroubdings and the made the Tin Hut home in the same way Sammy’s was for so many of us. It is with that thought that we head in 2018 in optimistic heart remembering that It’s Not The Gifts Beneath The Tree Which Bring You Christmas Cheer It’s Moments Of Mistletoe Madness When We Learn The Truth About Snow 

Till next time

Gayle X

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When A Jumped Up Proletarian Meets A Rock Chick From Devil Gate Drive We’ll All Find A Space For Reflections When Dreams Come Hame To Bide 

Before I could focus on our traditional Christmas Cracker (It happened last night and the story will be told later) I firstly had look back on the events of a November which showed in many ways what the real spirit of a Words And Music night is all about. This was a night that had a little bit of everything. It was both entertaining and thought provoking with equal measures of humour and the sensible stuff thrown in to create a winning recipe for an enjoyable evening of entertainment as only we know how.

Being November there were nods, as expected to Halloween, Bonfire Night, and the upcoming Remembrance commemorations in the work of some performers and it was with remembrance very much on my mind that I kicked off the night with a written by the man who introduced me to Words And Music the one and only Jim Craig. 

Jim as some of you will no doubt know was a former serving soldier in the second battalion the parachute regiment and on release this fiercely proud Scot wrote some of the anti war poetry I have ever heard. So it was in memory of one of the true Words And Music legends I started the night with his poem  The Last Post which he wrote in the form of a soldier’s letter to his mother.

Having kicked off the night in my usual fashion I called Angie Strachan to be the first of the billed readers to bring fireworks to  the Words And Music stage and believe me she didn’t disappoint. Angie kicked off her set with Shakespeare’s Sonnet Number 8 in Scots, before moving on to the brilliantly titled To all the pyjamas I’ve loved before. Weans, Dear BBC Weather, which was both topical and hilliarous and concluding a wonderful set with Negativity Bias which privided a very witty insight as to how people with mental health issues can often fear the worst in many different situations. This was a cracking way to end an amazing set which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who heard it.

As Angie went back to her seat it was the turn of Steve Allan to entertain the company and this month he did so by reminding us that train journies can be both stressful and hazardous especially when we have no control over who sits beside us. In his story entitled Reflections Steve recalled a particularly troublesome journey when his peace and quiet was interrupted by two pasengers who insisted boring the life out of him with every little detail of their day and relentlessly slaughtered a colleague who it is safe to say wasn’t within listening distance of their conversation. By the end of his journey Steve had not only been traumatised to within an inch of his sanity he had also reached the conclusion that the college these two fools were demonising was probably a really decent guy. It is my opinion that a story is only as good the writer who brings it to life and Steve Allen brought this story to live so vividly I actually believed I was on the journey with him. 

After two performers who are both well known faces to the gathering it was time to welcome a newcomer to make his debut on the Words and Music stage. I first met Ronan Doran at those fabulous Blue Chair Wednesday nights which were for so long a part of my life throughout 2015 and 20216 and it’s no secret I’ve wanted him to come to this event so naturally I was delighted to see him take up his invitation and make his long awaited debut and follow in the footsteps of fellow Blue Chair family such as Kirsty Nicholson, A R Crow , Molly McLachlan, and Caitlin Buchanan who made one of the outstanding debuts I have ever seen from a featured musican in all my years at Words And Music 

On an evening when he could got away with doing more than he did Ronan performed only one song Roll On Yesterday which he told us was about a trip to the East Antrim coast. I must admit I’ve always enjoyed Ronan’s relaxed style of delivery and after this brief glimpse in to his repitoire I’m sure he’ll have gained a few new fans and we’ll see a lot more often in the months and years to come. 

Next up was Susan Milligan who read two very thought provoking pieces Modern Gods which was amusing and at times cutting take on the topic of celebrity culture and What Will It Take which looked at the state of the world as we know it as she pondered what will it take to bring the changes she wants to see as a legacy for her nieces and nephews. As tradition dictates Susan ended what I consider to be her best set yet with a song which in this case was Blue Moon and provided a fitting climax to a top quality performance in both content and delivery.  

Next up to the stage was one of the best poets and performers in Scotland as the Tin Hut welcomed home one of our own as Robin Cairns made the stage his own as only he can. In an excellent performance the maestro delivered two of his most recent poems, The Coppernosed Stone which he recalled the events of his youth in Clydebank and The House I Grew Up In which is a brilliant poem on how the imagination can play with tricks with memory 

As Robin rejoined the company it was Susan McKinestry who was the unluckiest performer of the night. Well someone has to follow Robin and on this occasion it was her. If she was bothered about it certainly didn’t show in a performance which showed just how much she has settled in to the Words and Music since first gracing our stage earlier in the year. On this occasion Susan read two pieces Tall and Short and The Key which followed in her tradition of biting and hard hitting social commentary on the impact of austerity and attitudinal prejudices on those soceiety considers to be weak and vulnerable. Make no mistake this is a quality writer and commentator who gives a much needed voice to those marginalised by the rich and powerful. It is a voice I look forward to hearing a lot more of in 2018 and beyond. 

As Susan went back to her table Jim Ewing started his set with a Halloween Haiku before moving on to the story of a Gorbals ghost story with which he enthralls audiences every time he shares it I refer of course spookily amazing tale of The Man With The Iron Teeth. This enjoyable tale of ghastly and indeed ghostly goings on in the south side of Glasgow was followed by a reminder of the sacrifices made in the two World Wars in Jim’s Remembrance poem Remember What You Will in he stresses the importance of remembrance in what is in my opinion my favourite poem on the topic due to it’s raw power and sincerely expressed emotions. 

At the end of Jim’s set it was my great pleasure to welcome Pete Faulkner back to the stage for the first time since August and Pete, a veteran of many a Words and Music night, was the perfect man to lead us to the bar break which he did by reading a poem by Diane Du Prima and A monologue on St Joan.

After a much needed bar break it was time for the main business of the evening and that of course was our two featured acts starting as we usually always do with the featured writer. This month saw Katharinerine MacFarlane take her place in the spotlight and I must admit it gave me particular pleasure to introduce not only a fellow fierce woman but my fiercest sister from the whole of that tribe.

Katharine started her set with Spaces which set the tone for the quality to come. This was a poem vivid in its imagery which transported the audience to place where poetry meets the soul. This was followed with Being A Seal as our poet looks at life from the perspective of the seal and  attempts to see the problem we as humans may create for them. 

In Sholbost Katharine (pictured below) takes us to Orkney and shows the landscape of the area and the folk traditions that surrounds it. Staying on Orkney our featured superstar oops I mean writer took us to Mae’s Howe and followed it with Ba. Katherine then moved tom the Western Isles for This Island before enchanting us with a poem in Gaelic and the subsequent translation of it into English. Ever the patriot in the cultural sense of the word Katherine a keen scholar of our history and tradition performed St Andrew’s Bones a poem on our Patron Saint and his final resting place. After this she moved on to Kuris and the brilliant Listen, which captures the awe inspiring power of nature at it’s truly breathtaking best. Katharine wound up a mesmerising set with the Longing Of A Person and her final poem the amazingly beautiful Lang Go Lang.  This concluded a wonderful set of poetry which encompassed all that’s positive about Scotland. In 20 minutes Katharine explored our islands , our history, our langauges, our culture, and traditions in a way which was educational, entertaining, imformative and inspiring. Make no mistake, this was poetry at its very best and I was privileged to hear it.

Picture(1) Our Featured Writer Katharine MacFarlane entertains the gathering in two languages with poems in both English and Gaelic in her set )

From featured writer we moved on to our featured musician and were delighted to welcome back that weel kent Words And Music favourite Bob Leslie to fill the role with 20 minutes of musical madness as only he knows how to make it. 

Bob started his set by maintaining the link with the isles which Katharine had built in to her set with An Island Boy. He then moved on to sing of American culture we seldom if ever hear about in The Lands Of The Sioux And Cree. If that song contained a political message from the other side of the Atlantic his next song When Dreams Comes Hame To Bide had even stronger political content for an audience far closer to home. In A Jumped Up Proletarian Bob showed that being a good trade unionist doesn’t necessarily mean being a member of The Labour Party despite what Jeremy Corbyn may like to claim. From politics the focus switched to comedy for his next song Her Father Called Me Frankenstein  in which Bob recalls an unwanted nickname from his first girlfriend’s father due to the fact he towered over him. Well Bob (pictured below) is shall we say a very tall gentleman. This was supposed to be when the music stopped but I invoked the compare’s privilege and insisted on one last song and I also requested what it was. Of course Bob was happy to obliege and gave a rousing rendition of Big Dead Bob a song which tells the story that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say we all joined the chorus and gave Bob’s set the ending it deserved. 

Picture (2) Our Featured Musician Bob Leslie belts out tunes old and new 

At the end of two fantastic sets it was time for the proceedings to return to normal or at least as normal as is allowed at Words And Music and our penultimate performer Claire McCann did her best to achieve this when she read her poem Open Book. This was an enjoyable piece which Claire performed well but as she went back to her seat, it was time for me for bring the night to a close with the final set of the evening. 

I started the set by looking back on the disappointment of Scotland’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia with a poem written about the drama of our last World Cup Qualifier in Slovenia which sums up how it’s been for us for the last 20 years entitled The Hope That Kills You. I followed this up with That’s Nice.  In this poem I explain the stereotypical reaction which poets often get when you tell friends and neighbours your going to a poetry event. From this slightly tongue in cheek poem I got just a wee bit more serious I read The Flying Winger. In this very personal poem  I reflect on the tragic circumstances which befell my late uncle Arthur and how life can be shaped by the choices we make and the chances we take or don’t. I finished both my set and the night with The Rock Chick From Devil Gate Drive  a poem which tells the story of Karaoke nights and the part they played in my coming out.  

Having brought the night to a close I made my way home to the village . As I did so I couldnt help but think that when a jumped up proletarian meets a rock chick from devil gate drive  we’ll all find a space for reflections when  dreams come hame to bide. 

Till next time

Gayle X

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

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

The Tartan Tights Awards 2016 

Hey Readers. It’s later than its ever been due to the fact I’ve had a very busy January but make no mistake it’s  that time of year again. Yes it’s the time when I hand out the honours  that everyone wants to win and welcome you to the fifth annual tartantights awards These awards celebrate the people who have made the past year such a memorable one for me so let’s get this show on the road and get this party started.

As tradition dictates I start this ceremony by naming my politican of the year. By any standards 2016 was a phenomenal year for the SNP and several of their brightest stars, showed why they are so highly thought of both in political circles and increasingly by the general public. Among those I considered for this awards were First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and two of the the party’s brightest Westminster stars Chris Stephens, and Stewart MacDonald, I also gave careful consideration to the co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Partick Harvie before eventually making my choice. On doing so, I selected a woman who has shown a commitment to fighting for Scottish Independence but also campaigning for the rights of women everywhere and who played a significant part in the abolition of the tampon tax. It is this passion for equality and fairness which brought her in to politics and I’m proud to say that our winner of this award is someone I have known and trusted for 10 years as a councillor for Glasgow Carlton and since May 2015 as MP for Glasgow Central. My tartantights politician of the year for 2016 is Alison Thewliss.

Next up is my young politician of the year and my choice is someone who has proven that you don’t need to be a member of a member of a political party to do politics properly. Our winner is someone who isn’t afraid to say the word socialism and if necessary write it out loud in blood red letters.and  who since resigning from the SNP in October  has if it’s possible been even more active than ever before and is as committed as she’s always been to the fairer more equal Scotland she believes in. My young politician of the year is Saffron Dickson.

My vision of Scotland award goes to the politician or member of the public who by their actions has made Scotland a fairer and more inclusive place to live. This year my choice is a woman who organised her party’s first all day equalities conference and by doing so gave both a platform and a voice to members of the BME, Disabled, and LGBTIQ  members which can only be beneficial to the party’s aim of creating a more diverse and inclusive Scotland which encompasses and embraces all of the people who make our country home. My Vision Of Scotland award goes to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik.

Moving on it’s time for my Unsung Hero/Heroine Award This award is given to the man or woman who represents their party without fuss and quietly and effectively gets on with the jobs that need done.This year it goes to a man without whose considerable presence the Shettleston SNP would not be the fighting force of winners we have become. Not only did he  serve as convenor for a number of years he also until recently organised that well known cultural institution that is the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper.My unsung hero for 2016 is Lachie McNeil.

From unsung heroes I move on to future stars as I name my One To Watch. This award is for someone who though they may not be known to the wider public at the moment I have no doubt will become so due to their undoubted talent Among those who merit a mention are Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton  Green MSP Andy Wightman, and SNP councillor Rosa Zambonnini but our winner made history when at the age of just 21 he gained a  seat for the Green Party  on the West Of Scotland list and became the youngest member ever to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. So it gives me great pleasure to say that my tartantights one to watch award goes to Ross Grier.

My penultimate political award is for the politician who has made the greatest impact in the last twelve months  There were a number of candidates for this award, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon , The Green Party’s Patrick Harvie , Mhairi Black, and her SNP colleges Chris Stephens,and Stewart MacDonald all had excellent years but in the end I decided to give this award to someone who has provided leadership to the SNP group Westminster and the only real credible opposition to the most vicious UK government in decades   Our winner  was rewarded by the membership of his party by  being elected as Depute Leader of the SNP at the autumn conference.The winner, of the Impact Award  is Angus Robertson.

My last award in this section is i think  the most appropriate way to conclud it as I name my best political blogger of the year. For the last two, years this has been won by the most yappy blog on the blogosphere namely Paul Kavanagh and the wee ginger dug. This year however there is new winner which has taken blogging to the next level This innovative multi media outlet uses both traditional blogs as well as the occasional video blog or vlog to bring you the stories that other mainstream tend not to cover. It is for this groundbreaking way of making news accessible that my politicial blogger of the year goes to Angela, Haggerty and the team at the Common Space.

Having given out my political prizes it’s now time to focus on the community  awards and where better to start than the blogging community. Only two years this section had only one award but tonight it has three. These are, Scottish Blogger of the Year, International Blogger of the year, and for the first time the new award of Vlogger of the year. So as you can see I have a lot to get through so let’s crack on with the Scottish Blogger of the year. This is always a very hotly contested catagory and this year was no different with Colours And Carousels , Frankly Ms Shankly, G Is For Gingers, and  Last Year’s Girl all given serious consideration but I have to say that for, writing the best post Brexit post I’ve seen so far and several other posts which have made me both think and smile simultaneously my winner of the Scottish Blogger of the year award is Lucie L Dhog for Tetris And Cheesecakes

Now I move on from national to international and when it came to  my choice of  International  Blogger of the year though there were plenty of quality candidates such as Mini Mouse Chic ,  The Curvaceous Vegan , last year’s winner Dungarees And Donuts, Petticoats And Patriarchy , and The Real Supermum all of which are brilliant, there was one blog which stood head and shoulders above all contenders purely because of the amount of times it made me get all emotional so my international blogger of the year goes to Samantha Smethurst for the brilliant Little Fickle.

Now it’s time for a new award and I  brought in Vlogger of the Year in recognition of the amount of bloggers who regularly or occasionally post video blogs. Regular video bloggers include Beauty Creep , Blog About Nothing, Colours And Carousels,  Princess Attitude, and Jessica Lauren Hatcher. All of these  vloggers produce enjoyable and entertaining content which can on occasion be both informative and educational so selecting a winner from such a talented shortlist was not easy. In the end however I selected a vlogger who proved that oops moments can and do happen you’re  watching YouTube videos and they happen because she is so hillirious with her tales on what it means to be Scottish and female in the early 21st century. So just in case you hadn’t guessed by now  the first ever tartantights Vlogger of the Year is Beauty Creep.

Now, it’s time to name my Activist of the Year and this year this award goes to a fellow poet who just like last year’s winner Dorkface Blog starred a social movement but this one came about by accident when she was asked by the incoming director of the Scottish Poetry Library to create a piece of poetry based art. This led to our winner coming up with the idea of Fierce Words which was originally open to all poets who wanted to attend the event and were willing to hold up a word which made us proud of who we are,  but since only female poets turned up on the day it then became women with fierce words and now known  at least by some of us as fierce women. This incredible and and awe inspirational day showed the power of women at our brilliant best, It was a day on which existing friendships were enhanced and new ones made. I know that I’ve made friends because of that day that I simply couldn’t imagine not being in my life and I’m not the only one who feels that way about an event that changed lives by empowering women of words and created the fiercest tribe I can ever remember in all my years of being involved in the history of  Scottish spoken word poetry. My Activist of the Year is that one woman force of nature Lesley Traynor.

My Young Activist of the Year is someone who is passionate about poetry and equality. This is someone who is focused on creating a better world and will stop at nothing to achieve it. I first met our winner at a spoken word event for Rise Women’s Network and since then we have become close friends I think it’s the fact we’re both ranting, raving , radicals which has created this strong bond of sisterhood , however it might be the fact that we’re just a couple of  chatty wee rebels with opinions on everything which has forged our friendship. I know that the crowd at Castlemilk Against Austerity are very grateful for all the work she does for them and believe me Scotland needs a lot more active citizens like our Young Activist of the Year the amazing Keira MacLean.

From community I now move on to culture and I start with poetry and poets. Well having been on the spoken word scene for almost quarter of a century and around it for even longer it’s something I think I might just know a wee bit about.  As I start this section I do so my award for the Best Poetry Performance of the Year.

As always I’ve had no shortage of quality performances to choose from Iona Lee and her magical performance to win the 2016 Scottish Slam Championship, and Molly McLachlan for her amazing debut at September’s  Words And Music, were however the most outstanding in a year filled  with wonderful poetic  jewels and selecting a winner between them was extremely difficult.  On one hand I thought Iona because she performed brilliantly in a real pressure cooker of a situation and on the other I thought Molly because this was the first time words and music had been truly electrified since moving home from Sammy Dow’s to The Tin Hut but in the end I plumped for Iona if only because I believed that her star quality shone on the night she won the title of Scottish Slam Champion and for that alone she deserved to win another so my choice of the Best Poetry Performance of 2016 is Iona Lee.
My next award is for Best Show of the Fringe and in a year when I attended 40 shows I’m actually surprised how easy this decision really was. It was easy not because of the lack of quality in the shows as many of them were absolutely brilliant but because of the variety it offered. You see in the space of one magical hour on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon this show took the audience on journey,through Gaelic Songs, Poems in English about the struggles of Scots women and Welsh princesses not to mention a  physical exercise routine that would put many fitness coaches to shame. It is for those reasons and  many others that the award for Best Show Of The Fringe goes to Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. (see picture below ) 

Staying in Edinburgh I move on to the most original show at the fringe and in this one Dan Simpson can consider himself very unlucky as can Alain English. Both produced shows of the highest quality which in any other year would have won but this year they were up against a comedy robot called F R A N C  who was invented to produce the perfect comedy routine. Unfortunately a bit like Donald Trump, F R A N C developed an ego which got out of control and the consequences were truly  catastrophic whilst also being hillirious and that’s why the winner of the Most Original Show of the Fringe goes to the creator of  this groundbreaking show John McGlade.

For my next award the focus whilst still focused on entertainment switches to something more Scottish for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award. This award is given to the poet, or musician, that I believe has done most to promote the use of the Scots language in their work and this year I give this award to a man who uses his guid  Scots tongue in his work with both power and authenticity. My choice for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award for 2016 is Jim Ewing.

From celebrating Scottish culture i move on to comedy and before you ask this does not involve either Kezia Dugdale , or Ruth Davidson and their performances at First Minister’s Questions. This involves real  comedians you know who actually know how to make us laugh Last year this award was won by The Graduettes so finding a show as funny as that was not easy.  However I did eventually find a show which was on that level by an American comedian who now lives in Yorkshire by the name of Chella Quint  This bold and talkative funny woman proved that you can find humour in almost every topic as her one woman show on periods Adventures In Menstruation  had woman of all ages in fits of the giggles every night for three  weeks as it played to packed houses every night at the Edinburgh Fringe. Well  any show which challenges stereotypes and negative advertising around this every day reality has to be  commended.  This is especially true when you start your show with a game of twister , end it with a song , and encourage your audience to purchase unique period themed jewelry, and  that’s why my award for the Best Live Comedy Show of 2016 goes to Chella Quint.
Having talked comedy I move on to inclusion and give my award for the Most Inclusive Show of the year. This show has already won one award as it was my choice for Best Show Of The Fringe so you won’t be surprised that it’s another victory for Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. My reasons for choosing this  show  for a second award were hinted at earlier as Katharine performed stories, songs , and  poems from a variety of tongues and did so in different languages. It was however the fact that she took audience participation to a new whole new level  as she had all the women in the audience participating in the traditional Scottish art of Waulking which is so exhausting that after working at that process for eight hours a day they wouldn’t need to go the gym . Trust me I was exhausted after 10 minutes so how our foremothers could manage it for eight hours  is completely beyond me .

Talking of strong women it’s time to name my Equality Champion for 2016 .  This year i have chosen a bright  articulate young women for whom I once wrote a poem  i will introduce the winner of this award by saying that the title of her poem is Her Father’s Smile. It is i think fair to say she not only has her father  smile,  she also has his principals and those of her mother. A passionate supporter of the LGBTIQ community and a keen advocate for a fairer more equal society. My Equality Champion for 2016 is Roisin Caird.

Now we move to what some political journalists would call my soundbyte of the year.  Personally I prefer to call it my Quote Of The Year and this year’s winner comes from Felicity Clifford who said ‘Growing old is compulsory , growing up is optional ‘.  That woman speaks my truth and in doing so is  a totally deserved winner of my 2016 Quote Of  The Year.

From quotes I now move to the music, yes I know I’m beginning to sound like Madonna and your point is what?  Anyway, it’s time to name my musician of the year and in  a year where i made more than a few new musical discoveries Daryl Sperry, and Caitlin Buchanan spring readily to mind, this was a very difficult call. However, in the end I had to call it and i did for the only musician outside the the traditional music community who could ask me to come to a show in Edinburgh during the fringe when I have poetry and comedy events to attend and get me to actually do so. I think those of you from the Blue Chair may know who I’m about to name but for those of you who haven’t guessed my tartantights Musician of the Year is Josephine Sillars.

My Song of the Year was another tough calls between to two fantastic choices  One which gave me. goosebumps and the other which makes sing along every time I hear it. The songs are The Tallest Tree by Caitlin Buchanan (pictured below)  and Problems With Power by Josephine Sillars. I must admit choosing between two such different songs was an extremely difficult task but in the end I went for the one which gave me goosebumps so my Song Of The Year is The Tallest Tree by the mesmerising Caitlin Buchanan.

Next up is my Event of the Year and any other year this would have been won by Jackie The Musical which provided me with a brilliant showstopping walk down memory lane as i re-lived my teenage years as a 1970’s Jackie Girl. Last year however something happened in  Glasgow which eclipsed even that  and that was the Homeless World Cup where the most talented homeless footballers of both sexes battled it out for the honour of being Homeless World Cup winners. At the end of a fantastic week of football both titles were won by Mexico but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. In this World Cup at least it really was all about taking part and being the best you could be and that’s why my Event of the Year for 2016 is The Homeless World Cup. 

As any performer will tell you, we all need venues to play at otherwise we would all be reading our poems and singing our songs with only the bedroom mirror for company.  It was with great sadness that Words and Music lost our traditional home that we’d had for 25 years as Sammy Dow’s which had changed its name and owners in July 2015 decided they no longer wanted a cultural event they had hosted for quarter of century. This was a real body blow for Words And Music but it was the way it was done  which really annoyed me as  I only found out the event had been cancelled less than 24 hours before the February event was due to take place.  Fortunately however we are resolute bunch at Words And Music and thanks to the efforts of the son in law of our founding mother Pamela Duncan we had found a new venue by the beginning of May at the Pollok Ex Servicemen’s Club which become known to us as the Tin Hut  and though it meant a change of night from first Monday of the month to the first Tuesday  we were able to get the show back on the road by June and have been made very welcome in our new home. So my Venue of the Year for 2016 is The Tin Hut.

From venues I move on to my Discovery Of The Year and in a year when  I made loads of new contacts and some new friends this was one of the closest calls of all. Among those considered were Caitlin Buchanan, Catriona Knapman, Iona Lee, Janet Crawford, Malaika Kegode, and. Michelle Fisher. As you can see all are strong women with powerful and intelligent voices, this is in almost total contrast to performance scene I first appeared on more than 20 years ago when the idea of so many female poets and musicians would to some  particularly those of the kid on leftie persuasion would  been enough to frighten the horses So if this talented team were the one who got honourable mentions I’m sure you’re wondering who is my discovery of the year.

Well I’ll introduce her by saying that at this time last year I was just getting to know her and a number of other younger poets at our then weekly open mic nights at the Blue Chair but by spring she had claimed me as her poetry mother and even introduced me to her own mum with the immortal line muma meet poetry muma. Trust me, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of any introduction in my life, and as I think many of you will have guessed my Discovery of the Year is the one and only Molly McLachlan.

From discovery of the year I now move on to Comeback of the Year. Normally, this award  would be given to someone who has been away from the poetry or music stages for a few years and has decided to make a welcome return. This year however , it  has been made in slightly different circumstances. You see though this year’s winner, was never a long term absentee from our scene he suffered a stroke in the late spring/ early summer of 2015 and we wondered if a stalwart of our community would ever take the stage. Initially his recovery was slow but eventually he began to make greater progress and it’s great to see him back attending and performing at events just as he always did. My Comeback of the Year award for 2016 is Derek Read.

Now from entertainment we move on to sport and I don’t think it would take a brain surgeon to figure out my happiest sporting moment of the last twelve months. It came on a gorgeous sunny September Saturday as Rangers were welcomed back to Paradise after a four year abscene and as usual they believed they only needed turn up to win. By the end of the 90 minutes however it was a very different story as Celtic ran riot and made our oldest rivals wish they hadn’t bothered to turn up as we made sure they know their place by thrashing them 5-1.

My other sporting award is  my Team  of the Year award and that is also given to a team from the world of football. My winners are not only packed with talent they are also history makers as they became the first Scottish football team  to qualify for a major tournament for almost two decades and this summer will see them compete in the European Championships for the first time in their history . Now for those of you who thought the European Championships were last year and Scotland didn’t qualify I should explain that my Team of the Year are The Scotland Ladies Football Team.

My next award is my Lifetime  Achievement Award and following in the footsteps of talents such As Pamela Duncan, Roy Tuton, Alex Salmond, and Frank McArdle, is no easy task. It has to be said  however that this year’s winner fully deserves this award for being one of my earliest political influences and whose passion for a fairer and better Scotland got me out of my armchair and on to the campaign trail to fight to make that Scotland a reality. Our winner started his political career in The Labour Party before resigning on a matter of principal and after co-founding the short lived Scottish Labour Party eventually found his political home in the Scottish National Party where he eventually became Depute Leader and provided one of the party’s most iconic moments when in November 1988 he won the Govan By-Election overturning a Labour majority of over 19,000 to win by a majority of 3,554 and in the process force Devolution back on to. the political agenda for the first time since the rigged referendum of 1979. It is no secret that  the unionist parties especially Labour were panic stricken by a victory they weren’t expecting. In fact the very next morning they announced the setting up of the Scottish Constitutional Convention so it could be said that he did more for the cause of Scottish home rule in nine hours than the all the unionists in Scotland had managed in the previous nine years and for that alone he deserves recognition It is for that and many other reasons that my Lifetime Achievement award goes to a man who I still see as a political mentor the one and only Jim Sillars.

From lifetime achievements I now move on to celebrating the value of friendship with the I Think I Must Be Mad Award. This award is for the friend who has gone beyond the call of duty to support me and this year’s winner has certainly done that over a sustained period of time. It is however in the past year that her star has shone even brighter than ever before  An independent woman with a mind of her own not did she reach a landmark birthday last year this young fashion conscious woman styled me up to such an extent that is responsible for  over half the content of my current wardrobe. A keen reader of this blog and great supporter of my poetry her loyalty has been proven time after time and when she told me she was proud of me and proud of the woman I am, I had one of those moments which made me glad I wasn’t wearing any mascara as it would have ran even faster than Usian Bolt can run 100 Metres. The winner of this award is someone who doesn’t seek headlines but deserves recognition for the quiet difference she makes to my life. My I Think I Must Be Mad Award goes to Stacey McFarlane

 Now it’s time for the main awards of for my man and woman of the year as tradition dictates I’ll start with the men.  This is not because I’m putting them first because as  a woman I believe it is our right to have the last word unless of course you are Kezia Dugdale,  Ruth Davidson, or Theresa May. Joking aside 2016 has been a good year  for the men in my world and I had some outstanding candidates from which to make my choice. Amongst those considered for this award were  Alex Kerr, Peter Russell, Matt Pamesh,   Stewart MacDonald, and  Steven Tierney , but yet again my winner comes from the world of poetry and has with his friend Paul Wardrope achieved more in a year than some will in a lifetime.

It was towards the end of 2015 that he and Paul set the Extra Second event at the Blue Chair Cafe where poets and musicians would share their thoughts on the topical issues of the day. The idea behind Extra Second is that if we take an Extra to consider to consider the subject for discussion then we may approach it from a more thoughtful perspective. It says a lot about the type of event Extra Second is that the Blue Chair is filled to bursting every month and that such has been the success of the event that its monthly nights have expanded to both London and more recently Aberdeen where a Blue Chair regular and a member of the first ever Extra Second Cast Molly McLachlan has recently hosted the opening night of Extra Second in her native city. So it is with great pleasure that i announce that our youngest ever  man of the year is  Johnny Cypher.

After naming my man of the year there is only award left to give  and that is of course my Woman of the Year. Now for those of you who think picking my man of year was hard and trust me it was selecting my woman of the year was even more difficult especially when you consider the number of amazing women I am lucky enough to have in my life.  Honestly picking a winner from all those brilliant and talented women was  so tough i thought of taking the easy way out and letting our reigning woman of the year Cheryl McHugh win again. There was however major problem with that idea and that was that i realised if made this choice  Jamie-Lee who is Cheryl’s wee sister may actually kill me. So maybe the safe option may not be quite as safe as I thought.

Bearing this in mind i decided to think about potential winners and get down to the business of making of choice. First up was Stacey McFarlane  and believe me this choice was given very careful consideration. You see not only is Stacey best stylist on earth and selects outfits which show me at the best,  but she is also has the patience of a saint which you sometimes need when your dealing with me.

 Next on the shortlist is the amazing poetic talent Katharine MacFarlane. Believe me this is a poet whose work i admire and am proud to call a friend and for whom i predict a big poetic future.

The same can be said for Janet Crawford whose words of warmth, wit, and wisdom have brightened up many a dark night and let’s be honest 2016 was a year which gave us more than our  fair share of them and presented poets and humanity in general with a number of challenges and difficulties and it’s at times like this I am greatful to have friends like Janet to remind me that there are some really good people in this world.  

Our youngest contender Molly McLachlan is someone I was only just getting to know at this time last year,but she ended 2016 as one of the closest members of my spoken word family. A woman og outstanding talent we are destined to hear much more from Molly in 2017 and beyond and believe me this is a woman of substance with a voice worth listening to.

As for Lesley Traynor  this is a woman for whom I have run out of superlatives after she organised an event which has now turned into a movement which has given a voice to some of the best women writers in the country. The event which was held at the Scottish Poetry Library was one I was proud to be part of, and from which I have gained some amazing and inspiring friendships which only go prove that be it biological or chosen, there is no bond stronger than sistewotld.Now I’ve looked at the contenders it’s time to name the winner of my final award and let you know who I’ve chosen to be tartantights Woman of the Year. Like me, our winner resides in the East End of Glasgow. Like me , she supporters the best football club on the planet the famous Glasgow Celtic, and like me she values her heritage and has a passion for a fairer society.  That however is where the similarities end because to say  our winner has an amazing year would be the understatement to end them all. Her rise to fane in the world of spoken word has been nothing short of stratospheric. When I first got to know her not long after the independence referendum, you couldn’t have got her on a  stage, not even for Henrik Larsson. Now like Molly, she is one of the closest members of my spoken word family and has played stages I’ll never get on. Am I jealous? but I am proud as I reminded both her and Molly, when we along with other friends to McChuills  after the December Extra Second. As I joked with this dynamic duo who I kinda see as see poetry daughters she smiled and whispered you can pick them. This is true, I certainly can pick them,  especially when it comes to winners and that’s why my 2016 tartan tights Woman of the Year (pictured at Words And Music at The Tin Hut) is the brilliant Victoria McNulty

So there it is , we’ve finally reached the end of the tartantights awards ceremony for 2016  If you are among the winners congratulations because there was fierce competition every category. If you weren’t so lucky then remember that the road ahead will have many twists and turns and that 2017 could be the year when it’s your turn to shine. So remember the tartan tights awards are a bit like the lottery , Yes next time it really could be you. 

  In the meantime I wish you all you wish yourself and hope you get what you need in the measure that you need it and of course I hope you continue reading tartan tights.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X