Tag Archive | Katie’s Bar

A Memorable Journey Where Bards Were The Stars And Musicians Made Magic In Song  (My Cultural Review Of 2017)

As I look back on the year just ended it is fair to say that it has been both enjoyable and challenging and that some of the challenges in both poetry and blogging have proved to be both enjoyable and rewarding in ways I would never have expected . 

 As I started 2017 I did so with my customary optimism.  Well I’ve always been a glass half full kinda girl and my year got off to a good start as I met my first challenge and completed a whole new set of poems specifically written on climate change for my first billed appearance at Extra Second. With that and an excellent Celtic Connections and SNP Burns Supper under my belt and a good start to my poetry events at both Words And Music and Rio I had hit the ground running and given the New Year the start it deserved.  

February slowed me down as usually always does, well if nothing else it gave me time to reflect and focus on my writing. It was towards the end of the month I wrote what I believe was my best poem of the year in a highly personal tribute to my late dad it was also around this time I wrote Game Changer a poem in support of LGBT football fans and made what has so far been my only visit to Aloud. 

As we moved towards the lighter nights I not only hosted Words And Music I was once again a billed reader for Extra Second and this time the subject was Mental Health and yet again I produced a completely new set of poems for the night. I also attended the Visable Women festival at the Kinning Park complex on the first Saturday of the month where I was privileged to see Confessionals a brilliant hour long spoken word show by my friend Victoria McNulty and the  last ever last Monday at Cafe Rio as we bid  an emotional farewell to one of the spoken word scene’s most loved poetry homes hosted for 10 years by the genial Robin Cairns. On a more personal note I was delighted to learn that I had two poems selected for publication in the Mind The Time football memories anthology. The poems chosen were Rampant Lionesees about Scotland’s Women becomming the first team to represent our country at a major championship for 20 years and Through The Hoops which was written about my journey as a transsexual Celtic fan.  

April started quitely enough in terms of performance and continued  in the same vein till the middle of the month.  This however can be a blessing particularly during a period when some poets like this are demented enough to participate in the NaPoWriMo challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days. As the month wore on I made the opening night of Last Monday at Waterstones during which Robin had asked me to captain a team in the four ages slam at The Tron in mid May. Needless to say I accepted the challenge and relished the idea of it. Though I must admit that putting a team together is a harder job than you think.  By the end of the month  I had added a new event to my list of places to go as I made my debut appearance at Express Yourself which is excellently hosted by Carla Woodburn. However on the Wednesday after Rio I had a nasty fall whilst returning from the newsagents where I had gone to play the lottery. Make no mistake this was a bad one which resulted in a sprained ankle and left me unable to walk for around 10 days and a distinctly wobbly feeling for most of the summer. 

Unsurprisingly perhaps my injury meant that I had to cancel Words And Music and that May was almost a poetry free zone. I say almost because I did honour my promise to Robin and captained my team at the four ages slam. Not only that I captained them to victory though it has to be said that my team mates Angie Strachan , and Lesley Traynor (see picture below) were the real stars of the show especially Angie who actually won the individual event and a place at the 2018 Scottish Slam Finals.  The day after this momentous victory I decided to launch a second blog skirting round my life also on wordpress. Wheras tartan tights is as you know the place for my general musings I decided this one would focus more on trans and women’s issues. Yes I know I’m mad but you know what its improved the quality of my blogging and I’m glad I decided to do it as allows me to show a more personal side and I think it helps readers to get what makes me who I am.  

Also on the blogging front I was invited to join the hosting team for the Bloggers Do It Better twitter chat This was a challenge I accepted and embraced and I’m delighted to still be part of the team as we move in the new year. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy and can be stressful at times but it is also really enjoyable  and the buzz I get from hosting is incredible. 

Picture (1) Angela, Myself and Lesley pose for a victory photo after winning The Four Ages Slam At The Tron. 

If May had been quiet due to injury June at least initially looked like being the same, and though I did manage to attend the Extra Second snap election special and also to focus on my main priority which was to host Words And Music. To be honest I thought that might be all I’d make  it to, particularly since injury prevented me from taking my usual place at a polling station to help the party I’m member of win my local constituency.  Still, there was a positive in this situation as at least I didn’t need a lift to the polling place as I did to the local elections just one month earlier. As it turned out with a new candidate in place my party did hold the seat though with a much reduced majority on a night which wasn’t our best.  If ever I needed a pick me up it was now and it came that Saturday at the annual McGonagall supper which I made a last minute decision to attend. Though my mobility was far from perfect it felt great just to be in the company of friends. 

It was another last minute decision the faith/unbelief open poetry competition the following Saturday which gave me my biggest surprise of the year as I went on to win the title and a £50 book token which has since been very well spent.  I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at this result if only because my poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic appeal for the Church of Scotland to modernise may have been a bit too controversial for some people’s tastes. 

With Edinburgh and the fringe looming ever closer it is no great surprise that I was very cagey during July appearing only at my own event at Words and Music and an Extra Second for which the theme of activism was too strong to resist and yet again I got on the billed readers list and produced another new set of poems tailored to suit the occasion. I also returned to express yourself for the first time since my fall but time I was purely there to enjoy the evening and believe me I did as some of us including yours truly ended walking all the way from The Project Cafe in the heart of Cowcaddens to Delmonicas and eventually Speakeasy in the heart of the Merchant City and that by the way is a longer walk than you think. 

Come August and all roads led to the fringe. Well they did eventually though not before my usual stint at Words And Music, my attendance at the funeral of our much loved sister poet Catherine Walker, my participation in Pride’s Got Talent, where I tried my hand at stand up comedy and a fantastic Extra Second on Sexuality to coincide with the upcoming Glasgow Pride weekend. As a trans woman this one had my name on it and  I made sure I was not only on the bill but that I produced my set yet and believe me judging by the compliments I received I think it’s safe to say I delivered.  

When I eventually did get to the fringe I was welcomed with open arms by fringe favourites and friends such as Jenni Pascoe, Fay Roberts, David Lee Morgan, Hannah Chutzpah, Sophia Blackwell, and Matt Panesh, to name a few. I may not have made it through as often as I wanted but I saw all the shows I needed to see and some extra gems which were recommended by friends including what was in my opinion the best show of fringe 2017 The Door To Door Poet By Rowan McCabe. All that and I still managed to take part in three shows including my now compulsory appearance at Other Voices. Well let’s be honest the fringe would never have been the same without it. 

Picture (2) Sophia Blackwell rockin it at The Banshee Labyrinth as part of the Edinburgh Fringe

As the fringe ended for another year it was back to Glasgow and last Monday at Waterstones. With that we moved on to September and the usual round of cultural engagements in what was a low key month for yours truly in terms of performing my poetry but not in terms of culture. However this slight shift in scene was just what I needed after the drama that was August. It has to be said however the highlight of what was  an enjoyable month when I actually had time to relax, was without doubt the official launch of the women with fierce words poetry anthology at the Griffin Bar in Glasgow city centre. This was an amazing and uplifting night and shows what can done when a group of women have both talent and determination. On a slightly different note the following Saturday I attended the  hope over fear rally and on the same night I went to see a play called Adam  about a young transgender man and it was a brilliant and thought provoking peace of theatre.   I also made my return to the last Monday stage and believe me it felt good. To conclude the month I received the news that one of my poems had been published in the 10 Red anthology and on  the final Thursday and a week earlier than usual I was one of the hosts of the National Poetry Event at the Gallery Of Modern Art which had been moved from its usual slot on the first Thursday of October to accomadate Hull’s place as city of culture.  

October saw me doing my stuff at Words And Music and at Last Monday at Waterstones with another team slam sandwiched inbetween. My team didn’t win this team but hey you can’t win them all.  I was also interviewed for a spoken word radio show by my friend Carla Woodburn which I have to say was an interesting  and enjoyable experience, and thanks to impromptu Facebook conversation with Jim Monaghan I managed to get a last minute ticket for what had to be Glasgow’s poetry event of the year with Hollie McNish at Oran Mor. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Hollie McNish is the best poet in Britain today. Well when you’ve got Liz Lochhead as your support act it speaks volumes for your ability. I also had a lovely night at Extra Second where I ended up on a date with a gorgeous man called Brendan. We finished our evening at Katie’s Bar where we enjoyed each other’s company in a relaxed and intimate manner. 

As we got to November Words and Music kicked off the month in style with brilliant featured sets from featured writer Katharine MacFarlane and featured musician Bob Leslie. It was then back to the Tron for another Sunday team slam but this time I was on the judging panel along with Kevin Cadwallender. After that I performed at Extra Second even though I didn’t expect to as it turned out this would though I didn’t know it at the time be my last apperance at the Blue Chair before it closed its doors for the final time. It was as always an enjoyable night made even better by the fact Brendan turned up and just like the last time we ended up at Katie’s for more special times. During what was an eventful month I made my second appearance at Express Yourself which just so happened to be on Angela Strachan’s birthday and ended up forming the female version of The Proclaimers with my new karaoke partner the wonderful Antonia Seaward. Honestly the regulars of Lauder’s Bar have never heard anything quite like it. I finished the month at Waterstones where I gave my best performance since the move from and ended November on a high. 

December saw me have a quiter month than I’d planned managing to attend only three events as a combination of icy weather and a seasonal illness ruled me out of at least four events I had planned to attend. I did however host an excellent Words And Music Christmas Cracker  at the Tin Hut with Karen Jones and Bernadette Collier in outstanding form as the featured acts. My final performance of the year at the Tinsil Tales event at the Gallery of Modern Art on the Thursday before Christmas when I compared the first section of this four hour poetry marathon before focusing on  my set. In my set I lulled the auduence in to a false sense of security by reading two new sensible Christmas  poems on consumerism and homelessness before reverting to two of my Christmas comedy classics to have the audience howling louder than a winter gale to finish my performances for the year on a high. 

For my last event of the year I journeyed west as I accompanied my friend Janet Crawford the Dram Bar where she was competing in the Loud Poets political slam which was deservedly won by Jim Monaghan to finish off the year 

So there you have it my poetic year. Thanks to all who made it what it was, a memorable journey where bards were the stars and musicians made magic in song . Here’s hoping that the next twelve months will be just as exciting. So I’ll close by wishing all my readers A Happy, Peaceful, Successful, New Year.   I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2018. 

Till next time 

Gayle X 


The Wrong Diagnosis 


In my latest poem I recall a recent incident as I take a look at arrogance, and assumptions based on stereotypical attitudes. The event in question happened a few weeks ago as I made my way to Katie’s Bar when a stranger attempted to bark orders at me and in typical Ruth Davidson fashion ordered me to sit down. Naturally I refused to entertain this attention seeker and made my way to my destination where I enjoyed a very pleasant evening in good company. However I decided to write this poem to illustrate that there are just as many ill mannered attention seekers in the LGBT community as there are anywhere else. I have given it the title The Wrong Diagnosis. I hope you enjoy the read. 

The Wrong Diagnosis 

On a quiet autumn evening

I am singing contentedly to myself 

as I walk to my pub of choice 

as it comes in to view 

a stranger shrieks at the top of his voice 

barks orders telling me to sit down 

says he’s seen me around 

really I reply

 walking on I ignore him 

he seems aggitated

 that I pay no attention to his demands 

but what he fails to understand 

is that while his scouse accent may be fine 

his Ruth Davidson style charm is something I can do without 

my world has borders 

and he’s just made the mistake of crossing them 

without my permission 

the line of respectability

has been violated

and history will show he was on the wrong side of it 

you don’t cross boundaries without permission

that doesn’t work it never has and never will

trust me I am not the kind of girl

who likes her world invaded by unwanted intruders

I don’t like the assumption  it implies 

you know boys will be boys 

and claim women as their prize 

this is male privilege of a very British kind 

which states if you ignore me

 I will diagnose you and give you a label

to which I think ‘it will be nothing to one I give you 

and trust me it will take you on a journey 

for which you wish you had never volunteered’  

but the moment he sneered at me 

I smiled knowing I held every ace in the pack 

and he could do union jack to stop me 

I played a tactical game 

because I checked his privilege 

and called him out for his arrogance 

I’d met his type before 

he had plenty to say for himself 

but nothing worth my time 

his crime was barking orders 

believing dog whistles work at his command 

and failing to understand 

a poet will always defeat 

a conservative charm school graduate 

especially one who gave her

the wrong diagnosis 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Cup Cakes, Chat, And A Transgender Tent, On A Day To Be Proud It Was All About Lisa

Hey everyone Glasgow was wet on Saturday, in fact if truth be told it was very wet and it wasn’t men that were falling from the skies. Because on Pride Saturday Scotland’s weather god had decided it was time to drench the city in the finest fair Saturday tradition. This however did not stop our skies from being awash with more rainbows than you’ll see in 100 000 repeats of the Wizard of Oz

Forget the fact the march which I did not attend on the grounds of its ludicrously early start was not taking us to our traditional home in George Square or even to last year’s venue on Glasgow Green but instead we were made to make do with a car park. Forget also the fact, that for the first time in the history of Pride Glasgow that we were to be charged an entrance fee of £5.00, forget the fact that this combination of facts would be defeat even the most battle hardened of regulars. This is Glasgow and when Glasgow decides she wants to have a party then nothing and I mean is going to stop her.

As I left Baillieston at least an hour later than planned after that great debate I always have with myself about what to wear before going back to my original choice. It’s a girl thing guys you won’t understand so it’s best not even to try, I am glad to say I didn’t have too long to wait on my bus. However whilst I was on the bus I got a phone call from my very good friend Lisa Tait who told me to phone her as soon as I reached the gate.
This I did and to my astonishment I was given a free wristband which was an access all areas pass for which I had to spent not one magic bean.

You see Lisa was part of the Out at Tesco team and I was her VIP Guest. So you may ask why was I given such a lucky break. Well the reasoning behind this was that it was Lisa’s idea that the company use their stall as a transgender tent to create a safe space for trans people within the event and she told me that it was her long standing friendship with me which helped her to come up with it.

As I waited for Lisa to meet at the gate, I was kindly given shelter by the girls from Katie’s Bar and I sure as hell needed it as the rain started to pour. On her arrival I was going through security when my bag was searched for any drink or drugs. I should hasten to add they were never going to find anything on a teetotal non smoker who only had my medication for epilepsy but the guy was only doing his job and I appreciated that. I was quite willingly decided to show him my meds but amazingly enough when Lisa said I was her guest of honour there were no more questions and I was allowed to get on with enjoying my day.

Naturally Lisa took me to the tent straight away where I was given the full VIP treatment of coffee and cup cakes on my arrival. It could have been something stronger had I wished it to be but the fact that I am a non drinker due to long standing medical conditions including epilepsy meant that someone else got my glass of champagne not that I minded in the slightest. I was also introduced to a number of her colleagues and others in the tent and I was quick to sing her praises to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen. This included both workmates and trade union officials.

Eventually my wandering instinct took hold of me and I went on my tour of the stalls. This year I enjoyed chats with co-leader of The Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie, and representatives from Affirmation Scotland which is the organisation who represent the LGBTI community within the Church of Scotland and as someone who attends my local Church of Scotland almost every week this was very important to me.

As luck would have it, the affirmation stall was located right next to Yes Scotland and I was delighted to assist in whatever small way I could when the chance came to do so. It was during my brief spell at the stall that we had a visit from a superhero and I can exclusively reveal that Spiderman will be voting yes in the independence referendum. I know this as I witnessed him sign the declaration of independence.
It’s good to know that superheroes for yes has its first member. I have no doubt that whilst Batman and Robin may be unwilling to declare their intentions Superman will be voting yes. You see whilst better together may boast support from the man who sold the world David Bowie and the man claimed he saved it, Gordon Brown we get support from those who actually do want to save the world from its worst enemy itself. but hey, that’s enough about Patrick Harvie for one day.

It was also whilst I was at the stall that I picked up my favourite badge of the entire referendum. This sets out of my political agenda far better than any rant or well considered statement and says I only kiss yes voters. Well I’ve got morals you know, and my standards are as high as a teenager’s hem line.

On leaving the yes campaign stall to the tender mercies of Stewart MacDonald, I had a wee chat to the Unite team and informed them that I believed independence would be good for the Labour movement and also the Labour Party providing they get rid of their current leadership. Not surprisingly I didn’t find much resistance to my argument

Having chatted to Unite I decides to venture round a car park in the rain to see what was happening. Normally this would lead to a well meaning stranger phoning the police and me having my sanity questioned. This however was not a normal Saturday this was Glasgow pride and I can’t stress highly enough that this is not a normal day by anybody’s standards. Well where else but Glasgow can you get rainbows in the rain?

Anyway once I had taken in a bit of action from the main stage having watched Karen Dunbar, Edward Read and Amelia Lilley. I decided it was time for another of my famous walkabouts. This time I wandered to the Stonewall Scotland stall where I met a long standing virtual friend Sophie Bridger and it was good to finally get the chance to meet her in person rather than just over the internet. This was I have to say one of the highlights of my day especially since, though we may be on opposing sides in the constitutional debate we have much more in common than what divides us particularly as we both passionately believe in a fairer and kinder world with equality and diversity right at the heart of it.

After chatting to Sophie, it was with a smile a mile wide I made my way back to the trans tent where I caught up with some old friends as well as making new ones. I even read a couple of my trans related poems to a young girl who had told me that though she wasn’t gay she and her mother both loved the LGBTI community because it is so open and friendly and nobody judges anyone. I have to say this is not always true and every community has its fair share of neds and bams but I didn’t want to shatter her illusions. Instead I read her a couple of my poems written about my journey the poems I read were The Lemon Dress which is about growing up with a secret which your mother knows about but won’t admit. I followed it up by reading A Trans Daughter Remembers Her Mother in which I look at the complex relationship I had with my mother through kinder eyes.

After this impromptu performance I met a lovely bi-curious woman who was it has to be said was both pretty and cultured and looked far younger than her mid to late thirties. Whether or not she was attracted to me or the drink I don’t know, but I’ll play it safe and say I think it was the drink.
Eventually I left the tent to go the short distance to the tartan partnerships stage where I saw a mixture of the bold the bizarre and the brilliant entertain us in their own unique way. From burlesque to bands I went through the range of emotions but by far the best act in the tent were a band who have come highly recommended to me by a number of friends and Iain James And The Sound didn’t disappoint. Indeed, their rendition of Sweet Home Alabama was truly brilliant.

During this time I met with long standing friends Michelle and Shania for the first time in god knows how long and Shania was telling me they have just celebrated their five year anniversary. Well there goes another stereotype smashed in a million pieces, namely that same sex couples can’t be faithful. Honestly these two are like a walking advert for a romantic novel their so loved up that the heart hearted amongst you may want to reach for the sick bucket. As for me I just love the fact there still blushing, gushing, and unable to keep their hands off each other. It really is great to
see two wonderful girls so happy.
Meanwhile back on stage after watching a few more acts some of whom were so camp they would make Julian Clary look like Rambo I decided to make one last visit to the trans tent to thank Lisa for all her efforts and for making the day so enjoyable. After all when I left home on Saturday morning I had no idea I would be treated to a VIP reception let alone be guest of honour but she and her Out at Tesco colleges did a great job of treating a lifelong republican like a visiting if slightly mature royal princess.

As our time in the car park came to an end it was time to re-create the rainbow in the bars of the merchant city. As luck would have it I didn’t quite have the finances for a night at the Polo, so I headed instead for a wee refreshment at Delmonica’s before heading home.

As is always the case on these occasions Dels was bursting at the seems. You know it’s a good night when its breathing room only and believe that statement is no exaggeration. This was Dels at its brilliant bolshie breathtaking best. This was my Glasgow all dolled up and ready to party which it did in considerable style. I mean god knows how long I took me to reach the bar let alone get served, and I only wanted a diet coke. Not that I’m complaining, quite the reverse actually. Well it was pride and to be honest I would have been gutted if it had been any other way. I do have to say however that the queue for the ladies was so deep that you would have more chance of gaining quick entry into a Commonwealth Games event. Honestly it does take a wee while and to think I used to wonder where I perfected routines for Highland and Irish dancing. Trust me when I say that women will understand that comment so much more than men will.

Anyway after exiting the Ladies room I was back upstairs enjoying when another yes voter got chatting to me about a couple of my numerous badges. It transpired that she not only liked my Women for Independence badge, but was even more taken by my I Only Kiss Yes Voters one and asked if I would pose for a photograph which she would post on her Indy Girls page. Naturally I duly obliged and that was my last meaningful contribution to Pride Glasgow before heading for the bus which would take me back home to the village.

On arriving back in Baillieston I returned to the safety of my flat and told my flatmate all about my day. As I made myself a coffee and relaxed after an exhausting day of networking and socialising, I reflected that it was a day which not only contained many unexpected surprises but it can be summed up by saying that it though I had cup cakes, chat, and was a VIP in a transgender tent, on a day to be proud it was all about Lisa.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X