Tag Archive | Matt McGinn

Active Citizens 

As a spoken word poet I am rightly proud of our tradition of activism on just about every topic you could name. From Apartheid to Women’s rights poets have opinions on everything and not afraid to voice them. This is something we share with all performers, but in this poem I take a look at musicians both folk and pop, and in particular the protest songs written over the years to express support of causes and campaigns to document an important part of social history . Whilst some of the songs, I’ve incorporated in to this poem may be very obviously political others may initially at least  strike you as slightly less so but when you look closely at the lyrics you’ll see they may be more radical than you think . I’ve given it the title Active Citizens as I have  long held the belief that the creative community are often a government’s more effective critics. I hope you enjoy the read. 
Active Citizens
My journey started with McGinn of The Calton 

who sang of  a may day for the ordinary people

and women pining for the pill .

Glen Daly told the story

of a wild colonial boy 

whose spirit will always live 

in the hearts of rebels with or without causes

the Corries took me over the sea to Skye 

while the hills of Donegal 

and the fields of Anthery 

showed the other side of my family tree 

both sides displaced in the name of the great white sheep 

and generations later the Proclaimers 

lamented the industrial clearances 

when they sent a letter from America

and narrated Scotland’s story 

as a  land of migrants 

throughout our history 

our so-called masters have ignored us 

attempted to silence our voices 

in the name of their false unity 

but our community remains strong

writing and  singing  the protest songs 

that expose them and their cruel deeds

carried out in the name of greed and personal gain 

meanwhile though she took a train to Leeds Central in 1989.  

we are still  looking for Linda 

and when we find her 

she will know she is one of  Jock Tamsons Bairns 

regardless of where she was born 

you see  where you are from can only be the first verse 

the starting point of the protest song

what follows is the journey about where your going to

and  how we help you get there 

by listening to the lyrics 

and the lessons they teach us for the future 

we can’t afford to be seduced and abandoned

by falling for lies and false promises 

or ignoring the 1 in 10 

we need to send the selfish homeward 

make them think again on the consequences of their behaviour 

their attitudes that make me a very angry girl 

I come from the generation who dared to feed the world 

and ask when there would be a harvest for it 

a harvest we could share 

with west end girls and smalltown boys 

we can’t let politicians create 100 000 Allentown’s 

or hold back the years in a vain attempt 

to keep us in what they think is our place 

in the rat trap they’ve created over years and centuries

to preserve what they see as the natural order 

with those McGinn sang of at the bottom 

with independence lies the hope of a better Scotland 

though we will still have our problems 

and protest songs to sing 

in the hope of the finding solutions 

as creatives we have always been political 

critical of our establishment regardless of party colours

and as our future governments will discover

we will always be active citizens

speaking out on the issues that matter. 

.© Gayle Smith 2017 



Hey Readers On the night of Shettleston SNP Burns Supper I thought I would  write my own version of one of the integral parts of the evening which is of course the toast to the nation. I have to say however I tackled it in a slightly different way from the usual toast, as instead of extolling the virtues of the scenery or taking a  constitutional position on where we should or should not be,  well not too much of one anyway, I decided to my toast personal Scotland and the communities and people who make it what it is. I have given it the title Slangevar which for our non Scottish residents is Gaelic for cheers or good health. Yes I know Burns didn’t have the Gaelic but many of us do even if in my case it’s more limited than I’d like. That said, I hope enjoy what I think is a very personal read.


To Scotland
to Glasgow
to the streets of the schemes 
to youthful hopes and teenage dreams
to winter nights that made me smile
to winners of the Danny Kyle
to Matt McGinn
to Edwin Morgan
to a fair and independent Scotland
to those with the talent
to truly create
to equal love
to hope and not hate
to late night buses
meeting chancers
to dad’s who’re convinced
there really good dancers
to woman with the vision
to speak truth to power
to memories both the sweet and the sour
to the bland the brilliant and the absurd
to the guy who told all who would listen
she’s a burd
to the night I stepped out in that gold dress
to the referendum and voting yes
to Nicola Sturgeon
to Rachel Sermanni 
to the one I’ve yet to meet and marry
to friendship’s made through ranting and rhyming
to proving life has silver linings
to still buying Tunnock’s 
to beating the cringe
to three weeks of mayhem
at the Edinburgh fringe
to Gaelic to Scots
and to all mother tongues
to believing our day will finally come
to fighting the fight
and to playing it fair
to Sammy’s The Danny’s
to night’s at Blue Chair
to honouring Burns
to traditions and culture
to knowing there is much
I have to still to discover
to so many voices I have always  respected
to my large chosen family
all of whom I’ve selected
to those who have travelled
this journey with me
I will say Slangevar
to  the Scotland I see.

@ Gayle Smith 2016

The Way That We Express Ourselves Is To Sing A Song Of Fairness

Hey everyone I note with interest that in the week of the SNP conference the Sunday Express expressed its outrage that Scottish schoolchildren are to use one of the most bigoted headlines I have ever seen being taught to sing for separation.

On reading this article I have to say I was quite frankly totally and completed appalled at the standard of journalism and the blatant misrepresenting of the facts.

You see the sentiments in papers like the Sunday Express may go down well in the shires of Tory England and amongst the less educated members of the Scotland is British brigade but they in no way reflect what is actually happening in the real world.

This article is nothing more than free propaganda for the laughingly titled better together campaign and it implies with its misleading title that this is some kind of nationalist indoctrination rather than the perfectly legitimate right of our democratically elected government to make sure that Scottish history and culture is taught in Scottish schools.

On reading the article it was hard for me not to feel a surge of patriotic pride especially since it managed to upset that lethal if bizarre combination of billy boys and bully boys at the better together campaign office. You see it is and always has been my considered opinion that project fear really do fear Scottish children learning about our own history rather than being brainwashed into believe that we are no more than a colonial outpost of the great Westminster Parliament and that our history began either 1690 with the battle of the Boyne or 1707 with the treaty of union.

I was also very impressed by the songs chosen for our children as they reflect our cultural and social values to a far greater extent than learning about an ancient English king who wouldn’t have been able to hack it on Come Dine With Me. Well old Alfie boy made a dogs dinner of those cakes. Also whilst we are on the subject of misfit monarchs I remember being thoroughly bored by tales of another king who would one suspects have been a regular visitor on the Jeremy Kyle show due to his inability to keep his trousers on. I think his name may have been Henry.

As I said some of the songs chosen really impressed me. Amongst my particular favourites were the Burns classic Scots Wha Hae which must surely be one of the candidates for the national anthem and his chilling indictment of the union the brilliant parcel of rogues. Also on the list were Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye a traditional anthem of the pro independence republican left, and the more recent Caledonia which though made famous by Frankie Miller was penned by Perthshire musician Dougie MacLean is another deemed too Scottish by our friends in better together.

Now I hate to inform these people but someone has to do it. To deny that Scots were angry at the time of the union is to deny recorded history and is no way anything other than a factual account of the time. To say otherwise just because it contradicts by evidence I might add the official better together party line is I say mentally deluded and a complete and total denial of reality.

Also i am very proud to see a song by my good friend Steven Clark amongst on the Express list. It is a song I have sung along to on many occasions in the past when Steven has graced the stage of Words and Music at Sammy Dow’s. The song Jock Tamson’s Bairns is in no way anti English or indeed anti British and holds true to the vision of an inclusive Scotland which is shared not only by those of us who support an Independent Scotland but also many of the saner members of better together and to say it wasn’t would be insult our most decent opponents.

The Express however has conveniently decided not to let this get in the way when it comes to a right good scare story. So what’s their problem with it?
Well you see the song mentions refugees coming to Scotland from nations such as Iraq Turkey, Somalia,
and Zimbabwe. You know the kind of refugees the Express doesn’t like. What a pity Steven didn’t think to mention refugees from the city of London moving to Scotland to escape the terror of socialism.

Unfortunately for the Express Steven writes songs about the real world and no city boys or girls would ever flee London in terror of Socialism. No they would just terrorise the people into believing that socialism was evil and only they could cure it. So it seems that a song about empower and human rights offends these people, I hate to say this but why I am not surprised?

They also seem to demonstrate their lack of both culture and class by claiming that the wonderfully emotional plea for cross border friendship Both Sides of the Tweed by the brilliant Dick Gaughan is unsuitable for the ears of teenagers. This is probably because it destroys the better together myth that two neighbouring countries who used to share a union can’t be friends These uncouth urchins have obviously never heard of scandinavia where such a social union has worked well for decades.

Undaunted by the fact that Jeremy Kyle would tell them that they had failed every question in the lie detector they also target songs such as Ding Dong Dollar. This is a well known protest song on our country’s honourable principled and long standing fight against nuclear weapons and was an anthem of CND in the 1960’s and 70’s. The trade union movement also took a hammering from the most Thatcherite paper in Britain as the Matt McGinn song If It Wisnae For The Union was also slated by the better together spokesperson.

I also don’t get the fact these people seem a tad upset about our students learning some of the work of Robert Burns. This to me at least has the sickening stench of hypocrisy which these cultural peasants wish to manipulate for political gain. Yes George Robertson you did hear me right. After all I know it’s not Scotland which has no culture. On the contrary Scotland has a thriving culture and that is what you and your friends find so difficult to cope with.

So I conclude with an uncomfortable truth for better together. The question is this, so what if Scotland’s school children are learning about Scotland. What’s your problem with that? Are you scared that when our children do find out more about our history and about what the union’s really like they won’t put up with it any more. I suggest that is exactly what your afraid of, in fact I say your not just afraid of it your absolutely terrified. It’s just a pity it didn’t happen 40 years ago.

I believe it is time to face facts Scotland and England are very different countries with very different political beliefs. This is the same with Wales and Northern Ireland. It is time to stop fighting this fact and instead to actively embrace it. Britain has to die a natural death before four feuding family members can ever become good friends and neighbours that Geography insists we should be as we are able to express ourselves in our own voice singing songs of freedom and fairness as we seek to build a better future not just for our country but for the global family of nations in which we must all play a part.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Notes On A Quarter Life Crisis

Hey everyone. As regular readers of tartan tights will be aware Thursday’s are often my most cultural day of the week and this week was no exception. After lively and productive writing sessions at Tollcross and GoMA I journeyed to the south side of the city to Queens Park Cafe to take in a one man show from one of the brightest stars in the Scottish spoken word scene Kevin Gilday at the south side festival fringe.

Yes you did read it right it is a Glasgow festival and it does have own unique fringe. Well, Edinburgh isn’t the only festival to wear a fringe with style. I mean Glasgow is a very cultural city and I’m not referring to blade culture or gun culture. After all we have long and proud tradition of the performing arts in Glasgow and of those arts be it theatre poetry or music having a distinctly radical edge to them. One only has look to the words and music of Matt McGinn the poetry of Agnes Owens and Edwin Morgan and the ground breaking theatrical productions of Wildcat and 7.84. to illustrate the fact that Glasgow is and always has been a city where the workers voices have always been heard and the words of the scheme have always resonated with the masses.

As I made from the city centre I was worried I may be running late. Fortunately this was not the case and not only did I arrive in plenty of time for Kevin’s show I arrived slap bang in the middle of the show by a visual theatre group Insert Reality Here. This was an excellent story told by mine and the use of masks as a range of characters who portrayed a typical Glasgow night out.

Yes this excellent production really did capture the spirit of our city centre with everything from scary neds to women dancing round the handbags girls falling out of nightclubs and other realistic images which demonstrate Glasgow night life at crazy chaotic best. I have to admit I particularly liked the beggars with the any spare change sign which changed to fuck off when they realised the crowds were ignoring their desperate plea. At the end of this of enjoyable theatrical spectacle it was time for Kevin and his notes on a Quarter Life Crisis and believe me he didn’t disappoint.

Right from the start this highly talented performer decided he was in no mood to mess around and got off the poetic starting blocks with Usain Bolt like speed as he opened the show with the title poem and described himself with mocking irony as a man boy without a moral compass or a clue. Believe me he was being very ironic as his poems show he has both and politicians could do well to listen the words of a radical thinker not slow to voice his opinions on whatever needs addressing.

From topics from unemployment to class tourism, From the importance of geographic location, to depression and many others Gilday had a poem to let us know his views on it and they were often as informative as they were entertaining.

Amongst my personal highlights were. Dear Green Places Of Glasgow in which he gives us his own unique take on Glasgow’s parks and provides a landscape interpretation of the city which will always be appealing to a geographer such as myself. In this poem he navigates us round the city from Tollcross in the heart of the East End to the wide open spaces of Kelvinside in West and he illustrates what a cracking environment we’ve got. Oh god its just dawned on me I’m beginning to sound like a member of the Green Party.

In My Father’s Son he charts the similarities between himself and his dad. Like his friend and contemporary Stephen Watt, Gilday is not afraid to look at the sometimes thorny issue of 21st Century masculinity or indeed to do it West of Scotland style. This in my opinion was a serious poem on an issue with which Glasweigan males have always found it difficult to grapple with. Acknowledging the similarities and differences between the generations has never been an easy topic for Scots and particularly Scots men who have had their right to express the emotional side of their identity crushed by cultural oppression and general stiffness of the British colonial rulers for over 300 years. The fact this gifted young wordsmith shows a willingness to deal with it demonstrates that there could soon a new and very different Scotland from that which existed even in the fairly recent past and I’m talking as recently as the McConnell Years when Scots had to be manipulated in to crying by the British press and media.

In Black Dog Days where recalls his battle with depression. Middle Class Love in which he takes a look at love across the class divide and Welcome to Dennistoun where he examines the contrast between living in the real world or living in the West End. To paraphrase a certain bank commercial Kevin I’m with you all the way.

This is a show packed with speed power and rapid fire delivery but whilst these are all desirable qualities the reason Kevin Gilday is such an excellent poet is because he works hard at his craft. He knows performance is important but he also knows that you have to have something worth performing and that he certainly does.

On Thursday. I heard the voice of a new Scotland. It demonstrates a young man whose at ease with himself and all his contradictions. Well every poet should have them, we need them for our art. It is my belief that a good poet should like a quality restaurant should have something on the menu to suit all customers and Kevin Gilday showed he really is a man for all tastes.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X