Tag Archive | Peter Russell

We Came To The Gathering Where Happiness Lives And Magical Memories Are Made We All Have Home Wins At The End Of The Night As We’ve Scored Personal Goals On The Stage. 

With November upon us we prepare for a Words And Music which will undoutably feature the theme of remembrance. It is therefore important to remember the events an October edition which was memorable in many ways for the 12 of us in attendance and perhaps even a wee bit controversial in places. That however to this poet in particular is no bad thing as it is the job of the bard to tell their truths as they see them. 

It was with very much on my mind that I started my set with two poems the events in Catalonia declaring my support for Catalan Independence. In my opening poem The Currency Of Hope written on the Friday night before the referendum I wish my Catalan comrades good luck and urge them to stand strong against threats or dirty tricks from Madrid. I fillowed this with a poem written the morning after the vote and Storm Of Sorrow was my imeadiate and angry reaction to the brutality Catalan voters faced at the hands of the Spainish state police as they exercised their democratic right. 

Having got the night off to what some would say was a controversial start I invited Angie Strachan to the stage to restore some sort of sanity to the proceedings but then I remembered it was Angie and decided to let her get on with what she does best. Putting on her sensible suit at least temporarily Angie performed three poems the first two of which Happiness Lives, and Tandem Causa Bonna Triumphat gave the impression that Angie can be sensible when she has to be . However her final poem proved that Angie like me is sensible only in emergencies and Scarlet Fever the tragic tale of a burlesque artist proved that normal service had been resumed as she came back to her brilliant if ludicrous best.  

As Angie went back to her seat it was the turn of Mary Wilson to share her words with the gathering. On this occassion Mary started with a comic piece about A Snooty Thermostat, she then read two nature based poems after observing the behaviour and habits of squirrels before finishing her set with a poem on getting older entitled Dealing With Age.

Mary was followed by Susan Milligan whose pieces Beyond, and In Heaven For A Day were well received by the company before concluding with a song which this month was I Can Sing A Rainbow. 

As Susan rejoined the company it was time for Peter Russell to entertain the company and this he most certainly did with six excellent poems all of which were elquenty executed in his typical laid back style.  Peter started his set with Visit From A Taxidermist before changing tact completely for A Sestina On The Cafe Neon, he then read the  powerful and thought provoking Our Necks Saved , before noving on to my personal favourite in this set 62 Sunningdale Avenue which is a beautiful poem on his first childhood home. He then concluded his set with Are You Better Yet? and his final poem From The Ground Up. This was a top quality set of well crafted poems for a skilled and talented wordsmith with a keen observational eye. 

Talking of talented wordsmiths it was as always a pleasure to introduce one of my greatest mentors Derek Read who read three poems which were all tied to some extent to his quaker beliefs. In his first poem Diving For Atlantis Derek looked back  with affection on the life of the late Catherine Walker. He then read a piece from the Quaker book by Adrian from Brunei  before finishing with The Gathering. 

Derek was followed by Claire McCann who read a short piece before returning to her seat as Alan McGlas led us to the bar break reading The Hairy And The Smooth which he informed us was based on a biblical story and following it up with the bitingly funny All Over The Place which shall we say was slightly more personal in nature. 

After an enjoyable bar break It was time for our featured  writer and on this occasion it was club stalwart Alex Frew who took his turn in the spotlight. Though primarily known for his more humourous material Alex has many strings to his creative bow and he showed the full range of his work in a set which covered a range of different issues . Alex started his with a poem And Then He Spoke Of Death and followed it up with another slightly more humorous take on the same topic with a poem on what the comedian Billy Connolly would like inscribed on his gravestone entitled Is It That Time Already? 

This was followed by Cutting Down A Tree and a poem on what Alex referred to as night terrors called From The Deeps before the poem which I thought was the highlight of his set Three Photographs Of You in which he pays a brilliant emotional and heartfelt tribute to his mother . It was no surprise to anyone who heard this lovely piece of poetry that he got a wee bit teary on reading it but I’m sure his mother looked down and smiled as he did so and was proud of the son that she raised. Speaking as his friend of more than 20 years I know we are certainly proud of both Alex and his talents. 

Having completed what was undoutably the hardest poem in his set Alex (pictured below) decided to give us a musical interlude with a song titled You Ain’t There before returning to poetry with a piece entitled Patterns. This was followed by the brilliantly funny My Friends Are All On Prozac before winding up his set with Doctor Krippen and A Dear John Letter.  

Picture (1) Our featured Writer Alex Frew shares his thoughts with the gathering)

As Alex went back to take his place amongst the gathering after an immensely enjoyable set it was time for the featured musician to take their place on stage and  this time that honour fell to Alex’s partner in rhyme , crime and musical mayhem and the other half of Ayrshire’s answer to Batman and Robin the one and only Andy Fleming.  Andy like Alex has been a Words And Music regular since the 1990’s and has entertained audiences in his own unique style ever since. 

Andy (pictured below) started his set which with the exception of his last song was made up entirely of covers with Killing By Degrees (Bad Karma) This was followed his rendition of  that well known country song A Heartache Following Me. He then sang both country and Motorhead songs before his unique Johnny Cash style  performance of that 1980’s girly classic which was one of my personal anthems  Girls Wanna Just Have Fun.  He moved on from this with That’s What People Say before performing what he introduced as the Bum Songs but was actually Sea Of Heartbreaks and followed it with the Run DMC song My Adidas And Me before an excellent rendition of the Talking Heads classic Physco Killer  and concluding his planned set with Word Up before we demanded an encore for which he sang one of his own songs Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass. This I think was a fitting way to end a kick ass performance from a top class musican and consummate performer.

Picture (2) Andy Fleming our Featured Musician struming his stuff whilst covering classics 

After our featured performers I sometimes look for someone to bring the room back to normality. Unfortunely I couldn’t find anyone who would do that on this occasion but thankfully Steve Allan who was making a welcome return to the fold after a period of absence was availble to be the penultimate performer of the night and bring even more madness to the evening with his hilarious story about some people arrive in heaven in very quick succession. Since Steve said it didn’t have a title I decided to call it God’s Spreadsheet as I think kinda fitted the narrative of the story. 

With everyone who wanted to having performed it was up to me to bring the night to a close with the final set of the night. I did so with a set of four poems three of which were receiving their first ever performance. 

I started my set with Home Comforts a poem on homelessness which is the only poem in the set which had been performed previously as I have read at a number of events in the last few years. Mindful of the fact that Scotland still had a slim chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup Finals in Russia  I followed this up with a very personal football poem titled Home Win which chronicles my first Scotland match as a woman and shows the emotions I felt on a day which ended with good results for Scotland and for me.

 For my next poem I moved from football to feminism and in Sugar And Spice I set out my very personal agenda as to why stereotyping is a never a good idea and why I set my own rules in life. It has to be said this poem was not universally popular and one good friend went as far as to tell as much when I chatted to him after the event. I feel however that everyone is entitled to their opinion and though I do not agree with him and he by no means spoke for the room his opinion is nonetheless a valid one and I accept it for what it is and agree to differ with him on this opinion. I concluded my set with Badge which was written after a visit to the theatre to a trans related play. This was one of the most personal poems I’ve ever written and to share it with a group of writers which included some of my closest friends just hours after I wrote it meant a lot to me and judging by the reaction it received at the end of the performance I think it also meant a lot to them. 

At the end of the night Steve Allen was kind enough to give me a lift home and as I reflected on the events of action packed evening I thought that we come to the gathering where happiness lives and magical memories are made we all have home wins at the end of the night as we’ve scored personal goals on the stage. 

Till next time .

Gayle X

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As Poets Told Stories Of Martian Transvestites And Men With Contrarian Blues A Song Told Us All We Had No Need To Fear We Wouldn’t Get One Star Reviews

As we return from the madness of what will forever be the fringe and get ready for the September edition of Words And Music, It’s time to look back on the events of August night which set me up well for the upcoming fringe. With Andy Fleming and Susan Milligan lined up for the featured slots I was ready for a night to remember and it was with an open heart and mind that we welcomed both old friends and new to our wee Tin Hut we call home.

As always I kicked off the night with of my own poems and in this case I selected  my tribute to David Bowie A Vote Of Thanks To A Martian Transvestite as this was how my mother first described Bowie a man whose music she would come to admire in my pre teen years of the early 1970’s.

Job done it was time to call the first of our billed readers and Mary Wilson read three poems By The By Bucketful, Have A Nice Day, and Happy Days before returning to take her place among the gathering. 

After Mary it was the turn of one of rising stars of the spoken word scene Angie Strachan to share her thoughts  and musings and believe me the self styled queen of modern suburbia entertained us in that unique way that only she can. Angie started her set in a way only a mammy can with Fat, a brilliant and emotional poem her  daughter Chloe over her concerns regarding body image and why a mother’s love is and will always be unconditional. This was followed by her election poem Ma Dug Is Better Than Your Dug in which she expresses all too clearly her frustration with all the petty points scoring which is or at least seems to be the lot of election campaigns these days. Angie concluded a thoroughly enjoyable set with Random Temptations her poem in praise of her favourite supermarket which for those of you who don’t know just happens to be Aldi. This is one of these poems which is always enjoyable to listen to and shows that even the self ordinary activities can provide inspiration. 

Next up was Peter Russell. Like Angie, Peter is a poet whose work I really enjoy. On this occasion  he started with Prohibitions By Order in which he expresses his concerns for humanity and the direction of political traffic. He followed this by performing Contrarian Blues. In this poem Peter laid out the five arguments he had with himself during the course of a day. Being a political animal myself I  love this poem as it reminds me of someone I see  every time I look in the mirror. From politics Peter moved on to music and in particular Jazz which has always been a passion of his with a poem entitled What I Know About Modern Jazz , The Bird, The Train, And Getz. He continued the jazz theme in his next poem Kinda Blue which was written for another of his heroes Miles Davis, before finishing a very entertaining set with Whose That Knocking At The Door.

As Peter returned to his seat it was the turn of Alex Frew to take the stage. As regular readers will know Alex often uses humour as a weapon to make his point  and he did so again in the second of his two pieces. In his first piece however Alex showed that when it matters he can be serious with his story Careless In The Community in which he highlights the issues facing the most vulnerable members of our society.For  his second piece Alex performed a  tongue in cheek song I Got A Silver Cape about his experience of working in social care and demonstrated the truth of the age old saying if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Fortunately he chose the first of those options to make some very important points and I for one am glad he did so. 

After Alex , Claire McCann stepped up for her five minutes on stage and performed a song entitled Devon Remix. Claire, was followed by Derek Read whose poem A Quiet Land spoke of the sectarian tensions this Whirral lad witnessed growing up  in the Merseyside of the 1960’s . This poem  has always been one of my favourite pieces of Derek’s work as the story very similar to my own and shows that the sectarian problem of the July of the Ulster  marching season has impacted on other areas of mainland Britain and is not unique to Scotland. 

As Derek returned to his seat it was with great pleasure I welcomed back Suzanne Egerton to the Tin Hut for the first time since March as a combination of holidays and hospital appointments meant she had been unable to take her place among us. On reading her story Conked Out Suzanne reminded us what we’d been missing and that was a quality performer and  fantastic storyteller who has a natural way with words  

After Suzanne’s welcome return it was time to welcome a new face to our night and though Robert Neill was known to me from nights at the Kilmarnock edition a few years back this was his first appearance at the Tin Hut and he gave one of the performances of the night as he took to the bar break in style by performing four pieces all of which I found very enjoyable listening Robert started his set  with a break up poem Ayrshire style titled You Left Me For The Man That Works The Road.  This was followed by a song titled Fascist Girlfriend , in which he laments the idea of abyone ever going out with someone with such dodgy political views. He then movved on to a poem entitled Beep Beep before concluding his set with a brilliant take on the latest time lord or should that be time lady shenanigans in Doctor Who’s A Women Noo in which he muses on the fuss being made by some of the whovian fraternity about a development most of us would call progress. 

After an excellent first half and the chance to catch up with friends at the bar break it was time for our featured writer and this month it was Andy Fleming who was given the task of entertaining the company and he  duly did so by performing  his own brand of Words And Music as only he knows how.

Andy started  his set  with two pieces written for past McGonagall suppers  and since they both have incredibly long titles which I can’t actually remember off by heart I will say that I enjoyed them both and both contained references to vegetarianism. 

Having established his vegetarian credentials with his opening poems Andy (Pictured Below)  then established  his musical ones with his song Middle Aged Part Time Punk. This followed by Too Bad,  and the song which describes every fringe performers nightmare One Star Review. Having reminded me why I’ve never yet taken a show  to Edinburgh Andy moved on through his repitoire with I’ve Been To Places, City Of Strange Delights, Everybody Knows, and The Party Dress before concluding his set with one of his classic songs as he took us on a visit to The Pound Shop and like the pound shop Andy  is very good value who will  never get a one star review from me . Well let’s be honest the man is  a five star performer and Words And Music regulars know it.

Picture (1) Our featured, writer Andy Fleming


As our featured writer went back to his seat it was time for our featured musician to have their time in the spotlight and in Susan Milligan we had someone who loves to sing and is particularly fond of songs she heard growing up. Susan (Pictured Below) started her set with a  song which I must confess I hadn’t heard before called I Begged My  Mum To Stay before moving on to more familiar territory with The Carpenters classic from the 1970’s Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby.

Picture (2) Our featured musician Susan Milligan 


 Susan followed this with the Marianne Faithful hit As Tears Go By and the Perry Como song For The Good Times which was a favourite of my dad’s  and wasn’t easy to listen to but I thanked Susan for singing it at the end of her set. For her penultimate song Susan  stayed with the ballads and  performed Help Me Make It Through The Night which was made famous by Gladys Knight and The Pips. This is a real power ballad and Susan put everything in to it and gave a cracking performance of a song which isn’t really in her natural style. Susan finished what was a very entertaining and enjoyable set with what I consider to be her signature song Rock And Roll Waltz which was originally made famous in 1950’s by American singer Kay Starr . On this night however  it was Susan who starred on the Words and Music and gave her best performance to date in the six years she’s been attending the event. 

After our two excellent featured acts there was only one thing left to do and that was for me as the last poet standing to bring the night to its conclusion. I did this by performing a set of four poems starting with my fiercest poem of all and for those of you who don’t get the reference the poem was The Lemon Dress which is the one I performed at the Women With Fierce Words event at the Scottish Poetry Library on the opening day of last year’s Edinburgh fringe.

I followed  this up by reading Two Rolls On Sausage , a poem on the challenges faced by people with Mental Health Issues. For my penultimate poem I switched the focus to activism and read Frontline a poem on the power of protest marches and the role they’ve played in my life. For my final poem Our Stories,  I stuck with activism but this time it had an LGBT theme to it as I told the story of my coming out and  the importance of pride especially during the early years of my transition.
With my set completed  I thanked everyone for their attendance and 12 happy campers made our way in to the night ready for whatever challenges this festival month would bring our way and as poets told tales of Martian Transvestites and men with contrarian blues a  song told us all we had no need to fear we wouldn’t get one star reviews 

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 

The Little Lessons Teach You A Lot About Yourself If You Listen To The Voices In Your Head

As I prepare for the March edition of Words and Music  it’s time to look back on the events of a very eventful February. To me February is the month when we cast aside our party clothes after the excesses of the festive season and return to a place of normality as we wait to see what the coming year will bring us. It was with this in mind that I allowed myself a quiet smile of satisfaction as we began to gather for the evening ahead. 

 You see it was at this last year when we started our enforced break having been told by our previous home only at the very last minute that  they no longer opened on Monday and Tuesday nights news which threw both myself and the event in to chaos. Eventually however we did find a new home and having settled in to it baptising with the kind of Christmas and New Year shenanigans that only we can have , it was now time to settle in  and enjoy it as the surroundings take on that comfortable feel you can only have when you feel truly secure on your journey to the future.  

Talking of journies, our featured writer had travelled from Edinburgh to be with us and Matt MacDonald being the kind of sensible organised man that he is had even arrived at the venue before I had. Now that’s what I call dedication and as we enjoyed some pre event social time Matt told me how much he was looking forward to the night. 

As the crowd gathered I got the night started dead on 8 o’clock as I tend to do these days. I think the change of home has been good in this respect as whilst at our old familiar venue that was our home for 25 years I was mindful that Pamela would often get me to hold back from starting to wait for some latecomers to arrive, however on moving home I decided to change this and start as soon as the clock strikes 8 and welcome others as they arrive. 

As soon as the clock told me to,  I started the evening with a new poem which hadn’t even been written when we gathered in January to bring in the bells.  The poem Winter Miracle, recalls a childhood memory in which I relate the story of a boy who had never seen before in arriving in Glasgow and how  our teacher didn’t share our excitement at sharing a winter memory with our classmate and friend.  

With my job done, it was time to move on and enjoy the rest of the night and who better to kick off the madness that will forever be Words and Music than Andy Fleming who marked his first appearance of the year by singing Voices In My Head. Now I don’t know if Andy does get voices in his head but if he does they must be very talented ones to produce the kind of work he does. 

Andy was followed to the stage by his friend and mine Alex Ftew who read three pieces Land Fever, No Parrots, and a cowboy story entitled Lannigan which reminded me of the kind of wild west programmes my dad used to watch in the 1970’s. 

As Alex returned to his seat it was the turn of another of Words and Music’s most regular contributors to entertain the company and Pete Faulkner did just that with a witty yet sensitive story about a shy boy who becomes a superhero This was an entertaining and heartwarming story with which despite the gender differences I could easily identify. Well it’s a little known fact that the minute I put my tights on I become the tartan wonder woman 

Anyway that’s enough of my ramblings for Pete’s sake and as Pete Faulkner left the stage it was another Pete or should I say Peter who was next to bring his talents to the table and trust me Peter Russell is a man of considerable talent. 

On this occasion, Peter read three poems The Becks Blue Blues, Mr Murray’s Words which is written as a tribute to Les Murray, before concluding his set with the brilliant America First, a poem which offers hope for a troubled country as he reminded us of the resilience of the American people 

Next up was one of my favourite poets and one of my favourite people, I refer of course to the excellent A R Crow. A R, started their set with a poem on mental health issues titled Ask Me If I’m OK. This is not only a wonderful piece of powerful thought provoking poetry but also serves as a reminder to the audience and society at large that we should be looking out for each other more in these turbulent times . 

A R continued their set with a poem on anxiety, before concluding on a poem entitled Queer Is This I poem I really enjoy despite the fact that as a trans woman  I would never use the word Queer to identify myself. I do however recognise that A R who identifies as a non binary person in other words does not identify with the notion of male or female gender identities is using the word in a positive context to empower themself rather than the negative stereotypes which were associated with it when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s 

As A R rejoined the company it was time for Susan Milligan to claim her five minutes and take us on a trip to her world. On this occasion Susan performed Mia, Love Lust and Lullabies, My Not Sonnet , and A Laddie which was written in Scots, and finished as she usually does with a song . As Valentine’s Day was just a week away at the time of our event I think the song of choice which was the Conny Francis number Where The Boys Are was I think a fitting one and I know that it’s a song she likes singing. 

After Susan it was Alan McGlas who led us to the bar break as he performed three pieces which started his classic Honey Nonny Nay before moving on to Hors D’oeuvres and bringing the first part of the evening to a close with his take on A Happy Marriage. 

During the break I caught up with Robin Cairns who was making a welcome visit to Words and Music and he told me of a new project he’s working on which is by far his most ambitious to date and his most serious piece of theatre since Sawney Bean and believe me it sounds intriguing and like all of Robin’s projects I’m sure it will be top quality entertainment.  

Talking of quality we started the second half of the night in   traditional way with our featured writer and in Matt MacDonald we had the kind of poet whose thoughtful well crafted work is always a joy to hear  

Matt started his set with poems on his home city of Edinburgh kicking off with a poem on friendship entitled 29th September 2011. He followed it up with Bloodlines , before moving on to Arthur’s Seat and then the last  poem of this part of his set The Island Of Broken Sky. At the end of this poem Matt took us on a journey not to broken skies but to the Western Isles of his ancestors and in particular the isle of Harris which his cousins still call home.  In his first poem in this section of his set Whisky Pebbles relates a tale of childhood adventures that warmed the hearts of the audience as we travelled back in time to share the experience with him. This was followed by Little Lessons a poem Matt wrote for his grandfather.Matt then moved on to another Harris based poem and Packing Up in which he shares a memory of a trip he made with his mum. For  his final poem Matt (pictured below) read Signposts In Gaelic To My Edinburgh Eyes and in doing so completed a  truly magnificent set which was both educational and easy on the ear. This is a poet  worth hearing and enjoying a poet grounded both in the craft and his heritage who writes lovingly of his family and trust me his family have a lot to be proud of. 


Having  Matt travelling all the way from Edinburgh and being up to my neck in Celtic Connections for practically all of the festival meant there was no featured musician but this meant I decided to double Matt’s fee and I don’t think there was anyone who would object to my decision.  

After Matt’s sublime performance, it was Claire McCann who had the challenging task of following him and to be fair to Claire she  gave it her best shot performing  two poems The Room, and The Square. Personally I thought The Room, was the stronger of the two as it focused on the impact of social class on  friendships and relationships and I have to  say I quite enjoyed it 

Claire was followed by January’s featured writer Suzanne Egerton whose storytelling skills have won her many friends over the years she’s been attending Words and Music. On this occasion Suzanne read a story entitled Patience and as usual her characters were brought to life using the  warmth and gentle  wit for which she’s become know.

At the end of Suzanne’s set it was time for which the penultimate performer of the evening and it was great to welcome Robin Cairns back to the Words and Music stage. On introducing his set Robin said that he had been inspired by Eveline Pye’s set of poems which documented her time in Africa and as a result of this inspiration he has written his own set of poems on a topic he knows well and that topic is commerce and industry. In a highly enjoyable set Robin read commerce and industry before finishing with That’s Why The Lady Is A ….. in which he showed that if satire’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. 

With everyone who wanted to perform having done so , it was my job to conclude the night and bring it to a close. I did so by  performing two poems Global Warning which was based on my mother’s unique and slightly eccentric  reaction to the idea of climate change and Yesterday When I Was Young which takes a reflective look at my life to date

With the evening now satisfactorily concluded we made our way in to the night and started on our homeward journies. As we did so I mused on the fact that the little lessons teach a lot about yourself  if you listen to the voices in your head.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

  

An Eclectic Cultural Selection Box Was Just What I’ve Always Wanted. (My Review Of The Christmas Last Monday At Rio) 

Hey Readers

I start this my 22nd Blogmas post  with a very serious question.

When is an event which is usually held on the last Monday of the last month held before the last Monday of the month?

The answer is when the event is Last Monday at Rio. Now come on readers especially the poets amongst you I said Last Monday at Rio. The poets should now be shouting Rio as they read this. You see the reason that there is a slight change of date for December is because the man I call the maestro and genial host of this amazing night, Robin Cairns likes to take a nice wee break during the festive season so by tradition we congregate just a wee bit earlier than ususal for the December edition of the event.

On this occasion coming so close to the day itself there was a very festive atmosphere with everyone in top form for what was for many of us myself included, our last performance of the year.

Amongst the highlights on excellent evening of entertainment were fantastic contributions Alisa Williamson whose set on the joys of married life made me wish I was in my mid 20’s rather than my mid 50’s, Jim Ewing (see picture below) whose poetic review of the year went down a treat and Suzanne Egerton whose story The Christmas Tree illustrated why I have selected her to bring in the cultural bells as January’s featured writer at the New Year Words and Music

Picture (1) Jim Ewing At Christmas Edition of Last Monday At Rio


There were also outstanding sets from Jane Overton who was this month’s featured writer at Words And Music, Anna Crow, Nancy Lippold Ingram, Peter Russell, Lesley Traynor, Janet Crawford whose poems about her love for sons had me welling up emotion, Alan McGlas who had us all in stitches with his bagatelles and Monica Pitman whose set included a traditional Lithuanian Christmas song. 

To perform in such exhaulted company is indeed a great honour but I seemed to get a few giggles and some audience reaction with my performance of Christmas Lies, (Just What I’ve Always Wanted ) Having enjoyed my short spell on the stage I decided I wanted to do only  one poem to get maximum impact, I went back to my seat to take in the rest of what was a fantastic night with Karen Jones, (see picture below) and Alain English the pick of a very merry bunch open of mic slots. 

Picture (2) The brilliant Karen Jones entertains the company as Karen Cairns, Suzanne Egerton, and Alain English look on. 

As for our featured act Colin Donatti I must admit to having a very slight bias. You see, Colin was one of my earliest influences as he was one of my first writing tutors back in the early 1990’s. So I knew I would be getting a writer of quality and substance as that was exactly what we got as Colin shared his poetic thoughts and musings with a crowd who were only too willing to listen. 

And so ended this year’s Last Monday at Rio and with my performances for 2016. You know it’s strange to think that despite the event now coming up for its 10th birthday which I believe Robin said it celebrates this coming April and me having hosted an event for 11 years and performed at venues at various locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond, it took me till March this year to make my debut at this event. Now however, I’ve performed a fair few times at this excellent evening and see it as an important part of my cultural landscape. One thing I love about Rio is the variety of acts and topics which make up this manic but magical Monday and from Christmas Trees to reviews of the year and Lithuanian Carol’s this electic cultural selection box really was just what I’ve always wanted  

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

The Night With Two Endings Was The Night We Saw A Star

Hey Readers.    
As I get ready for the annual festive shenanigans which is the Words and Music Christmas cracker it’s time to look back on the events of magical November in which our featured acts were a mixture of youth and experience and there was the welcome return of some our most popular characters to our cultural family fold.

As is now customary I opened the night dead on 8 o’clock and this months opening poem was House Rules a comic poem on the rules I believe every girl should set before moving in with potential suitor. 

Job done, it was time to open the floor to the first of the billed readers and is was a tremendous pleasure to welcome my long standing friend and supporter of Words and Music Alex Frew to give us his unique take on the world. In his first apperance at our new home Alex read three poems starting with My First Telly, before moving on to the more serious topic of Care Homes and then lightening the atmosphere with his final poem Trumpets which was his ‘ tribute ‘ to  followers of a certain Donald Trump. This was a top quality set which illustrated why Alex pictured below with Andy Fleming) is so highly rated by yours truly and such a welcome addition to our company whenever he can make it along.

Picture (1) Alex Frew And Andy Fleming take in their new surroundings with Maryanne Hartness looking on.

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Next up was first time performer Mary Wilson. Mary had attended the October edition of our event just to see what she thought of it and I’m delighted to say she decided to come back. On this occasion Mary decided she would perform and on her debut performance she read three poems and I can remember the titles of two of them This Is Where We Come In and Canvassing Time. I have to say as a political activist for the SNP I really enjoyed canvassing time through I’m not sure I agree with all the, sentiments expressed in it.  

Next up was Peter Russell who read two poems Sandy Denny’s Wake and Only Those Who Change To Themselves Stay True. Both of these poems were powerful , passionate and filled with brilliant imagary which is the hallmark of one of most refreshing voices on the spoken word scene at the moment.

Peter was followed to the stage by the man I view as my mentor, the one and only Derek Read. On this occasion Derek read a poem by Louis McNeice and one of his own poems on The Closing Of The Burrell Collection and it’s great to see a talented poet beginning to find his way back to the spoken word scene as ill health has curtailed his appearances in recent times.

Picture (2) Derek Read Regales the company at the Tin Hut with his unique brand of entertainment.

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After Derek it was the turn of Alan McGlas to entertain the company and Alan read three pieces Silver Birch, Difference, and Glasgow Docks all of which he delivered with his customary aplomb before taking his seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.

As Alan made his exit Susan Milligan took her five minutes in the spotlight reading two pieces Fancy Veichle, and Back Doors On Buses before concluding her set with a song about Shipbuilding.

After Susan’s set it was the turn of Suzanne Egerton to share her cultural thoughts with us Suzanne started her set with Autumnal an excellent prose piece which showcased her ability as a storyteller who really knows the power of language and the impact it can have. Unusually for Suzanne who has gained a reputation as a quality prose writer she decided to show her poetic talents with us and Tuppence For him which she wrote about the closure of the Ravenscraig steel works was the work of a quality wordsmith Suzanne finished her set by returning to the world of prose for Arc Of An Affair before returning to take her place amongst the faithful.

Next up was the ever entertaining Fingers who led us to the bar break with two of his more serious poems which he tends to read around the time of Remembrance and So The Politicians Said and Keep The Home Fires Burning, certainly gave us plenty to think about as we stopped for a well deserved bar break.

After the bar break it was time to welcome our featured writer and in Marc Sherland (pictured below) we had a man of experiance and a consummate performer who is well practiced in the art of stagecraft and knows how to work an audience

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Picture (3) Our Featured Writer and keen Words And Music supporter Marc Sherland takes The Tin Hut stage

Mark started his set with Flourish, and moved on to Rumination, Braveheart which has I am pleased to report nothing to do with the Mel Gibson movie of that name but was a very moving tribute to his late brother who endured a personal battle with disability throughout his life. After this emotional and personal piece, Marc read the Edwin Morgan classic poem Strawberries, and his reply to it Kirkpatrick Hills which I enjoyed as every bit as much as Morgan’s original. He continued his set with Rip It Up And Start Again and Practising My Best, before concluding a fast paced and enjoyable set with This Is For The Fireman Who Saved My Life and his final poem Nice Shoes.

As I said I enjoyed this set but then I always enjoy Marc’s work he’s a quality writer and has a style to his  performance which like his sonnets can only be described as uniquely Sherlandian and that to me is great news for the Scottish spoken word scene.

After the featured writer it was time for our featured musician and in debut girl Caitlin Buchanan who was making her first appearance at Words And Music I believe we have unearthed a star who will enrich the Scottish, British , and Global traditional music scene for decades to come.&nbsp

Caitlin (pictured below) started the best debut set of any featured musician since a certain Anna Meldrum with The Cinema she followed up with moving Another Top, and The Tallest Tree which is my personal favourite of her songs before moving on to Hope Of Release and finishing an outstanding debut performance with the excellent Fools Gold. I have to admit I enjoyed a spot of bias as knowing Caitlin from the Blue Chair open mic nights I knew how good she was going to be as did Grace Alison who had come along to support her. That said it was great to hear her getting praised by the likes of Andy Fleming and Marc Sherland who unlike me had never seen her on previous any previous occasions and Marc was so impressed by this dynamic young singer songwriter that her gave her his business card at the end of the night.

At the end of her set I had one of those mammy moments with a girl who I think is destined to follow someone else I tipped for stardom the first time I saw her at the Danny Kyle open stage at Celtic Connections her name is Rachel Sermanni. As those who know our traditional music know Rachel went on to win a Danny Kyle award and has gone to much bigger things. Now I don’t know why but I believe I saw someone else who can also follow that path and her name is Caitlin Buchanan.

Picture (4) Our Featured Musician the brilliant Caitlin Buchanan rocks the Tin Hut with her breathtaking Words And Music debut set.

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At the end of two fantastic featured sets it was the turn
of Maryanne Hartness to take the stage however on a night which would still have some interesting twists and turns before it was over Maryanne politely declined to go up as she believed that Caitlin should be the last of the billed acts to perform at that I should wind up the night. With Andy saying earlier in the night that he wasn’t going to perform. I thought I was getting up to bring the night to close and as I read three poems A Stain On The Sunshine and Dress Sense that was exactly what I thought I had done. It turned out that this eventful and enjoyable wasn’t quite finished as half way thorough my round up as I was giving my thanks to the performers, a slightly scootered Derek said that I missed someone was Andy by doing this threw the night in to chaos but for some reason known only to the almighty this seemed to work as Andy then decided to get up after all and performed I Love America in his unique style which makes him such a hit with the Words and Music regulars.

With Andy having made his Words and Music comeback in a way that only he can Maryanne decided that she would after all make her first performance since the flitting and read two poems Old Stories And Halloween before
I brought the night to an end for a second and final time by reading the final poem of the night Walk Of Shame which is a humorous account of a women’s most embarrassing moment and is always well received particularly by the women in the audience. Well let’s be honest they’ve all been through it at least a dozen times and probably will be again. It is what Arielle Karo would call one of those relatable poems on moments only women share.

As I brought the night to an end and everyone made their way back in to the chill of an early November evening I stayed for a while to chat Caitlin and her friends on how they enjoyed the Words and Music experience. As they gave me their feedback which was I am happy to say very positive I told our newest singing sensation that this may have been her first appearance at the event but it certainly wouldn’t be her last.

Naturally Caitlin was pleased with the news and told me she liked the fact she had an appreciative audience willing to listen to her songs. I have to say this comment made me smile and the more seasoned Words and Music regulars will know why. You see we were brought up by good cultural parents, and Hughie and Pamela would always remind us that the best of nights are always enjoyed when poets really listen to the music and believe me we listened as the night with two endings was the night we saw a star.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Dinners Dugs And Poetry Nights With Friends In Familiar Surroundings.

Hey Readers.

Welcome to my photographic review of September. As you would expect it was a wee bit quieter than August but I still managed to have a reasonably busy month and as this review proves it certainly didn’t lack variety.

Picture (1) Is taken at our monthly  Words And Music night at the Tin Hut and what better way to kick off the month than with an action shot of club stalwart Suzanne Egerton.

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Picture (2) is another from the September Words and Music. This time is shows Pete Faulkner making his long awaited debut at the Tin Hut.

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Picture (3) Shows another Pete this time it’s our featured writer Peter Russell whose  taking centre stage with debut girl Angela Strachan looking on.

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Picture (4) Is our last from this particular section and features one of the most promising young talents in the spoken word scene Molly McLachlan who like Angela Strachan and our featured writer Peter Russell was making her Words and Music debut and to say she was breathtakingly brilliant would I think be understating the impact she had on an evening which though low in numbers was very high in quality.

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Picture (5) This picture was taken at at a night I was privilged  to be part of  As the  West of Scotland’s creative community  came together at Fail Better to raise money for refugees in Palestine. In this shot  Francis Lopez is snapped providing some music for the company. 

Picture (6) This shot captures Scotland’s very own pocket dynamo Victoria McNulty rocking the audience with a brilliant set which included the fabulous Coffins From Derry a poem written in support of the displaced people residing in Scotland 

Picture (7) Sees Carla Woodburn perform for the cause.At the time of writing this review Carla is coming to the end of her holiday in Peru but on the night in question like all of us her heart was touched by the stories of horror which are happening  to the people of Palestine 

Picture (8)  Shows Declan Welch in storytelling mode as he tells us first hand of his recent trip to the West Bank and what he witnessed during his visit before entertaining us with his bitingly brilliant brand of music.

Picture (9) On my first night back at the Blue Chair after my adventures in Edinburgh I noticed a couple of friendly faces in the gathering in the shape of our very own Becca and Grace.

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Picture 10 This picture provides evidence that some poets do actually prepare our sets at least a few minutes in advance as I lay nine on the table ready for reading later. image

Picture (11) Shows that it was a lovely sunny Saturday as those of us who wanted a better  Scotland gathered in George Square for the Hope Over Fear rally. In this picture you can see the internationalist vision of the marchers who fly not only the Blue and White saltaire of our nation but also flags of other small nations who wish to have the right to govern themselves such as Palestine and  Catlonia 

Picture 12 Captures the spirit of what this family friendly festival is all about as friends from all over Scotland meet up and share the craic

In Picture (13) the focus moves indoors as I travel from the city centre to the west end and I’m seated for dinner in the luxurious surroundings, of the Polish club where I enjoyed a fantastic reunion meal with a selected group of friends including Steve Allan sitting directly opposite me, Donna Campbell, and Hazel Frew who organised the gathering to celebrate the life of the late Scottish poet, storyteller, and musician Sandy Hutchinson who was a great friend to every one of us.

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Picture 14 Is a  picture of my starter which is one of the best bowls of soup I’ve ever tasted. Honestly Polish style Beef Broth is absolutely delicious.

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Picture (15 ) Sees Christy Williamson read a one of Sandy poems as his tribute to our much loved friend 

Picture (16) Illustrates that poets will always find to time to chat. Here Eveline Pye and Tracy Patrick seated diagonally across from her share a story with Alan Falconer listening intently. 

Picture (17) It was time to tuck in to my main course and the Pork Chop and Chips were so tasty not to mention filling that I didn’t have room for dessert. 

Picture (18) Shows Hazel Frew who suggested the idea of the reunion. We have a lot to thank her for.

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Picture (19) Was taken at the bikers for yes rally on the second anniversary of our independence referendum and features one man and his dug. The man in question is Paul Kavanagh and the dug is of course the wee ginger dug from which his blog gets its name. It was really good to meet Paul in the flesh and put a face to the name especially since he was the first blogger ever to give me a guest post the run up to the 2014 referendum.

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Picture 20 Shows singer/ songwriter Gavin Paterson belting out tunes to warm the heart of yes voters on what was unfortunately a dull and wet afternoon. This however didn’t seem to bother Gavin or the crowd whose spirits were were lifted by this talented musician 

Picture (21) This picture only goes to show that Lord Robertson doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about when it cones to independence, culture or for that matter anything else. You see according to the noble Lord independece supporters are Anti English and Scotland doesn’t have any culture. So bearing that in mind allow me introduce two members of the cultural wing of the yes family. This dynamic duo are English born musician Pauline Bradley and the poetic voice of Radical Renfrewshire Shaun Moore. 

Picture (22) This picture captures a woman with a heart for Scotland and one of key organisers of this highly successful event the lovely Kirsten Storrie. 

Picture (23) Our next few pictures were taken on a night out in Paisley. Yes I know it’s not where you would imagine spending a Monday night however when I was offered the chance to perform at the Paisley Women For Independence spoken word event I decided that Paisley on a Monday night might not be such a bad choice after all and as if to prove I was right one of the first familiar faces I met was the talented local poet Rashelle Reid 

Picture (24) Some of the women sit by the flag we are proud to call our own.

Picture (25) As you can I see from this picture I wasn’t slow at the taking the mic and sharing my words of wisdom. On this occasion my poems of choice were A Woman’s Voice on the importance of women using our right to vote and A Personal Vow in which I give both Gordon Brown and Johann Lamont more character than they were ever blessed with and vow to make Scotland independent and make people matter. 

Picture (26)  Sees Kathryn Metcalfe entertaining the crowd with a heart warming and thought provoking story about the woman shaped her values and believe me on hearing her story I’m sure her mother would be proud of the daughter she raised.  

Picture (27) All girls together for a group photograph which shows independent women of principal passion and power. 

Picture (28). Shows me posing for the camera in an outfit which some of you may recognise from a previous outfit of the day post. 

For Picture (29 ) We’ve move from Paisley to the Drygate Bar at the east end of the Merchant City where the lovely genius that is the wonderful Cat Hepburn is happy to smile for the camera as she prepares for the start of the first ever Sonnet Youth Slam at the monthly night which she co-hosts with Kevin Gilday.

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Picture (30) The Sonnet Youth slam was an amazing night of poetry and represented the power of spoken word at its very best. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges at this amazing event in which Elaine Gallagher (pictured below) was given my highest individual score of any contestant on the night for her brilliant second round poem.

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Picture (31) Shows the poet who was runner up on a highly enjoyable and entertaining evening. I’m so proud to call this amazingly talented woman my fierce sister and friend she is the majestic Katharine MacFarlane

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Picture (32) For my picture in this review I travel to the West End of the city to Cafe Rio for the madness and mayhem that is Last Monday at Rio. This is always a quality night of spoken words and our host Robin Cairns always ensures we have a top quality headliner on this occasion that headliner was Katie Ailes who can be seen here performing her powerful passionate poetry to a very appreciative audience.

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So that was my September. At first glance it may appear to have been a wee bit quieter than August though to be honest if you’re a poet most months are quieter than August and there were more than enough events to keep me occupied and make sure I had plenty to blog about.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X