Tag Archive | Scotland

The Day The Phoenix Rises 

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

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

the locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using lsnguage and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

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

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Speak To The Night

On day 26 of NaPoWriMo my poem looks at women’s safety and is based on the story of what  happened as I waited for a bus on my road from an enjoyable Last Monday at Waterston’s and why I was grateful to have the companionship of another woman at the bus stop as drunks and beggars stopped to give us their chat. Like it or not I do feel vulnerable in this situation and if there is one thing I’ve noticed since I started living as a woman it’s the fact that  you never see men get this kind of unwanted attention. This is as every woman knows one of the perils of living in a blatantly patriarchal society. Believe me the need for feminism in 21st  Century Scotland/ Britain is as strong or maybe even stronger than it’s ever been, I wish it wasn’t but it is. 

 As you can imagine thinking of a title for this poem wasn’t easy which is why I called on the services of my friend and National columnist Nadine McBay who suggested the title should be Speak To The Night which I think describes perfectly how my companion and I felt as the drunk guy approached us, so that is the title I’m running with. 
Trust me when I say that this is a very difficult topic to talk about as no woman should ever feel vulnerable on any streets in a so-called civilised society but the fact is many of us do and that’s why I had to write this poem.   I hope you find it  a challenging and thought provoking read.  

Speak To The Night 

At a bus stop, two women wait 

for different buses to take us

on homeward journies 

in the distance a drunk man appears 

we show no fear 

but hope he won’t stop for a chat 

unfortunately, he does exactly that 

evening girls he says you alright 

the silence broken he speaks to the night 

I worry my tartan tights may attract attention 

he slurs words beyond my comprehension 

my younger companion assures him we are fine 

 eventually he gives up  taking the hint 

we just want to be left alone 

he staggers on convinced we are either lesbians 

or a mother and daughter out for some women time 

as he goes in whatever direction

the wind blows him 

a begger approaches asking if we have any change 

we politely say we have none 

he shuffles on his way 

as we both complain about the unseasonably cold weather

we enjoy a blether 

 about what men would call women’s stuff 

finally a bus arrives 

I feel  guilty on leaving 

a girl I don’t know 

to face the night alone 

and like a mother I pray 

she gets home safe 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Smelling The Roses

​On day 24 of NaPoWriMo I decided that political satire would be my poetic weapon of choice after seeing a UKIP candidate’s response as to why they are standing for election on social media. After laughing so much it nearly split my sides I remembered what I’ve always known namely politics is a serious business and though UKIP might like to portray themselves as lovable eccentric guardians of tradition they are in reality anything but. In fact truth be told these people are of the hard right conservative school of political thought and have some very  extreme and dangerous views. It is with in mind I decided to write this poem in the form of a UKIP candidate’s speech to highlight the type of country I don’t want to live in. The title for the poem was chosen for me by my Norwich based friend and fellow poet Andy Bennett  who selected the title Smelling The Roses. I hope you enjoy the read. 

Smelling The Roses (The Thoughts Of A UKIP Supporter) 
You ask me why I want to be elected 

well I’ll tell you 

it’s because I believe

  the British way of life is under threat 

and I want to put forward  solutions 

I couldn’t give a damn for devolution

the revolution has to be stopped.

I’m a proud Scot but I know my place 

so here’s what I think we need to do 

to put some pride back in the red white and blue 

I’ll start with sports

 I am convinced every child  should learn to ride a horse 

but as for golf , those courses are environmental disaster 

and a threat to the safety of our people 

and that is something I cannot abide 

still on environmental matters 

I want plastic bags abolished 

they are a threat to animals especially whales and dolphins 

as for an independent Scotland forget it 

I’m a proud Scot but 

Westminster is our colonial master 

and we should be content to keep it that way 

Mrs Thatcher was wonderful back in the day 

I’m a plain speaker and say what’s on my mind 

which I think you’ll find enlightening 

some people find my views on capital punishment frightening 

I think the death penalty should be restored 

but I wouldn’t bring back hanging 

the guillotine would be better 

and I’ll tell you something else

we’re heading in to world war three 

due to China, India , and the SNP 

that lot are a public danger 

and it’s all to do with 

money, and greed  

we in Britain do a lot for charity 

comic relief is wonderful 

so is children in need 

talking of children 

I think poor people shouldn’t have them.

now this is only my view 

but in my united kingdom 

mother’s should stay at home

to look after their little darlings

there should be no support for nurseries 

but all schools need classes 

and education needs reforming 

 this is a warning we are heading for  world war three 

I blame it on the SNP 

it will have nothing to do with Tony Blair or Theresa May 

personally I think we should go to war with Spain over Gibraltar

after all we’ve beat them before

when we sunk their Armada

remember the Falklands it was great wasn’t it 

yes I know there were millions unemployed

and living in poverty 

but we had pride in the flag

we were respected then 

now it’s all this political correctness lunacy

there is no such thing as an LGBT community

that kind of thing should be kept private

behind closed doors

you get good and bad people of all types 

talking of rights

I believe Margo MacDonald’s right to die bill

should be put to referendum 

well old people are living too long 

though working them till there 70 

should tire some out 

well if there dead  we don’t need to  worry about their living expenses 

we really need to come to our senses

the free bus pass scheme has to stop 

these people should be encouraged to walk 

I know you’ll be shocked at some of my views 

but here’s the bit you didn’t hear on the news

I would reopen public loo’s 

and create community gardens

yes I know I maybe hard on some issues

but believe me we don’t have time for tissues 

 it’s time to wake up and smell the roses. 

 © Gayle Smith 2017 

Private Property 

On the day the UK is plunged in to political uncertainty and Prime Minister Theresa May decided to go the country and call a General Election despite claiming there would be no such election till 2020 you may be surprised to know that my poem for day 18 of NaPoWriMo is not about my thoughts on the upcoming election but on something which I see as far worse and degrading to women and that’s the sex for rent scandal which has come to my attention through the work of National columnist Vonnie Moyes. I have to admit I was genuinely repulsed when I heard of this practice and the fact is happening in the early 21st century in a so-called developed country is something I find both bewildering and sickening. Indeed such was my anger at this act of Victorian style barberism that I had to write a poem on it to make my feelings clear on the issue. I have given the poem the title Private Property I hope you find it a challenging and thought provoking read.

Private Property

 

It shouldn’t be allowed 

not in a civilised society 

but this is the horrible reality 

for young women in Scotland and Britain today 

we can’t just wish it away 

it’s happening and it’s happening now 

as women struggle to get on to the housing ladder 

unscrupulous males are acting as  landlords 

offering sex for rent

accepting only girls who show pictures 

maybe a flash of leg 

 or a page three shot in  bra’s and knickers 

they and only they will be given a bed for the night 

they will gain this reward 

in  return for satisfying 

their owners pleasures and demands

this is a picture too disgusting to paint  

yet these men ask us to understand 

that they are doing women favours

I disagree,

 you see, I believe every women has the right to shelter 

it is a basic human need 

we cannot condone those who use greed 

to exploit the housing crisis 

for their own immoral ends

we can’t  let this go on 
if we do how long will it be 

before someone is killed by this madness

my sadness on hearing this story 

has given way to anger 

and those who believe

 they can have their own private dancers 

must be shown the error of their ways 

this is not a business arrangement

it’s human trafficking 

 and it needs to be called out for what it is 

we need to tell the guilty 

you can’t get away with this

no man has the right to take 

a women’s kisses 

we do not live in caves 

we will never be slaves 

this crime has to end and end now 

no woman will ever be a cash cow 

we should never be rented out 

our bodies are private property

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Scotland Of The Heart

On day 6 of NaPoWriMo I remember that today is not only Tartan Day but also the anniversary of the Declaration Of Arbroath in which Scotland asserted our sovereign right to independence. Bearing this in mind, I decided that it may be a good day to assert my own personal politics and share my vision of the Scotland I want to see I’ve given it the title Scotland Of The Heart I hope you enjoy the read. 

Scotland Of The Heart 

It was on this day

 our nation  declared our right

 to full independence 

so being a socialist , and feminist 

I suggest it is a suitable day 

to say what I have to say 

 declare my personal political views 

I want a Scotland of all colours and hues 

where rights are protected not taken away 

and being lesbian , gay bisexual or transgender

does not mean you surrender to bullies 

who want you to cower in fear 

Let me make it clear 

Intolerance is not an option 

 being English, Irish , Indian or Lithuanian 

or indeed a child of any nation 

does not mean you should be excluded

or made to feel unwelcome 

in this country  I call mine

my Scotland of the heart 

so where do I start to build this land 

you must understand I can’t promise miracles 

or turn water to wine

I won’t claim that everything 

will always be fine 

but what I will say is this 

I want a Scotland which will be comfortable discovering itself 

a land which will tackle health based inequalities 

fight poverty and be a good international citizen 

I declare a personal interest in advancing the chances 

for women and girls both at home and elsewhere in the world 

I want an education system which works for all 

not just the better off 

middle Scotland is not my Scotland 

my Scotland is a Scotland of the schemes 

I had dreams back in the day 

I was always a gab with something to say 

and that’s not changed 

I don’t want our youth to be 

estranged from the country 

they grew up in because politicians 

lacked the vision to take big decisions 

on environmental matters

Scotland is not just for the chattering classes

the schemes need to be  free from pollution

for our children to breath cleaner air 

I despair when some think that short term solutions can be given 

as  answers to long term problems 

I want a Scotland which will hold our heads high 

where people have a sense of belonging

not because of where we’ve been 

but where we’re going to go 

and what we will achieve 

when we get to our destination 

I seek my inspiration from ordinary citizens

I want a country where ambition is normal 

and not the preserve of others 

I want a Scotland which will be comfortable discovering itself 

happy with what it finds

and determined to not to rest 

but be the best we can be 

I want a Scotland free from disappointments of yesterday

which doesn’t wallow in the past 

Or drown its sorrows 

I want a country where we plan for tomorrow 

by the actions we are already taking

I want a bolder brighter nation  

where nobody will be shaken by propaganda 

from outside sources 

who make the gullible panic 

when they talk of divorces 

and  implied costs 

I want a country which will not be bossed 

I want a Scotland which doesn’t know its place  

 declares that  it’s time to be  brave 

and despite all the obstacles we face

creates a country we can be proud to call home. 

©Gayle Smith 2017

Lessons 

On day 3 of NaPoWriMo it is time for a political poem and it may not come as too much of a shock that the  topic of choice is independence. What may however be a bit of a surprise is that the tone of the poem comes as a warning to yes supporters to learn the lessons of history to avoid repeating the mistakes and indeed disappointments of 2014. In this poem I urge our supporters to offer the hand of friendship to those voters who voted no in 2014 and set about winning them over to Yes and winning a better Scotland because of it. I have given it the title  Lessons I hope you enjoy the read 
Lessons
If Scotland is ever to see the day 

when we become an independent self governing nation 

we must learn the lessons of the last campaign 

we cannot afford to win the day 

and lose the future 

economics may be not my seducer 

but it is effective for many 

and that penny needs to drop  

we have to recognise its power 

or the flower of Scotland will never truly bloom 

our country will not be won 

by slogans, clipboards, and demonstrations 

though they will play a part 

we must use the head and speak from the heart 

be inclusive of all communities 

and not be afraid of tackling deeply held prejudices 

amongst our own supporters 

as to why we think the way we do 

this will be a challenge 

but it has to be faced 

we can’t simply wish it away 

and hope our opponents are magically cured 

of the loyalties which bind them to  union 

this is why we never won last time 

we need to engage and say clearly and with honestly 

we can offer no guarantees 

but neither can our opponents 

and we need to call them out 

when they claim otherwise 

there are no such thing as certainties 

to pretend that the present is set in stone 

is not the solution 

we were told we would never leave 

the European Union 

yet Brexit and the isolation it will bring 

will turn us more selfish and right wing

as gradually the UK becomes ever more insular 

with xenophobia masked as the new patriotism 

this is a vision I do not share 

I despair that our civic Scotland will be under threat 

and every word we say will be scrutinised 

the smears and lies have already started 

winning the future is not a job for the faint hearted 

we have to offer the hand of friendship 

to those who voted no in 2014 

not accuse them of killing our dreams 

in moments of anger and frustration 

it is too easy to throw about words like independence and nation 

without explaining why we would better than Westminster 

at running our own affairs 

I want to live in a country that cares 

for our most vulnerable citizens 

not a United Kingdom based on wealth patronage and privilege 

that’s why my identity is Scottish not British

I don’t want to live a land which still fantasises  

about a past when they called other countries colonies 

whilst keeping their own people poor in the name of empire 

 telling them they should be proud 

they couldn’t feed their families 

I don’t want to live in a country 

where people are devalued due to race , religion , gender or sexuality 

where diversity is demonised 

and difference is viewed with fear 

to me  these kind of attitudes

are barriers to the progressive society 

I’ve always believed in 

I know there will be some in both the SNP and yes

who will be uncomfortable with me 

because of the way I dress 

and the fact I am a woman with a trans past 

but I’m prepared to take the chance

 that our very different versions of what independence should mean 

will be keenly contested in elections in which Scotland’s voters matter 

as for now I’ll accept them as allies 

in defeating the spin and patter 

coming from unionists with agendas 

the way the Tories have been behaving 

they might as well start singing no surrender or Rule Britannia

or giving pensioners free photographs of Margaret Thatcher

rather than trying to pretend 

they give a damn about our country 

we need to debate them on the issues

we need to win ugly 

by convincing those voters who are willing to listen 

that Britain belongs in the past 

though I admit it  may have been good for some 

 this battle needs won 

not for Auld Lang Syne 

nor memories of old 

we’ve got to be bold for the future generations

those growing up 

and others still to see the day 

it is their future that’s at risk 

we can , we must, we will do better than this 

when we learn our lessons 

the future will be ours. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

On Tartan Tights Fifth Birthday It’s Time For Celebration 

​I can’t quite believe how it happened but according to WordPress  tartan tights has reached its fifth birthday. Well it was actually yesterday, but since my post was published in the dark of a Glasgow evening it probably took  till the next day for WordPress to know that a new blogger had arrived on the Scottish blogging scene.

 Yes time passes quickly when your having fun and my wee blog has had it’s own corner of the internet for five whole years. No matter how many times I say this I can’t quite take it in. There is however one thing I do know,  and that is that from first post till now  it’s been one helluva rollercoaster ride. 

 When I started tartan tights I wasn’t even sure if anyone would read my thoughts and musings, now however I have a core of regular readers, not only from my home city of Glasgow but throughout Scotland , the UK , and the world.  

The last year has been a period of change for tartan tights and the changes I’ve made have resulted in more personal posts which have allowed  my readers to get to know me better. I now believe my blog is more diverse than ever before and topics covered in the last 12 months include everything from theatre to fashion shows from bra fittings to the homeless world cup. I even posted 50 random facts about me which you’ll never know if you don’t read the post. 

Of course this has been a challenging time for me with the change of focus which I mentioned in last year’s birthday post  but challenges are something I’ve never shirked and I don’t intend to start now. Well anyone who tackles both NaPoWriMo and Blogmas has to be fond of undertaking the odd challenge or two. Either that or be completely mad and I can list both of them  amongst my accomplishments since my last  blogging birthday.

You know I’ve often been told that women get bolder as we grow older and believe me this also applies to trans women and trust me I speak from experience. Well how else can I in my mid fifties possibly explain my decision to post outfit of the day posts.This is something I would never have considered at this time last year, but you know what I’ve been stunned at the positive reaction I got from them and the confidence that has given me. 

So what or should I say who  encouraged me to take this leap of faith? Well if I’m honest, I could say that Becky Bedbug is a bad influence on me but I won’t, I’ll just say it was a number of bloggers who talked me in to going for it and I have to say I’m really glad they did.

Since I wanted to make my blog more female focused such a gamble was always on the cards and as I said  I’m very happy at the feedback my forays in to fashion have been getting. I was especially pleased when   Laura Doherty, (pictured with me at the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper) who is not only a regular reader of this blog and  but also one of our council candidates for  Shettleston told me how much she was enjoying them at our  branch’s biggest social event of the year . It’s a really good feeling when a risk pays off and to have one my party’s brightest stars giving me this kind of support means a lot to me

Talking of support I don’t know where I’d be without my support network of poets, political activists,  and fellow bloggers.You know who you are and you have inspired me in more ways than you know. Without you tartan tights would never have become the blog it has and I would never have done so many interesting things in the past year, or over the lifetime of this blog. 

So I’ll finish this post by making a promise to you  and that is to make tartan tights the best it can possibly be by producing what I hope will be enjoyable and  interesting  content on a wide range of issues. As I do so I ask you to raise your glasses to my blog, to the next five years and beyond and whatever else you do 

Keep reading tartan tights 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X