Tag Archive | Steve Allan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time

Gayle X

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time

Gayle X

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

Tartan Tights 2016 My Year On The Blog 

Hey Readers.

 It’s that time of year when I post my yearly review of what’s been happening on the blog and there is a lot to talk about for this blogger as I’ve been a very busy lady in the last 12 months.

As the bells rang in 2016 I made a resolution that I was going to make changes to my tartan tights and I knew that these changes may surprise a few of my readers pleasing some and disappointing others but sometimes there are risks you have to take if you want to grow and develop your blog and take it to the next level.  

2016 was a year of challenges for me and I was certainly up for meeting them head on. Not only did I complete my second NaPoWriMo in a row I also attended two blogger events, posted no fewer than five outfit of the day posts which is five more than I’d posted at the turn of the year, and successfully completed my first Blogmas and trust me this is much harder than NaPoWriMo.

As for my overall performance I would say I am reasonably satisfied  and though my post views dipped from just under 15,000 to just over 12,000. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the change of focus from one where political commentary featured prominently to a more personal narrative which focuses strongly on female and trans related issues. 

This is not to say that political issues will not feature on tartan tights. Politics has always been and always will be a big part of my life and as my blog reflects my life  it wouldn’t be the same without the odd considered political rant it’s just that I made a decision to post fewer of them and I think this have a beneficial impact on my blog in longer term. 

As for my top five posts of 2016 let’s just say there were a couple of surprises in it which both delighted and to some extent astounded me. Topics which covered in these were the death of a neighbour and friend. Transgender Remembrance and why it’s important to me. I also looked at Sectarianism and extreme British nationalism and how its supporters made fools of themselves just after the Scottish Election, the  EU Referendum and journey of former no voters to saying Yes to independence and my friendship  with a brilliant young feminist poet who is the greatest talent to come out of Sweden since a certain Henrik Larsson.Yes I do mean you Agnes Torok. The list is 

(1) Driving Instructor 172 Views This post makes history as it becomes the first poem ever to be my top post of the year.  It was written in memory of my much loved and respected neighbour Ed Cullen who died in May after a battle with illness.Ed was described at his funeral as the quiet man who knew everyone and would I think be smiling at the fact that the poem written to celebrate his life beat poems written for  far more famous entrants to heaven such as David Bowie, George Michael, Ronnie Corbett , and Muhammad Ali. This is I think a fitting testimony to one of the genuine good guys.

(2) The Girl The World Never Knew Has Become The Woman It Does 167 Views. The fact that my very personal story of my gender transition and why commemorating World Transgender Remembrance Day is a matter of honour to me was my second most popular post of year surprised me only slightly as it was the kind of post I had thought would reach my top ten but if there were posts which I thought would fair better than they did there were also those which exceeded expectations.

(3) Billy Boys And Bully Boys Are Running Out Of Options As Nicola Was Scotland’s Choice To Play A Better Game  166 views My third most popular post was one of my most contentious in a year in which I tried to steer clear of controversy. This was I have to say one of my most overtly political posts and I didn’t miss my targets who in this case were the foaming at the mouth brigade of extreme British Nationalists that Better Together and the unionist press and media were in constant denial about during the 2014 independence referendum.

It didn’t take long for the unionists very own demented tendency to make fools of themselves after the Scottish election. They achieve this by demanding the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon who had been democratically elected First Minister of our country just weeks before for the crime of congratulation to Hibernian for winning for the Scottish Cup.Final.Unfortunately for them they were put in their place whilst Nicola despite the their deluded rantings remains very much in hers. 

(4) Family Tree 131 views This poem was written to welcome former no voters who voted against independence in to yes family. I wrote it  in the aftermath of the EU Referendum in which the United Kingdom proved it wasn’t as united as some would like to believe as Britain voted narrowly for Brexit and Scotland voted the empathetically to remain in EU. 

(5) Learning Swedish 128 views This poem which I wrote for my friend and fellow poet Agnes Torok after she received hate mail for her ground breaking feminist poem This Is My Body. When it comes to my own work this poem is not just one of my favourite poems of last year it is one of my favourite poems ever because of who it’s about and I was delighted that it got a place in my top five posts.

As for where my visitors came from, I got traffic from 73 countries and my main sites for driving traffic were Facebook, Twitter, WordPress Readers and later in the year Google Plus. As for the geography of my readers the top five countries for generating traffic were the United Kingdom , USA, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. This to be honest I think the was pretty much the top five I thought it would be. Other countries which featured reasonably prominently in my tartan tights visitors list included Spain, India, France, Germany New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Whilst my page views may have dropped in the 2016 it
was a very positive year in other areas as I finished 2016 with 147 new comments on my posts. This is almost double the 76 I received in 2015. This is a great result for me but I don’t intend to rest of my laurels and I will try to improve on this trend in 2017.

During a year which was very active for social engagement my main contributors who posted comments on the blog or on other social media sites are named here and in some cases I will refer to them by their blog name. They are in no particular order, Bob Leslie, Charlene McElhinney, Suzanne Egerton, Last Year’s Girl, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On, GisforGingers, Political Tourist, SoulMurmersBlog, Iain Moss, Colours Of A Rose, Dash Of A Fashion Girl, OfmgFaye, Derek Read, Steve Allan, Katharine McFarlane, Jamie-Lee McHugh, Kelly McGhee, Angela Strachan, Lesley Traynor, Linda Grant, Janet Crawford, Rona Fitzgerald, Jim Monaghan, Sheila Templeton, The Curvaceous Vegan, Victoria McNulty, and Carla Woodburn.

As for my most commented posts of the year. It comes as no surprise that my poem 16 Cinderella’s on the day we launched Women With Fierce Words  got more feedback than any other post. Indeed my only surprise about that post (see fierce women picture below) is that I didn’t finish much higher up the list than it did.

Other posts which performed well included The Great Debate That Never Was which was my poem about the Scottish election debate, my outfit of the day post I Wore My Seasonal Colours With Just A Touch Of Satin, Scotland We Need To Talk About Sex Banish Our Tartan Taboos, and 50 Random Facts About Me.

2016 was as I said earlier a year of challenges and I believe accomplishments. Successfully completing both NaPoWriMo and Blogmas were both rewarding experiences and I will taking on both again this year. However in a year where I believe I have grown as a blogger I believe  my biggest blogging achievement in the past 12 months was getting the chance to write for Common Space on World Transgender Remembrance Day. Common Space has for those who don’t know , been at the cutting edge of blogging and is in my opinion the best  social media news outlet on web,so to be given the chance to share my thoughts on a very personal issue meant a lot to me both as a trans woman and as a blogger.

So as you can see 2016 has been a very busy year for me and the fact that I managed 22 consecutive posts from late November to mid December was no mean feat. In truth the last year was a bit or a rollercoaster ride for tartan tights, it had to be with the changes I made to it. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and are ready for more of the same in 2017. I know I am, well I quite like rollercoasters

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

12 For Dinner (The Thoughts Of A Wordshare Girl)

Hey Readers

On Saturday night in the plush surroundings of the Polish club in the west end of the city a group of friends met for dinner. This in itself is not an unusual occurrence but when it comes to this particular group we hadn’t sat down to dinner together in 14 years.

A lot has happened to us during the intervening years and I guess we just got with our lives and did the everyday things we all do every day. Though we had never managed to get the group together we had always maintained a network of connections and a broader sense of community and some of us would see more of certain members of the group than we would of others. This was not due to any fallouts or other such dramas but was more likely to be due to other factors like geography and availability

We all met when we were part of the Wordshare poetry group back in the late 1990’s I think I started attending the group in 1997 and I stayed with it till it ended in 2002. During this time we not only enjoyed our Wednesday night meetings at the RAF Club but also held larger spoken word gatherings two or three times a year at the Polish Club which was to become a second home to the Word Share family so it was fitting that this was the place for our reunion meal.

The idea for the meal was suggested by Hazel Frew (pictured below) who said it would be a fitting tribute to honour the memory of our late friend and former Word Share favourite Alexander Sandy Hutchinson who sadly passed away towards the end of last year.

Picture (1) Hazel Frew at the Polish Club
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After taking soundings Hazel then got in touch with Basia Palka who got in touch with the Polish club to signify our initial interest and though we had to rearrange the initial date to Basia having family issues to deal with we quickly rearranged the date with last Saturday the 17th September being the most suitable night to bring us all together.

Surprisingly for me I was one first to arrive at the venue doing so just before 7 o’clock. As I waited for others in the quiet of the foyer it wasn’t too long before I was joined by Eveline Pye. After Eveline’s arrival, we headed downstairs to the bar where one by one we were joined by Donna Campbell, Basia and her husband John, Alan Falconer, Larry Butler, Tracy Patrick Jimmy Riff, Hazel and her husband and fellow poet Christie Williamson, and last but not least Steve Allan.

As you can see from the picture below it was a happy and contented crowd who gathered to enjoy the feast and more importantly the company of good friends. As I said to Steve who is sitting opposite me at the table there was no awkwardness it was as if we’d seen each other last week rather 14 years ago.
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Picture (2) The Wordshare Gang

As we tucked in to our starter
which in my case was a massive plate of beef soup see picture below we chatted about the times that brought us together.

Picture (3) My delicious beef soup starter.

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As we caught up with each other’s news the chat flowed like good wine as you can see with next picture as Jimmy and John shared a memory

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Picture (4) Jimmy And John catch up on their latest news.

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Picture (5) A smiling Donna Campbell gets ready to tuck in to her meal

As I said earlier one of the key reasons for this long overdue get together was to celebrate the life of our friend and fellow poet and traditional singer Sandy Hutchinson and Christy Williamson does exactly that as he shares one of Sandy’s poems with us.

Picture (6) Christie Williamson reads a poem of Sandy’s to the gathering with Steve Allan looking on

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Picture (7) shows my main course of Polish Style Pork Chop and Chips and as you can see it was a hearty sized portion. Trust me this was really tasty and I would recommend the food in this venue to anyone

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Picture 8 Shows Alan Falconer in conversation with Eveline Pye seated next to him who is or at least was until Matt MacDonald the only poet to make numbers cool, and Tracy Patrick whose environmental poems are both educational and entertaining.

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Picture (9) Shows Basia relaxing, John reading, and Christie having a well deserved sip of something I think its coffee

Make no mistake, this was a brilliant night and somehow I don’t think it will be 14 years until our next meeting. In fact there have already preliminary discussions about finding a venue in which we can gather to enjoy the kind of night we used to have at Wordshare.

It is in the spirit of that great night at which we made some of the best friend’s we will ever make and had such characters among our number as Crispin Allen and of course Sandy the man in whose memory we had our reunion I would like to invite those who gathered to the Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s Club to the monthly meeting of Words and Music. It is after all hosted by a Wordshare Girl.

At the end of an excellent night I was as tradition dictates one of the last to leave and I would like to think Hazel, Christie , and Jimmy for waiting with me till my taxi arrived to take me back home to Baillieston the village within a city that I now call home and to Glasgow Private Hire for their speedy and efficient service in ensuring my safe return.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

When  We Went To Search For Diamonds We Looked In The Jewellery Box But We Found Them When Bonnie Searched For Clyde In Irish Bars 

Hey everyone.

As regular readers of tartan tights will know August is by far the biggest month of the year for the spoken word community as we head towards Edinburgh to conquer the fringe. Or at very least let it know that the Glasgow bards are alive, well, and giving it laldy as my dad used to say.
So it is perhaps not too surprising that it is a month where attendance’s at Words and Music are shall we say not exactly at optimum capacity

This however is not something I worry about I prefer to think on the quality of the entertainment rather than the quantity of bums on seats. Well if being a regular attender at the fringe for the past 12 years has taught me anything it is that no matter what the show must go on and the attendance of 7 whilst hardly magnificent was considerably higher than a few top quality shows I attended during my month of madness on the mile.

As,is always the case these days I got the night under way with a couple of my poems neither of which had been performed at Tin Hut and both of which had been written in the last few months. I kicked off the evening with Bus Stop Conversations which is about those moments when women will talk to the nearest available sober or at least not puggled female to avoid the attentions be they amorous or otherwise of some random drunk males intent on invading our space.

I followed this up by reading Diamonds a  poem to celebrate the achievements of my local girls brigade which proves that when absolutely necessary even I can compromise sometimes and poem I am quite fond of it because I know the girls it’s about and I’m very proud of all of them. 

Having got the night under the way I then invited Susan Milligan to make her monthly contribution to the evening and what was I think her best set in the five years she’s attended the event Susan read her poems Summer Of Discontent, Sand, and the very funny Holidays Are Us. She then concluded her part of the night by giving her rendition of The Beatles classic hit Here Comes The Sun before returning to her seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.

As Susan rejoined the company it was the turn of Steve Allan to take the stage and have us rolling in the isles with laughter as he his classic poem The Moon on how different poets react on seeing this object of wonder This was followed by Sarah and Stu and the brilliant Disarm before finishing up his set with a set of Haiku’s some of which were his own and some of which were the work of other writers known to Steve and I during our time at Survivors Poetry Scotland including a great friend of Words and Music the late great Sandy Hutchison 

Next up to the mic was another seasoned Words and Music regular Suzanne Egerton. Suzanne is a gifted storyteller and this month’s offering entitled Clearances was no different in that it had fantastic imagery  running all the way through it as it related the tale of a house clearance after a death of a loved one with all the memories that can bring especially if like the character in the story someone may be a bit of a hoarder.

As Suzanne returned to her seat it was the turn of Lesley MacKay aka Traynor to take centre stage and trust me when I say this not something with which Lesley ever has a problem. Anyway Lesley led us to the bar break with three pieces The Dust, Jewellery Box and the hillirious I’m In Love With A Big Bad Wolf. As is usually, the case with a born performer such as Lesley all her pieces were very well received but her last one on the big bad wolf will ensure that I never look at fairytales in quite the same way ever again. 

After the break it was time for our featured writer and when you have a writer of the calibre of Victoria McNulty (pictured below) to entertain the gathering then I would be lying if I didn’t say I there had been a bigger crowd to see such an outstanding talent. Well let’s be honest Victoria is one of the rising stars of the spoken word scene and though some might say I’m wee bit biased I think I’m just stating the obvious. After all she has starred at Loud Poets, been featured writer at Last Monday At Rio, and and had her work featured on BBC The Social. Not bad when you consider that two years ago when Words and Music got ready for our referendum special, Victoria had still to find her performance voice and was yet to make her debut on a spoken word scene she has since gone on to electrify. It is i believe fair to say that she has

You know there are times when your day job can have a beneficial impact on your poetry particularly when it comes to organising sets and Victoria gave a cracking example of this as due to the smaller attender she did what those involved in lecturing, teaching , or training are encouraged to do in certain situations and make an intelligent adaptation to her planned set. This allowed her the chance to try out some new material which she hadn’t performed before so in that way at least the small crowd worked to her advantage.

Victoria started with one of her new poems A Pig Called Taboo before moving on to Love In The Gallowgate or as some people may call it Flirting In Irish Bars. This is a poem I never tire of hearing and it does remind me of many a good weekend spent in some of my favourite bars.

This was followed by Observing In Soho the newest of all her poems which she had only just completed before taking the stage. This piece was written about a trip down to London which she had just returned from the previous evening.

In her next poem Victoria paid tribute to grandfather in her poem Dalriada This is a beautifully written poem in which the warmth of someone who is one of my best friends shone through like a rainbow in the summer sky.

After this Victoria returned to a genre she has made her own with another football based love poem about being in love with a Hibs fan. This followed by the poem which to me best represents a woman who has powerful passionate principles and shows her fire and compassion to empower those who need her support.

In Coffins From Derry Victoria who is a proud Irish Scot illustrates her support for displaced people of Palestine and Syria with one of the best lines I have ever heard when she states ‘ I can never forget my Scotland is cut from the blood of refugees ‘ I have to say that anyone who listens to this poem and is not moved by sentiments expressed in it has no soul and will not get in to heaven. Yes, it really is that good.

In her next poem I Want To Be Your Bonnie Victoria looks at the kind of passionate love which often results in the can’t live with you can’t live without you kind of relationship. This was followed by London Calling a poem which looks the issues facing UK society and gives what the establishment would call a radical left wing critique of what needs to address them. Personally, I don’t think that this poem is all that left wing but then that be because I am a Scottish leftie from a Glasgow housing scheme so I can identify with the problems it raises.

This was followed by another political poem and Alba is s thought provoking piece which really speaks to my condition as a Celtic supporting, yes voting, Irish-Scots Republican. This is a brilliant and highly emotional poem which tells the story of the Glasgow Irish community and recognises in a way no governments of any political hue has ever done the valuable contribution we have made to Scottish history, politics, and culture.

Victoria followed this a new poem entitled How Dye Works, before closing a fantastic featured set with That Generation a poem about the time of hope she had growing up in a world of Brit pop and the belief that anything was possible before seeing it cruelly shattered by the actions of the war mongering Government of Tony Blair who put personal gain before the people in whose interests he was supposed to be governing.
After a set which can only be described as stunning it was the job of the featured musician to bring us back to earth and far from doing this, Bob Leslie, decided that he would keep on planet good times with an excellent and highly enjoyable 20 minutes which illustrated to me at least why the bold Mr Leslie is one of our most regular musical visitors. 

Bob (pictured below) started his set with Starting Over before moving on to The Shenokie in which he related a tale of those who have both the gifts and the wisdom to tell tales to others. This was followed by Collateral Damage (Nothing Else To Do) before moving on to a number which may or may not be about a distant relative of his Sir Alexander Leslie who played a very significant role in the way the Russian Army was run in the days when Russia was ruled by the Tsar’s. 
Bob then showed his gentler side in the songs Dancing With Me Darlin , and Bessie Mennie before rounding off his set with the humourous and autobiographical song Big Dead Bob and the bitingly sataricial One Size Don’t Fit All. 

At the end of Bob’s unique style of entertainment I realised there was only performer on the bill to round off the night and that of course was me. Having read some new poems at the beginning of the night, I decided to revert to old favorites to close the evening. 

I started the set with a Twenty Four Romanians  which I know to be one of Victoria’s favourite poems of mine as it tackles the issue of migration and shows migrant workers and communities are all too often demonised by the press and media outlets. I stayed on the political theme for my next poem Self Service Cafe which looks at what our caring Conservative government are planning to do the benefits system. Though written in 2013 I think this poem is possibly even more relevant with every day that passes. I then concluded my set and the evening with Lost The Plot which is my personal take on a girl’s night out and believe it or not it has more than a grain of truth in it. Trust me names have been changed to protect the guilty. 

With this another Words and Music night came to an end. As I reflected on the events of the evening I think it can be summed up like this  When went to search for diamonds we looked in the jewellery box but we found them when bonnie searched for Clyde in Irish bars.

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X