Tag Archive | The Blue Chair

Tartan Tights 2017 My Year On The Blog 

At this time of year it’s time to look back on the year that’s just gone and I’m delighted to say that 2017 has been the most successful year so far for tartan tights. 

In the past 12 months tartan tights received 15,467 views up by more than 3,000 on 2016 and surpassing the previous highest total of 14, 926 which was set in 2015.  

Yet again the New Year brought a slight change in direction and poetry some of which was political and some of a more personal nature began to become the most  prominant type of post  on the blog. There was also a significant increase in family related poems and in the early months of the year there were a number of LGBT posts. In April I managed to complete my third successful NaPoWriMo after which I took a week off and felt like I really needed it. After all the challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days is more exhausting you may at first think. 

After about 4 or 5 days I was seriously concerned I may have lost my blogging mojo but then I came up with an idea which got it back and big time as I launched my new blog skirting round my life which would focus primarily on trans and women’s issues and I have to say this really helped reconnect with blogging and gave me back my passion for it.  

As for what posts hit the spot in 2017 it was particularly pleasing to see that personal poems played a  prominant part my top five posts which were as follows 

(1) The Clothes Of An Honest Man 335 Views This poem which was written on what would have been my dad’s 90th birthday gives an insight to the man who was the single biggest influence in my life and relates a story of a life in which the seeds of rebellion were sown early as was his passion for equality, fairness, and an independent Scotland. In a more personal context the poem shows of his hostility to organised religion and his deep distrust of The Labour Party whom he often described as Red Brits more than 30 years before the phrase Red Tories became a part of many yes voters lexicon  

(2) The Press Wee Ruth And The Tory Truth And Deliberate Miscalculation 252 Views This post written in the aftermath of the local election results expressed my disgust at the over hyping of the leader of the Scottish branch of the Conservative Party Ruth Davidson who in my opinion is a vacuous one trick pony who only has one phrase in her entite political vocabulary which is say no second divisive referendum  and my post expresses my outrage at the fact she was allowed to get away with this unchallenged by a complient unionist press and media whose hatred for the SNP enabled Davidson to say whatever she liked and get away it.

(3) My Mother’s Daughter 206 Views. In this very personal poem I finally gave my mother the tribute she is owed as I wrote with warmth and honesty about our relationship which though loving was shall we say not without challenges.  This was a poem I had wanted to write for ages as it shows  that though she couldn’t quite get her head round the idea of me wanting to be a girl and eventually a woman like her my mum was  kind hearted and the rules set me in my formative years where an excellent guide book of rules by which to live my life. 

(4) A Woman’s Choice 185 Views. This poem illustrates my personal politics rather than party beliefs and shows that I take the crime of sexual harrassment against women very seriously and as a transwoman I have had first hand experience of this kind of unwanted attention and it is never a nice thing to go through. I wrote this poem for the #metoo social media campaign and I would like to think it was a powerful poem which came straight from the heart. 

(5) The North British Cringe 184 Views.  In this poem written to commemorate our yes campaign and the march to fill Carlton Hill which we did with 30, 000 supporters I look with a significant degree on our opponents in Better Together where I describe what I believe is the condition they suffer from when they deliberately talk  down Scotland and our history and our culture for cash and ermine robes. I titled it The North British Cringe and believe me I’m being far more polite  than I would like to be. 

As for where my readers came from in 2017 I had visitors from 83 countries. The top five countries for visiting tartan tights were The UK(Mainly Scotland) The USA, Canada Australia and Ireland and there were also a significant number of visitors from Italy, Spain, India, Germany France , Switzerland and Netherlands and occasional glances from countries as far afield as Brazil, Morrocco, Bulgaria, and Thailand so it seems that tartan tights is developing an international readership.  So because of this increase in my international following and  for those readers who dont know me on a personal level I have a posted a picture of me at the end of the this post which was taken at the selfie wall for a new make up brand in a Glasgow city centre department store.

It was also a record breaking year for comments with 174 of them comfortably beating the previous record of 147 which was set the previous year and with 324 comment likes I cruised past my previous high of 291 which was set in 2015.  So as you can see, this has been a truly record breaking year for my blog. 

As for the most commented posts. It is no great surprise to me that The Clothes Of An Honest Man was my most commented post of the year with 7 comments. The runner up however was a surprise as I May Not Be A Person Of Interest But I Do Have An Interesting Life which was written after a massive spike in my stats from the USA from early to mid October finished up with 6 comments and Alarm Bells which is poem about Brexit led xenophobia and My Mother’s Daughter both ended up with 5. 

It has to be said however that tartan tights would be nothing without its readers and special acknowledgment must be made to those who are amongst the most regular readers and commentators be it on the blog on social media so thanks go to Amy Cadwallender, at Curvacous Vegan,  Andy Fleming, Angela Haggerty,  Angie Strachan, Autumn’s Mummy,  Beccy Kiernan, Bob Leslie, Carol Allen, Charlene McElhinney, Charlotte Dougall aka Colours Carousels,   Chloe-Rose,  Christina Cannon, Colours Of A Rose,   Derek Read, Diana Devlin Fay Roberts, Janet Crawford, Jenni Pascoe, Katharine MacFarlane,  Katy Loudon, Ksbeth,  Laura Doherty, Lesley Traynor, Lisa-Marie Ferla aka Last Year’s Girl, Peter Russell, Robin Cairns, Sheila Templeton,   Steven Tierney,  Stephen Allan, Stephen Watt,  Susan McKinestry, and Suzanne Egerton, and I thank each and every one of them and many others too numerous to mention for contributing to tartan tights and continuing to support my work.  

Looking back on 2017 it was a good year for tartan tights and the statistics tell a story of success.  The only low point was just at the end of NaPoWriMo when for a week I thought I’d lost my blogging mojo. The fact I was laid up at home during this period with what was a badly sprained ankle didn’t help matters and I think may have contributed to my feelings of helplessness in the early part of May.  

Amongst my blogging highlights this year I was delighted to invited to join the team which hosts the best Twitter chat on the blogosphere Bloggers Do It Better and to write yet again for Common Space on World Transgender Remembrance Day. It was also very pleasing that more posts than ever before reached 100 views including The Flying Winger which is a very personal poem based on the life on my late uncle Arthur Smith That’s Nice a poem on how friends and neighbours react when you tell them your going to a poetry night  and Storm Of Sorrow a poem written in support of Catalonian independence. 

All things considered I believe that this record breaking year for tartan tights has like all years had something to teach me as I aim to become the best blogger I can be and lesson I think I’ve learned in this past year is that you don’t need to worry about finding  your topic because when the muse decides it’s going to strike the subject can be anything from Extra Second  nights at what was The Blue Chair to Mental Health, Global Warming , General Elections,  or even how your friends and neighbours view poetry or the idea of a spoken word scene. The important thing to remember is when it’s ready to be written you’ll write it because you don’t choose the topic, the topic chooses you.  On that thought, all that’s left for me to do is to wish all my readers A Happy , Peaceful, and Successful New Year and hope you’ll keep reading throughout this year and beyond.

Till next time 

Gayle X

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time 

Gayle X 

In Memory Of Catherine Walker 

On the evening of Sunday the 23rd of July  just after 9 PM I was scrolling down my Facebook feed when I saw a message from my friend Marc Sherland. This post left me both shocked and saddened as it told me of the death of our friend and fellow poet Catherine Walker who had been found dead in her flat earlier that day by Marc and another friend from the writers community of which Catherine was an important part , Stephen Smith. Marc and Stephen had made the discovery at around 1 PM on Sunday afternoon at a time when most of us would be enjoying social time with friends and family. Catherine Walker was only 55 years old. 

This picture shows Catherine relaxing at a friend’s barbecue 


Naturally Catherine’s unexpected death has come as a shock to all her many friends in the poetry community and beyond and many poets have  paid warm and affectionate tributes to her expressing their sadness at a the loss of an excellent poet and an even better woman. Her loss pains us all and to those of a similar vintage is a sharp remainder that our light can be  extinguished at any time and makes us all to aware of our mortality. 

It was her compassion for all inhabitants of our planet which made Catherine a keen environmentalist and eventually a vegetarian, but anyone who thinks that these beliefs would make this softly spoken poet one of the tweed and twee brigade whose poems could be dismissed, as airy fairy could not be further from the truth. It is my opinion that her Christmas poem Santa’s on minimum wage is one the most biting satirical critiques I have ever heard on the impact of austerity. 

Amongst the facts  I would never have known about Catherine was that she was a skilled amateur mathematician and was once married to a driving instructor and despite passing her test never drove and was as Marc readily confirms one of the most nervous passengers he has ever driven. 

It saddens me as it will many  others  that a woman of Catherine Walker’s talent has no volume of her  work to leave as her legacy. This was at least in part due to the fact that Catherine, a shy and on occasion nervous woman lacked belief to see, what others who knew her work  would describe as her considerable abilities. 

This was due to be rectified as Marc  Sherland had been  due to publish a book of her poetry sometime this year . However  in January Catherine requested that he put it on hold as she had lost faith in her poetic voice. A modest woman with more talent than she ever knew  her loss will be deeply felt by all whose lives she touched but perhaps most keenly by Marc Shetland who she viewed as her non biological brother and whose family she adopted as her own 

For those who wish to celebrate Catherine’s life there will be a gathering at The Blue Chair Cafe 85 High Street on Wednesday the 2nd August from 7 to 10 PM 

My Thanks go to Marc R Sherland for his assistance with this task 

Till next time 

Gayle X 

This post was first published on Mumble Words on 31/07/2017 

Causalities Of Greed 

Hey Readers 

Later this month I will be reading at the January edition of  Extra Second spoken word event at The Blue Chair on the theme of Climate Change. As a Geography and Politics graduate this topic really  appeals to me and I want to do it justice by writing some new poetry to the theme of the evening. This poem freshly written this afternoon, is one I will consider performing at the event. I have given it the title Causalities Of Greed. I hope enjoy the read. 

Causalities Of Greed 

It’s been gradual 

a slow change 

which happened over time 

an environmental crime 

 caught us unaware

as we were guilty of neglect

for our living space 

our disgrace was the fact 

we failed to realise the problem

the damage it could do 

was doing will continue to do 

If we don’t change 

some dismiss it as strange 

the product of liberal thinking 

unpatriotic 

a fantasy which gets in the way of their profit 

their right to be a money making machine 

ensure their security and wealth 

those in robust health don’t think of long term solutions 

the damage pollution causes 

interested only in short term gains 

they conveniently ignore the victims 

as they watch the world chocking 

unaware they too 

will be causalities of greed 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

As We Take An Extra Second To Share Our Tales Of Tinsel We Provide A Trail Of Evidence Of The Proof That We Were Here

Hey Readers On Day 16 I look back on an amazing day of poetry as I attended two very different though equally enjoyable events and all in the name of culture. The first stop was the Gallery of Modern Art for Tinsil Tales which for those who don’t know is the Federation of Writers Scotland annual Christmas celebration and later on in the evening I went the First Birthday Party of Extra Second Poetry at the Blue Chair which as regular readers will know is one of my favourite places to hang out. Below you will be treated to a selection of photographs of the poets who helped make this day so enjoyable for me.

In Picture (1) Colin Will performs his poems at the Gallery of Modern Art. It was lovely to see Colin as he has been and I am sure will continue to be a great source of encouragement to me and more influential than he thinks in my development as a poet.

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Picture (2) Shows another great friend in former Maker Anne Connolly who like Colin been a huge influence on me over the years and whose quiet unassuming nature disguises a poet who is universally admired by poets of all ages, and styles.

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Picture (3) Shows outgoing makar Elizabeth Rimmer looking on after handing the shield to her successor a highly delighted Andy Jackson.

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By time I had taken Picture (4) I had changed venues in the poetic game of two halves and arrived at the Blue Chair for the Extra Second first birthday party. This picture shows one of the night’s most  regular suporters and  all round good guy Sam Small on the mic giving a wonderful performance worthy of such an occasion 

Picture (5) Has one of the faces that no Extra Second would be complete without. Paul Wardrope has attended every session of the magical monthly culture fest and his raps have become an important part of what gives this night its uniquely enjoyable flavour. 

Picture (6) No Extra Second party would be complete without a picture of the man who started this excellent night the one and only Johnny Cypher. 

Picture (7) Shows the lovely Shannon McGregor making sure she is sitting comfortably to get the best possible view of the evening’s entertainment. 

Picture (8) Is my last photograph in this post and sees a force of nature so powerful her words can blow you away. I refer of course to the majestic Molly McLachlan who came down from Aberdeen to be part of this occasion. That however is what poetry does it makes friends of strangers who make sense of our world as we take a common journey on the same creative train. So in galleries and cafes and wherever else we gather to share our tales of tinsel and our musings through the years we will take an extra second and remember as we do so that our musings are our legacy as they leave a trail of evidence as proof that we were here.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Dolled Up On The Doorstep (The Story Of My Christmas Nails 

Hey Readers. 

Like any girl I love being pampered and on day 15 of Blogmas I decided to treat myself by going to my local beautician and getting my nails polished before heading out to the Gallery of Modern Art and then The Blue Chair for a busy day of spoken word poetry. Well there are times when a woman has to spoil herself and this festive Thursday was definately one of those days

 On arriving at the salon I was in the seating area, for no more than five minutes before being taken in to the nail bar by Joan who as the boutique’s nail technican would be undertaking the task of adding that festive glamour in to my life. 

Picture (1) Was taken just after my nails were done in the CK 1 Salon in Baillieston Main Street. 

As you can see, Joan did a brilliant job in giving me the full treatment and my nails were given  a quick file buff, and clear polish before she applied the first coat of this lovely Apple Red nail polish which I think you’ll agree is the perfect choice for the party season 

As I posed for this photograph of my newly polished nails a young fashion conscious teenager who was in the salon getting her hair styled for the coming festivities commented on how pretty my nails looked.(see picture below) Now to get any kind of compliment from a teenager is very warmly welcomed but was perhaps even more so when you consider I was heading to two spoken word events in one day. 

Picture (2) My Apple Red Nails. (This picture was taken just in case the first one didn’t work 

As I said CK1 is a local business but perhaps I didn’t say quite how local as it’s less than five minutes from my home. This is really handy as it cuts out all the stress of having to go in town. Well given the choice of going in to the city centre to get pampered or supporting a local business who do just as good a job if not better.I know what choice I would make and I’d make it every time because if I’m honest  I would much prefer to  get dolled up on my doorstep. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X  

I Had To Say Yes To A Truly National Party And A Night With My Family Of Friends.

Hey Readers

On a cold Tuesday night in late November when most sane people would be sitting warm in front of the fire watching comfort telly I and many friends and comrades gathered in a ciry centre bar to celebrate a very important and historic birthday which some people said would never happen. 

Before continuing with this post, I should perhaps explain that this birthday wasn’t that of a friend, relative, or neighbour. It was actually the birthday of a newspaper, a newspaper its opponents had written off before the first edition had even hit the printing press. I refer of course to The National which is the only paper which supports the cause of Scottish independence.

The fact that the paper which opponents claimed wouldn’t survived its week long trial run has now become an established part of our media shows beyond question that there is a core support for a newspaper with supports an independent Scotland and it’s my belief that developments since Brexit have the need for such a news outlet more essential than ever.

As I arrived at Yes Bar it was good to see many familiar faces from the last referendum campaign who like me realise the value of the National and acknowledge the fact it has played and will continue to play a vital role in counter acting the unionist message that Scotland is miraculously the only country in the world which is incapable of governing ourselves and prioritising the needs of our people above a  remote Westminster elite who are so far removed from reality their last known address was somewhere west of Pluto.

As I made my way through the crowd it wasn’t long before I got chatting to those around me. First up to chat was Common Space editor and Sunday Herald colomumist Angela Haggarty who told me she had really enjoyed the article I had submitted to Common Space for World Transgender Remembrance Day. To say I was delighted with her feedback would be an understatement. So I think you could say I was a very happy lady.

As I mixed and mingled on a night which was made for celebration it was good to enjoy catch up’s with fellow Blue Chair regulars Aileen MacKay (see Picture 1) and National and Common Space journalist Michael Gray (see Picture (2) with his lovely and talented college Shona Craven) as I hadn’t seen either of them since before the Edinburgh Fringe. During our chat Michael informed me he had recently moved to Edinburgh, so knowing that he likes a bit of spoken word poetry I informed him that when it comes to the fringe then the Banshee Laberinyth is the place to be during the fringe and there are plenty of great nights taking place in our capital throughout the year of which my friend and fellow poet Jenny Lindsay will be only too happy to tell him about. Like Angela, Michael who also works for common space as well as The National told he had read my post for World Transgender Day and thought it was an enjoyable and thought provoking read.

Picture (1) Aileen MacKay at Yes Bar for The National Birthday Celebration)

Picture (2) Two rising stars of Scottish journalism and very much national treasures Shona Craven and Michael Gray

To get this kind of feedback on what was I have to say a very personal post meant a lot to me as I am a serious blogger with serious opinions and a real desire to see a fairer more equal society in Scotland and elsewhere. This is something I have fought for all my life and will continue to fight for until it is achieved, so have my voice valued in this way has lifted my sprits and given me renewed determination to step up the fight. for the Scotland I believe in .

This kind of encouragement is in my opinion typical of what both the National and the yes campaign from which it was born were actually about. It is not an accident when yes voters even now talk of the yes family in a way which the no campaign can never and will never be able to do. You see when we talk of the yes family then that is exactly what we mean and that family spirit was evident for all to see in the Yes bar in this cold winter’s evening.

This was a night when everyone mixed together and chatted like we had known each other all our lives. If you’ve never been to a yes gathering you may not understand but if you have you’ll get where I’m coming from and you’ll wish you’d been among us

As I said earlier in this post this was a night to chat and to congratulate those responsible for producing Scotland’s best quality daily newspaper and I passed on my birthday wishes to the original editor and founding father of the paper Richard Walker and his successor and current editor Callum Baird. In my chat with our current editor I said that I really enjoyed the sports coverage and in particular our coverage of shinty rugby union, and women’s football as these sports are often neglected by established titles in favour of more commercial sports like men’s football, golf , and racing. Our editor’s response was that the team at the National know they can’t compete in terms of resources with the so-called_bigger titles so the decision was taken to give the best possible coverage to sports which are marginalised and may otherwise go unreported

It is this style of honest journalism without the sensationalism of other titles in addition to its support for independence which  has carved The National a very distinct place in the hearts of the Scottish public

In the two years since the first edition (the birthday edition was on Thursday ) this innovative paper has had columns from some of the most powerful voices from the yes movement such as Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie former Hue and Cry star and long term independence supporter Pat Kane, the best political bloggers in Scotland Kate Higgins (Burdz Eye View) and Paul Kavanagh (wee ginger dug) and one of the funniest voices ever to inhabit Twitter the one and only Angry Salmond.

As a fairly recent development in the print media The National hasn’t been slow in embracing new ideas as I illustrated by the fact they’ve given bloggers and digital media commentators a platform to air their views but more than that it have made a positive contribution to challenging the gender imbalance within journalism and more than any other paper it has given voices to talented female journalists. Prominent amongst this talented team of excellent women writers are Cat Boyd who was one of stars of the yes campaign in 2014 the SNP MP for Clackmannanshire and Dumblane,Tasmina Ahmed-Sheilk, her party colleague and Scottish Social Security minister Jeane Freeman MSP, former Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie features Editor Janice Burns and one of Scottish journalism’s brightest stars Shona Craven.

In what an enjoyable and entertaining I had the pleasure of enjoying detailed and interesting chats with Janice and Shona and found them both to be brilliant company During my chat with Shona, she asked if I had ever written to the paper. When I confessed that I hadn’t she told me to get busy and write to the letters page as we need to see more women writing to the papers and expressing their opinions. Well, as she says men don’t hold back in their opinions so we shouldn’t hold back in saying what we think. As those of you who know me will know, this is something I’ve never done and I’ve no intention of starting now. It is however gratifying to receive this kind of encouragement from the likes of Shona and other journalists as it is heartening to know my opinions are respected and it gives me a wee bit more motivation to take my blog to the next level wherever that may be.

Aside for the serious business of mixing with the journalists it was also good to spend time with friends I haven’t seen for longer than I care to remember. One man who could definitely come in to this category is former Scottish Socialist firebrand Alan McCoombes who had travelled down from Dunkeld to be part of the celebration and is pictured below with his daughter Katie.As we chatted Alan told me how much he was enjoying life in the heart of rural Perthshire.I have to say he’s looking well on it I think the country air must be suiting him, it’s certainly a long way from Govan where we fitst met more than 20 years ago. It is however safe to say that though there may have been a change in our personal geographies since we first met there has been no change in our shared vision of a fairer more inclusive Scotland and the belief that independence is the best way to bring that vision to reality. 

Picture (3) Alan and Katie McCoombes both say to being part of yes family.

As I left the party to make my way back to the village I reflected on a lovely night which proved beyond doubt the spirit of the yes campaign is despite what our opponents would say very much alive. You see try as they might to divide us there is a core support who actually have become like an extended family and when push comes to shove will support each other in whatever way we can and take real pleasure in hearing of other’s successes. This unbreakable bond is what made yes campaign the most unique in Scottish political history and led to formation of the National to articulate the values, views , and visions for which we are proud to stand.

Like any family we will have our occasional disagreements but that’s allowed and indeed cherished as we all have slightly different ways of doing things and our particular talents to bring to the table. I mean me and Shona had a difference of opinion over Donny Osmond but we never fell out about it. Well, just because she doesn’t think he’s the most gorgeous man ever born doesn’t mean I don’t value her opinion. In our yes family, debate is encouraged not stifled as nobody imposes their will from on high and tells you what to think

As you can probably tell, I am very proud to be part of this dynamic collection who have been a fantastic advert for Scotland and the fact we have our own newspaper to give voice our to concerns in a way that the unionist press never will is a very heartening development as it is something which only four or five years ago would have been dismissed as unrealistic and written off as an impossible dream.

We should I think be very proud of how far we’ve come in what is a very short time. We have I believe changed the political landscape of our print media and cannot be dismissed as a passing phase no matter how much some of our more vitriolic opponents may want to do so. No matter what the unionists think the National is here and here to stay and that is why when I received an invite to attend this celebration I had to say yes to a truly national party and had a lovely night with friends because I did.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X