Tag Archive | Victoria McNulty

When Women Of A Certain Age Decide To Get Fierce The Golden Girls Can Really Rock The Mic. 

​Due to an unforseen accident in the last Wednesday of April, It’s fair to  say that May was a quieter month than usual in my poetry calendar. Indeed I had to postpone my own event due to a badly sprdined ankle.

This meant  there was no Words And Music at the Tin Hut on the first Tuesday of the month. I also missed cracking nights at Fail Better, Extra Second,  Express Yourself, and Last Monday At  Waterstones. In fact the only event I made in the whole of May was on the second Sunday of the month when I captained the over 40’s team in the four  ages slam at the Tron Theatre 

 This was an afternoon which I simply had to attend comes as 0ou I was  chosen by the host and organiser of the event Robin Cairns to captain the team for my spoken word demographic but also the fact that it was my first journey outside Baillieston since injuring my ankle at the tail end of last month Since I was still a bit shaky in the terms of my movement I got taxi’s to and from the venue well it made more sense than going for a bus and potentially making things worse. 

Having been made captain, I had to select my team for the events in which we would be doing battle with the teams representing teenagers twenty something’s and thirty something’s and with an emvarrasnent of  riches to choose from I made a few tentative enquires as to who may or may not be available for selection. Eventually I settled on my choices and in Angela Strachan and Lesley Traynor I knew I had chosen well, whether we would would be able to take on and beat the other teams would be as it is in all slams in the lap of the gods, the aududnce, and the judges.

I arrived early for the big event and was quickly joined by rival team captain and close friend Victoria McNulty who since she was taking a social media break had not heard of my recent accident. As we chatted I told her that this was only the second time I’d left the house since it happened and the other occasion was to cast my vote in the local elections. Eventually I was was joined by my team mates and other competitors including fellow team captains Carla Woodburn , Matt MacDonald. As kick off time drew ever closer we went through to the Victorian Bar took our seats on the stage and waited for the battle to  begin. The rules of the competition were simple all poets would perform twice in a round robin fashion and the two highest scoring teams after the two rounds  would progress through to the final to compete for the title of the Four Ages Slam Champions 

After the prelimaries like deciding  on team names and  the running order,  we were treated to a sacrificial poem from one of our judges Brighton based poet Deborah Martin. Sacrifice made It was time to start the competition and it  was the Young Team who were first to the mic as Aidan Rivett opened the slam with his take on Karaoke.One by one the  poets made our way to the mic when it came to our turn to put our first poem out there I decided to take a captain’s responsibility and lead from the front as I performed Jewel Of The Clyde in which I looked back the impact of Glasgow’s year as city of culture on both the politics and culture of our cityThis being my first ever team slam though I have competed in and judged individual ones, I was understandably nervous as I didn’t want to let Angela or Lesley down so I was glad to get it out of the way and get back to my seat. 

On a day when we played to what was a predominantly non poetry audience who had paid £7 for the privilege of seeing us I think we saw the poetry community at it’s best and those gathered  heard poems on a wide range of topic including domestic violence ( Victoria McNulty) family from both (Adam V Cheshire and Moki , male anger Loki, Sex and taming the bad guy Lesley Traynor with her hilarious take on the big bad wolf, nightclubs, me (lost the plot,) and Aidan Rivett , facebook friendships, Jess Smith , shopping and the perils of giving up  smoking (Angela Strachan) and the dangers of swallowing spiders  from Carla Woodburn. 

At the end of the second round of  poems it was four quality teams who waited for their fate to be decided by the judges two of whom would be judging every poem but the third judge was a different story as this was a different member of the audience for every poem and I must admit I rather liked the idea of what I call poetry democracy in action.

As we waited for the judges decisions I talked tactics with my team to decide what poems to perform if we made it through and also I had to consider who would be placed where in the running order. I took a captain’s decision that should we get through I would be going first , Lesley would follow me and Angela, would be our final poet standing. Eventually , the judges made their decision and we had qualified for the final where we would pit our wits against the young team. It was set up as the classic final a battle of youth against experience. 

Having lost the toss it was the young team who went up first then it was my turn to step up to the mic and I performed one of the few poems I know well enough not to need a paper copy or my phone  and when Karaoke Queen got a maximum score of 10 from the audience member I knew I had played my part to the best of my ability. 

One by one we took our turn at the mic and when Lesley performed her poem my sister sleeps I thought we had grounds for optimism and then finally it was Angela who went all out for glory to prove that the so-called oldies can be Goldie’s and believe me The Queen Of Modern Suburbia didn’t let us down.Now having done all we could do it was two nervous teams who awaited the decision of the judges 

Eventually, they made their call and much to my delight they called it for us. The wise ones had  won the day and our all female team had proven that when Women of a certain age decide to get fierce the golden girls can really rock the mic. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

When Women Are Visible In All Shapes And Sizes It Really Is Something To Celebrate 

At the beginning of the month  I had the privilege to be part of the Visible Women festival a two day which celebrated who and what women are through the context of art, workshops, and discussion. 

Organised by the human dynamo that is Keira McLean, visible women had an action packed programme of theatre and discussion including the premiere of a one woman show by the hottest property  on the Scottish spoken word scene Victoria McNulty, the controversially acclaimed show Gaslight by Darren Loki McGarvey, and workshops on feminist music , comedy and film festivals. 

As a trans woman I was delighted to asked to submit a poem to this festival but me being me I e-mailed three to Keira and let her decide which one she wanted to include. The poem she selected was Does My Lipstick Scare You ? which I wrote for World Transgender Remembrance Day in 2014. On chatting with Keira she told me that she made her choice due to the fact it was the best fit for the event as it challenged those in attendance to redefine their notions and images of women and of womanhood. Looking back I can quite clearly see why she made this poem her choice and I believe that I would have made the same decision.  If you look at some of the artwork featured in the exhibition you’ll see why. 

Picture (1) Women And Words asks a fundamental question on the power dynamics in male- female relationships 

Picture (2) This picture uses a word which is usually used to describe power and authority that an individual or organusation may hold over us in certain situations. Don’t get me wrong the word obey is fine when we use it in it’s proper context like for example reminding children to obey our parents or school teachers, or if we are members of a group, or a club we promise to obey the rules of that club or group. Unfortunately however,when it comes to women the word obey has very negative connotations. In our case it is usually inferred or even stated that we should obey the men in our lives no matter in what capacity. Yes even in 21st Century Scotland/UK this attitude still prevails albeit to a lesser extent than was once the case,but it is still very much out there.

 To me the idea that I should be considered of secondary importance and therefore subservient  to male family members, work colleges , or lovers, just because I’m female is fundamentally flawed but attitudinal barriers are often the hardest kind to break down and we need to remember that it is only  30 years ago that this word was included in every wedding ceremony in the country as part of the bride’s promise to her husband.  Yes I know it says in the Bible that wives should to their husbands but it also says that nobody should eat pork and people can sleep with family members, and I don’t either of these argument work well in today’s consumer based society .

Picture (3) Words,can be used as weapons and they very often are as capitalism promotes inequality between the sexes as the collection captured, in this photograph amply demonstrates.

Picture (4) Gives you a message the established order don’t want you to know and that message is freedom is power. It also asks the most fundamental of questions which is how can you have no home? For women however, this question still needs to be addressed as  more women than men will be homeless due to changes in their domestic circumstances so though freedom may very well be power for men locally, nationally, and globally this doesn’t apply to women who often find themselves out in the cold due to changes in living arrangements.  

Picture (5) If every picture tells a story then the images on this wall speak of judgement with slogans like to cover up and shut up and not fit to be a mother informing us of the standards men or the more neanthadal among that species think women should aspire to.  Now I hate to shatter the illusions of these delicate little creatures but maybe they have their centuries confused. For the avoidance of doubt  this is the 21st and it’s time they stopped living in the 12th

. Picture (6 ) I find this image both challenging and powerful and I’m sure many people will have their own personal take on it.  As for me, my interpretation of the phrase walk with me is that men need to spend a day walking in our shoes to understand the prejudice and discrimination, we still face in Scottish/ British and Global society even in these so-called liberal and enlightened times.  

Picture (7) This image tackles the thorny image of stereotypes. If you look closely you will see a picture of a women’s crossed legs. This in my portrays the idea of woman as seducer, and temptress. It is if you like the typical male view what femininity is about though it doesn’t constitute an image of any women I know.  Indeed if truth be told it provides only one representation of what may or may not be at any given time and as such should not be given a greater prominence than it deserves.  

In the same photograph you can also see the word hysterical. This is a word, which is only ever attributed to women and the implication behind it is that unlike men who are always perfectly balanced, women are not in control of our emotions are liable to throw a temper tantrum if we are not given our own way.  This sexist use of language gives the misleading impression that men are more rational than women and is often used to discriminate against us.

Picture (8) If visible women means making women proud of who we are   then this picture of my friend and fellow poet Carla Woodburn which shows her looking happy, confident, and relaxed  is the perfect picture to include in this post. Carla is a very visible woman in the Glasgow poetry scene and has recently set up her own spoken word night Tell It Slant  at The Project Cafe on the last Friday of the month and with her friendly but professional attitude and her warm and welcoming personality I am sure it will be a fantastic event which will become a valuable part of our spoken word scene in the months and years to come.  

Picture (9) Shows my poem Does My Lipstick Scare You? Hanging on display in the exhibition. Though the text is not clearly visible in this photograph you can quite clearly see that it is a poem in the way it is laid out and I was proud to have it featured at an event which looked at who women are and how we are represented in every way imaginable. On chatting to others who attended the festival , I found that many had viewed my poem and were very complimentary about it saying that it challenged heteronorative norms as to who and what women and told the story of a very visible trans woman who wasn’t afraid to be herself 

Naturally I was delighted to receive such positive feedback on my  work particularly on a poem which I believe challenges everyone but especially alpha males to recognise that trans woman are women and will not be bullied by anyone Looking back at the festival I can honestly say I completely understand why Keira selected this poem to represent my work and trans women more generally as it challenges the notion of patriarchy and illustrates that women come in all types , shapes and sizes and when we can visibly embrace the fact and enjoy being ourselves then  it really is something to celebrate.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

The Tartan Tights Awards 2016 

Hey Readers. It’s later than its ever been due to the fact I’ve had a very busy January but make no mistake it’s  that time of year again. Yes it’s the time when I hand out the honours  that everyone wants to win and welcome you to the fifth annual tartantights awards These awards celebrate the people who have made the past year such a memorable one for me so let’s get this show on the road and get this party started.

As tradition dictates I start this ceremony by naming my politican of the year. By any standards 2016 was a phenomenal year for the SNP and several of their brightest stars, showed why they are so highly thought of both in political circles and increasingly by the general public. Among those I considered for this awards were First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and two of the the party’s brightest Westminster stars Chris Stephens, and Stewart MacDonald, I also gave careful consideration to the co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Partick Harvie before eventually making my choice. On doing so, I selected a woman who has shown a commitment to fighting for Scottish Independence but also campaigning for the rights of women everywhere and who played a significant part in the abolition of the tampon tax. It is this passion for equality and fairness which brought her in to politics and I’m proud to say that our winner of this award is someone I have known and trusted for 10 years as a councillor for Glasgow Carlton and since May 2015 as MP for Glasgow Central. My tartantights politician of the year for 2016 is Alison Thewliss.

Next up is my young politician of the year and my choice is someone who has proven that you don’t need to be a member of a member of a political party to do politics properly. Our winner is someone who isn’t afraid to say the word socialism and if necessary write it out loud in blood red letters.and  who since resigning from the SNP in October  has if it’s possible been even more active than ever before and is as committed as she’s always been to the fairer more equal Scotland she believes in. My young politician of the year is Saffron Dickson.

My vision of Scotland award goes to the politician or member of the public who by their actions has made Scotland a fairer and more inclusive place to live. This year my choice is a woman who organised her party’s first all day equalities conference and by doing so gave both a platform and a voice to members of the BME, Disabled, and LGBTIQ  members which can only be beneficial to the party’s aim of creating a more diverse and inclusive Scotland which encompasses and embraces all of the people who make our country home. My Vision Of Scotland award goes to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik.

Moving on it’s time for my Unsung Hero/Heroine Award This award is given to the man or woman who represents their party without fuss and quietly and effectively gets on with the jobs that need done.This year it goes to a man without whose considerable presence the Shettleston SNP would not be the fighting force of winners we have become. Not only did he  serve as convenor for a number of years he also until recently organised that well known cultural institution that is the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper.My unsung hero for 2016 is Lachie McNeil.

From unsung heroes I move on to future stars as I name my One To Watch. This award is for someone who though they may not be known to the wider public at the moment I have no doubt will become so due to their undoubted talent Among those who merit a mention are Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton  Green MSP Andy Wightman, and SNP councillor Rosa Zambonnini but our winner made history when at the age of just 21 he gained a  seat for the Green Party  on the West Of Scotland list and became the youngest member ever to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. So it gives me great pleasure to say that my tartantights one to watch award goes to Ross Grier.

My penultimate political award is for the politician who has made the greatest impact in the last twelve months  There were a number of candidates for this award, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon , The Green Party’s Patrick Harvie , Mhairi Black, and her SNP colleges Chris Stephens,and Stewart MacDonald all had excellent years but in the end I decided to give this award to someone who has provided leadership to the SNP group Westminster and the only real credible opposition to the most vicious UK government in decades   Our winner  was rewarded by the membership of his party by  being elected as Depute Leader of the SNP at the autumn conference.The winner, of the Impact Award  is Angus Robertson.

My last award in this section is i think  the most appropriate way to conclud it as I name my best political blogger of the year. For the last two, years this has been won by the most yappy blog on the blogosphere namely Paul Kavanagh and the wee ginger dug. This year however there is new winner which has taken blogging to the next level This innovative multi media outlet uses both traditional blogs as well as the occasional video blog or vlog to bring you the stories that other mainstream tend not to cover. It is for this groundbreaking way of making news accessible that my politicial blogger of the year goes to Angela, Haggerty and the team at the Common Space.

Having given out my political prizes it’s now time to focus on the community  awards and where better to start than the blogging community. Only two years this section had only one award but tonight it has three. These are, Scottish Blogger of the Year, International Blogger of the year, and for the first time the new award of Vlogger of the year. So as you can see I have a lot to get through so let’s crack on with the Scottish Blogger of the year. This is always a very hotly contested catagory and this year was no different with Colours And Carousels , Frankly Ms Shankly, G Is For Gingers, and  Last Year’s Girl all given serious consideration but I have to say that for, writing the best post Brexit post I’ve seen so far and several other posts which have made me both think and smile simultaneously my winner of the Scottish Blogger of the year award is Lucie L Dhog for Tetris And Cheesecakes

Now I move on from national to international and when it came to  my choice of  International  Blogger of the year though there were plenty of quality candidates such as Mini Mouse Chic ,  The Curvaceous Vegan , last year’s winner Dungarees And Donuts, Petticoats And Patriarchy , and The Real Supermum all of which are brilliant, there was one blog which stood head and shoulders above all contenders purely because of the amount of times it made me get all emotional so my international blogger of the year goes to Samantha Smethurst for the brilliant Little Fickle.

Now it’s time for a new award and I  brought in Vlogger of the Year in recognition of the amount of bloggers who regularly or occasionally post video blogs. Regular video bloggers include Beauty Creep , Blog About Nothing, Colours And Carousels,  Princess Attitude, and Jessica Lauren Hatcher. All of these  vloggers produce enjoyable and entertaining content which can on occasion be both informative and educational so selecting a winner from such a talented shortlist was not easy. In the end however I selected a vlogger who proved that oops moments can and do happen you’re  watching YouTube videos and they happen because she is so hillirious with her tales on what it means to be Scottish and female in the early 21st century. So just in case you hadn’t guessed by now  the first ever tartantights Vlogger of the Year is Beauty Creep.

Now, it’s time to name my Activist of the Year and this year this award goes to a fellow poet who just like last year’s winner Dorkface Blog starred a social movement but this one came about by accident when she was asked by the incoming director of the Scottish Poetry Library to create a piece of poetry based art. This led to our winner coming up with the idea of Fierce Words which was originally open to all poets who wanted to attend the event and were willing to hold up a word which made us proud of who we are,  but since only female poets turned up on the day it then became women with fierce words and now known  at least by some of us as fierce women. This incredible and and awe inspirational day showed the power of women at our brilliant best, It was a day on which existing friendships were enhanced and new ones made. I know that I’ve made friends because of that day that I simply couldn’t imagine not being in my life and I’m not the only one who feels that way about an event that changed lives by empowering women of words and created the fiercest tribe I can ever remember in all my years of being involved in the history of  Scottish spoken word poetry. My Activist of the Year is that one woman force of nature Lesley Traynor.

My Young Activist of the Year is someone who is passionate about poetry and equality. This is someone who is focused on creating a better world and will stop at nothing to achieve it. I first met our winner at a spoken word event for Rise Women’s Network and since then we have become close friends I think it’s the fact we’re both ranting, raving , radicals which has created this strong bond of sisterhood , however it might be the fact that we’re just a couple of  chatty wee rebels with opinions on everything which has forged our friendship. I know that the crowd at Castlemilk Against Austerity are very grateful for all the work she does for them and believe me Scotland needs a lot more active citizens like our Young Activist of the Year the amazing Keira MacLean.

From community I now move on to culture and I start with poetry and poets. Well having been on the spoken word scene for almost quarter of a century and around it for even longer it’s something I think I might just know a wee bit about.  As I start this section I do so my award for the Best Poetry Performance of the Year.

As always I’ve had no shortage of quality performances to choose from Iona Lee and her magical performance to win the 2016 Scottish Slam Championship, and Molly McLachlan for her amazing debut at September’s  Words And Music, were however the most outstanding in a year filled  with wonderful poetic  jewels and selecting a winner between them was extremely difficult.  On one hand I thought Iona because she performed brilliantly in a real pressure cooker of a situation and on the other I thought Molly because this was the first time words and music had been truly electrified since moving home from Sammy Dow’s to The Tin Hut but in the end I plumped for Iona if only because I believed that her star quality shone on the night she won the title of Scottish Slam Champion and for that alone she deserved to win another so my choice of the Best Poetry Performance of 2016 is Iona Lee.
My next award is for Best Show of the Fringe and in a year when I attended 40 shows I’m actually surprised how easy this decision really was. It was easy not because of the lack of quality in the shows as many of them were absolutely brilliant but because of the variety it offered. You see in the space of one magical hour on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon this show took the audience on journey,through Gaelic Songs, Poems in English about the struggles of Scots women and Welsh princesses not to mention a  physical exercise routine that would put many fitness coaches to shame. It is for those reasons and  many others that the award for Best Show Of The Fringe goes to Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. (see picture below ) 

Staying in Edinburgh I move on to the most original show at the fringe and in this one Dan Simpson can consider himself very unlucky as can Alain English. Both produced shows of the highest quality which in any other year would have won but this year they were up against a comedy robot called F R A N C  who was invented to produce the perfect comedy routine. Unfortunately a bit like Donald Trump, F R A N C developed an ego which got out of control and the consequences were truly  catastrophic whilst also being hillirious and that’s why the winner of the Most Original Show of the Fringe goes to the creator of  this groundbreaking show John McGlade.

For my next award the focus whilst still focused on entertainment switches to something more Scottish for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award. This award is given to the poet, or musician, that I believe has done most to promote the use of the Scots language in their work and this year I give this award to a man who uses his guid  Scots tongue in his work with both power and authenticity. My choice for the Sandy Hutchinson Memorial Award for 2016 is Jim Ewing.

From celebrating Scottish culture i move on to comedy and before you ask this does not involve either Kezia Dugdale , or Ruth Davidson and their performances at First Minister’s Questions. This involves real  comedians you know who actually know how to make us laugh Last year this award was won by The Graduettes so finding a show as funny as that was not easy.  However I did eventually find a show which was on that level by an American comedian who now lives in Yorkshire by the name of Chella Quint  This bold and talkative funny woman proved that you can find humour in almost every topic as her one woman show on periods Adventures In Menstruation  had woman of all ages in fits of the giggles every night for three  weeks as it played to packed houses every night at the Edinburgh Fringe. Well  any show which challenges stereotypes and negative advertising around this every day reality has to be  commended.  This is especially true when you start your show with a game of twister , end it with a song , and encourage your audience to purchase unique period themed jewelry, and  that’s why my award for the Best Live Comedy Show of 2016 goes to Chella Quint.
Having talked comedy I move on to inclusion and give my award for the Most Inclusive Show of the year. This show has already won one award as it was my choice for Best Show Of The Fringe so you won’t be surprised that it’s another victory for Home Words by Katharine MacFarlane. My reasons for choosing this  show  for a second award were hinted at earlier as Katharine performed stories, songs , and  poems from a variety of tongues and did so in different languages. It was however the fact that she took audience participation to a new whole new level  as she had all the women in the audience participating in the traditional Scottish art of Waulking which is so exhausting that after working at that process for eight hours a day they wouldn’t need to go the gym . Trust me I was exhausted after 10 minutes so how our foremothers could manage it for eight hours  is completely beyond me .

Talking of strong women it’s time to name my Equality Champion for 2016 .  This year i have chosen a bright  articulate young women for whom I once wrote a poem  i will introduce the winner of this award by saying that the title of her poem is Her Father’s Smile. It is i think fair to say she not only has her father  smile,  she also has his principals and those of her mother. A passionate supporter of the LGBTIQ community and a keen advocate for a fairer more equal society. My Equality Champion for 2016 is Roisin Caird.

Now we move to what some political journalists would call my soundbyte of the year.  Personally I prefer to call it my Quote Of The Year and this year’s winner comes from Felicity Clifford who said ‘Growing old is compulsory , growing up is optional ‘.  That woman speaks my truth and in doing so is  a totally deserved winner of my 2016 Quote Of  The Year.

From quotes I now move to the music, yes I know I’m beginning to sound like Madonna and your point is what?  Anyway, it’s time to name my musician of the year and in  a year where i made more than a few new musical discoveries Daryl Sperry, and Caitlin Buchanan spring readily to mind, this was a very difficult call. However, in the end I had to call it and i did for the only musician outside the the traditional music community who could ask me to come to a show in Edinburgh during the fringe when I have poetry and comedy events to attend and get me to actually do so. I think those of you from the Blue Chair may know who I’m about to name but for those of you who haven’t guessed my tartantights Musician of the Year is Josephine Sillars.

My Song of the Year was another tough calls between to two fantastic choices  One which gave me. goosebumps and the other which makes sing along every time I hear it. The songs are The Tallest Tree by Caitlin Buchanan (pictured below)  and Problems With Power by Josephine Sillars. I must admit choosing between two such different songs was an extremely difficult task but in the end I went for the one which gave me goosebumps so my Song Of The Year is The Tallest Tree by the mesmerising Caitlin Buchanan.

Next up is my Event of the Year and any other year this would have been won by Jackie The Musical which provided me with a brilliant showstopping walk down memory lane as i re-lived my teenage years as a 1970’s Jackie Girl. Last year however something happened in  Glasgow which eclipsed even that  and that was the Homeless World Cup where the most talented homeless footballers of both sexes battled it out for the honour of being Homeless World Cup winners. At the end of a fantastic week of football both titles were won by Mexico but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. In this World Cup at least it really was all about taking part and being the best you could be and that’s why my Event of the Year for 2016 is The Homeless World Cup. 

As any performer will tell you, we all need venues to play at otherwise we would all be reading our poems and singing our songs with only the bedroom mirror for company.  It was with great sadness that Words and Music lost our traditional home that we’d had for 25 years as Sammy Dow’s which had changed its name and owners in July 2015 decided they no longer wanted a cultural event they had hosted for quarter of century. This was a real body blow for Words And Music but it was the way it was done  which really annoyed me as  I only found out the event had been cancelled less than 24 hours before the February event was due to take place.  Fortunately however we are resolute bunch at Words And Music and thanks to the efforts of the son in law of our founding mother Pamela Duncan we had found a new venue by the beginning of May at the Pollok Ex Servicemen’s Club which become known to us as the Tin Hut  and though it meant a change of night from first Monday of the month to the first Tuesday  we were able to get the show back on the road by June and have been made very welcome in our new home. So my Venue of the Year for 2016 is The Tin Hut.

From venues I move on to my Discovery Of The Year and in a year when  I made loads of new contacts and some new friends this was one of the closest calls of all. Among those considered were Caitlin Buchanan, Catriona Knapman, Iona Lee, Janet Crawford, Malaika Kegode, and. Michelle Fisher. As you can see all are strong women with powerful and intelligent voices, this is in almost total contrast to performance scene I first appeared on more than 20 years ago when the idea of so many female poets and musicians would to some  particularly those of the kid on leftie persuasion would  been enough to frighten the horses So if this talented team were the one who got honourable mentions I’m sure you’re wondering who is my discovery of the year.

Well I’ll introduce her by saying that at this time last year I was just getting to know her and a number of other younger poets at our then weekly open mic nights at the Blue Chair but by spring she had claimed me as her poetry mother and even introduced me to her own mum with the immortal line muma meet poetry muma. Trust me, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of any introduction in my life, and as I think many of you will have guessed my Discovery of the Year is the one and only Molly McLachlan.

From discovery of the year I now move on to Comeback of the Year. Normally, this award  would be given to someone who has been away from the poetry or music stages for a few years and has decided to make a welcome return. This year however , it  has been made in slightly different circumstances. You see though this year’s winner, was never a long term absentee from our scene he suffered a stroke in the late spring/ early summer of 2015 and we wondered if a stalwart of our community would ever take the stage. Initially his recovery was slow but eventually he began to make greater progress and it’s great to see him back attending and performing at events just as he always did. My Comeback of the Year award for 2016 is Derek Read.

Now from entertainment we move on to sport and I don’t think it would take a brain surgeon to figure out my happiest sporting moment of the last twelve months. It came on a gorgeous sunny September Saturday as Rangers were welcomed back to Paradise after a four year abscene and as usual they believed they only needed turn up to win. By the end of the 90 minutes however it was a very different story as Celtic ran riot and made our oldest rivals wish they hadn’t bothered to turn up as we made sure they know their place by thrashing them 5-1.

My other sporting award is  my Team  of the Year award and that is also given to a team from the world of football. My winners are not only packed with talent they are also history makers as they became the first Scottish football team  to qualify for a major tournament for almost two decades and this summer will see them compete in the European Championships for the first time in their history . Now for those of you who thought the European Championships were last year and Scotland didn’t qualify I should explain that my Team of the Year are The Scotland Ladies Football Team.

My next award is my Lifetime  Achievement Award and following in the footsteps of talents such As Pamela Duncan, Roy Tuton, Alex Salmond, and Frank McArdle, is no easy task. It has to be said  however that this year’s winner fully deserves this award for being one of my earliest political influences and whose passion for a fairer and better Scotland got me out of my armchair and on to the campaign trail to fight to make that Scotland a reality. Our winner started his political career in The Labour Party before resigning on a matter of principal and after co-founding the short lived Scottish Labour Party eventually found his political home in the Scottish National Party where he eventually became Depute Leader and provided one of the party’s most iconic moments when in November 1988 he won the Govan By-Election overturning a Labour majority of over 19,000 to win by a majority of 3,554 and in the process force Devolution back on to. the political agenda for the first time since the rigged referendum of 1979. It is no secret that  the unionist parties especially Labour were panic stricken by a victory they weren’t expecting. In fact the very next morning they announced the setting up of the Scottish Constitutional Convention so it could be said that he did more for the cause of Scottish home rule in nine hours than the all the unionists in Scotland had managed in the previous nine years and for that alone he deserves recognition It is for that and many other reasons that my Lifetime Achievement award goes to a man who I still see as a political mentor the one and only Jim Sillars.

From lifetime achievements I now move on to celebrating the value of friendship with the I Think I Must Be Mad Award. This award is for the friend who has gone beyond the call of duty to support me and this year’s winner has certainly done that over a sustained period of time. It is however in the past year that her star has shone even brighter than ever before  An independent woman with a mind of her own not did she reach a landmark birthday last year this young fashion conscious woman styled me up to such an extent that is responsible for  over half the content of my current wardrobe. A keen reader of this blog and great supporter of my poetry her loyalty has been proven time after time and when she told me she was proud of me and proud of the woman I am, I had one of those moments which made me glad I wasn’t wearing any mascara as it would have ran even faster than Usian Bolt can run 100 Metres. The winner of this award is someone who doesn’t seek headlines but deserves recognition for the quiet difference she makes to my life. My I Think I Must Be Mad Award goes to Stacey McFarlane

 Now it’s time for the main awards of for my man and woman of the year as tradition dictates I’ll start with the men.  This is not because I’m putting them first because as  a woman I believe it is our right to have the last word unless of course you are Kezia Dugdale,  Ruth Davidson, or Theresa May. Joking aside 2016 has been a good year  for the men in my world and I had some outstanding candidates from which to make my choice. Amongst those considered for this award were  Alex Kerr, Peter Russell, Matt Pamesh,   Stewart MacDonald, and  Steven Tierney , but yet again my winner comes from the world of poetry and has with his friend Paul Wardrope achieved more in a year than some will in a lifetime.

It was towards the end of 2015 that he and Paul set the Extra Second event at the Blue Chair Cafe where poets and musicians would share their thoughts on the topical issues of the day. The idea behind Extra Second is that if we take an Extra to consider to consider the subject for discussion then we may approach it from a more thoughtful perspective. It says a lot about the type of event Extra Second is that the Blue Chair is filled to bursting every month and that such has been the success of the event that its monthly nights have expanded to both London and more recently Aberdeen where a Blue Chair regular and a member of the first ever Extra Second Cast Molly McLachlan has recently hosted the opening night of Extra Second in her native city. So it is with great pleasure that i announce that our youngest ever  man of the year is  Johnny Cypher.

After naming my man of the year there is only award left to give  and that is of course my Woman of the Year. Now for those of you who think picking my man of year was hard and trust me it was selecting my woman of the year was even more difficult especially when you consider the number of amazing women I am lucky enough to have in my life.  Honestly picking a winner from all those brilliant and talented women was  so tough i thought of taking the easy way out and letting our reigning woman of the year Cheryl McHugh win again. There was however major problem with that idea and that was that i realised if made this choice  Jamie-Lee who is Cheryl’s wee sister may actually kill me. So maybe the safe option may not be quite as safe as I thought.

Bearing this in mind i decided to think about potential winners and get down to the business of making of choice. First up was Stacey McFarlane  and believe me this choice was given very careful consideration. You see not only is Stacey best stylist on earth and selects outfits which show me at the best,  but she is also has the patience of a saint which you sometimes need when your dealing with me.

 Next on the shortlist is the amazing poetic talent Katharine MacFarlane. Believe me this is a poet whose work i admire and am proud to call a friend and for whom i predict a big poetic future.

The same can be said for Janet Crawford whose words of warmth, wit, and wisdom have brightened up many a dark night and let’s be honest 2016 was a year which gave us more than our  fair share of them and presented poets and humanity in general with a number of challenges and difficulties and it’s at times like this I am greatful to have friends like Janet to remind me that there are some really good people in this world.  

Our youngest contender Molly McLachlan is someone I was only just getting to know at this time last year,but she ended 2016 as one of the closest members of my spoken word family. A woman og outstanding talent we are destined to hear much more from Molly in 2017 and beyond and believe me this is a woman of substance with a voice worth listening to.

As for Lesley Traynor  this is a woman for whom I have run out of superlatives after she organised an event which has now turned into a movement which has given a voice to some of the best women writers in the country. The event which was held at the Scottish Poetry Library was one I was proud to be part of, and from which I have gained some amazing and inspiring friendships which only go prove that be it biological or chosen, there is no bond stronger than sistewotld.Now I’ve looked at the contenders it’s time to name the winner of my final award and let you know who I’ve chosen to be tartantights Woman of the Year. Like me, our winner resides in the East End of Glasgow. Like me , she supporters the best football club on the planet the famous Glasgow Celtic, and like me she values her heritage and has a passion for a fairer society.  That however is where the similarities end because to say  our winner has an amazing year would be the understatement to end them all. Her rise to fane in the world of spoken word has been nothing short of stratospheric. When I first got to know her not long after the independence referendum, you couldn’t have got her on a  stage, not even for Henrik Larsson. Now like Molly, she is one of the closest members of my spoken word family and has played stages I’ll never get on. Am I jealous? but I am proud as I reminded both her and Molly, when we along with other friends to McChuills  after the December Extra Second. As I joked with this dynamic duo who I kinda see as see poetry daughters she smiled and whispered you can pick them. This is true, I certainly can pick them,  especially when it comes to winners and that’s why my 2016 tartan tights Woman of the Year (pictured at Words And Music at The Tin Hut) is the brilliant Victoria McNulty

So there it is , we’ve finally reached the end of the tartantights awards ceremony for 2016  If you are among the winners congratulations because there was fierce competition every category. If you weren’t so lucky then remember that the road ahead will have many twists and turns and that 2017 could be the year when it’s your turn to shine. So remember the tartan tights awards are a bit like the lottery , Yes next time it really could be you. 

  In the meantime I wish you all you wish yourself and hope you get what you need in the measure that you need it and of course I hope you continue reading tartan tights.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

On The Night A Piper Played To Win Scotland Found A Champion

Hey Readers

On a dark Saturday night in the cold of a Scottish winter I made my way to the Tron Theatre to enjoy a top quality night of spoken word poetry as I attended the 2017 Scottish poetry slam championship final.

This is always one of my favourite nights of the year as Scotland’s premier poetic talents battle it out for the prestige of being Scotland’s national slam champion and the honour of representing their country in the poetry slam world series in Paris later in the year

As expected the Tron was packed to capacity for such an important cultural occasion and all stars of the Scottish spoken word scene including this blogger were out in force to support those judged throughout the year to be the cream of this year’s crop. Amongst those I chatted to was Jane Overton who was one of the judges for the event. I also had a quick word with David Forrest who like myself was there to enjoy the evening, and other audience members Kevin Cadwallender, Anna Crow, Janet Crawford, Lesley Traynor , and Shannon McGregor. Amongst the contenders I had early chats with Katharine McFarlane, Lloyd Robinson, Matt MacDonald, Molly McLachlan and Victoria McNulty and wished them well for the night ahead.

As tradition dictates the event was compared by the maestro Mr Robin Cairns who brought the occasion to us as only he knows how. After revealing that there would be two abaebtees from the list Robin took nominations from poets in the audience for a wild card entry and though a few poets themselves forward such as Jade Mitchell, and Shannon McGregor it was Ben Rogers whose name was pulled out of the hat and in to the slam.

In the first round, the poets were drawn in to four groups of four competitors each with two from each group going through to the second round and three (well that was the plan )going through to the final where the eventual winner would be declared Scottish Poetry Slam Champion 2017

As the draw was made we were all hoping that our choice or choices would make the final. For the record this totally unbiased blogger was trying her best to remain as neutral as possible , but even I have favourites though I’m not going to say who they are. Well I get on well with all the poets in the final so I’m not going to name any names as to who I may or may not have been supporting.

In an excellent first heat  we heard work of outstanding quality from Elise Hadgraft on Homelessness Aiden Rivet and his Wonderwall poem Daniel Piper and his cleverly crafted poem DJ Veg. This was followed by Max Sratchman whose poem on how a woman’s quest for love could have been filled by a Down’s syndrome baby she chose not to have tugged at more than a few heartstrings, and believe me this group set the standard for the other contestants to follow.

When we did get in to the second group there were yet more stunning performances. These came most notably from Katharine MacFarlane whose poem on her sister’s very traumatic rape and the ordeal which followed and now makes her fearful  as a mother with a daughter of her own This poem was so powerful that it blew the Richter scale to bits, and Lay La Josephine whose poem I Think She Was A She gave a very powerful and passionate portrayal of the way women who have abortions are made to feel guilty by a society in which these issues are not talked about as openly as they should be. It should also be noted that Molly McLachlan was in this group as was wildcard entry  Ben Rogers and I thought Molly who was the only contestant to get the hooter in the opening round performed well in this company. However , and I’m only saying because I love Molly to bits, it is my opinion she started her poem too slowly and in such a tight group the marks I’m sure it cost her illustrates how difficult competing at the top level really is especially when I believe there could be less than 10 points between those who qualified for the semi finals and those who missed out.

The third group was kicked off by Victoria McNulty whose poem Coffins From Derry is in my opinion a very strong piece in support of refugees in which McNulty draws on her own Irish heritage and the hostility towards the early Irish immigrants to demonstrate why as someone whose blood as she says ‘ is cut from refugees ‘ supports those she describes in the final line of poem as ‘ the displaced people residing in Scotland today ‘ Next up was the excellent Bibi June with her entertaining and thought provoking poem Simon Says . This poem was funny and disturbing in equal measure and demonstrates just how easily sheep can be led to whatever pen the establishment want to go to with alarming ease.

Hamish MacDonald’s poem Ma Bit focused strongly on tensions between rival communities both local and global and real and imagined as it explored the potential for conflict that territorial geographies can and do provide where borders are contested. Ellen Renton performed a thoughtful and considered poem on her love for both Glasgow and Edinburgh in which she produced the line of the night with the words ‘ I can still belong to Glasgow with my heart in Midlothian. This in my book was absolute genius and poetic imagery at its brilliant best. It was a wonderful way to conclude what I believe was the toughest group of all the first round qualifiers.

It was Matt MacDonald who will be February’s featured writer at Words and Music who kicked off the final qualifying group with his poem Fibonacci. Matt was followed by the pint sized pocket rocket that is the brilliant Hannah Raymond Cox. After Hannah it was time for the penultimate performer in the first round and Jack McMillan was climbing the ladder of spoken word success and finally Lloyd Robinson brought the first round to a close with his poetic take on those right wingers who voted for Brexit with I’m Ready To Stop Being English. This was a real crowd pleaser as the anti Brexit sentiment went down very well with the predominately West of Scotland audience.

As we headed for a well deserved bar break everyone had our own mental list of who we thought would qualify for semi finals but only the judges would make that decision and I for one didn’t envy Andy Jackson, George Miller, Jane Overton one little bit. 

As we reconvened after the break Robin gave us the results of the judges deliberations and it’s fair to say that for some members of the audience there were a couple of surprises amongst the qualifiers. I have to say however that I called most of them right, well 7 out of 8 isn’t bad by anyone’s standards and yes I did see hurricane Hannah qualifying from the final group because I’ve performed with Hannah at Other Voices and know how good she actually is. Trust me Hannah, is one of the best performers you will ever see on a poetry stage and I’m not understating the case when I say that she a talent ten times the size of herself.

As the semi finalists were announced we managed to get what very few political cabinets ever do the perfect gender balance of four male and female qualifiers. As the draw was made, you would have been given more than decent odds on the two heats being exclusively single sex but that is exactly how it turned out with the first heat being all female and the second heat all male. Now I can’t prove it, but it is my educated guess that the minute the judges saw these single sex battles was also the minute they decided to up the number of finalists from three to four.

In the first heat it was the turn of the girls to spice up the night and believe me they did exactly that with some truly mesmerising poetry as all four poets were outstanding and produced the kind of work which made me proud to have heard it. As for calling it I thought Katharine was a certainty for the final with her poem Bonnie Scotland speaking to my rebel heart in the gentlest and most passionate of ways.

As for the others I changed my mind at least half a dozen times before giving the nod to Hannah Raymond Cox for her poem The Revolution Will Be Televised. This poem shows why I rate Hannah as highly as I do as it combined wit and warmth in such a newsy style I thought I was being patronised by the BBC.

As for the boys to me only Lloyd whose poem Jump written on the theme of suicide was met with the kind of silence a poet only gets when you know the audience have really listened to every word was a safe bet for the final. As for the others Ben , Daniel, and Hamish’s were all quality poems but I struggled to call second place though I did eventually decide for Hamish, but as I said I wasn’t in the judge’s seat and it was up those who were to give there decision and as we waited expectantly for their decision we were entertained superbly as Robin performed a poem from his extensive and varied catalogue

With tension building and the excitement palpable the judges handed their findings to our host who announced that it was going to be a final four and not a final three as originally planned. After making the announcement Robin named the finalists as Katharine MacFarlane , Elise Hadgraft, Lloyd Robinson, and Daniel Piper. On the night of all nights the audience were ready for our finalists to do battle one last time to decide who would be crowned Scottish Slam Champion 2017

And so as we started what was going to be a cracking final it was Daniel Piper who was first up with a poem on rave culture which used humour to explore a potentially challenging issue.

Daniel was followed by Katharine MacFarlane whose poem on her the use of language and its power to value or devalue people really spoke to my heart. I say this not only as a trans woman but also as a former equality trainer who used to have a section on language use in every course I ever delivered. I love this poem and the fact that it was written for her daughter adds to the power of a fantastic thought provoking poem which contained many examples of wonderful imagery which is the trademark of this gifted poet.

As Katharine left the stage our penultimate poet of this year’s slam to make her case for victory and believe me Elise Hadgraft delivered her best poem of the night right on cue and the brilliantly titled I Want To Wear Your Clothes showed that this is a poet with serious talent whose use of suggestion as intimacy was in my view an absolute masterstroke in a poem which spanned a range of emotions including love, lust, and a liberal sprinkling of humour and made her a genuine contender for the title. 

So it fell to Lloyd Robinson to be the final contender in this year’s final and yet again Lloyd delivered an excellent poem on the theme of suicide which was well received by an appreciative audience who gave all competitors the respect they deserved on such an important occasion. Now having done all they could do the fate of our final four lay in the hands of the judges and finally the decision was reached. In my heart I had called it for Katharine but alas this night was not to be hers.

As Robin announced the result I held my breathe in expectation. As is the case in Strictly and other important events the verdict was given in reverse order. So at the end of great night for Scottish poetry 4th place went to Lloyd Robinson with Katharine MacFarlane in 3rd. Our runner up was Elise Hadgraft which meant our new Scottish Slam Champion was Daniel Piper and it is Daniel who will take with him the good wishes of everyone involved in the Scottish spoken word scene as he goes to Paris as our representative in the world series in May.

I make this point because if there is one thing the Scottish spoken word community is good at it is supporting each other when it really matters and trust me this matters. We want our champion to be the best in the world and I’m sure Daniel will do us proud.

As the end of the evening a number of us both audience members and performers including Anna Crow, Aiden Rivet, Hamish MacDonald, Heather Duffy, Lay La, and Molly McLachlan, and of course Daniel enjoyed a post event drink in the salubrious surroundings of the Tron Bar. As I chatted to our newly crowned champion, Daniel said he felt a wee bit guilty about winning the title since he only moved up to Scotland at the end of last year and won the very last slam before the cut off date.

On hearing this very honest opinion, I replied that he didn’t need to feel guilty about anything as the only people in the position to deliver a verdict were the judges and there decision was that his poetry suited Scotland just fine. In fact what they really decided was that on the night a Piper played to win Scotland found a champion.

Congratulations Daniel Piper Scottish Poetry Slam Champion 2017.

Love And Best Wishes
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

What I Got For Christmas Proves That I’ve Been One Of The Good Girls

Hey Readers

As everyone is always curious about what our friends got for Christmas I thought I share what I got on the blog.

As you will see in this collection of photographs Santa has been good to me and I have been a very lucky lady with all the presents I received.

Picture (1) Shows the presents I got from my friend Victoria who spoilt me far more than I deserved with gorgeous nail polish, a good quality face cream , and a stunningly beautiful Celtic broach.

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Picture (2) Shows some of the River Island haul I got from the money Janette gave me. As you can see, I got a lovely pink long sleeved top and a two pack of black tights. Well black does tend to go with any colour so it works well with any outfit.

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Picture (3) Demonstrates the fact that I can be a savvy shopper as I also bought the same top in white and I think you can just about see it in this shot.

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Picture (4) Shows the rest of my River Island haul which I wore to the Watch Night Service to welcome in Christmas morning and I think you’ll agree it looks reasonably festive. Well as my friend Fiona says red is the Christmas colour and I like the idea of teaming it up with a black skirt and black sparkly tights to complete the festive look.

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Picture (5) For my last picture in this post I have to thank my flatmate’s mum for her generosity as she gave me a Christmas bag with woman’s stuff and a box of roses chocolates which always go down well in our house.

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You know, all things considered I think Santa was very good to me this year, but so he should be. Because I’ve heard it said, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so I think by his generosity to me and by what I got for Christmas Santa has proved beyond doubt that I’ve been one of the good girls.

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