Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return. (E. M. Forster)

May 27, 2016

And so dear listener, this week saw me take part in an adventure that saw me go with five women to the island of Great Cumbrae (Millport) and come back with three……..but before I even got on the train to Largs, the adventure had started at Johnstone Railway Station.

There is a toilet there on the platform but I was unsure how to open it. I went to the ticket desk and asked. The lady behind the counter (of whom more in a minute) pressed a button and shouted ‘Run!’ to which I obviously replied, ‘It’s okay. I’m not in that much of a hurry.’😀

She shouted again ‘Run!’ and then I saw why. The door was already closing and I’d to throw myself at it Indiana Jones style just to get in, in time……..and when I say ‘in time’, I mean before the door closed. Nothing else. I managed to get out okay.:)

And the lady at the ticket counter had asked me for ID. Well, very politely, she asked if I’d any cards when I paid for my ticket. I know what she was suggesting but basically, I’d not brought my wallet……I did not have that card with me.

Anyway, I met up with Uni-Sharon, Pat, Pat, Cathie and Helen and, boy, was I worried listening to them on the train. Snippets reached my ears. Words like ‘munros’ and a walk through Glasgow that e and I would think twice about doing and then would do. They seemed professional…..but I needn’t have worried.

The eleven mile walk around the island was carried out at a good pace until we got to the capital city itself and Pat and Cathie sat down at one bench for their lunch and we sat down at another around the corner. And then it was time for us to move (I get impatient sitting, okay) and I went to get them. And they weren’t there.😦

Now, I was worried. But no-one else was. What a cold blooded bunch I was walking with. It felt like I was taking part in that well known Agatha Christies whodunit called Ten Little Politically Correct People, where people are bumped off one by one. I decided to take up the rear position where I could see everyone…..including Helen who tried to distract my attention by removing various layers of clothing and seemed to end up in a string vest. Or was the sun getting to me? Was my Lucozade poisoned? They all seemed to be drinking a potion called Herbalife which seemed to be some form of stimulant not covered by the new Psychoactive Substances Bill (and there’s the plug for Herbalife, Uni-Sharon, altho’ I didn’t expect it to be in the same sentence as legal highs)

But we did make it back to the ferry and Largs and it was a brilliant day and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the company and may join them on another occasion and may try to encourage a couple of others as well.😀

‘What’s that Skippy? What happened to Pat and Cathie?’ Well, they met up with us again at Largs Station for the journey for the journey back.

They’d been and bought a vase. Uni-Sharon had a new black rucksack. Helen had put her clothes back on. And I was eating chips. A brilliant day.:)

Now the other event I was going to mention was J formally opening my garden. With ribbons and bows, I got for nothing from Morrisons, Anniesland. Yes. It does sound a strange fantasy but unfortunately it was heavy, heavy rain and the bands and the fly past had to be cancelled. Shame. But can I congratulate J and some of her colleagues for some superb shelf-tidying in my time at Paisley Uny.

This week’s And finally is about the report this week which some of you may have seen highlighting the resurgence in buying booze from supermarkets and whilst the Scottish Government want to bring in minimum pricing the Scottish Whisky Association continue to fight it through the European courts.

According to Alison Douglas of Alcohol Focus Scotland, ‘twenty-two Scots are dying because of alcohol every week and sales are increasing.’  And a former lecturer of mine, the silver fox, Ken Barrie, having studied the links between price, consumption and health related consequences in the international research literature concluded that ‘an increase in the price of alcohol will generally result in reduced consumption and in turn related harm. A reduction…will result in increased consumption and harm.’

It couldn’t be more simple. Except, Ken nothing must stand in the way of profit – even people’s health. Put that in a crack pipe and spark it up.😉

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, the man who put the John in the Johnstone Jaunters

And whilst regular listeners will know that J is the blog’s favest librarian, she is not the only one who helped me with my studies in a university somewhere in the West of Scotland. Last weekend she and her colleagues found themselves moving to a smaller library area in that university.

I made my feelings known about the demise of the importance of libraries in society in general a couple of weeks ago but from the university side of things, a friend of mine suggested that the fact that lecturers not only supply general reading lists but in many cases supply the actual online listing means there’s no need for a student to learn how to browse properly.

And from my own POV I think it’s great that some lecturers don’t bother teaching students how to use references properly either. A large portion of my income comes from doing proper Harvard Referencing for students who have not been told how to do it.

www.thewordprocess.net

We were taught similar things by the mad Professor Marks who took several weeks to explain to me what a null hypothesis was. And then one day it struck me. In a Eureka moment, I shouted out, ‘you mean it remains the status quo.’

At which a voice behind me went, ‘what’s the status quo?’ Ah, academia how I miss you. A bit.:)

Anyway, this is for J and her colleagues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_ISAntOom0

First, they came for the disabled and I did not speak out. Then, the teachers and the doctors. Then, when they came for the online pasta recipes, I was furious (anon).

May 20, 2016

Yes, dear listener, it was weird; me, like lots of other people, getting worked up over the decision to close down the BBC’s recipe archive with rumours that it was being sold off to all sorts of Tory chums of David Cameron but all I have to do is, at some point to be decided, is to bookmark the archive and it’ll be there for me for all time. Or there’s talk of simpler ways of keeping the archive going. I hope they happen.:)

But the last time I was this annoyed was when it was suggested that they blow up the Sighthill flats – leaving only the one the refugees and asylum seekers lived in – as part of the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. I mean what kind of message was that supposed to give?😦

That the flats are not fit for habitation unless you’re a refugee? The powers that be soon changed their minds.

Y’see, I was working for the BBC when it was beginning its move into Intranets and platforming and I was getting clued up on the need for websites and internetting and stuff and learning that FTP actually meant File Transfer Protocol and not, well not anything else.

It meant a huge cultural change for many people. I learned so much about broadcasting from the great Jimmy Mack. For the bunch of fans with whom I stand at Firhill I am the official timekeeper because of my ability to backtime i.e. I can tell you how long there is to go with little or no thought, and other stuff which was important when I broadcast, like why you’ve a right and a left to your headphones……’split feed’.:)

Anyway, I worked on Jimmy’s show for a long time and we had an amazing woman called Muriel Clark who did recipes including cloutie dumpling (which I don’t think I’ve ever had) and cullen skink, much of which was cooked in the studio, but always recipes were made available on receipt of an S.A.E. (younger listeners, ask your Gran or Grandpa). Many, many hours were spent putting these recipes in envelopes but that’s public service broadcasting for you.:) Now, it’s all online.

For only £12 per month.

I mean, the last cookbook I bought was £8.99.

‘What was it called, jt?’

‘Skippy, it was called ‘Healthy Living with Gluten Intolerance’ and jolly interesting it was.’

No. No reason but moving on.

Actually a wee note to myself. Do not read books about people having really bad and horrible dreams immediately before I go to sleep, because the dream I had the other night and the resultant shivers was the worst I’d had for a long time. It’s been a long time since those demons had come to visit. I’m fine. Thanks.

And finally, a big thanks to e for taking me to the Lego Shop in the Buchanananananana Galleries. Did I tell you, e, that me and Son Brian had been to two Legolands – Denmark and Windsor (and in the spirit of one-upmanship very few folk find my conversation where the surveyor with his two cancers beat my one cancer and the alcohol dependency as funny as I do) – well anyway we have.😀

I’m not sure about current Lego (and stick with me as there is a point to this) as you can buy an actual replica, in Lego, of Sheldon and his friends and their lounge from the Big Bang Theory and that’s not right. It’s marketing for money and not encouraging the imagination.

When my son came to regularly stay with me after the separation he found a tremendous amount of Lego (a lot of it pirate stuff and that’s as in Lego pirates and not bootlegged stuff) and then after he’d gone back to his mum’s, I’d come back home and rebuild the Lego models as a way of chilling without Netflix.😦

Y’see, as a couple of you know, I recently had a conversation with someone who seems to have chosen to stereotype herself and it did not go well. Shame as I think the other person involved has a lot of talent and cold go far in her chosen trade.

Y’see, my son comes from a broken home and his dad was what many people would describe as an ‘alcoholic’ but I, having studied it a wee bit, would describe myself as alcoholically dependent for part of my life.

So please feel free to stereotype me and think the boy’s done good or feel free to reject stereotypes and approach things with an open mind……

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, practising my Gaelic for a Sports Day in June – details to follow.

And so, I’m making a slow beginning to getting fit(ter).

I’m embarking on a diet known as the ‘eating less food and trying to cut out snacking when I’m at the laptop’ diet and it’s a reasonable start. My face is a wee bit thinner and that’s a good start.:)

But I need to do more walking and so I have accepted an invitation to join the Johnstone Jaunters, a walking group from Johnstone and seemingly all women (but, according to uni-Sharon, none of them are single), who quite soon are planning a walk round Millport – like next week, that soon. Four hours, I’m told. And then there’s the train journey and the ferry journey. It’s an adventure and I like adventures.:)

I’ll tell you next week how I got on…or I might be airlifted off the island. Who knows? Watch this space.:)

Now, the only non-British Eurovision contestant I have ever met was the lovely Lithuanian, Lana Svilpe for whom I did some editing. I’m assuming that as a former BBC man who started in the late seventies, I must have sat beside Kenneth McKellar in the canteen at some point.

Anyway this is a lovely track from a band called The Common Linnets who seem to have been the entry from the Netherlands in 2014;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkrF8uC92O4

 

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it (unknown)

May 13, 2016

And so dear listener, a few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Prostate Cancer HQ wanting to know if I wanted to be kept up to date on volunteer opportunities and if, indeed,  I wanted to continue to volunteer. And I said, yes, and that I knew I wasn’t doing as much stuff as I once did but things continued to change and I was busy but…..

Indeed, all I’d done recently was a couple of information talks a) for a friend, Fenton of that Ilk, and her student nurses down EK way and b) with some recovering heroin users down Dumbarton way – both slightly different audiences – and I was asked if I could supply someone at PCHQ with details of both and much to my shame……No. I can’t.😦

I know stats are good and that for some people there is a thrill to an Excel spreadsheet that I feel when I see an empty Inukshuk Blueberry Ice Wine tea tin, but my stats keeping is rubbish.😦

Somebody from my work’s HR department was in touch recently.

‘The auditors are in.’

Could I supply originals  of my first degree, my two Post Grads and my Master’s? Well, three out of four were relatively easy, although I did ask if the auditors could read and understand Latin. Y’see, my first degree from Glasgow University was in Latin…Magistrum Artium…..and the Paisley University stuff was easy to lay my hands on and I also found an Introduction to Teaching in Further Education that rings no bells. I may have been drunk at the time.

But my Post Grad in Youth and Community Work? No sign. I did try and explain that it was about forty years ago (I was a prodigal, okay?); that I had been living in student flats and then had lived in about four houses; had had a broken marriage; that I had studied for it at an institution that no longer existed (Jordanhill College); and it was awarded by an institution that no longer existed (Scottish Education Department); and it was funded by an institution that no longer existed (Strathclyde Regional Council) and that I had no idea where it was……..Let’s just say at this stage that a discussion is about to continue.😦

I’m not being disrespectful to stats collectors ‘cos having done some social scientific research, I do know the help that they can offer, even if such evidence is totally ignored and instead we prefer what we see in the soaps………and the role that factoids play rather than what we warily call facts.

Sometimes it’s the little things that appeal to me. When, for example, in an email to J, I referred to bog doors, when I actually meant big doors and we laughed. Thank you to the man who invented the QWERTY keyboard for giving us, inadvertently, a good laugh.:)

And to e and RJ for supplying me with ice cream In Nardini’s in Byres Road on the hottest day of the year so far (a scoop of rhubarb crumble and a scoop of mango since you ask) but don’t tell your slightly older brother and, e, I hope you recover from your football injury soon…..they’ll be getting the vote next. ;p

And when the man who cuts my grass (I have a lot of grass) strimmered a stone into a piece of glass in my porch window, it is ho and it is hum, and a text to Kenny the shed pimp and a call to his mate Paul the Glazier and we’ll get it sorted.:)

Y’see, as I explained a couple of weeks ago, it was eight years ago that I was being zapped to treat my prostate cancer and we had just reached the stage where they increase the power. They seemed confident that they had found the right area in my groin and that those minute felt tip pen markings, that they continued to make in that area, were accurate. But you find yourself thinking……what is this going to lead to when it’s all over?

And do you know something? The positive results of the cold turkey and the cancer treatment aren’t over yet. There are still adventures to be had and even if I still prefer to sit on the kitchen step at the back rather than the new patio furniture, it’s great having the option.

And finally, an inukshuk ‘is a human-made stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.’ I think my garden is just about ready for one.

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple.

Johnt850, and I meant prodigy not prodigal.

And my final words on the recent Scottish election (I make it sound like a Shakespeare play) are these:

Ruth Davidson and her inner sanctum recognised that a majority of people had voted against Independence and that, therefore, it was reasonable to think that that majority was in favour of keeping the union – and played that card. The Labour Party didn’t recognise that and paid the price.

The fragrant Nicola’s inner sanctum, whilst well pleased at all those people signing up as members, didn’t realise that these new people thought that  ‘activism’ was all about  re-tweeting negative things about opponents and didn’t realise it meant going knocking on doors and giving out leaflets.

Many SNP supporters, in their quest for a one-party dictatorship that brooks no opposition, did not realise that voting SNP/SNP actually worked against them.

I will make no political comment about the EU referendum other than to say I am in favour of staying in, if for no other reason, that the holiday-pay I get as a part-time worker (and other benefits) is secure ……..a security of employment that is still denied to many agency workers. There are battles still to be won. I have a social media petition to sign about it. What? No. Online. No. No clipboard out on the streets. Don’t be daft.

So why the hell would a record/video company even think about photoshopping Meghan Trainor after this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PCkvCPvDXk

 

‘Life is just a party and parties weren’t made to last’ (Prince)

May 6, 2016

And so, dear listener, it’s done and dusted. Our leader of the last wee while is to stay our leader for the foreseeable future. Done with little fuss and with only a little coverage in the press. A popular choice despite recent results not showing ‘our leader’ in a good light.😦

Yes. Alan Archibald is to remain as Partick Thistle’s manager. Aye.. We had kinda drifted into the play off zone area but we’re fine. Actually Alan is a popular choice but not being married, I can’t join in the chant where the fans offer him their wives. I wonder if the wives know.😛

And despite being turned over last week by Inverness Caley Thistle, we still came away with a smile. One of the guys had turned up with a rucksack which was quietly opened by friends in the row behind him. During the course of the game, all sorts of rubbish was piled into his bag and he did not notice until the end. Oh, how it took our minds off the game. Almost.😦

I will say one thing about the Scottish election. I was saddened that so many SNP followers wanted a one party state system where opposition is frowned upon. My first vote went to Patricia Ferguson (Labour) as she has been helpful when I needed her help. My list vote went to the Greens as I believe in a democracy of ideas.:)

I am happy, however, with Bob Doris (SNP) who I have met and who has promised to sort out the Summerston Railway Bridge problem.😀

Incidentally, whilst talking of Thistle, many of you will know of the link with David Shrigley, the Turner Art Prize nominee (2013). At a recent home game, we were given a free foam thumb (mine is in my boot with ASDA and Morrison bags) having been give cushions and scarves and stuff as well as Kingsley the mascot. Except I never made it to those games.😦

Well, apparently, they’re selling for between £90 and £110 on e-Bay. I know of a few defenders who should be punted for that amount.😦

So the refurbishment of t850Towers is almost over. Lots of good work done by lots of good people, and whilst it may have taken the electrician a wee while to get here to get the work done, once Craig was here he just got on with it. Would I recommend him? Whereas that’s a resounding Yes to all the others, I feel he needs pinned down.

However, the idea that J came up with, which was to give him a rough idea of what I wanted and let him choose the actual lights, seems to have worked in that he’s chosen well, but I had hoped to have been out of the house whist he was working and to have come back to a pleasant surprise.:)

Anyway, should you find yourself in the Summerston area then please find me and come walk the estate with me; that’s ‘estate’ as in back garden – not ‘estate’ as in the scheme.

Oh, and to e, the blog’s favest interior designer, I’m looking forward to hearing how your football injury came about. And it was nice to hear from Becky G, the Miss Marples of North London, who advises me that the teenage years start at five. Wonder when they end? I feel as if I’m still enjoying them.😀

And finally, for once, a few political thoughts. I had been worried about the changing political climate in Scotland, as it seems to me that many folk have got involved post-referendum, which on the one hand is good, but much of that interest was focused on another independence referendum and ignored the sad state of the Scottish economy and the fact that the SNP is a party of austerity and decisions such as freezing the council tax have led to council cutbacks meaning people are out of jobs and much social care is in danger.

Education at all levels is suffering and whilst our health system may be under less attack than in England, I do hear concerns about it from many people altho’ I have few concerns in my dealings with them.

Would I vote Yes again in another referendum? That is soooooo rhetorical as I don’t think the fragrant Nicola is that keen on such a thing, paricularly after the election results. We have greater powers than we had before #indyref. Let’s make use of them but let’s also encourage and not stifle debate. Those who did not vote SNP have as much of a right to criticise as those who voted for the SNP have a right to eulogise.

Cya, still wearing that Yes badge and still keeping it simple.

Johnt850, often flashy but never trashy.

I, for reasons known to some, have become a wee bit more of a country music fan than I once was and whilst I didn’t squeal with teenage delight (no names, no pack drill) when Kris Kristofferson walked on at a gig a couple of months ago, it was brilliant to see him.😀😀😀

However, I have been great fans of Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks ever since they took a stand against the US Government (and us) for the unprovoked attack on Iraq which was destined to failure as has every Western military expedition in that part of the world and with the benefit of hindsight helped, eventually, to create Daesh.

Steve Earle, I saw at the Kelvingrove Bandstand gigs two years ago, but I did not realise until it was over that the Dixie Chicks were at the SECC this week.

I spoke to an old friend, John Collins, who is the Country deejay on Bauer’s City 2 network of fifteen stations around the United Kingdom including Clyde 2 in Glasgow and the west on Sunday nights at seven.

He described them as ‘still having attitude, edge and even anger; combined with astonishing stagecraft and musicianship’. You should hear John when he gets really enthusiastic about a band. Sunday nights at seven.😉

This is their tribute to Prince and it’s slightly bootleggy and it ain’t the SECC but I won’t say where…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB_QlH5j4_I

 

 

 

 

 

“Libraries are our friends.” ― Neil Gaiman

April 28, 2016

And so dear listener, I’ve been meaning to mention this for some time but some things got in the way. But some other things have happened since to make me want to write this.

A few weeks ago, I watched a discussion on Channel 4 News in which the author of the Horrid Henry stories took on an automaton from the Institute of Economic Affairs disguised as a woman in which the automaton was arguing the case that libraries could not continue (more or less) in their current forms unless they had plenty of computers and people to show you how to use them😦

The real person (Francesca Simons) wanted them to have books and people who knew about books to help share their love of books. There seemed to be some disagreement about the actual meaning of browsing.

I know whose side I’m on. And that of knowledgeable bookshops:)

One example says it all. Recently I read a book with 3 year old RJ, which her mum had got from the local library. It’s a story about cray-ons (not cranes) laying down their tools (themselves) as they felt stereotyped. I loved it and decided to buy a couple of copies for other people.

I went to Waterstone’s in Byres Road and asked an assistant for a children’s book about cray-ons going on strike (trade union background showing through there). She paused for a second and said, ‘You mean ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’? ’ And went and got two copies. One went to my grand-daughter and the other went to another grand-child from a different family (J? A grand-mum? But too young surely? But then I remember that I am a grandpa) and this other grand-daughter did so much more with it in terms of using her imagination than you could ever do with a keyboard and monitor. It became so much more than just a damn good read; it was a platform for imagination😀

e and I browsed in the Oxfam in Byres Road the other day and you discover books that you didn’t know even existed; when I was very young I was allowed to have a borrowing card for the adult (pronunciation is vital here) section of the local library and I read some amazing books as a result of which I wanted to be a policeman when I grew up; I made extra cash in my early days in radio by writing a What Happened Ten/Twenty/Thirty Years feature for a Saturday morning programme – the material for which I discovered by delving into Mitchell Library micro-fiches; and (and some of you knew this was coming) I owe sooooooo much to all the library staff at UWS (Paisley) for their help and patience in my Post Grad and Masters😀😀😀

I should have gone and said thanks to them on my day of Master’s graduation resplendent in my second only ever wearing of Highland Dress with black socks. But saying that your help with that Inter Library Loan meant I had to learn how to tie a pair of brogues sounds strange – there are quantum leaps and there are quantum leaps.

(‘And was anything worn under the kilt, jt?’

‘No, Skippy, it was all in good working order and still is.)

But you catch my drift.

Gosh, that’s half my word count…….

Ach, let’s keep going. I’m in that kinda mood.

It’s not that I’d stopped reading but it had become the kinda angst reading that I was buying from Fopp – Burroughs and Welsh. But I’ve folk to thank for my change in reading. J and e get big mentions lots but Prostate Cancer Ann and the Blogmeister both suggested Neil Gaiman to me and whilst I have mixed feelings about him, it was with great interest that I had to pull them apart metaphorically in a discussion about veganism on my Facebook page.

And do you remember a wee while ago I was coming back from a team bonding day and was on the train and everyone was looking at their tablets except for the girl on the train who was reading The Girl on the Train? It’s actually a very good book but sooooo much of it described what it is like to be drunk/hungover/drunk/hungover on a daily basis like it was for me in that final thirteen months before Cold Turkey Sunday but I finished it. (I watched the Louis Theroux prog last Sunday and it did not have the same effect on me.)

I was thinking all this as I walked through the Gruffalo Park in Bearsden recently:)

Don’t get me wrong. For academic research, computer databases are brilliant. I can’t even remember all their names and there was a joy in discovering obscure articles in the Australian version of Addiction, but even better was seeing a whole shelf load of hard copies of that journal and spending a couple of hours randomly looking through them was never a waste of time.

My favest journal article was ‘Not to Be Toyed With’: Drug Addiction, Bullying and Self-empowerment in Buffy the Vampire Slayer…….absolutely no relevance to what I was doing but how could you not want to read like that? But no. No pictures.

(obvious copy and paste that hasn’t worked:)

The point I’m making is how big a role libraries have played in my life over the years even if there was a time I strayed away from them. I see young children being introduced to them in various places and it’s great that Hillhead Library, for example, can play host to Gaelic playgroups and the noise (of fun) that is attached to them.

I still have my SCONUL card and my Glasgow Life Library card was issued to me by Missie K when she worked in Glasgow Life Libraries but how come, Missie K, my membership number is the year of my birth? Eh, that’s it. Rant over.

And finally, there is only one piece of music I can play this week. I remember that afternoon. I watched it unfold live on television and remember shouting at the TV – helpless, fuc*ing helpless.

JFT96 at last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV5_LQArLa0

“Each meeting occurs at the precise moment for which it was meant. Usually, when it will have the greatest impact on our lives.” ― Nadia Scrieva, Fathoms of Forgiveness

April 21, 2016

And so dear listener, altho’ it may not look like it, there is often a structure to this show – a balance, even a theme. Yes. Sometimes it’s about drink’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll’n’sex’n’cancer, but often it’s not as mundane as that. It can sometimes be summed up in one word – one really exciting word – that gets your juices flowing (No. I’ve never been too sure about that phrase either) and really makes you good to go.:)

This week’s word? Meeting. No. Stay with me. Listen to me. This last seven days since we last spoke have seen me meet lots of people and each time, I’ve come away with a smashing smile on my face and a lot of coffee in my system.

(In my final year of alcohol dependency, I was tanning a full bottle of whisky a night and often a glug from the spare bottle(!). Now, two cups of hotel lobby coffee on a breakfast of granola and yogurt and I’m higher than a very high thing)

Take for example last Friday when I met up with J, the blog’s favest wildlife protector. It was a simple explanation of how she had helped a trapped bee to leave her home by the use of a glass and an envelope – with actions. The restaurant was enthralled but at least I knew what was happening…..if you’re a member of the group known as 5338, it’s what you do.:)

Me? I open windows and wave them in that direction but it’s not as exciting……and I’ve never felt the same about Barack Obama since he killed that fly with his bare hands.

Geek, not Greek, but that could explain the problems with their economy.

And on Monday I met Jenny G who is different from Jenny H, who passed her PhD Veeeeeeeeeeeva that day (and massive congrats Jenny H…well deserved) but was i/viewing me about, well, as I will be anonymised in her Master’s, then maybe it’s better I say not what it was about – but I was well i/viewed.:)

There is something about hotel lobbies, isn’t there? I thought he was a businessman waiting for a another businessman but it was a young lady with a wean in a buggy who met up with him.……..and she didn’t seem family. I wasn’t expecting that. Make up a sentence with the words ‘imagination’ and ‘riot’ in it…….

Anyway, nice one Jenny G and let me know how you get on.:)

And then who should I meet in Byres Road but Julian (ex-BBC Glasgow now freelancing in London) and we reminisced (sp) about a show I produced, with much help, for Radio 5 called Night Moves which went out just after midnight and was the best phone-in ever.

Julian was one of a number of young freelances including a lot of Nor’n Irish guys who were paid to answer the phones whose sobriety (as a catch-all description) was occasionally in doubt but then so was mine at times, so I said nothing but we got more calls on air than any other programme in that slot.:D

(What’s that Skippy? All the names so far begin with ‘J’ apart from J who’s called J. Tell you what; I’ll move on)

And I’m pleased to say negotiations have started with Jayne H, Anne and Jo from uny, and Missie K about meeting up….soon.

And finally, I’m reading a book called The Girl on the Train and it’s not what I expected.

Leaving the storyline aside it’s a frighteningly accurate representation of what it’s like to be an ‘alcoholic’ (Rachel’s description of herself; I try not to use that word) and the strange things you do, on your own, that seem frighteningly logical at the time. Why did I walk here? Why was I taking to that man?  I don’t recognise that voice on the answering machine. Who did I give my number to?

Not that everything I do is frighteningly logical these sober days, but I look forward to meeting people and no, one of those questions I’m often asked, I don’t go to the meetings. Good luck to those who do, but as someone in a rehab centre once said to me, ‘Why go somewhere when your head’s full of mince and everyone else has got the same mince in their heads?’

Cya, still wearing that badge and it’s back to keeping it simple.😀

Johnt850, still redfaced but now I can blame the sun.

So now will you please indulge me in a football memory – but a nice one.

Many years ago I worked for a man called Michael Kelly who had a PR agency and one of its clients was Celtic Football Club and a man called Billy McNeill had just stepped down from the role of manager (Rrm, the next time we meet, remind me to tell you about the memo that didn’t exist).

So we, sorry, the board (not me and Michael) decided to take our time and get the right guy. And I got lots of phone calls from sports journos about the latest rumour or just to ask if anything was happening to which I’d reply; ‘Nothing continues to happen.’

Eventually, I was able to announce (my name was at the bottom of the press release) that Liam Brady was the new manager of the football division and a brighter dawn was ahead of the club……No. No comment.

But the big fun I got was going out to Celtic Park to see Liam or Terry Cassidy or one of the other directors or players and saying cheerio to them in the foyer of the club just as people doing the tour of Celtic Park walked by wondering who it was that was talking to Liam or Terry.

The other big fun I got was going to Victoria’s with some of them but that’s maybe another story for another day.😀

This is a lady called Gretchen Peters with a jolly interesting song called Blackbird……actually it’s quite depressing;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5hIn569qMQ

I wanna walk and not run I wanna skip and not fall I wanna look at the horizon And not see a building standing tall (Dixie Chicks)

April 14, 2016

And so dear listener, the refurbishment of t850 Towers continues. The blind man has been and all that is required is a little spark (altho’ to be honest I’m not really too sure of the size of the electrician) and we are not miles away from opening to the public again.:)

And the outside furniture is up. As well as a proper bench replacing the well-gnawed picnic bench there is a ‘patio set’. With some help from Kenny the Shed Pimp, these were assembled and I was entrusted to unwrap the chairs but it started to rain. So a short while later I put out a chair; and it looked bloody sad out there on its own.😦

So, I put out a second chair; and I’m not sure if that doesn’t look sadder.  :(😦

And I felt bad when a friend of mine, on her way to work at the ASDA, waved at me; cos I was on my way to Morrisons (they have a better selection of fish).

I mention these, dear listener, as a couple of folk did ask me about last week’s show when I was a wee bit down (just a wee bit)……’why,’ they said, ‘do you not wait until you’re happier before writing the blog?’ Well, it has to represent my feelings when I actually sit down and I don’t always choose the moment.

And I mentioned to some folk that I planning to take my laptop to computer hospital and they assumed my computer wasn’t working. It is actually a Google Chrome problem. It was like a few years ago I told someone that I was off to the doctor’s that morning. ‘Oh,’ they said, ‘are you not feeling well?’

‘Oh, much better,’ said I, ‘and I want the doctor to know.’😀

It’s like when I’m talking to a traffic warden I may not necessarily be talking about parked cars; when I’m talking to a fellow homeless worker I may not be discussing the homeless; or when I’m talking to a librarian I’m not necessarily talking about books (altho’……..)

I do wish the complete works of Sherlock Holmes were required reading for people, so that people learn to look beyond the seemingly obvious.

‘At what level of schooling would you introduce it, Holmes?’

‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’

Talking of taking things to places, I once saw a guy with a crocodile and shouted ‘hey, what are you doing with that crocodile out in a public place?’

‘Oh, it’s okay,’ he said. ‘I’m taking it to the zoo.’

I saw him again the next day and said, ‘Hey, I thought you said you were taking that crocodile to the zoo.’

‘I did,’ he said. ‘Today I’m taking it to see a movie.’

And recently, I finished a shift at 5.30 am. The project where I work is at the nice’n’sleazy end of Sauchiehall Street and I park in the same street but on the other side of the motorway. Walking to the car at that time, just as the first light is forcing its way through, and the wide range of birdsong that I could hear was a brilliant experience.:)

It reminded me of a recent and very enjoyable visit to Pollok Park, which was also the first time I understood why getting a specific colour of paint deliberately mixed up at a B & Q is such a good idea but it would have been wrong to strip the bark off the tree just cos it was a nice colour.

And this week’s Headline of the Month? ‘Dominatrix scandal MP on the rack’ (Daily Record)

And can I make the point that my tax return only reflects what I choose to tell HMRC? No. No reason.

And finally, I was really disappointed that it was an underwater robot that was searching for Nessie. Like many others, I read it as ‘underwater rabbit’.😉

Cya, still wearing that badge and back to keeping it simple,

Johnt850, the face still remains red at times but not so subued this week.

So, in one way, I’m glad that I didn’t get the go ahead for the PhD but it never made it to application status. In another……..but then again……..

One of the things that did happen was all the changes to my idea so that eventually it matched the criteria for a possible studentship. And then it didn’t. And I’m basically a story teller. Research methodology?

Anyway, were I to offer one again, it would be a different subject and would require a different uny….I touched on it in the Post Grad and the Master’s and touch on it a lot in the blog.

Continued stigma attached to certain words, especially ‘addict’ and its brothers and sisters such as ‘alcoholic’.

The debate was initiated to a certain extent by things being written by a former Independent journalist called Jonathan Hari who is possibly best known for having had the 2008 Orwell Prize removed from him for plagiarism but who later wrote a smashing book called Chasing the Scream updating many views on substance use and our approaches towards it – telling a wider public that it’s not an illness. His own personal rehabilitation. Possibly.

He has seemingly justified using the word ‘addict’ and whilst, for some, this might be a technical debate, I don’t like words like that. Were I to write that PhD, then the following quote from former Harm Reduction Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, Meghan Ralston, would be in it.

‘Drug use and addiction are so unusually and profoundly stigmatised that people don’t find it necessary to extend the same respect to those affected as they would to people with other health conditions.’

The next time you use the phrase ‘chronic alcoholic’, please remember that that may have been your description of me ten years ago – but not now. Hopefully.

Anyway, here’s the main man when it comes to recovering from dependencies and marriage – Steve Earle and the brilliant ‘Copperhead Road’. I think I need a third piece of music for my funeral. I wonder….(and 2’36” into it a piper comes back into the Crem!!!!!!!!!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvaEJzoaYZk

When you tug at a single thing in nature,you will find it attached to the rest of the world (John Muir suggested by Ian Harrower)

April 7, 2016

And so dear listener, this blog is now eight years old. It started as a way of letting people know about the second half of my successful treatment for prostate cancer – the radiotherapy – or sandblasting as it was known in the blog. That was a way of trying to introduce some humour and reduce the fear factor in talking about cancer.:)

Altho’ I had to do some fast talking when some students who were filming me in my (shared) office saw a notice above the coffee table which said, ‘Which of you bastards stole a dying man’s coffee?’ Some jokes don’t work.😦

The first half of the treatment got less attention. It was a drug called Zoladex and it has been suggested that it had major side effects. My ex-wife looked at the list of them and said ‘you’re about to go through the menopause.’ And I still get hot flushes, altho’ whether that’s because I still get an awful lot of things wrong or am easily embarrassed, I’m not sure.

It came in the shape of a large needle and was administered, by a doctor, on a monthly basis. Y’see the male hormone testosterone feeds the cancer and the Zoladex administers oestrogene which kills the testosterone and gives the sandblasting a better chance of working. Which, in my case, it did successfully.

So I am still around today. To continue making mistakes. I’ll move myself on. Cos it’s been a good week. Mostly.

I’d like to say a big congrats to Sophe Williamson who married Christina Watson a few days ago and sent out some lovely pictures. Call me old fashioned but when two young women get married, I think it’s really nice when they’re both wearing wedding dresses. I showed some of the pics from social media to a work colleague who said, ‘they’re really nice. How do you know Sophe?’

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘we were both zombies together.’

Sometimes you can just sense when someone’s not too sure how to reply to something that’s been said and it’s best for the conversation to move on.

But since this blog is eight years old it was appropriate that I went for a drink with the blogmeister, altho’ I didn’t realise the anniversary until I sat down at the typewriter just now. I had written a page about my experiences with the drink and cancer and I had edited it as appropriate for individuals and if I felt their stomach was up to it, I could send them a page about the Twenty-four hours of Cold Turkey which I’d written for a competition run by the Scottish Book Trust.

Anyway I did spend some time in Tennents with the man who helped me launch my blogging career as I had no idea how to start such a venture but I have to say that Morgan’s Rum and Diet Coke may not be the best basis for a diet……just saying’, that’s all.:)

And it wasn’t eight years ago that I made the decision to join some friends who are Partick Thistle fans but that came out of a concern that I wasn’t doing anything with my Saturdays and time hanging heavy on my hands can be dangerous. It paid off on Tuesday night when not only did the Harry Wraggs, the Maryhill Jags win one – nil but I came away with a large foam thumb. Unfortunately I had missed the game where a free cushion designed by Kota Ezawa was given away. And if that seems strange for a football club, then bite on this, footie fans. Until recently, the mission statement on the PTFC website read, NOT SO CUDDLY ANYMORE!

And finally, I’d like to thank J, the blog’s favest music critic, for agreeing to come with me to see Alabama 3 in a ‘few weeks’ time’. For those of you who don’t know, A3 are the world’s greatest acid house country rock band and played an amazing part in my recovery. I saw them once before at Balloch Country Park a few years ago.  I suspect it’ll be slightly different indoors.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and, stupidly, sometimes finding it difficult to keep it simple.

Johnt850, feeling very red-faced and very subdued.

And, yes, Scotland has done really well in having four leaders out of six Holyrood parties who are in same-sex relationships and have not made a big deal out of it. Indeed the tabloids have made little of it which is nice.

I’ve touched on this before. I worry when people come out in any sense and a big thing is made of their ‘bravery’ which I feel puts people off. And that’s been a big aim of this blog – to try and demystify substance and cancer issues and various people have spoken to me about things arising out of this………and there’s lots of folk like me……..there’s a massive list of speakers available from Prostate Cancer UK who are available to do information talks or staff information stands at Health Days.

And then there’s the tube of an expert on Breakfast News or whatever the BBC prog is called, whose first contribution to a discussion on eating disorders is to congratulate the two young girls, who were speaking about their experiences, for their ‘bravery’. The girls were much quieter after that. I’m not sure if they had ever seen talking about their experiences as being brave. Now they were thinking about what they had done.

But what do I know?

This is Lady Antebellum……..this is from a different past.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rHuitW9xDc

A Fragrance So Tempting That Even Angels Will Sin For Its Heavenly Masculinity (Lynx Excite)

March 31, 2016

So I’ve started to use that as a ‘refreshing shower gel’ and intend to keep the manufacturers (and you dear listener) up to speed as to whether it actually does what it says on the outside just above the ingredients.😉

No. No alcohol and just a little in the Listerine. That I can cope with.

And dear listener, I know I come across as someone who hires in men (or women) when a job needs doing but was there any need for Mary, my neighbour, when I was out planting some interesting herbs, for her to say to her daughter (ages with Son Brian), ‘Go and get the camera. Johnt’s working in the garden.’?😦

I do do things for myself. I go to supermarkets. After a very refreshing visit to the Burgh of Paisley (and let’s hear it for 2021) I went to Morrisons at Anniesland. The group of women in front of me had not seen the cashier for ages and so I was regaled (sp) with such amazing snippets of conversation as;

‘It was then he had his leg cut off’ and ‘No. She didn’t know she was pregnant until the wean popped out.’

I don’t normally listen to such conversations but the man behind me (clasping baby to chest) was refereeing a potential argument between two silver haired ladies as to whether one of them had the right to leave her trolley, go away and get another item and then regain her place in the queue. Suddenly the Middle East becomes relatively simple.

And j, thank you for that ringing endorsement of my driving and e, I’ve still to tell her about Alderman Road but maybe I won’t bother now. But I will say one thing to j; the water in the lagoon is blue – I repeat – the water in the lagoon is blue…….. but the colour of my new blonds will be Buttermist. I’ve done it again!!!!!!!!!! That typo!!!!!!!!! It’s happened again!!!!! Look at your keyboard!!!!! I’m leaving it in……….😀😀😀

And speaking of e, I went solo with Holly last week. (Skippy, it’s okay to say that isn’t it?) E had been called away and I had been entrusted with Holly and the front door key (spare). And you know those faux-comic (sometimes I feel more West End than Summerston) films where you see an owner being pulled along by the dog – well it ain’t that funny.

My thanks to Kenny the Shed Pimp for helping to slow things down just before the Botanic Gardens and to all who asked; both small black plastic bags were used and I was panicking in case a third (which I didn’t have) was needed. I mean what do you do then? Leave a wee sign saying, ‘I’ll be back.’ In a butch voice.:)

No. I didn’t let her off the lead. Something about it not being the end of the season yet. Didn’t know Holly was a football fan. But Holly took a real good selfie which I let a couple of people see including Jenny H (and I hope the mock Veeeeeeeeva went well – Elvis and the Dead Kennedys know how to pronounce these things) and her difficulty in telling me and Holly apart led me to decide to go and get my hair cut. Which I would never attempt on my own.:)

And I went to the dentist on my own. This is the dentist that was recommended by BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal, and his wife. And I love the picture of my mouth on the computer screen. And it is sooooo nice to go to a dentist that is not an offshoot of what seems to be Pineapple Studios.😦

And t850 Towers is slowly taking shape. And people are slowly being invited over to enjoy its delights and  its new patio furniture – which Kenny the Shed Pimp will assemble for me – and curtains………soon time.

And finally, in a few weeks’ time, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs will take place in New York. It’s looking for an ‘integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem’ and, whilst I won’t be reporting from there, I will keep you up to date with any significant developments. And whilst decriminalisation is on the menu, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple.

Johnt850, and if it sounds fantastic, it is fantastic.

And so, I did watch The Line Manager. And I have to say that The House Manager was a powerful piece of drama and played good homage to the works of John Le Carre whose novels have disappeared from my back bedroom and, yes, Le Carre did play a cameo role as the man who ordered the lobster salad that annoyed Corky so much and two of his sons were exec prods on the whole venture.:)

And the writing was good but the best bit of writing for me came when the real star of The Night Manager (Olivia Colman as the spymaster) spoke to David Harewood and there were two lines about her pregnancy not being a cover cos she really was pregnant. That was skilled writing, brilliantly delivered.😀

It was on a par with a line from Grease when the John Travolta character says to the Olivia Newton John character that ‘you can’t walk out of a drive-in movie.’

Last week I played Fast Car (Skippy, is that the right title?). I should have played this. I mean I can’t be the only man who wants to slick back his hair, pull his collar up a la the Fonze and do ALL the actions to this. Can I? Go Greased Lightning!!!!!!!

Sexual connotation? Where?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK63eUyk-iM

There are no ships on the Paisley Canal (anon)

March 24, 2016

And so dear listener, once upon a time, I would have said I was currently living in a bomb site, but we now see, so often, pictures of real bomb sites both far away and close to home that that is a poor use of language. Many of the dead do not wear military uniforms but are people like you and me on their way to work or having a coffee or whatever.

Please always remember tho’, that when you see someone re-post something from Britain First or similar or agree with Trump that we’d be better without Muslims, you are doing Daesh’s work for them – you are promoting division and hatred which is what they want. That, and recruits for their bastard cause.

They are losing on the battlefield. This is why they are turning their attention to our streets more than ever before. This is neither the work nor the thoughts of the Prophet. These are extremists using a faith, a religion, for their own horrible aims.

Pause for reflection.

No. There is a painter in my house. Called Jed. Who, amongst other things, is doing ceilings I would never contemplate doing. He confirmed on Tuesday night that he would be here on Thursday and Friday and is doing the entire Top Wing (it seems) so piles of stuff, including some jolly interesting stuff I’d obtained on Inter Library Loan which I will read before assigning it to a shelf somewhere, is all over the floors of the rest of t850Towers.:)

The colour I chose for the back bedroom wall – the office that is the hub of my multi-million empire? Soft gazelle. It looks much the same as some others of that pastel ilk but I like the name.:)

This made it difficult for the blind man (not a blind man as in the blind man and the nun gag – nor a blond man as in a typo I keep making) but a man come to measure for new blinds. The existing ones went in when I moved in some twenty-five years ago and are now dangerous. He seems to know what he’s doing.

J and I had a very pleasant day out on Monday but at one point I got a voicemail explaining that the blind man wouldn’t be over on Tuesday as promised because, according to the female voice that left the message, he had had vomiting and diarrohea (sp) – way too much information – so when he did come over I felt I couldn’t look him in the face. Or indeed anywhere else.

Interesting place, Paisley. I was walking past a semi-bungalow the other day, when I noticed a full Star Wars Star-trooper’s costume in a bay window. I may have told someone that it was a Jedi warrior’s. Too much coffee.

And then I was shown an interesting brick house out the back of a backyard. No. Not that type of brick house but an old brick building in disrepair where they, presumably, built up some kinda heating in order to help dry clothes if the weather was not good.

Either that or for smoking fish……’I may have smoked some things in my time but never fish’ a strange voice said in my ear just now.

And finally, I was going to tell you a wee bit more about the adventure J and I went on on Monday, just past, but I’ve run out of space…altho’ I did meet someone who I had not seen since my BBC days and who I want to catch up with soon time (and he’s a guy).

Many highlights, but one of the bestest was talking to a volunteer cleaner man carefully dusting what looked like very old furniture in Pollok House, who explained to us that he had only just realised that it was reproduction as the nipples on the lady had been fondled away……..or did I pick that up wrong? Anyway, it seemed to make his day.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Johnt850, described recently as a non-smoking fag……..eh?

So, as I’ve mentioned to some folk I’ve been to the doctor – nothing to do with the bowel cancer fright of a couple of weeks ago but a general sense of rundown-ness. Don’t get me wrong. I can walk for miles, do a proper job of work with the homeless and run around with my grand-daughter with no problem but it’s not my usual sense of energy.

So blood tests were done and everything is dine; kidneys and liver and blood-sugar levels and no signs of diabetes and my separate PSA test for my prostate cancer is 0.9, which is good.

So I will go back and will ask to speak to a nutritionist. Am I maybe falling into the habits of five or six years ago and just going through a stock range of dishes for eating on my own? The original decision to go pescatarian was never for ethical or medical reasons.  Maybe it’s time to re-think that policy. We’ll see.

So I was very pleased with my Clio the other day – drove the road and the miles to Pollok from Paisley really good and avoiding traffic islands (No. No reason but please no-one mention Alderman Road which was much worse than the incident coming out of the Clyde Tunnel) So here’s a wee piece of music purely for it and every passenger who’s fallen in love with the two sunroofs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yXQJBU8A28


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