Sometimes you dance with a partner and sometimes you dance alone. But the important thing is to keep dancing (Jack Canfield)

July 22, 2016

And so dear listener, I don’t know about you but I enjoyed writing last week’s blog and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed being somewhere  new (at least as far as the blog was concerned) and I felt fresher and we shall ignore anything untoward that may have happened during my visit.😦

 I’ve spoken quite a lot about libraries in recent months- for a number of reasons – but the Mitchell has always played a big part in my life. I think I mentioned that it was once a source of money for me in my early broadcasting days when I supplied the ‘And in this week ten/twenty/thirty years ago….’ feature for Jimmy Mack’s Old Golds. The research for that was done in the big room of the Library where I had to put in a written request for the vast tomes that were the Daily Record or the Daily Express for 1959 or whatever and spot the gem.

That was xx years ago and it wasn’t that long ago that I was putting in written requests for Inter Library Loans at UWS (Paisley) Library only to be told in a very nice and gentle manner (thanks J and colleagues) that these things already existed in Paisley – they were on the computer.😉

And then when I started to be a serious researcher, there was the joy of the micro-fiche. Where did all these micro-fiche fish go?

Ah, the joy of keeping it simple.:)

Cos it’s been a horrible week – primarily cos of the router/modem issue and the waiting in on both Tuesday (I was given the wrong day) and Wednesday before it (and the television box) arrived followed swiftly by a man called Tommy who put it all together for me and I was back hacking into NASA and GCHQ (ish). I feel as if I’ve been stuck in my house for an eternity.😦

(And the Mitchell has/had the Glasgow Room where many years ago I was able to purchase copies of GPO maps (ten/twenty/thirty years apart) of that part of Kelvindale where we had bought a house. I wonder what happened to them?)

So big thanks to e for getting me out of my house and a trip to the Lighthouse. There used to be a lighthouse near where I was brought up in Peterhead called Buchan Ness and if you ever asked my mum about it, she would tell you, as mothers do, about the time when I was two and we were having a family picnic in the area around the lighthouse when I fell into a pond and she had to buy fresh clothes for me.

She would have hated it many years later when me and my then accountant were staying with some friends in Carradale and me and a mate went to pull in  small boat to go for a wee trip when my wellingtons slipped and I slid into Carradale harbour. Your life does not flash in front of you but your face goes helluva red. And just to add to it, a few days later I was on a fishing boat for some overnight keeling and hauling and I heard the skipper say on the radio to another skipper (cos you work in pairs), ‘you’ll never guess who I’ve got on board. Aye. The Glasgow boy who fell in the water and near drowned.’

No. I can’t swim. Why do you ask?

Anyway  e got me out of the house just hours before a shift by inviting me to go with her to an exhibition of photographs of old and falling apart houses in the Western Isles taken by the former drummer of the Buzzcocks, John Maher, which was quite fun and was about their renovation……..and promoted a thought. Maybe I should take the blog on the road over the next wee while where possible.

Y’see when I was at Paisley Uny (and I did more than talk to library people) I quite often took the train to Paisley (at least in the early days before I discovered the multi-storey car park) and the front of the train said Ardrossan Harbour and occasionally I felt like being a real rebel and just staying on to there and just paying the difference.  😀

Incidentally, I have to admire e’s Sherlock type skills. Noticing that, in one of the pictures, there was a ladle hanging by the fire and it had an inscription, she leaned in to read it. Out Loud. Slowly.

‘You’re. Never. Too. Old. To. Spoon.’ We moved swiftly on.

So I’m not too sure where that leaves me. I might be going to Embra this week and I might be going to Larbert. There’s tickets booked for a couple of gigs at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in  about three weeks time and there’s nothing to stop me getting up one morning and just going. Somewhere. Taking the blog on the road. Let’s just see.:)

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


But there was one scary side to the week. I got really infuriated at the waiting. And ten years or more ago, I would have dealt with it by drinking alcohol to settle me and that’s what my alcohol dependency was –a behaviour where alcohol played its part cos it was an easy fix. And then I discovered that the best way of coping was to slam a set of headphones on and go for a walk, but you can’t do that when you’re waiting. So I made soup. Or at least a stock for a soup……..and I calmed down.

It may be a strange coping mechanism but it works.

This is the Buzzcocks’ most famous ever single or, to put it another way, I couldn’t find a Youtube for ‘Orgasm Addiction’…….You’ll know this one, so please feel free to sing along….


If you take your foot off the accelerator, then the pedal goes back goes back to where it was. (Theresa May)

July 16, 2016

And so dear listener, last week, when I was wandering down memory lane and talking of coffee shops, I promised you that this week would be a wander down the road of drink, drugs, sex, rock and roll and cancer…and it would have been. But I’ve had problems – server problems – and somewhere along the way my very original and witty draft blog has been eradicated. Don’t ask.

So I’m sitting here in a window seat of the Herald Café in the Mitchell Library on an awkward stool looking out over the row of parked cars and the Avalon Bar and I’m quite happy; and I think the drink, drugs, sex, etc, will have to wait until next week.

And my roll and fried egg and potato scone has just been delivered.  :)

This may be shorter than usual (and Skippy that’s not an innuendo) but it’s nice to have access to a working PC and I’m catching up on a lot of stuff. The library staff have been tremendously helpful cos it’s a wee bit more than just getting a wi-fi code but not much more and I have a coffee and a glass of water and Google and I’m happy. Because of the problems I may have drafted too soon.:)

I just don’t have online access at home but can do other stuff on a stick and bring it in. I just need to be a wee bit more careful with the stick, but I feel like a real writer at the moment so don’t spoil it.

Yes, I use Facebook and mail a lot but I have come to rely on the PC as a source of information. When J asked a couple of weeks ago for a suggestion for a football DVD for a grandson, I came home, went on to Amazon, saw 250 Greatest Goals and sent her the link….he loved it. The DVD – not the link.

Thankfully he seems to be unaware that I am a Partick Thistle supporter and do things like drive my pals to Airdrie on a wet Friday night to see a one-nil victory in the Right Said Fred League Cup and that was an inspired decision Davie B to turn left out of the car park. Shame about the motorway being closed.😦

But e and AJ may be about to come to Firhill – the home of dreams – quite soon and I hope it’s a good game and, indeed, if anyone else wants to take a child to a very family-friendly environment for their first ever game, let me know. And just ignore what Tory Andrea Loathsome says about men and children.

(And a member of the library staff has just walked past and asked if everything is okay. Well, the egg was a bit runny but I don’t think that’s the usual library remit. Certainly it never happened in UWS Paisley but one summer I was allowed to drink my Lucozade until the ‘students’ started again and then I had to obey the rules and drink water)

And a pressie for my grand-daughter’s birthday was delivered the other day. I won’t tell you what it is in case you’re talking to her but again it was ordered online and I got a text saying delivery was underway and when I got home there was a card shoved through the letterbox saying it was in the shed. Surely not? I keep my shed locked. Buy my padlock is from Woolworths. Remember them?

I assume he carries a set of basic keys and just uses them. I may need to be in on Tuesday for the delivery of my new modem/router and television box. I’m told it’s easy to install; I may seek help.

But even finding the phone number for the Mitchell proved tricky as I looked in a now redundant book called Yellow Pages. There is no listing. I have a Blackberry. I Googled it.

And finally, I went to the Homeless World Cup during the week in George Square (as did other Partick Thistle fans such as Alan, Andrew and Bean (believe it or not that’s his nickname and not his birthname – I think) and it was brilliant. I saw Chile trounce Germany six-nil in a well fought match and as ever, homeless Scotland (male and female) did us proud. Shame the Queen Street refurbishment and the subway refurbishment is on just now as there was no casual traffic passing through George Square……..

And I think that’ll do me this week.

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and still being asked what it means but always keeping it simple.

Johnt850, relieved that, hopefully, I will be back online next week, but I will need to come back here before then and will be happy so to do.

The 15th was Linda Rondtadt’s birthday. This is she.


“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.” (passed on by Jacqui Low Partick Thistle director)

July 8, 2016

And so dear listener, firstly can I pass on my thanks to all those who passed on good messages on my birthday last week and, yes, I don’t look my age. It’s not cos I work out, cos I don’t, and I still have an inch or so to lose around my waist that I’m doing nothing about.😦  At university, one of my nicknames was ‘Baby John’ and I’m not sure how I’d have got on in this world of IDing people who look under 25 and I know some folk don’t think this is the case (cos they’ve known me as I’ve grown up or since uny and don’t see the difference) but trust me I do.

(I don’t always feel it tho’ and there’s a driving licence that shows just how bad, physically, I’d got at one stage but some planned and unplanned lifestyle changes brought me back home):)

But it’s been a week of taking stock and reminiscing (sp) and it’s great news, for example, that the Vampire Slayer is coming back to this country later this year and is already talking about meeting up.:)  I enjoy meeting people but learned years ago the benefits of using mail and Facebook just to keep in touch but it ain’t the same………

This should not be seen as a dig against anyone (particularly if we’ve met within the last twelve months or you work in the East End and our last meeting was in Frankie and Johnny’s in Easterhouse and my diary will always be flexible) but is a true reflection of my circumstances……I have plans.

So it was nice to meet up with a female friend on Monday night that I hadn’t met for a wee while and we did so in one of those places that have become so much a part of my life in recent years – a coffee bar. This was one called Tinderbox in Byres Road and it stays open until about 11. Nardini’s up the road stays open ‘til about 10 and there are others.

I think this is brilliant and am happy with being in places like this. How do they make money? I never ever feel under pressure to drink up. I’m surprised no-one ever gets locked in upstairs in Starbucks, next to the currently closed Underground, when it closes at (I think) 7.30 and there’s a place in Paisley where I occasionally have a leisurely (?) coffee with a good friend where once I remember it was a beef eating type of place with pints of lager and cuts of meat and other stuff I don’t do now but I won’t name it…..just in case it gets busy.:)

But yet, one of my first memories of Glasgow is of a coffee bar.

We would come down from Peterhead to Glasgow on holiday and altho’ we had relations here, we didn’t stay with them. Rather than choose between anyone we stayed in hotels at the Kelvinbridge end of town but we used to go to a coffee bar in between Queen Street Railway Station and Buchanan Street Railway Station called the Moka Bar. I would have a processed cheese slice in between two slices of processed white bread with a Coca Cola in a bottle.

One day, famous footballer Jim Baxter was sitting there with another person who we did not recognise but I went and got both their autographs – the other was John Greig.

And still on a footballing theme, good luck to J and her punt on France for Euro16

Cya, still wearing that badge (the one with the big sky) and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, who promises we will return to the usual format of drink, drugs, sex, rock, roll and cancer next week.

And a quick word on one of the big stories of the week.

At the time I believed war in Iraq was wrong and I was working at the BBC at the time and am aware of much that was discussed then and did not believe it was necessary.

However, I did believe there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Why? Because we had sold them to Iraq. It’s what we do. We have sold to both North and South Korea, for example, and that included TCPs which we are now much more familiar with as a component of terrorist bombs or something that can be turned into sarin nerve agent, or as a fertiliser used to grow better potatoes.

Or how about Marconi and Tripod Engineering selling stuff to Irag in the eighties under the guise of civilian contracts that were destined for military use?

Or………I can go on, but I won’t. There’s a Tory leadership candidate on the TV downstairs telling the world how great Britain is and I know things won’t change.

But one thing Chilcot does show is the lack of a game plan, a structure, an idea for what to do after the big event – hang on……that’s Brexit, isn’t it?😦

Last week’s musical choice was suggested by a grand-daughter (but not mine) and this is as well.

When I was younger, people like Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor (with both of whom I was privileged to work in later years) would sing this and we’d call it entertainment but I can’t find their version…..but please feel free to join in.

Then the order came down, dump everything and fix bayonets. You have got to fight for it today. (Private Walter Hutchison)

July 1, 2016

And so dear listener, I have just turned 62. Not bad, given that coming up for ten years ago, a friend of mine looked at me, lying comatose in a hospital bed, and gave me no chance of surviving the night……… but I did and survived much else a few months later.:)

It made me the man I am today (which is not necessarily as other men my age) ………..I will say no more than that but I do enjoy life in many ways.😉

But the death of Caroline Aherene has hit home. My alcohol and cancer issues are, thankfully, well behind me.Hers never left her. I found dealing with the after effects of both at the same time the hardest thing to do. I will never forget my support team who were there for me (and the people who weren’t) and that is partly why this blog exists.

But my thanks to the many ways that people got best wishes  to me and my thanks to a co-worker who brought in buns which made a nightshift go very quickly.

But long term listeners will know that at one stage I talked of being 42 for ever (it’s an Alabama 3 thing) but various things that have happened in the last two years have made me adjust to being what I am (a private pension kicking in helped).

But I’d a great day on Monday (so maybe my birthday came early) and I went to bed that night looking forward to the next day, altho’ I’m always pleased to wake up. It’s a much under-rated pastime.:)

Basically, there’s been the money thang with the TSB. I got a phone call from a man whom we’ll call TK who admits they’re in the wrong but is still uncertain what to do as he can’t understand what went wrong. But I am promised my money soon time with goodwill payments and refunded charges etc. TK is not a man to be argued with. I obvs checked out his Linkedin and Facebook profiles and the latest pic in his Facebook profile sees him with a very powerful chainsaw……TK is most definitely not a man to be argued with. Turns out he is the TSB’s Senior Customer Services Executive.

And finally, but not the usual ‘and finally’ but a Monday ‘and finally’, a very good friend, about whom I was slightly worried, phoned and I felt much better. No. No names. No pack drill.

I know I could fire up the Google but I always thought that if you gave the names, you would avoid the packdrill but what do I know?

And so, a final word on Brexit. It has been said that much of the voting was a protest against well educated people as people decided they were in charge and not the experts who actually do know what they’re talking about. However, this was kinda put in its place, and I pass this on without comment, by the number of people (some of whom I spoke to) who didn’t realise that by voting to leave they were actually voting to leave.

And my thanks to an Englishman living in New York – John Oliver – for pointing out that the second most Googled question last Friday morning was, ‘What is the EU?’

And finally,  Roy Hodgson, you did not have to be an expert to know that Iceland were pretty good with long throw-ins, but a lot less arrogance in your players might have helped as well.😉

And on the question of the Euros, J’s choice (France) has made better progress than mine (Spain) but there’s a long way to go, but I was intrigued by her question the other day,

‘jt, you know about Partick Thistle, but do you know anything about football?’ I think I know what was meant.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and happy to be keeping it simple

Johnt850, and as Anna Magnusson would say, Afram Island!!!!!

So, as many of you know J very kindly gave me a bee house as a gift for the garden but there’s been little happening in terms of bees using it.

So I went on Facebook for help and changed my profile picture to that bit of my garden fence which supports the house and various people got in touch.

Now J had said to me that it was not a hive but I was to think of it as a Bees’ B’n’B. Ah, said I down the phone, ‘a kind of Bees’ backpackers’ hostel.’ ‘Yes’, said she……… So I shared this notion on fb and I would like to thank Julie, with whom I used to play hockey and who has more international contacts than even you, Rainforestriverman, for progressing this metaphor with a lovely word picture of ‘tiny bees with tiny rucksacks strumming tiny guitars and eating tiny pot noodles.’😀

Later the next day, I walked past the Blue Sky Backpackers’ Hostel in Berkeley Street and smiled. It still doesn’t stop me, listeners, from standing at the kitchen door window, shouting, ‘Where are you bees? Where are you?’ My next door neighbours gave up on me long time ago.

And tonight’s closing piece of music has been played many times before, but I was told recently that someone else’s grand-daughter really liked it, so I am under instruction here….

In the beginning God said Let There be Grammar: and there was Grammar! And then there was Grammar issues, and they was bad.

June 24, 2016

And so dear listener, today’s show reveals two sides of my complex life; on the one hand, I’d a brilliant day with people most of whom I’d never met before, but on the other a bank with whom I’ve banked since I was born and for whom my father worked, thinks it’s okay to take £566.87 off me, erroneously as it admits, but has no way of giving me that money back….…as I write.😦

But the two events are linked. Tenuously.

Read on.

As many of you know last Saturday was a Gaelic Sports Day in Pollok Park and it was dead good. I had been given the task of running the tuck shop and took to it like I was destined to be a shopkeeper. I even had my own catchphrase to anyone complaining about prices (in English)😉

‘You’re in the middle of Pollok Park, no’ Pollok Shopping Centre!’

Incidentally, does Pollok still have a shopping centre or have Braehead and Silverburn made it redundant?

Anyway back at Fèis Spòrs Ghlaschu, to give the day its proper name. Everyone was brilliant and one small moment early on summarised the feelgood factor, or rather the sun tan lotion factor…..the blogmeister and his J and family had turned up cos their son, from Airdrie, was playing shinty but somehow the suntan lotion had not made the same journey. Suzy, who started off the tuckshop with me, said, ‘I’ve got some in the car.’ and went and got it and we spread it all over. What can you say?😀

There was a Tug of War and c had brought his special Tug of War shoes; there was Zumba, j, which satisfied my curiosity as to what actually happened in that form of dancing; there was shinty, face painting, home baking, Scottish Country Dancing, a 1k run for under tens or similar and my own particular favourite……gridlock on the Maryhill Road going home – altho’ tbh, I don’t think it was connected.😦

All in all a good day and I am giving serious thought to learning Gaelic as next year’s evening class.:)

And my thanks to e for getting me involved.

Indeed the connection with e continued into the next week.

You may remember TSB Fraser from last week who I thought was going to be helpful in finding my £566.87? Well I was down again on the Monday after two hours’ sleep and he thought Graham, the Customer Services Manager, would be looking after it. Well he wasn’t.

E and I had decided to do a bank crawl up Byres Road (ah, the days of the Pub Crawl have long since gone but I’ll turn to the Rainforestriverman in a second) and we started off in the Bank of Scotland where they have one of those machines that you can pay cheques into and we ended up in the Royal Bank of Scotland where they don’t have cash bags but instead they have a machine like the Coin Star you get in supermarkets but without giving up 17.5% to charity.

In between, we went into the TSB where Graham had taken the day off and Fraser had nipped out for chocolate biscuits but none for me and e and no news on the money front.

A letter has gone to the Chief Executive…….:)


The Rainforestriverman has just stood down from Glasgow University Court and he and I were to meet down Byres Road after he’d had a farewell dinner of Porterhouse Blue proportions, but it was cancelled after he’d seen the size of the stilton.

I left Glasgow Metropolitan College to concentrate on recovery – and those small minds that wished me ill. My own going away (me and Mike Gower)  – cranberry juice and paper plates full of crisps – was sooooooo overwhelming that me and some others went to the nearest pub (Printworks?) and I set about some serious Virgin Mary drinking.:):):)

And finally, J’s money (eh?) looks good with the home team of France but my own choice of Spain are making it hard for themselves. They remind me so much of my own team Partick Thistle in that they play a lovely passing game and then get beat 2 – 1…….but they’re still in with a shout.

Cya, still wearing the badge and keeping it simple can be quite reassuring at times. For all concerned.:)

Johnt850, with my birthday in a few days’ time but the more significant date is in December.

And so one of the main reasons for the existence of this show was to talk about Prostate Cancer and my own successful treatment.  I had radiotherapy rather than surgery for a number of reasons and, without going into any detail, am glad I did.:)

At one point, Andrew Lloyd Webber was about to have prostate cancer treatment and was ‘worried about losing his sexual urge’ so the Daily Record contacted the Scottish end of Prostate Cancer UK and after getting the official line asked the PR, big Al, for someone who hadn’t lost anything. They got me.

I can’t remember the headline (well I can but I don’t like to boast) but having explained to the reporter, Catherine Devanney, the whole procedure, I was asked, ‘At any point did a warning bell go that there was something seriously wrong?’

‘Well’, I replied, ‘when the nurse stuck her finger up my bum, I had a passing sensation that all was not right.’

I mention all that cos I’m fine and ‘everything is in working order’ but I still meet, am put in contact with or hear about men with worries about diagnosis and treatment and in a week when it’s suggested that prostate cancer time could be nearly halved with higher doses of radiotherapy – thus halving the 37 sessions I had – I think it’s important to stress that treatment works in most cases, but the longer you choose to ignore going for a pee so often during the night, then the more chance there is that the treatment won’t work.

I was seeing my GP on a monthly basis after my alcoholic breakdown – but not everyone can be that lucky.

And tonight’s music is basically for anyone who likes bees and may need some cheering up. It’s Matt McGinn from a time before videos of people’s music existed. Enjoy.

Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion; it is poisonous (Brendan Cox, husband of Jo)

June 17, 2016

And so, dear listener, this week’s Favest Banker of the Month award (and I don’t think that, for once j, ‘favest’ applies to you as it’s not one of your skills but I could be wrong) goes to Fraser in the Byres Road branch of the TSB who very kindly explained to me things that the Call Centre in India couldn’t.:)

Now don’t get me wrong. The man in India did his best but he used terms and words I hadn’t heard before, like me owing money and stuff like that, but I think the hardest thing for him to take on board was me, a man almost 62 years old (just under three weeks to go) crying his eyes out and pleading for him to speak in words of one syllable while he told me that my credit card was blocked until a completion charge of £21.98 was paid.😦

And that the cheque that I had paid, which seems to have bounced about four weeks ago but they deducted the money anyway, was to be returned to me and I would take it into a branch of the bank and they would refund the money to me before taking it off me again to pay what I owed.  This seemed strange.

All this happened during the day on Tuesday and I had a sleepless night, which given that I was working night shift that night, was not necessarily a bad thing but the next morning I slept for an hour (really well with new blackout curtains) but I had to get up and do something about it. So I went down to the bank and spoke to Fraser and he made a positive effort not to roll his eyes but let me speak and then he made a phone call and showed me things on the screen and that, in itself, was reassuring.:)

Yes, it was done with my permission but I always think I pay for so much by cash and yet there it is……everything including my £308 for my season ticket at Partick Thistle. But then things began to settle and there was no ‘completion charge’ (it was a minimum amount to pay) and I just paid it all and soon time that cheque would be returned and all would be refunded and some PINs needed to be changed and so on. But if there was any problem then just ask for him; and I stopped crying.:)

My son went to a fee-paying school (to which I contributed financially – not in general – but for his bit of it but there is a seat in the grandstand of the playing fields which has my name on it cos I contributed to that as well)…..anyway fee-paying school… was the kind of place where young men had surnames for first names like Fraser and Craig and stuff like that but they do have a confidence that I don’t have. Much.

And I also got a letter from another banker called Elaine from another branch about another banking issue. Managers may not be out there but local bankers are.

But nothing is as it seems.😀

Take Euro16 and that footage quite early on of a man smashing a chair over someone else’s head. Did you watch it; did you really watch it? Then you would have noticed that the man he hit was carrying a golf club (what we used to call a ‘wood’ but it is now made of metal) which he was about to use to smash in someone else’s head on the steps beside him. That chair carrying/smashing thug was someone else’s hero.

And then another moment which seemed to pass without comment (and I don’t mean the crassness of the English commentator who, when England scored late in the first game, spoke of Justice for the England Eleven) but one of those pre-arranged, spontaneous moments that football fans are good at.

A 24 year old man from Northern Ireland died, accidently, in a fall from a great height. How did the Republican of Ireland fans react? With a chant that went,

‘Stand up For the Ulsterman, stand up for the Ulsterman. Stand up for the Ulsterman’ and so on for a full minute.  Football fans do that kind of thing a lot. And people stand up for a full minute as a tribute.

So J has some money on France and I have some on Spain and already I’m looking forward to Partick Thistle at home to Queen of the South on 23rd July. No. It never goes away.

And finally, I feel for the family and friends of the 49 people murdered in Orlando and I feel for the family and friends of Jo Cox in Birstall but I’m not going to attach letters (either LGBTQ or MP) to either.  The former were out to enjoy themselves; the latter was helping her community. Both killed. Needlessly.

Cya, for once wearing a skip cap and still keeping it simple almost one year on.

Johnt850, difficult to define at the best of times

For most of you, by the time you read this, (ceteris paribus), I will have helped out at a Gaelic Sports Day encouraged to do so by my good friend e and her family. I don’t know what my role is to be (see next week for fuller detail) but I’m looking forward to it.

E and I and Holly the Dog did a wee recce earlier this week and it looks a nice place. It’s Lochinch Park which is the Police Recreational Grounds in the Glasgow area and that’s situated in Pollok Park in the South side of Glasgow.

No. I have no Gaelic other than what I have picked up from BBC Alba’s coverage of Scottish football. The Gaels in Glasgow have always been a strong community here and have a strong identity. I am delighted to have been asked to help.:)

As I’ve explained to a few people in recent years, at one point the BBC was my community. About ten years ago, a chain of events was set in motion which saw reasons for me losing contact with that community. I learned lessons from that and am always delighted to help where I can. I have never ever felt ‘used’ and believe offers of help (and them being accepted) are important in creating a real sense of community – be it Zombies, Gaels or just amazingly good friends.😀

There’s been a financial aspect to this blog; this was the first CD I ever bought. Do I have to introduce it?

A giraffe’s coffee would be cold by the time it reached the bottom of its neck. Ever think about that?

June 10, 2016

And so dear listener, I was driving home the other Sunday morning (from work and not some hedonistic Satyrday night/Sinday morning of yore) when I saw a man looking in a shop window and tidying his hair. And I thought, I’m so glad other guys do it.:)

Y’know, I’m often asked what my favourite mirror is (aren’t you?) and it comes from some recordings I did for the last ever radio doc I produced (the CD of which I’ve lost in the refurbishment of t850 Towers which is annoying as I wanted someone to listen to it. There’s an archive I must plunder) It was about prostate cancer and why men are reluctant to speak out about it – although that seems to be changing.

It was a smashing husband and wife couple down in West Kilbride and I asked to use their bathroom before returning to Glasgow and with the door open (on the way in and the way out) I could see not only me but also Ailsa Craig in the background – both rugged and part of Scotland’s cultural history.😉

And speaking of Scotland’s cultural history, please feel free to join me, e and c and a number of Gaelic speaking people at Feis spors Ghlaschu which is a sports day being held by some Gaelic speaking people this Saturday (18th) and I seem to be involved in some way (the tombola?). It’s being held at Lochinch Park (the Glasgow polis’s training ground in Pollok Park) and for all those who’ve ever wondered what the Gaelic is for bouncy castle, it seems to be Castle Sgeingeach……and it’s from 12.30 to 4.40…..which is a very exact time to finish.

Anyway, me and e went curtain shopping to Clydebank (where e lived for a year she said in passing) and I’d like to thank the very patient staff in Dunelm Mill and Harry Corry for their patience as my mind changed every so often but, hey, they are bought and are draped over my settees to lose their crushes (how often has that happened in my life I wonder….with curtains) but I’m not sure whether there will be an official curtain opening (I told you, J, I’d use it:)  )

What was of most interest tho’, was not the waitress in the very pleasant coffee shop who brought over our coffees with the words, ‘I saw you were having no milk in your coffees so I  topped them up with hot water’ nor the fact that she packed a mean bottle of tomato ketchup in the pocket of her apron.

It was the pictures on the wall. Bog standard and slightly dated photos of the Singer Sewing Machine factory and John Brown’s Shipyard and the clock tower that could be seen from all over Clydebank. What happened to all those people when the work stopped? Where, now, are the millworkers from Paisley or the coal miners and steelworkers from North Ayrshire? Or more likely, their dependents?  :(

I am part of a family of three generations of accountants and auditors, other than me or daughter-in-law, KT. It seems we will always need financial people, but people to make things? I’ll get back to you on that.

But good news on the book front where books are back in the business chasing out e-readers and similar. E-book sales are falling and the ‘iPad generation still want to read about Hairy McLeary or Katie Morag from a real book.’(D. Record 9th June 2016) and also the Crayons Who Quit…….if you have children or grandchildren of any age, buy that one…….it’s brilliant.:)

(And on the subject of e-things, this week’s Unattributed Conversation of the Month went as follows;

Me; So, has using an e-cigarette helped you cut down?

Other person; Yes, I only smoke spliffs these days.)

And delighted also to read that my first university, Glasgow, not only continues to take over the entire West End of Glasgow but recently announced plans to continue its library expansion – thus, in comparison with others, realising the importance of making written research as available as possible to students and researchers.

But I do have friends that question the value of university research and dispute studies that prove the efficacy of minimum unit pricing. Maybe it’s because it’s not disseminated properly and popularly.

So, and finally, step forward one of my own uni-mentors, Jenny H and her partner in writing Kim, whose academic treatise on Generation Rent got used as the basis of a piece in the well-respected freebie Stylist. Jenny H is also a graduate of UWS (Paisley) Drink and Drugs team but Jenny, this is the Dead Kennedys telling you how to pronounce Viva!

It was at this point I stopped for a while and Spotified the Dead Kennedys. And never started again.😀

Cya, still wearing the badge and it’s no problem to keep it simple.

Johnt850, about whom the song was written, wasn’t it Carly?

Noel Edmonds is an interesting character who has received a fair amount of finger-pointing scorn this week, particularly after his comments about curing cancer with energy from a box. This after his claims that his dead parents’ spirits live in orbs (and that’s not short for Orbiston in Bellshill) that follow him around and the fact that he drives a life-size doll called Candice around in a black cab – altho’ this might not be so daft as a means of getting him around London quickly.

Y’see he also talked about the need to change his diet and to exercise in a different way……from what he doesn’t say. There is no doubt in my mind that the cancer cell in my body thought I was an easy touch cos of my bad lifestyle but I, too, made various changes to my lifestyle after I cold turkeyed that soooo much helped but everyone is different.

It’s about taking responsibility for your life and analysing what is good for you and helps.

I wish I’d restructured my garden some time back but it’s only recently ‘cos me and a couple of others read the book, The Bees by Laline Paull, that I would ever have welcomed a bee house in my back garden. It’s about keeping your mind open to new things and you never know, Noel might yet be right.  :)

And my friend, Clyde 2 country jock, John Collins is a big fan of the new band RainTown – a country band from Glasgow. Let me know what you think.

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone…..but they’ve always worked for me (Hunter S Thompson)

June 2, 2016

And so dear listener, following recent visits by various people who studied the recent refurbishment of t850Towers, work continues – particularly in the West Wing. Or back bedroom as some may describe it.

Careful examination of current tapestries and works of art on the walls revealed a need for some more adornments and so, when buying a much needed curtain pole recently, I spent some minutes in the car boot sale next to the Homebase where I bought a framed picture of a Glasgow tram (£1).  :)  I then came home and printed off two new pics of my grand-daughter and put them in a couple of cheap pine frames from Poundstretcher (and no other cheap shops are available in my area). It’s beginning to make a difference but it needs a wee bit more.

The one thing it needs more than anything else is to move all the paper stuff (journal articles from my  more recent uni-days) to the back of the wing and move the books forward so that it looks less of an aborted PhD attempt and more like a man of literature – ish.:)

But this has its drawbacks. I’m looking through a whole wheen of stuff I got when doing the Post Grad and the Masters that I don’t need but I can’t throw out. The Hunter S Thompson quote at the start, for example, came from ‘Understanding substance use and addiction – Influence of culture on alcohol intoxication’ put together by a tutor called Iain McPhee and the boy’s got talent and should go far.:)

I’m finding it tricky to throw out stuff….altho’ a lot of cookery and gardening books have ended up in a charity shop in Anniesland. I intend to write my own gardening book called ‘Get a Man In’ but if anyone wants a copy of Muriel Clark’s recipe for clootie dumpling, I have found the Tartan Tin recipe book. I still don’t know what a clootie dumpling is, tho’.

But, on the subject of my garden, can I thank the intrepid explorer, J, for performing the official opening last week with an incredibly emotional speech which I, and I think I can speak for the entire audience there, found very moving.😦

But despite the new patio furniture and the rustic bench I still prefer sitting on the kitchen step.😀

And finally, as someone whose waist size has rocketed up (in trouser size) from 30 to 32 (and more walking and less grazing is the answer) my eye was caught by headlines linking an increase in stomach size to fatal prostate cancer. However, closer reading revealed that we’re talking about ‘the fact’ that every four (!) extra inches on a man’s stomach increases the chances of dying from prostate cancer by 18%!.

Bloody hell! An increase of four inches on any stomach must increase the chances of dying from anything by a helluva lot. Moderation is good. But, yes my cancer was encouraged by a poor lifestyle all those years ago and must have got a shock when, suddenly, I stopped the booze, started eating again (not even the word ‘properly’ is needed….just started eating the solid stuff again) and was getting in some exercise.

But also, I was thinking back to when, in recent years, my stomach was under control and that was when I did use the graveyard as a basic walking space for my physical recovery – starting at ten minutes at ending up at an easy two hours round the canals and rivers that make up a large part of the environment in this area. I plan to do that again. Harry Lauder and Jimmy Maxton are both buried here and our parents were cremated there and there is a gravestone with my name on it – but it bears little similarity to my life. Well certainly, not as I know it so far.😉

I may even try some light running. But I’ll need new trainers. The ones that took me round Millport died not long afterwards as the sole came off one.

So a new pair is needed before I re-join the Johnstone Jaunters…and I will. Shift dependent.:)

Oh, and the scarey book that gave me nightmares? ‘Ghost Story’ by Peter Straub. No. No clue in the title whatsoever and not be read immediately before falling asleep.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, and I think ‘mischievous’ is highly appropriate.😉

Now amongst the recent visitors was someone who has a gluten free diet and the meal was an interesting fusion of gluten free food and fish – in short rice and a prawn stir-fry and scallops on the side.

‘Ah,’ said my guest (and work out who it was for yourself). ‘Often a stir-fry suggests soy sauce. Not every soy sauce is gluten free.’ And, y’know, the soy sauce I have, wasn’t. For alcohol reasons I do look at ingredients and recently have extended that search – but never ever thought about the contents of my larder. I’m checking it out now but slowly. It’s next to the open kitchen door and I can feel the sun – a benefit of night shifting.

And so the countrification of my record collection continues but this is more angsty than other stuff I’ve been listening to. It’s maybe a version of the ‘he done gone and left me so I’ve been drinking’ genre but I found some of the imagery interesting – particularly after a day reading William L White’s ‘Twelve Defining Moments in the History of Alcoholics Anonymous’ – which, tbh, I didn’t need to, but it was still a fun read.

This is Margo Price

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.

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.

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;



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