“You need to really believe in what you’ve got to offer, what your talent is — and if you believe, that gives you strength.” (Dolly Parton)

October 20, 2016

And so dear listener, I’m not seeing a lot of Partick Thistle this season for both grandfatherly and work reasons but I made up for it this week (Schools week). AJ and RJ have been taking part in a football coaching week at Scotstoun and I popped down a couple of times to see their progress in the company of their mum.🙂

(And how, e, did you know I’d be early)

And it was really smashing to see their progress. One is a promising Julie Fleeting and the other is a promising Kris Doolan. It was sooooo good to see soooooo much enthusiasm and the problems the coaches had in telling them what to do reminded me of my brief tenure (one year but no warrant) as a Beavers Leader – which for some reason always got a laugh when I mentioned it to HND journalists.😀😀😀

And it was also nice to start practising my Gaelic with e (‘you’ve just wished AJ Goodnight and it’s only eleven o’clock in the morning!’) and I’m enjoying the class and I’m ignoring the grammatical stuff like broad and slender vowels but concentrating on getting used to just saying the words. I’ll keep you posted.

And we all know the question I’m asked most often and, of course, the second most asked question is whether I still get cravings (and I think people mean for alcohol and not meat) and whilst I say no, sometimes I am tested but in a really strange way. There is something about a glass of whisky being poured out on TV and I watched David Hayman’s documentary about whisky the other night and whilst the programme itself was good I kept imagining the heat of the whisky going down the back of my throat – a decent measure, mind you – and that feeling must have lasted all of one second but there were tales of people investing tens of thousands of pounds in whisky but my fave was that of a man who spent £50,000 on ten (?) bottles and drank them with his pals……

Incidentally, I’ve told a few people about rota changes. Can I just mention that I am already on part-time nights and I’m merely shifting to part-time days – and looking forward to it – and the new rota does not take effect until January 2016, so I can now properly plan the run-up to Christmas and all that goes with it but expect to be working Hogmanay night and New Year’s Day night.

I am making plans, planning offers, offering shortbread even as we speak and speaking of present buying, last year’s visit to Waterstone’s with j proved inspirational in terms of buying book-related presents.🙂 We’ll see.

One of the biggest changes will involve greater use of public transport and my Concession Card – if for no other reason than the cost of daytime parking as opposed to no charge night-time parking – but I have so little experience of these on buses cos I don’t know where they go…….now who could I ask?

But, speaking as someone who travels on trains, can someone please explain why some people get on a train and stand even tho’ there are seats available (Hyndland to Charing Cross) and it’s not cos they’re only on for one stop cos they stand by the exit and block it for other people trying to get off?😦

And now for this week’s Tip of The Month for fancy entertaining. Your dining table presentation can be sooooo much improved by the addition of a nice piece of cloth stretched across the existing tablecloth but merely from side to side across the middle. I genuinely did not know these were called runners. I am young. I have so much to learn about life.

And finally, I am aware that there has been a bit of a cloud hanging over the blog in the last few months and that, dear listener, has been a reflection of me and how I’ve felt but anyone who has spoken to me in the last few days (e.g. j and e and some others) will have been aware of an enthusiasm for life coming back…..I know. Worrying, isn’t it? Let the good times rock and roll.  🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and there are good reasons for keeping it simple

Iaint850, who is delighted that John Swinney has said more money will be spent on Gaelic.

So a good friend suggested, after I’d told him about the anxiety issue resolution, that I should put it behind me and I had no intention to say anything about it this week but  I CAN’T ignore the experience of what I’ve gone through. Hopefully, it will help me understand the feelings of people who go through a bad experience having owned up to a genuine mistake who then find themselves treated unfairly.

I have mentioned before, for example, when I was working at the college all those years ago, that some line managers said that alcoholics were ‘scum’ and were ‘bound to relapse’ but always when there were no witnesses…..oh, and alcoholics couldn’t be trusted. Maybe one day I’ll meet them but I certainly don’t miss them

Words can hurt and give people a false identity and low self-esteem. I’m not perfect but I do my best. It’s by learning through experience that we can be better people in our dealings with others. They may not want advice, but a willing ear and a willingness to ask appropriate questions can make all the difference.🙂

This is Donnie Munro and Eric Cloughley singing Michael Marra’s inspirational ‘Mother Glasgow’.

Mountains are more than just fun; they are hill areas (stolen from Facebook but funny)

October 14, 2016

And so dear listener, the issue that was causing me anxiety has been resolved. I can’t say too much but I had acknowledged my initial responsibility. It was what happened after that that caused the problem. I shall say no more and leave it there.

But some good, well, interesting news on the work front in that I am moving from working part-time night shifts to working part-time days (early and late) and I’m not too sure when that will happen. It will be a strange feeling as it means quite a change in lifestyle. We talk about the financial aspects of zero hours contracts, agency and part-time working but it has a major impact on lifestyles which does not seem to have been researched yet.

(I’d a quick look at Google Scholar which is much more academic and reliable than Google and I could find little research in this area. On occasions, when researching my Master’s, I was, on typing in a keyword, offered a link to this blog….worrying that someone on the other side of the world, for example, may be quoting me in an academic piece of work)😦

And a good reader’s eye catches not just abused spelling and missing apostrophes but worries for former Spice Girl, Geri, when it’s announced in a tabloid that she’s ‘expecting her second child aged 44’. I’ve never given birth but that does not sound too comfortable.😦

And I read with interest that an actor called John Thomson, star (?) of Cold Feet, has received some interesting things through the post. Em, I don’t know how to put this. Yes. I do.

Many years ago there was a man with the same name who worked for the BBC in Glasgow who occasionally received mail, in that name, with a photo of the other John Thomson and the writer asking for an autograph on the photo. Well, the Glasgow John Thomson does not like to disappoint, so the photo was duly autographed and returned. C’mon, no animals were harmed, were they?

BUT, talking of television personalities…….I was down at my mate Nick’s the other afternoon and Nick is the Chief Executive (and most other things) for Demus Productions who currently produce the SSPCA programmes for STV but also do a lot of music stuff for BBC Radio Scotland. When I showed up he was in studio so I’d a black coffee (I’d been on nightshifts the two nights before) until he came out with THE Natasha Rasken – star of daytime TV antiques shows – and she was really lovely to talk to…..and brightened my day up in a way coffee could never do.🙂

Natasha will be presenting an edition of Friday night’s The Music Match quite soon for BBC Radio Scotland). This week it’s comedian Ashley Storrie and it’s always well worth a listen (10.05 pm to 1.00 a.m.)

And finally, I did watch the first episode of Still Game but did not find it out-and-out laugh aloud funny.  It was very cleverly written, which may have been a sensible thing to do, and it can build up now we’ve been re-introduced to the characters. However, the beauty of that opening sequence, when Ford was looking at his watch and counting down the seconds to Jack coming through the door was immense (the waiting finally was over)…… and the fallout over the newspaper? Was that an oblique reference to their own falling out? Or am I reading too much into these things?

And keeping the name dropping going…I worked with Ford and the man of many voices, Lewis Macleod, many years ago on the pre-recorded material for Off the Ball and I am amazed anything was recorded there was so laughter.

(And Greg Hemphill was Off the Ball’s first ever presenter and I worked with him as well and still have a t-shirt from the first ever series which has a picture of  naked Greg on it with his privates covered by an extremely large ball)

Gosh, it’s a long time since I’ve done so much showbiz gossip and it feels weird……but that’s it for a long time. I’m not mad keen on name-dropping as I said to Kanye West the other day in the ASDA…..at least he claimed to be Kanye. Lives in the high flats. In Acre Road. With Kim. He said.

But Happy Birthday to the Vampire Slayer X

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

Iaint850, agus tha mi toilechte.

The reason I was down at Nick’s was that I’d lost the only CD copy I’d had of my last ever radio documentary which was about prostate cancer and I’d co-produced it with Demus Productions. I wanted a copy for myself but I also want to lend a copy to someone to show them what I used to do.

Listening to it brought back memories. It’s a positive programme with lots of optimism and altho’ you don’t hear me, well, I wrote the script, did a lot of the interviews and found the guests and that kinda stuff.

The weekend of 10th, 11th and 12th December this year is my tenth anniversary of ‘Cold Turkey weekend’ and I’m keen to celebrate it (one idea already in place) and the memories of that weekend will never disappear – even if I describe them with humour.😀

But my treatment for my cancer was not difficult. The NHS is brilliant when it comes to illnesses like this as they so know what they’re doing.  That makes it easy BUT Channel 4’s Stand Up For Cancer and Movember will also bring back memories for me……..people are brilliant when it comes to events like these  and so much of the money goes to research which may never eradicate cancer but it help so much with the treatment.🙂

The radio documentary started by talking of a time when castration was the prescription for my cancer. Thankfully we had moved on by the time I’d my radiotherapy (37 days worth) and, yes, everything in working order. Still.

This was the first ever Bob Dylan track I was aware of and I think it was cos of the name. It was only in later years I realised that the man in the background was Allan Ginsberg.

‘Words, when they’ve been said aloud, have a way of falling apart and dissolving afterwards, becoming lost and left behind in ways that thoughts set down on paper never do.’ (Jones 2010)

October 7, 2016

And so dear listener, these are words from the latest book I’m reading and it’s a story that’s told in a rather interesting form with e-mails, texts, transcripts of recordings and extracts from police logs. It tells us of a time in the future where a government shows little concern for the rights of people and imposes restrictions on people’s movements.

(A joke about the Tory Party conference would be too easy but it would help if the Home Secretary did not tell lies about factories in her own constituency)

People emerge from shadows and carry out horrible acts (in the book); heroic endeavours end up unheroic; and I’m not optimistic about the end of it all. The only reservation I have is its title which, I feel, somewhat gives the game away – Zombie Apocalypse – and, later, I’ll say a wee bit about the return of the killer clowns.

Y’see I was going to start tonight by talking about language as I went to my first Gaelic evening class this week so I’ll maybe just move myself on and do so.

It was good. It was the first class of any description I’d been to where it was delayed by half an hour ‘cos, according to the jannie, the teacher had just landed at Glasgow Airport and would be with us as soon as possible and she was and she was good.😀

But it’s been a long time since I’d learned a language and I’d forgotten about how the whole class mumble when asked to repeat a pronunciation and the fear when the teacher asks you.😦

And such is the power of Facebook it was really nice when I popped into the ASDA the next day to buy some ASDA stuff only to be asked how I’d got on….and Danni, enjoy your paranormal investigation in Govan.

I will go back.🙂

And earlier this week I was meeting my lawyer at nine o’clock on Monday morning and he happened to have a young German work experience student in his office and I found myself chatting in basic German to her without really thinking about it. ‘Where,’ my legal wondered, ‘did this unexpected skill come from?’

‘It was just some German I picked up some time ago, ‘I replied, trying desperately to remember her name.😉

And can I make the point that this was the first time ever I have been hanging around outside a lawyer’s office in Glasgow City Centre at nine o’clock on a Monday morning? Honest.

And the latest news on my car is as follows.

I was driving it out of the driveway the other morning – a cold and a damp kinda day – and I saw a light come on on the dashboard which I’ve never seen before anywhere and then it went off and back on and so on. Maybe a loose connection I thought and I can maybe get away with it until I check the manual. So I did.

It’s a light that tells you when the temperature is 5 degrees centigrade or less. Why?!?! I already have a temperature gauge that tells me that……..

And the radio’s been re-tuned. But not by me.😦

But some news on the health front. No. Something slightly different this time.

I’d been aware of a sore foot for some time. I’d done a lot of walking during the Anxiety/Depression phase and thought I’d done something to it and arranged to see a doctor in the new Maryhill Health Centre – just recently opened.

What a brilliant experience – the Health Centre, and not the visit to the doctor (and it turns out I have a deep blister). The Health Centre has become home to many, many worlds. There are, in the floor, small glass windows (about one foot by six inches) and if you happen to be on your knees (don’t ask) you can see into a land with buses, trees, trains and little people. If it’s just for small children then somehow their parents need to be told because you know what it’s like in a GP surgery; everyone looks straight ahead until their name is called. Magical but without a kick.😀

And finally, as we approach Movember, it’s interesting to hear Ben Stiller talk of the moment when he learned he had prostate cancer following a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. It may be unreliable but it’s one of the best signs we have. Maybe the money raised in Movember can go to finding something more reliable.

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ it did get some ice cream on it earlier this week) and keeping it simple

Johnt850 (but I’m not yet sure of the Gaelic equivalent)

So the killer clowns are back – certainly in the States – but thanks to the power of social media there have been sightings here but it may just be people dressing up and jumping out a wee bit like I did a couple of years ago as a zombie at M & D’s.

Or it may be nothing at all.

I wrote about this a couple of years ago. The original killer clowns were sighted in North Lanarkshire and Glasgow in the seventies and it was not unknown for headies to warn (at secondary school assemblies) their pupils of the dangers of getting into white transit vans when invited to do so by people dressed as clowns.😦

It was an urban myth like the Gorbals Vampire and the giant salamander that lived in the steel mills of Ravenscraig but with the growth of social media, these things grow much more quickly and possibly become reality.

Indirectly it also played a part in the creation of a movie called Restless Natives.

The last time I was able to play the ending to the movie but that has now been removed for copyright reasons so here’s the trailer for the movie. I would love to have been an extra at the end but my only extra experience remains that BBC 3 lesbian drama – Lip Service.

Some days you gotta dance Live it up when you get the chance ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense And you’re feeling just a little too tense Gotta loosen up those chains and dance (Dixie Chicks)

September 30, 2016

And so dear listener, I’m getting bored of the one remaining issue involved in the anxiety diagnosis of a few weeks ago, so goodness knows how you feel. I hope it will be resolved soon and there is something important I need to clear up in these pages, but first….

Who was your first folk hero?

Mine was a man called Johnny Ramensky, who was born of Lithuanian parents, became a famous safecracker in the thirties, became a commando during World War II and ended up in Peterhead Prison. I grew up in Peterhead. There was a wee bit about him on STV the other night but it didn’t do him justice.😦

Y’see Peterhead Prison was supposed to be impossible to break out of, but Johnny did it, according to the TV, five times but the TV got it wrong as my dad would have told it if he was still alive. Johnny had friends in Peterhead – ex-commandos and paratroops, including the father of a school-friend of mine who had served in Arnhem (think of a bloody Bridge Too Far) – and Johnny would break out of the prison, meet these guys and go for a couple of drinks and then break back in.🙂

It was only when he couldn’t break back in that he would be reported missing but he’d give himself up a couple of days later when he was hungry. He died in 1972 with the Military Medal and with large looted Nazi treasure troves all over the UK.

So, as I say, who was your first folk hero? I’d like to know.

No, the thing I’d like to clear up is that I still like the job that I do, which is working with the homeless on a paid part-time basis, but as with any job when things change you do consider what you’re doing as a result of issues outwith the project.

So, it is time to look for an additional project but that does not mean another job. To a certain extent that was what the university involvement was or the voluntary work with Alternatives – the rehab in Clydebank and Dumbarton – and if there’s income or funding then so much the better.😉

I work an average of sixteen hours per week and that’s a good basis to build on…….and with the universities back it’s time to go flyering again but with UWS (Paisley) I may need a guide or a ball of string.

So any, and all, suggestions considered. Seriously.

And I have my first Gaelic lesson this week. And spellcheck better get used to it. There’s not a materialistic end in sight – just a desire to talk to some bi-lingual children I know – but if it leads to anything else, then there used to be a person inside me who would welcome that. And hopefully still is.🙂

Maybe at the moment, I’m still a wee bit anxious about things. I did something that I thought was for the best and now regret it. One day I will tell the world. But a big thanks to Holly the Dog for getting me out even when it’s wet and welly boot weather. Even if I do wear my jeans outside my boots.

Let’s move swiftly on.

Happy Birthday J.🙂

You certainly don’t look it but then, as you so rightly said, neither do I.

And finally, for various reasons I found myself driving down to Renfrew (Happy Birthday, Debbie…..and the Dorritos are still fine🙂  ) in my new car at midnight the other night.

Not every project has two workers on at all time – some have just the one and there had been a no-show. So I went and it was good fun, but as always, it’s nice to see the next shift at the other end of the front door camera knowing you can go home and this was when I learned how good my new car is.

I had been dreading the journey home at 7.30 – commuter gridlock time – but every other car on the M8 Eastbound seemed to know its place and gave way. As a journey it was fun – as I listened to one of the four radio channels I have programmed in the radio.

Yes. It did come with a full set of pre-programmed radio but, unfortunately my attempt to add a couple more led to my mucking up the whole cat’s crystal…and I lost everything. However, without knowing what I was doing, I have managed to tune in four channels – Gaydio, a Glasgow Celtic music channel, BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 1 – but two of those are completely new to me. Can you guess which ones, dear listener?

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

Johnt850, still fairly confident about life but never ‘braggadocious.’

So I was never asked to audition for Glow, which is glasglow.tv’s answer to The Only Way Is Chelsea, but totally agree with comedienne Janey Godley’s comments about it;

‘No-one with ginger hair or freckles, or even someone who wears socks….where are those really hip young Asian boys that are super cool with their fancy cars?’ Indeed, it is full of white men and women trying to look brown.

It is not the Glasgow that I have come to know and love over the years (did you know I was brought up in Peterhead?); and it is not the Summerston that decided to accept me about twenty-eight years ago.

But they’re not even all from Glasgow! I see that two of the young ladies are described as ‘models and bar workers from Motherwell.’

Beginning Thursday 20th October at 7 pm on www.glasglow.tv

I only ever had one conversation with the late, great Sir Terry Wogan and it took place in a Radio 2 studio in London (Egton House?). I was introduced to him and he said ‘Hello, John.’ And I said ‘Terry.’ That meeting has lived with me for ever.

His broadcasts also introduced me Katie Melua and the ‘Closest Thing to Crazy’.


The worst has happened. It can only get better (and the person who said that to me wishes to remain anonymous in case it all goes horribly wrong in the future.

September 23, 2016

And so dear listener, tonight’s show will be totally anxiety-free. I will not mention the incredibly steep descent from the very back of Kilmarnock FC’s ‘away’ stand which had me terrified as the end of the game came closer and closer (but I survived) or the fact that, on my first visit to Paisley for some time (to see uni-Sharon), I got confused as to which lane I should be in for going to the Lagoon – which is a gym and sports centre whose car park I use for that side of town…..but I made it another bar-diner with no problem a few days later.🙂

Instead let’s go back to some of the simpler and happier pleasures which used to permeate this blog. Like the new car………😀

It has a USB point (gulp) through which I seem to be able to charge my phone (but not to use the phone altho’ I have been guilty of reading texts at lights and maybe replying ‘ok’ or ‘15 mins’) but I do wish I’d a Go Pro to show the world the twunt who, having seen me leave a reasonable gap between me and the car in front at a pedestrian crossing (lights at red), nipped in and then ten seconds later, he parked and flipped me the finger when I looked at him. Life’s too short……

And people like the colour (Deep Impact Blue)…….lots of people still to see it though and, given my feelings of recent weeks, I’d like them to see it and be driven in it – if only to read the instructions so I can set the DAB radio.Which I seem to have unset.

You know who you are.

And then there was the pleasantness of childminding/putting to bed  AJ and RJ (and can I just point out to anyone to whom I said that RJ was three years old, she is in fact four but she’ll thank me for losing the odd year from her life in the future)🙂

And running into a wee period of birthdays which I’m really keen to celebrate as I’ve bought loads of presents before my money runs out (monthly payments for the car)

You know who you are.

And I understand that Tennent’s have launched a gluten free lager and I’d be keen to know what that tastes like – from someone else’s description. Even before Cold Turkey Sunday I’d a poor opinion of non/low alcohol lagers and I have been offered such drinks in the last few years but I do think drinking these would send out the wrong message.😦

If I don’t miss alcohol then why am I drinking something that looks like it? It’d be like breaking up with a good looking girl and then going out with her frumpy twin sister. (Skippy, are you sure about that analogy?)🙂

And I’m going to start editing again. I had been told (by my business partner) not to take any on in September as August had been soooooo busy but I got asked to do 14,000 words and I said no but what I need to do is just be careful what I take in.

I enjoy doing it. There’s an intellectual challenge in helping people to get their message across; there’s money in it; and I enjoy helping people.

So flyering unies needs doing altho’ quite a few of the unies have changed. I’ve seen UWS (Paisley) change from the outside (as it were) but not yet seen inside and they’ve been working on Glasgow Caley Uny for years……..and one of the worst aspects of all this is that unies are tending to install closed noticeboards.😦

You know who you are.

And finally, whilst I have no intention of getting involved in the current argument as to whether one lesbian calling another lesbian a dyke is homophobic or not, I did see the performance by Whitserface on social media and what I saw was an appalling piece of theatre – badly performed and totally unfunny. But what do I know?

Johnt850, white, heterosexual and (probably still) middle class

But I am still wearing that badge and keeping it simple.

So it is exactly five years since I enrolled in Drink’n’Drugs at UWS (Paisley) and I remember my first day as if it were yesterday. I was full of trepidation but I needn’t have worried. Everyone was jolly friendly and whilst I may not have ended up doing the kinda job I thought I’d end up doing, I am happy (recent issues excepted) doing the job I’m doing.🙂

But it was more than just obtaining a qualification for a job.

It was about testing myself academically and in a subject very close to my heart having cold turkeyed five years previously. I learned a lot more about my own alcohol dependency and the fact that it is not a lifelong illness. I learned this through developing academic skills, which weren’t that dissimilar to journalistic skills in that evidence, and not blind belief, was important – something missing in a world where the idea of an expert is belittled by politicians – and if you don’t support the same political party, then some people have no intention of giving your argument any credence.

But I made friends, some of whom I remain in good contact with. They range from uni-Sharon, Caroline, Jo and Jo and Audrey, to J, the blog’s favest librarian (and tbh, J was the only one of the library staff whose name I knew but they were all brilliant), and lecturers like Iain, Dougie and Ken.

Whatever I am, whatever I have become is my responsibility but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Paisley and miss much of it.

Oh, and Shirley and Neil and Fi and Cameron and Big Peter upstairs in the library and Anne and Nessa and Ewelina and the lecturer mate of Dougie whose name I never learned but had some great conversations with him and the very nice young man in the uni-shop who thought I was a lecturer and gave me ten per cent discount and Borgia’s where I was served weird (veggie) lasagne and can I just mention J again for encouraging my current interest in country music and this was recommended to me by top Radio Clyde country deejay, John Collins. Just click the link and hit the picture…….


From Braemar to the son of God: Robbie Shepherd Takes The Floor for the last time

September 16, 2016

And so dear listener I went back to work with my first nightshift in five weeks and I enjoyed it. And altho’ there are still issues to be resolved, I felt quite happy in the twilight world where I work.  One of the service users, on knowing I was coming back, had bought me a small cake – pretty much pure pink sugar with cream but the sugar buzz made sure I made it until 7.30 in the morning without any drowsiness and well beyond.🙂

But it’s been a difficult four weeks being signed off with ‘anxiety and depression’ – although as I have said, I’ve been more anxious than depressed.

And the main issue has not gone away and altho’ there are people out there with much bigger issues than mine, five weeks ago, I had got through a difficult weekend and had had a smashing twelve hour night shift and had had two hours sleep and then I got an email about the issue and I just broke down……..tears and shaking.😦

So I did what I told you at the time; I wrote a Post-It to myself – ‘phone doctor’ –and went back to bed for a very fitful sleep.  The next day I phoned the Green Zone Surgery at Maryhill Health Centre at 8.30 and, if I needed any confirmation of my anxiety, it began to show. I was worrying whether their phone system was working properly, had they changed their phone number and not told me or……well you get the idea.

But, none of the above. I got Doctor Fiona; we talked and I got signed off for four weeks. I phoned the work from the Health Centre and after a minute or two of disbelief they were fine.

And then the next set of problems starts.

I’ve been signed off from this current job a couple of times before. The first was a throat virus infection thing which built up over a twelve hour Saturday dayshift and it was obvious to co-workers and service users that I was not well; the other was when I planked, unintentionally, to the side and I had a huge bruise or several and a black support bandage. Not only was it obvious that I had a problem but it did my street cred no end of good cos of ‘the fight’ I’d been in.🙂

But when it’s mental, it doesn’t always show.

So the first week was about telling people and because it was so sudden, I was still getting work related stuff by both e and snail mail which didn’t help; I spoke informally to my legal which did. But there is a guilt in that first week. People do make contact and some are quite comfortable in doing so; others are not so sure. And if I’m anxious and depressed, am I right to accept offers of coffee and lunch and so on? What should I be doing instead?

But a big thanks to those who did get in touch or, just as importantly, kept in touch telling me what was happening to them in an update on what they were doing. Serious thanks. It would be so easy to just think about myself and create my own little world. Hopefully, I didn’t.

And Dennis, I will be in touch.

I had settled down by weeks Two and Three and Week Four was about getting ready to go back to work, although I had to go in for a stress assessment first – which in itself was worrying.  But going back to work has not been a problem. My support team never ceases to amaze me. Thank you🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge (which helped to keep me sane) and quite content to keep it simple

Johnt850, feeling good, looking fine.

So I was right to be paranoid about the tyres. All four valves were very, very, very slightly open and a little each day they were getting flatter and flatter but when I took them for a drive, they seemed to fatten. But one morning it was obvious that two were deflated (but not depressed) so the AA came and pumped them up (techno doesn’t do it for me as much as it once did).😀

So the next day I bought a new car (although I had decided to do it a few days previously). Now, this is where a wee bit of the guilt thing kicks in. Was I in the right frame of mind to make this decision? Well, Son Brian came with me when I first went but I was trusted on my own the second time around.

It’s a nice colour (Deep Impact Blue) and the Eco-boost thing is where it switches itself off at lights, etc and you have to nudge the clutch and it kicks in again, so a wee bit of practice before I can do the boy racer starts. And I have to engage the clutch before I turn the key.

Dear car drivers out there, when was the last time you had to think which one was the clutch?

And on that note……..

One of the biggest buzzes I have had in the last ten years was when I did a live on STV’s The Hour about six years ago. I was talking about prostate cancer (now, there’s a surprise) and Stephen Jardine finished the 3’ 48” by saying to me,

‘Robert de Niro, Nelson Mandela and Johnt850 – all of whom have come through prostate cancer – successfully.’

(and I had to bite my bottom lip to prevent a small tear appearing in my eye which is not a good look on teatime TV)

This week? It’s me and Bruce Springsteen.


Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable (Vaz 2016)

September 8, 2016

And so dear listener, I do believe that this week’s headline does apply to much of my current situation (but for different reasons from Keith Vaz) but I’m still not saying too much about it. However, I’m now finished with taking stock and maybe it’s now time for making stock.😉

No. That doesn’t really make any sense, does it,  other than to suggest a certain positivity which may have been lacking……but again can I say thanks to those people who contacted me and asked things, like ‘how are you?’ or did positive things like get that job (and some of you may know what I’m talking about) and that made me feel good.

And it means I can now tell this joke.

Me: Yes. Why do we assume that dinosaurs roared? After all, they could have talked just like us. We weren’t there.

Interviewer: No. I meant did you have any questions about this job interview?

But, as I write this and you read it, I have still not made my mind up about returning to work. And a certain anxiety remains but it’s kinda weird. Last night my left hand felt thicker than my right but today they both seem the same.

Just out of interest, gonna check yours? Please. Thanks.🙂

But, it may be decided at a family meal taking place just now – even as I write this – and I may be in two places at once …..It’s a while since I’ve spoken about parallel universes….Skippy! Fire up the time machine…..I wonder what I’m eating and am I enjoying it?

No. It’s for Son Brian’s 30th birthday and can I just say to people who go, ‘don’t they grow up quick?’, that it’s taken him exactly thirty years to get to this age – the same length of time it took me.🙂

Moving swiftly on.

A big thanks to listener Becky from North London for her book suggestions for what she describes as my ‘little readers’. I don’t think she means grown-ups below 5’ 6”; I think she means the large number of children I seem to have contact with at various levels of Kevin Baconness.  It was just amazing to know that there is actually a sequel to The Day The Crayons Quit (and not Went On Strike as I described it – giving away a little of my trade union background)  and I think two are now on my Christmas Present Pile.

And finally, I’m in process of buying a new car (altho’ the word ‘process’ does annoy me but since the business side of me is called The Word Process, I’ve got to be careful)…..sorry? Where was I?

The Clio I have is brilliant but I’ve lost some confidence in it. The new one may well be a Ford Fiesta in Deep Impact Blue and is a one litre Eco Boost (No. Me neither). I know that the colour is important to many people but once I’m actually introduced to the actual car I feel I should ask deep penetrating stereotypically male questions like……well, I’m not sure what they should be.🙂

But I will kick the tyres. That always looks impressive. At least, I was impressed when a good friend did it to mine in February after a small altercation with a traffic island..

It seems to have a CD player. USB sticks worry me just a touch at the moment (No. No reason, I lied) but my thanks to Son Brian for his help in the purchase.

But soon, I may have to watch the pennies and a freespending me might be  a thing of the past which is why I’m stockpiling birthday and Christmas presents now😀😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, as flamboyant as any flamingo.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, including some of my academic books (drink’n’drugs), but also some mental health stuff including some websites as, at one point in my academic writing, I was keen to highlight how our attitudes towards mental health have changed but that much of how we view addicts or those, like myself once upon a time, who are dependent on certain substances, have not.

But I’ve always had my reservations about self-help groups and that they simply serve to perpetuate a feeling that some things cannot be cured or it’s impossible to move on. It’s not that I’m against AA but I do have concerns about an organisation whose existence depends on people believing that alcoholism is an incurable disease based on no evidence but a belief – and that’s a whole big ball game for discussion and too much for here.

And I will say that AA does bring hopes of a life without alcohol to many people but the culture and the writing are over eighty years old and have never moved on.

But I want to quote, without comment, some selected words from Jennifer Boykin in the Huffington Post recently. Coming up for twenty-seven years ‘continuous sobriety’, she said,

‘I don’t believe in the language of recovery anymore. After decades of hard work, prayer, amends and general good living, I find it hard to think of myself as defective of character. Yes, of course, I have many fine points that could be sanded down when you compare me to my ‘Higher Power’ but all of the broad strokes and many of the others have long since been eradicated…..

I’m a free agent. It’s just God and me.’

And my point? Some of the mental health websites I looked at seemed to suggest that people (themselves saying this) would never recover. I think it can be done in almost any area; but all it needs is to share positive thoughts and positive questions.

There. That helped.

In a few months it will be time to think of the Blog Personality of the Year and regular listeners will know that it’s rarely a person. So a gig that J and I went to earlier this year would be a contender and the thrill felt by many when this man walked on. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a recovered Kris Kristofferson

Every day in every way, I’m getting better.

September 2, 2016

And so dear listener, to a certain effect, that’s true but it’s all relative.

The phrase has been attributed to a Frenchman called Emile Coue de la Chataignerale – a French psychologist and pharmacist – who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion (Wikipedia so it must be true).

Apparently he represented a second Nancy School…….which I first heard as a funny but politically incorrect gag on Allo Allo when Renee talked about his non-existent twin brother who came from the French town of Nancy so he, Renee, must also be a Nancy boy.😀😀😀

Which was much funnier than anything I heard in the first two minutes of the reconstituted Are You Being Served before I switched the TV off. Mrs Slocombe’s pussy gags were never funny but I have found a link to Steve Martin’s pussy gag and I’ll put it up soon (“ooooh, listen to me …what am I like….put it up soon…well Mr Grace, did you ever…but it was probably a long time ago”)

So, yes, I’m still off work but slowly putting things into context and piles – both physical and metaphorical (and not as I said to my sister ….metaphysical) but I’m also doing the things that stereotypically depressed people are supposed to do, but yes, I feel more anxious than depressed.

A wee example, if I may. Two weeks ago, the binmen did not empty my blue bin and mine was the only one in the cul-de-sac they missed.  That had me worried -had I offended in some way? – but earlier this week they came and lifted it and that’s fine. But it was a serious concern.

And I keep looking at my tyres, thinking they’re going flat…..

And I went to withdraw money from my Paypal account and OMG! THERE WAS NO PADLOCK IN THE ADDRESS!!!!!!! But the HTTP address thing was fine so I entered my password and carried out the transaction but it didn’t stop me going to the nearest ATM at about seven o’clock for the next two mornings.

And I know someone else who uses exclamation marks a lot, but I think it’s an endearing characteristic!!!!!!!!!

But I have cleared out the two drawers that contained cable and microphones and Scart cables which had been annoying me for some time and I have this  Inukshuck tea tin with tickets for Alabama 3 later in the year which I keep moving about the house to see where it looks best…..it’s from Canada – where the big sky comes from – which has given me my latest idea and I’ve bought a new camera solely for the purpose of seeing if the idea will work and I’ve now got it working. It’s just that I’m a wee bit wary of inserting memory cards and USB sticks at the moment. No. No reason.😦

(At which point, Mr Humphries (?) walks in and says, ‘Need help inserting your stick? Leave that up to me.’)

The bees’ backpacker hostel remains empty but I am grateful to a listener, recently retired Susan from Beesden, who sent me a photo of her bees’ backpacker hostel (which looks slightly different from mine) with some interest being shown by a bee – but the big difference is that there is a sign saying this is Susan’s bee house – all bees are welcome.  J, you have an artistic bent. I may send you the materials for a much better sign.

But can I say a big thanks to R from Cardross, Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ, e and my now two year old grand-daughter (who actually does have a name and now a toy drill but chooses to remain anonymous) for getting me out of the house…..and, yes, of course I have male friends, which I think I said before is one of the most common questions I’m asked.

The answer to the other is, ‘No. I don’t.’😉

And I remember what I said last week about what I was reading. Well, I am currently reading a book called The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and it’s a lovely read. Now which member of the Book Club will get it when I’m finished?

And finally I’m doing a lot of walking….some of it back in the graveyard where I pounded all those miles all those years ago as part of a previous recovery. And I have the blister to prove it. It’s not a bad place to walk. You get a great view of North Glasgow including Possil Marshes which are an SSSI and, one year, were the source of a swan which stopped my train from leaving Summerston Railway Station. There was some form of Royal Prerogative which meant we had to get the Queen to move her. Luckily, she was in Poundstretcher down the road at the time so we weren’t held up for long.
Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ it fell off twice this week) and maybe I’d forgotten how to keep it simple.🙂

Johnt850, and my lawyer’s male and a friend.

And can I just say a brief thank you to all those who’ve offered help in various forms – even from a great distance?

‘How are you feeling?’ is an amazing question. …or saying, ‘I hope things are fine with you.’

But an even bigger thanks to the three (I think) good-looking women who have managed to lure me into West End restaurants this year and introduced me to the wonderful world of (non-alcoholic) desserts.

This is another good looking woman from the wonderful world of country……this is Carrie Underwood. Call it spiritual, if you have to call it anything.


You can eat an elephant, but it has to be done one piece at a time (A friend being helpful)

August 25, 2016

And so dear listener, I start with many thanks to those of you who found, through the blog or social media or cos I told you, that I am off work with anxiety and depression – altho’ I think I’m more anxious than depressed but they’re both there – and it was nice to get offers to meet up from so many people that I know but it has become a wee bit of a balancing process……and my decision making is a wee bit slow.😦 or🙂

It’s been some time since I’ve had to try and fit people in quite so much but I will do it. I have the time and it’s been one of the instructions from the doctor. And I must confess to a certain physical tiredness at times but I put some of that down to erratic sleeping habits. There are still ‘to do’ lists in my head even if they are a wee bit shorter than before. And I’ll say nothing more than that just now – but thanks again for good wishes.🙂

(There is more I’d like to say about my state of health and stuff but I genuinely have no idea who reads this and I want to avoid putting myself (and maybe others) in an awkward position but one of the symptoms is that, whilst I want to read, I can’t read books with complicated storylines – like the Crayons That Went on Strike to give it its wrong title)

But I did surprise myself physically the other day – driving through Hyndland – when I saw someone I’d not seen for some time. A guy called George, whom I got to know through my cancer treatment days, but whereas I have fully (as far as I am aware) recovered, George has had what seems like millions of complications and bits of other cancers floating about and continual testing. I had tried to make contact but somewhere that attempt had got lost.

Anyway, I saw him and threw the car into what loosely could be called a parking space and got out locking the car behind me and ran (!) like one of those runs you see fit policepeople do on TV when they see the gangster – including across the road and waving at cars to stop, almost leaping over a small wall and turning round the corner at speed and caught up with him.

He’s fine – thanks for asking – and he’s another cup of coffee for the list.

And, most importantly of all, I wasn’t out of breath when I spoke to him.

But Hyndland is a very douce place. I was taking counsel from e and Holly the Dog and we walked past a charity shop when someone went in and bought a top (as in kinda blouse kinda thing) as displayed by one of the mannekins, as I would describe them, leaving her naked from the waist up (the mannekin, not the…..). Within seconds, another assistant had gone to a rail of similar kinda blouse kinda things and got one to cover the mannekin’s embarrassment. Oh, how Holly and I laughed.😀😀😀

And I have decided to learn Gaelic at evening classes (I’ve still to enrol but I will) and I’ve told a few folk and there are reasons and part of it comes from the Gaelic Sports Day where I tuckshopped and they seemed a good crowd and the listing for the class seems quite fun. I’m beginning to tell folk so it will happen.🙂

Indeed, someone gave me some books and I’m not saying they’re old but Chapter Sixteen is about going to the disco. Em, disco, since you ask.

And I will say nothing about the Olympics other than I cannot believe how little attention was paid to anyone other than the Brits; how the medals table dominated, yet anyone getting to, say, an Olympics final had achieved something phenomenal; and how Team GB is an incredibly false marketing concept……. That’s probably enough because it did take everyone’s mind off the real issues like homelessness and poverty and war and armed French police telling women how they can dress.

Still, now that it’s over, maybe television will start telling us about these things again – without any distraction.

‘What’s that, Skippy, the Great British Bake Off’s just about to start. I’ll be through in a minute.’

Actually that’s a wee device to make a point with some humour. I didn’t watch Bake Off with all its innuendoes. I watched a programme called Great Canal Journeys with Timothy West and Prunella Scales….she of Faulty Towers fame and he of Eastenders but with pretend prostate cancer fame. Only in real life, Prunella has dementia and this is an amazing view of her and his life in a touching and romantic way, without it ever sounding maudlin. There is humour and pathos – and real life……

Cya, and still wearing that badge cos it gave me that idea and still keeping it simple with simple ideas.

Johnt850, not quite Usuain (sp) Bolt with all his lady friends but pleasantly surprised by my cool running.

And one final word on the Anxiety/Depression thing. A couple of people said things like ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’

No I’ve done something positive – nothing that people should worry about. I’m not getting taken away in a strait jacket nor am I stereotypically refusing to leave my house or my bed.

I have seen people close to me suffering from such things…….and of course, I’ve done courses. I heard an alarm bell ring and I did something. It may mean that that bell never goes again and I hope so but if I’d ignored it, then who knows…….

I promised someone I’d play this. Thankfully it’s a version by Three Dog Night and I firmly believe those hairstyles will come back but not for me – not with the number of times I go to my hairdresser!

I never did learn how to follow the rules I never was good at sleeping while the moon was full (Brandi Carlile)

August 19, 2016

And so, dear listener, this could be a tricky blog to write. Earlier this week, I was signed off for four weeks with ‘anxiety and depression’.

Now, I don’t want to say too much about possible causes and symptoms as basically I’m under doctor’s orders to clear my head and get some rest before making any decisions. There is, I feel, a lot to do in that particular clearing procedure and I’d rather not comment publicly – but a head full of mince is not a good feeling when you’re pescatarian.

But the actual process is interesting – the coming to a decision that crying over a keyboard is not a good thing. There’s lots of things happening in lots of places and I could feel various pressures but you can put these things down to various issues.

However, it came to a head last weekend. I did not feel in control and treated someone badly. Other things were going through my head.

I worked a nightshift and that was fine but other things were still happening in my head on Monday. I know. It’s all very non-specific but I’m afraid at this stage it has to be – for all sorts of reasons.

So, I gave it some thought and felt at the very least, I had to talk to someone. A doctor would be good.

My surgery is based in the Maryhill Health Centre which is about to close and be replaced by an all new, all-singing and dancing Centre just along the road but I do hope they don’t change the appointments system. It’s one of those where you phone up at 0830 and ask.

So, I did, and I got a ten o’clock appointment on Tuesday with Dr F – a lady doctor who has been involved in many of my most important life – threatening decisions. It was F who, almost ten years ago, told me I had too much alcohol in my bloodstream and to cut back slowly and then they would be in a better position to help.

“Whatever, you do, don’t cold turkey!” And it wasn’t her fault that I did, but that may have saved my life – in many ways. It was F who, several months later, told me that it was worth going to Gartnavel Hospital to get some tests carried out – which led to my cancer being discovered.

And it was F who, after my cancer had been confirmed at Gartnavel, brought me in for a two o’clock appointment which lasted thirty minutes to talk the diagnosis over – and you should have seen the daggers of looks that were directed towards me by her 2.10, 2.20 and 2.30 appointments.

So we had a chat and the upshot was that I have been signed off and I have no intention of thinking about a return to work for a few days yet. There are people to talk to. And I will.

So that was the process and I’m glad I did it.

I’m also currently saying no to editing academic essays but I did finish off a couple I’d started cos that’s fair – and I believe in fairness, responsibility and integrity but I do worry about those to whom I’ve said no.

So I’ve contacted a few people and almost all of then replied with ‘do you want to talk about it? I’m here if you need me’, which was so lovely – cos I know some of them have problems of their own and job interviews and all sorts of stuff but they seem to care…..which is good.

So I’m doing the fresh air thing and a big thanks to Holly the Dog (and e) for being the first to get me out – a letter needed posted or something similar and as I write this, others are making arrangements.

I was never ever in any danger of falling over the edge but I was aware of where the edge was on the mental Sat Nav  (and that does sound a bit convoluted but at least I’m avoiding U2 gags) and I felt well enough yesterday to make a relatively big financial decision without breaking into a cold sweat and if I want to eat a Waitrose Chilli and Prawn Pizza for lunch with the rest for tea I can and, j, I told the neighbours that the reason I was going into the back garden at 3 in the morning was to see if any bee backpackers had slipped into the bee backpacker’s hostel. (Actually, that doesn’t sound too normal, either, does it?)

There is no shame in what is happening/has happened to me. I will keep you posted.

Johnt850, still wearing the BigSky badge but we reckons that if I do carry out my photographic exhibition idea, then I should do it early morning or I’ll get knocked over.

Now, in the last couple of weeks I mentioned music that meant a lot to me, particularly if I was feeling down – Walk the Moon, Alabama3 and the Free Electric Band guy – but I also mentioned this…..Thanks for listening and I’m fine, thanks. Thanks for asking.