Now, one might well question the wisdom of sending you here, of all places. Out of the frying pan into the, well, maybe not the fire but certainly a different type of frying pan, or some sort of wok at the very least. (Sister Michael – who else?)

April 18, 2019

And so dear listener, there I was driving out of Garelochead last Sunday morning at about nine o’clock and it was a lovely day for a drive home. I was wishing I was a passenger and understanding the attraction of living in the likes of Kilcreggan or similar. 😀

(I remember driving down to Kilcreggan a few years ago with the good doctor W to buy homebrew making equipment….and Helensburgh Pier played a part in that story as well) 😉

Anyway, smiley, smiley and then it happened. A warning light came on in the place you hope you will never see a warning light. It was an exclamation mark so I tried the handbrake but it was off so it wasn’t it. It was in the wrong dial for that and it was orange. 😦

But you see, I wasn’t sure if I could stop to look at the manual.

‘Why not iaint850?’ you ask.

I was slap bang next door to a big nuclear submarine base and I suspected that if I pulled over and sat there for any length of time, men with submachine guns would come rushing over and before you could say ‘Julian Assange is not a journalist!’ I’d have been surrounded and forced out of the car. The safety catches would have been on but their thumbs would have been trembling. 😦

I made the decision to keep driving. I could neither feel nor hear anything. Those days have long incidentally.

I got to Helensburgh and pulled in on the front. According to the manual it was tyre pressure but I looked at the tyres. They seemed fine. I kicked them as J had once shown me how to after the Clyde Tunnel incident but it meant nothing. 😦

Indeed there had been no flippety-flappety noises that you get when it’s a tyre (or two as in the Alderman Road incident)

I decide to phone the AA but had to do so up a close where there’s a restaurant called the Something and Creel (No, Skippy. That’s not its real name. I just can’t remember the first bit of the name) and as I was doing so a young couple came out of a door and nodded to me……it must happen a lot.

The AA did give me a time which kept changing and I was beginning to get fed up but I noticed along the front that there were some tables and chairs on the pavement. It was a café, open at nine on a Sunday morning. A godsend. As is the fact that the public toilets are also open at that time (next to the pier) and they’re free. 😀 😀

I finished my coffee and returned to the car. The woman from the couple came out and offered me a coffee which was very nice of her. And the AA man turned up. And checked pressures and pressed a re-set button and I was safe to go. Except I went back to the toilet…….just to be sure.

So I drove back up the road – back through the village of Cardross which has a co-op I plan to stop at at some point. I do not think I’ve ever had an incident in Cardross.

https://finder.coop.co.uk/food/store/G82-5PD/main-road

Much relief. My own toilet. 😀

So, finally, as you, hopefully, enjoy a holiday weekend, I plan to do so as well. Some garden work and maybe buy some new books and music. There’s still a wee bit of electrical work before my sister’s other property goes on sale but we have reached a stage (almost) where everything is in other people’s hands and I think my sister would be impressed – especially as we did it without an Excel spreadsheet!

Emotionally, I’m shattered, but yet again, in my life, a support team came into being over the last few months. I do hope I repay some of all that help.

And thank you anonymous lady in Helensburgh. 😀

And the PT fan known as Bean who reminded me about the existence of AS Electrics when I worried needlessly about my cooker. 😀

Tioraidh, actually wearing two badges on one jacket this week, but that’s still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, with some cool things coming down in the pipeline.

And so I mentioned AA last week and the fact that, eighty years on, little has changed in the way they approach alcohol issued – it’s still based on the Twelve Steps and going to meetings.

Lots of them.

Except….

About seven years ago I became aware that the meetings could be found online. Somebody I knew well at the time. You didn’t have to take part in these meetings (in fact you don’t have to speak at any meeting) but just listening in seemed to give her comfort.

And then there’s Twitter – something of a cesspit at times – but there’s #RecoveryPosse which gives folk the opportunity to voice fears and achievements in a short space of words and to get an almost immediate response.

I write one thousand words a week for different reasons but it’s always nice to get a response. 🙂

And I’m sorry bellechere lauren, but you’re not allowed to sit on the fence in the great Fleabag versus Derry Girls debate. Apart from anything else, the Derry Girls had music like this. Scarlet with Independent Love Song;

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A writer takes earnest measures to secure his (sic) solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it

April 11, 2019

Aye. Like Facebook and Twitter.

And so, dear listener, let’s start with something controversial. I found the ending to Derry Girls to be far more poignant than the ending to Fleabag. 😦

To the backdrop of Bill Clinton’s speech of conciliation in Nor’n Ireland, the English boy, despite the job offer made by his mum and her amazing eyebrows, returned and declared himself to be a Derry Girl. How could you not find a speck of dust in your eye at that moment? I know I did………

I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing and I am deadly jealous; but on a down note, as someone who watches some daytime TV…..sorry…..someone who works from home a lot, I have to ask;

What has happened to Bargain Hunt? The randomness of what can be bought has gone. You seem to have to buy a particular type of item and others over a certain amount. The fun has gone. 😦

The bestest daytime show ever was The Hour with Michelle McManus and Stephen Jardine – and not just because I appeared on it. What? Oh, prostate cancer. What else. 😉

And that’s enough TV.

So let’s bring you all up to date. I mentioned last week that I was concerned about doing grown up things like getting my sister’s house ready to be sold. This week it went on the virtual market as well as in the estate agent’s window.

And that’s as much as I’ll say about location at the moment.

Her Glasgow flat is almost ready. A wee bit more tidying up and it will be. And that’ll be Stage One over and done with. (Skippy, can you insert the icon for crossed fingers please?)

I will keep you all posted as much as is tastefully possible.

So I keep myself occupied with other matters. I continue to do some writing for the Scottish Drugs Forum and this is the latest piece;

http://www.sdf.org.uk/infections-outbreaks-and-going-back-to-the-basics-with-sdfs-sophie-given/

And I must be doing it okay. I conducted another interview the other day (basically I introduce newish members of staff) and a room was booked for me to use. Isn’t that nice? 🙂

But when the Glasgow flat goes on the market (few weeks yet) then it is time for me and Son Brian and a couple of others to pause for breath. As with everything like this there is no guarantee that property will sell or that the other aspects of the estate will be settled soon.

In addition, I am still working my way through some of the personal stuff but have become quite hard headed in my approach to things.

So, soontime, keys will be in the hands of estate agents and all mails to either property are just handed in to the lawyer. What should I do with my time?

A holiday? Maybe.

The garden? Well in hand with, for me, an exciting development which will make it onto fbook or into individuals’ online postboxes.

Or what about a course on the next academic year? There’s a couple of one-day things at Glasgow Uny coming up that I fancy but I need something more demanding. Any suggestions?

Or maybe I should enrol in a university library not that far away (No. I don’t mean that one necessarily) and finally write the book I want to about the Scots obsession with alcohol and how we’ve tried to deal with it over the years. We’ll see.

Actually I’ve just seen a job at UWS (Paisley) looking for a sessional interviewer (fourteen hours a week for six months) Now has anyone a 2:1 in Psychology they can lend me?:)

And finally, contrary to what some people out there think. Jackie Bird did not edit Reporting Scotland; nor did she produce the Hogmanay Show. She presented both and had to work with the material she was given. I get annoyed when I read on social media such a lack of knowledge of how the media work and yet Media Studies as a school subject, let alone a university course, is not treated as seriously as it should be. I have no idea what her politics are because they did not come through on screen and every interviewee was treated with the same courtesy. Why has there been so much non-evidenced vitriol?

She was really good at what she did.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple…….nothing to add this week

Iaint850, ‘in vacant and contemplative mood’.

So this week, in this serious bit, I had thought about talking about methadone and how it does do some good, or about the HIV epidemic in Glasgow that is being gradually recognised and the various ways that exist to help people who jag cocaine (and never forget to consider the person rather than just the drug) but instead I just want to mention that it’s the eightieth anniversary (just past) of the Big Book.

This could be described as the ‘bible’ of Alcoholics Anonymous and the source of much of what people believe about what is termed ‘alcoholism’ including the ‘fact’ that some people are allergic to alcohol. Was I? Am I? No. I used it to cope and was helped to shake off that cycle of dependency with professional but whilst I have reservations about some of its contents and how they’re interpreted (and some of that is personal to about six years ago) I belong to the school of thought that if it works for you, it works but maybe not for everyone else.

Maybe what it needs is for a soap opera to write the tale of a community addiction worker, skilled at brief interventions, into the script.

And Smart Recovery, properly portrayed, can be just as dramatic. If not more so.

Last week I played the Band at this point which was well received. This is the Band again with Bob Dylan. Bob didn’t actually to me ‘this one’s for you iaint850’, but he thought it. It finishes abruptly.

And what’s a proof-reading baker’s favourite joke? A cinnamon pun

April 4, 2019

I’ll maybe explain that joke later but I got the basis of that gag, dear listener, from the end of a Celebrity Bake Off which I don’t normally watch (as I don’t like any of the presenters) but it does come immediately before the amazing Derry Girls (Ch4). Which was slightly different this week.

There was a tremendous poignancy as, amidst the beauty and the horror of the school prom, the producers had interwoven clips of the celebrations at the news of the IRA’s decision to announce a ceasefire all those years ago.

(And I feel as if I’m presenting this week’s show in a Nor’n Ireland accent)

This came just hours after Theresa May’s announcement to have talks with Jeremy Corbyn and, suddenly, set against this backdrop of these two current but hopeless leaders, politicians like John Major become statesmen. Locking her current cabinet in so that none of them could let the world know what was happening before she could tell us sums up the poor state of politics in Britain.

And I’m against a second referendum. Why should its result be more accepted than the first referendum? I elect people to make decisions. These days I don’t vote for a party; I vote for the person and if I don’t like anybody I go in and write something on the voting paper.

Doolan!!!!!!! (or similar)

So it’s good that the TV’s good as we hit the light nights. 😀

I’m still not sure about Fleabag; Scot Squad returned (albeit to the new BBC Scotland channel where Wonderball was replaced by Championship football, so little chance of an arts or book programme in the near future); and of course the ever excellent Line of Duty. 😀

ALTHOUGH can I say to everyone, on social media, who applauded themselves for guessing Stephen Graham to be the UCO, not only was it bleeding obvious but all the pre-programme publicity had shown him in the same photo as the AC-12 people AND it is only the first episode. 😦

I was brought up on The Fugitive in the early sixties so I take nothing for granted and, yes, I am that old. 😉

And I got a mail through from LinkedIn the other day headed ‘How to conquer procrastination’.

I’ll maybe read it later.

And the joke at the start? Cinammon = synonym.

And whilst there was general approval of last week’s Dance Special, word reached me of a much better version of the Slosh than the one I used;

And finally I couldn’t help but notice that Lulu had turned seventy. She apparently started off one night by appearing with Take That at the Albert Hall, disappeared for thirty minutes to go to sing with another band in another place, and then came back to the Royal Albert Hall to finish the night off with Relight My Fire.

It brought back memories for me and good friend e of last year at the Bandstand when she broke off halfway through as well; only this time it was cos her family had turned up and they all went round the back for a cup of tea. 🙂

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and rethinking the plan about keeping it simple. Ot maybe not.

Iaint850, who, like Lorraine Kelly, is hotter at sixty than he was at thirty. 😉

And in a stunning link and showing how carefully thought out this blog is and not just cos I saw Lulu in a newspaper, it would have been my sister’s seventieth birthday this week and I know that she and many of her friends from university had plans to do things to celebrate (and it was nice to get a couple of messages from those friends).

Well I had things to do this week and one of her (two) properties is about to go on the market.

It’s about an hour outside Glasgow and Son Brian and I have done a lot of tidying up down there but it is now in the hands of an estate agent.

I’ve arranged for cleaners and the estate agent has arranged for a photographer and a home report and OMG!!!……….it was all a wee bit too much for me…..not cos it was my sister but it’s possibly the most grown up thing I’ve ever done in my life.

When our folks passed away it was all done through my legal and the, then, Solicitors’ Property Centre. Now I’m being asked to make decisions and it’s quite frightening.

My thanks to good friend Caroline who listened to all this and then got me a bottle of water cos, frankly, my dear, I had had too much coffee by that point……phew.

Recently I saw a documentary on Sky Arts and it was about The Band. No. It was about the band called The Band and I’ve been listening to them a lot recently. It fits the country vibe with a bit of rock. Friends and family? They do help to take the weight off, don’t they? I’m not sure where I’d be without them.

‘Och Bridie, it’s a rough ol’ routine. You know that going in. You sit down on that floor at your own risk.’

March 28, 2019

And there’ll be a wee bit more from the Derry Girls later. 🙂

But first, dear listener, a great many of you will have been aware of a spat between a relatively well known blogger (in political and blogging circles) and a relatively well known Scottish Labour politician (in political and reality TV circles) which I’m not going to comment on other than to say it brought a new rude word into the world (which I’m not going to use here but is available if you DM me) and which will now replace the word ‘co*kwom*le’ when I describe an area manager with whom I once worked.

There, I feel better for that. Thanks and if I caused any offence, tough. I foolishly believe that people who work in social care should actually care and not seem to see it as an easy opportunity to advance a management career.

(I think I’m legally okay there amn’t I Skippy? I’ll leave you to organise the crowdfunding if I’m not)

But while we’re discussing (carefully) this case can I pay major tribute to @BBCPhilipSim who covered the proceedings on Twitter and I, and many others, were gripped……

Let’s move on but I do feel better for that.

But somebody did ask me the other day about my own listening figures for this blog and it’s an easy 120-150 per week which, given I don’t drop in keywords like Tories, Brexit, Celtic, Rangers or Katie Price, I think is okay. Consider me your Monday morning watercooler moment.

But I am getting out a wee bit more (I make that sound so pathetic, don’t I?) and had a very pleasant lunch with top country music deejay John Collins (Chris Country Radio et al*) and I have no idea what we talked about**** but see that honeycomb cheesecake you can get on the lunch menu? It’s to die for, so it is. 😀

****not strictly true but a useful journalistic device.

* al is not somebody’s name but et al is Latin for ‘and others’; so when you write Smith et al you should write it with a plural verb, but nobody seems to teach these things to students, even those for whom English is their first language, which is where I come in. I mean that what I do is a wee bit more than just that and I did find myself last week explaining to one student how to interpret quantative (number and stats and stuff) data* which is not strictly in my remit.

Sorry, for the wee rant there but somebody asked last week if all I did was to fix apostrophe’s **. Wee coc*wom*le, so he was.

*the word data is also plural and **? I know. It’s deliberate. Okay?

Here’s a trailer for an earlier series of Derry Girls;

And finally I’d be very happy with politicians who didn’t ‘listen’ to what the people said but rather took action and showed leadership. After all, it’s why we voted for them. 😦

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and patiently keeping it simple

Iaint850, who is not too sure about Fleabag but maybe I was brought up to be wary of the ‘fourth wall’.

Was all that more cryptic, John?

Apparently Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation is pretty big at Irish weddings (think the Slosh but on the floor) and it played a pretty big part in this week’s Derry Girls. I am still attempting to find the clip but in the meantime, here’s a record breaking attempt from some place called Keddy which shows Rock the Boat on your bums in the middle of the street.

For a couple of weeks many years ago I, amongst other duties, was a deejay at the Co-op Camp in Rothesay (I played records from closing time (10 at night) until camp closing down at 12 midnight). If things were quiet you played Beautiful Sunday and this is what happened;

And then twice in my life this next track played a major part; it used to be the closing number in the Clydebank FC Social Club in the Hampden Lounge (upstairs) on a Saturday night and then when I was a zombie;

and a finally ‘and finally’, line dancing ain’t that simple (stick with this….it starts slowly)

(sexist? Moi? Mais oui (on occasion))

We can talk more next week when Davie Moyes is acting Prime Minister of the UK.

Stay safe.

Labour is an insurrection against neoliberalism, not part of your cheese and biscuits circuit…(Paul Mason)

March 21, 2019

I’d be happy if they vowed to eradicate poverty and homelessness for starters. Might actually win a General Election then. 😉

And so dear listener, I’d like to start by mentioning a smashing woman called Jackie who is involved in running a clothes bank in the North of Glasgow who came over to my late sister’s flat and took away what seemed like a million bags of clothes in her car and contacted me later that day to say that most of them had been used. 😀

There’s also been lots of books and some other stuff which has ended up in charity shops in Maryhill and various friends and family and neighbours have asked if they could have stuff which is fine because it’s good that good things get used.

Me? A trough of some plant bulbs which are about to flower very early and a picture of some boats in a storm with the description written in, I think, Polish…..

Things are moving on and soontime I will speak to estate agents and, well, I feel a wee bit more relaxed in many ways. A certain freezer has now been defrosted. 🙂

As indeed have I. A couple of weeks ago it was my grandson’s second birthday but it was one of the last days of heavy showers and I had made a wrong decision to walk down to the ASDA to get newspapers and had got caught in it. Shivering and shaking I called off from the coffee and cakes to which I had been invited by my grandson – just in case – but several Ibuprofen and a mid-afternoon sleep later and I was fine.Still missed out on the event and have yet to play Fireman Sam Skittles with him. 😦

However, I am also more aware of my heart in cold weather and when somebody this week told me he had chest pains during cold weather I found myself shouting at him, ‘go to the doctor!’

And one advantage to no longer labelling myself a pescatarian but simply someone who’d prefer not to eat meat? I can eat wine gums again and it’s such a pleasure.

But other things are going well. Take, for example, the editing. It’s coming up for one set of Easter holidays and then there’s the set when it’s actually Easter. These are busy times for students to submit work. I was asked if I still enjoy it and the answer is yes. I enjoy working with words; I enjoy helping someone’s work to improve; and I enjoy being paid for it. 😀

Indeed, I’m often asked why I started editing. Well, to cut a long story short……..

(Thanks Rosie)

And it’s a love that’s obviously shared by Neil Oliver, Missie K and I (and a few others) who enjoyed listening to Neil talking about five books that meant a lot to him and a very eclectic selection they were but one of the things that impressed me was the fact that he had read several of them on several occasions. Not something I do. I tend to give them away. 😉

On one occasion recently some books were returned cos folk were tidying up prior to selling and buying houses; on another occasion they were returned and the signs were obvious but I continue to ignore them; and there are some that I know I will never see again.

leithid a bheatha

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and continuing to keep it simple.

Iaint850 who is really an actor playing an upbeat cheery character called iaint850

So, as part of my work with the Scottish Drugs Forum, I’ve been attending a couple of training workshops as well as conferences and doing some writing. There’s a part of me that misses working with (service) users but there’s also a part of me that says maybe I’ve reached that time in my life when helping to share experiences and knowledge is the best way forward.

And there was much in the alcohol awareness workshop that I felt would be of great use to folk out there who are maybe a wee bit concerned about their or their friend or family’s drinking.

And with regards to the drugs in the afternoon I have been away from that side of my professional lifetime for some time, so very much a catch up and a talk about trends but, with the current laws doing nothing about regulating, in any way, the manufacture, sales and distribution of things like street valium, there are two things I’d like to highlight.

For some time now, I’ve spoken about my concern about not knowing what goes into the manufacture of drugs, and I do know people who have died (it looks) from street Valium but the other thing is something I’ve only really become aware of recently.

When you or I take an intravenous injection, it’s done in pretty sterile circumstances such as being careful at home or in a hospital and all that that involves in prepping for the jag and getting rid (appropriately) of the gear.

Many users aren’t that careful and things like needles aren’t always that sterile, so when the abscess in the arm begins to show, users can be very reticent about getting treatment in case there are legal concerns. That’s not good.

It’s not so much the drug we need to think about, it’s the person using it.

Which is why I’m about to play a track from a lady called Twinnie called Better When I’m Drunk.

Can I just say, I may be sober but I ain’t boring?

Very few people who take drugs have a drugs problem. (Dr Carl Hart)

March 16, 2019

After all, think of the number of people you know who use drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) who do not have a problem and how many who do? Interesting, eh? But more of that later.

And so, dear listener, cleaning and clearing and tidying and settling my sister’s estate has been put on hold. For a short period. I’ve not actually been told to slow down but many other things are happening and as my son said, ‘there is no rush to getting anything sorted out.’

So things such as? Well, Tuesday of next week sees me doing drink in the morning and drugs in the afternoon. Oh, happy daze. But maybe I should explain. The Scottish Drugs Forum, which is not a Government quango, is a major source of training in the use of substances so I’m going to update my knowledge of alcohol and drugs. 😉

And they were also the ones responsible for bringing substance use expert Dr Carl Hart over from the States. I listened to him on Wednesday night and there was good craic (I spelt it correctly Skippy) about the scientific basis to our knowledge about drugs and how we deal with them and the people who use them.

I was reminded of one of the things I learned during my Post Grad – the drug, the set, the setting……..the drug itself is not addictive. We need to find out a wee bit more about the person using the drug, their environment and what’s happening to them in their life.

And then the next day Carl took part in a major conference on the subject of mental health and drug use altho’ tbh, my two favourite speakers were two professionals who each told us a wee story with a point and that held my attention just a wee bit more than someone talking about reports over the years. 😀

And then I got an exclusive interview with Carl. It was like the old days of waiting until others had spoken and then me as the media moved in – except these days I do it on my phone and not with a jumbo tape recorder called a Uher. I’ll let you know when it all appears on the SDF website.

Well, anyway friend Sharon seemed interested when I told her although her mind was perhaps more on the goat’s cheese tarte that she eats in that café whose name I can never remember but is the next to the rock school in the High Street in Paisley.

No I wasn’t anywhere near the uny library. I have plenty of books of my own *he says moving the conversation swiftly on*

And on Saturday afternoon I was in the company of good friend Missie K as we listened to Neil Oliver who was jolly excellent as he talked about the five books that meant so much to him in his life and, Missie K, you won’t be surprised to know that I watched my DVD of Zulu on Saturday night. 😉

And finally, without me doing anything, editing has started to flood in – except I’ve had to turn some of it down. I am more than happy to do work at short notice or at the weekend, but to be contacted at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon to be asked to proof-read 10,000 words on Saturday and Sunday (maybe 8 – 10 hours) is a bit off, so I turned it down.

But there’s plenty of other work and word of mouth is good which is possibly why I have become the go-to-guy if your essay is on the gasification properties of char. See me, see Mastermind in a few years’ time. 🙂

Tioraidh, still proudly wearing that badge and still (trying to) keep(ing) it simple,

Iaint850 and ‘coherent’ is a good word. I was. He wasn’t.

So let’s talk lifeboats. As some of you may remember I did explain that the RNLI has been a major recipient of some charitable donations following my sister’s passing away. But I have another lifeboat memory.

17th March, 1969, the Longhope lifeboat (from the island of Hoy in Orkney) went out on another call but never came back – with the loss of a crew of eight – a major loss of life in the village.

Approximately twelve years later, I was a researcher with a film crew doing a BBC doc on Hoy for Religious Broadcasting. It was about a guy called Harry Berry, an Englishman who had settled on Hoy, (it was called The Old Man of Hoy – and why not?) and we decided to do some filming about the lifeboat. And me and the assistant film cameraman were given a task. (Yes. Assistant Film Cameraman – I am that old. 😉 )

When the lifeboat, in those days, was launched it was necessary for a man with a big hammer to hit a metal pin that secured a chain that held the boat and the boat was launched. With nobody caring where the chain ended up. And that was where the director placed Paul and me – right behind the boat. I was to pull focus while he pointed the camera.

‘I wouldn’t sit there, lads’ said an experienced Orcadian.

‘We’ll be fine,’ came the voices of inexperience.

OMG!!!!!!! The chain sped across in front of us and the end bit hit us and covered us in oil.

‘Well lads,I did tell you,’ came the voice of experience……..but boy was it worth it when the shot was used.

As someone originally from the fishing town of Peterhead my thoughts are with the people of Longhope.

Here’s the lovely voice of Jade Halliwell and Storm Chaser

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. (Albert Camus)

March 7, 2019

And so, dear listener, it is, as I’m sure you know, one year since the ‘Beast from the East’ hit us and I, like many, felt marooned in my wee semi but many others, including social care workers, who travel amongst us invisibly, as, in general, they have no uniform to wear, made it in to work with the homeless and in hospitals and to try to keep the roads and rails running.

So this year, I planned for it. 😉

Shovels, and salt, and de-icer, and brushes were installed in my porch and I bought in flour to make bread and there’s lots of stuff in tins and tea and coffee (altho’ much of that has been liberated from my sister’s kitchens) and I was good to go. 🙂

And then we had a lovely last couple of weeks in February and I was fooled and much of it was put back in the shed or at the back of the larder and I relaxed and then I switched on TV News and there was Louise Lear (or similar) talking of snow in the hills and sleet at lower levels.

How prophetic she was, but lighter nights and mornings make it easier to get on with things anyway. 😀

And that’s what I’m doing. In several of the last thirteen years, it’s what March has been all about.

We continue to sort out my sister’s estate and her two properties are about ready to be put on the market and that’s been quite an experience.

Big thanks to Son Brian and his dad-in-law, John, and good friend e who have put clothes in bags (for a Maryhill Clothes Bank who will collect them) and rubbish in other bags (which have gone to respective tips) while I have wandered around going, ‘Gosh. Will you look at that photo.’ or ‘No. I already have enough bleach. Are you sure you don’t want some?’ But we’ve made good progress and I think it’s been good to keep going the way we have done. Well, for me anyway. 🙂

Let’s move on. Certainly, within the context of this show, let’s move on.

So this week’s TV Comedy of the Month this year goes to Derry Girls which has returned to Channel 4 and is on a Tuesday at 9.15 pm. It’s a superb piece of writing which does not rely on set up gags and a sofa (altho’ Two Doors Down is good) but simply the word interplay between the girls (and the boy) at the all girls’ catholic school and the interplay with the boys from a protestant school at a Peace Weekend at an outdoor adventure centre. 🙂

You’ve got to be quick to spot the purity bracelet and the chat between the nun (‘the small angry penguin woman’) and the proddy teacher (Miss Turner) is brilliant and unlike some period pieces there are no (too) obvious props to date it – simply the music of the Undertones and the Cranberrries.

And finally, I was out at UWS (Paisley) this week (No. That wasn’t the reason) and my eyes were caught by attempts to improve the sad High Street. There’s something called the Renfrewshire Witch Experience which looks like it might be one of those ghostly trails that seem so popular and a shop called the White Cart Co which had a lot of Glasgow prints but I saw, and bought, a photo collage of wee pics of Paisley. I like it and it’s up in my front room (the back room being the kitchen) alongside a print of Peterhead and a framed photo of the Finnieston Crane (a sister of the Titan)

That’s my life on that wall. 😀 😀 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing those badges and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who can see light at the end of the tunnel and for once it’s not an oncoming train (or have I said that before?)

And so, as part of my role with the SDF I’m going to be doing some writing and reporting on a conference they’re organising called ‘Bridging that Gap – Delivering Scotland’s Drug and Mental Health Strategies’.

It’s an area of interest to me.

A wee while back I was asked about someone with depression who was drinking and what should be ‘treated’ first – the depression or the drinking – and I gave my opinion but I stressed that that was what it was. An opinion. I could not back it up ‘off the top of my head’ with any evidence.

And that’s what has annoyed me about the knife crime debate this week. The argument has been about the cause and effect between crime numbers and the numbers of police but little evidence has been offered by politicians.

I know that, despite the good news that violent crime has decreased in the West of Scotland in recent years, that many young men and women carry knives for protection. If they believe that another person might be carrying (it could be buying drugs, an argument over territory or a pint being knocked out of someone’s hands) then no amount of prison sentences or extra police numbers will stop them.

What the Violence Reduction Unit achieved in Glasgow was to make violent crime a public health matter and to look at a number of possible causes and what could be done to alleviate them – from Midnight football leagues to social enterprise and to provide evidence as to what actually worked…..but politicians and golf club sociologists hate that.

And for what it matters, I think if you stop or cut back on drinking then a clear mind does wonders when I comes to dealing with depression or anxiety…….but I don’t have the evidence to hand. Only my own experience.

I’ll tell you more about the conference next week.

This is Keith Urban with a simple country love song. No. No-one in particular…….

Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

March 1, 2019

And so, dear listener, having confessed last week to the odd run in with the police when I was very young – altho’ to be honest it was the run home rather than the run that caused the problem – I have to admit feeling more of a ‘ned’ last week. 😦

It had a very simple beginning. The blogmeister and I had arranged a wee coffee and chat and we had it in Tinderbox in Byres Road. I like sitting at the window and I still like Byres Road life. There is a sense of old Glasgow as twilight settles in and there’s a mix of folk going home and others going out. 🙂

And then I did that thing you do when you think you’ve had enough coffee. I asked for a bottle of water. Y’know the idea. You get a bottle of water, drink half of it out of the plastic bottle and screw the top back on and finish the rest off later.

Except on Tinderbox, you get a glass bottle.

I drank half, said my goodbyes to the blogmeister and wandered up the road – with the glass bottle sticking out of my pocket. All I needed was a fish supper and I was a Billy Connolly stereotype.

Neil Lennon and his wee boy walked past me. Neil seemed happy. 😀 This was Monday evening.

And I began to panic. And I don’t know why. I turned left into Horslethill Road and I felt easier. Seconds later I reached the car and I felt okay. I threw the bottle onto the passenger seat and relaxed. I wasn’t being followed; I didn’t need it to defend myself. Maybe it’s that moment when the twilight becomes The Dark.

But the going for coffee is a sign of getting back out again. Mentally and physically I feel tired but I’m also back doing stuff with the Scottish Drugs Forum and there are busy times ahead…..

But there was also a spooky wee feel to last week. A few weeks ago my mobile took a tumble and I took it to a place in Partick and it got fixed okay. A few days ago it fell again but even after a couple of visits to Partick, it wasn’t happy. So, with help of Son Brian, a new improved one had been ordered but what to do in the meantime.

Well, I still have my sister’s devices and they all seem powered up so I thought I can always use my sister’s phone. In an emergency. Boy, had I not thought it through.

I sent myself a text to my erratic phone. It worked but it came up in her name! Can you imagine had I sent one to someone else without warning them first. And that thing where you can send a text to a landline and it gets read out! But no, it’s a robot voice…….so no, maybe not a good idea.

Time to buy a new one. Which I did with the help of Son Brian. Who is playing a big role as an advisor at the moment and I know what you’re going to ask. It’s a Samsung and it’s black with a lot more storage than before. No. I don’t know the make but I do know it’s delivery was undertaken by Yodel and their website kept me informed enough to allow me to nip out for a haircut and, yes, it is getting shorter. My hair. 😉

But, Yodel, bloody Yodel….what a badly named organisation. The driver couldn’t even find my front door bell which is on my front door. His arrival was in total silence. He didn’t shout, let alone yodel. Regular and expected visitors (I can explain Skippy) chap on the window and walk in. The door’s open unless it’s locked. But, luckily, Mr Yodel, I happened to be in and downstairs and saw you……

So it’s all out of the box and my son is in charge of sorting out as well as the radio as we begin to clear and tidy my sisters’s house overlooking the Clyde. 🙂

And finally, this week’s Book of the Month this year is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and it’s about a man called Ove who considers suicide after his wife passes on and there are bits where I snorted with laughter. And a brilliant pregnant lady called Parvaneh who, eventually, doesn’t even chap on the window before she walks in……it is, despite the subject matter, a book that helps you smile and that’s been good for me this week 😀

Tioraidh, still keeping it simple and still wearing that badge (but writing it in a different order may help)

Iaint850, who wasn’t really completely fine when he said he was but he is now.

I can explain (and I’ve kinda alluded to it earlier)

Like lots of folk, after a tricky few months, I had tired – physically and mentally. It wasn’t unique to me but I’m not sure I’ve really drawn breath but that is beginning to happen. Lots to do in terms of settling the estate and stuff but some of the conversations I’ve had with folk this week have reassured me that other folk, in similar situations, have had to take their time in settling things.

I think I mentioned last week that, at one stage, I had been more concerned about the practicalities of the future, rather than dealing with the here and now-ish. It’s not quite ‘one day at a time’ stuff but delighted to say lots happening with the Scottish Drugs Forum, I seem to have tickets for five Aye Write events (what are you going to and will I see you there?) and my grandson’s second birthday coffee and cakes isn’t that far away……..and I am catching up with folks and my range of conversation is getting wider and wider….…as I was saying to Holly the Dog only the other day……when I was telling her about Mr Ove.

I feel nicely quiet as I write this.

And for no real reason here’s forty-seven minutes of Burt Bacharach in Edmonton, Canada in 1977

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” ― Karl Lagerfeld

February 22, 2019

And so, dear listener, we are well and truly into the next phase. Someone did say that I was moving forward but, tbh, there have been times in the last fourteen years when I was quite happy to stand still. I suppose the two years at UWS (Paisley) followed by most of my time with Blue Triangle represent much of that and the people who contributed and, indeed, the time at Oran Mor when both, plus a good friend, all coincided, well that kinda summed it up. 🙂

But we are moving on and it is fascinating what I am learning about my sister from all her files and folders. I did once ask her (a la Theresa May) if she had ever broken the law. She explained that she had once used her position as an auditor to see how her mortgage for a new house was doing. 😉

She then looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think I’ll ask.’

(One thing I learned from an early age was that, if you’re running from the police, don’t run home or even in that direction)

My sister was a great respecter of rules and regulations – very much like A Man Called Ove in a Christmas present I’m reading and is a really lovely book – and she would not park in a parent and child parking space even if she was the only car in the car park. And it was half past nine on a Boxing Day and ASDA didn’t open until ten.

So, it was with some surprise that, looking through one of her many folders, I found a parking ticket! It seems to have been paid straightaway and, unusually, for my sister, there does not seem to have been any series of follow up mails explaining how the police had got it all wrong and getting them to apologise.

She usually won all those battles even if it was just a case of wearing the opposition down. 😀

I’ve also found the letter welcoming her to the Civil Service (Gosh…….all that actual typewriting!!!) and also her copy of the Official Secrets Act that she had to find.

I do wonder what I have lying around (or more probably in the attic) that reveals secrets about me…..and there was I thinking that clearing my browser on a daily basis was enough to put people off.

But there is a downside to this. You’re going through someone else’s possessions knowing that they will never see those possessions again. Wondering what their memories were.

But then your task takes over.

Does anyone know a charity that might be willing to collect a lot of good quality women’s clothes and shoes from a flat in Maryhill? Good parking. And there’s a vast amount of books and pictures relating to Mary, Queen of Scots – a big interest of my sister. Maybe a collector or a society. If you know anyone let me know. Otherwise it’s a Google.

And I was reminded of when I was doing the tidying for our mum. I seemed to have a lot to shred and started to do so with a glass of whisky to keep me going. Shredding is really boring; so I stopped the shredding and just drank the whisky. 😦

Moving on and to lighten the load this was highlighted by a number of people;

Warwick Davis is the host of a daytime TV programme called Tenable, which I don’t watch, but apparently his response to a Tenable contestant who said, ‘I would describe my music as an ethereal, electronic-driven experiment rooted in R & B, hip-hop and jazz.’

was

‘Do you do any Westlife covers?’

And finally, I am beginning to catch up with folk – especially those with whom I had to cancel lunches, dinners and coffees during my sister’s illness. One such person is Ann from Prostate Cancer UK and it was nice to catch up at the reopened Café 13 in Govan.

I have a problem with some of these places. I do like toasties but the problem with sourdough bread toasties is that I find the crusts awful difficult to eat and because of the size of those crusts it does look as if I’ve left a lot on the plate. But it was nice.

And I have been trying to arrange a catch up curry with a couple of guys I was at uny with first time round. Because they’re so busy it’s going to happen in April. I remember when I had a social life. It’s on its way back.

Tioraidh, still keeping it simple and still completely fine

Iaint850, glad that the weather’s so good but I dropped my phone and it’s not too well at the moment.

So, when the train between Summerston and Queen Street works, it works well (12 minutes) but oh, when it doesn’t……

Wednesday, after my return to SDF (and more next week) I went for the 1604 out of Queen Street. I thought I was late but the ticket gate man said, ‘No, you’re fine. Just join the crowd at the front train……they’re just waiting for it to arrive.’

So I did and by the time I got there, it had been cancelled and I’d to wait thirty-five minutes for the next one.

And then on Friday, the conductor on the train told us that the train would be terminating at Kelvindale as there had been a fatality at Anniesland.

I am disgusted with myself to say that my first thought was that I’d be getting off long before then anyway.

The Monkees were, possibly, the first manufactured boy band in television times but despite doubts about their musical skills, they still produced some top pop tunes. Pete Tork was a big part of that process.

Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience and pimples. (J.M. Barrie)

February 15, 2019

And so dear listener, again many thanks for messages of sympathy and similar after my sister passed away a few weeks ago and her funeral was just over a week ago. Some nice memories from her friends down south, with whom she worked all her working life, were amongst them. 🙂

And I’m amazed at the number of people who didn’t realise that we were originally from Peterhead but, there again, neither of us made too much of it*

Anyway, I’m now at the stage of doing some thank yous and whilst my legal team is doing the big stuff (like bank accounts) I’m also going around the organisations of which she was a member e.g. the various National Trusts in the West of Scotland, and advising them that she has passed away and how much she enjoyed the walks with them but, unfortunately, she won’t be renewing her subscription so can you cancel it? Or is that a bit brutal?

Private Eye have been told that she won’t be renewing her subscription but can they send it to my address in the meantime. 😉

*Still too much fish and not enough town on ‘Fish Town’ BBC Scotland TV, but I’m quite excited by the new fish market. At the ages of 16,17, 18 and 19 it was in the fish market and around the harbour that I worked on Saturdays and during holidays. 😀

So you can imagine my excitement when I also saw the new fishmarket on BBC TV news – something to do with Brexit. It is so different from the one I worked in. It’s difficult to imagine now but one of my tasks was, well, there were four phone boxes in the market numbered, imaginatively, one – four and when I heard one ringing, I would go answer it and it was probably one fish buyer looking for another fish buyer and I would go to the PA system and say. ‘Joe Smith to Phone Box Four.’

There were other reasons why Peterhead became the biggest white fish port in Europe but I like to think I played my part. 😉

So, yes, there is an estate to be settled and, ultimately, I could be pleasantly surprised but that is a very long way off and, yes, I may have to consider Inheritance Tax issues but given that I currently receive weekly Working Tax Credits of just over £7, some people may have to forgive me when I say, and I mean it most sincerely, I really do, that the current sum of my ambitions are some new pots and pans and a vacuum cleaner** and I’ve never been to Kyle of Lochalsh…….

** that’s the BBC man in me speaking. But what’s the clue?

Maybe, for the first time in my life, other than deciding to bequeath everything in my will to my son and family, I can do something for them whilst I am still alive and that will give me more pleasure than anything else.

I have put them through a lot in recent years, starting just over twelve years ago and questions of my own mortality have never been that far away from me ever since

But, yes, it would be good to get away and to book that now so I am committed.

Someone did suggest that I should consider Shetland and I have never been there. I’ve been to Orkney a few times – but never Shetland.

And so, last week, I sat down to watch the detective series called ‘Shetland’ and when the announcer said something like ‘stunning scenery’ I thought this is it. 😀

One dismembered body, a crappy hotel that looks as if it was thrown up in the days of Sullom Voe refinery construction almost fifty years ago and a similar caravan site that played home to women described as ‘away day girls’ – a phrase I had not heard since the early days of oil exploration in Aberdeen and Peterhead when some ladies of the night came up from Glasgow and Edinburgh but, I’m proud to say, were soon seen off by the local talent.

To be honest, it did not sell Shetland to me. 😦

And finally, while I’ll never be rich from the editing. I was in Morrison’s in Anniesland on Saturday morning doing my big shopping (they have a fish counter; the ASDA has a fish shelf or two) and the young man at the till told me he was a geology student. I told him I was a ‘proof-reader’ and gave him two free pieces of advice.

‘Always put yourself in the position of the reader. Never assume they have your knowledge and, anyway, explaining something to the reader shows everyone else that you understand what you’re talking about.

‘Turn the title of what you’re writing into a question – either in reality on paper or in your head. That way when you’re stuck in writing something, you go back to the question and see how, what you’re writing about, can help find the answer.’

It also applies to report writing, eulogies and social media posts.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, having to be more grown up than I have ever been in my life and not sure I like it

And so the saddest story of the week has to be the Mars Rover robot which had been sending back information about Mars for something like fifteen years without complaining and then sent a final message; ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark.’

R.I.P. Mars Rover.

Sorry, I was going to add something else but really, in a week when I’m sorting out an estate and have 12,000 words to edit this weekend some of which come from Urban Management, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, there is only one piece of music, isn’t there?