When you can’t control what is happening around you, challenge yourself to control the way in which you respond (Snoopy)

July 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may be a shorter blog than usual. But I never really know until I reach the end how long it’s going to be. And I have reached the end. Of my career with Blue Triangle Housing Association – the homeless charity where I’ve worked for the last four and a half years. My letter of resignation was ‘handed in’ last Saturday with copies going by post and by e-mail so I’m in the process of working my notice.

There’s no big deal or big issue nor am I going to end up selling it. I’ve just not felt the same about some things since I was off work with anxiety and depression for a while last year. I think it’s been obvious, and working with the homeless requires a lot of strength and enthusiasm and resilience and it’s just not there. But I’ve still done my job and done it well. It was a decision reached literally on Friday morning last week. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Blue Triangle offers supported accommodation for homeless people as a kind of halfway house to getting their own tenancies – often through a local housing association. We don’t pick people up off the streets or give them soup and blankets. It’s less glamorous than that. We try and help them to cope with certain issues and help them with the skills needed to look after themselves out there in the big, bad world. Some of the folk we help are refugees.

And on one recent occasion, it was really good to take a refugee to sign all his documentation and then get the keys to his new flat in a high rise. And go and look at it again. That was a good day. And then there’s the others.

And, eh, that’s all I want to say at this stage. It’s demanding work and I’m tired. Ten years ago I nearly died from alcohol and it was only through the help of Moira, my addiction worker (and soooooo many others) that I learned the skills that helped me cope with the bad cancer that followed. Now I want some time to myself.

So what am I going to do? 😦

Well, I’ve still three weeks to go and I’m still in the middle of a lot of shifts altho’ it does go quieter in a few days time.

And then it goes scary. 😉

But this is not the time for too much reflection. Or about learning what other people think of me and according to one worker who works with me occasionally – my style of working with the homeless is best described as ‘eccentric’, and it was also nice last weekend to work with an agency worker who knows Moira my former addiction worker. There’s a helluva lot of brilliant people out there in social care helping the homeless and those with addiction issues and so on. We are treated as public sector workers as well when it comes to pay rises. Or pay freezes. 😦

And finally, Doctor Who is a fictional character with two hearts who regenerates from time to time. Can we even be sure that Jodie Whittaker will even play the part as a woman (she is after all from Gallifrey) and, anyway, to those who complain about the lack of role models for boys on TV, can I say just one thing? Sylvester McCoy.

Tioraidh, back to wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Iaint850, so much water and so many bridges.

And so, to this week’s Nice Moment of the Month Award.

I had a really nice shift on Tuesday night (thanks Alice) but not nice enough to make me change my mind. I walked back to Queen Street Station and on the way treated myself to chips with dripping vinegar (no time for a tea break on shift) and, tbh, I dress down for work (the guy being sick over me is an image that’s never left me)

I was not looking my best.

And then a good looking woman (aren’t they all?) maybe ages with me, came up to me and said ‘Johnt850?’ (except she didn’t, did she? She used ‘the other name’, didn’t she?) and I said yes and she gave me her maiden name and, yes we had gone out together during my first time at university and before I could say, ‘do you remember the time…….?’ she had introduced me to her husband. 😦

Now she is a lecturer at a university and given this current change in my lifestyle there are good reasons for getting in touch. And, no, she is not on Facebook under her maiden name but a few minutes after I’d got home I’d found her married name but I stopped there. 🙂

Apart from anything, I’d love to say thanks to her for bringing such a brilliant smile to my face the other night. 😀 😀 😀

And I wonder when she wiped the vinegar from her lips? Any post-shift thoughts I may have had, disappeared out of the window.

What do you think, dear listener?

Next week. The Orbiston bing – its part in my attempt at the friendzoning world record.

And tonight’s music? A long time ago now, j introduced me to the music of Brandi Carlile (and I introduced her to Alabama 3 – maybe not the fairest of swops) and so it’s a piece of music from Brandi.

The lyrics apply to everyone who’s ever been there for me in even the slightest way. A wee while back I knew that I was depressed when I found myself crying over my keyboard. There’s tears again just now but for totally different reasons.

It’s been said that you can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

July 13, 2017

Wise words there from Jeff Zycinski who, this week, stood down as Head of Radio, Scotland at BBC Scotland, for a range of reasons including, of course, various projects still to be discussed. Jeff and I did not always see eye to eye but I’d like to say thanks for all the nice things he said about my last ever radio documentary seven years ago on the subject of prostate cancer and the kindness and understanding I received from him, and the rest of BBC Scotland, when my father passed away many years ago. Those words may yet prove inspirational. 😉

And nice talking to you, Jeff, in Queen Street Station the other day. Both our families are doing well. 🙂

Anyway, dear listener, I did return from Oban last Monday afternoon and it was one of those galling moments when the guard tells you that it’s on time and you actually want it to be twenty minutes late as then it will only be five minutes until the train to Summerston which also leaves from Queen Street Upper Level and I might not have to pay a fare cos the guard/conductor person doesn’t always collect fares on the way out given that 99.9% of the people on the train must have come through a barrier anyway but it’s a long way to have to pull a suitcase from Summerston station to my house.

So I took a taxi.

I had a good weekend – with much wandering. 😀 😀

I like harbours and the photos would show that, so having checked in I went exploring and had my first fish and chips of the weekend at a caravan on the North Pier……and visited an ice cream shop called The Pokey Hat and had a cone with two scoops of Toffee Ripple and effectively ruined any chance of making that t-shirt last more than one day.

The Saturday was braw and given that the B&B was at the far end of the Esplanade, after I’d posted some postcards for people who are not on my Facebook (sorry rrm – I didn’t have your address), I kept walking away from Oban to a place called Ganavan Sands and I would like to thank Argyll and Bute and anybody concerned with them for the provision of an excellent public toilet at this particular location. 😉

These things are becoming more and more rare (Irvine Beach had a good one) but there’s also a pretty good one on the North Pier at Oban which looks as if it once took money which is a wee bit like the one at Glasgow Queen Street which is also free at the moment because of the state of the station. The Gallery of Modern Art in the City Centre is also good but I always have a good look in the shop before going downstairs otherwise I feel guilty about using it.

But I digress.

I then walked back to Oban.

I had been talking about going on a wee ferry trip just to get some sea air about me but I happened to walk past a gaily coloured small blackboard advertising a boat trip to and around a seal colony. To an extent I could hear it calling to me. Are seals kelpies, trying to lure me to my death on those rocks? It was a tenner and I felt it was worth the risk. 🙂

And it was a very pleasant, if wet, excursion with a very brief history of the area given out by the skipper for the benefit of those Canadians who seemed to make up the rest of my companions. Not a lot of seals but I held on tightly anyway.

Lunch was in one of the restaurants on the North Pier and was large prawns with a parmesan shavings’ dressing and a very nice scented soap in the Gents’ Loo. 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the comings and goings of sailing schooners, Cal Mac ferries, the MV Balmoral and a whole range of other craft. I have the photos to prove it. I then went back to my B&B where I used the en-suite facilities to freshen up before going out for, well what turned out to be scallops and langoustines in a tempura dressing and I didn’t need the chips but another brilliantly dressed salad. I slept.

The next day was pouring and I tried to get up the hill to McCaig’s Folly but the wind forced me back. I tried to walk to the Pulpit Hill but the wind blew me over. I went to find the auction mart where years ago I’d produced a radio programme with Jimmie Macgregor and found it was now a supermarket with an addiction centre just round the corner.

I had a toastie for lunch cos it didn’t seem a good food day but I’d a cone with single scoop of toffee cheesecake and nobody thought it strange. And even the toilets weren’t as fascinating the second time around. But a smashing museum called the War and Peace Museum (and nothing to do with Tolstoy) grabbed my fancy and was brilliant and just along the road was a chocolate shop and altho’ I’m not a big hot chocolate fan I did have one. 🙂

(Y’know, Skippy, people often ask me what inspires the music I play at the end. Hot chocolate, eh? I wonder)

And then things began to drift. I did have roll mop herring as my final dish of the day and, indeed, the weekend.

It was from another outdoor stall where despite the rain, Japanese tourists seemed to be enjoying a massive seafood platter with a massive lobster in the middle.

And finally, no, I don’t know what the salad dressing was that it came with.

Oban – Salad Dressing Capital of the Highlands

And loads and loads of sky – all made up of different sizes

And the music? You’ve guessed it, haven’t you?

(the clue was in the word ‘drift’)

To travel is to live (anon)

July 8, 2017

And so dear listener, as you read this it is possible that I am returning from, or have returned from, a long weekend in Oban. It’s been fun and tiring and my head is clearer and I have slept well. I have come to some decisions, which I will mull over (a little Inner Hebridean joke there) but I never actually made it over to that island. 🙂

What I did do was………well let’s not rush into all my adventures just yet.

Let’s start with a brief encounter in Queen Street Station. It’s one of those moments, when someone you haven’t seen for ten years, walks past you and says, ‘Hi John’ and you say, ‘Hi Kerry’ and neither of you thinks it strange at all – like you meet in that way every day. Yes. A former student. 🙂

And I’m convinced that Agent Pedro, as the Celtic fans now call the new Rangers manager, walked past me on the Esplanade at Oban. He is as entitled to his privacy and thoughts as am I.

And then Kenny the Shed Pimp turned up on Saturday but he and his family had come more or less for the train journey which has magnificent scenery. But then again I like Dumbarton from the train. 🙂

But what is there not to like about a journey that takes in place names such as Loch Awe, the Falls of Cruachan and Ardlui and basically travels up the side of Loch Lomond before cutting across country. And whilst most people were making the same journey as me from Glasgow, for some others who live and work locally, then their daily journey is on the beautiful Connal into Oban bit – almost as beautiful as the section close to the start of the journey between Maryhill and Kelvindale (River Clyde and canal). Not long after the train goes past Summerston and the ASDA. 😀

And there was a strange moment on the train which is symptomatic of something but not sure what. There was a young couple on the train with toddler and baby and they were easily befriended by a slightly older couple (who once upon a time I might have described as ‘elderly’) and they shared biscuits and so on.

And as we got nearer to Oban, the slightly older lady asked if she might take a picture of the toddler. ‘Just for memories. Nothing else’, she reassured the younger mum……….

And finally, the B & B. It’s good and I think worth the money for what I’m paying in the middle of July. One small hiccup and it was mentioned in the exchange of mails, you can only check in between 3 and 7 in the afternoon and whilst that is perfectly understandable, when your train gets in at quarter to two it was a bit of a long wait but other that it is fine. 🙂

And the view from my bedroom (at the back) is trees but the view from the dining room in the morning is brilliant.

Oh, and I have to put in my breakfast order the night before. The last time I had to do that was in the ten days I was in hospital post Cold Turkey.

Cheerie (as they say in Wishie), not wearing either badge as I don’t want to lose them but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and I’ve now just run out of words. Maybe more next week but I’ve done a lot of walking and spent some time at sea.

So, as many of you know, I am quietly (?) happy in my recoveries but every so often something happens which I’m happy to describe as the latest final sign of complete recovery and it happened within the last few weeks.

I was asked (for a fee) to renew my Driving Licence and I was promised that they would use my Passport photo which is about five years old. After a wee hiccup with the form – it took me a wee while to realise that what was causing the asterixed field to get so annoyed was that I very rarely use my middle name these days – I sent it off online.

And the joy, oh the unbridled (?) joy when I got it back. The previous photo had been taken, I think, at the height of the depths of my bad time. Where a bloated and jaundiced and shorthaired figure had previously looked out at me (and anyone else, officer, who needed to look at it) there is now a much leaner (but a bit to go yet) face looking out.

Indeed the haircut is very similar to my recent one and which I realise is perhaps a statement of intent for the future as, indeed, is this wee trip to Oban. 🙂

You can do a lot of thinking watching the boats coming and going.

This is/these are the Shires,

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. (William Barclay)

June 30, 2017

And so, dear listener, as you read this, I may be about to turn 63 or I may have turned 63. I do not believe that there is an actual moment when this happens, so I cringe when I hear people say ‘well that’s you a year older’ when in fact we age continually by a nano-second and then nano-seconds later they say, ‘mind you, age is just a number’ and then say, ‘but you don’t look your age.’ 😦

It’s nice to recognise that I’m still alive (much to my surprise and that of several others) and the plan is to meet Son Brian and the lovely KT and two very young grand-children for dinner. 🙂 More anon or next week.

(And the show might be moved about the schedules a wee bit as I’m taking some time off and may do some travelling within Scotland (okay Oban seafood restaurants) which might have an effect on things)

And my thanks to e for the traditional ice cream and coffee start to the celebrations 🙂

But back to the age thing. In the early days of the blog I used to claim that I was 42 – for the rest of my life which was nothing to do with Douglas Adams and the meaning of life nor was it two times twenty-one but came from a line in an Alabama 3 track where it was said that once you reach 41 then it’s time to start measuring you up for the coffin. I rebelled against that.

(Incidentally, J, have you recovered yet from that gig and the man dressed as a monk with a V for Vengeance Mask and the music of A3?) 🙂

Anyway, I became 60 one year and had such a good time that week (and the abseiling and zipwiring that followed) that I became happy to admit my age – that and the small pension that came my way that I wasn’t expecting. Small.

But you never stop learning – and those are not mere words. Three years ago I got an over – 60s pass for trains and buses but I don’t ‘do’ buses’ cos they don’t go where I want them to. Trains kinda do and my car obvs does……But buses?

The only time I have used a bus recently was just before Christmas when a co-worker and me and seven refugees went to see Hansel and Gretel at the Citizens and we just kinda all launched ourselves on the bus at the same and got waved through.

The reality is slightly different. I thought it was contactless but it ain’t. And do I need to take a ticket from the side of the machine? I might try one again. The terminus is at the bottom of my road, so maybe early one morning? But Ardrossan Harbour still beckons.

Next? Using my contactless debit card. 😉

Moving on.

And my thanks to the rrm for remembering that address that I used when I did some distance learning a long time ago (or a Correspondence Course as it was known in these days) For some reason I wanted to be a company secretary (?), which given my phobia for financial figures and filling out forms, seems a foolish notion.

Even when very young I was happy talking to people, even strangers, and I enjoyed writing. 🙂

Anyway that address?

Rapid Results College based in Tuition House in London and at one point in his life the rrm passed it every day on his way to work. Maybe not as exciting as The Girl on the Train, but there’s a story there.

And finally, the Vampire Slayer, friend of the blog since the Sticky Toffee Pudding Night, has been in the country looking as undercover as all superheroes do, but just checking we’re still safe from Vampires. We are. It’s why Prince’s square exists. To talk to superheroes. And people watch.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge (the big sky one) and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, looking forward to two weeks of reflection and getting used to my haircut.

And this month’s Prostate Cancer Hero of the Week is David Hawkes, a physicist based at University College London. David had been developing medical imaging technology for all sorts of patients, including those with prostate cancer. Two years ago he had a PSA test (a blood test very specific for prostate cancer) and it was high so he had to get it checked out so he volunteered to test the very latest in medical imaging technology – that which he had helped to develop. It found that he had prostate cancer and he needed treatment.

He decided to have focal treatment using cryo-ablation (something developed since my time) which is where very cold gas is passed down a tube inserted into the prostate.

This has to be every exact. So, to what they turn for its precision? Yes; the very same machine that had been used to accurately diagnose it in the first place. He had two doses of treatment and has been fine ever since.

We’ve come such a long way since chemical castration was the main treatment – and I think that was the opening line from the radio documentary I produced on the subject seven years ago.

This is/these are the Lumineers with Ho Hey which has no known connection with any form of cancer.

There’s a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what’s down the road. (Conor Oberst)

June 23, 2017

And so, dear listener, an interesting reaction to last week’s show which, for at least one reader, saw a tear being shed. I had written briefly about my son’s likelihood of getting prostate cancer being greater as I had had it but he knows this. What I had not considered in writing this was that many people read the blog on a Sunday, as that is when Facebook, and other social media, publishes it, and this Sunday just past was Father’s Day – it was a complete contrast to how many others were using social media to talk about their dads and relationships with sons and daughters; so today is happy blog day. :D:D:D

For example, and continuing the Prostate Cancer theme, I wear the awareness badge that many top football managers and the brilliant Jeff Stelling wear on several of my jackets. One advantage is that I can be down Byres Road and be approached by chuggers and I show them the badge and ask if they know what it is and then I start explaining and it’s them making an excuse to leave me. Except on this occasion……

When I asked if she knew what it was she said ‘Yes.’ And told me what it was, that she gave money to them and told me why. Let’s just say it was a father-daughter thing and leave it at that but it’s been a long time since I’ve had that broad a smile. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And one of the other things I mentioned last week was the need to think about the need to find something else (academically?) in my life. One thing that is on the list is Distance Learning Tuition and Marking. Distance Learning (using online resources) is a growing market for universities and I think there were eight on my Post Grad doing it at a distance and I also noticed that Edinburgh Uny has something like 2,500 online users of all its educational services but the downsides are twofold;

I could end up never leaving the house and I’m not sure what subjects I could be offering…..mmmm

(Rainforestriverman, what was the name of that place where I tried a correspondence course all those years ago?)

And so, there’s a wee bit of spring cleaning going on but not with the aim of ‘unfriending people’ but rather taking the opportunity of freshening things up a wee bit whilst I’m still young. 😉

And the other thing I mentioned in last week’s blog was Fèis Spòrs Ghlaschu 2017 (No. I haven’t just copied and pasted it, Skippy. What makes you think that?)

Yes. I did the tuckshop and it was really good. People seemed to believe me when I said that I was selling really healthy Haribos specially developed in the laboratories of sabhal mòr ostaig in Skye (they did, didn’t they, e?) and the only thing that didn’t sell was chocolate which melted almost as soon as it was brought out the Cool Box but the ice lollies went down well. 😀

My only observation on the day (and e and c and some others know what I’m going to say) related to those parents who give their offspring a ten pound note to start the day and all they wanted was a can of ginger* at seventy pence and that’s the float gone straight away.

But the vegan hot dogs were good (but maybe in the way that I had to check on the soy sauce for J, the blog’s discerning diner, I should check out the ingredients in brown sauce)

*Becky, a ‘can of ginger’ encompasses all cans of fizzy soft drinks in the West of Scotland and I have no idea what the North London equivalent is.

And another direct result of the feis is that I’ve had my hair cut short(er). I just got fed up with it. So, if you’ve not seen me for some time, I’d be interested to know what you think.

And finally, the Proclaimers and my part in their success…or at least Margo McDonald’s part in their success.

It was ’86 or ’87 and I was asked to produce (in a couple of weeks) a series of five radio programmes with Margo which were to go out almost immediately (the next week) Monday to Friday (5 x 30’) and it was really rough and ready stuff with tapes (!) turning up at BBC reception, or my home, of Margo interviewing people. It was called something like Snapshots of Scotland and it was Margo interviewing people like Sammy Gilmore of UCS fame (lovely man) and Margo also suggested some music (which was unusual for Margo) and it was this new band – the Proclaimers – and there was no doubt the music added a lot to what we were doing with the programmes. Letter from America, for example, was a natural follow on to some of the things Sammy said.

It was only a few weeks later that l learned that Margo’s daughter, Zoe, was going out with one of them and later married him. She didn’t miss a trick, did she? 🙂

I miss Margo.

Tioraidh, and still wearing that badge (with pride) and still keeping it simple

iaint850, going for the world record of Friendzones.

So, in keeping with the rest of the show, here’s an optimistic end.

Walking to work the other day, whilst passing through a lane in Glasgow City Centre, I was hailed by someone ‘begging’. It was only when I got closer I realised I knew him. He was someone I’d worked with before (a really nice guy with a lot of potential) and his main problem had been ‘legal highs’ and then the Queen went and banned all psychoactive substances, except coffee, alcohol and tobacco, so his problem became ‘illegal highs’.
(She also failed to ban amyl nitrate poppers)

He’d moved around but was now sleeping rough. I chatted for a while and, obviously, gave him no money whatsoever so he could get a bed for at least that night and as I was walking away he shouted, ‘John Boy, I’m going to get clean and I’m going to stay clean. You know me.’

And, yes, I do believe him.

There is only one song I can play and it’s up there (when I first saw them perform it) with the first time I saw ‘The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil.’

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, Certainly, I can! Then get busy and find out how to do it. (Theodore Roosevelt)

June 15, 2017

And so dear listener, the No News is over and, as some people know, I didn’t get the job I went for. For very obvious reasons, I’ve got to be careful what I say but it was loosely tied in with the homeless charity for which I work and it was working as a literacy/numeracy tutor with roughly the same client group I already work with and yes, I thought I would be good at it but I did always say that if someone better qualified or more experienced was in for it then they stood a better chance.

And that’s what seems to have happened. 😦

And it does mean that that question goes back to being the most asked question and I think this week has reflected that.

But it was fun prepping for it. For example, I had forgotten that I had a teaching qualification – an Introduction to Teaching Further Education – and I’d done a lot of teaching basic core skills. I have even had the experience of teaching wall and floor tilers who’d never used a computer and seen the Daniel Blake thing of asking someone to drag the mouse across the screen and for them to actually lift the mouse to the computer screen – and how do you turn the page on a computer when writing something? Good question. 🙂

So, along with the blessed Nicola, I think a period of reflection is called for, but I do make the point that I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I will rush nothing. I am young.

My thanks to all those who supported me and major thanks to a lady friend who, in a textual conversation, after I’d said ‘maybe time to move on’, replied ‘move in immediately!’…….seconds later came the correction……’move on. I meant, move on……’

(Skippy, can we maybe check to see if there are any other qualifications I’ve forgotten?)

But I’m going through one of those weeks when, if I take one day off as Annual Leave, than I have about seven off-rota days. And that’s what I’ve done. The reason? Well, I’m going to be helping to do the tuckshop (again) at a Gaelic Sports Day at Pollok Park. Now, some of you will read this after the Day is over so I’ll leave it until next week before talking about it. It’s e’s influence that I get involved and this contributed to me going to Gaelic this year but I’ve forgotten a lot so we’ll see.

But e, have you ever seen a TV programme called Eat Well For Less? It’s roughly about a couple of people who go supermarket shopping without a list. Not that we did but Costco can be such an inviting place – with their tempting coffee and cake on the way in. And their trolley searches on the way out.

My tuck shop is well stocked. (No, Skippy, I am quite happy with that as a euphemisim)

But I was slightly worried, given the part of Glasgow we were in, that I might see people for whom I know a warrant is out. But I didn’t.

And finally, I was back out at UWS (Paisley) last week and met lots of people I knew (about seven but the campus was sooooo quiet) and I finally found the new way into the library and flyered lots of noticeboards and caught up on some gossip (of all sorts) but my favest bit was when some schoolchildren asked where D Block was ….and I remembered….happy daze and that may be part of the problem.

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

Iaint850, my mind’s in a bit of a tumbril at the moment. 😉

So my son and I have discussed my death a few times and he has Power of Attorney for when the dementia kicks in and gets what little savings I have and the house with its smashing big garden and the picture of the Sea Lion (or walrus) that he has coveted since I moved into this house and that there are arrangements for the funeral and some people will get VIP/Access to all Areas Tickets and my lawyer has the details of the music to be played.

But there is one thing I’d rather I wasn’t leaving him – but he does know this.

He knows that he is 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer because I had it but he, also, is aware that more and more ways of treating it (should it happen) are being developed all the time.

But recent research by Prostate Cancer UK shows that 66 per cent of men in this position do not know of this increased risk and apocryphal evidence from me in the days when I did talks and information stands is that many men who are aware of these risks do nothing about it. Even when there’s been a death in the family ‘cos of it.

But Son Brian knows and I’m sorry about that. Still at least you’ve got the fun of all my CDs and downloads to listen to……..aw, come on. There must be one you fancy.

This is William Matheney. (I saw a shop in Paisley High Street which offered to teach me to play guitar, get me in a band and get me on stage……I am so tempted)

‘Brexit is the basis of everything else.’ (Theresa May)

June 9, 2017

I still don’t know what you mean by that, Theresa, but my money is now on October for a General Election and, maybe, just maybe after that, politicians will start thinking about running our various countries again. 😉

(Right, Skippy, back to normal)

And so, dear listener, for those of you who know what I’m talking about (and indeed for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about) at the time of writing this, I still have no news. And I do leave the house not long before the postman is due but that old trick doesn’t work.

(Yup. Copied and pasted from last week and it shows. I blame Brexit which is the basis of everything else)

My General Election highlights? Seeing Theresa May looking like a startled rabbit when Colin Mackay asked her about VAT on Police Scotland and she had to start an answer with, ‘Well in England and Wales.’; actually seeing a candidate in my constituency (Pam Duncan-Glancy); and a very nice checked shirt with hood that I bought from a charity shop in Byres Road for £8.99. 🙂

But, yes, you’re right, Theresa. Running through the wheatfields was the worst thing I ever did as well…………well, that and the odd lie. Altho’ I did once throw a piece of wood that hit a teacher and, boy did I pay for it.

But, I have to say, that practically every broadcaster and practically every politician needs to think seriously about existing devolution and how they report UK matters and politics and how they explain their policies.

Policing is devolved; dealing with terrorists isn’t (for example)

So I saw a lovely programme about the Coats threadmills in Paisley the other night. I’m an adopted Glaswegian (a weegie) but I think Paisley runs Glasgow close in many ways and for many reasons (and certainly more than Peterhead where I’m originally from). I mean, when you’re watching something on your own but yet you still call out ‘that’s the CIba-Geigy club’ then it must mean something to you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And, yes, the beautiful Coats Memorial Church where I have attended two graduations – mine and uni-Sharon’s. I won’t compare graduations with the one I did at Glasgow a wee while back but I do remember marching behind a piper at the one in Glasgow (which we also did at Charles Kennedy’s Memorial Service two years ago) but I think doing it at the advanced age of XX at Paisley added a certain something to it. 😀 😀 😀

And a big thanks to e and RJ for treating me to a birthday lunch this week (not ‘til 2nd July since you ask but we all lead such busy lives) and an exclusive and exquisite original painting from RJ, who moves up to Primary in a few months, with its vivid pink tree with large blue spots. Very relaxing it is. 🙂

And I will be helping (again) to run the tuckshop at the Gaelic Sports Day in Pollok Park this coming Saturday (17th) afternoon and look forward to seeing some of you there.

And also a wee thanks to Colin S who did the same (treated me; not gave me a picture he’d painted himself) and who would be my stockbroker if I had any stocks but they’re in an attic somewhere and I can’t be bothered getting them back.

And finally, on General Election Day, there was some news about a suggestion that a facility should be made available at music festivals, initially, where people can test drugs if they’re not sure where they came from and see if there’s anything dodgy in them. There’s no recommendation or encouragement about taking them – simply knowing that they’re safe to use ‘cos most of deaths are from taking dodgy stuff.

At the moment one of the biggest concerns out there is dodgy Chinese Valium and has been for some time. We all know people who have died from that (trust me….. you do) and you all want your sons and daughters to be safe, don’t you?

Well, at least as safe as you when you look at the label on a bottle of whisky or gin or that very fancy wine.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, in birthday mood but will it last when the news finally arrives?

And so I was on an early last Sunday morning when I heard the news about London, but that meant I was able to watch most of the Ariana Grande/Manchester concert – particularly the second half. Slightly disappointed to hear/read comments from some old people (over 29) who weren’t too taken with the music.

Well, I was brought up listening to Radio 1 and have continued listening to Radio 1 with occasional forays into other stations (for example, Clyde 2 on a Sunday evening when John Collins plays country) and, at the very least, I recognised most of the music; loved the stripped back Coldplay and Liam’s swagger; and even warmed to Justin Bieber.

But following those comments I did have a look at my record and download collection. Apart from that one album by Black Eyed Peas that everyone has (I got a feeling) I have nothing…….except I have three albums by Imogen Heap.

Here she is from last week in Manchester and not a ripped denim in sight. Enjoy.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

June 2, 2017

And so, dear listener, for those of you who know what I’m talking about (and indeed for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about) at the time of writing this, I still have no news. And I do leave the house (off-rota this week) not long before the postman is due but that old trick doesn’t work.

So let’s talk about things that are actually happening. 😉

The Court Case is happening so that’s me at the Sheriff Court on Monday morning.

I am defo going to Oban in July but I won’t say exactly when just in case…… 🙂

Not only is accommodation booked but I have now booked train tickets and yes, Debbie from my work, I do realise how little (probably nothing) going by bus would have cost me, but I like going by train. It’s basically a long weekend with hopefully a couple of trips to wee islands just off Oban. And completely forget about work (altho’ we do have a project in Oban).

Now, should I take a Kindle or real books? Probably real books and just leave them for the next people who get the room. 😀

I have been to/passed through Oban many times including a visit to Iona many years ago for the BBC when I was shown around the Abbey by Lord George MacLeod himself and did my share of chores with the Community itself. His later TV obituary was called Glory to God in the High Street and I was really proud of my researcher credit on that one.

And then there was the death of John Noakes.

A wee while ago, I and the Good Dr W did Go Ape in Aberfoyle which involved zipwiring, rope-ladders up trees and rickety walkways between trees and would I do it again? Probably not, as I’d know when to be scared this time.

This is a wee clip of John going up Nelson’s Column with no harness but with his cameraman having gone on ahead. John had to do the top bit twice as the sound recordist didn’t quite get the quality he wanted. I’d do the zipwiring again but not that final rope ladder! Never! Nor the cargo net!

And finally, the blog and me on social media have remained election free but with just hours to go, I felt I should say something. So here it is;

Not only am I not sure who to vote for, I don’t know what to vote for as nobody is agreed as to why we’re having a General Election and what the issues are.

Theresa May called this election three years early because she felt we needed strong and stable leadership in Brexit talks and has said nothing other than platitudes all along; Jeremy Corbyn has done okay in the old trench/class warfare but was let down badly (on his days off) by sending along his lieutenants Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry who spoke platitudes which they didn’t understand; SNP supporters spoke of what the SNP would do for education and health (without seeming to realise that they should already be doing something about them at Holyrood) and it must be hard for Nicola to realise that her dreams of a second indyref are drifting further and further away; the Lib-Dems are nice but much less focused than they were under Charles Kennedy at his best (62 seats) and this week sees the second anniversary of Charles’s death; and the Scottish Greens are nice locally but I have no idea why they’re standing in three seats in a UK election.

I’ll make my mind up on the day. And on the day I will decide to vote for Pam Duncan-Glancy. She’s quite recognisable. She describes herself as the ‘only wheelchair user in the election’. And she’s Labour. And I’ve seen her outside Hillhead Subway Station. And she’s the sister of the girlfriend of a former student of mine.

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

Iaint850, wishing everything in life were as simple as a General Election.

In the midst of all the campaigning you might have missed a wee report from the Care Inspectorate which looked at the work carried out by Scotland’s twenty-nine Alcohol and Drug Partnerships – made up of local authorities, health boards, police and drug and alcohol agencies.

It concluded that ‘the majority of operational staff were very positive and confident in demonstrating that they worked well together to improve outcomes for people, families and communities.

‘(However), local councils and health boards must do more to reduce the stigma and create the necessary conditions to successfully embed a recovery philosophy.’

It was an American organisation called The Faces and Voice of Recovery that was the inspiration for the subject of my Master’s – four years ago this Summer. I still have all my notes and printed off journal articles and some amazing stories from the people I interviewed for that MSc. I wonder………

One of the reasons I’m glad I don’t work nights these days is that I don’t have to listen to the busker outside the Dental Hospital and the three o’clock drunks singing along with him with this. It’s Oasis (the proper version) …what else?

Being homeless is like living in a post-apocalyptic world. You’re on the outskirts of society. (Frank Dillane)

May 25, 2017

And so dear listener, this will be a short blog as it has been on several occasions before – ranging from the day after the Clutha tragedy through to Charlie Hebdo. Much has already been said and I’m not long since from watching the Queen visiting Manchester hospitals through to a SKY News corr telling us the latest word from MI6 and 5 about the latest terrorist threat.

Nor will I say yet again, why oh why does the egotism of politicians mean that we get involved in regime change in places like Libya and Iraq without thinking through the consequences? That’s why reading books is good.

So nothing this week about my job interview, my first walk with Holly the dog for some time and some really happy smiley Communion pics.

Instead two things;

One, ever since Hillsborough and Bradford Park Avenue many of us have been fearful about leaving a venue; not cos of a bomb threat but because it can be so difficult to get out. I’ve not been to Cappielow, for example, for some time but at one point away fans (unless you were Old Firm fans and you needed space to let off flares) were stuck in a pokey, wee stand with two enclosed narrow stairways which, if someone was coming up the way, you could not get down.

The fear was always fire and as new venues developed with large concourses and proper sized exits, that fear disappeared. Slowly. There can still be bottlenecks at the end of a game or a gig or a film but these are fewer. e and aj came to a Thistle game at the start of last season and leaving the Jackie Husband stand is much easier than the North Stand but there’s not feeling of panic. No feeling of bombs.

But in a world where an Islamic State terrorist is willing to join mums and dads picking up kids from an Ariane Grande concert before detonating a bomb, then anywhere is a target – even more than before.

Secondly, there’s been lots of headlines and social media praise for ‘homeless heroes’ helping the wounded and injured and I know people are well-meaning, but what would you expect them to do? Ask for spare change from the ambulance crews?

I work (part-time, paid) in a project which offers supported accommodation to the homeless in order to get them ready for a new tenancy. They can get used to all sorts of things, including living in their own room and other communal facilities, getting proper benefits, and support to find work. Some have various issues and we do what we can to help there.

Some make it; some don’t but at no time do we forget that these are people with feelings like you and me.

Maybe if I’d been there and helped, the headline could have started with ‘ex-alkie’……..

Or if my downward spiral hadn’t been stopped with so much help from professionals, friends and family, then maybe, ‘homeless’ would have applied to me.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but stereotyping can be a real bummer.

iaint850

This is Stone Roses and did I ever tell you that I got drunk once with Ian Brown?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.” (Stephen King) “Goodly Good” (Ned Flanders)

May 19, 2017

And so dear listener, by the time you’ve seen this, I may or may not have been in a meeting which could have a profound influence on me for the next nine months of my life. Or not. If it doesn’t go the way I want it to. 😦

Basically there’s a job come up that I fancy, kinda within the organisation I work for and I’ve applied for it (but I don’t want to be too specific about it) and a large number of people seem to think I’m suited for it and I’d like to say thanks to many folk for all their good wishes, including the telephonic trial run between me and R, and J’s sane and sensible advice, which has acted as a nice calming influence.

But I so needed someone to tell me I’d be rubbish at it and get my feet back on the ground so a massive thanks to #soulboydaviebee who, at first, told me I’d be good at it and then very kindly added, ‘you’re rubbish at everything else, but you’d be good at this job.’ 😀 😀 😀

We’ll see.

(Incidentally, J, in a wheen of tidying up recently, I found my Sconul card. Now, telling me how that worked seriously tested your sane and sensible approach to borrowers)

Elsewhere I attended a refresher First Aid course for work. People seemed to delight in putting me forward as a volunteer for all sorts of things, many of which seemed to see me ending up lying on the floor wrapped in a blanket or similar. At one stage I staggered to my feet and the very good trainer asked if I was okay.

‘Do you have vertigo?’ she asked as I paused to take breath.

‘No’, I said. ‘It’s that seat over there.’

So much of what we refreshed is relevant to what we do in our job (I’ve never had to administer CPR but these days Staying Alive is too slow) but I do remember once trying to get someone into the recovery position but had to make do with keeping him on his side so violently was he trashing about. Didn’t stop him spewing on me, tho’.

Moving on.

Oh, and I did get a badge to add to the collection (‘I am a trained First Aider’) but I’m not sure if I’ll wear it as, if there is an incident in the street where someone is hurt, I may be expected to help. And whilst it occurs to me, can I just say to Caroline how much more relaxed I felt bandaging up someone I know (saved potential embarrassment) which could prove to be a real nuisance for injured strangers in the future. 🙂

And finally, there was another training course I went to. This one was about establishing and maintaining relationships and, whilst most of it was work-related, some of it I may use in my personal life. As some of you may know, I’ve never really understood why the Good Dr W stopped talking to me and I don’t ever want to go through that again without knowing what caused it…….but maybe more of that another time.

The icebreaker was to give name and project and to say the best thing that had happened in the last two weeks. For some it was mundane things like a first grandson or passing an exam or coming back from an exotic holiday. For me?

It was that first bee entering the bee backpacker hostel. 🙂

I am used to the strange looks.

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

Iaint80, aka as Primo One Found

So I’ve said I’m keeping the show election free and I will continue to do so until maybe the week before elections to the UK Parliament which actually have very little to do with education, health and social care as so much of them are devolved to Holyrood.

But reading the vitriol on social media is depressing.

We know I am old but is there really a world out there that doesn’t know the thrill of a school hall hustings with all four (!) candidates and a Lord Sutch lookalike; being canvassed for your opinions and engaging the canvasser in an hour long debate; stuffing leaflets through letterboxes and into envelopes; and driving a potential voter to the polling booth just so that (secretly) they can vote for the opposition?

I got so excited the other day when I saw (stereotyping here) two very obvious Labour Party people and I rushed downstairs to ask them why Jeremy Corbyn was so loyal to Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry (who had the floor wiped with her by Kay Burley)

Sadly it was not the case, unless out there, there is a party called Mademoiselles Hair and Beauty offering Infrared Sauna Blanket Cocoon – Detox and Calorie Burner with Cellulite Reduction Treatment. I’d vote for them.

This is a band called Hayseed Dixie who specialise in doing country versions of mainstream rock standards. This is Bohemian Rhapsody as you’ve never heard it before.