The trouble with bookshops is that they are as bad as pubs. You start at one and you drift to another and before you know where you are, you are on a gigantic book-binge (R T Campbell)

October 4, 2015

And so dear listener, I am about to enter a period when confidentiality becomes of the utmost. Not only have I been told that my Sheriff Court jury duty may last up to two weeks, but I have started an evening class, where people may decide to bare/bear their soles/souls. I have been here before and what I will avoid is reference to actual people; the class itself……..?

It is mindfulness based stress reduction. Yes. It is. Now mindfulness was described to me by J, the blog’s favest philosopher, as a better understanding of the here and now and that is a fairly good representation of it. J also has a very literary background which often finds me starting up the Google just so I don’t appear the kinda cretin who, one Embra Festival, thought a play devoted to Nijinsky was about the horse and not the ballet dancer. :)

And I can get round it cos the class seems to be based around a book with eight chapters and much of what we do is to discuss some of the things raised in the book and then practise them.

Which brings me, dear listener, to ‘mindful eating’. At the end of the evening, dried fruit was passed around and we all had to take some. Okay, my first mistake was to start eating before I was supposed to but, being a greedy bastard, I still had some left. Basically the tutor chap talked us through experiencing the activity and getting us to be aware of tasting, licking, salivating and then biting.

Tbh, I found it mildly erotic. Which, I don’t think, was its aim. Luckily the word mastication was not used or I’d have corpsed. It was like a fruit pastilles advert of years ago. But I enjoyed it. Some of the periods of silence were good. :)

The first time I’d ever experienced a group silence (and let’s leave Partick Thistle out of this) was in Alternatives Community Rehab in Easterhouse where relaxation techniques are used cos many people recovering from substance dependency find it difficult to relax. My first experience of this was in a room where I knew none of the eighteen people and worried for an hour – by maybe the third time, I was beginning to relax. I also did acudetox (five and five since you ask) and that one where they light a candle and stick it in your ear. That’s a good one. :D

People often comment on my relaxed state. I did talk recently about getting some new garden furniture but e laughed, saying I don’t sit down long enough to make it worthwhile. She’s right. I’d an uncle in the Milton in Glasgow who, in the days of just two channels, couldn’t stop getting up and down to change them. This family also introduced me to the joys of eating chips and potato fritters –mmmm, two ways of deep frying potatoes……

And then the Chinese put a pineapple in one of theirs and the culinary world was never the same again. :)

Anyway, I must be mindful of my word count limit and move myself on.

Incidentally, I went to the zoo the other day. There was only one animal in it. It was a dog. It was a shitzu.

And I can’t help but feel that a TV ad for the Vanish Tip Exchange is an advert for the product Vanish. No. No reason.

And finally, I got some really nice good wishes from the zombies (and the run has started – ) especially Michelle, Zoe and Sophie to give them their human names. Sophie said something really interesting; she reads the blog with her morning cup of tea. If this were really a radio programme, then the obvious question would be – where do you read yours? So. Where? ;)

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

Johnt850, absolutely cream-crackered

There’s a programme on BBC 1 Scotland on Monday night at 9pm looking at legal highs in Scotland.

One question, I’m often asked about legal highs is, why are they legal? Basically they’re not illegal. Originally they were plants that gave you a slightly similar buzz to cannabis but now they’re newly made drugs made to bypass existing laws. By stating that they are not ‘for human consumption’ or that they are ‘bath salts’ or ‘room odourisers’, sellers get away with selling them legally.

I have seen their effect on people and it can be horrible but the Queen has said she’ll do something about them and I trust her.

Y’see if all potent substances had the same legal quality controls that drugs such as alcohol and tobacco do, then there wouldn’t be a demand for ‘legal highs’ but watch the programme and see what you think. I know what I think…….

As requested, here’s Maclemore and Ryan Lewis……

“I love zombies. If any monster could Riverdance, it would be zombies.” (Craig Ferguson)

September 25, 2015

And so dear listener wasn’t Monday a marvellous day for a blogger? No. I don’t mean that business with ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and the sucking pig…..Sorry. I mean suckling pig. No. I mean the things that happened to me. Altho’my favest headline of the week came from the ironical Daily Record.


Or as Kenneth Williams never said;

‘Irony. Irony. They’ve all got it irony.’ :D

No. Monday started for me at five to nine when BBC Radio Scotland phoned to ask if I was willing to be their first phone call after nine in a phone-in programme just after the news at nine on whether people should speak out about their cancer (if they have one) – to which I said YES – but I then got a phone call just after nine to stand me down. They’d got ‘an expert’!!!!!! Who wasn’t me!!!!!! Aye Right. I’ll remember that. :(

But this was all of great interest to me as later that day I was due to meet up with someone from Prostate Cancer UK at Prostate Cancer UK HQ in Ibrox. I got there with a few minutes to spare and went for a walk (I sooooooo need to lose weight) and walked past a bar called, I think, Kensington’s. It was a nice day and people were sitting outside.

Including one man in a suit with shaved head who looked like a local businessman – a ‘player’ as they say on the streets. And he was wearing a Prostate Cancer badge. :)

I did think about going up and introducing myself, but a rather well-built man standing beside him seemed to be deciding who got to say hello. :(

The conversation with Anne was wide-ranging. But it was not about information talks – which are designed to tell people about the Charity with a personal story of survival thrown in and not a reprise of the latest treatments and research which might put people off.

Instead we discussed how to get a sick eel to a vet and there was an unfortunate misunderstanding when I thought Anne said badges but she said badgers. This would explain the unfortunate stain on my lapel later in the day.

I then went to my bank where there had been an unfortunate misunderstanding over a previous meeting. I met Michael who had Gone Ape in Aberfoyle four times but had never abseiled down the Titan Crane. He did do marathons but had never run Tough Mudder altho’ one of his female colleagues had. He also wanted to be a journalist and had a relative with alcohol issues. At some point a Fixed Rate One Year Bond was opened…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And he’d heard about the zombies but had never been. He was booking his tickets for him and his mates as I was leaving. But he won’t see me there.

I’ve decided. I won’t be doing it this year. Yes. I had a major encourager-in-chief in my (now erstwhile) friend, W, but I have heard nothing from her for some time. But it is nothing to do with that.

And yes, I have a very busy time coming up cos I’m heavily involved (as are others) in the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle and that is taking up a lot of time at the moment. That is why I never made it to Hope Over Fear the other day. And then there’s jury duty. But it is nothing to do with that.

And I’ve not fallen out with such an amazing bunch of folk and I’m looking forward to reading their posts and seeing the photos.

No. It’s when the bank man was talking about going to Go Ape four times. I couldn’t do that. I would worry about what was next cos I know the rope ladders get narrower and the bridge between the trees gets more rickety. Other zipwires are available…and I’d be happy to try them.

No. The most amazing thing about last year was the randomness of it all – all totally unexpected from the Saturday morning audition to running with the zombies that night to driving up the road still with the make-up on to following Bethany around the haunt and the guy who swore so badly when I leaped at him that even I couldn’t repeat it in the blog. Those are amazing memories. I will stick to them but every so often I may drive out to the roundabout at M & Ds and listen to the bloodcurdling screams. :D :D :D :D

But as my second favest philosopher, Uni-Sharon says, ‘there’s life after being a zombie.’ (EH?)

And finally, I felt comfortable in that jacket. I must wear it more often

Cya, still wearing that badger and keeping it simple.

Johnt850, described in ASDA the other day as having the Richard Gere look :)

And the rainforestriverman was up and we went for lunch and the subject of our own time at university came up…….we didn’t, did we? I don’t remember doing that……but I do seem to remember helping to move your bed with you in it from the Union to the traffic island opposite. Ah, how little I have in common with the current Prime Minister. ;)

In the days of Gerry and the Pacemakers and Freddie and the Dreamers and the Beatles (whatever happened to them?) one man strode the world like the Colossus he was. I was going to play another of his tunes but it would have been an unfortunate mix as the awful Saville (who I met once and who disgusted me cos of his attitudes towards women) would have been in it.

This is the God that is Billy J Kramer with ‘Bad To Me’ and not only do I have a jacket but I do have two suits – one of which my son was giving to a charity shop and I intercepted it…but I don’t have BIlly’s hair. Does anyone these days? :)

‘The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. … And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace (Tacitus)

September 19, 2015

And so dear listener, there I was on Tuesday night, at about ten, at home, watching the refugee crisis on TV, when the phone rang. Not unusual in itself. It was one of the workers at the project asking where I was. As we only have two workers on at any one time (and twenty-five Service Users), he had noticed my name on the rota for being with him from 9.30 pm until 8 am the next morning, but as I was not sitting at the desk at ninety degrees to his, he was slightly concerned. :(

Thirty minutes later I was walking up the close stairs (that’s close as in tenement – not close as being in immediate proximity) unshowered, no food for through the night and trying to work out why it wasn’t in my diary.

The lack of food is important. We keep food in the project but it’s for emergency use by the SUs and at three in the morning, the only source of sustenance is The Bistro across the road but I am not a great fan of double donner kebab, chips and cheese and never was – even in my meat eating days. The vegetarian option is chips’n’curry sauce. :)

The twenty-four hour shop provided me with a prawn mayonnaise sandwich.

But food has played an important part in my week. This week.

About three hours after my shift I met up with a (now former) BBC friend for lunch and if you ever need a jazz events promoter/producer I know the very person. ;)

And then on Thursday, I had lunch with good friend e (but no children) at the Hanoi Bike Shop just off Byres Road. This, however, according to an English based tabloid (as we used to call the Sun) does not make me ‘cultured’. What does make you cultured, according to a survey marking the 80th anniversary of dairy product Yakult, are things like visiting heritage sites, putting on an accent to pronounce foreign words and watching Question Time and the Antiques Roadshow. And the ability to use chopsticks.

Which I can. Kinda. One of the things about the Bike Shop is that you can get a range of dishes (kinda tapas like) and share. Have you ever tried eating mussels with chopsticks? Getting the bit out of its shell? (Do mussels have shells?) And can I also advise avoiding what seems to be the Bike Shop’s home-made spicy sauce in a jar? Or at least don’t mix it up like I did. Man, that was hot.

We followed that by a visit to the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University. Which is a medical museum showing what can go wrong with its exhibits of stuffed deformed Siamese twin foxes, for example, and other similar exhibits.
Doctor Who fans, you would love it.

There are also jars of pickled human bits including, look away now if you’re easily offended, a pickled penis and ladies’ intimate parts AND the biggest dinosaur leg (not medical) that we had ever seen. It’s education but I’m not sure it’s culture. :)

But if you are easily offended, then continue to look away now, as I award this week’s prize for the most easily offended BBC Radio Presenter of the Month to Radio 5’s Tony Livesey (51) who felt he had to apologise for Frank Gardener saying ‘shagging’ (In context). This is Frank Gardener, ffs, the BBC security correspondent who was paralysed for life when he was shot six times by a terrorist gang and said (according to the Telegraph) that he would not plead for compassion when they were sentenced to death (2004). And why should he?

Anyway, Frank has the entire armed forces of the Queen, plus MI5 and MI6 and the ones I can’t mention cos of the D-Notice, behind him (do they still have D-notices? Or did they stop when Chapman Pincher died?)

Mind you standards ain’t what they used to be, are they? I’m sure J, the blog’s favest philospher, used the word ‘crap’ recently.

So as we are in a slightly Parental Advisory Fruity Lyrics mode, this is my favest ‘dance’ tune of the week;

And finally, I didn’t make it to either Hope Over Fear or The Scottish Recovery Consortium’s Recovery Walk on Saturday. Good reasons which I’ll explain in a couple of weeks but work related. But look, e, the initials of the Scottish Recovery Consortium! SRC! Spooky or what? I’ll leave that with you.

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

Johnt850, who never gets old but continues to evolve.

I suspect, like me, you were brought up on the story of the Children’s Crusade when young children like the shepherd boy, Nicholas, and another shepherd called Stephan of Cloyes, led thousands of children to the Holy Lands to fight the Muslims. There has been a fair amount of academic research into this and it may be a myth or it may be crowds of wandering poor being called children. It at least can blame time for the ever-changing story.

The latest myth comes from the fevered brains of Britain First – an offshoot of the English Defence League – which publishes, for example, a happy smiling black man with a fishing rod and sticks another picture of a black man with an AK47 and says the first one is a so-called refugee who transmorphs into a gun carrying terrorist in three weeks. They don’t even look the same. Except, oh yes, they’re both black.

Naw, this myth is that refugees get priority over ex-servicemen when it comes to housing. Naw. Everyone is treated equally by the housing associations who have what little housing that is fit for human habitation. We have plenty of accommodation to go round. It needs the will of the Government to fix it. Not just Nick Knowles.

There was a wee clip of footage showing, rightly or wrongly, refugees or economic migrants, storming a police point somewhere in Eastern Europe. A wee girl falls out of the crowd and stands at the side of the ‘swarm’ as they charge for freedom. And stands. And stands. Was I the only one shouting at the TV? I do hope she was re-united with her folks but there are many reports of children trying to make it on their own. Their crusade but in an opposite direction.

This is the original Doctor Who theme. No. No reason.

‘I never thought about (breast cancer) in those terms. It can become a fight if you think you might lose, but for me, it was always about getting better’ (Carol McGiffen)

September 11, 2015

And so dear listener, this week I did something I haven’t done for years (and, no, it’s not what some of you may be thinking.) I still haven’t got round to using that bus pass. So, I’ve still to journey on a corpie bus on my own. Tbh, I’m not too sure I agree with the principle of the bus pass. Things like that create artificial conceptions about age.

No. This week I tried to make a list. I am a great user of Post-its (or similar). In fact, when I did the Post Grad and Masters I used to mark and index pages in books by using different coloured Post-its stuck to the books and would write …….ooooops. :(

Actually, just in case anyone from UWS (Paisley) Library or, indeed, anyone formerly of Glasgow College of Building and Print Library or, indeed, Glasgow City Council Library (Missie K – how were the Foo Fighters? And you wouldn’t believe how flexible my diary is) is reading this……I didn’t. I wrote everything down. On a separate pad. Honest. No Post-its…….. :D

Incidentally, a lecturer at UWS (either Iain or Dougie) told me about the Post-it application thing you can get on the laptop – I wrote that down on a yellow Post-it and lost it.

I’ve always found lists to be restrictive. I have, for example, no Christmas Card list so I can’t strike people’s names off it just cos I didn’t get a card from them. My card writing is spontaneous and is aimed to tell people I am still alive (but I must improve my writing. Last year’s cards to young AJ and RJ went to America before arriving in Glasgow’s West End.)

But I decided to go for it and put an A4 lined pad on my new dining room table with the aim of writing down anything that occurred to me whist in the house and transferring stuff that I’d written down elsewhere. (I have no dining room – new or otherwise. It’s a new table)

Things like;

I was looking up some stuff on Google for an idea I have to do with drink’n’drugs and amazingly, some of the hyperlinks led to various episodes of the blog from a wee while back…..really set me up it did……imagining that students all over the world might be quoting my work. :)

(Bear in mind that I edit all sorts of work – from brain surgery to rocket construction. Let’s hope if I re-write a sentence, I get it right and if I don’t, you’re not facing brain surgery from one of my clients) :( OR :)

And I’m in the mood to do some stuff to my garden (you should see what my neighbours are doing to theirs. They had been considering moving away but obvs they’re not now.) :) So on my list it says ‘fence painting’ but is it my fence or is it someone else’s – totally at random? Anyway, my gardener is giving me a quote. (Doctor Paul once said to me that there were two types of people on this Earth – those who had a gardener and those who wanted one.)

And Tony Hall, the BBC’s D-G, has got credit for the idea of broadcasting to North Korea and at first I was going to poke a wee bit of fun but then I remembered the amazing Professor Tom Stonier who, long before it happened, forecast the end of the Soviet Union and the downfall of the Berlin Wall – not by the gun and the drone but by the humble fax machine which was a brill way to get articles and literature into The Soviet Bloc. A man ahead of his time. :)

And then there’s this list of names (personal and professional) that I want to contact but I worry about being in touch too much in case I’m seen as a pest or stalker. The choices are so many – txt, phone, mail or massage (I’m leaving that typo in. Skippy). For most of the time I worked at the Beeb, the phone was the main method of communication and I could hit the phones as well as anyone – the Glasgow end of Lockerbie was one such occasion and the death of Princess Diana was another, altho’ I wasn’t making calls about that – I was cancelling referendum programmes and stopping guests from travelling. Now with more means of personal communication, I think twice about disturbing people.

And ‘dogs’ it says here, but in-depth the question needing addressed here is ‘what happens if I borrow Holly from e one afternoon just to get used to a dog and I let her off the lead and she never comes back?’ :(

Lists were providing no answers and leading to pounding headaches.

So, finally, I tore up the four sheets of paper and felt a tremendous sense of relief- of freedom even. I’ll put my fate in the hands of the Post-its. Freedom calls!

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple, without lists.

Johnt850, still looking for the microfiche

And can I say thanks to all those people who have said nice things to me about the good work I’m doing with the homeless including some refugees? Thanks but I get paid for doing it. It’s my job. And I enjoy it. But I don’t think I could do it on a volunteer basis………No. No reason.

So for the last few weeks there’s been a Country/Dance feel to the music. Yes. There’s been a reason. So I, personally, thought it was time for some acid house country rock.

This next band, possibly the greatest ever in the history of this and any other world, I saw once at Balloch (outside and I’d love to see them indoors. I think they’re coming to Glasgow soon as is Steve Earle with a band….any takers?)

It’s an acoustic Alabama 3 with ‘You Don’t Dance to Techno Anymore.’ Enjoy.

Il avait un nom : Aylan Kurdi. (various)

September 4, 2015

And so, dear listener, I was talking to a refugee that I used to work with and who told me a wee bit more of his story. He told me of attending a political meeting in a country in Africa where things the Government did not like were being discussed. He was thrown in prison and after thirty five days his uncle raised enough money to pay the police to let him go (and I don’t think we’re talking ‘pay a fine or face Community Payback’ here). And he made it to this country. And he’s doing okay.

What about his friends? They had not been so lucky. They had no uncle like his. How was his uncle? He had not heard from him for a long time.

And I can’t have been the only one who shivered when I heard that the Christian Hungarian Prime Minister said that there were too many Muslim refugees. And put them on a train. To a camp.

Many migrants are refugees who are seeking refuge and they want to work – to raise money to bring the rest of their family over and then maybe go back to the country that they still love. It ain’t the benefits they come for – a benefits system where, according to the Government’s own figures, 2,380 people died within six weeks of being found ‘fit to work’ between December 2011 and February 2014. I accept that no causal effect can be assumed from these new numbers but why, then, did the so-called IDS initially deny their existence to Parliament?

We used to be such a caring nation. What happened? What f*cking happened? It would be too easy to blame the greed of Tories like Thatcher, Major, Brown, Blair and Cameron……..No. I don’t know what happened. Until one photo of a dead wean appears on our front pages. There have been so many others.

Skippy, do me a favour and scrap this stuff. I’ll be back in a minute or so but I won’t use any of it…….

(That was written two days ago. There has been much talk since)

And so, dear listener, what a great week it’s been. I went back to that dentist I was talking about and not only did he fix my troublesome filling, but he had a really magical chart of my mouth up on his computer screen when I went in and suddenly my faith in being with a dentist was restored. :)

Previously I was beginning to feel my dentist was part-time within the Peppermint Beauty Studios. :(

And I was talking children’s books with J, the blog’s favest philosopher, and I couldn’t help but notice in another publication that Captain Bigglesworth, a favourite read of mine, (Biggles to his ‘close’ friends, Algy and Ginger. Bromance? What bromance?) suffered from such frayed nerves that he downed half a bottle of whisky for Dutch courage before take off. (He was a pilot, in case you were wondering) I’d long suspected that he was not the most politically correct of all my heroes, but he seems to have been a risk to his colleagues as well. Wonder if I was ever a danger to mine?

And then there’s telephones. Yes. I still have a landline and it’s mostly for family and cold calls. But it died on me. And it’s not the batteries or it might be them but anyway I decided to get a new one. I contacted the rainforestriverman’s old emporium and it was with me within hours and I charged it and plugged it in and spoke to people. But yet… you know, dear listener, that voicemail is not yet a standard issue in phones. Or maybe no-one’s leaving me messages. :(

But (rather than ‘and’) there are peppers and tomatoes growing in my new porch (or is it an Audi?) but I don’t think there is a dinner party ahead of me. There has not been enough sun. Sometimes we need more than the big sky – we need the sun. :)

And it was with great delight that I posted these words on Friday afternoon on Facebook;

‘And so, after a ten hours night shift with the homeless, including refugees, and two hours sleep, I have finally finished August’s editing and there’s an Out of Hours up on my e-mail advising that I am out of my editing office until 19th September which I hope was read by the twunt (I got that word from Becky Garrett) who asked me how long it would take to check his PhD of 75,000 words for grammar as he only had a couple of days…..’

And finally, it says a lot about the supermarket queue I was in on Friday when the old lady in front of me was complaining about the old lady in front of her. And No. I will never grow old. Not when there are so many disappointments in my life. It must get better one day. :D :D :D

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple – it’s more straightforward that way.

Johnt850, about to go into a short period of availability. All offers welcome.

So I still haven’t made my mind up about being a zombie again this year; to be honest the workload of the last five to six weeks has led to me not thinking about much anyway – and there are good memories (the old grit in the eye moment) – but the Zombie end of run rave was good and so was Zoe’s 18th. :)

We danced. :)

We did the Time Warp. Again. :)

We did the Locomotion. :)

And we twisted :)

But we didn’t line dance (I don’t think the conga line counted) :(

Now if you’re in line-dancing mood beware because the BPM for the final track is pretty fast – strong legs are required. (No. I really don’t know what I’m talking about, do I?) It’s the Dixie Chicks who stood side by side with Steve Earle against the second Iraq War and were ostracised by the American media.

‘Tonight the heartache’s on me’ is the name of the song – and the title of my forthcoming autobiography:

‘Oh magic hour when a child first knows she can read printed words’ (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

August 28, 2015

And so dear listener, I hadn’t quite realised how hard I find it to say No – which is different from being easily influenced (but for good reasons these days). I have explained that this month has been incredibly busy on the editing/proof-reading front but I hadn’t realised how much it had taken over until I was contacted by someone, for whom I had done some work previously, who wanted me to look at 14,000 words.

‘Yes’, I said, ‘I can do that next week and you should allow up to a week for the turnaround.’

‘No’. He seemed to bellow over the e-mail. ‘I will give you it this Thursday and I want it back on Saturday. You did it for me once before in the same number of days.’

I quietly explained that that had been at a quiet time; there were people ahead of him in the queue; and I now didn’t want his business. I didn’t even suggest the Beith sub-branch which I often do.

And I put up an Out-of-Office message on the e-mail explaining that unless you were already booked in, I wasn’t taking new work. After all, there are big skies out there and I’m missing out on them. :(

But while I’ve started talking about this can I go on to say a big thanks to some of those who teach English to foreign students (whether through ESOL or otherwise) for not teaching them about pronouns; the magic joining word ‘and’; and when you can use ‘the’ and ‘a’ and ‘an’ and when you can’t. I’m sure many do (especially those working in Italy) but I also feel the need to have a go at academic tutors who must see these errors before people get to the stage where they’re writing 12,000 words……but, hey, it gives me part of my income……… (and a pleasant smile when Wenhao Wang sends out an e-mail thanking all her tutors and friends for all their help whilst she’s been in Glasgow and I get included) :D :D :D

But there’s a lot of downtime as well while you’re waiting for promised work to come in but you don’t want to take on big projects (there’s a fence needing painted) in case ‘the work’ comes in so you decide to do wee projects instead – like updating your folder with all your passwords in it (all the updates are on Post-Its) and forgetting that you’d changed its name from Kleenex Tissues to Crusty Socks (No. No reason) and the realisation now that I’ll need to change it again. Any suggestions? ;)

But the other thing that gets me is when the ‘client’ says, ‘but my tutor says I’m not allowed to split an infinitive. It’s a rule of grammar.’ And unfortunately the tutor is always right even when he/she is wrong. The only rule of grammar is ‘do what you have to do to get your message across as best you can.’

If you want to boldly go where no man has gone before, you go for it. :D

The actual only other rule of grammar is that there are reasons why we have apostrophes, commas, full stops and semi-colons but don’t worry I’ll keep you right on those.

(One that’s slipping through at the moment is ‘till’ instead of ‘‘til’ when people are trying to shorten ‘until’)

(And my thanks to top journo Eamonn O’Neill for the opening quote)

Moving on. To Renfrew Town Hall (the line-dancing capital of the West of Scotland). Where I was, for work, for a Service Users’ Forum. Basically it was about the Fortieth Anniversary of Blue Triangle and a big event that’s coming up – for which I am slightly behind in what I have to do for it. :( :( :(

And when we’re discussing Glasgow’s links with the Wild West, my parents used to tell me that I once met Roy Rogers but without Trigger. All of you (with maybe a couple of exceptions) please feel free to fire up the Google and see who I’m talking about but please ignore the dates mentioned. It was at least ten years later. ;)

And I do use brackets a lot – don’t I?………………………..

No. The point is……for the second time in a week (or so) I was on a bus. And like last week’s tour of Lanarkshire it was very instructive. Do buses do this kind of journey every day or was it ‘cos the driver knew I was on?

From the stop across from Lauder’s Bar in Glasgow all the way to Renfrew Town Centre, we travelled in comfort and style….through Govan, through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (altho’ I noticed some of the bits still retain names from other hospitals which were closed to justify opening such a big place) and then through Braehead. It was the same on the way back but in reverse. No. I don’t mean he drove the bus in reverse gear. Somewhere he turned it round. And I got strange looks from other people when I got off and said thanks to the driver. It could have been more embarrassing. I could have organised a whipround.

Tbh, I’m not sure if buses will catch on but it was nice to be a passenger for once. :)

And finally, I was concerned that the most hated man in this blog David Laws (the Lib-Dem MP who claimed upwards of £30,000 rather than admit he was homosexual but he did pay it back so that was okay but just try that in ASDA if you lift something without paying for it cos you’ve been sanctioned by the so-called IDS) was going to be mentioned in the recent Honours List but wise counsel prevailed. And I despair that The Scottish Government cannot make any decisions about broadcasting in Scotland but the unelected Lady Moan can. :( There’s a lot of Tories who don’t understand her selection

Cya, still wearing that badge (altho’ I almost lost the current one) and why not keep it simple.

Johnt850, needing to check out whether my own business insurance covers me for work.

And the reason they’re called refugees is because they’re seeking refuge from oppression, war and tyranny – Like the Jews did in the Thirties.

And Rangers’ latest superstar (Gedion Zalalem) was born in Berlin to Ethiopian parents.

No. No reason.

And I suspect this is the song that line dancers hate the most!

“If you walk across my camera I will flash the world your story.” (Woody Guthrie)

August 22, 2015

And so dear listener, this may well be a blog of two halves – adventures in Scotland’s largest theme park and the growing move to persuade me to get a dog, but I intend to combine it with the odd shout-out such as:

No, Doreen H, the pink hippo is mine!

(You get the idea?)

Let’s start with the adventure. From time to time we take some of our service users on outings. Sometimes they’re educational and one time I was involved with a bunch of former (mostly) heroin users who came with me and another worker to Kelvingrove Art Galleries. Now I love the place and can easily combine a visit there with a meal in a place like Firebird (unless I fall over) but for me, this was an amazing experience cos I was seeing it through the eyes of people who’d never seen an art gallery and I was asked questions I couldn’t answer. We kind of wander through such places kidding on we know things, don’t we, when we don’t. And not everyone has been to a museum or art gallery. :(

Anyway this was a trip to M & Ds where I and some others, including the good Dr W, had been zombies and some really good memories returned.

Anyway our folk went on various rides and our expectation as workers was to wander round and keep a general eye on things but the spirit of adventure never goes away, does it? And it is exactly one year since Go Ape and almost one year since the abseiling…… I had to do it. I went on the Tornado. How can I describe the experience?

Well you get strapped in and then it goes up the railroad thing and then, OMG, it drops down to the right at one helluva speed and OMG, I’m going to fall out and then OMG, why is Strathclyde Park on top of me and OMG it’s not. I’m upside down and then I’m not and then I’m upside down again and them OMG it’s leaning to the right and OMG it’s going back up again and OMG, why is it so fast and OMG, it’s slowing down and nobody’s whiteyed (i.e. been sick) and it slows to a halt and then it calms down. :( :) :( :)

And I get off and walk very slowly and with a white face, which was in direct comparison to one I had had earlier…but it was an adventure. The pirate ship wasn’t quite the same but I have a blood bruise where the person sitting next to me grabbed my wrist in panic.

And it was all fine and very educational; I was on three buses and also had a very small cut to my head but that was from a branch as we took a very picturesque route to M & Ds and Amazonia is brilliant. :)

Janice W, I haven’t burnt down the log cabin just yet!

And then there’s the dog thing….

Parents of the World! Beware! Chihuahua the Movie is scary and has shapeshifters and people arising from the dead and just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.

Y’see one of my co-workers is suggesting I get a dog cos she’s had a couple of dates following her dog walking activities at night and she recommends getting a dog from a sanctuary cos they’ve been treated and may well be trained. And I was out with friend e and her daughter RJ walking Holly the Dog when a jolly interesting lady walked past and I turned to look at her and she had turned to look at….Holly the Dog. Not my first riddie of last week and not my last.

So it seemed a good notion when e offered to let me dogwalk every so often until, well, if you’re sensitive, then look away now, me and RJ watched fascinated as e had to wash the dog in a very sensitive place cos it was having, well, bowel problems…..I had considered a takeaway curry on the way home but it soon turned into toasted cheese. But the notion is turning over in my brain.

And finally, a big Shout Out to BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal and his lovely wife, Catriona:

I’ve been to the dentist you recommended and I came away smiling. Thank you. :)

Cya, still wearing that badge (but it’s a new one so thank you J) and still keeping it simple but ‘going for it’ may return. No I haven’t a clue either.

Johnt850, the taste of adventure is returning. Now all I need is……..

So, if the PhD had gone ahead, then it would have been looking at alcohol education in a very wide sense which is jolly interesting cos this week saw the publication of stats which showed that ‘more than 1100 Scots drank themselves to death last year’.

Now it has been shown globally in those countries that have adopted it that Minimum Unit Pricing has a major effect in cutting the number of deaths and reducing hospital admissions and alcohol related crime and the Scottish Government is all for it but the Scotch Whisky Association is against it and I wanted to place them on my list of potential interviewees but I was told there was no point as we already knew their public stance.

Y’see there’s a big difference between some academic interviewing and the journalistic stuff. I’d like to have asked them whether their real interest was the continued maximisation of profit. After all the Association’s spokesperson apparently ‘pointed out that alcohol-related deaths (were) down 25 per cent since an all-time high of 1546 in 2006’.

Maybe if we had Minimum Unit Pricing, even fewer people would have died….but I’m no longer in a position to put that to them.

Now, to finish, a track from a singer, recommended by J the philosopher, whose name I didn’t recognise, but I recognised the song (No. I know J’s name. I meant the singer.) She’s Brandi Carlile and the words are nice but look at the amazing skies…….and doesn’t one of the pics look like the Forth and Clyde Canal in one of its leafier bits?

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (H.P. Lovecraft)

August 14, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week I sat as my creative juices failed to flow and looked at the screen in a mild state of panic. I was not too sure if I had anything to write about. Seriously. I had not been at my usual (paid) gig with the homeless for some time; I didn’t really want to talk about the football; I had received pioneering tales of an explorer’s life in Canada which I’m kinda keeping to myself; and also from a family in Robin Hood territory seeming to do things more dangerous than any abseiling or zipwiring done by myself and the good Doctor W, some time back.

The editing is highly seasonal. August and May are the big months and this has been the busiest August since I started. Yup. The money’s good and most folk pay up without any real hassle but there are limits to the number of times I want to hear about quantitative and qualitative models (Bryman 2001). After all it was my inability to cope with Research Methodology that deterred me from applying for a PhD. :(

And you have no idea what it’s like to wake up at half past six, look at your phone (eh?) and realise it’s not the final 2,000 words you were expecting but 12,000 words. But you get up and wander through to the laptop, tell Skippy she shouldn’t be looking at those sites and get on the e-mail…….and it’s a Chinese person writing about the democratisation of China and in the Acknowledgements, there’s this little gem;

‘Finally, this is for those who resist injustice, promote human rights and democratization in China.’

And you want to do your best for the writer (and get paid as well). (I replaced the middle coma with ‘and who’)

Moving quietly on.

This week’s Faux-Pas of the Month was telling a friend, who was in Gartnavel for a urological prostate examination, to keep his pecker up……… :P

I was on standby to do some media stuff for Prostate Cancer UK and the decision not to give Enzalutamide to men who are unable to take chemotherapy – whereas this drug could help see that their lives are prolonged – simplistic description, I know. I just know how fortunate I was in my treatment for this cancer and think giving realistic hope is good. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got a breakdown of coverage from the charity’s PR who attached this cryptic message;

P.S. Did you know you can buy instant chip shop curry sauce from ASDA. I did so recently, but have yet to see how it compares to the real thing… :)

Trust me, that is really un-nerving cos I have no idea what I write at times – but I do do it sober and substance free (and it relates to last week’s blog)

I did think of writing about Michelle Moan. I am ambivalent about the Honours List but it does mean something to those who accept honours and who stay quiet about them until announced – such as my hairdresser’s husband who uses a wheelchair and has been awarded a bit of the Empire or something for services to Sport and Charity and who did keep quiet about it.

Now who could have leaked Michelle’s possible elevation to the peerage to the press? And I hope it gets withdrawn. And I make no comment about any speculation about her tax arrangements.

And I don’t have a lot of time for wife-cheater Paul Hollywood and his smutty innuendos about cracks (in their cakes) when talking to women. And I certainly don’t need to be patronised by him by explaining to me what arlettes are. I mean surely everyone knows they are (read it slowly, Skippy) wafer-thin reverse puff-pastry biscuits that hail (slowly Skip) from south-west France.

And I make no comment about him being confused about what a crofter is/does by calling them peasants, but it does say a lot about his attitude towards people.

And finally, since the above is doom and gloom, here’s a joke;

I went into Gregg’s and bought a sandwich. Then a mate noticed that it had a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking it out and said, ‘It might be a bomb.’ So I phoned the bomb squad and said that I had this sandwich with a blue wire, a red wire and a yellow wire sticking out and I was worried in case it was a bomb.

‘Is it ticking?’ they asked.

‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s cheese and onion.’ :D :D :D

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

Johnt850, getting real sick at looking at this screen but, hey, it’s money.

When you talk to people who have had bad experiences you often ask, ‘have you recovered?’ expecting a simple ‘yes’ and the same question could be put to me. The cancer? Yes – except I always worry. The alcohol dependency? Yes. I just don’t drink.

But I do know that those who take the Twelve Step Programme seriously (and not everyone who goes to AA does) see themselves as being continually in recovery and I respect this. I was recently talking to a female acquaintance of mine and our respective stories spilled out cos of what we were talking about.

We shared our experiences before we went into a meeting and benefitted from the experience. The hug at the end cements the share. And I walk away with a smile on my face. There is a brilliant, spiritual feel to recovery. I once spoke to a former BBC colleague in Central Station about her dad’s recovery and how much it meant to her and her family – also following the Twelve Step Programme.

The big thing is that we find something that helps and means something to us. And walk away with a smile on our face. It’s a choice. It’s our responsibility.

This is Dan, aka Withered Hand, from the King Creososte gig of a few days ago but without Pam.

Nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane (HP Lovecraft)

August 7, 2015

But I’m not so sure I agree with that.

And so dear listener, this week I was reunited with a culinary delicacy that I had not had for a long time. I try not to identify the location of where I work other than to say it’s in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow, but those of you who frequent Sauchiehall Street at about three in the morning will be aware of a top-notch eatery called The Bistro. It’s the kinda place where you can order a cheeseburger with donner (sp) sauce with chips’n’cheese on the side. I usually bring in pieces (Becky from North London – if I lose you in this, and the next, paragraph, worry not).

One of our guests was going over there and took some orders. She came back and said, ‘I got a free chips’n’curry sauce, jt. Do you want it?’ to which I said yes.

Michel Roux, Michael Smith and Kimberley Wyatt (she cooks), eat your heart out. There is a certain taste to chip shop curry sauce isn’t there? (Vinegar to dilute it) I ate with gusto (a pseudonym to protect a true identity) until that moment when you realise that the chips have drowned in the sauce and it is curry/potato mush you are devouring…….but bliss.

You can keep your jus

and your ‘French ragout’.

Curry sauce is magic.

About four or five years ago (I was a meat eater) I had some thoughts about a radio documentary about women who work as prostitutes and the dangers they were being put in by closing the saunas. One night a contact invited me down to meet some of the ladies of the night and their willingness to appear (if the programme was commissioned) was smashing. I got back to my car and got a burger and onions from the van the other side of Charing Cross and ate it on the way up the road at about two.

Hours later I had to be in a hotel in Bellshill to meet a former sauna worker who had also expressed interest in taking part in the programme. When I got into the car the smell of burger and onions was overwhelming and I sprayed after shave all over it – which was a mistake. I was overwhelmed. The conversation with the former sauna worker was good and she didn’t need a lift up the road. I travelled home in a fog of Calvin Klein Eternity and optimism.

The programme was never commissioned. And I became a pescatarian.

But the retro theme continues and social media are oft blamed for the proliferation of dangerous acts amongst young men – or ‘chicken’ as we used to call it as I grew up. We didn’t have social media then and we didn’t need to create our own danger in Peterhead. The North Sea was at the bottom of the road and a disused harbour wall was slightly further afield. The game, during the winter, was, individually, to run up the steps, await the next great wave and then run down the steps before it hit, sweeping you aside.

(To be honest it was not the fear of the water that made you run; it was the fear that Cthulhu, the Great Old One, would rise and overwhelm you with his many tentacles and pull you under. For those of you who do not know of Cthulhu, the water-being is described as ‘part octopus, part man and part dragon’)

And speaking of dragons, J my favest philosopher, drew my attention to an arts installation in the foyer of UWS (Paisley) Library which depicts Elizabeth Bennett (star of Pride and Prejudice) sitting on a bench reading but there is no sign of the dragon ‘oft alluded to’ in the book. Sandy Stoddart, the Queen’s Sculptor in Scotland, was a member of the Winers’ Club (as was I) and has his studio on campus……..I must draw his attention to it someday.

But, dear listeners, where is/was the dragon referred to in the book?

And finally, and still looking back, years ago I worked in a boys’ home in the south side of Glasgow (No. This is not that kind of revelation). One of the residents was called Go-Go (Gordon) and it was a time when Glasgow had a lot of small factories and warehouses just ripe for breaking into or burning down for insurance purposes. Go Go was very small for his age (14) and his role in life was to break in through the slightly ajar and very tight sky-light and let the rest of the gang in through the front door (‘Police were baffled’)

Go Go had his own solitary game of Chicken. He’d go down to the railway line and throw things at passing trains until the railway police came and chased him. One night he threw a piece of metal at a train and it rebounded off the overhead cable and bounced back and hit him on the head. He never did that again.

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple. It’s the best way.

Johnt850 and ‘No. Stephen I do not still have a Bebo page’

So, dear listener, the retro theme comes to an end for this week except to say that me and e went to see a live performance (musically) of From Scotland With Love with music from King Creosote at Kelvingrove Bandstand.

The opening act was a guy called Dan (aka Withered Hand) and his friend Pam from London whose daughters had amazing raincoats. Dan had slightly different lyrics from Monica Queen (last year’s opener for Steve Earle) in his songs and a wee bit more stage presence although he never moved from the spot.

And then the projectors started running and the most amazing archive footage (as seen in the TV doc of the same name) appeared on two screens and the enhanced Collective started playing and it was soooo smashing that e forgot about the illicit cans of ginger beer she had smuggled in…….it was that smashing.

If it comes to your area, go see it. It’s Scotland as you have never seen or heard it before – or you can buy the DVD. Becky, just do it.

This is not King Creosote; this is an obvious in-joke

Release the Sheep! (Gabby Logan – but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that)

August 1, 2015

And so dear listener, earlier this week, I attended the latest in my last ever cancer (just to be sure) consultations but the consultants seem to have now read each other’s notes and, whilst they are people who tend to be consulted about different things, they all agree on one thing – keep taking the PSA blood test. :)

And yet, after I signed off from Moira my addiction worker, I heard nothing….no follow up. No. No dark and sinister conclusion – just a different view of things returning. :)

I’ll move myself on.

Can I, in a week which saw Sarah Harding ‘die’ on Coronation Street, say how glad I was that Kimberley Wyatt won Celebrity Masterchef. (This, btw, is a programme which, when I watch it, forces me to go into the kitchen and get a packet of crisps which could explain why I am soooooo fat) There is nothing natural in Rylan’s world, and he knows it. He is a master of Twenty-First Century Celebrity TV and he does it soooo well. But Kimberley cooks.

Many, many years ago I had a day off from the BBC…as in a ‘being sick’ day. Daytime TV was not as well developed in those days. We had no interest in buying and selling antiques; in surprising people by doing up their houses without asking them what they really wanted; or in watching rich bores looking at possible new houses at the licence fee payers’ existence.

I watched Teletubbies and went in to work (a word we used casually to describe being at the BBC and getting paid for it) the next day. ;)

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Have you seen the size of the rabbits in Teletubbies?’ To which, as one, they replied, ‘What were you on yesterday?’ A question, which, in later years……..

I’ll move myself on.

Incidentally the catchy catchphrase as the headline comes from ITV’s Celebrity One Man and His Dog (sorry, Flockstars) which started this week just past as did their great British Bake-Off (with meat) competition – this from a company that runs wall to wall Jeremy Vine on a Saturday and still people complain about the BBC.

And finally, I didn’t make it to the first game of the season against Hamilton and I need to check the seating arrangements for the game against Celtic next week – try and avoid the smoke bombs.

New listeners and philosophers might be interested to know that I don’t go to every game for all sorts of reasons but people like Steve, Bean, Stewart, Stuart, Craig, Eric, Craig (again), John-Paul, Rab, Alan and #soulboyDaviebee (sp?) all played an amazing part in my recovery when I decided I needed out on a Saturday afternoon, but I don’t talk much about what happens. After all what happens at away matches stays between me, them and Kingsley. ;)

Anyway, there’s a lot of editing coming in (it’s seasonal) and is available through and that is taking up much paid time at the moment but I’ve also taken on a new role at my work which, as some people know, is the Blue Triangle Housing Association (I am basically a night-time project worker in supported accommodation for the homeless which has its moments).

It’s BT’s Fortieth Anniversary this year and there will be a big event (invited guests) in Oran Mor at the top of Byres Road (olde BBC rehearsal rooms in ye ancient days) in October. I am the Creative Writing Coach for the event which will involve getting in pieces of writing from Service Users (SUs) in all the projects all over Scotland, selecting some for the day and, hopefully, getting them to read it out. And I’m really looking forward to it. :D

Cya, still wearing that badge and considering how best to keep it simple

Johnt850, in like a rocket and out like a feather. No. I have no idea what I’m talking about but apparently it’s a well-known cliché.

So, a bunch of right wing fanatics led by the evil and so-called IDS are so concerned about obese people, alcoholics and drug addicts (tabloid shorthand) claiming benefits that they are planning to stop those benefits unless they go get treatment (without specifying what that treatment should be). The so-called IDS you may remember, from previous blogs, did not realise that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was voluntary and, eh, anonymous.

I am ambivalent. I have, however, met people in the past who were able to tell Social Security/Benefits Agency people that these things were an incurable disease and all they could do was to go to AA (and similar meetings) to keep these addictions under control and managed to get whatever form of sickness benefit was going at the time. (I have also met people who give the word ‘illness’ (or similar) their own particular twist and have used the Twelve Steps to full advantage and work and pay taxes)

Now (maybe for the wrong reasons) we will start to examine this out-dated concept of using the ‘illness’ aspect and see it as problem that can be dealt with by lifestyle and behavioural changes – a view that’s only been around since the sixties but it does mean taking responsibility and how rarely do we do that these days?

And on that sane and sensible note, one of the many media sources on my facebook (possibly Dangerous Minds) showed some amazing artwork from Lewis Carroll’s original thoughts about Alice and I remember an exhibition at the Science Centre where you turned on and tuned into Alice and the house at right angles to itself where I was able to plank safely.

This is White Rabbit by the amazing Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock


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