You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation (Billie Holiday)

April 11, 2015

And so dear listeners, I very rarely talk about my work and tonight’s show is no exception, but many of you know a lot of it is at night – in supported accommodation for the homeless and they’re entitled to their anonymity in blog terms. No. It’s Glasgow at 3.30 in the morning I want to describe. Last Sunday, or Easter Monday, to be more precise.

But it was the Sunday that made it so peculiar. Facebook had basically been split into two; those for whom Christ had risen and those for whom it was a day to hide eggs and let children find them. Should have been a quiet shift and it was but it was outside that worried me.

The only time at night I should leave the project, which is at the nice’n’sleazy end of Glasgow, is to take bin bags out to the bins in the alleyway around the corner but this night I was out several times. Sunday into Monday should be a quiet night. Very few bars and clubs are open beyond midnight but one was and it was well stewarded. The one fight seemed to be well sorted out. I won’t say why I was out but the streets were not pleasant.

Broken bottles on the pavement; taxi drivers shouting insults at drunks waiting in the ranks and then pulling out when they ran after them; and some very drunk young ladies who fortunately had friends to look after them because there are men lurking in the shadows. And there was a fog coming down the street. It wasn’t a fog that was there; it was a fog that was rolling in like some of those I remember from my upbringing in Peterhead – just off the North Sea. Those effete Southerners who were complaining of smog the other day should have experienced one of those. I shivered. A lot. I was not dressed for ‘out’ but I had to be there.

And then my shift finished at 7.30 and another twelve hours of my life had passed. All every Edgar Allan Poe-ish. I have a book of all his stories – published in 1890. When I get the chance to read to my grand-daughter, I’ll maybe start with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. :)

Right let’s brighten up.

Actually many years ago, when I was working for the BBC down in London, I met Don McLean. He was appearing in a TV show (Nationwide – ask elderly people) and I was his Meet’n’Greet and I did ask him…..’So what do the lyrics mean in American Pie?’

‘A lot of money, John’, was his reply. :D

So when a women’s team win the Posh University Boat Race what do they do with their cox?

And it’s really nice that Andy M has finally married Kim. Maybe, since he’s so rich, she could give up her job and follow him to some games…or matches…or rounds…or whatever they’re called.

And work goes on at t850 Towers where I now have a new porch, altho’ I do wish it was a new Porsche after the amount of money I’ve spent on my car this month. Zombie Michele, you will be pleased to hear that I no longer have to drive over bumps in the road to get it working. :)

And I spent some time with the latest member of e’s family – H the dog. In Victoria Park. What does H stand for? Not a lot. A very no-nonsense dog is H. She’s a labradoodle with whom I’m trying to bond……I’m more a mongrel. Which is no slight on my parents but one of my grans was illegitimate and I’m convinced my genes come from her. The rest of my family is financially inclined – even L, to whom I was once married, is a chartered accountant.

Me? An alcoholic journalist. But no longer…either. But I still have a press card. I still pay my union dues. :)

My/our folks were dead normal but the financial thing showed through. I was never really taught how to ride a bike or swim. Instead I learned how to count the collection in St Andrew’s Parish Church – four half crowns, three two bob bits and four shillings (ask elderly people) made a pound and you used a ruler to make sure every column of silver was exactly the same. Happy daze. We made our own fun but we were happy. :(

And finally, as well as my usual nights (on average two a week) I’ve been working back shifts last week and this coming week getting home ‘bout eleven and eventually getting to bed/sleep. And as Jamie T said last week (kinda) there’s someone/thing on my mind and my workmen arrive dead early so I am knacked but the last two weeks of this month? – party central would be nice. Any offers? :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

So I’ve had some problems textually since I came back from Lisbon and I’m slightly worried in case I’m being blocked (accidentally or deliberately) so I’m meeting up to go drinking with the Blogmeister and he’ll be able to offer advice. In the early days of my time with Study Buddie Fi (every week a different supermarket in Ayrshire) she blocked me – by accident.

But me and the Blogmeister are going to conquer another of my fears. I have not been in Tennents in Byres Road for at least eight years (since the Cold Turkey Weekend). I only recently went back to the Curlers (Rest) and that was for an Arts and Craft Fair where Mo was showing off her jewellery skills.

I remain convinced that someone will recognise me and offer to buy me a pint. I intend to go up to the bar and order an orange juice and a pint of whatever for my mate. Well maybe not in that order. It’s in a couple of weeks’ time. I’ll let you know how I get on. :)

And also next week, why I’m giving up fishing but casting around for something else and I may have found it.

Billie Holiday had issues with alcohol and drugs but she was persecuted by the police – and a man called Harry Anslinger who is responsible for many of the closed minds toward drink and drugs that exist today – to the extent that she was arrested on her deathbed. She was also a fighter for civil rights. This next track combines that concern with her amazing voice.

Don’t you find, some of the time There is always someone on your mind ……. (Jamie T)

April 4, 2015

And, yes, that is the lyric I decided not to use last week. Or some of it.

And so dear listener, having spent the last few days after my Lisbonese adventure catching up with friends and family (that’s me read the Digger for this week), it’s time to catch up with so much else. At breakneck speed. :)

So I’d dental work done and tried to eat beans after it. Don’t!……:(

I’ve been seeing a herbalist (what’s that Skippy?)….. I’ve been consulting a herbalist for a small bladder problem which is the only residual after my cancer and alcohol issues of long ago. For the first time ever the NHS has let me down and herbs it is. Except – and I’d never thought of this – she can’t give me a tincture. So, no Laudanum then.

So I’ve been given a herbal tea which, in its natural form (not in a bag) looks like something that wouldn’t look out of place in an Amsterdam grinder. And a pill (well, more than one) which tastes like emulsion paint and it’s here I begin to wonder – at what point in the Dark Years did I try emulsion paint?

And this week’s Rant of the Month. It is a matter of weeks since my car was serviced and my mouth had a check-up and two fillings replaced. This week my car heater stopped working (even when I drive it over bumps and sleeping policeman in Strathclyde Park) and I’ve lost two more fillings. Had I list of things to tick off I would be less than happy. As it is I use post-its and I’ve been raking through the bins. And the driver’s door is still erratic.

And big thanks to e and Kenny the Shed Pimp who are acting as Project Managers in the refurbishment of t850 Towers. This house is no longer mine….it seems and for the best of reasons. I have, for the first time ever, a dining table – assembled by a financial controller and new CD storage units assembled by a joiner. But I came home the other night to find a new front door in my living room and God Knows how the couch got in that place but I put it back.

The saddest thing of all this is that every time someone comes to do something to the house, no matter how small, I insist on showing them the shelves I put up. Many years ago. :)

And I ate in Frankie and Benny’s the other day. In the Fort, Easterhouse, altho’ I have no idea why it’s called the Fort. I like it because it’s open to the elements and it seems more like High Street shopping rather than the Silverburns and Braeheads of this world. And Nicola Sturgeon was in there immediately before us.

And why’s it taking so long for postcards to get back from Lisbon?

And it was nice to get involved in fbook conversations with Zoe the Zombie (interesting stuff about Doctor Who) and with the blogmeister about how depression is represented in Gaming. It could be helpful in providing something to share in real-life work……even nicer when someone thanked us for sharing it on fbook..

Aye, depression. I have not followed the tabloid ins and outs of Andreas Lubitz who murdered 149 people by deliberately crashing an aeroplane into the mountains. Much of what has been said seems to centre round various diagnoses carried out several years ago but if we don’t allow people to move on, then no-one ever will. For every Lubitz there’s a t850 who, when I returned to work at the then Glasgow Metropolitan College, was cried ‘scum’ by line managers who also said alcoholics (as I termed myself then) were bound to lapse and couldn’t be trusted.

Well I think I’m reasonably well liked by folk; have not had an alcoholic drink for over eight years; and along with a colleague am responsible on a nightly basis for looking after 25 homeless people…..altho’ if anybody gets aggressive and threatening, I can call in the police.

There is nothing more alluring than three policewomen in hi-vis jackets and truncheons erect ready to kick down a door. No. No reason. :)

And finally, it was a difficult shift on Tuesday night; it was a smashing one on Friday.

Johnt850. Am I tough enough? Hell,….. well not all the time, and maybe that’s the fishing problem. I can’t do ‘not nice’. And that’s a big problem in life. :(

And as regular listeners know, friendships are important to me. They’ve not only helped me in my various recoveries but have pushed me to take on so many challenges – the two people mentioned earlier are prime examples in that I’ve known the blogmeister since just before my cold turkey and Zoe is a zombie who I’ve only known (kinda) since October but who took such a brilliant pic of me as a zombie and it’s up there next to my son graduating and me with my Master’s. And I’d coffee with the rainforestriverman this week.

I always love the blogmeister’s story of, just before the cold turkey, I said to the class he was in, that I wasn’t feeling well. I would go outside for a few minutes and he never saw me again for about six months; not until I attended the End of Year Exhibition at the College. Zoe, please keep me posted on that.

So, I’m worried about someone who’s been brilliant for me and I’ve been in touch but all I can do now is to back off and see what happens. A slight tear in  the eyes, a cry of Chinese accountants and a closing track.

This is Little Eva and the Locomotion. It even makes you happy when you’re feeling low.  I’ll get the moves right yet.

It’ll maybe be Aye, it’ll maybe be Naw but until you ask, it’ll always be Maybe* (Ruth Watson)

March 27, 2015

And so dear listener, you may remember last week’s blog ended with me in a strange bed in a Lisbon hotel-room having had my fill of custard tarts, hash dealers and sex shops and can I just say what a nice hotel room it was. En-suite and with bed’n’breakfast thrown in (Do your own gag) for £34 a night booked in Glasgow. :)

Day Two started. And I went and had breakfast; rolls, croissants, cold meats (No Sirree…not for me), processed cheese, coffee and marmalade with real oranges. And I clocked the single mum. But, hey, I was on holiday. ;)

Now what I don’t want this to be is a travelogue. Apart from anything else my original plan was buggered. The original idea had been to use the Wednesday afternoon and evening to do the walking in the area and to plan something like a bus journey for today (Thursday) in order to ‘site/sight see’ (a lovely phrase borrowed from Dr W). :D

That was out the window. So I decided to walk up to the castle I’d seen the previous night and see Lisbon from there.

So I did. Big long walk. Didn’t make it to the very top cos my fear of heights got in the way of last set of steps.

I could go up but was terrified of coming down. I could have zip-wired or abseiled happily, but walking down those steep steps? No way, Jose, so I pretended to limp.

And then I walked; and sat; and coffeed; and visited ‘the sexiest wc in the world’; and ate grilled sardines which were too big and came back on me later; and I bought and sent some postcards; and coffeed; and sat; and chilled; and got leaflets for my next trip here (altho some ppl are suggesting ‘try another city before you find the one you want to retire to’); and watched the river do nothing; and much of my head cleared; and I had a toastie cos the sardines were still coming back; and watched some young people playing with a piece of street furniture which was like a large tablet (as in Apple etc) which allowed them to do graffiti on-screen and take selfies and stuff; and coffeed and chilled; and had my final custard tart of the day; and I went to bed to sleep……and that was Day Two. :D

Day Three arrived and the journey home beckoned. But I bought some t-shirts including one for my G/daughter and had a final tart and got a taxi to the airport. Compared with Wednesday night’s grump, this guy was good. I had seen so little of Lisbon with its wide avenues and fountains and statues on each roundabout (which reminds me I’m doing some prostate cancer presentations in East Kilbride later in April) and it’s just sooooo lovely. :)

I was at the airport. On my own. But I asked at TAP (Portugal Airlines) where the check-in was and she pointed to a wide range of check-in desks. Big queue but moving. So I joined it and was also moving. Check-in went fine until the words, ‘I need to explain something on your boarding pass? It says stand-by. Don’t worry. You’ll get a seat okay but we know the flight is over-booked but some people won’t be here. We’re going to upgrade frequent flyers of which you’re not one. You’ll be fine.’ :( :( :(

With heavy heart I walked to the Gate where I met some others on ‘standby’ and we spoke to a lady who said, ‘Just wait and you’ll be fine’ but it didn’t help when someone, who was tweeting, said ‘possibly get us to London and then transfer to flight to Manchester’. My tears were internal. It didn’t happen and we all got seats. It’s my luggage – a Calloway Golf Bag with no Pringle sweaters – I was worried about. Not me. Honest, guv.

The flight was fine but I must confess to a lapse; there was cold meat in the roll that passed for the ‘light meal’. It’s not ethical and according to Prochaska and di Clemente it happens (Yes as regards pescatarianism but, no, and to my great pride, never in my alcohol recovery). My tears were internal. :)

But we reached Manchester (Not Leeds. Not Bradford. Not London.) without any hassle and I did the walking thing between the two terminuses and the checking-in thing and then I sat in the hell that is Domestic Departures. I had a nice goat’s cheese salad but the guy next to me in the restaurant reminded me of what it used to be like in the days when I flew for the BBC – a gin’n’tonic; a starter; a bottle of wine; and a main course and that’s a good hour filled in before the flight.

And then came time to look for the Gate number and every Gate above and below Glasgow was getting filled. And my panic returns and my tears are there but barely holding on. And this voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium announces Gate 43 and it’s two minutes down the corridor and the Flybe rep starts to actually talk to us without the mic and he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium. We all look at each other as if to say ‘he really does have a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium.’

So we got on the plane and the stewardess asked if I would move from 11c to 10c and would I make myself acquainted with the instructions for opening the emergency door. In the event of an emergency I would be responsible. I trembled but was happy so to do. I spent the entire flight worrying, particularly as I could see a UFO that no-one else could – it turned out to be a light at the end of the wing. :)

And so, finally, dear listener we landed – safely – and within minutes I was re-united with my bag. My tears were external. At the cost of the taxi home from the airport. Jeez. But I was home.

Cya, still wearing that badge and having defo gone for it, * and I’m going to phone some folk rather than text them

Johnt850, feeling the need to constantly regenerate

So I had done what I wanted to do; I experienced a trip abroad. Lisbon was the vehicle; going and coming back were the destinations. I know some folk find it hard to understand but remind yourself that one of my best friends is an invisible bush kangaroo called Skippy and maybe it makes sense? My confidence is boosted. :)

Ciao…….oops wrong country

I was going to play ‘Don’t You Find’ by Jamie T but the lyrics are open to misinterpretation. So here’s the Reading Festival version of last year’s top hit – ‘Zombie’. Watch for the guy trying to take a selfie with the band!

It is better to have travelled and struggled that never to have travelled at all (me)

March 21, 2015

And so, dear listener, the week got off to such a good start. I had food with Missie K in the downstairs bit of Prince’s Square and over the course of a couple of gentle and lazy hours my world was put right; I ended up in holiday mood and I was given such good fishing advice. I am entitled to my views about the age of the fish but I should use a longer line and a bigger net :)

And Tuesday was just that kinda quiet organisational kinda day that you have before going away; putting out the rubbish, final packing and electronic check-in just to prove you’re hip to new technology in the grooviest kinda way. I was going to Lisbon with a connection at Manchester. :)

….and then it all went disastrously wrong….disastrously. :(

The taxi drive to the airport was fine altho’ my paranoia did kick in when the taxi driver talked about me being single and I replied ‘yes’ altho’ I didn’t tell him my life story – was he checking me out for his pals to break in when I wasn’t there? My fears went when he talked about how expensive it was to take his wife and two children to Pakistan every two or three years. I give him a good tip. ;)

The check-in was okay and I’d a wee side seat on my own at the side…….and we got up in the air and then the captain was speaking: ‘A lot of fog in the Manchester area and we are in a holding area but we have plenty of fuel (‘we’?).’ And we held and we circled and then came the announcement I’d been dreading. We weren’t going to Manchester but to Leeds/Bradford…….I would miss my connection. :(

Sitting on the tarmac at Leeds (or is it Bradford?) thinking of Lisbon.

Eventually a bus took us to the terminus. We hung around and I worried about my one piece of luggage still being somewhere when a door opened and out it fell. We hung around and then a strange bus turned up and this was ours….twenty minutes after we’d been told it was on its way. Further confusion as the driver refused to leave until somebody from the terminus had counted heads. It was only when a Glaswegian voice from the back threatened to take his off if he didn’t go soon, did he start the motor. I then did the bit where I looked behind me as well pretending to wonder whose voice it was.

We are tremendously lucky in Glasgow to have a motorway to and from the airport with its ability to connect with roads to the South, to the East and to Summerston. This one went through rural and urban byways and over bumpy roads; my texting my woes was less than adequate.

D’you remember, Dr W, the time you ran the marathon in Embra and we got on a bus* that took us from Musselburgh Primary School to Straiton Car Park where my car was? Well it was like that all the way to Manchester – nothing but people’s back gardens. *there’s something I’ve never told you about that bus…….. ;)

We got to Manchester and I took my bag to the international terminus I thought I’d be leaving from – only to be told I had to go back to the previous one and talk to the FlyBe desk (or at least the people behind it) and they would sort things out. So I went back and there was an enormous queue cos of the problems that Manchester had had that morning. :(

It took an hour and a half to get sorted and a letter of complaint will be going off and I got a food voucher so I was eating a baked potato with prawns at the time I should have been eating something a lot more exotic in Lisbon….but my phone was charging in some cleaner’s hoover socket beside me.

The flight to Lisbon was lovely and unbusy. The light meal was a filled roll with tuna and olives and a prune drink for afters. :D

I arrived; did all the check-out things including my first ever e-passport and collected my luggage. I knew where the taxis were and what roughly it would cost. The taxi marshall was organising the queue and I didn’t have to wait long. For a taxi whose driver did not speak English. This should not have been a problem as I had the name of my hotel on a sheet of paper and I knew it was in the City Centre off the Avenida da Liberdade. He ignored this and stabbed at the Sat Nav with the stub of a bookie’s pencil whilst drinking from a bottle of water and starting to take his leather jacket off. And then changing his mind. And putting it back on. And stabbing at the Sat Nav, ad infinitum. :( :( :(

And we made the Avenida and I’m saying ‘it’s over there’ but he drove round it twice and then asked fellow taxi drivers who said, ‘It’s over there,’ I arrived. At a perfectly clean and tidy hotel just off the main Avenue for £34 per night. Value. :)

I was tired but I thought I’ve lost my day; let’s go for a walk. So I did and round the corner from the hotel on the way to the Avenida was a ‘Peep Show and Sex Shop’.

I did not go in. I’ve been …….I’ll move on. To the Avenida. Stepping over the homeless in the doorways and telling a man who offered me some white pills that I didn’t want any. The brochure had described this area as ‘young and vibrant’ but I would say ‘seedy’.

I walked down various streets and rejected various offers of ‘try before you buy’ from various hash(ish) sales people. I think if I tried and declined, I would not be here just now. I don’t think I have ever knocked back so much hash in one night in my life (Skippy, that sentence doesn’t seem right…..) but I walked down to the river and I decided I was happy. :)

I had a cup of coffee and two custard tarts (nothing to do with the Peep Show next door) and went to bed. Smiling. I was in Lisbon. I had arrived.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

Johnt850 aka Mr Adventurer.

Next week, or maybe mid-week, I will tell you more about the other two days but to a certain extent, I was achieving what I wanted. It has been so long since I ventured abroad that I wanted a kinda practice and I don’t think I’ve ever done it on my own – always with someone or with a group. It was a learning experience.

But my thanks to Son Brian, my sis, e and Dr W for replying to texts so quickly…….they are used to my idiosyncratic ways and are so very patient………..

I also understand why holidays mean so much to people in my line of work. Fresh air – literal and metaphorical.

…at least no-one offered me Red Exodus or Black Mamba….it’s only time.

This is Martha and the Muffins…and the sax solo’s as good as Baker Street.

It was the sort of silence shared by two people who are comfortable enough not to force a conversation ahead of its logical progression (Wolf of Wall Street)

March 14, 2015

And so, dear listener, are you one of the hundreds of thousands who signed a petition calling for the re-instatement of Jeremy Clarkson without knowing the facts? There seems little doubt that there was a fracas over the lack of red meat at the end of a day’s ‘filming’ but the fact that it was eventually settled by the manager of the hotel cooking steak for the three presenters and not for the rest of the crew sums up, for me, the arrogance of the presenters.

I don’t like them and I don’t like the show. But, unfortunately for many, the right to free speech includes the right to cause offence and to be offended; otherwise both Frankie Boyle and Jim Davidson would be in prison. :D

And another presenter with an ego made the news this week (and please move on to the next paragraph if you hate a certain swear word altho’ as usual I will employ a cunningly inserted Asterix). John Inverdale is a man with such a big ego it was once said that he travelled the world so the world could see him.

Apparently (Sorry. I meant the paragraph after this) he talked about something being rose-c*nted rather than rose-t*nted. It is not a verbal aberration I can understand. It is not a malapropism (e.g. involving Jeremy *unt) nor is it even linked to roses. I may yet use it.

You can look again.

I once worked for a presenter who whipped me within an inch of my life cos his claret wasn’t at room temperature. I enjoyed it so much he never did it again.

Moving swiftly on, now that I’ve got all that out of my system.

Lisbon. Three days, two nights. In the ‘young and vibrant sector’ of the city. And I’ve printed out a Guardian article on ‘Lisbon’s new nightclubbing scene.’ Anything else I need to think about? :)

And I think when I return I will start fishing in different waters. Two replies this year and one of them was to block me. :(

And to those who have sleepless nights worrying about whether the fridge light does go off when the door is shut……does it effing matter? If you aren’t going to open the door to look for something in the refrigerator, then why do you care whether the light works or not? Or are you the kind of boss who tries to catch the fridge light out when it’s off? If you know what I mean.

And my car went in for a service this week. Well, not on its own obviously. I drove it there. (‘I went to the doctor this morning with my knee.’ ‘Oh, really? I normally detach mine and send it through the post’) And it badly needed a good servicing. (Skippy, it goes without saying, removed the next sentence on the grounds I sounded pathetic).

So it got one. And I paid. And I’m not sure why the conversation went down the road it did but we were talking about our respective jobs and my pay-off line was ‘I’d rather work with drunken Somalis than sell cars.’ The entire showroom laughed.

And finally, in the week when the Scottish party leaders sought credibility in a student hustings by confessing to the odd spliff in their student days, can I just say that I did no drugs – other than alcohol – at university. Anything and everything I may or may not have tried or taken, smoked or snorted, happened from my mid-thirties onwards, but that dear listener is a tale for another day……..and I always returned to alcohol.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it. In Lisbon. :)

Johnt850, I’ll get there. I might be very difficult at times but my heart’s in the right place.

As many of you know I was brought up in a town called Peterhead, part of the North East corner of Scotland that was thrown to the wolves that were the energy companies in the oil and gas heydays (sp) of forty years ago. A few days ago I saw a copy of a brochure about Peterhead harbours where I worked student holidays and immediately after graduation from my first degree.

There is a myth perpetuated by the rainforestriverman that I worked in the Harbourmaster’s Office and pimped for some of the local women who worked as prostitutes. I never worked in the Harbourmaster’s Office. It was the Collector of Shore Dues’ Office. And there was a drink in it for me.

In a small town like Peterhead, everyone knew your business. I once went with a girlfriend to the local GP’s to collect a prescription and my mother knew about it before I even got home. She was wondering what we were doing. And getting.

But the harbours were different. My father was well known but he had no idea of the netherworld that existed, particularly after the oil came to town. It was the first opportunity to create a life away from home even when still living there.

Maybe I should talk about it on another occasion, but one memory comes back. At the age of 20/21 I was in charge of a supply boat base at night if there was nothing scheduled to happen. I ran a tight base but one night a Russian sailor came to my eyrie and asked to phone home (Moscow). Technically I shouldn’t have allowed him and there were problems in making the connection, but he had an answer to the waiting time. A bottle of vodka.

Well the night passed fairly quickly. (Where did that oil rig come from? It wasn’t there when I started shift) and I rolled home about 8 o’clock – shift finished……and as I entered the family home, I uttered those words which every young person says when they go home; ‘I’m just going to bed. I’m tired.’…at 8 in the morning!…….Was there a lesson to be learned even then?

This is/these are the Kings of Leon.

Waiting for the fire to light Feeling like we could do right Be the one that makes tonight ‘Cause freedom is a lonely road We’re in control (Calvin Harris)

March 6, 2015

And so, dear listener, I was recently in a road rage incident with painful consequences. To be honest, I think we were both at fault. She had double-parked (with hazard warning lights on) in a fairly wide street in lower Hyndland; I had let some approaching cars go past and then there was a space and the next car flashed its lights, so I thought I was good to go.

But I wasn’t. It kept coming. I think I did okay by just knocking her driver’s mirror but she was after me. So I stopped. Now, I was ready to give my side of the story once we had started speaking BUT my driver’s door wouldn’t open. So she had to open it for me thus giving her a major advantage. So I listened and I apologised but she had her point to make.

And the ‘painful consequences’? Her final words……’you’d think at your age you’d know better.’ :( :( :(

So if you think that last week my self-esteem was low down, you ain’t heard nothing yet. :( :( :(

My writing is so bad that, at the project where I work, I have been told to print things. I recently had to ask on fbook if anyone knew what I was doing on 21st April cos all I could make out was D (and as it turned out to be a female name that was quite embarrassing) and then there was Lisa.

I’m friendly with two or three of the Post Grads at the most recent Alma Mater (and yes, they are female). On Monday I mentioned to them that I was meeting someone who had spoken to them last week called Lisa (as well as Keiran). No, came the well-informed reply, there was no Lisa. I looked again at my notes and two minutes later I realised…….It was L129. NOT LISA. It was the room number.

‘Have you got out the wrong side of bed?’ they politely asked. ‘No’, I said. ‘The wrong side of the car,’ I explained. ‘I had to crawl over to the passenger side and get out that way.’

Which isn’t really a problem, is it? Except that I seemed to keep switching the radio on without turning a key when I transferred seats. However, I have a jacket which has got those toggly, stringy bits that you tie together when it’s raining. I had shut the door on the string and couldn’t get the door to open. Pure panic!

So somehow I had to take my jacket off. Which was not easy. It has been a long time, dear listener, since I took clothes off in a Clio. And certainly not in the ASDA car park. That I can remember. And then emerge from the passenger side in torrential rain and go and open the driver’s door and get the jacket.

Can I just say that the jacket is one of those sailor-type ones which I picked up in a Byres Road charity shop but the zip wasn’t working. £6 to a sweat shop at the top of Crow Road and it was.

And then there was the problem of the water being off. I looked at the Scottish Water website and saw that the affected area was Bearsden, which meant it affected us as well but they don’t like to say Summerston in the same sentence. My shift that night had been changed with my approval from 9.30 pm to 8 am to being from 8 pm to 6.30 am – a good shift. However I do like a shower before I go out. The tap gurgled hopefully but by 6.30 pm I could wait no more – the Pyrex jug was used to pour a medium warm daud of water over my head……Thirty minutes later, there was a full stream of consciousness cascading through the taps…..

And finally, I did watch Cannabis Live on 4OD and apart from seeing a former BBC colleague called Mylo who is now a top music producer(altho’ BBC Scotland had used him as an Assistant Audience Researcher), I was left with quite a few thoughts; Richard Branson saying that without cannabis some music might have been a lot shorter (come on…. Tubular Bells made you a fortune); why would you go into an MRI Scanner when you’re stoned and apprehensive? And where are Jenny Bond’s ‘pleasure centres’? :) :) :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it

Johnt850, a wee bit apprehensive about the future – again.

So the phone went and I was on the train and it was the general BBC number and the guy at the other end said he had come across my phone number as a ‘cancer survivor’ on their database and would I be interested in taking part on the end of a phone in BBC Radio Scotland’s Morning Call on the subject of how you feel after you’re given an All-Clear from cancer. And I said, YES.

It’s something I’ve spoken about a lot. The time when people who have come through the cancer are at their most vulnerable is when they get the All Clear. Up to that point they’ve had the benefit of those fabulously fabulous people at the NHS; family and friends have been with them all the way; and they know there will be sunshine when they get the All Clear.

No. There ain’t no sunshine. But a whole life to re-build and an identity to re-establish. It’s a wee bit like coping with life after alcohol. But there is life out there.

You have no idea of the pride with which I answered Louise White, the presenter, when she asked whether you would know whether I was a cancer survivor. No, I said, I work with the homeless; am applying for a PhD; and abseiled down the Titan crane with the good Dr W (except I gave W her Sunday name)

I have felt a bit of a pest recently for all sorts of reasons but, I’m afraid that’s me for the rest of my life. I’ve changed identity too often.

The band’s called All Time Low and it’s a long time since I’ve been there. I’m on the way back up. It’s Central Station all over again!!!!!

Go not where the path may lead…go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (anon)

February 28, 2015

And so, dear listener, I am leaving the country. It’s something I have been considering for some time and I think those people to whom I’ve spoken appreciate my feelings. New challenges; new people; new beginnings*. :)

Altho’ that might be asking too much from a couple of days in Lisbon in March.

(*No. I know. I’ve never had an old beginning either).

It’s been years since I’ve been abroad – well over ten – and it’s time to put that right. So a couple of days later in March have been booked. Flights early from Glasgow via Manchester to Lisbon and back early afternoon a couple of days and getting back to Glasgow at night. It’s an alright hotel slap bang in the middle of Lisbon’s ‘young and vibrant’ quarter so that’ll be interesting. :)

Unlike me. I think many people are now finding me boring. Maybe it’s the blog but it’s my hobby. I could never ever play golf for four to five hours every Sunday morning with the same three people. Maybe it’s just me. I enjoy meeting people but if they’re too busy then I do understand and that’s not me ‘guilt tripping’ (which is a phrase I hate) or being deliberately sad….it’s life. :)

There are some people obvs excluded from that even if, Dr W, our conversations are about quotation marks. You’ll have noticed I didn’t reply to that last mail for some time……it was a lot to take in. Okay. I fell asleep for an hour. Do you have views on the Oxford Comma? Here’s a lovely song about it.

And Blogmeister, I’ll be in touch later this week. The new rota’s out.

There’s a lot about to happen in my life and to my house and the sun is out and the sap is rising (is that an innuendo?) and the mighty Harry Wraggs are, as ever, unpredictable..

[Incidentally why don’t I give you my name and password and you can choose and write one for me?]

Many years ago, a BBC colleague wrote a dating message for me that went into the List – jolly interesting results. Maybe it’s time again. I still walk past that flat. And smile.

I think it’s the small things that are doing my head in. I’m getting my bathroom gutted soon and the bath is being replaced by a shower. It’ll happen in a couple of months. Today the toilet handle broke. Now, do I replace it? Obvs, yes but it’s annoying.

For some reason I have two ‘cash in the wall’ cards and I thought they had the same number. I lost them both this morning. One is for my current account; the other is for a savings account….Get Thee Behind Satan. The idea is that I don’t touch that account.

And why did my son send me photos in OneDrive with the message ‘all you need to do is download them to another folder’? It took me twenty-four hours of banging my head against a brick wall [but not Chinese accountants] until he told me, ‘No, you download them as individual pics.’ On Wednesday I took some photos of a smashing dog, stuck a cable in my camera and in my laptop, switched on the camera and named a folder…..(I’ll say more about the dog another time. Early days yet) and was able to send some pics back to the dog’s owner and one other……..(e, it was another dog owner who may occasionally feature in my conversations from time to time)

So maybe I’m fed up and a bit at a loose end. But I feel busy. Maybe if I was 9 – 5 it’d be different. But the editing keeps irregular hours as well.

But finally, even the irregular hours which suit sometimes go against me. I got a mail on Saturday lunchtime between two sleeps for two shifts (from a regular) saying, ‘Here’s 4,000 words. Can I have them back on Sunday night?’To which I replied, ‘No. Too short notice.’ See me? See masterful ;) And as I get rady to publish this on a Sunday afternoon, there has been no reply. Maybe he thought Johnt850’s a good guy and has been playing golf :)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

Johnt850 (who’s not usually a moaning git) :)

Y’see someone who I know well but will remain anonymous was kinda challenging some of the blog’s ethos (the cancer and the alcohol) but also the fact that neither of these are real considerations in my life these days. I just don’t drink alcohol (maybe I’d meet more people if I did?) and I’ve no reason to expect the cancer to come back (the evil bastard will make up its own mind) and I’m neither impotent nor incontinent (the two big worries why some men don’t go for treatment)…..and that’s fair comment….about the blog.

And then I got a call from one of my Post Grad mates teaching nurses in South Lanarkshire. Any chance I could talk to a couple of her classes about my cancer and the answer is Yes…..altho’ I did tell Prostate Cancer UK that I was ’too busy’ to do talks.

Naw. I was lucky with both my lifestyle hiccups. Plus professional help. Others may not be so lucky. And I do it with humour. :) I’m getting happy again. :D

I noticed that Sam Smith, who has a brilliant voice, is being described as a soul singer. He’s not. Otis Redding was. It’s a lovely video. It’s a record shop and it’s vinyl.

Take a hand and hold on tight, ‘Cause this is what we’ll do. We’ll stick together. I’m what you need to take (you) there. I can’t feel this, I can’t feel this (Twin Atlantic)

February 21, 2015

And so, dear listener, this week I broke the habits of a recent lifetime and watched Eastenders – the live edition. Some of the people with whom I work watch it and also some folk on fbook so I thought why not? I was able, at the same time, to monitor events at Celtic Park so my plan was to remain seated for more than ten minutes, e. ;)

It was the thirtieth anniversary so we had the throwback to the very first minute of the very first edition when some extra was found dead when, this time round, Nick, who I thought was already dead, was found dead. By men wearing dinner jackets in a way which was meant to be redolent of Agatha Christie and the denoument (sp) was bound to be announced in a drawing room with men and women wearing that type of clothing.

Meanwhile Celtic had lost two early goals. :(

And there were faces of people who I thought had previously left to make their fame and fortune in Hollywood but had obviously decided to decline it and others who had names of people who used to be in the programme but looked nothing like themselves.

At least the Lisbon Lions looked like themselves. :)

And a baby was born and Cath Beale showed up in a taxi and Danny Dyer out Chuck-Norrised Chuck Norris but the ‘face in the cake’ gag was very poor (difficult to do live…..…trust me) and the doofs doofs came in with Jane from Waterloo Road obviously the culprit. And I concentrated totally on an enthralling game of football as it was obvious that the Celtic players had been waiting for the result from Albert Square before they started playing. :)

Which leaves me with the one question I had to ask when I actually heard;

‘Who the f*ck is Bobby Beale?’

The rainforestriverman was up for the game and we went for coffee. Or so I thought. We were actually recce-ing (sp) an Italian restaurant where he was planning to take some important people later that day. And, e if you think I can’t sit down for more than ten minutes, you should have seen him as he inspected the toilets, the menu, the wine list and the toilets.

But his opening gambit to the waiter did not bode well.

‘Are you Italian?’ ‘No. I’m Egyptian.’ DOOF DOOF!!!!!

(Whatever happened to OZcabs?)

And the good Dr W and I almost had our first adventure of the year. (Not that your party wasn’t an adventure, Zoe. I had never been to the car park of the Carousel Bar at Bellshill Cross before and that’s the second time I’ve found my way to Glasgow from there and anything which extends my knowledge of Bellshill can only be good. There was a time, not that long ago, that the only way I knew to get to Bellshill involved driving into the Bothwell Service Station, going through the car park and out the other end driving the wrong way down a one way street but that was before……..)

Anyway, the good Dr W and I almost had our first adventure of the year. It didn’t happen but it will and I have some ideas I need to research. What is canyoning? And where does it happen? And is there is a decent restaurant next to it? That caters for vegans and pescatarians? And there are questions that need, not be asked, but answered. :P

(That’s almost too cryptic for me and I write this stuff.

And finally, I had intended to write a serious treatise on the situation in Greece and its impact on DOOF DOOF!!!!!!

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

Johnt850, who did recently bang his head against a brick wall and has the mark to show for it. Or is that a third eye coming through?

[Chinese accountants]

So I was in contact with some folk, recently, discussing Channel 4’s Jon Snow’s plan to ‘smoke skunk’ on TV so we can see its effects and I was explaining that there is a saying in addiction work and research – ‘the drug, the set, the setting’. It means that no drug in itself is problematic or really good. It also depends on the mood you’re in and the environment. An apprehensive 67 year old ‘smoking skunk’ for the very first time and being filmed doing so is not an accurate reflection of using a drug.

Dropping acid in a certain club in Glasgow on a Saturday night with your pals and you’re ‘up for it’ has a totally different effect from dropping a tab on your own on a boring Sunday afternoon. I am told. By a friend. And it wasn’t something someone had once given me earlier in the week and I’d not yet had the courage to use.

That’s why when I go out, my drug is orange juice, my mood is to enjoy myself and my environment is with friends (or occasionally one) who keep getting me up to dance. And I do (but I need to practise the locomotion!)

That’s why it’s not a disease but a form of behaviour which we can change – sometimes fairly easily – but if you’re running an over-priced clinic you don’t want people to know that, do you?

And now for tonight’s final DOOF DOOF!!!!!

So I was having a case of moaning, griping and bitching. So the good Dr W recommended a solution to my problems……’Man The Fuc* Up’ (Adopted from Anon)

February 14, 2015

And so dear listener, something annoyed me this week and that’s an unusual start for me to the show. Sometimes I catch Channel 4 News if I’m about to go out to work and recently they’ve been kidding on that Michael Crick is somehow Hunter S Thompson, but not only have they got their Fear and Loathings mixed up, there will never be any chance that they can cover a campaign like Hunter S Thompson did. :)

Is this Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or is this Channel 4 News?

Is this Michael Crick or Johnny Depp as Hunter S Thompson as Raoul Duke?

Right. I feel better for that. The rant. Not the drug collection.

And I actually have read Fifty Shades of Incredibly Bad Writing. However, I am eternally glad for its publication (and now the movie) as I no longer have to remove Redtube and Pornhub from my Browser History every ….eh, every so often……. :(

It’s interesting cos I’ve never really been asked much about my ‘bad days’ as a lot of people, who always associated me with the BBC and being a good but estranged dad and because it came as a surprise to them that I had an alcohol problem, have never really asked about my Maryhill and West End life at that time. A lot happened which I very rarely talk about – unless asked. If things had not gone as well as they have done, then much of that behaviour (what I can remember) would have brought shame and certain consequences upon me and my family. I am more than happy to answer questions.

Let’s move on.

I well remember my first ever BDSM gag… (What’s that Skippy?) I well remember my first ever BDSM joke.

Did you hear about the masochist who liked a cold shower every morning? So he didn’t take one.

And as I write this, I realise that I will not be seeing I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse on BBC 3 but will be watching it on iPlayer – but they won’t be half as good as we were and, indeed, will be later this year. :)

And early finally, I’ve been talking to a few folk about various things recently that I’ve not had the chance to talk about; for example I was at a workshop/conference café about the homeless which was really good (but it was immediately after a nightshift so I’m afraid I never made it to Firhill on Wednesday night to see them getting gubbed by Celtic) and it was held in the not-that-long-ago-refurbished Maryhill Burgh Halls which, if you ever need a venue in the North West of Glasgow, is superb. Very light, very airy and very close to where I live. It was the first time for a long time, I’d been sharing views with other support workers and high heid yin housing people and some service users.

And I’ve been out to the old primary school in Paisley for all sorts of reasons and working and…….it’s been a good week for talking drink, drugs and homeless with people in the field and in the lecture theatre………and whilst I keep saying that legal highs is the bastard, I do have to explain to people that they are legal despite the damage they can do…….we can’t really be sure what’s in them. And, no, they’re not advertised. They are a perfect example of word of mouth.

But it’s been something else that folk have been talking to me about – and again it’s perfectly legal but is popular among young(er) people;

Wow! I used to have to mix up my own serving of vodka and caffeine. Now it comes in cans; a wee bit like those cans of Gordon’s Gin and Tonic that posh people take on picnics – or on one occasion during my brief period of involvement with Beavers – to Beavers’ days out at Auchengillan Scout Camp. (Mmmmm…teaching people to tie knots…what were they thinking of?) ;)

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it

Johnt850 (or Violet Wand to his friends)

So kinda mixed news on Friday which I will come back to soon time but big thanks to the good Dr W for her help and encouragement (see above) but time may now be against me :( ………but I will keep trying. It’s left me a wee bit down hence the early finish. Continuity will cover.

So I’ve done the heavy stuff above but there is a major point of debate on PhD circles that worries me. It’s called the VIVA and it’s a kinda question and answer session at the end of the journey about some of the things that have come up during the research. Everyone I know, including the good Dr W, super(visor) Claire and Jenny H pronounce it VYVA.

These are the Dead Kennedys. They know what they’re talking about;

‘…..and it also gives us a good chance to make the quarter finals of this (Scottish Cup) competition’ (the Thistle manager before yesterday’s defeat)

February 7, 2015

And so dear listener, my very good friend, the Rainforestriverman was in Barbados last week and was then invited by a sponsor to the Old Firm game at the national stadium with the grotesque grass pitch; I was in Bellshill cos I’d been invited to Zoe’s eighteenth birthday party at the five-a-side football pitches in Bothwell Road Hamilton. A close call but I think I got the better deal.

He and I weren’t quite separated at birth but…hey, hang on, that would make sense. No. No reason. I’ll move on. Of course……. ;)

Anyway I drove out to the good Dr W’s palatial mansion and from there she and I went and picked up some of the zombies (from Outbreak Zombie) who had been invited and we set off in convoy, me keeping my eyes on the good Dr W. From behind. Ah, the memories of Go Ape that brought back. She had someone, who knew where we were going, navigating for her. Who didn’t drive. So we followed the bus route. But we got there. :)

My heating had packed up it seemed but it got a jolt from a bump in the road as we passed by the doggers in Strathclyde Park (or possibly over them) and it started working again. It’s since done that a couple of times but I seem to have found the bit in the dashboard that I need to hit to get it going again. :)

(The location for the party seems to be called Lucozade Powerleague and is one of those places, blogmeister, where they play football wrapped in bubblestuff and I’d be up for that but we’d need lots of water and lots of substitutes)

So we arrived and my only complaint of the night happened – I wasn’t age ID’d on the way in. It was a smashing night. Food was good and lots of it (with veg pakora thoughtfully provided for us fussy eaters) and drink was drank and dancing was done and selfies were taken and Zoe got lots of presents.

Ah, yes, the dancing was good:

(Thanks Graeme)

And then we (the zombies) left. To go elsewhere. Or as they know it in Bellshill – the Carousel Bar at the Cross.

Again I followed W’s rear. And then she turned right! ‘No! Straight on!’ came the cry from the backseat. Now to be honest, I wasn’t too sure who I had in the backseat (or indeed how many) but such is the nature of the Zombie fellowship that I trusted them and we arrived in the car park of the Carousel and I turned down the invitation of the drink but got a nice hug……and I found the road home to Glasgow safely. :)

And sent the txt that that was me ‘home safe’. A night of new experiences and a bunch of people that have become part of my life.

Soon time there is a programme coming to BBC3 called ‘I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse’ – I bet any money that in the three nights week for five weeks last October the Zombies at M & D’s in Strathclyde Park were ten times scarier…….Happy Birthday Zoe…..x :D

(Oh and I discovered a DVD in a drawer (of mine) the other day called ‘Zombie Women of Satan’. I’ll maybe watch it soon time and let you know what it’s like)

Elsewhere I also investigated Port Glasgow. I was meeting up with some alcohol and drug information workers to discuss some aspects of the PhD stuff. Why is it that every time I drive down that way they seem to have added another roundabout and altered the direction it goes in? And they kept the original roundabouts so wherever you get the instructions from (SatNav or AA Route Planner) it becomes very confusing.

So can I apologise to the driver of a sliver grey 4 x 4 big car thing? No. I had already stopped after I realised you were going for the same turning as me but you had indicated the left turning previous to that. Must be reassuring to know your brakes work so well. And I misunderstood the final direction for the Wellpark Centre and found myself driving towards Kilmacolm on a road that shouldn’t have been wide enough for a U-Turn. But it was. A good afternoon and again I got home safely but didn’t text.

And finally, the news that Public Health England has urged supermarkets to move daffodils away from the fruit and veg because they’re dangerous if eaten has left me speechless.

Cya, still wearing that badge and defo going for it.

Johnt850, still worried about if a man or a chimpanzee would win in a fair fight.

So, one of the other plots in Eastenders (which I don’t watch but occasionally see bits of when working) concerns an old man dying of prostate cancer (at least I think that’s where the plot’s heading).

It’s now almost six years since I started the second half of my treatment for the same cancer. The first half was having oestrogen jagged into me to kill the testosterone which feeds the cancer (and I still have the bosom to show how powerful it was).

I had two months of daily radiography and I can honestly say that the guys (and gals) with whom I shared Treatment Area C were amongst the funnest people I have ever spent any time with and were one of the reasons this blog was started. None of us wanted to be there but we made up for it with a form of gallows humour which made my time down there so much easier……No. It would be nice to see a soap that reflected what is on offer to help people with problems but they don’t do it with alcohol and other drug issues so why should cancer be any different?

So Sheena Easton or Teenage Fanclub or Soup Dragons or BMX Bandits? It has to be BMX Bandits with a long haired Duglas T Stewart – Bellshill’s second finest…..


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