‘All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.’ (Norman Maclean)

January 13, 2017

And so dear listener, the new year moves on and some decisions have been made. I plan, for example, to continue to keep it simple – but is that a decision? The move to day-time working continues and a wee bit more of what I’ll miss about working nights will get highlighted later….and I need your help in the matter of holidays. Please.

Y’see, whilst I enjoyed my couple of days in Lisbon a couple of years ago for the novelty if nothing else, there did come a cup of single person coffee in a café overlooking the river when I thought, ‘Okay, maybe Tinderbox in Byres Road or Prince’s Square doesn’t have the same view but it’s one helluva lot easier to get to…’ or similar. 🙂

I don’t think I’m much of a lone traveller anyway and I did get out of the holiday habit some time ago. It’s a bit of a freelance thing where you worry about missing out on work but I always found meeting new people – journalistically or otherwise – gives me a real lift anyway. (That’s actually meeting people and not looking at a menu of sixteen suggested matches where I still feel guilty if I look at a profile and not then send a message)

So I woke up one morning dead early and thought I’m just going to go and find somewhere in the UK where I can go and just say ‘some weather, eh?’ and they’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂

I mentioned this at a board meeting with e later that day (Tinderbox in Byres Road since you ask) and her suggestion made a lot of sense; rather than a posh country house hotel with large swimming pool which I wouldn’t use or a remote island where the only attraction is the local distillery and its product, ‘why don’t you consider an activity/residential holiday?’

And this is where you, the listener, comes in. I am looking for suggestions. 😉

Bear in mind that I don’t swim (never really learned to) and I don’t cycle (somewhere during Cold Turkey and the nine/ten day stay in hospital, I lost a large part of my balance and whilst I was able to overcome certain fears in absailing and zipwiring, I think there would still be an unsteadiness in activities like cycling)

But other than that I am pretty liberal in my thoughts. I have started a list but only the beginnings of one. Buddhist retreat? Maybe. Learn to paint with watercolours? Perhaps. Being taken in by a complete stranger? Interesting. And you don’t have to come with me but it is a blank sheet of paper on the computer screen………..

And on the question of holidays, I seem to have to take a lot of time off in lieu (TOIL) or actual Annual Leave before the end of March, so I am available for so many things –  including overtime……..my diary is possibly the most flexible it’s been for some time. I’m jt850/iaint850, try me. And I’ll possibly keep you posted on suggestions. 🙂

And so to the night shifts. I have one more rota’d shift and then I become established part-time days, which mean working two-three shifts of varying durations (6, 7 or 8 hours) between seven in the morning and ten at night and with a totally different set of responsibilities.

And I mentioned last week problems associated with agency, irregular part-time hours and zero hours contracts and their effect on people’s lives. It’s not just that I can’t get to the football cos I’m working; it’s cos I was working the night before and the sleazebag capitalists who run the world have brought forward the kick-off time of Thistle’s home game to 12.15 and I get to my bed at 8.30 in the morning and sleep though my eleven o’clock alarm and wake up at 11.30 and it’s just too late to get to the game…….Quality of life?

Or a single parent who doesn’t know if she’ll get enough hours to pay for Christmas presents for her children. 😦

But more of that another time.

Will I miss anything about working nights?

Y’mean like watching people pour out of the various pubs and clubs in the area at three in the morning and gaze  in wonderment at how the pre-booked private hire taxis somehow manage to find their fares even though they’re miles away from the Southside or Kirkintilloch or Paisley?

Or taking full bin bags round to the big bins in the alleyway around the corner at about five in the morning and having to apologise to a courting couple for interrupting them?

Or the night early one Monday morning when there was a feeling of pure evil in that part of Glasgow city centre (can evil be pure?) when bottles were broken on deserted streets, when the taxi drivers stayed in their cabs rather than coming out to chat and I felt the need to team up with a worker from a project round the corner to visit those aforementioned bins?

It was a night when Stephen King’s fog visited Glasgow and was scared off.

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple into 2017 🙂

Iaint850, who missed his first Gaelic lesson of the year cos of work commitments (or overtime as it’s known)

And I’m close to using up my word count so I’ll just introduce the latest in the series of acts I’d not heard of before until someone introduced me to them

This is Be Charlotte and I’ll let her explain herself.

‘If I do not tell you that I am a person in long-term recovery, you have no idea. If you have no idea, then you are missing out on an opportunity to receive the hope that recovery happens.’ (Addaction)

January 5, 2017

And so dear listener, I have started 2017 later than most and genuinely did not know what day of the week it was a few days ago and whilst this may have been the case for many Hogmanay revellers, for me it was slightly different. Let me explain.

Last Saturday (Hogmanay) I signed in for a twelve hour shift on 31/12/2016. At five to seven the next morning, I’m still signing things with the date 31/12/2016. The next shift? Well, they’re well ahead of me and my co-worker. They can use the date 01/01/2017. Already I’m eight hours and one year behind the rest of the world!

And I have two more twelve hour shifts, with some sleep between, and, suddenly, it’s Wednesday…I think. 😦

And even if I do go out for fresh air, then it feels like most of the rest of the world is on holiday. Oh, hang on; they were. Now, this is not a complaint; this is an observation. And, yes, I have chosen to do this job and I enjoy it and at no time do I get annoyed at teachers on social media who post about their drunken exploits during the holidays and then complain about going back to work after two weeks off but some other people I know who also had a couple of weeks off really deserved it. No. No names. No reason. 😉

I did okay with holidays in the run up to Christmas and, indeed, presents. 😀

Indeed, (obviously today’s word) as a consequence, I have decided to start collecting curtain tassles. And why not? (And I said that in that really butch voice I am so uncomfortable with) 😉

But there’s a few things worth mentioning here.

For example, there’s been lots of studies over the years about the effect that long-term night-shift can have on people’s lives (I typed ‘loves’ there. I should maybe have left it) but little has been said about the effects of agency working and irregular part-time work and the effects they can have other than highlighting the financial aspects – there are other issues.

And at this point I would like to make the point that some organisations out there  are very good when dealing with irregular workers and the organisation I work for is one of them. In my days as a relief worker when I was offered a shift and I accepted it was for the full shift and guaranteed unless there was significant change in circumstances. Training was available, the wages were good and things like holiday pay happened.

But it’s in things like the planning of your life. That constant looking at your phone just in case that text is actually offering you a shift and you don’t want to miss it. 😦

You don’t need a diary (you’re scared to put anything in it anyway) because every date is in your brain anyway and you know when you are unavailable for cups of coffee. The flexibility that my current and future rotas offer me is good but I find it strange that I can take holidays or go sick and still get paid for it – but that’s the freelance in me.

I have booked a long weekend in March and I really should be planning to go away (any suggestions? Any volunteers?) but hang on; that’s a busy time for editing and I don’t want to let anyone down…..

(I must do a good job for people as one man this week paid me 50% more than I asked for but that doesn’t happen often).


But times and timing have always been important to me. I don’t often talk about the weeks before Cold Turkey but I knew something was up when I turned up on the wrong day for a doctor’s appointment….(that and the shaking and sweating until I got a whisky inside me)…..I don’t do that. I used to be the producer of live radio programmes which relied on people getting into studios all over the world at an agreed time.

And finally how long do chocolate bees last before they come to the end of their useful lives and need putting down?

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

Iaint850, as cool as, man, as cool as…….

So a wee bit, if I may, about the quote at the top.

I was delighted during the week to read that Kevin Kennedy (Curly in Coronation Street) had not had an alcoholic drink for eighteen years and that Clare, his wife, was doing really well as well. Kevin uses AA as a means ‘to stay safe’ and is often asked for help (I would say ‘occasionally’ where I’m concerned) and runs a charity called Kennedy Street offering help. However, I get the impression that what has made all the difference to him and his wife is this;

‘His daughters Katie-May, 12, and Grace, nine, by his wife Clare – who he reconciled with after getting sober – have never seen him touch a drop of alcohol.’

Other people may find other reasons. For me it’s having a clear brain all the time – not that I use it all the time, but at least it’s there.

I suspect that Kevin and I would disagree over whether alcohol dependency is a behaviour or a disease but we both share the pressures of boredom or nothing on the TV (I go for a walk which I will be doing more of as I attempt to lose girth) and we both have to be in the right mood before we go into a pub (but it didn’t help the other night when my companions got nice mixer glasses for their vodka and cokes or irn-bru and I got a massive tumbler of orange juice. That was soooo off-putting)

He and I are both very lucky with many really good friends but I’m better looking. 🙂

This is a very difficult song to sing (it’s the breathing) and this is an amazing version by Caravan Palace who played it on Jools Holland. It’s Black Betty. It’s brilliant.

‘I’ve always known that I had this strong inner camp. I’ve just never quite revealed it in this way’ (Ed Balls on his Strictly experience and my quote of the year)

December 28, 2016

And so dear listener we come to that long anticipated moment in the year when it’s time for the Blog Personality of the Year. I think this is the seventh such show but I do know that I never ever thought that the blog would run for – coming up to – eight years. It was basically designed as a way of keeping people up to date on the progress of my cancer treatment but it seems to have just kept going – with a will of its own. 🙂

I have never kept records so I’m not too sure who or what has won the various categories in the past but I do know that only one actual person has won the Personality Award and she was three at the time – and she actually got a prize, which was a kite. Which reminds me, e…….. 😉

And last year’s winner was the little house on the prairie for burning incense that J had brought back from Canada, which indicates the high standard of award. 🙂

Anyway I see the stretch limos are pulling up; the guests are in their finery; and the sea bass is to die for.

So, strike up the Strumpets, Skippy and let’s get started.

Let’s start with the Team of the Year Award. At one point, earlier in the year, a group of women called the Johnstone Jaunters were the main contenders but since I first met them, I’ve not been to Johnstone and, therefore, I’ve not jaunted there either. Nothing to do with them as they are an exceedingly nice bunch of people, but the best-laid plans….but a promise is a promise, Patricia and Sharon, so I will be back. 😀

But I’ve since made contact with another group of like-minded people and it’s been fun. I think there will be a serious side to things come the new year but, in the meantime, I would like to say a big thanks to the people in my Gaelic class, so I will;

Tapadh leibh tha thu ann an Sgioba na Bliadhna

They are the Team of the Year and I hope the fun continues. 😀

A couple of years ago, I introduced a (musical) Track of the Year Award and it went to Zombie by Jamie T and last year it went to  Come On and Dance by Walk the Moon. This year I, with various good friends, went to a few gigs and they were all good….including seeing Kris Kristofferson at Celtic Connections – which reminds me…..someone has still to look at this year’s brochure

And I’ll be mentioning Alabama 3 quite a lot – later.

But seeing the Waterboys was brill….and their version of Purple Rain was amazing. Their very special rendition of that in the Chris Evans’ studio will be the piece that plays us out at the end of the show. As a radio producer, I was always amazed at how many people (and instruments) you could get into a radio studio and what you see is not unusual. So Purple Rain by the Waterboys is the Track of the Year.

And so dear listener, we come to the Lifetime Achievement Award and it’s something I don’t have to give any reason for awarding it other than to say I was overwhelmed by the number of votes that came in for this person. I think it’s her Big Sky philosophy that has made such a difference to so many people’s lives (well, me and Skippy) and her kindness in opening my garden earlier this year. So, ladies and gentlemen, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to

J…….and it is soooo well deserved. 🙂

So we move to the Personality Award itself and we’ll do it in traditional 3-2-1 fashion.

In Third Place, is somewhere I had not visited for a long time but I had a marvellous time walking around the island of Cumbrae with five marvellous women and it was just a lovely day and I felt quite a special achievement for us all….the chips in Largs just being part of it….. :)……

And then I have a problem. For the first time ever, there is a tie for First Place with an equal number of votes cast for each contender. And there is nothing in the rules to allow for this situation…..So I tossed Skippy in the air and she came down on both her head and her tail….so it is a tie for First Place, for the first time ever.

So, please step forward to the podium,

The Bees, a fabulous book by Laline Paull, and the amazing Alabama 3 who happened to turn up in Glasgow on the tenth anniversary of my Cold Turkey (and thanks to whoever ‘up there’ arranged the whole night) 😀

The Bees changed much of my reading habits as I’d been much more of an angsty reader in my various selections but The Bees is a book written to give pleasure purely from the act of reading – no WhoDunnit where you try and out-do the detective or ghost-written sports autobiography where you learn of how the hero overcame so much to become a upper sports hero – but neither of these will ever out-do the achievements of Flora 717. 🙂

The book also gave rise to a bee backpackers’ hostel on my back fence and a chocolate bee which is currently sitting on my dining table.

And, at Kris Kristofferson earlier this year, at one point he seemed to call out the name of my companion and said, ‘this one’s for you.’ Watching A3 with the same companion, I felt they were all for me and everyone and anyone who has ever been through that spiritual process known as recovery.

And so dear listener, this has been one of the closest contests for years and every vote did count so thanks to all those who voted but if your favourite didn’t make it, well there’s always next year.

For me much happened last year including anxiety and depression and a new car but I owe so much to my amazing friends – not all of whom are women. Next year already promises interesting times as, apart from anything else, I start to work part-time days as opposed to part-time nights. I also intend to stay as friend with all those who’ll have me – even with all my idiosyncracies. 😉

And if I have one revolution for the new year, it is to get back to the fitness and girth size that got me round Millport all those months ago.

Feasgar Math, Iaint850

(And it may be one of those occasions when you have to actually click on the link)




‘We close on Monday or) Tuesday 27th) My 3 sisters come from Korea. I miss them ten years. thanks’ (A genuine sign on a dry cleaner’s in Glasgow…isn’t that lovely?)

December 21, 2016

And so dear listener, this is possibly your favourite edition of the show; it’s the one that shamelessly plagiarises the pages of the Daily Telegraph and gives you, the listener, the opportunity to be the life and soul of the party.  It’s the Christmas Cracker edition which will give you a wee bit of a laff and I will obviously intersperse these jokes (?) with the odd comment to real people and then next week it’s the Blog Personality of the Year Awards.

Here goes.

Q What is the best Christmas present in the world?

A A broken drum, cos you just can’t beat it!

And J I’m really pleased we went to that place early for the exchange of presents. I mean, we were lucky to get a seat………(I think most people will be able to guess the ending to that one!) 🙂

(You get the idea?)

Q What do you call a cat in the desert?

A Sandy Claws

And Missie K I do hope I didn’t embarrass you in Tinderbox the other day by showing you how Alabama 3 move and groove live on stage – a shimmy to the left and a shimmy to the right and repeat – and, indeed, I do hope, J, that I didn’t embarrass you by doing that the other night – for real.

(What would I do without Princes Square for entertaining in town?)

Q What do angry mice send to each other at Christmas?

A Cross Mouse Cards

And Debs, No, I haven’t done that risk assessment. In fact given the amount of shredding I’ve done since the end of the SVQ I’m not sure if I’ve even got it. Oooops.

Do you bring in soup on dayshifts? 😀

Q How does King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

A Deep pan, crisp and even.

And, e, that was a brilliant Nollaig card designed by young AJ and I see it’s to help raise funds for Sgoil Ghaiidhlig Ghlaschu, which as you know has long been one of my favourite organisations and if it was them I helped last year, then just please ask again…… and have a good holiday. 🙂

Q Why is it getting harder to buy Advent Calendars?

A It’s just that their days are numbered.

And Ann from PCUK HQ, I’m thoroughly looking forward to eating vegan 😉

Q Why did no-one bid for Rudolph or Blitzen on eBay

A They were too deer.

And Sharon when you said the Grill in the Inn in the Park was near the station, did you mean Gilmour Street or Paisley Canal?

Q Which famous playwright was terrified at Christmas?

A Noel Coward

And finally, I’m just back from posting a condolence card. To someone in Peterhead. And I’m not going to say anything about putting things into perspective but to me it is a reminder that none of us are infallible and we often have a tendency to underestimate people and what they can bring to the world.

Cya, still wearing that badge and so glad I kept it simple.

Iaint850, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition (a line from an A3 song)

Nollaig Chrideheil dhuibh uile agus Bliadna Mhath Ur

So many, many years ago I shared various flats with a smashing woman called Viv (and occasional others) and it was like as if Viv was the template for so many of my ‘girl as friend’ relationships since. We stayed in some really crappy flats but I won’t say too much in case Harry the Greek has any legal representatives who read this blog. I think my favest was in Bower Street where the damp was soooo bad we had salmon fishing rights for the whole street. 😦

But one Christmas (possibly my first ever away from home) we were on our own in a flat in Otago Street shivering around the two bar electric fire wondering if any place would be open where we could go for a warm up (changed days, eh?) when the doorbell rang. It was Alex and Monica with Alex having liberated some booze from his dad’s drinks cupboard followed soon time by Brian who followed the booze and then the doorbell rang again and it was and so on and the party started and someone knew an Indian takeaway that was open and, several days later we emerged. 🙂

For some reason, I always associate this with that party and Greg was another that 2016 claimed.

Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving (B. C. Forbes)

December 15, 2016

And so dear listener, the tenth anniversary of Cold Turkey came and went without any real issue except I emerged with a bad cold. I don’t know if it started on the night before Alabama 3 when we had the works’ night out or the day after Alabama 3 when I couldn’t even hear myself yawn; but it certainly wasn’t there the night of Alabama 3. 🙂

Yes, they were magnificent and it was nice that J, the blog’s favest librarian, also enjoyed herself despite, maybe, a wee bit of a worry there when a character, dressed as a monk with a V for Vengeance mask came on stage. But he did nothing. And she was full of smiles at the end. 😀

They are a band who are at their best live and indoors where the sound rebounds off the walls so, altho’ I had seen them once before down at Loch Lomond, it was so much better in the O2 Glasgow. And, yes, I did dance – or ‘jump around’ as someone put it J – and I did singalong. It was good. 🙂

I didn’t really do anything else but thanks for all the good wishes.

And I reckon the cold was the demons getting their own back cos they couldn’t get at me any other way.  😛

Elsewhere, as I write this, I have now finished my SVQ3 in Social Care after a year’s work. 🙂 🙂 🙂  There were some issues attached to this that led to the month of anxiety and depression but they all seem to be behind me now, so the certificate will soon be in the post and I can hang it beside my MSc, my two Post Grads and my first degree – except I can’t do that cos, and this was another issue during the year, I cannot find my diploma for my first Post Grad in Youth and Community Work which I got from Jordanhill College (which now longer exists) under the auspices of the Scottish Education Department (which no longer exists) and was funded by Strathclyde Regional Council (which no longer exists) – ‘but can someone not get you a replacement?’ I was asked……

But again thanks for all the good wishes but for something just slightly different. 🙂

Oh, and maybe the demons had a go at me through the fiendish invention that is 151. I had various Virgin internet problems (and my new phone not totally on stream at this point) and I did talk to them and I was reassured – except on Tuesday night when the recorded message told me that they were aware of continuing intermittent problems in my area of G23 and then went on to complete my Post Code!!! ‘Engineers are working on it but it is proving more complicated than expected.’

I rushed to my window expecting to see an engineer working at the box across the road but no such luck.

But Son Brian came over and sorted some things out and it may only have been a few minutes but it was well appreciated. I remember on a couple of occasions driving over to my parents’ house to put the receiver back on the phone as it had not been replaced properly and I had only realised this after about an hour of the engaged tone. Eventually, a neighbour, on finding this out, said just to phone him and he’d go. I think he got a glass of whisky for his trouble. 🙂

This was the same neighbour who would go in early each morning with a newspaper in the last weeks of my mum. ‘But’, someone said to me, ‘I don’t think she’s able to read the paper.’

‘No.’ I explained. ‘He’s checking to see if she got through the night.’

Sometimes we met as I left the house having stayed, at no notice, overnight.

Oh, and I’d a plumber in the other day to put in a new shower and he whistled The Great Escape all the time he was in – I haven’t yet looked under the shower base but is it people getting in rather than escaping?

And finally, it was a week of two lunches.

The first was the Service Users Lunch Out which took place at the World Buffet in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. It’s one of those places where you can eat as much as you want of food from all over the world plus a pudding and two drinks for ten pounds. It’s quite an interesting experience trying to explain some of the foods to people from all over the world – places like Sudan, Eritrea and Possilpark – but Pizza and sweet and sour chicken and chocolate ice cream are universal and were well enjoyed. 🙂

Equally diverse food was eaten by myself and e in our annual business Christmas Lunch (e being the closest I have to a business partner in www.thewordprocess.net). We ate in the Hanoi Bike Shop where the sauce on the tofu was brilliant (but tofu is tofu the world over) and the dips and the sauces and the fishcakes were superb….but the best dish of all will remain a surprise as I may well serve it to my sister on Christmas Day

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and so glad I kept it simple.

Iaint850 and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

So I was going to talk about SNP MSP Clare Haughey (No. Me neither) and her lack of willingness to let sinners repent even when they’ve apologised and been backed by Keep Racism Out of Sport and if she wants publicity, wouldn’t she be better to look at the suggestion that many SPFL clubs will soon be putting players on zero hours contacts but I won’t.

Instead, in a week when we are all appalled by the pictures we’re seeing from the Middle East as Donald Trump’s pal Putin begins to conquer the world, I defy anyone not to cry at these pictures of the wee Afghan boy meeting his hero Lionel Messi. Murtaza Ahmedi was the wee boy who came to the world’s attention with a torn supermarket bag over his shoulders with Messi 10 on it. This is them meeting. Or if there’s the tekkie problem I think there is, take your pic!

Recovery is not about the absence of substances; it’s about the presence of community

December 9, 2016

And so dear listener, this is the tenth anniversary of my Cold Turkey weekend – my unplanned abstinence from alcohol which saw me end up in hospital for nine or ten days and as a result of which I’ve not drunk alcohol since. 🙂

The weekend started on Saturday, 10th December 2006 and finished with a phone call to my ex-wife and her husband (the only number I could remember) at two minutes to eight on the morning of Monday, 12th December having gone through stuff seeping from my pores, hallucinations, demons and an out-of-body experience.  😦

And I was going to look back at those events in a retrospective kinda way but it’s a good week so far so I can’t be arsed and it’s still looking good. Stuff the retrospective; let’s keep smiling and be grateful. 😀

Y’see, I could also do the stuff about how I’m grateful to wake up every morning; life’s good but there are some things missing; and how the coping mechanisms I learned in alcohol recovery helped me through the cancer recovery.

But I’d rather talk about Hansel and Gretel and my panic over my new phone (but mind you, I may still make the occasional reference to the events and their repercussions)

Anyway, a big thanks to those nice people at the Citizens Theatre who donated tickets to the project where I work which allowed me and a nameless co-worker to take seven refugees to see the preview performance of Hansel and Gretel which is where they allow an audience of local voluntary groups and organisations to see the show the night before the actual opening. 🙂

And it was very good. Slapstick, in the form of a clown’s trousers falling down, is universal humour and gets a laugh anywhere and if the boys learned nothing else, they went home with the word ‘witch’ in their English vocabulary. 🙂

But a big thanks to the Corpie bus driver who took a very quick look at bus passes and just waved everyone on. And I walked back from the Citizens to Central Station cos it was such a lovely still night and the lights were really nice. 🙂 🙂

(One result of ten years ago is that, publicly, I seem very confident but privately I lack a wee bit of confidence and maybe I over-compensate which can cause its own problems).

And I’d a really good party with the folk in the Gaelic class (we did conversations where you ask a partner if they like a certain TV programme at Christmas and it was hilarious) and over the years I’ve enjoyed going to evening classes which have ranged from website design to mindfulness to various writing ventures and they’ve given me an insight into the thoughts and cultures of so many people.

(And early on I happily discovered the niche market of editing essays for students which is more, so much more, than just correcting spelling and apostrophes; it’s about helping people to get their message and meaning across using words which are often worth more than any picture. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to help folk in a way I enjoy and to bring in some money but I must stop reading friends’ mails as literally as I do and I should try to read them in the voice of the person who’s sending them. Despite my use of it, I’m not a great fan of e-mail)

And I’m writing this on Friday so it’s now preview time (altho’ I may do some re-writing over the next few days) and later today I have the works’ night out which starts in a Wetherspoons Chinese restaurant in Glasgow (did such things exist ten years ago?) but I will probably leave early as I want to get to Thistle v Celtic at night…..and let’s just say I’ve had better results on a Friday night and leave it at that.

Now following Thistle and working with the homeless, including refugees, were miles away from my mind when I learned to walk again ten years ago (my balance was totally f*cked and had to start sober life with the use of a zimmer) but I enjoy the football when I get there and I enjoy the job with its challenges and I’m looking forward to moving to part-time days with its fresh challenges. 🙂

(I think the worst time was the calendar year after I’d left the college cos line management offered me no support with either problem. I lived off incapacity benefit and my savings (including a Cadogan Street examination) and worked hard to recover and plan a future. It was later in my life before my pride would allow me to knock on the door of the bank of my sister)

And, as always, so many people to thank and this is no definitive masterlist but there’s the rainforestriverman, the blogmeister, the amazing e, and the equally amazing j, and the amazing Doctor W without whom much of my recent life would have been pretty straight, and Sharon and Jo and study buddie Fi, and Skippy, and Missie K and the Vampire Slayer and occasionally there have been fallouts…….but I still cry at the excitement of waking up every day – despite what I said earlier.

And Moira my addiction worker, who introduced me to the notion that I needed to change my behaviour; not just to learn to cope with an incurable disease – cos it ain’t.

And, for a divorced man who lives alone, there’s an amazingly large family – which is continuing to grow. No, Son Brian, I will never grow up but that doesn’t mean I will ever stop being proud of what you and the lovely KT have achieved in life…..thanks

(And thanks, Son Brian for your help with the new mobile phone but the setting for e-mails has gone and I’ve still to add so many names and the nice lady at 789 was very helpful but how many times do I need to prove I’m not a robot?)

And hopefully Saturday night will be spent in the presence of my favest country fan, j, and the amazing Alabama 3 who were also there for me during my various recoveries. OMG, j, I hope you don’t mind what you’re about to witness (parental guidance, etc)……..

And it was. Woke up Sunday morning and did not buy myself a gun but some Strepsels and my back hurts from the ‘jumping about’ that everyone in the O2 (including the lady with Christmas lights for a necklace) was doing. An amazing live performance which was a perfect anniversary treat for me and delighted to say that j, possibly a non-believer to begin with, enjoyed the show as much as anyone and everyone 🙂 x

Apologies for various tekkie hiccups but this is they…..

And this is they a wee bit more acoustically

Recognise them?

Take care and happy honkytonking but keep it simple, eh?

And my thanks to those who sent/gave cards for the anniversary 🙂



I get really drunk off that old book smell in the library……. Hammered? ……No. Grammared!

December 2, 2016

And so dear listener, I have a confession to make. In fact, I have several. And to me they’re important.  But maybe to you the reader, they’re not. After all, I was very surprised earlier this year when I reported the loss of an unencrypted memory stick which eventually led to the anxiety and depression month (and I’ll tell the full story in the Gaelic drama-doc I’ve started) and a number of people (some of them pillars of the community) said that they would never have reported its going missing. Their identities will remain secret until such time as I translate them into Gaelic. 😉

Maybe I believe in honesty too much. 😦

First confession;

When me and Debs and Caroline and the others do our fortnightly SVQ training, we break for lunch and go to a place called Boadicea (or similar) which is now closed on Saturdays but the Hillington shop remains open.  They do good soup e.g. cauliflower and cream cheese. They offer a veggie option. 🙂

So this week I chose potato and leek and took it back to the training centre and opened the carton. Somewhere on the journey back from Boadicea to my bit of the training table, it had transmorgified into Cock a Leekie…….what to do?

I ate it. And then I poured a gallon (or so it felt) of Lucozade down my throat to take the taste away. But nothing else happened. It is, after all, nothing medical or ethical and I still believe pea and ham to be veggie for some reason*. It can be a confusing world. But it does pay to be careful. 😉

I once met a woman who claimed to be the actress in that famous ad and I believed her. It makes for a much better story. 🙂

And I spent some time on Thursday explaining the existence of gluten-free soy sauce to Cathcart Minor and he sounded very appreciative.  How’s the facial hair, James?

But I do feel for vegans (and some others) with the animal fat in existence on the new £5 notes. Why did nobody think?

But it was pleasing to see top News Anchor Kay Burley being honest (on Sky News) about her ignorance of the subject and asking ‘the expert’ how to pronounce tallow. The expert was not caught out and pronounced it tallow.

I’ll miss Kay when I go to dayshift. 😦

Second confession?

The tree is ‘up’ almost but it is more than just ‘assembled’. The built in lights do work but are at their best in total darkness; so, dear listener, do I buy new lights for the daylight hours? (And anyone want to come and see them in complete darkness?)

And for those who know Summerston in darkness at this time of year, my next door neighbour has put up ‘those lights’ but has not yet switched them on. Over ten years ago, they guided me home at this time of year.  And if they ever extend the runway at Cumbernauld Airport…….. 🙂

And one of my own Christmas (never Xmas and I even read/hear Christians spelling it that way) traditions is to shout at the radio when it’s playing Band Aid that many of them actually do know it’s Christmastime ‘cos they’re actually Christians (and not Xtians).

My own religious beliefs? I’m not sure but I doubt whether I’m agnostic.

And finally, I was in the hairdresser’s the other day getting some of my hair cut and my hairdresser said that she had seen in the blog that I was going to the podiatrist and she asked how I’d got on cos she had had a twisted nerve in her back for some time and wondered what had been said to me.

Well, the choice I was given was either surgery or built insoles and wide toed shoes. J suggested I go with the latter and not for the first time I agreed with her. My concern had been that the damage was going up my legs and could permanently lead to damage. I walk a lot and I don’t to stop as I’m growing fatter and fatter. But it’s nice when this show leads to discussion.  🙂

(e, I too have a thirty day programme in mind but my latest new life will happen when I move to daytime working…….new beginnings)

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, looking forward to a Gaelic Christmas – this Thursday 🙂

So in one week’s time I will be acknowledging the fact that it’s ten years since Cold Turkey Weekend so most of the blog will be given over to that and it may appear a wee bit early e.g. Saturday.

It means a lot to me and it’s been great to have been able to share much off the last ten years through the blog as well as talking to people personally. I’ve never intended to sermonise or preach from this particular pulpit but have always been pleased when people have made contact (and their comments have often been removed) and I’ve been able to pass on some of my story.

It’s never about how I did it unless asked. It’s about sharing and trusting you, the listener, to make up your mind. 😀

Oh. And to all those people who say I should have put it all behind me, not only is there a soap opera on in the background where one of the main characters has alcohol problems, but in my Gaelic class this week, I was asked if I like beer?  My reply was Cha toil leam leann …..and you should have seen the look on the questioner’s face. What is the Gaelic for ‘it’s a long story?’

This week the music is from Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Pentatonix (maybe next week it’ll be Alabama 3….watch this space) with a stunning version of Jolene from the American version of The Voice and not an instrument in site!!!!!

Well, that’s the overseas cards posted so it’s defo started (me)

November 25, 2016

And so dear listener, this week I missed a golden opportunity. I was in Debenham’s in Glasgow (and there are no other stores that I know that sell Rocha jeans in my size as a boot cut but just not this week) when a store anno went out. Was this some kind of call to arms, some amazing consumer opportunity? Well, kinda.

What was on offer was a (free) five inch kitchen peeler and you could get it on the fifth floor, but be aware, ‘numbers are limited.’ So I didn’t go. At this time of year, you’ve got to think of others. I have a peeler and it’s not as big but I’m ‘just about managing’ with what I’ve got……….. 😦

And I turned down another offer this week and it was a bit of a strange one.

As you know, my secondary work is editing and proof-reading essays and dissertations, most of which come from foreign students of whom the majority are Chinese.


So I got a mail from an organisation (Chinese based) talking of ‘collaboration’ without going too much into full financial details but a pretty impressive volume of work. But leaving aside my happiness at being my own boss, enjoying the intellectual challenge offered and the very nice feeling that you get from helping people AND getting paid for it, I had concerns. This was the sentence that worried me.

‘We deals mostly with paraphrasing works but also required to add some personal touch based on the comments provided.’

Now leaving aside the grammatical errors and the boring font it came in, my suspicion (and I can’t prove it) is that what is being offered is writing/re-writing essays which pays well and only requires the need to write to a range of stock answers and to personalise it. And I won’t do it.

I know too many students who have achieved what they have achieved through their own hard work – no matter where they come from – and I don’t like students who believe that money will buy them success. I have had approaches before.  Any re-writing I do is based on what is supplied to me and is to help get the student’s message across. 🙂

Earlier this year, a good friend used the word ‘integrity’ in relation to me in connection with the situation that caused my anxiety and depression. I don’t cheat and I don’t help others to cheat……but as I say, it’s only a suspicion.

(And I make a small monthly donation to Glasgow University to a Scholarship Fund to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds)

Anyway, Christmas is getting closer and I am planning to assemble my new Christmas Tree. No. I’m not ‘putting it up.’ It seems to be a real cheeser of a tree with built in lights and I want to be sure they work. Obviously, I’ll take it back down once I’m sure. Honest  😉

(‘integrity, jt, integrity.’ ‘Yes, Skippy, yes’)

And I too have found it icy and cold this week and have not yet found the best setting for heating and de-icing my car, but I did get a wee fright going home the other morning – ‘bout half past seven? – when  my tired eyes in the half-light had to work hard to ensure that I knew what I was driving on – something to be aware of when I start day shifts come mid-January. 😦

But I did have a very pleasant Monday morning when, despite my tiredness, I went into town for a training course in the Wheatley Building in Ingram Street next to the lovely Hutchesons’ Hall (and my thanks to Debs who’s done lot of training with me this week). When I arrived, film group people were rigging lights for a movie called My Wife starring Glenn Close and Christian Slater but I didn’t see them. 😦

Bur I do remember about five years ago when World War Z was filmed in that area and the good Dr W was an office worker extra based in the Bam Building. Her biggest memory was the smell of Febreze in the morning before she put on her ‘extra’ clothes. 🙂

And finally, big thanks to Son Brian, not only for buying me lunch in Sartis’ the other day (yes, it’s your kinda place, rainforestriverman) but helping me to ‘obtain’ a new phone.  It’s a Samsung Galaxy (hopefully black) and apparently my existing Blackberry is a closed phone and I can’t just ‘transfer’ My Contacts. I have to sit down and write them out and then manually input them. It’s a bit of a nuisance but maybe erasing some names may prove therapeutic.  I mean, can anyone tell me who Katie (mark) is but I have remembered who Carmen is but will I ever need that number again?

And also a big thanks to e, not only for buying the coffees on Thursday morning but taking me (window) shopping whilst she bought birthday stuff. I have got some really good ideas for Christmas presents.  And I might not get my grand-daughter that giant pink fluffy unicorn – there was a woman in Fopp who had a baby (plastic) deer she had bought in a charity shop. Mind you, the same woman bought a Pink Floyd doormat…….mmmmm

Plus, thank you, e, for telling me how to pronounce podiatrist.

Cya, still wearing that badge and I will continue to keep it simple

Iaint850, just a wee bit worried…….mmmmmm

It’s now three years since I graduated (MSc) from UWS (Paisley) and I openly acknowledge that I made lots of friends and friendships both with students and members of staff e.g. lecturers and library people. But there was another friendship which kinda came out of that period. 🙂

Jenny H has just graduated with her PhD which was a smashing piece of work both to read and to edit (and I charged for that). Altho’ we’d never met, when I approached her for help about four years ago, having read some of her work, she said ‘no problem’ and we met over coffee and have done so regularly since, altho’ she has now moved to Cardiff to lecture.

When I talk about students achieving so much through their own work, Jenny H is one of those. 🙂

(And my apologies to someone else whose name begins with the letter ‘J’ who received a congratulatory fb msg and must have wondered if I’d lapsed)

So almost exactly one year ago I was introduced (under interesting circumstances) to the music of Brandi Carlile. This is she;




‘Post-truth’ – relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief (OED)

November 18, 2016

And so dear listener, last week was a wee bit of a rant but I’ve seen a few folk saying similar things but rather than concentrate too much on that side of my life, I want to look on the bright side of life – but I’d rather not always do that.  But a big thanks to President Obama and  Mark Zuckerberg to lending their, and Facebook’s support, to what might end up as a campaign and giving it a name – ‘false news’ leading to….


Y’see good things can and do happen to me; we are approaching Christmas and some other important anniversaries in my life.

It is exactly three years since I graduated with a Master’s degree – a brilliant day and I’ve not worn Highland dress since. Will there be another opportunity? It’d be nice. But I don’t think there’s much of a ceremony attached to the awarding of an SVQ3 should I be lucky enough to get it. And who would I invite? 😉

But as you know, soontime sees the Annual Blog Personality of the Year Awards and they don’t bear that much resemblance to other awards. The first ever award was the only one that ever went to a person – the then three year old Ruby – and last year they went to the Little House on the Prairie Incense Burner that J brought back from Canada  😀  and in between the award, for example,  has gone to a glass of whisky and a phone call from an Italian bar, amongst other things, so given the effect and influence that the SVQ had on me at one point this year, maybe it should be the winner. 😦

Anyway both the Award and the annual Christmas Cracker Joke Edition will be a few days earlier than previous years but for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that I am working twelve hour shifts on the nights of the 31st December and 1st and 2nd of January and then it’s almost daytime working time. It will be like a new job and I’m treating it like that. My hours are really strange over the next few weeks so if you want a copy of my rota please just ask.  🙂

Especially as the week before Christmas is also pretty busy.

Elsewhere on the nice stuff, despite what I said about the PSA being only a rough guide to the state of my prostate’s health, it was nice when Dr Fiona highlighted it when I walked in with my foot the other day. ‘Brilliant news’ was how she described it. And I smiled.

Could my 0.9 be down to my diet and clean living?

The foot? It would have been difficult to have left it at home.

Something seems to have moved a bone in a toe and pressure is being put on my foot and I’ve to go to a bio-mechanic at a podiatrist to get new insoles …or something. I have an appointment somewhere in Dumbarton Road next week at 2.30. 🙂

And then there are various traditions to follow such as the annual Word Process nights out, which seem to get moved into the early months of the next year. Looking forward to those already. And present exchanges. But before Christmas. And indeed present buying. Look out, De Courcy’s I’m coming to get you – especially after the success of the last gift I got there…..

And maybe upstairs in a book shop in Glasgow where I bought nothing at the time but I returned the next day and spent a lot of money 🙂

And we’re already talking Christmas Ceilidh at the Gaelic class (and yes, the Gaelic for ceilidh is ceilidh) and my homework for next week is to look at the train station sign for Summerston and see what the Gaelic is for Summerston. Some scorn was poured on my suggestion that all I needed was the Gaelic for the Town of the Summer. Hey, we have the ASDA!!!!

Many of my visitors over the years had never visited Summerston before and have been impressed. In the Summer. Okay, Christmas Lights leave a lot to be desired but, hey……

And, yes, I am counting down the days to the end of my life as an established part-time nightworker, altho’ I may still do some as overtime. Will I miss anything? Loads. In the early days of my withdrawal I may go out at five in the morning to empty my own bins into the big bin down the side of the house in complete darkness other than the street lights and then pause to ask the taxi-drivers how their nights have been before washing the steps at the front of the house.

And finally, I will continue to take on challenges and I will continue to be disappointed. But in about three weeks’ time……..No.  Let’s just see what happens. At the time.

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

Iaint850, wondering what my new tree looks like (it’s still in the box) and wondering if I should get a metre long pink fluffy unicorn for my granddaughter……. 🙂

BBC Breakfast has been running some features on cancer, including prostate cancer, and it was eight years ago just now that I was starting the first part of my treatment. I feel slightly removed from the whole cancer experience now but there is always one moment when it comes home.

There’s a thing called cancer guilt. It’s when someone dies and you think ‘why them…why not me?’ It’s usually, in my case, when it’s a child or teenager or, well, just someone with their life ahead of them. In a ‘gratitude’ list like the one above, my major gratitude is that I am alive to say there is always hope. I don’t know if people who come through heart attacks, strokes or car crashes or other life threatening events feel the same…….I just know I do. 🙂

Or when I see stories of those young people who have had to turn to the Teenage Cancer Trust for help on top of what the brilliant NHS* offers.

*Other health providers are available – ours happens to reflect a caring society which is maybe why the Tories are running it down.

And this was filmed at my Gaelic class. Mannequin Challenge it ain’t. It’s Walk the Moon and Work This Body.

Librarians create the readers of the Future; save our libraries (Chris Riddell – who should be Googled by every parent or grandparent who reads this blog)

November 10, 2016

And so dear listener, if you don’t like it when I do reflective blogs, look away now. But various things that have happened, including Donald Trump’s election, have prompted this.

Y’see I was brought up to read. The first ‘serious’ book I can remember (age of 5) was an unabridged version of Treasure Island and it was some form of school prize. Of course, those were simpler times – two black and white channels on TV and the rumour that if you stuck a knitting needle down the back of your TV you could get BBC 2. 😀

Our parents encouraged us to read and I think my sister was a wee bit more of a bookworm than me and she went on to be a part-time library assistant after school before going to university in Glasgow – which, from Peterhead, was revolutionary. Indeed, I have known four women who are, or have been, library assistants and all have been incredibly influential in my life. 🙂

We did watch TV and I listened to the radio a lot – Hilversum, the Light Programme and Radio Luxemburg, thus giving away my age. 🙂 And there were external influences – an English teacher called McLeod who took a wee bit of a shine to me (and that was all) and who turned up on our doorstep one Hogmanay (UTI) and invited me and my dad around to his the next day where he played Irish Republican records, introduced me to independence and gave me a copy of Ring of Bright Water.

But he wasn’t the only teacher to encourage debate and indeed we had a debating society which did just that – listening to other people’s points of views and, when there was a vote, accepting the result. 😦

(However, as many people know, I have remained shy and reticent all my life)

And this continued all the way, up to about fifteen years ago, all the way through my growing up life and I am still growing up. I say and do and write stupid and naïve things but can be told off without taking a huff that lasts more than ten seconds.

At one stage in my life I produced daily discussion programmes on BBC Radio Scotland, presented by Colin Bell, and our standing joke was that we needed someone for, someone against and someone who had studied the subject. All the issues, all the opinions were examined. And we did a lot of background reading and researching.

Ah, yes, people who had studied the subject. What, once upon a time, might have been known as ‘experts’ or, at the very least, people who had studied the subject and knew what they were talking about, although another ‘expert’ might disagree with them but there would be general respect for their right to disagree.

Now we live in times where a (then) leading Government minister and leading Brexiter (Michael Gove) said that “people in this country have had enough of experts.”  This was echoed by Ian Duncan Smith, who is a man in whom I have little trust because of his ways of dealing with the truth and his ignorance of an organisation called Alcoholics’ Anonymous but I do accept his right to be a total cretin.

But it was during the Brexit Referendum and IndyRef that I became aware of something which my journalistic (boo, hiss and I worked for the BBC, so even more boo hiss!) background found difficult to accept.  Somebody on your side would make an unsubstantiated claim and you would accept it without question; someone on the other side would make a claim and it would immediately have scorn poured upon it. On social media, things are accepted, in many cases, without being challenged. And therein lies the problem; we have greater access to the media (no bad thing) but we seem not to accept that there are responsibilities which go with that. 😦


At the time of IndyRef someone re-posted a music website which claimed that the BBC had banned saltires at T in the Park and everyone who read this went ‘boo, hiss’. I actually went into the site and found a tremendous number of comments, saying ‘NO, this had not happened.’….but the people who spread this lie about the BBC did not bother reading the original piece; after all it might disagreed with their viewpoint of life.

Donald Trump, at one point making some weird economic claims, said he’d read them ‘in a report this week….. a very good report.’ And to this day I have no idea what that report was. There is no way of checking what he claimed.

My head cleared ten years ago and we are but four weeks away from Saturday, 10th December and I’m maybe getting a wee bit jittery about the celebrations (see me, with two orange juices inside me), but my most recent time at a university (the wonderful UWS in Paisley and I do enjoy going back for all sorts of reasons) showed me the importance of evidence for any claim because I was questioned by my supervisor about it. And it’s the same for my SVQ3. Evidence for any claim!

And it’s the same when I read/edit any piece of work academically – telling students that there are other points of view and that you need evidence for any claim.


Freedom of speech doesn’t just mean you being allowed to speak, but more importantly, the person, with whom you disagree, getting a chance to speak. Even Katie Hopkins.

And, yes, there are a few children for whom I buy presents at this time of year (in at least one case, for a group of grandkids) but they will be bookily related but, worry not dear (grand)parents, they will not contain sheets of paper saying, ‘but where did the Gruffalo get evidence for this?’


Cya, wearing a poppy this week and still keeping it simple – with respect.

Iaint850, who enjoyed an evening in Tennent’s this week with the Blogmeister, where I started to explore some of these thoughts. Soberly.

And in other news this week, Donald Trump got elected and America will just have to get used to it; I’ve not heard back about my foot x-ray yet altho’ I have phoned; I bought a Christmas Tree and a shredder (No. No connection); my annual donation has gone to the Hospice so that’s defo Christmas started; and a BBC TV journalist annoyed me when talking about units of alcohol over a week, when he said the Government’s recommended amount was fourteen units. Eh, no. That’s the recommended maximum amount.

So, is Armageddon about to hit us? Well, reports are coming in of disturbances around the world. This is Half Man, Half Biscuit reporting on the riots in Trumpton.