People saw things – things they never expected to see in their life (Lindsay Hoyle MP , deputy speaker of the House of Commons)

March 23, 2017

And so dear listener, for most of this week, I have been without Virgin e-Mail and, indeed, still am. Now there are ways around this, such as a reserve Gmail address, but a couple of students, for whom I had hoped to do some work, must have thought it was some kind of scam and didn’t follow it through.

I was communicating with them on mail by phone but I think they thought that if I could talk to them that way, why did I need to give an alternative address? Some listeners may remember the days when I was getting radiotherapy. 🙂

I’d go to bed about nine cos I was so tired and be wide awake at about three so, instead of reading a book, I’d mail people and then go back to bed. Thankfully I’d stopped drinking before texting was so popular so I was never drunk in charge of a mobile. 😀

And after all my catching up on leave and various viruses and that, I am almost back as an established day time worker. 1st April and, hopefully, everything will fall into place. But it was nice the other day cos I’d to go a meeting in the Gorbals area and not only has that area changed considerably, even in just the last few years, but I didn’t really get to go to too many meetings on night shift – well not that kind anyway. 😉

But doing that reminded me of when I worked at the college and often had to visit campuses in places like Florence Street (a beautiful converted Victorian school with lots of light) where I taught something to do with Communication to good looking young ladies doing Graphic design who were brilliant to work with.

I also did something similar with good looking young men (Floor and Wall Tilers) in our Bridgeton campus who came close to lynching me one afternoon because they didn’t save their work to floppies or sticks; they saved it to the computer. One day a boffin from Head Office came down to Rogart Street and cleaned the computers; they lost all their work ):

We came to an informal arrangement; so if you ever find yourself with an uncommunicative tiler, he may well have been one of mine but rest assured, he passed.

And much to e’s chagrin I took taxis to those places and sneaked away early on foot (well not from Brigton) – it wasn’t the sneaking away that caused concern; it was the laziness. I have walked many miles since. With e. And others.

And it was nice to be welcomed back at the project (yet again) by some of the folk I work with including one of the refugees who asked if I’d been…..and I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying so I go him to write it down. Had I been


he asked.

But I’m also getting to go to training again including a one day course on Understanding Relationships. No. I don’t think it’s that, ‘tho. 🙂

And I saw a copy of the Scottish Daily Mail in a local supermarket the other day. It had a headline which read;

Memory like a goldfish? Take the test to see if you should worry.

I don’t know how many times I read it.

And finally, it’s quite obvious I have avoided talking about the killings at Westminster as, by the time this hits the streets, everything will have been said. Can I, tho’, draw your attention to two images; one still and the other moving (altho’ the still one was also moving but in a slightly different way).

The still one was that of the paramedics fighting to save the life of the assailant but with a policeman with a very steady hand and a sub-machine gun, standing there – just watching….just in case.

The other? Who are these idiots who believe that a police cordon doesn’t apply to them? In this image the policeman was shouting at them not go under the ribbon and then, very graphically, he advised one of them to take his (couldn’t quite catch the word) earphones off.

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

Iaint850, and I’ll tell you more next week about my visit to the ENT unit and the new Victoria Hospital but I may sign off then as Fungus the Bogeyman…..just saying, that’s all.

So it was with interest that I read recently that three new coffee shops (UKwide) are opening each day yet four pubs are shutting their doors for good each day yet recent statistics show that alcohol consumption continues to rise. Why? It’s known as pre-loading – where people go and buy cheap alcohol and drink it before going out. One of the things I don’t miss by working days is watching chucking out time (3 a.m.) in Sauchiehall Street.

When I started drinking at the age of 16, the pub was where you went and, to a very large degree, it was the pub that decided how much you could drink before refusing to sell you and your mates any more alcohol. You matched your drinking with your peers but you were also aware that others around you, with their ‘quiet pint’, would not countenance your loutish behaviour.

There was a normal way to behave.

Maybe one day we’ll have a coherent strategy on alcohol but right now, it seems a long way off.

And I recently mentioned Leon Russell to a couple of people as one of my first musical heroes (and not just cos of the hair). This proves that rock/country stars are fallible. He’s dead now but I did get to see him a few years ago.

“Let us read and let us dance: these two amusements will never do any harm to the world” (Voltaire)

March 17, 2017

And so dear listener, this week saw the final Gaelic (Gaelic 1) class of this academic year. It’s been good fun and I’ve learned a lot. It’s been more of an introduction than anything else but I was pleased, on enquiry to the Gaelic College in Skye, (where I might go in July for five days) that I could probably do Gaelic 2. 🙂

No. What I need is immersion in Gaelic 1 and then maybe think about doing Gaelic 2 next year.

And Sabhal Mor Ostaig (to give the college its Gaelic name)? Well……….there’s a wee uncertainty or two. I need to make decisions and sometimes it’s a wee bit hard. We’ll see. I have all the material here but it’d get the wind through me and maybe that’s what I need. There’s always Ardrossan Harbour. 😀

Or indeed Helensburgh, where I was earlier this week, and a big thinks to R from Cardross for the coffee. 🙂 I went down by train and even going through places like Clydebank and Partick – which I thought I knew well – you see things you’ve never seen before. Well not for a long time. And then the River Clyde opens up on a windy day and then there’s the mysteries of the Bowling basin. Shame the windows needed cleaned ):

But, anyway, I’d like to thank AJ and RJ for their help in finding me a wee party piece for the end of term Gaelic party*. But it wasn’t used. Instead we pretended to be weather forecasters telling the weather in Gaelic and we sang a song about a man who liked potatoes, butter and the girls from the village (maybe I should use that as my profile on dating sites)

However, I am aware that there was a great deal of interest in the epic poem, Tunnagan Beaga, and here is a rough translation;

Little ducks, one, two, three

Little yellow feet, four, five six.

Little ducks, waddle, waddle, waddle.

Down to the pond, quack, quack, quack.

And there are actions. Just use your imagination. 😀

And if anyone wants a copy (in Gaelic but phonetically) just ask.

And, for the second year in a row, I didn’t go to the pub after the final class of the session. And I feel this gives the wrong impression. I may go weak in the presence of beauty, but I’m comfortable in a pub. After all, it’s not a disease is it?

And why couldn’t I make it?

aiste deasachadh. 😀

*eventful piece of babysitting with them this week. Once the ringing noise has gone away, I will share it with the world.

And also a quick plug for my BBC friend Catriona NicLeod and Beag air Bheag on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal. She does a wee section Blasadan Beaga for beginners. The new series with John Urquhart starts on 26th March. 🙂

So moving on

And whilst my attendance at Firhill has been a wee bit limited this season, I was reminded during the week of the moment when I found out what was really involved in being red and yellow. It was a wet Sunday afternoon in Cowdenbeath when I found myself (with others and an orange juice) in a pub called The Goth (and yes I do know how it got its name) and we were all huddled around a number of electric fires knowing we had to go out there and walk across the road to the stock car racing circuit that masquerades as a football stadium and we won and we won well. 🙂

(And I remember another occasion there when John Hegley joined us at the same ground in Cowdenbeath and I spent most of the game doing colouring-in with the children of a woman whose company made gourmet soup in Glasgow’s West End)

And Muirfield Golf Club did not vote (in their second vote on the matter) to allow lady members out of a belief in equality and decency but (for some anyway) out of greed.

And I’m going to risk moving all the de-icer and the gritting salt back into the shed soon.

And finally, I feel I let someone down earlier this week by suggesting a change in arrangements at short notice.


Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple (and I see no reason not to)

iaint850, sàmhach romansach

So my plan over the next few years is to keep the show as #indyref2 and Brexit-free as possible. All I want to say here is how sad I am that the democratic process is so little respected these days and I despair at a lot of what I read on social media.

Indeed, not only do people on social media not respect people such as Thomas Paine and his work in making the world a more democratic place all those years ago, it seems they do not respect the other person’s viewpoint – and I think that’s sad.

Free speech is not about you being allowed to speak but the person with whom you violently disagree.

In my younger day, you put leaflets through doors, got people to actually sign petitions and took part in hustings. I was a student politician, a member of the now deceased Scottish Labour Party (1976 – 1981) and of CND and walked through streets carrying banners – like real serious banners like the Trade Unions have. I engaged in dialogue.

Now? I’m not even sure people read the stuff they re-post.

Last word. Ever.

So all last week I played a Steve Earle track each night on Facebook because Steve wrote Galway Girl but it seemed like people had never heard of him and they thought that Ed Sheeran had found some obscure Irish folk song and made it popular. Similarities other than the title? You decide.

This is a definitive version of Galway Girl with Steve Earle and Sharon Shannon.

‘I put a bag full of Your Cheatin’ Heart drafts on the scales – 12 and a half stone it was!’ (John Byrne)

March 10, 2017

And so dear listener, there’s a lot happened this week but there’s probably not much that’s not already on wikileaks. And I was intrigued to hear a good friend using the phrase ‘in the old days’. Not a phrase that I use much. Indeed, I sometimes surprise myself by doing technical things without realising how………and I suppose this blog is a good example of taking on something (which was a way of telling people about how my cancer treatment was going) which is now surprisingly dated as I don’t vlog, I play at anonymity and I have no sponsors. Of any sort. And nobody corrupts me by paying to advertise or sending me freebies to plug. But I wouldn’t anyway. 🙂

(And in other big news – somebody’s taken my brown bin from the side of my house!!!!!!) ):

But I’ll tell you something else, if I may……six years ago I received a written invitation to join up with the Alcohol and Drugs team at UWS (Paisley) subject to certain references and proof of qualifications. I also remember going out there a few months previously to be interviewed informally by Ken Barrie who told me I was ‘in’ subject to those same reservations. 🙂

I left his room and went across to the library which, then, had comfy seats and texted e and the Good Doctor w and told them…….oh, and the family got phone calls later. And something happened this week that I never ever thought I’d see – ten years ago – and I’ll tell people individually – so if I haven’t been in touch contact me.

But one thing I don’t do is to re-post things on Facebook that say ‘do you remember when?’ and list all the children’s games from years ago or aspects of life from years ago and then slag off young people for spending all that on their phones or other devices.

Don’t they realise the irony of telling us that by using their mobile phones and telling us through a social media platform?

(Yes. I’m still using up a lot of leave between now and the end of March. How did you know?)

But something else happened seven years ago this week. My last ever (probably) radio documentary what I produced was transmitted. It was called ‘Prostate Cancer – the hidden killer’ and it went out in the investigation slot and was basically an examination of why men, at that time, were reluctant to speak out about prostate cancer and featured men and their wives – all of whom were willing to speak out about prostate cancer.

But, yes, I do occasionally miss live broadcasting but at least I left before they started using skype. This is worth a fifteenth look……watch the mum/nanny come dashing in!!!!!!!

And let’s not analyse it too much. It’s just a bit of fun.

But there is the news that the CIA is spying on me through my Samsung smart TV which doesn’t even switch on properly. I have to ‘wake’ it up – but why?

(Dear CIA, I am a single man, living alone and what I get up to hurts no-one…..antique shows just happen to be on immediately before news programmes)

But the main point of this blog is to highlight my return to good old values and the value of a good entertainer and storyteller. There are people who tell stories and there are people who tell stories well. I was once involved in a comedy workshop which involved Susan Calman and Maggies Cancer Care Centre, then in Dumbarton Road, where these two guys claimed their wives thought they were the funniest things ever when they told their stories and they should be on stage and TV cos they were as funny as Billy Connolly, but, aye, I said, “Billy can keep it up for an hour. Can you?”

And then I have a friend who can drop a wee Peppa Pig snort (not a euphemism) into a wee story and you’re hooked (still not a euphemism) with that tremendous anticipation for what happens next. 🙂

The storyteller I went to see was the lovely John Byrne who was at the Glasgow Concert Hall to talk to the lovely Clare English (another BBC talent tossed aside – and indeed I sat with some BBC/ex-BBC people and it was a good night) about five books that were important to him but he started off talking about being born in Barshaw Hospital in Paisley and going to primary school at St Mary’s and at one stage it sounded as if all his classmates from St Mirin’s Academy had all died violent deaths later in their years.

And I loved his description of a room so small you could fit a coffin in and little else.

And all the newspapers and magazines that came into his parents’ house including two copies of the Sunday Post – one of which was to send to Canada.

Such a pleasant evening’s entertainment. 🙂

And finally, since I started writing this, the brown bin has been returned!!!!! 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, still smiling as I write some things. Because.

And so because of an event which I can’t tell you about I missed an event I could have told you about which was the fiftieth birthday of the legendary PT fan known as Bean (and no, I have never asked why. I might be disappointed) but anyway some of the music was provided by these folk whose appearance, I think, was arranged well in advance rather than just picked up in Buchanan Street where these pics are from and if you do see them say, ‘Bean sent you.’ Or not. Maybe I’d better ask.

As friendly as two horses’ heads (a common Gaelic idiom – apparently)

March 3, 2017

And so, dear listener, after last week’s slightly different blog (and thanks for kind wishes) it’s a return to a normal beginning with an explanation of what happened last week at Firhill (home of the mighty Partick Thistle) when I was knocked back at the gate  ):

Because of virus stuff (I had originally written ‘viral’ but there’s nothing on YouTube) and the anxiety and work and grand-daughtering and so on, I had, in fact, been to only one game and that was in a very different part of the ground where I had to pay to get in. So this was actually the first time I’d used my season ticket in the scanning machine and the red light went off….several times. I was not being allowed in. ):

Security did let me in but when I contacted the club the next day it turned out that I had not paid for this season’s season ticket. I remember doing it by phone, so, obviously, there had been a wee blip at that end and a major one at my end. Sorted in that I’ll just pay at the gate for the rest of the season and I now have a contact in the Ticket Office who will sort out my tickets for the Cup Semis and Final when we get there 😀 😀 😀

Brilliant being back with an amazing win. 😀 :D:D We are Partick Thistle, we score when we want.:D 😀 😀

But it’s nice to celebrate anniversaries and it was five years ago that I was at Spateston Bowling Club for uni-Sharon and Kenny’s wedding. Well remembered and just in time this year, Sharon (lol) 🙂

It’s also been a week when I’ve been affected by the media and technology. Let me explain.

Well not so much the stuff about being fined money and points for using your mobile whilst driving cos I also worry about people that use their mobiles for Sat Nav, look through a map for where they’re going whilst driving or try to sort out the programming on their DAB radio cos they keep losing the station.  Yes. I have been guilty of the last two but have been much more careful in recent years. 🙂

And that time J, when I bumped over a kerb on our way to Hyndland, it was cos I was trying to work out what a white van was doing in my rear view mirror. Sorry. I was trying to work out, in my rear view mirror, what a white van was doing.

No. It was the reports about the need for a different noise for smoke detectors to wake children so I went and tested mine and it wasn’t working. I had put it up about thirty years ago and a wire was now loose and wouldn’t go back in.

So I went and bought a new one expecting the backing plate to be the same size as the existing one – but obviously it’s not. So I will get my electric drill out (it’s in the shed) and drill a new hole. I can do that. Indeed any new visitor to my house is shown shelves and other stuff that I put up and that have stayed up.

Yes. I do live alone. How did you know?

And finally, I talk a lot about the coping mechanisms that my professional addiction worker introduced into my life as a way of coping with my alcohol dependency. It was about changing my behaviour rather than accepting it as an irreversible disease which meant I could keep drinking and blame it on the drink.

A major mechanism was going for a walk when things got too much for me, particularly at home. And a big helper in that respect was e who often took me for longer walks than I had planned. So, (sorry Rosie for beginning a sentence with ‘so’) all that seems very positive. 🙂

I was explaining this idea to someone who then said, ‘Aye but what if you break your leg and you can’t get out?’


So (ooooops) I paused for a second and said, ‘I’d leave the remote control over by the TV and any time I was ‘down’ I would go and change TV channels. That would be coping enough.’

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and (for one week only) still knocking at that door (lol)

Iaint850, with a quiet March ahead of him cos I’ve lots of leave to take before the end of the month. I’m available; try me.

And yes, I was in UWS (Paisley) during the week and it has changed. For example, you self-scan library books out and throw them in what looks like a big skip when you bring them back and that ain’t no way to treat books. ):

But I got some bad news. Someone well known to the library and catering staff had been really helpful to me when I had been thinking of a PhD. He’d looked out for articles about alcohol use in the newspapers. Sorry. He’d looked out for articles in the newspapers about alcohol use.

His younger brother had passed away and I was really sad.

I’d been out there to meet up with a friend, C, from post grad days and we had had a brilliant time when we were there. Sometimes the university environment seems miles away from the ‘real world’ of the homeless and refugees where I work (paid gig) but within one hour in the Hub café, as well as hearing about this death, I was talking to someone about the birth of her grand-daughter.

Maybe university life is part of the ‘real world’. It was certainly nice walking out of the multi-storey car park of blessed memory and looking at the basically unchanged frontage of the Robertson Building and that frightening automatic door where once I went through but my rucksack – with me still attached – didn’t.

No. No thoughts of returning…….mmmmm

This is a pic of my Gaelic class and a song we have been taught to sing. It’s about having a hangover.

‘People say I’m brave about cancer, but I’m realistic. I’m a storyteller’ (Steve Hewlett)

February 23, 2017

And so dear listener, I felt really strange on Monday but nothing to do with any virus. I had to turn down the opportunity to take part in an interview with John Ross Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland about some recent cancer statistics that showed that men with prostate cancer living in the most deprived communities in Scotland are nearly twice as likely to die from the illness as those in the most affluent postcodes. This time eight years ago I was finishing the first half of my treatment for this cancer before starting thirty-seven days of radiotherapy.

Those who know me know how passionate my thoughts are on so much of what is involved in that simple, but long, sentence. Why, I could even have brought in libraries and their importance to the community. Macmillan Cancer folk have an arrangement with Glasgow Libraries where on certain days they have information points and people to talk to about cancer. 🙂

Later that day, I heard that Steve Hewlett had died. Steve is (sorry) was a journalist and academic who was one of the best in both fields. He’d been Editor of Panorama for the Princess Di interview and presented Broadcasting House on Radio 4. He also recently had been taking part regularly on PM on Radio 4 talking about his cancer and its progress. He knew it was terminal.

I’d have loved to do that during my treatment. The only difference is that Steve knew he was dying and talked about that. I am still alive and still pestering people about going to gigs and going for coffee. 🙂

He was also a better broadcaster than me. I was once asked, live, to explain what radiotherapy was like. My reply?

‘It’s like being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing.’

Altho’ having heard Donald Trump trying to describe uranium and cybers (both of which can be ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ apparently), I don’t feel quite so bad.

Steve spoke with great dignity on whatever he was talking about – media mergers or his forthcoming death. I rush at things. My mother also spoke with great dignity when she decided not to have chemotherapy which would only have been a delaying process. I walked very slowly homewards from the hospital that night and then remembered I’d driven there.

I remember talking to J last year about a man called Jonathan Wilson (1970-2002) who used to write a column for the Scotsman called Dead Man Talking. He knew he was dying but he lived a lot longer than the initial prognosis.

Still, I have this blog. It started eight years ago and was designed, I thought, as a means of telling people how the treatment was going and would stop when the treatment stopped (if in fact it did – you can never be too sure altho’ I’m reasonably certain now…….Fate has just been tempted!!!!). Like me it has kept going and, like me, it can be a real pest. 🙂

I have done TV and radio and newspapers (my favourite quote for one of the Record pieces was ‘alarm bells started ringing when a nurse stuck her finger up my bum’ BUT this very simple test is one of the reasons why men won’t go and get things checked. To all women who have ever given birth, there are some men who consider this basic test to be invasive!)

I’ve done information talks and ‘manned’ information stands at various events* and done informal chats with many people in many situations and I’ve done it all being very positive but the question of death will always hang over people with cancer but it tends to come from friends and family.

*I haven’t done many recently and they’ve tended to be a wee bit freelance but if you, or any group with which you’re associated, want a speaker about prostate cancer or information stand for a health event, then contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Scottish office (for Scotland) on 0141 218 4760.

And when I talk about ‘still wearing that badge’, there are two. One is the ‘big sky’ badge which J gave me and the other is the Prostate Cancer Awareness badge for which a donation is good. Both are very positive and optimistic.

Mind you on one occasion, when teaching at college, in an all-male staff-room (not testosterone filled as I was full of oestrogen at the time) I had put up a notice saying,

‘which one of you bastards has stolen a dying man’s coffee?’

Unfortunately some students had come in to video me for something else and saw this. I later heard them talking about ‘poor John’ in the corridor. The next time I had them in class I had a lot of explaining to do – but it was worth it. The lesson plan was thrown out of the window. e was my curriculum leader. I don’t think she minded.

More people survive than die but what is survival? Ernie Walker was General Secretary of the Scottish Football Association when Scotland actually got to World Cup Finals. When he died, the press reported that he had been ‘battling prostate cancer for eighteen years.’ I’m sorry. That is no battle; that is a clear victory. 🙂

But I still cry at cancer ads on TV.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed but it’s been written in one go and it did get started at three this morning and it’s only just gone four but sometimes scrawling a note to yourself just isn’t enough. It’s also been written earlier in the week than usual.

I might as well just stay awake and do some editing or send some mails pestering people about gigs and going for coffee. Well at least I’m alive to do that.

R.I.P Steve Hewlett.

Cya, still wearing both those badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850  and still available for gigs and for coffee…..whatever. 😉

And in other news….…I’m back at work but have been using the last few days to get fit; it’s days and it’s different but in ways I’d not expected; there was snow;  football and Gaelic are on the to-do list; and once I get rid of all the rubbish food in the house, I’ll start the diet. Oh, and I may be going to see the dragons in Edinburgh. What’s that, Skippy? Sorry. I may be going to see the dungeons in Edinburgh. 😀

Have I played Mariachi El Bronx here before? To hell with it. I’ll let David Letterman introduce them.

“I finally figured out the big, elusive secret to weight loss. Don’t eat! Who knew?” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

February 16, 2017

And so dear listener, by the time you read this, I will have returned to work and hopefully remained for the full shift and, also hopefully, I am okay about going back full-time (altho’ I’m part-time but you know what I mean) For new listeners, I have had viral tonsillitis and it took a lot out of me but I think my strength has returned. We’ll see.

I still make some throaty noises but I put that down to the heating being on a lot at the moment, but there’s another health matter to which I want to draw your attention.

I have from time to time said that I felt was carrying extra weight and folks have said, ‘No. You’re not.’ And I’ve listened to them and done nothing about it. But the weight is there and you should see me at the end of the day when I have no clothes on (Skippy, can we maybe re-think that line?) 😉

One problem is the irregular hours I have been working with basic nights and irregular days and no set meals pattern – partly cos I live alone (have I ever told  you that?) On some shifts I get a 6” Subway (veggie lite) and eat it over the course of the shift – well most of it. I often have to throw away bits before the next shift comes in as you don’t always get a chance to finish your food.

(It’s okay, Skippy, I have no plans to do any gags about six inches or twelve inches or any other related jokes that end with ‘and, no, I didn’t ask for a ten inch pianist.’)

And I did tell you about the emergency shift a wee while back that finished at 2.30 in the morning but The Bistro (you don’t know the nice and sleazy end of Sauchiehall Street if you don’t know The Bistro) obvs was still open and I went in to get chips and got a staff discount and a free bottle of water. 🙂

And on another occasion, one of the service users came back with an order for various folk (I’d not asked for anything) but also with a free chips’n’curry sauce. So I had it.  🙂

And there it is – the ‘c’ word – ‘chips’. I even mentioned them in a blog a couple of weeks ago and no matter which train station I go to after a back shift, I pass a chip shop and I also pass a KFC and altho’ I can say no to a chicken (Skippy?)  those new Zinger chips look good.

But I’m pescetarian! I shouldn’t be eating chips that are deep-fried! I have no idea what else has been fried in that oil! And, whilst it’s not ethical or medical, there’s no point in only being a semi-pescetarian. I decided to carry out some research.

I drew together an e-focus group; one gf (that’s gluten-free as opposed to anything else) and two vegans. All are very wary of chips. The gf would like to know a wee bit more about the backstory to the chips and it has to be oil in which nothing else has been cooked; and the two vegans have that same concern – altho’ one did confess to a liking for chips’n’curry sauce as well. I feel a fraud. ):

But I do wonder what fast food outlets are doing about this. I don’t know cos I don’t eat from them cos I’m pesectarian! Eh? But chips?

Anyway, one of the benefits of going to part-time days will be a serious look at my diet and altho’ I will not do the 5:2 diet which, as with all diets, requires a fair amount of food prep or just buying the stuff out of M & S, I will go back to the days when I used to prepare a piece for work and did no grazing……and cut out chips (and they are good chips, good people chips)……and I am okay for walking as I always have been altho’ I have de-shuffled an MP3player so that needs attention. I’ll be fine.  😀

But finally, chips played a very important role in my recovery. Not long after Cold Turkey weekend, my sister (then living in London) asked me to look at various properties in Glasgow on her behalf with a view to returning to Glasgow (which was a serious task I could concentrate on) and I remember being early for viewing for one (no surprise there then) and going for, and eating, a fish supper – sober.


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

Iaint850 and I told you it’d be Trump Free. Maybe more about babies soon-time.

So, the line-up for Glasgow Summer Nights at the Kelvingrove Bandstand has just been announced (and I’ve not yet got fully organised for the Aye Write Bookfest)

I note with interest that veterans like Nick Lowe (not the Nick Low I know) and Andy Fairweather Low are playing on Thursday, Aug 10th (and I once roadied for AFL in the days when you could make a couple of quid for yourself by helping to carry gear in and being there again at the end of the night to carry gear out – and get paid – but Andy’s team also invited us to the after-show party at the then Albany)

I am, as ever, open to suggestions.

Maybe Texas?

KT Tunstall?

But I want to mention a country duo who are on at the Bandstand on Friday, 11th August.  These are/this is The Shires………….and they are nothing like Alabama 3. Honest.

Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind tethered to another and you’re worried all the time. You always knew the melody but you never heard it rhyme (Brandi Carlile – ‘The Mother’)

February 9, 2017

And so dear listener, technically I have now been deemed fit to return to work but I had planned to be working these last few days and then enjoy being off the rota and taking TOIL (Time off in Lieu) and not doing much. I’m bored but better and desperate to get back out there….you know what I mean. ):

Indeed uni-Sharon works in the same kinda field and a recent msg from her read, ‘I’ll be in touch when thugs calm down.’ I was halfway into my car to go and help out when the correction came through; ‘things, I mean things!’

So, I have seen much of the NHS on TV as well as experiencing it in the really nice Maryhill Health Centre;

I would like to congratulate j, the blog’s favourite Gran on becoming a Gran again (and I may have more on a similar story in a couple of weeks or so but subject to the usual lack of information); 😀 😀 😀

and I listened to someone else describing hospitals as really ‘depressing places’.

At one point the detailed planning for this blog (a post-it) read ‘hosipta spevial’ which loosely translates as ‘hospital special’. But other things have happened since.

So all I’ll say is that in my only in-patient experience (the ten days or so after the Cold Turkey weekend) I ate properly with three meals a day for the first time in years; was shown how to walk (as my balance had been, and still is, a wee bit affected) on the backstairs of Gartnavel by two brilliant and very patient female physios; and was given two pairs of Gartnavel pyjamas to take away with me by one of the porters/male attendants with the words, ‘I don’t want ever to see you fu*king back in here ever again.’ I suspect that he believed that my alcohol dependency was a behaviour and not a disease. But I never wanted to go back either. And I haven’t since. 🙂

The pyjamas were given away recently unworn as I don’t wear pyjamas; tbh, I don’t wear anything most of the time……..Thankfully I don’t sleep walk.

(Like many people, I keep a notepad by my bed. It can help sleep patterns. If you’re really bad with sleep issues, then write the problem down on the pad, scrumple it up and throw it away. The problem won’t go away but it’s now far enough away not to cause you problems until you pick it up in the morning……the things you learn working in a rehab……..but in my basically alcoholic gap year my bad writing and my addled brain made it virtually impossible to understand the next morning what had been troubling me…..’Scarlet Turkeys again’ was one)

And this week’s random Conversation of the Month took place in the Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens into which I had popped as it was snowy-raining and I wandered over to the leaflets bit.

‘Watch what you’re doing’, this man said to me.

‘What?’ I said back to him.

‘Oh, sorry,’ he said. ‘I thought you were my daughter.’

Thirty seconds later I saw him with his daughter. She looked about eleven with long black hair.

And why did I feel the need to tell my optician that I was getting my hair cut the next day? Y’see I had had blurred vision a couple of times the day after I went back to work so I decided to get my eyes checked and they’re fine.  I think it was ‘cos I had to keep pushing my hair behind my hair to get those strange goggles on but the thing I really like is when you get the peripheral vision test. That’s the one when you see a flash and you have to press a button on a controller and it was so like playing early Space Invaders. I was bigly good.

And finally, I have tried to explain to people that one of the reasons I turned so much to alcohol after mum passed away was the fact that I had lost contact, during her illness, with many groups of people and networks. The fact that the BBC had moved south of the river may or may not have been a bad thing. This graphic explains a wee bit more……it’s about five minutes long so please feel free to come back to it.

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

iaint850, and all this free time I have just now looked so good four weeks ago BV – Before the Virus! I don’t even have things to talk about!

So I’m going to stop poking fun at the Donald. It’s too easy but his, and his team’s, pronouncements are becoming more and more frightening and further and further away from the truth.

Whereas this is so totally true. He said;

“I was a good student. I understand things. I comprehend very well, better than I think almost anybody”

Aye, Donald but how were you with Inter Library Loans? And how was your Harvard Referencing? And did you ever, like me, once get lost in the North Side of the UWS (Paisley) Library which I didn’t even know existed until about five weeks into the first term/block/trimester?

I couldn’t find the doors out which obviously were the doors in. I didn’t panic. I wandered round two or three times, pretending I knew what I was doing. And then I saw the multi-storey carpark, I kept it on my left and found the doors I wanted. I then plucked a copy of Der Spiegel from a rack and sat down as if nothing had ever happened. 🙂

So how did you really get on at Wharton, Donald and did you ever go the Library – or did you get someone to bring it to you? Write your essays for you? I get asked to do that but I’ve known too many students over the years who write their own. 🙂

Next week will be a Donald-free zone, I promise you!

And back to really important matters. I’d like to thank top snapper Zoe for this simple, but so appropriate, song to welcome a new lady baby into the world. 😀 😀


‘So many books, so little time’ (Zappa, Frank)

February 3, 2017

And so dear listener, as some of you know I’ve recently been hit by viral tonsillitis (as well as a tax bill and some very necessary work to the car and the annual fee to the Rosedale Park Residents’ Association) and my thanks to all those who asked after me. It was quite debilitating. It took quite a lot out of me. In fact, more than I expected. 😦

But I did go back to work and I did enjoy being back at work and some of the folk (and they’re very good folk, some of the best) were saying they’d not seen me and wondered what had happened and that was nice. 🙂

And then the next day, I felt very tired and put it down to being ‘very tired’ after the shift. And not because I missed my nap-time. It was a busy shift, but a good shift – one of the best. So the day after that, I was still very tired and went back to the doctor, a different doctor, but they’re all good doctors, very good doctors, and I’ve been signed off again.

jt, just take your effing time, this time. There will always be homeless people. ):

But I’m now officially part-time days which covers a range of shifts from 7 ish in the morning to finishing just after 10 at night. Which is where this week’s Random Conversation of the Month comes from…..but it’s not too random. Just the best level of randomness…….good people.

I finished my shift at 9.30 and was wandering along Sauchiehall Street to Queen Street Station (thinking chips, and they’re good chips, some of the best chips) when I heard this voice asking me how to get to Argyle Street. I explained ‘carry on walking and take the first on the right and keep walking. You’ll find it then.’

He explained he’d parked in King Street and was heading back to his car. Turned out he was an auditor working in Boots doing a stock-take.

‘Of course, it’d not always Boots. Sometimes it’s SuperDrugs; and we recently did Top Shop. Get around quite a bit actually. Can be quite exciting. Came out the side door tonight and found myself in a strange lane and wasn’t sure where I was.’

I said nothing but an odd memory floated past – not a good memory. Certainly, not one of the best. Bad hombres down south of Byres Road.

‘OMG!’ I thought, ‘How far away’s the first right? Is it soon?’ But I explained that all my family had been involved in the financial world so I knew all about stock-taking.

‘So what happened to you?’ he asked.

‘Oh’, said I. ‘I ended up an alcoholic journalist.’

At that point, he found first right all on his own.

Lucy Worsley reminds me of somebody. 🙂

So I explained last week that Donald Trump does not read books; I understand he spends his time watching cable tv and tweeting until his masters, Bannon and Kushner, call him forth to sign another Executive Order. But does that matter, I was asked?

Well, leaving aside the fact that reading some factual books on the US Constitution and how the American Government has worked over the years might help*, there are books out there that are worth reading for pleasure alone – altho’ I suspect the POTUS would prefer all-action American heroes. 😀

He’s not a great fan of the environment, but maybe, just maybe a novel where the trees fight back might just instil some fresh thinking. The book is called The Trees (surprise, surprise); it’s written by Ali Shaw; and described on the cover as ‘Tarantino meets Middle Earth’ – or would those artistic references only confuse him? Answers please on a postcard (remember them?) to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue……

* or maybe not, cos that’s what’s going to bring him down.

Mmmmmm, Becky, I have the smell of brie when I open the fridge. But it’s nice brie…..very nice brie…some of the best brie.

And Dennis K, I haven’t forgotten about the curry, but it will be  a good curry.

And those of you with long memories may remember that I used to attend a Glasgow University based dining cub called the Winers’ Club and the annual William Topaz McGonagall dinner is about to happen. I am tempted to go as there are many good men in that club – many, many good men in what is a good club – but I’m never sure about meeting up with groups of people who may not know my story – and it’s a good story – but I’ll have a wee think and I’d be interested in your views – you, the listener, as your views are important to me (Hang on! He doesn’t ask for peoples’ views, does he?!?!)…….but I’ve just checked and I’m working that night anyway…….there’s always next time.

But doesn’t the world seem so much safer when a lede item on the news is iceberg lettuce rationing.

And finally, only my work colleagues will understand this but thanks to the new e-system for paperwork and as database at the project, my first night back (on dayshift) saw me shouting at the computer, in total frustration, ‘Aw shit! Not another frozen running log!’

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple. Some of my life stays constant and I like it that way. 🙂

Iaint850, missing the Thursday Gaelic, tho’…….. 😦

So some nice thoughts about books. I’ve got a copy of the aye write brochure for this year and I’ll have a wee look through it later. Didn’t get to anything last year but plan to do more this year. And I’m open to suggestions. But lots of good stuff for bookophiles of all ages….including quite a lot of Gaelic-related and Western Isles stuff. And the lovely Mike Heron formerly of the Incredible String Band.

But wait, what’s this I spy? Two hours’ worth of Research for Writers showing potential writers how to use ‘the Mitchell Collection and online.’……..maybe this is a sign. I’ll say no more but here’s the link to aye write to click but make it a good click 🙂

So this week ended with me feeling a wee bit down. So I make no excuse for this choice of music, as every time I hear it, it brings a smile to my face. It’s a good piece of music, a very good piece – one of the best.

“Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.” “I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,'” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.” (Cassandra Clare, City of Glass)

January 26, 2017

And so dear listener, can I say a big thanks to those of you who communicated by various means and offered your appreciation of last week’s show and my memories of alcohol and the BBC, with a wee bit of libraries thrown in. It brought back good memories……..and my kinda TV presentation gig, that I talked about, lasted for the one and only series of the programme (Angles) which I couldn’t even find on a Google search ):

I basically played ‘researcher with clipboard’ who gave the viewers some background as to who the obscure guests were and got paid a Staff Contribution Fee which paid for my first ever SLR camera (a Praktica). 🙂

Another TV appearance was ‘man hiding behind newspaper in VD Clinic at Southern General’ but that’s another story for another day. 😉

This week has been different in that I’ve been off work with viral tonsilitis and my car has been off the road with bodywork problems which I thought would be a nuisance but it’s maybe helped. I am a patient person where other people are concerned – even if I do worry about things outwith (a good Scottish word according to the OED) my control.

But me? Why am I not doing this? Should I be doing that? Can I help? More so than the Anxiety period. I have been signed off sick for a week and I can only get better with rest and fresh air and if that has begun by walking down to the ASDA rather than driving, then that is no bad thing. 🙂

And this week would have seen the move to part-time days which I am looking forward to and a new system of (not) paperwork. The part-time thing is good cos it does give me time to do other things and one of the things coming up is the proof-reading season…….it could pay for the holiday I keep promising myself. 🙂

On the tonsilitis front, a couple of people expressed surprise that I still had my tonsils as theirs had come out ages ago. Some things I do not give up easily. I still have my appendix and, of course, my prostate. Concerns about the surgeon’s knife in that part of my body were amongst the reasons for choosing radiotherapy – however tiring that turned out.

And recent advances in the world of prostate cancer means that this will soon only take a few days rather than thirty-seven. 😀

And I feel I should say that apart from alcohol issues, cancer, mental health and planking without planning, my health has always been reasonably good but if there’s one part of my body that suffers at this time of year, it’s my throat.

So I cancelled the social side of my life last weekend (including going to a Gaelic gig which I had agreed to go to at short notice but had to pull out of……..if only I’d pulled out earlier, someone else could have got my ticket……..)

One nice aspect of going for the diagnosis at Dr Fiona’s was investigating the new houses that have sprung up behind the new surgery with some brilliant views of the hills and the canals. I saw these from the street; I did not walk unannounced into someone’s house.

I also overheard a conversation between two window cleaners which ended with one saying to the other;

‘That’s a dreadful attitude to come to work with; you come in tomorrow morning with the same attitude and I’m taking it to the boss.’

All this from two ladders perched precariously at second-floor windows whist a third collected money from the doors below. 🙂

And I’m grateful to Jill from the south-side for letting me have this quote from her Facebook page.

‘Quick question: what’s the protocol for when you’re sat feeding your baby in Costa .. you glance at your phone for a minute.. look back up and realise your little one has been carefully and methodically spooning his yoghurt into some woman’s hood.?

Asking for a friend.’

And I’m also glad I did question a friend’s cooking advice when he told me the best way to get good well-fired nan breads was to put them on the bottom of  the wok you’re cooking with;

‘No, jt. Once you’ve finished the rest of your cooking, so that nothing falls out.’

And finally, one of the first things I was taught in my most recent stint at uny was to question the existence of ‘facts’ in that proof and evidence was needed; a few years ago, I was introduced to the notion that if something is repeated often enough without someone checking the sources, then you were into the world of ‘factoids’; and now we’re going through a time when politicians and successful business people are telling us to ignore experts and present us with ‘alternative facts’, we may find it difficult to believe anyone and to know what to do next.

I have no answer; just despair every time I see the man knowing that he has become a role model for every populist politician in the world who sees ‘controlling borders’ as the way to political power. Let’s not worry about Brexit; in ten years there will be no EU – just a host of countries refusing to talk and trade with each other. And he doesn’t read books.

Tioraidh an-drasta, still wearing that badge and learning more than ever to keep it simple.


So, I’ve not been out much this week, cos of the virus, but I have listened to a lot of Celtic Connections on Radio 2 and BBC Radio Scotland. And the name Fairport Convention was mentioned – they were playing somewhere in Glasgow.

I have many happy memories of seeing them, Steeleye Span, The JSD Band, Contraband and Silly Wizard many, many years ago………and drinking with several from the last three, including a very svelte Phil Cunningham (student gigs where I was involved in putting the bands on) 🙂

This is Fairport Convention (with Sandy Denny) along with Led Zep’s Robert Plant.

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything (G B Shaw)

January 19, 2017

And so dear listener, it was on 1st April 1979 that I joined the BBC as a researcher in Religious Broadcasting in Queen Margaret Drive. That same day a new TV producer called Les (from local radio in England) also started.

That lunchtime, the head of the department, his assistant, Les and me went to the Storm Queen in Dumbarton Road for lunch – alcohol with some food on the side – and this was my introduction to much of how broadcast journalism worked. In those days. 🙂

It was a time of cocktail cabinets and lock-ins in the BBC club (which ostensibly closed at 2.30) and wine when there were things to celebrate like the end of that day’s programme. Or five o’clock on a Friday when a trolley came down to the newsroom to celebrate the start of the weekend with free booze. 😀 It doesn’t happen now.

And when I worked in Embra with Religious Broadcasting, Radio, not only was Friday celebrated in Henderson’s for lunch but a well know Embra wine seller/cellar in George Street had a couple of bottles of white chilling for us for the afternoon and this with a Saturday and early Sunday ahead of us. Happy daze. 🙂

(All to a certain extent like my introduction to student life at Glasgow University and my progress in the extra-curricular life, where alcohol and the Beer Bar played a major part in acceptance and it was how I met the rrm and Dennis and Big Jock……the need and search for acceptance)

But it ain’t like that now. The demands of news 24/7 and the open plan offices at Pacific Quay have put an end to that. ):

This all came to mind as I watched BBC’s The Paper Thistle – a eulogy to/a celebration of the 200 years of the Scotsman and the easy acceptance of booze as part of the accepted behaviour, and its acceptable influence, in the wonderful world of journalism.

But, as in all aspects of people’s dependency on drugs such as alcohol and coffee (ask the Queen for her definition of mind-changing drugs), behaviours can change when there is a reason for change. 😀

I enjoyed my time with Religious Broadcasting. I did so much and learned so much. I worked in both TV and radio. I co-presented (kinda) a TV series and presented church services on radio; I didn’t enjoy TV presentation and the then Head of Radio, Scotland, didn’t like my voice. But I survived and stayed with the Beeb for many years and in many guises.

It’s funny tho’. On the same night as the documentary was on I continued tidying up the back bedroom that I use as an office. I shredded millions of stuff associated with the SVQ (honest) and thought I’d continue with the ‘academic papers’ I have – a few of which were accumulated through Inter Library Loans which the Cistercian monks invented but which in some libraries are now called something different. Once I’d been shown (slowly) how to find things on the ‘net and print them off, there was no stopping me. Anyway, I picked up the first clump of papers which turned out to be a Powerpoint presentation on being Drunk and Incapable by Ken Barrie (Skippy can we re-write that bit?)

And of course I sat down and read it and thought I can’t throw that away…….will the book idea ever leave me? (Excuse me while I look up Griesbach et al 2009)

But I was also reminded of a time early in my BBC career when libraries and journalism coincided. I was working for BBC’s Nationwide (of glorious memory) but it was during the Falklands War and unless I was called down to the War Desk in London, things (in Glasgow) were quiet.

I was approached by the producer of a Saturday programme – Jimmy Mack’s Old Gold – who wanted a feature called In This Week Ten Years Ago, Twenty Years Ago and so on. It involved me going down to the Mitchell Library (no USB sticks were harmed) every few weeks and going through the massive volumes of old Daily Records and Daily Expresses to look for the quirky – the stories that made you go Wow! 🙂

I could have done it in a couple of hours but there was a strange attraction in reading these old newspapers  or the high-tech world of the micro-fiche and following through a story – linking things before hyperlinks existed. Libraries can have that effect. How much material exists precariously on top of that bookcase that I didn’t need for my MSc but I got printed off anyway?

Gosh, 734 words without any effort…..I have 250 left.

And finally, a big well done to my friend uni-Sharon who managed to find the exact spot where we were meeting and on time.  Speaking as someone who had dreadful trouble finding a bodyshop in Bishopbriggs to get some work done on my new car, that was seriously good.

Cya, still wearing that badge and there is a knack to keeping it simple which I sometimes forget.

Johnt850, happily keeping it random.

So why do some people need the editing service I provide as secondary income for me?

Well I was approached by someone who asked if I could read 86,970 words in three weeks. ‘No’, I explained. ‘Not enough time.’ And I quoted Glasgow University’s Peer Proof-Reading Guidelines which suggest allowing ten days for essays of 20,000 words – rough guideline.

Back came the reply;

‘Sorry. I meant 8,697 words.’

Yes. You need a proof-reader and yes, I can.

I haven’t done anything about going to see Celtic Connections yet, for all sorts of reasons but this is Emma Pollock from this year’s Roaming Roots Revue at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Not big skies, J, but dark skies;