“Libraries are our friends.” ― Neil Gaiman

April 28, 2016

And so dear listener, I’ve been meaning to mention this for some time but some things got in the way. But some other things have happened since to make me want to write this.

A few weeks ago, I watched a discussion on Channel 4 News in which the author of the Horrid Henry stories took on an automaton from the Institute of Economic Affairs disguised as a woman in which the automaton was arguing the case that libraries could not continue (more or less) in their current forms unless they had plenty of computers and people to show you how to use them😦

The real person (Francesca Simons) wanted them to have books and people who knew about books to help share their love of books. There seemed to be some disagreement about the actual meaning of browsing.

I know whose side I’m on. And that of knowledgeable bookshops:)

One example says it all. Recently I read a book with 3 year old RJ, which her mum had got from the local library. It’s a story about cray-ons (not cranes) laying down their tools (themselves) as they felt stereotyped. I loved it and decided to buy a couple of copies for other people.

I went to Waterstone’s in Byres Road and asked an assistant for a children’s book about cray-ons going on strike (trade union background showing through there). She paused for a second and said, ‘You mean ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’? ’ And went and got two copies. One went to my grand-daughter and the other went to another grand-child from a different family (J? A grand-mum? But too young surely? But then I remember that I am a grandpa) and this other grand-daughter did so much more with it in terms of using her imagination than you could ever do with a keyboard and monitor. It became so much more than just a damn good read; it was a platform for imagination😀

e and I browsed in the Oxfam in Byres Road the other day and you discover books that you didn’t know even existed; when I was very young I was allowed to have a borrowing card for the adult (pronunciation is vital here) section of the local library and I read some amazing books as a result of which I wanted to be a policeman when I grew up; I made extra cash in my early days in radio by writing a What Happened Ten/Twenty/Thirty Years feature for a Saturday morning programme – the material for which I discovered by delving into Mitchell Library micro-fiches; and (and some of you knew this was coming) I owe sooooooo much to all the library staff at UWS (Paisley) for their help and patience in my Post Grad and Masters😀😀😀

I should have gone and said thanks to them on my day of Master’s graduation resplendent in my second only ever wearing of Highland Dress with black socks. But saying that your help with that Inter Library Loan meant I had to learn how to tie a pair of brogues sounds strange – there are quantum leaps and there are quantum leaps.

(‘And was anything worn under the kilt, jt?’

‘No, Skippy, it was all in good working order and still is.)

But you catch my drift.

Gosh, that’s half my word count…….

Ach, let’s keep going. I’m in that kinda mood.

It’s not that I’d stopped reading but it had become the kinda angst reading that I was buying from Fopp – Burroughs and Welsh. But I’ve folk to thank for my change in reading. J and e get big mentions lots but Prostate Cancer Ann and the Blogmeister both suggested Neil Gaiman to me and whilst I have mixed feelings about him, it was with great interest that I had to pull them apart metaphorically in a discussion about veganism on my Facebook page.

And do you remember a wee while ago I was coming back from a team bonding day and was on the train and everyone was looking at their tablets except for the girl on the train who was reading The Girl on the Train? It’s actually a very good book but sooooo much of it described what it is like to be drunk/hungover/drunk/hungover on a daily basis like it was for me in that final thirteen months before Cold Turkey Sunday but I finished it. (I watched the Louis Theroux prog last Sunday and it did not have the same effect on me.)

I was thinking all this as I walked through the Gruffalo Park in Bearsden recently:)

Don’t get me wrong. For academic research, computer databases are brilliant. I can’t even remember all their names and there was a joy in discovering obscure articles in the Australian version of Addiction, but even better was seeing a whole shelf load of hard copies of that journal and spending a couple of hours randomly looking through them was never a waste of time.

My favest journal article was ‘Not to Be Toyed With’: Drug Addiction, Bullying and Self-empowerment in Buffy the Vampire Slayer…….absolutely no relevance to what I was doing but how could you not want to read like that? But no. No pictures.

(obvious copy and paste that hasn’t worked:)

The point I’m making is how big a role libraries have played in my life over the years even if there was a time I strayed away from them. I see young children being introduced to them in various places and it’s great that Hillhead Library, for example, can play host to Gaelic playgroups and the noise (of fun) that is attached to them.

I still have my SCONUL card and my Glasgow Life Library card was issued to me by Missie K when she worked in Glasgow Life Libraries but how come, Missie K, my membership number is the year of my birth? Eh, that’s it. Rant over.

And finally, there is only one piece of music I can play this week. I remember that afternoon. I watched it unfold live on television and remember shouting at the TV – helpless, fuc*ing helpless.

JFT96 at last.


“Each meeting occurs at the precise moment for which it was meant. Usually, when it will have the greatest impact on our lives.” ― Nadia Scrieva, Fathoms of Forgiveness

April 21, 2016

And so dear listener, altho’ it may not look like it, there is often a structure to this show – a balance, even a theme. Yes. Sometimes it’s about drink’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll’n’sex’n’cancer, but often it’s not as mundane as that. It can sometimes be summed up in one word – one really exciting word – that gets your juices flowing (No. I’ve never been too sure about that phrase either) and really makes you good to go.:)

This week’s word? Meeting. No. Stay with me. Listen to me. This last seven days since we last spoke have seen me meet lots of people and each time, I’ve come away with a smashing smile on my face and a lot of coffee in my system.

(In my final year of alcohol dependency, I was tanning a full bottle of whisky a night and often a glug from the spare bottle(!). Now, two cups of hotel lobby coffee on a breakfast of granola and yogurt and I’m higher than a very high thing)

Take for example last Friday when I met up with J, the blog’s favest wildlife protector. It was a simple explanation of how she had helped a trapped bee to leave her home by the use of a glass and an envelope – with actions. The restaurant was enthralled but at least I knew what was happening…..if you’re a member of the group known as 5338, it’s what you do.:)

Me? I open windows and wave them in that direction but it’s not as exciting……and I’ve never felt the same about Barack Obama since he killed that fly with his bare hands.

Geek, not Greek, but that could explain the problems with their economy.

And on Monday I met Jenny G who is different from Jenny H, who passed her PhD Veeeeeeeeeeeva that day (and massive congrats Jenny H…well deserved) but was i/viewing me about, well, as I will be anonymised in her Master’s, then maybe it’s better I say not what it was about – but I was well i/viewed.:)

There is something about hotel lobbies, isn’t there? I thought he was a businessman waiting for a another businessman but it was a young lady with a wean in a buggy who met up with him.……..and she didn’t seem family. I wasn’t expecting that. Make up a sentence with the words ‘imagination’ and ‘riot’ in it…….

Anyway, nice one Jenny G and let me know how you get on.:)

And then who should I meet in Byres Road but Julian (ex-BBC Glasgow now freelancing in London) and we reminisced (sp) about a show I produced, with much help, for Radio 5 called Night Moves which went out just after midnight and was the best phone-in ever.

Julian was one of a number of young freelances including a lot of Nor’n Irish guys who were paid to answer the phones whose sobriety (as a catch-all description) was occasionally in doubt but then so was mine at times, so I said nothing but we got more calls on air than any other programme in that slot.:D

(What’s that Skippy? All the names so far begin with ‘J’ apart from J who’s called J. Tell you what; I’ll move on)

And I’m pleased to say negotiations have started with Jayne H, Anne and Jo from uny, and Missie K about meeting up….soon.

And finally, I’m reading a book called The Girl on the Train and it’s not what I expected.

Leaving the storyline aside it’s a frighteningly accurate representation of what it’s like to be an ‘alcoholic’ (Rachel’s description of herself; I try not to use that word) and the strange things you do, on your own, that seem frighteningly logical at the time. Why did I walk here? Why was I taking to that man?  I don’t recognise that voice on the answering machine. Who did I give my number to?

Not that everything I do is frighteningly logical these sober days, but I look forward to meeting people and no, one of those questions I’m often asked, I don’t go to the meetings. Good luck to those who do, but as someone in a rehab centre once said to me, ‘Why go somewhere when your head’s full of mince and everyone else has got the same mince in their heads?’

Cya, still wearing that badge and it’s back to keeping it simple.😀

Johnt850, still redfaced but now I can blame the sun.

So now will you please indulge me in a football memory – but a nice one.

Many years ago I worked for a man called Michael Kelly who had a PR agency and one of its clients was Celtic Football Club and a man called Billy McNeill had just stepped down from the role of manager (Rrm, the next time we meet, remind me to tell you about the memo that didn’t exist).

So we, sorry, the board (not me and Michael) decided to take our time and get the right guy. And I got lots of phone calls from sports journos about the latest rumour or just to ask if anything was happening to which I’d reply; ‘Nothing continues to happen.’

Eventually, I was able to announce (my name was at the bottom of the press release) that Liam Brady was the new manager of the football division and a brighter dawn was ahead of the club……No. No comment.

But the big fun I got was going out to Celtic Park to see Liam or Terry Cassidy or one of the other directors or players and saying cheerio to them in the foyer of the club just as people doing the tour of Celtic Park walked by wondering who it was that was talking to Liam or Terry.

The other big fun I got was going to Victoria’s with some of them but that’s maybe another story for another day.😀

This is a lady called Gretchen Peters with a jolly interesting song called Blackbird……actually it’s quite depressing;


I wanna walk and not run I wanna skip and not fall I wanna look at the horizon And not see a building standing tall (Dixie Chicks)

April 14, 2016

And so dear listener, the refurbishment of t850 Towers continues. The blind man has been and all that is required is a little spark (altho’ to be honest I’m not really too sure of the size of the electrician) and we are not miles away from opening to the public again.:)

And the outside furniture is up. As well as a proper bench replacing the well-gnawed picnic bench there is a ‘patio set’. With some help from Kenny the Shed Pimp, these were assembled and I was entrusted to unwrap the chairs but it started to rain. So a short while later I put out a chair; and it looked bloody sad out there on its own.😦

So, I put out a second chair; and I’m not sure if that doesn’t look sadder.  :(😦

And I felt bad when a friend of mine, on her way to work at the ASDA, waved at me; cos I was on my way to Morrisons (they have a better selection of fish).

I mention these, dear listener, as a couple of folk did ask me about last week’s show when I was a wee bit down (just a wee bit)……’why,’ they said, ‘do you not wait until you’re happier before writing the blog?’ Well, it has to represent my feelings when I actually sit down and I don’t always choose the moment.

And I mentioned to some folk that I planning to take my laptop to computer hospital and they assumed my computer wasn’t working. It is actually a Google Chrome problem. It was like a few years ago I told someone that I was off to the doctor’s that morning. ‘Oh,’ they said, ‘are you not feeling well?’

‘Oh, much better,’ said I, ‘and I want the doctor to know.’😀

It’s like when I’m talking to a traffic warden I may not necessarily be talking about parked cars; when I’m talking to a fellow homeless worker I may not be discussing the homeless; or when I’m talking to a librarian I’m not necessarily talking about books (altho’……..)

I do wish the complete works of Sherlock Holmes were required reading for people, so that people learn to look beyond the seemingly obvious.

‘At what level of schooling would you introduce it, Holmes?’

‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’

Talking of taking things to places, I once saw a guy with a crocodile and shouted ‘hey, what are you doing with that crocodile out in a public place?’

‘Oh, it’s okay,’ he said. ‘I’m taking it to the zoo.’

I saw him again the next day and said, ‘Hey, I thought you said you were taking that crocodile to the zoo.’

‘I did,’ he said. ‘Today I’m taking it to see a movie.’

And recently, I finished a shift at 5.30 am. The project where I work is at the nice’n’sleazy end of Sauchiehall Street and I park in the same street but on the other side of the motorway. Walking to the car at that time, just as the first light is forcing its way through, and the wide range of birdsong that I could hear was a brilliant experience.:)

It reminded me of a recent and very enjoyable visit to Pollok Park, which was also the first time I understood why getting a specific colour of paint deliberately mixed up at a B & Q is such a good idea but it would have been wrong to strip the bark off the tree just cos it was a nice colour.

And this week’s Headline of the Month? ‘Dominatrix scandal MP on the rack’ (Daily Record)

And can I make the point that my tax return only reflects what I choose to tell HMRC? No. No reason.

And finally, I was really disappointed that it was an underwater robot that was searching for Nessie. Like many others, I read it as ‘underwater rabbit’.😉

Cya, still wearing that badge and back to keeping it simple,

Johnt850, the face still remains red at times but not so subued this week.

So, in one way, I’m glad that I didn’t get the go ahead for the PhD but it never made it to application status. In another……..but then again……..

One of the things that did happen was all the changes to my idea so that eventually it matched the criteria for a possible studentship. And then it didn’t. And I’m basically a story teller. Research methodology?

Anyway, were I to offer one again, it would be a different subject and would require a different uny….I touched on it in the Post Grad and the Master’s and touch on it a lot in the blog.

Continued stigma attached to certain words, especially ‘addict’ and its brothers and sisters such as ‘alcoholic’.

The debate was initiated to a certain extent by things being written by a former Independent journalist called Jonathan Hari who is possibly best known for having had the 2008 Orwell Prize removed from him for plagiarism but who later wrote a smashing book called Chasing the Scream updating many views on substance use and our approaches towards it – telling a wider public that it’s not an illness. His own personal rehabilitation. Possibly.

He has seemingly justified using the word ‘addict’ and whilst, for some, this might be a technical debate, I don’t like words like that. Were I to write that PhD, then the following quote from former Harm Reduction Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, Meghan Ralston, would be in it.

‘Drug use and addiction are so unusually and profoundly stigmatised that people don’t find it necessary to extend the same respect to those affected as they would to people with other health conditions.’

The next time you use the phrase ‘chronic alcoholic’, please remember that that may have been your description of me ten years ago – but not now. Hopefully.

Anyway, here’s the main man when it comes to recovering from dependencies and marriage – Steve Earle and the brilliant ‘Copperhead Road’. I think I need a third piece of music for my funeral. I wonder….(and 2’36” into it a piper comes back into the Crem!!!!!!!!!)


When you tug at a single thing in nature,you will find it attached to the rest of the world (John Muir suggested by Ian Harrower)

April 7, 2016

And so dear listener, this blog is now eight years old. It started as a way of letting people know about the second half of my successful treatment for prostate cancer – the radiotherapy – or sandblasting as it was known in the blog. That was a way of trying to introduce some humour and reduce the fear factor in talking about cancer.:)

Altho’ I had to do some fast talking when some students who were filming me in my (shared) office saw a notice above the coffee table which said, ‘Which of you bastards stole a dying man’s coffee?’ Some jokes don’t work.😦

The first half of the treatment got less attention. It was a drug called Zoladex and it has been suggested that it had major side effects. My ex-wife looked at the list of them and said ‘you’re about to go through the menopause.’ And I still get hot flushes, altho’ whether that’s because I still get an awful lot of things wrong or am easily embarrassed, I’m not sure.

It came in the shape of a large needle and was administered, by a doctor, on a monthly basis. Y’see the male hormone testosterone feeds the cancer and the Zoladex administers oestrogene which kills the testosterone and gives the sandblasting a better chance of working. Which, in my case, it did successfully.

So I am still around today. To continue making mistakes. I’ll move myself on. Cos it’s been a good week. Mostly.

I’d like to say a big congrats to Sophe Williamson who married Christina Watson a few days ago and sent out some lovely pictures. Call me old fashioned but when two young women get married, I think it’s really nice when they’re both wearing wedding dresses. I showed some of the pics from social media to a work colleague who said, ‘they’re really nice. How do you know Sophe?’

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘we were both zombies together.’

Sometimes you can just sense when someone’s not too sure how to reply to something that’s been said and it’s best for the conversation to move on.

But since this blog is eight years old it was appropriate that I went for a drink with the blogmeister, altho’ I didn’t realise the anniversary until I sat down at the typewriter just now. I had written a page about my experiences with the drink and cancer and I had edited it as appropriate for individuals and if I felt their stomach was up to it, I could send them a page about the Twenty-four hours of Cold Turkey which I’d written for a competition run by the Scottish Book Trust.

Anyway I did spend some time in Tennents with the man who helped me launch my blogging career as I had no idea how to start such a venture but I have to say that Morgan’s Rum and Diet Coke may not be the best basis for a diet……just saying’, that’s all.:)

And it wasn’t eight years ago that I made the decision to join some friends who are Partick Thistle fans but that came out of a concern that I wasn’t doing anything with my Saturdays and time hanging heavy on my hands can be dangerous. It paid off on Tuesday night when not only did the Harry Wraggs, the Maryhill Jags win one – nil but I came away with a large foam thumb. Unfortunately I had missed the game where a free cushion designed by Kota Ezawa was given away. And if that seems strange for a football club, then bite on this, footie fans. Until recently, the mission statement on the PTFC website read, NOT SO CUDDLY ANYMORE!

And finally, I’d like to thank J, the blog’s favest music critic, for agreeing to come with me to see Alabama 3 in a ‘few weeks’ time’. For those of you who don’t know, A3 are the world’s greatest acid house country rock band and played an amazing part in my recovery. I saw them once before at Balloch Country Park a few years ago.  I suspect it’ll be slightly different indoors.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and, stupidly, sometimes finding it difficult to keep it simple.

Johnt850, feeling very red-faced and very subdued.

And, yes, Scotland has done really well in having four leaders out of six Holyrood parties who are in same-sex relationships and have not made a big deal out of it. Indeed the tabloids have made little of it which is nice.

I’ve touched on this before. I worry when people come out in any sense and a big thing is made of their ‘bravery’ which I feel puts people off. And that’s been a big aim of this blog – to try and demystify substance and cancer issues and various people have spoken to me about things arising out of this………and there’s lots of folk like me……..there’s a massive list of speakers available from Prostate Cancer UK who are available to do information talks or staff information stands at Health Days.

And then there’s the tube of an expert on Breakfast News or whatever the BBC prog is called, whose first contribution to a discussion on eating disorders is to congratulate the two young girls, who were speaking about their experiences, for their ‘bravery’. The girls were much quieter after that. I’m not sure if they had ever seen talking about their experiences as being brave. Now they were thinking about what they had done.

But what do I know?

This is Lady Antebellum……..this is from a different past.


A Fragrance So Tempting That Even Angels Will Sin For Its Heavenly Masculinity (Lynx Excite)

March 31, 2016

So I’ve started to use that as a ‘refreshing shower gel’ and intend to keep the manufacturers (and you dear listener) up to speed as to whether it actually does what it says on the outside just above the ingredients.😉

No. No alcohol and just a little in the Listerine. That I can cope with.

And dear listener, I know I come across as someone who hires in men (or women) when a job needs doing but was there any need for Mary, my neighbour, when I was out planting some interesting herbs, for her to say to her daughter (ages with Son Brian), ‘Go and get the camera. Johnt’s working in the garden.’?😦

I do do things for myself. I go to supermarkets. After a very refreshing visit to the Burgh of Paisley (and let’s hear it for 2021) I went to Morrisons at Anniesland. The group of women in front of me had not seen the cashier for ages and so I was regaled (sp) with such amazing snippets of conversation as;

‘It was then he had his leg cut off’ and ‘No. She didn’t know she was pregnant until the wean popped out.’

I don’t normally listen to such conversations but the man behind me (clasping baby to chest) was refereeing a potential argument between two silver haired ladies as to whether one of them had the right to leave her trolley, go away and get another item and then regain her place in the queue. Suddenly the Middle East becomes relatively simple.

And j, thank you for that ringing endorsement of my driving and e, I’ve still to tell her about Alderman Road but maybe I won’t bother now. But I will say one thing to j; the water in the lagoon is blue – I repeat – the water in the lagoon is blue…….. but the colour of my new blonds will be Buttermist. I’ve done it again!!!!!!!!!! That typo!!!!!!!!! It’s happened again!!!!! Look at your keyboard!!!!! I’m leaving it in……….😀😀😀

And speaking of e, I went solo with Holly last week. (Skippy, it’s okay to say that isn’t it?) E had been called away and I had been entrusted with Holly and the front door key (spare). And you know those faux-comic (sometimes I feel more West End than Summerston) films where you see an owner being pulled along by the dog – well it ain’t that funny.

My thanks to Kenny the Shed Pimp for helping to slow things down just before the Botanic Gardens and to all who asked; both small black plastic bags were used and I was panicking in case a third (which I didn’t have) was needed. I mean what do you do then? Leave a wee sign saying, ‘I’ll be back.’ In a butch voice.:)

No. I didn’t let her off the lead. Something about it not being the end of the season yet. Didn’t know Holly was a football fan. But Holly took a real good selfie which I let a couple of people see including Jenny H (and I hope the mock Veeeeeeeeva went well – Elvis and the Dead Kennedys know how to pronounce these things) and her difficulty in telling me and Holly apart led me to decide to go and get my hair cut. Which I would never attempt on my own.:)

And I went to the dentist on my own. This is the dentist that was recommended by BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal, and his wife. And I love the picture of my mouth on the computer screen. And it is sooooo nice to go to a dentist that is not an offshoot of what seems to be Pineapple Studios.😦

And t850 Towers is slowly taking shape. And people are slowly being invited over to enjoy its delights and  its new patio furniture – which Kenny the Shed Pimp will assemble for me – and curtains………soon time.

And finally, in a few weeks’ time, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs will take place in New York. It’s looking for an ‘integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem’ and, whilst I won’t be reporting from there, I will keep you up to date with any significant developments. And whilst decriminalisation is on the menu, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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

Johnt850, and if it sounds fantastic, it is fantastic.

And so, I did watch The Line Manager. And I have to say that The House Manager was a powerful piece of drama and played good homage to the works of John Le Carre whose novels have disappeared from my back bedroom and, yes, Le Carre did play a cameo role as the man who ordered the lobster salad that annoyed Corky so much and two of his sons were exec prods on the whole venture.:)

And the writing was good but the best bit of writing for me came when the real star of The Night Manager (Olivia Colman as the spymaster) spoke to David Harewood and there were two lines about her pregnancy not being a cover cos she really was pregnant. That was skilled writing, brilliantly delivered.😀

It was on a par with a line from Grease when the John Travolta character says to the Olivia Newton John character that ‘you can’t walk out of a drive-in movie.’

Last week I played Fast Car (Skippy, is that the right title?). I should have played this. I mean I can’t be the only man who wants to slick back his hair, pull his collar up a la the Fonze and do ALL the actions to this. Can I? Go Greased Lightning!!!!!!!

Sexual connotation? Where?


There are no ships on the Paisley Canal (anon)

March 24, 2016

And so dear listener, once upon a time, I would have said I was currently living in a bomb site, but we now see, so often, pictures of real bomb sites both far away and close to home that that is a poor use of language. Many of the dead do not wear military uniforms but are people like you and me on their way to work or having a coffee or whatever.

Please always remember tho’, that when you see someone re-post something from Britain First or similar or agree with Trump that we’d be better without Muslims, you are doing Daesh’s work for them – you are promoting division and hatred which is what they want. That, and recruits for their bastard cause.

They are losing on the battlefield. This is why they are turning their attention to our streets more than ever before. This is neither the work nor the thoughts of the Prophet. These are extremists using a faith, a religion, for their own horrible aims.

Pause for reflection.

No. There is a painter in my house. Called Jed. Who, amongst other things, is doing ceilings I would never contemplate doing. He confirmed on Tuesday night that he would be here on Thursday and Friday and is doing the entire Top Wing (it seems) so piles of stuff, including some jolly interesting stuff I’d obtained on Inter Library Loan which I will read before assigning it to a shelf somewhere, is all over the floors of the rest of t850Towers.:)

The colour I chose for the back bedroom wall – the office that is the hub of my multi-million empire? Soft gazelle. It looks much the same as some others of that pastel ilk but I like the name.:)

This made it difficult for the blind man (not a blind man as in the blind man and the nun gag – nor a blond man as in a typo I keep making) but a man come to measure for new blinds. The existing ones went in when I moved in some twenty-five years ago and are now dangerous. He seems to know what he’s doing.

J and I had a very pleasant day out on Monday but at one point I got a voicemail explaining that the blind man wouldn’t be over on Tuesday as promised because, according to the female voice that left the message, he had had vomiting and diarrohea (sp) – way too much information – so when he did come over I felt I couldn’t look him in the face. Or indeed anywhere else.

Interesting place, Paisley. I was walking past a semi-bungalow the other day, when I noticed a full Star Wars Star-trooper’s costume in a bay window. I may have told someone that it was a Jedi warrior’s. Too much coffee.

And then I was shown an interesting brick house out the back of a backyard. No. Not that type of brick house but an old brick building in disrepair where they, presumably, built up some kinda heating in order to help dry clothes if the weather was not good.

Either that or for smoking fish……’I may have smoked some things in my time but never fish’ a strange voice said in my ear just now.

And finally, I was going to tell you a wee bit more about the adventure J and I went on on Monday, just past, but I’ve run out of space…altho’ I did meet someone who I had not seen since my BBC days and who I want to catch up with soon time (and he’s a guy).

Many highlights, but one of the bestest was talking to a volunteer cleaner man carefully dusting what looked like very old furniture in Pollok House, who explained to us that he had only just realised that it was reproduction as the nipples on the lady had been fondled away……..or did I pick that up wrong? Anyway, it seemed to make his day.:)

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Johnt850, described recently as a non-smoking fag……..eh?

So, as I’ve mentioned to some folk I’ve been to the doctor – nothing to do with the bowel cancer fright of a couple of weeks ago but a general sense of rundown-ness. Don’t get me wrong. I can walk for miles, do a proper job of work with the homeless and run around with my grand-daughter with no problem but it’s not my usual sense of energy.

So blood tests were done and everything is dine; kidneys and liver and blood-sugar levels and no signs of diabetes and my separate PSA test for my prostate cancer is 0.9, which is good.

So I will go back and will ask to speak to a nutritionist. Am I maybe falling into the habits of five or six years ago and just going through a stock range of dishes for eating on my own? The original decision to go pescatarian was never for ethical or medical reasons.  Maybe it’s time to re-think that policy. We’ll see.

So I was very pleased with my Clio the other day – drove the road and the miles to Pollok from Paisley really good and avoiding traffic islands (No. No reason but please no-one mention Alderman Road which was much worse than the incident coming out of the Clyde Tunnel) So here’s a wee piece of music purely for it and every passenger who’s fallen in love with the two sunroofs.


The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book (Frye)

March 17, 2016

And so, dear listener, I start off this week’s show with a confession; I currently have no Facebook on my phone and I have no idea what to do about it. I still have it on laptop and tablet and all I had to do is un-install it (after an upgrade), and then re-install it and I do get a big green tick to say job done but it still doesn’t come up. I’ll go to the Blackberry shop in Great Western Road when I next go to the dentist – which isn’t that far away.:)

The date, that is. Not the dentist. Who was suggested to me by two Facebook friends when I needed a new one – dentist that is, not a new Facebook friend. It’s in Great Western Road as well. The guy who works there (see my Facebook page for the Blackberry shop – not the dentist) hasn’t quite got to the stage of saying, ‘Oh, it’s you…..’ of blessed memory (which does, when I think about it, suggest at least one previous meeting of some import), but he does smile graciously and does stuff with his fingers and asks me to put in a password, which I can never remember but it is in my computer in a folder that used to be called Kleenex Tissues (No. No reason)😉

So where was I? Sorry, I was night shift last night and to a certain extent I’m procrastinating. Y’see, the next item on the yellow Post-It that is my equivalent of the Filofax (BBC crest) I once had, is my first attempt at writing my first SVQ reflective account. (I wonder where that now is – my Filofax; not my first SVQ reflective account cos it doesn’t exist yet).

I need chocolate. Give me a minute. Why don’t they make chocolate covered Haribos with a caffeine shot? That’d be good. There’s wired and there’s Haribo-wired.😀😀😀

Y’see a few days ago, I was able to give j, the blog’s favest Adventurer, directions – not with a Geo- locator or Sat Nav or some strange app(lication) but by using one of Glasgow’s best known landmarks – Watt Bros – and it put a real smile on my face. Y’know where you are with Watt Bros.


That very underplayed Hyperlink address takes you straight there, as do many buses, but I would normally take the train from Summerston to Queen Street except I am now about to be unable to do so, as they’re closing Queen Street High Level for many months as they build a bigger tunnel. Build a bigger tunnel and they will beat a path to your door.:)

Re-establishing my links with Facebook on my phone is not a priority; and whilst the SVQ style of writing is not my style, for the first one, all I have to do is write a draft and take it from there.

Y’know, Holly, I feel so much better now (OMG! I have just spoken to a real dog that is not here, as opposed to an invisible bush kangaroo who I think is downstairs).

And finally, I was going to talk about a colleague and friend who recently had a vasectomy but I had to cut it for reasons of space………suggestions please for a child-friendly punchline – other than mine – gratefully received….and no, it’s not a way of me describing me……

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple – like Watt Bros.

Johnt850 with everything in working order

I’ve just apologised to Skippy for talking to Holly…….life can be soooooooooo complicated.

A few weeks ago, I said that the two most asked questions I got were ‘do you still get cravings?’ (and I think they mean alcohol and not meat – but the answer is ‘no’ to either) and ‘do you have any male friends?’ (I’ll get back to you on that one – but, yes, Holly’s a bitch)

The third most asked question is ‘who is Skippy?’ Obviously there is a loose link to another Skippy, a well-known but real bush kangaroo who had a brilliant TV series (and they got through four Skippys plus stand-ins) and tbh, I have no real idea how she got incorporated into the blog but as I approach the eighth anniversary of the blog, and therefore, the eight anniversary of my sandblasting (or radiotherapy as some traditionalists would call it) but not the first half of my treatment which took place before the radiotherapy, which is why I refer to it as the first half…..I thought I’d explain just a wee something about Skippy.

Yes. Often, there are regular references to individual people such as j, e and rrm (there’s an anagram for you – possibly Swedish with an umlaut) and irregular references to others – all of whom are remarkably receptive to being used in the blog but always with pseudonyms.

And, indeed, one week I was not well and Skippy wrote the blog which included the brilliant line (in an Ozzie accent), ‘that was some Sheila on the phone claiming to be your sister.’:)

Y’see, you are all Skippy. Whenever I’ve needed someone, you’ve been there – but I’ve not always named you and sometimes it’s simply been a response, for example, on Facebook and I’ve always tried to say thanks, in person, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes the other person is ‘too busy’ to meet – which is a shame – or it may be just a nice way of saying ‘I’ve never really liked you jt,’or’ you’re no longer useful to me.’ That’s life……..but negotiations are well in hand with some folk and I did enjoy meeting Missie K’s mum a wee while back and occasionally it’s been me seeing flat tyres where they don’t exist….a metaphor for life. But not mine.

But at times of despair, but never depression, Skippy’s been there. Who’s your invisible friend that you rely on – cos you can. No matter how many aphorisms and sayings you re-post on Facebook, Skippy talks me to me individually. And that’s so much better.

What? Sixty-one going on sixty-two but why do you ask?

It might be stretching things to describe Skippy as my ‘own personal Jesus’ but here’s Johnny Cash singing about his.


So I looked for a good rhubarb quote and couldn’t fine one other than a very long Groucho Marx quote (jt850)

March 11, 2016

And so dear listener, I am beginning this blog without the benefit of a working server. Something strange seemed to happen this morning when I got back in just before 11 o’clock. In case you wonder where I’d been, I’d been out. A notice on my phone told me I had no wi-fi access, my landline phone had a voice mail message telling me I’d no messages and my printer wanted to me to print a calibration page. Plus various house and car alarms were going off in the neighbourhood.😦

Also the CD player had been switched off. Yes. I still have a CD player and CDs;

  1. They are easier to swop than downloads and
  2. Charity and second hand shops do not sell downloads.
  3. You cannot scrape the ice off a car with a download.

At the time I worried. It was as if the electricity in the neighbourhood had been switched off and come back on. I have seen too much Sci-fi in my time but things settled down and when I investigated, my wi-fi connection was still strong but there was no contact with the DNS server. Whatever.😦

Now, like most people I can access various things through my phone but I had editing work to return or to acknowledge or Paypals to send or my SVQ stuff to research or……….when this blog is finished I need access to WordPress to send it……Ten years ago I might have had a drink to help me calm down (Yes. Even that early.) but an incident on Thursday night reminded me why I am off it.😦

This has happened to me once before.

I had bought two individual panna cottas and had checked the ingredients for glutens (No. No reason) and meat (unlikely but you never know) and was happy. So I decided to eat one. It had been a hard day. After the second mouthful, I realised I was experiencing a taste I had not experienced for a long time so I checked the list of ingredients and there, quite far down the list, was alcohol. I threw them both out as a strange sensation went down my throat and through my body…….the heat that alcohol can bring.:)

My body felt weird and I decided against driving. (Yes. I had nowhere to go but I once before I had had a desire for munchies during a paracetamol high and made the mistake of getting into my car and just sitting there – realising I was about to do something wrong but didn’t). Not long after that it hit my head and a headache began.😦

In a way that’s quite reassuring – to realise that my body reacts the way it did. And yes, I did send out some e-mails UTI but they seemed fine the next morning. Hopefully.:)

James Ellroy, the great American author, once described perfectly what that first drink once meant for me.

It.Is.The.Heat.Of.The.Whisky.Going.Down.The.Back.Of.Your.Throat.Slowly….very slowly. But this time I didn’t like it.

Let’s have a joke.

How do you know when Will Smith has been in the snow outside your house? Fresh prints.

And another one?

A man walks into a bar with a piece of tarmac under his arm. He says, ‘one drink for me and another for the road.’

Y’see, I was going to start off with something else. Myself and J were beginning to indulge in one of those annoying in-gags that sometimes permeate the blog and put people off as some casual readers don’t know what is going on. But, at the beginning of the week, the English, fascist, Tory, right wing reactionary government issued some guidelines for England and Wales saying that primary school pupils would only get credit for using exclamation marks in sentences beginning with ‘what’ or ‘how’. I think that is as in,

‘What a stupid idea!’ Or ‘How vibrant the rhubarb looks!’

Now I do agree that social media sees far too many exclamation marks (lol) and therefore, their effectiveness is reduced but could they not just give some guidance rather than take marks off?

There are no rules in grammar (and apart from anything else, there are no punishments) but there are conventions but even they, often, do not stand up to scrutiny. Why does it matter if you split n infinitive?

But I’ll maybe stop the in-gags for a while. Government snoopers could be listening.

And finally, the editing season is upon me. I can still get out but the midnight hours are burned. But I don’t mind. Apart from the money, I genuinely feel I’m helping students in a way busy tutors aren’t always able to. The thing is I’m not allowed to comment on content but sometime it’s difficult not to. What I do then, and did on this occasion, is to say ‘I’m not too sure that, statistically, you’ve got the best out of your work in the way that you’ve presented it. Why not go see your tutor and have a chat.’ To which the answer came back, ‘I have done and she’s happy.’😦

I had put over forty odd suggestions in the comments section down the side of the page. I just hope she’s never my doctor.


Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, still glancing at the wee wi-fi indicator on the bar below. And, hang on, I’ve just been told that a mail I sent about an hour ago has got through. That must mean…….and yes, it is. It’s back on and fingers crossed, it stays on.

I was going to do something serious about cancer in this bit but like rhubarb and editing, it’ll always be with us. Maybe next week?

I saw this man a few months ago. He goes by the name of Withered Hand. He’s rather good and I’d quite like to see him again.

I know words. I have the best words (Donald Drumpf)

March 4, 2016

And so, dear listener, in a week when Donald Drumpf gets closer to getting his finger on the nuclear button, but not as close as the North Korean President, and we discuss the ins and outs of Brexit (what a horrible word), there are only certain questions I need to ask this week;

Why is it not possible to get a return ticket for the Glasgow area which would let me go to work on the Thursday night and go home on the Friday morning? Not only that, but it turned out that the cheapest way of travelling was to buy day returns rather than singles and that saved me 20p on each journey and that was without my pass, which applies at only certain times.

And why, possibly a direct result of last week’s news about me NOT having bowel cancer, did I go to sleep straight after that night shift* and missed the call from the BBC to take part in a programme following good news of yet another breakthrough in cancer treatment?

*Cos I was knackered, that’s why.  :(

I’m told by BBC producer Steve Hollywood that it was a good item anyway – without me. This is BBC Steve who once told me that I’d taught him everything he knew and five minutes later did things in digital editing that I could only dream about. I think my son, who did a school work experience with the BBC, could do more in the way of digital editing than me.:)

(Steve I still remember that time, after a BBC night out, when I woke up (in my own bed) with over £600 of cash and IOUs.)

And does anyone out there remember a BBC TV programme called ‘What’s My Line?’? I do but I think it’s one of those implanted memory syndromes. It was in black and white and a panel, which included Lady Isobel Barnett and Sir Gilbert Harding (dressed in tiaras and tuxedos), had to guess the occupation of a member of the public from their actions.

J, the blog’s favest librarian; my first guess would have been a baker kneading dough; my second a fish porter; and my third would have been someone working in Post Office Parcels Counter – which considering I know your profession doesn’t say a lot about me minutes before I go on shift. Yes. Your mime was a librarian. I can see it all now.😉

Incidentally, a private message, if I may to j. I’ll see your five and raise it to six!!!!!!

And why, when Holly the dog starts to play with other dogs, am I the only person thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s a fight.’ ‘No, jt, they’re only playing.’ Sometimes, after a long walk, my legs feel as small as the daschund (?) in that insurance ad.

And am I watching too much daytime TV and in particular, antique programmes? (No. Not very old programmes but programmes about antiques) or does everyone else in my position find themselves shouting, ‘No. That’s too much for a monkey on a stick. Buy the spoons!’

Sorry, what was the question?

And finally, I was intrigued by the tabloid headline ‘Codgers on coke’ which referred to claims that two pensioners had to be kicked out of a charity event after claims they snorted cocaine in a toilet. Well, why shouldn’t they? Okay there are many reasons including the legal aspect of it all but substance use ain’t ever been the preserve of the young.:)

I may have been ‘alcohol only’ in my student days but cannabis started floating about the West End of Glasgow in the mid-seventies (unless you were some form of Bohemian, jazzy, painter, thespian type) One pub in Byres Road, in particular, was big a draw for people wearing curlers….but that was fifty years ago. In just the same way that not everyone who drinks becomes dependent on the stuff, not everyone who smokes, jags or pops pills becomes drug dependent.

That ‘grassy’ smell at the Beach Boys concert? That’s my generation, that is.😉

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

Johnt850, more questions than answers sometimes…….

So a guy called Tony Warren died during the week. Two aspects of his life stand out for me.

First he was openly gay at a time when gayness was illegal. But it’s strange. I knew quite a few guys who were homosexual, but they never formally ‘came out’. Rather they quietly said ‘No, jt, I don’t fancy her. I’m more interested in men, myself.’…and it was accepted.

So when Sam Smith stands up making pronouncements about homosexuality and racial discrimination as if it were all completely new he shows a complete lack of respect for all those who have gone before him.

I now know many people and their friends and families at various ends of the rainbow spectrum that is LGBTI and one of the most diverse groups of people I have ever known (from that point of view) were those amazing Zombies of just over a year ago now.😀

Tony’s other achievement was to bring working class life to the TV screen when it had never been there (in any great depth) before. He came up with the idea of Coronation Street and had to persuade TV bosses to give the idea a thirteen week run – and it’s still here today. What an amazing tribute to an amazing guy.:)

So at a time in my life when others were influenced by Hendrix and YES and ELP I really liked the sounds (and hairstyles – ah those fringes) of bands like this. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lindisfarne;


Post Early for Christmas (but maybe the end of February is a bit soon)

February 26, 2016

And so dear listener, this has been a week of learning, Christmas continuing and a wee cancer fright….so let’s get started.

Let’s talk SVQs and a nice wee start to the months ahead and worry not, dear listener, you will not get a blow-by-blow account of  how I/we dealt with assignments and units and so on. Let us just say that I am looking forward to it and I need some structure in my life and in recent years, education has provided it as well as qualifications, good friendships, a job and so much else.:)

Without that structure, sometimes I act ‘on impulse’. I don’t always think through the consequences of an action. I may not look impulsive but you are listening to a man who, some forty years ago, played shinty for a Glasgow University team one Saturday afternoon just cos they were short of a player and my hockey game had been cancelled and it’s not that long since I said yes to abseiling and zipwiring…….without thinking. Much. (Let’s ignore the drink and stuff for once) And look where it’s got me.

I don’t think I would Go Ape again cos I would now know what to expect but I have been to IKAEA twice so ‘never say never’.

Anyway, the SVQ3 Induction was good and, as someone who taught at HNC and HND level it’s quite interesting to see things from the other side but I was truly seriously horrified to see that the Scottish Qualifications Authority believe that the abbreviation for Performance Criteria is


Sometimes I despair and maybe there are other organisations that need the services of www.thewordprocess.net as well as universities and colleges.:)

(Incidentally, I got the gig of part-time subject tutor cos I was asked if I would do a guest lecture to which I said, ‘Yes. What about?’)

And then I had my third Christmas Night Out. With e. (Incidentally have I missed anyone out from that time before Christmas itself?) It began by walking Holly the Dog – with other dogs – on a cold Mugdock Country Park early one morning and finished with a late lunch in a pub type place in the, now, very fashionable Finnieston.

In between? A flat tyre but e did what every liberated woman does these days when faced with this problem. She phoned c, her husband. Who turned up with a large squad of men seriously tooled up and clad in Hi-Vis jackets…….okay. It was one guy who knew what he was doing but it felt like a SWAT team  ;)

But the next day, I was getting my hair cut (but not that much) and my hairdresser told me that when she recently had a flat tyre (and all the usual places were shut) she used her husband’s Twitter account to ask for help and cos he’s high up in Pro rugby circles, she was overwhelmed by offers of assistance from hunky rugby warriors. However, as she was tweating, a mature taxi driver had made an offer she couldn’t refuse and the tyre was done in seconds.:)

Me? I’d have phoned AA. The one skilled in mechanical breakdowns – not the other.

And finally, can I say thanks to e for pointing me and j in the direction of The Bees by Laline Paull – one of the best books I’ve read in years but maybe stay away from any of us during the summer if we’re in the proximity of bees or their hive outside or, indeed, in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries. But it does need you to use your imagination so maybe it’s not for all.

But I know my recommendations are not always acted upon. RRM, have you bought ‘From Scotland with Love’ yet?😦

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple (and there’s so much in that little phrase.

Johnt850, and suitably chastised. For my impulsiveness.

So, as many of you may know, the test for people of a certain age for bowel cancer is mass screening by mail in which you send samples of your ‘poo’ (their word, not mine) to an address in Dundee. Which I did over Christmas.

And they got back to me pretty quickly and said ‘There was some blood. Can you do another sample and get it back to us dead quick?’ and I had known there was and I knew why it was and I told them that in a letter I sent to them as well as the new sample.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. And nothing……so I contacted them and they’d not received my sample. So I sent another and very quickly they came back and gave me an All Clear. Phew. But at no time was I concerned cos I had no symptoms other than the blood (which was a one-off)…..:)

And that’s why I told no-one cos there was nothing to tell……and I didn’t want people to worry.

Cos, in my dealings with cancer, most times it’s not the person with the cancer who worries but family and friends. I remember someone telling me that a friend had got the Big C but she wasn’t going to let it stop her from helping. Which is nice but as soon as you don’t call a cancer by its proper name, then you’re giving into it.

(The so-called Islamic State hate being called Daesh, btw)

But maybe I should have told people………I’m a creature of impulse……..and in reasonably good health and with a full head of hair and a lot of learning still to do. I will continue to make mistakes and I will not always learn from them.😦

I think, j, I’ve about run out of artistes from that Celtic Connections gig but if I’ve missed any, let me know. This is Anderson East with The Devil In Me…..interesting lyrics.



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